Thursday, July 4, 2013

Our Proud Soka Gakkai Heritage ~

From July's World Tribune:

"A single lion will triumph over a thousand sheep. A single person of courage can achieve greater things than a thousand cowards." 
~Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, founding president of the Soka Gakkai. 

"In July 1943, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, traveled to Izu Province to attend a discussion meeting in Shimoda, well aware of the danger. Mr Makiguchi, a progressive geographer and educator, and his disciple, Josei Toda, had founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value Creating Education Society) more than a decade before, on November 18th, 1930, as a society to promote reform based ont eh theories outlined in Mr. Makiguchi's book, The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy.

From there, the Soka Gakkai developed into a bold religious movement that sought to transform society through the practical application of Nichiren Buddhism, a life philosophy that seeks to unlock the limitless potential in all people. 

This movement ran counter to the aims of Japan's militarist government, which in the mid-1930s began dismantling religious groups at odds with state-sponsored Shinto and its view of the emperor as a living god." 

In July of 1943 Mr. Makiguchi and Josei Toda were both arrested for violating the notorious "Peace Preservation Act" and disrespect for the emperor. They both refused to recant their beliefs and place the Shinto sun goddess Talisman on their altars. Putting this talisman on their altars would have been, in effect, praying for the Japanese war effort. The Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood DID accept the Talisman, and that's one of the many reasons the Soka Gakkai eventually decided it could flourish a a lay organization and had no need of priests. 

My Makiguch died in a Japanese prison at the age of 72 after 500 days of solitary confinement. Josei Toda lived to be released from prison on July 3, 1945 and build the foundation of our movement along with his disciple, our mentor, Daisaku Ikeda. 

I believe the history of these great lions of Kosen Rufu is extremely important. Mr. Makiguchu died in prison with the deep conviction that his faith, OUR faith, was correct and true. His refusal to cave in to the fundamental darkness operating in the land is an inspiration to us all. Josei Toda was released in a weakened physical state, but he possessed a strengthened spiritual practice and deepened faith. 

Without these two martyrs, and Daisaku Ikeda whose faith, convictions, writings and actions continue to inspire us all,  we would not be facing the Gohonzon every morning and changing our lives, and the lives of others through this practice. 

We celebrate our founders this week. We celebrate their indomitable spirit. It is hard to even fathom the fact that Mr. Makiguchi attended over 240 discussion meetings under the watchful eye of the state police. He must have known he would eventually be arrested. What a lion of conviction. 

On this day, the 4th of July, American Independence Day, I tip my hat to our founding presidents of the Soka Gakkai, and I deeply appreciate the founders of America. 

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