Persecutions by Sword and Staff - The Irrepressible Spirit of Propagation

From the time I was born until today, I have never known a moment’s ease; I have thought only of propagating the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra.

(Passage from “Persecutions by Sword and Staff”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p965)

This portion is taken from the conclusion portion of a letter Nichiren Daishonin wrote to the young Nanjo Tokimitsu (Lord Ueno).

In this passage, not only does the Daishonin encourage Tokimitsu to carry out the practice for oneself and for others, he also described his own resolve with which he had initiated and continued waging the struggle to propagate the Mystic Law throughout his life.

Nichiren Daishonin’s entire life was solely dedicated to the propagation of the Mystic Law for the sake of the happiness of the people. Through his persistent efforts in realising this endeavour, the Daishonin encountered one persecution after another. In this way, there was never a moment’s ease for the Daishonin.

Despite being subjected to consecutive harsh persecutions, the Daishonin did not retreat – not even a single step – in his commitment to lead all people to happiness, dauntlessly waging his struggle to propagate the Law throughout his life.

In our context today, the three successive presidents of the Soka Gakkai have inherited this unrelenting spirit of propagation manifested by the Daishonin. After assuming office as the third president of the Soka Gakkai, SGI President Ikeda has courageously blazed the path for our movement of worldwide propagation. Through his utterly selfless devoted efforts, the solidarity of SGI members today has extended to close to 200 countries and territories and our movement of peace, culture and education based on the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism now spans throughout the globe.

In his novel, The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda related, “Every day was a continuing, uninterrupted struggle for Shin’ichi. He could not afford to ease off on his efforts for a single day, not even a single moment.”


The Earnest Struggle of One Single Individual Brings Happiness to the Family and Community

In terms of our practice today, we can say that harmony and happiness in a family as well as peace in the community and society can only be realized through the earnest struggle of one single individual.

Setsuko Murai, vice chapter women division leader living in Kawakami village in Nara Prefecture experienced the cruelty of war when she spent her childhood in old Manchuria, China during the war.

“What is peace?” “What is true happiness?” Setsuko found herself constantly asking those questions as she grew up. Eventually she got married and time passed but still, she could not find the answer to these questions. As she searched for the purpose of her life, her younger sister and her husband, who were Soka Gakkai members, introduced her to the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

As she listened to the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and the pacifist stand of the Soka Gakkai, Setsuko was convinced that this Buddhism is the answer to what she had been looking for all these years. She decided to take up faith in May 1982.

Since her conversion, Setsuko joyfully immersed herself in Gakkai activities based on her sincere resolve to spread the Daishonin’s teachings in her community. However, as old and conservative local customs were deeply rooted in Setsuko’s village, from the day she became a Soka Gakkai member, the villagers stopped patronizing her grocery store. For the following six months, not a single customer stepped into Setsuko’s store.

But she was not in the least affected. No matter how harsh the criticism and verbal abuse she was subjected to and no matter how her villagers despised her, Setsuko felt that they were nothing compared to the hellish conditions she experienced during the war. Despite the harsh adversities, Setsuko’s life was always filled with joy. She had finally found her mission – to devote her life to the lofty cause of kosen-rufu.

At the age of 52, Setsuko successfully obtained a driving license as she felt that moving around the village without a car to propagate the Daishonin’s teachings posed a grave hindrance. She also volunteered to help deliver the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily paper. Till today, she wakes up at 4am to deliver the Seikyo Shimbun to members and friends in her beloved community.

Through her tireless dedication to her practice, not only has she been able to establish a harmonious family of faith, every one of her family member is now cheerfully contribution to the happiness of others as leaders of kosen-rufu. Setsuko’s greatest joy is that her grandson has been accepted by Soka University in Tokyo and is presently studying there. Since her conversion, Setsuko’s propagation efforts never failed to bear fruits every year and today, she is a well-respected and trusted individual in her village. The fact that some 70 to 80 friends form the village gather happily for the annual Women Division District General Meeting at Setsuko’s invitation bears testament to this.

The harsh prejudice against Setsuko and her practice has been completely transformed through her and her husband’s humanistic, warm and caring behaviour. Business at her store prospered and through this benefit, she was able to build a three-storey concrete building. The first and second levels are used as their shop while the third level is a venue for kosen-rufu activities with a capacity of 100. President Ikeda named this venue “Magnificent Cherry Blossoms Centre”.

Setsuko even built an annex building which she used top open a food mart. With the completion of this annex, Setsuko’s store has become the “department store of the village” – the most popular place among the villagers for “one can get anything he or she needs all at one single stop”. In addition, Setsuko has reserved a cosy corner on the first level of her annex building to be used as a “mini parlour” where dialogues on Buddhism can be held over a cup of tea any time of the day. The villagers can also watch videotapes on the activities of the Soka Gakkai at the parlour.

President Ikeda once said in his guidance, “The widespread propagation of the Mystic Law cannot be achieved automatically, just by letting nature takes its course. Without making an effort to share Buddhism with others, the teachings of the Mystic Law will never be conveyed. Without taking action to convey and to share, there is no way that the Mystic Law will spread.”

One’s wish to transform one’s personal or family karma is expressed in the act of offering prayers and taking actions for kosen-rufu. Nothing will go to waste in our efforts for kosen-rufu. In this sense, there is no life loftier than one dedicated to kosen-rufu.

With our goals set on 2010, the 80th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai, let us take courageous action to share Buddhism with others and advance the kosen-rufu movement in our respective community.

Adapted from an article written by Nara Prefecture WD Study Chief Kiyoko Kida published in the June 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.