What is the ideal SGM organisation that our mentor, Mr Ikeda, has in mind? Do we have a good idea? As his disciples, are we working towards this goal? Or are we leaving it to others and only talks behind one another’s back? In the excerpt below, Mr Ikeda outlined clearly what are the crucial characteristics of SGI and SGM. We urge all readers to read this slowly and ponder deeply. Ask ourselves, What can we do to make this a reality?
Excerpt from President Ikeda’s guidance, 15 February, 1990, Soka University, California
President Toda detested formality. For this reason, as his disciple, I have tried to place foremost emphasis on substance. Formality are important in certain cases, but mere formality that lacks substances is evil. Formality is provisional, substance essential. Formality is conventional and therefore conservative, but substance provides the impetus for progress and development.
Even if the participants are few, if they are convinced of the greatness of faith and feel joy, thereby deepening their confidence in the Gohonzon, the meeting is a success. In this case, you are focusing on substance.
Let say, for example, there are only three people at a meeting, but when they pray to the Gohonzon, read Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and inspire one another, their lives are illuminated by the flame of faith. From the standpoint of Buddhism, such a meeting is a great success.
On the other hand, even though thousands may attend a meeting, and it may proceed smoothly and with an air of grandeur, if it does not inspire the joy of faith in the hearts of members, in the last analysis it is a vain and pointless charade.
Our meetings are held neither for the sake of leaders nor for the sake of the organization. They are intended to awaken and support the development of individual members. Both an organization and its leadership exist for the sake of individuals. This accords with the teaching of Buddhism.
If, instead, individuals are manipulated to serve the needs of an organization and its leadership, the spirit of Buddhism is contradicted. In Buddhism, such a perverse relationship between the organization or leadership and the individual will block the power of the Law, stop the flow of benefits and stifle the spread of the Law.
Giving warm encouragement and care to each person is the basis for victory. The organization is a gathering of human beings, a network of individuals. If leaders feel that their organization is dull and lifeless, unable to produce remarkable results, in reality this indicates theirs and the individual members’ state of life.
If, blinded by the mirage of an organization, a leader tries to operate by giving orders and applying pressure, nothing will change, because no spontaneous or genuine power will be generated among the people who make up that body. We must understand the subtle character of people’s hearts.
It is essential that you address everyone with sincerity and compassion as an equal, carefully taking into account their individual capacities and circumstances, and seeking to give them a sense of satisfaction and assurance. As you continue making such efforts, you will definitely see great development.
The main point is to enable a single member to stand up by imparting heartfelt assurance and understanding. It is the explosion of faith in the microcosm of an individual that causes the macrocosm of the organization – a gathering of many such individuals – to commence its revolution.
This is how the doctrine of ‘three thousand realms in a single moment of life’ applies to our practice.
Last, I hope that young people, with rich and apt powers of critical evaluation in all matters, will always advance toward higher and greater targets, never allowing themselves to become complacent with their present circumstances.
At the same time, as far as the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings are concerned, I hope that, regarding them as absolutely correct, you will first and foremost strive to put them into practice.
I urge you to do so because this is the shortest route to understanding the essence of Buddhism from the depths of your life.