Mr Ikeda wrote again on the term Soka Gakkai Buddha. This time in The New Human Revolution, Great Mountain. The excerpts here…
“Soka Gakkai Buddha” is a network of members dedicated to the mission of realising the great vow for kosen-rufu, a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth following in the footsteps of first and second presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, who were joined by the bonds of mentor and disciple.
What are the requirements for ensuring that ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha’ lives on for all time?
“The first requirement is that each member has a lifelong commitment to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu. With a profound awareness that kosen-rufu is the fundamental purpose of their life and empathising with those who are suffering, each person must strive to put into practise the Daishonin’s words: ‘Teach others [about Buddhism] to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase’ (WND-1, 386).”
The second requirement is to persist in walking the great path of oneness of mentor and disciple. Inheriting the spirit of the mentor, who exemplifies selfless dedication to propagating the Law, the disciples must thoroughly study the mentor’s teachings and make them a guide for their actions and behaviour. Each day, disciples should challenge themselves in their lives and in their efforts for kosen-rufu, always embracing and engaging in dialogue with the mentor in their hearts and reflecting on what the mentor would do in their place.”
The third requirement is uniting in the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind.’ Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘[Chanting] Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind . . . is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death’ (WND-1, 217). The heritage of faith flows on vibrantly when members unite in purpose and demonstrate their full capacities for the sake of kosen-rufu.”
SGI Newsletter No. 9677, The New Human Revolution––Vol. 30: Chap. 1 Great Mountain 56, translation released 2nd Aug. 2017.
President Ikeda message here, in our interpretation, is that this Soka Gakkai Buddha is a spirit, an attributes, essential characteristics, for Gakkai members to bear in mind and put into practice. Three main conditions are lay out.
- Committed to kosen-rufu – teaching others to the best of your abilities
- Keep challenging oneself in work and kosen-rufu with the spirit of the three presidents
- Working harmoniously and be united with the spirit of many in body one in mind
No, it is not automatic that once you are a Gakkai member, you instantly become a Buddha. By the same token, it is also not true to say if anyone were to leave Gakkai, they would be denied Buddhahood. This interpretation would be superficial and irrational.
It is important that we go back to the source and try to interpret Mr Ikeda’s guidance on three levels – the text (actual wording), the meaning and his intent. The same method we use to understand the Gosho. When we gain a thorough understanding by thinking deeper, analysing and asking questions about it, we are able to understand the true intent of Mr Ikeda and also able to discern whether the interpretation used by SGI or SGM publication, like the Soka Spirit Newsletter, is in accord with the original intention.
On one hand, we need to guard against our own bias and prejudice. First step is to admit that we do have prejudices. Awareness is important. Some, because of their dissatisfaction and anger, tend to interpret anything and everything that SGM do as wrong, evil and with ulterior motive. Everything, without exception, is black. If this happen, we would lose our objectivity and unable to view matters in a proper and correct perspective. It is dangerous as the anger and hatred can consume us, and take control of our lives. We would destroy our own seed of Buddhahood.
On the other hand, we should also not view things as all is good and there is nothing wrong with SGM today. All negative news are dismissed summarily as the work of devils out to destroy the organisation, without any cross checking and investigation into the merits of the allegations. Such hunky-dory views among members who are too trusting are what allowed fanatical faith to take root, destroying the organisation from within.
We need to remain vigilant and develop keen intellect to discern and see through the various teachings that are being shared in the organisation.