AMID THE GREATEST ADVERSITIES, WE CAN REVEAL OUR INNATE POWER AS HUMAN BEINGS AND TRANSFORM SOCIETY.
Many things make us who we are—where we are, the family we were born into, our childhood experiences, those people and things that influence us, our beliefs and way of life, and the list goes on. Everything that makes us who we are is relevant and important.
Buddhism also teaches about the true nature of our lives. It teaches that our lives are eternal—that inherent in each of us is the noble state of Buddhahood, and that, no matter our background, physical makeup, or status in society, we are equally respect-worthy.
To tap this noble life state, we must challenge and overcome the negative tendencies that can rule us and plunge us into suffering. This is why I started practicing Nichiren’s Buddhism with the organization Soka-Gakkai.
In Nichiren’s Buddhism, “Casting of the transient and revealing the true” means that through this Buddhist practice, we can go beyond our provisional state of existence and courageously bring forth the true state of our lives, which is Buddhahood.
Awakening to our true self, to our mission to spread hope through the teachings of Buddhism, does not mean ridding ourselves of our provisional or transient self. The idea of “casting off the transient” teaches that we can reveal our true selves, our highest potential, just as we are.
Upholding Nichiren’s dauntless spirit, Soka Gakkai’s three founding presidents cast off the transient and revealed the truth in pioneering the path for the happiness of all people in contemporary times.
Let us see one by one the journey of our 3 mentors who cast off the transient and reveal the truth.
1. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the first president of Soka Gakkai, was a pioneering educator, author, and philosopher. As a teacher, he strived hardest to introduce a more humanistic, student-centered approach to education which was widely recognized. He was harassed and made to reassign from the schools when he refused to allow the position holders or political leaders to influence the educational process. But Makiguchi never for a minute gave up. He never felt discouraged and believed that education should serve the happiness of the students, rather than simply the needs of society or the state. When Makiguchi encountered Nichiren Buddhism, he found it a humanistic philosophy that accorded with his thinking. In 1930, with the foundation of Soka Gakkai, he encountered many criticisms and challenges on his path from the military government of Japan about his beliefs. Still, along with his disciples, he protected this Buddhism and went to prison during World War II. He cast off his transient and revealed the truth by breaking through the military government ideology.
2. Josei Toda
Josei Toda, the second Soka Gakkai president, just like his mentor Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, embraced his thoughts on the pursuits of education and happiness in life. He was imprisoned along with his mentor, but with that experience, he underwent an inner transformation that brought to light his qualities of courage, wisdom, and compassion, as well as an enhanced capacity for dialogue. The day of his casting of the transient and reveal of the truth came on 3rd May 1951, when he became the second Soka Gakkai president.
3. Daisaku Ikeda
Daisaku Ikeda the third president of Soka Gakkai. At the age of 19, he first met his mentor Josei Toda. He defines that as the best experience of his life and the source of everything he has done and become. He resolved to realize the vision of his mentor. He faced and overcame untold challenges to develop the Soka Gakkai International Organization into a worldwide movement with 12 million members around the world who are standing up and committing to fulfill the noble task of creating a world of absolute peace, freedom, and happiness.
So from the journey of our 3 mentors, we can say that for us as sincere practitioners, “casting off the transient and revealing the true” is creating world peace, the realization of happiness for all people, and our highest purpose and mission in life and carrying out its courageous practice in our daily lives.
We can awaken to our true selves by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, sharing Buddhism with others, and applying Buddhist principles to our daily lives. By showing actual proof of the power of our lives in our relationships, workplaces, communities, and wherever we are, we can give hope and inspiration to others.
By Roopali Mukherji