Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 23: Valuing Each Individual [23.9]

23.9 President Makiguchi Treasured Each Individual

Recounting the efforts made by President Makiguchi, who treasured each individual and, despite his advanced age, readily traveled long distances to share the Mystic Law with even one person, President Ikeda underscores the original spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

Mr. Makiguchi declared: “What is the social raison d’être of religion apart from working for the happiness of humanity and making the world a better place?”1

Religion has meaning only when it is dedicated to the welfare of individuals, the people, and society. To be satisfied merely with one’s own well-being or salvation, while ignoring the suffering of others, is not the mark of a genuine faith.

Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching dedicated to realizing happiness and peace for all humanity.

As a result of Mr. Makiguchi’s continued efforts to spread the Daishonin’s teachings, the membership of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value-Creating Education Society; forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) began to increase steadily from around 1940. This came about because he adopted a revolutionary approach to spreading Nichiren Buddhism. He focused on visiting one home after another, speaking to one individual after another. That is the only way to do it, the way it must be done, he concluded.

Mr. Makiguchi, a great scholar, at first hoped that his writings would be an effective means of propagation, but they were not. Then, he tried speaking to large groups at lectures and meetings. That, too, proved ineffective. Books were no good, big meetings were no good. So he set out on his own to meet one individual after another. This led him to the conclusion that “the only way is to find a few like-minded friends.”2

After that, propagation advanced significantly. Capable individuals gradually began to emerge. Previously, he had spoken to thousands at large gatherings, but hardly anyone who joined continued practicing. With his new approach, however, the membership soon increased to the point that more than 500 people attended each general meeting.

Through conversations at discussion meetings and other small gatherings, individuals gained understanding and conviction in the validity of Nichiren Buddhism. They then exerted themselves in Buddhist practice and personally experienced the benefit of faith in their lives. This, in turn, brought in a fresh wave of new members.

Mr. Makiguchi always took an experimental approach, putting his ideas to the test. He tried things out for himself in order to find the best course. He was a truly extraordinary person. I can see why Mr. Toda was so devoted to him.

Mr. Makiguchi also readily went anywhere to meet with even a single individual. Once, he traveled all the way to Kagoshima [in Kyushu, Japan’s southwesternmost main island] to meet and speak with the parents of a young man who had joined the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai in Tokyo. It was an extremely long journey by third-class train car, and it must have been very hard on a man of his advanced age. But for the sake of Buddhism, he was prepared to spare no pains. Through his great sincerity, he was able to deepen the parents’ understanding of Nichiren Buddhism.

It was actually during one such trip, to Suzaki in Shimoda [in Shizuoka Prefecture] to speak with one individual, that he was arrested.

Many were inspired to join the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai and start practicing Nichiren Buddhism because of Mr. Makiguchi’s vibrant, youthful voice, his absolute conviction, and his example of sincerity and compassion.

The roots that Mr. Makiguchi had planted throughout Japan were not eradicated by the militarist authorities’ harsh wartime policy of thought control. They survived the war and lived on. Today, the Soka Gakkai has grown from those roots into a great towering tree, unshaken by anything. It has become a global organization. I’m sure Mr. Makiguchi would be delighted to see this.

From Haha no mai (Dance of Mothers), published in Japanese in January 2000.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Education), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 5 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1982), p. 356.
  • *2Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 10 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), p. 21.