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Soka Gakkai Engages in Emergency Relief Efforts Following Massive Earthquake in Northeastern Japan; SGI President Issues Message

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. (Japan time) a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the northeastern coast of Japan followed by aftershocks and devastating tsunamis. The Soka Gakkai immediately set up emergency relief operations in the affected prefectures centering in the Tohoku region, where some 3,500 have sought refuge at its community centers. Soka Gakkai volunteers have continued to engage in relief efforts, including delivering much needed food, potable water and relief supplies to emergency shelters. SGI constituent organizations throughout the world are holding prayer meetings and are presenting donations through various emergency response organizations, such as the Red Cross. [For details of Soka Gakkai and SGI relief efforts, go to the Humanitarian Activities section of the SGI website.]

SGI President President Daisaku Ikeda, who is also honorary Soka Gakkai president, sent a message to those affected by the earthquake, which was published in the March 16, 2011, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun newspaper. The full message is provided, below.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's Message

Never Be Defeated! Have Courage! Have Hope!

I offer my sincerest condolences to those of you who have been affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunamis that struck northeastern Japan five days ago (March 11, 2011) and have left many people still missing and unaccounted for. I can only imagine the fatigue and exhaustion you must be suffering. My wife and I, along with the members throughout Japan and the world, are sending daimoku to you with all our hearts, earnestly praying for your health and well-being and that all Buddhas and bodhisattvas--the positive forces of the universe--will rigorously protect you.

I wish to deeply thank those of you who are selflessly devoting yourselves to the rescue and relief efforts in the stricken areas. I also truly appreciate those of you who are supporting your communities as solid and reliable pillars during this difficult time. Takuboku Ishikawa (1886–1912), a renowned, youthful poet who hailed from Tohoku, the northeastern region of Japan, declared: "Helping one person is a far greater achievement than becoming the ruler of a country." I, therefore, express my deepest respect and gratitude to all of you.

Nichiren Daishonin writes that even if we should meet with disasters and calamities, they cannot destroy our hearts (cf. The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. II, p. 135). Nothing can destroy the treasures of the heart. Every adversity is but a trial for us to overcome so that we can attain eternal happiness. The Daishonin's Buddhism, our practice of faith in the Mystic Law, enables us to transform all poison into medicine without fail.

I am offering solemn prayers for all your loved ones--family members and friends--who have lost their lives. This disaster is truly heartbreaking. Life, however, is eternal, and through chanting daimoku, we can transcend life and death to connect with the lives of those who have passed away. Your deceased loved ones and friends, who through you share a profound connection with the Mystic Law, will definitely be enfolded in the embrace of the heavenly deities, attain Buddhahood, and be reborn quickly somewhere close to you. This is an essential teaching of the Daishonin's Buddhism.

During the Daishonin's lifetime as well, what was known as the great earthquake of the Shoka era (August 1257) caused unprecedented damage. Grieved by the pain and suffering of the people and amid great persecutions, the Daishonin embarked on writing his treatise, "On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land," thereby raising the banner of peace and justice for all humankind. He assures us: "When great evil occurs, great good follows" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume I, p. 1119).

Today, March 16, is the day that my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, entrusted his youthful successors with carrying on the work of kosen-rufu in order to eradicate misery from the face of the earth. Now, let us triumphantly overcome this great disaster by further strengthening our vow for kosen-rufu while wholeheartedly supporting and encouraging each other.

I am fervently praying and calling out to each of you: "Never be defeated! Have courage! Have hope!"

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Translated from Japanese. Takuboku Ishikawa, Takuboku Zenshu (Collected Works of Takuboku) (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1970), vol. 7, p. 118.

[Adapted from articles in the March 12-16, 2011, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]