Photo Essays by Daisaku Ikeda

Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan (March 1999)

Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan (March 1999)

Moon Over Miyazaki

An anticipated moonrise. A silver mirror floats in a rose-colored sky above a deep blue horizon.

I stood near my camera tripod by the main building of a Soka Gakkai facility in Miyazaki. My wife pointed beyond the silhouetted palm fronds and said to me, "Look, it's risen!"

There it is, the moon, regarding us with its smiling gaze. It cuts across the flagpole bearing the SGI tricolored flag, moving upward and to the right as it aims for mid heaven, tracing its silver-white orbit through the twilight. Its light increases, showering the earth with its delicate white glow.

The scene of the celestial play gradually shifts from a dazzling drama of sunlight and burning heat to a stately garden of cool serenity.

The Tale of the Bamboo Princess tells of a city on the moon, a wonderland basking in the light of love and compassion.

To the moon I call out: "Oh, god of the moon! May you watch over my friends around the world for another night! Gently illuminate the footsteps of those who walk our noble path! Please give comfort to the hearts of all those who are suffering."

With this thought, I snap the shutter. I want to imprint in the scrapbook of eternity the scene that is momentarily reflected in my heart.

It was March 1, 1999, the night before the full moon. Still waxing, the yet incomplete disk was a divine display of "imperfect perfection."

I had flown to Miyazaki from Okinawa in a small plane three days before. It was my first visit to Miyazaki Prefecture in eight years. Much time had passed.

When I arrived at the training center, I immediately joined some fellow members for a stroll in the garden amidst a light drizzle.

In one corner of the garden, I noticed some elderly people, members of the group of volunteers who assist with the gardening and upkeep of the facility's grounds. I told them: "Please take good care of yourselves and don't catch cold. You are so precious. Please live long." Working steadily and inconspicuously, they had been supporting the training center for many years.

It is always my desire to express deep gratitude and respect especially to those who work and toil behind the scenes, even more than to those who work in the limelight. That is why I wanted to take a picture of the moon. The moon is like a clear and pure mirror. The sun and the moon are like the two eyes of the heavens, observing all. Symbolic of the Buddhist principle of "inconspicuous observation," the great moon-god sends its light into people's hearts, recording all our thoughts and deeds.

The moon calls out to all on Earth: "Are you living with a generous and an open heart?" "Are you kind to others?" "Are you walking the path of integrity, true to yourself?" Though no one may be watching, the moon knows these things, for it dwells also in the firmament of our hearts.

The moon is like a ship that ferries our spirit to the heavens. Its pristine light soothes and purifies hearts tired from a day's work. It invites us to soar high toward its sublime, cool serenity, beyond the reach of any authority, vanity or greed.

How often since my youth have I received silent encouragement from the elegant yet stern light of the moon! It has inspired me to work by day with the energy of the sun, and to reflect by night under moonlit skies upon myself and my life. It has encouraged me to consider the wonder of my existence here and now amidst all eternity and the boundless expanse of space.

And so, at five that evening, I stood before my tripod awaiting the moonrise. The Kyushu Leaders Conference was soon to begin; everyone was waiting. There were manuscripts I had to complete. Despite this, I wanted to seize the moment and converse with the moon; through the moon, I wanted to communicate my thoughts to countless friends.

Palm fronds wave gently as the SGI tricolor flutters in the spring breeze of this southern province. Once called "Hyuga-no-kuni," or "sun-facing country," it is a mythological land of the sun. Beneath the moon the blue Pacific rolls and roars as it has since time immemorial.

While spring comes as it has from long ago, and the moon rises today as always, the human world is constantly changing. In each age, people sing, plead, laugh and cry. The moon watches serenely over the frail impermanence of people's lives. Transcending time and distance, unperturbed by clouds of confusion or winds of change, the enlightened moon moves quietly and intently along its orbit in the heavens. Sometimes gentle, sometimes cold and aloof. At times, it is the compassionate white light of the universe, embracing all living things. At others, it is a lightning bolt of causality, the strict light of the Law of life permeating the three thousand realms of life.

Gazing at this palace of light, my mind seems to extend and disappear into space; my life, now enfolded by the cosmos, struggles to return the embrace. I once again call to the moon, "From your elevated place in the origin of time, please illuminate us on earth! Shine your light of philosophy upon the troubled and wandering human race! May you shed your warm light on the future of my friends, princes and princesses of the cosmos, who are everywhere emerging from the earth!

[Adapted from an essay in Our Beautiful Earth: Photos and Essays of My Travels, by Daisaku Ikeda, April 2, 2000, Seikyo Press, Tokyo, Japan.]