Buddhism is revealed through action and behavior. All entities in the universe are defined through their behavior. There is no other way to comprehend life. The intent and behavior of the practitioner of Buddhism is the sole criteria for enlightenment. Nichiren Daishonin says: "The reason for Shakyamuni's appearance in this world lay in his behavior as a human being."
Any group of people or persons who make themselves exempt from or are put above responsibility for their actions because of their supposed importance are charlatans and should be unmasked, not coddled and protected.
If we do so, we are proclaiming that our enlightenment stands above such mundane events and that injustice is a trivial matter in the greater picture of our self-development.
Then, instead of climbing the mountain of enlightenment, they are descending into the chasm of darkness, a place devoid of compassion and filled with detachment and loneliness: a soulless, terrible place.
Those that avoid the conflict that arises from injustice eventually turn on people of justice and the intent of the Lotus Sutra itself. Judging the difference between good and evil is a primary instinct. It is a fundamental attribute that humans possess and of absolute necessity so we can protect and preserve the integrity of each individual and the Law itself.
"A society that is unable to recognize evil is cutting off the best defense against it." (Jeff Farr, WT) Without the recognition of good and evil we cannot be defined as humans, but as robots. No matter how many activities we do, no matter how much we develop ourselves, if we relinquish this judgment and do not speak out, meekly accepting our lot and asking the Gohonzon to take care of it for us, we will live a life devoid of integrity and forfeit our enlightenment.
"There is this hesitancy to say what is good or evil, what is right or wrong, and those who do so are often labeled fanatics. Nichiren Daishonin says at such a time when society is confused, we have to rebuke slander to clearly differentiate right from wrong." (Jeff Farr, WT)
President Ikeda talks about Emile Zola, who, although aged 60 already, stood up to defend Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer who had been wrongly accused, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. Dreyfus was innocent of any crime. Zola stood up for him, unhesitatingly declaring the truth. He said of the situation at the time: "As human beings, we are finished if we can no longer speak out about it. It spells spiritual death."
The Gosho states: "The accumulation of small evils leads to the great evil." We as the membership must learn to speak out when we see corrupt, deceitful behavior on any level. This is especially true in our own organization lest we become apathetic and a defeated people, embracing slogans like, "things never change". We must have the courage to look into matters of unjust behavior ourselves with complete impartiality, wherever it may lead us in order to eternally protect our organization. We must never give in to peer pressure and rumor, lest we ourselves participate in holding onshitsu or spreading false reports. That would just amount to plain cowardice and prejudice.
If, while proclaiming Nikken is evil, on the most fundamental level we as members turn our backs on neighbors, friends or even fellow members who have been deceived or unfairly treated and do not speak out against such actions in our own arena, what makes us think we have the right to speak out against great evil or ever win the fight against supreme evil?
This kind of attitude will give rise to a false righteousness, which would destroy us in our battle against Nikken and our pursuit of kosen-rufu. We would be denying the prime point of our quest to stand up on the side and fight for justice of the common, ordinary people first and foremost!
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
The appearance of Nikken propels us to the core of faith. Will we emerge as people of justice? Will we cast off all allegiance to anything, which surrounds us that is false and would suffocate us? Will we drink from the crystal-clear waters of Truth, which will keep our conscience clear and our hearts pure by fighting injustice everywhere?
The Nikken issue is clear. We need only to observe his behavior to know what we must fight against and never become ourselves. The real question is us.
President Ikeda said:
"The Law, not the person is to be regarded as the proper standard in all things. Putting the person first gives you an uncertain standard; it is to let that person's mind become your master. As some point, relations based on such a standard will become like those existing between a paternal godfather-like figure and those bound to him or her by personal loyalty."
This is the key to the Nikken issue. We need to look at ourselves first, and rid ourselves of any attitudes that would even vaguely resemble Nikken's. We must continually distinguish ourselves from him.
The reality is that once we point our finger at Nikken, the behavior of our own organization is magnified under the microscope for all to see. Thus the finger points back to us once we declare war on Nikken's injustice. We are bound to the declaration of war on injustice everywhere. The people will observe us to see if we truly live up to this commitment in our own organization and in the sphere of our daily lives.
The SGI is meant to be the citadel of justice where those who are righteous emerge to crush the insidious nature of evil. We can never permit it to be a home to those leaders who trivialize and dismiss the cries of the people as emotional outbursts from misbehaving children. The warriors of justice who are the children of the Buddha will never tolerate such arrogant reactions and self-centered behavior.
It should never be a safe haven for those leaders who have become enamored of their illusionary power, those who would betray their own sense of justice, trading their commitment to the people for status and the approval of those they feel can endow them with power and position.
When cliques exist, the people must speak up. If such people or circumstances appear within our organization, here more than anywhere we must have the courage to speak up. Sensei says, "This is the only way to protect the true teaching." This is our duty. It is not our duty to be quiet, thinking, "this is the organization of the followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and by speaking up I would be slandering all the untiring efforts that President Ikeda and the members made, or making a bad cause. I'll just keep positive, it will pass."
On the contrary, we should be outraged. We should never play the part of fools to such people.
Because our cause is just, we will need every fiber of our strength to rally our ranks to defeat Nikken. But there is a great risk of being blinded by our own fight for justice. There is the tendency to exclude evils other than Nikken's, to hold them not significant in the face of such great injustice. Moving forward in this way we relegate injustices experienced by people in our organization to secondary importance in view of the "big picture". Then the cry of injustice such members make at the hands of irresponsible leaders is considered a threat and therefore suppressed in order to unite and attain victory.
But what makes the SGI so attractive to people is Sensei's eternal guideline to speak out and protect the organization and the Law. If you speak out at the Temple you are ostracized, branded as a traitor. But we are always encouraged to speak out by President Ikeda, especially when circumstances appear in our organization that could destroy us.
"Mr. Makiguchi insisted that the constituent members of a body or organization must direct the actions of the leaders." (WT, 4/17/98)
This is a responsibility directly given to the members. They do not need permission from anyone to proceed in such a manner.
He then continues:
Sincere members who have been fighting against the evil of Nikken have had the great benefit of becoming more educated about the nature of evil. They have no compunction about dealing with it, even in our organization. Those who fought against Nikken but ignored injustice in their own surroundings will have no notion of justice and will take flight when evil occurs because they believe that only leaders of status can validate their credibility. They fear to stand alone, even turning their backs on good friends lest they be censured and ostracized.
For such people it is time to consider what President Ikeda says:
If we come to the SGI to escape the pain of facing injustice, then we will naturally block the rage and righteous anger we need to fight against evil. Then we have missed the point of our practice and have been lulled to sleep by evil itself.
But we have not come to the SGI to escape the pain of facing injustice. We have come to win a decisive victory against it. Most of us have come from a society where we have been treated unjustly because of our race or viewpoint. Then it is only natural to feel what President Ikeda or anyone else who is fighting injustice is going through. We have been there and the evil has the same old face: lies, deceit and cowardice.
This fundamental reaction is the basis of humanism. No organization or society can ever survive if it ignores or sacrifices this principle in pursuit of lofty goals. In the SGI we are encouraged to extend the same compassion to those that we do not even know. This is greatness and this is the example set by our past three Presidents.
The first step is up to you. Wherever you see injustice happening, challenge it. If it is unattended to, attend to it, whether it is in society or in our organization. This is not the battleground for those who politely turn their ear from the fiery roars of righteous anger because it makes them uncomfortable. It is not for those who indulge in intellectual speculation or sentimentalism as an escape route. It is time to speak up, feel and release our righteous anger at injustice. Then we can unite in our daimoku to obtain the power with which to defeat authoritarianism.
This renewal of spirit will spread the hand of justice rapidly to every strata of society, setting the stage for the final advancement for the propagation of the Law in society.
President Ikeda says addressing the youth of Kansai:
"Youth division representatives,
heirs to our movement's future, are gathered here today. I would like
the Kansai youth division to press forward joyfully, unflaggingly, to
forge a network of youth - friends who share our commitment to justice
and truth - 1 million strong, and thereby create a legacy that will
shine brilliantly in the annals of world history."