Monthly Archives: May 2013

Timeline_of_World_War_II_May_1944

May 1944

May 1944
1944-05-01JapWW2BattlefrontAtlas.jpg 1944-05-01GerWW2BattlefrontAtlas.jpg 1st
1944-05-15JapWW2BattlefrontAtlas.jpg 1944-05-15GerWW2BattlefrontAtlas.jpg 15th
6: Heavy Allied bombings of the Continent in preparation for D-Day.
8: D-Day for Operation Overlord set for June 6.
9: The German Army evacuates Sevastopol the largest city and an important port in the Crimea; the Red Army moves in.
: The Battle at the “Gustav line” near Monte Cassino continues without resolution.
11: The British cross the Rapido River. A “fourth” battle of Monte Cassino begins, concurrent with the opening of an offensive campaign toward Rome.
12: Soviet troops finalise the liberation of Crimea.
: Large numbers of Chinese troops invade northern Burma.
13: The bridgehead over the Rapido River is reinforced.
18: Battle of Monte Cassino ends with an Allied victory; Polish troops hoist their red and white flag on the ruins of Monte Cassino. The Germans have ceded it and departed.
: Allied troops take airfields at Myitkyina, Burma, an important air base; the struggle over the city itself will continue for nearly three months.
: The last Japanese resistance in the Admiralty Islands, off New Guinea comes to an end.
21: Increased Allied bombing of targets in France in preparation for D-Day.
23: Allies advance toward Rome, after a linkup of American II and III corps.
25: Germans are now in retreat in the Anzio area. American forces break out of the beachhead and link up with the Fifth Army; both then begin their advance on Rome.
27: Operation Hurricane starts. Americans land on Biak, Dutch New Guinea, a key Japanese air base; stubborn Japanese resistance until August.
31: The Japanese retreat from Imphal (India) with heavy losses; their invasion of India is over.

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May 21, 2013 · 4:49 am

Smiling warmly …

Smiling warmly at Mr. Ataka and the other participants, Shin’ichi said: “When you are the emcee, pay special attention to timing. There are times when you need to jump right in and speak to keep the tempo upbeat, and times when you need to take a breath and pause. If you lack that crucial sense of timing, you can possibly ruin the meeting’s mood.

Daisaku Ikeda, Chapter 25, The New Human Revolution, https://portal.sgi-usa.org/portal/subscription

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May 21, 2013 · 4:18 am

The Japanese wr…

The Japanese writer Yoshiro Nagayo (1888– 1961), who was from Kyushu, had a character in one of his novels express his expectations for youth as follows: “I want you to boldly follow your beliefs and become a pioneer and pillar of the next age.” 1 Shin’ichi felt the same way.

-Daisaku Ikeda, New Human Revolution, Chapter 25, https://portal.sgi-usa.org/portal/subscription

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May 21, 2013 · 3:37 am

CHAPTER 25 THE NEW HUMAN REVOLUTION BY DAISAKU IKEDA

““Kosen-rufu started in Tokyo. Then Kansai rose up, stirring a new movement of everlasting victory, and the Soka Gakkai took off. Now it’s Kyushu’s turn. The moment for Kyushu to rise up is here. From now on, Kyushu must forever be an essential driving force for the Soka Gakkai and kosen-rufu.”

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May 21, 2013 · 3:18 am

1 Jun 2013 Living Buddhism by Hisashi Iwakuma SEATTLE

Hisashi Iwakuma on Winning in Life

 

Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on winning in baseball and in life

The Tohoku fans had always given us their enthusiastic support; but in the end, we were the ones most touched by the spirit of the Tohoku fans.

SGI member Hisashi Iwakuma signed on as a pitcher with the Seattle Mariners prior to the start of the 2012 major league baseball season. Although considered a rookie in the United States, he began his professional baseball career a decade before, in May 2001, with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, before joining the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for the 2005 season. He was generally considered to be the No. 2 pitcher in Japan when he signed on with the Mariners for the 2012 season.

The following interview with Mr. Iwakuma was adapted from the January 2013 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study magazine. In it, he speaks about how his Buddhist practice and his mentor’s encouragement enabled him to win in baseball and in life.

Daibyakurenge: Last year, you had a wonderful first season with the Seattle Mariners. After becoming a starting pitcher in the second half of the season, you scored an impressive record of 8 wins and 4 losses. At 2.65, you also had the best ERA (earned run average) of any rookie starting pitcher in the Mariners ball club.

Hisashi Iwakuma: Thank you very much. My success was due to everyone’s support.

What motivated you to want to play major league baseball in the United States?

I was inspired most recently by playing in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 [where Japan won gold]. I was able to pitch to top major league batters. The feeling of challenge, of putting everything I had on the line, excited and energized me. A big part of it was realizing that I could strike out those batters.

But the first time I thought about playing in the major leagues was in 2007. At the time, an injury to my right elbow was threatening my career. I had just five wins that season and decided to undergo surgery. As I lay in my hospital bed, I watched on TV as then-Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, another professional ball player from Japan, received the World Series trophy. I thought, I want to play for the major leagues! At the time, I couldn’t even bend my right elbow and had no idea if or when I would recover. The pain was intense, but I endured it through consistent and resolute prayer to the Gohonzon. As I persevered, a sense of inspiration surged within me. It was as if a light had been switched on in the midst of complete darkness. That’s what gave me the power to make it through the painful rehabilitation.

A Bridge of Hope

Two years ago (in 2011), you had a chance of being picked up by a U.S. major league franchise, but the negotiations fell through.

That’s right. I was disappointed, but when I look back on that time, there was deep meaning in that experience. Right after that, on March 11, the earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan (also known as the Tohoku region). I was with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles at the time, and we resolved to play our best to give courage and hope to the people of Tohoku during their time of greatest difficulty. They had always given us their enthusiastic support; but in the end, we were the ones most touched by the spirit of the Tohoku fans.

Even during that most trying time, the local

fans as well as fans from all over Japan continued to cheer us on. For the rest of my life, I will never forget how deeply moved I was by their tremendous support. So that I would never forget the debt of gratitude I owe them, when I came to the U.S. major leagues, I had my baseball glove embroidered with the word hope ( kibo in Japanese). I determined to become a “bridge of hope” for the people of Tohoku.

So last year, your dream of joining the majors came true! But you were designated as a relief pitcher for the first half of the season.

Yes. In Japan, I had only pitched as a starter.

But, once the season began, I could see the clear difference between the Japanese league and the major leagues. From the team’s perspective, I was just a rookie. Besides that, they only had my record in Japan to go on. The coach wanted to see with his own eyes how I could pitch before putting me in the crucial role of starting pitcher. The bottom line is that I hadn’t done well enough in the pre-season, when I should have shown my best, to satisfy the coach. So he decided to use me as a relief pitcher.

So in addition to playing in a new and unfamiliar environment, you were made a relief pitcher.

Yes. But Major League Baseball in the United States is a completely different world from the type of baseball that I was accustomed to. So I was willing to do everything I could, whatever my situation. For example, during practices and games, I would always observe my opponents, especially the batters, and take notes on every detail. Even while traveling to and from our games, I would try out various pitches in my mind.

As the season progressed, I had yet to be chosen as a starter. Though I was part of the Mariners’ bullpen, I wasn’t chosen to pitch until our 15th game; I was the last member in the team’s opening day roster to appear in a game. That is how much I still needed to gain the trust of my coach.

Not having been called on to pitch, my confidence was shaken. The strike zone was different, and the batters were far stronger. I wasn’t sure where to place the ball. I couldn’t figure out how to shut down the batters. On the mound, I couldn’t get in a groove and felt as if I were fumbling my way through each pitch. Having sometimes to travel thousands of miles between games, I felt drained of vitality.

In this emotional state, I couldn’t produce good results. When the outcome of a game was guaranteed, I was often put on the mound as a “mop-up pitcher.” Becoming a starting pitcher seemed to move further out of my reach. I couldn’t see a way forward, and I felt suffocated. It was the first time in my professional career that I felt such deep anxiety.

Words From My Wife

How did you conquer those feelings of self-defeat?

Actually, my wife pointed out what I needed to change. I said to her, “I think I’m losing my ability . . .”

My wife, who is usually very gentle and kind, was very blunt with me. She said: “You’re not losing your ability. The problem is your attitude! You think you’re the only one suffering. Meanwhile your daughter is struggling to find her way in school here in America, when she can’t even speak English.”

Her words struck me to the core. Overwhelmed with my own problems, I had only been thinking about myself. I felt terrible for my lack of consideration.

My wife then said warmly, “Don’t you remember what President Ikeda told you?”

What kind of encouragement did you receive from SGI President Ikeda?

It was at a youth leaders meeting in April 2008. The baseball season had just started, and it had been my first time pitching after the elbow surgery. I tried to protect my arm by not overdoing it, but I worried that I might not be able to finish the season. Sensing my anxiety, Sensei looked at me and said: “Cast away your worries! Become strong!” His guidance was strict yet warm. In his words I sensed with my entire being the trust and high expectations he placed in me. That day happened to be my birthday. I took it as Sensei’s lifelong gift to me.

Due to his encouragement, I felt that no matter how bad my situation was, I would never give in. I confronted my suffering directly and stopped letting it control me. I just faced each batter and put all my power into each pitch.

That year you went on to win 21 games and led the Japanese league in strikeouts, ERA and wins. You also won the Eiji Sawamura Award. 1 So by recalling those times, you were eventually able to achieve success as a major league player in the United States.

Yes. By reminding myself of President Ikeda’s compassionate encouragement, I cast off my anxiety. I’d think to myself: That’s right! Whether they use me or not, I will focus on the task at hand. Facing each batter is a win-or-lose battle. I have to put everything I’ve got into each pitch!

I began approaching each game with a positive attitude, and my first win in the United States came as a relief pitcher. Until then, I only thought about trying to fit into the major league environment. That had been the most important thing. For example, when pitching, all I’d focus on was how to respond to the catcher’s signals. But that wasn’t enough to win. I realized that I hadn’t been taking full responsibility on the mound.

I began expressing my opinions to my teammates and coach, and developed stronger communication. I was then able to get into the starting lineup and began winning steadily.

Did your pitching change as well?

Oddly enough, though my speed increased slightly over the course of the season, my pitching didn’t really change. If I had to say what changed, it would be my attitude on the mound as I confronted each batter. It wasn’t my thoughts or feelings, but something deep in my heart that changed.

Pitching to strong MLB batters, there’s an even chance of winning or losing. It’s the batter’s determination to hit the ball versus the pitcher’s determination to get the ball past the batter. It is the heart of one player versus the heart of the other. For example, whether there are runners on base or the count is against me, it’s about being determined that “I’m definitely going to win!” “I’m absolutely going to make it happen!” I was able to form an inner resolve that just could not be shaken.

Especially in the second half of the season, I began to see the results of forging this solid resolve. This grew from facing and winning over myself every morning and evening. There is a Japanese proverb that says victory or defeat is a matter of timing and luck. But I realized that the resolve one forges in the depths of one’s life invites the right kind of luck at the right moment.

Repaying My Debt of Gratitude to My Father

This is all clearly the result of your prayers and struggle during the first half of the season. We heard that in the middle of the season, your father became seriously ill and you had to return to Japan.

Yes. My father had been diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalized. In July, his condition took a turn

for the worse. I was torn as to whether I should return to Japan. It seemed like a choice between entering the starting lineup or going to see my father. But I decided I had to win in both my family situation and my career, and arranged with my coach to return to Japan to see my father.

My father and I never talked very much, but when I saw him in the hospital, I felt as if I were facing him directly for the first time. My father seemed so happy, not because I was in the major leagues, but because I had continued my Buddhist practice. We had a conversation filled with joy, tears and appreciation for each other. A short time later, he passed away. That trip back to Japan was my way to repay my debt of gratitude to my father.

After spending only one day in Japan, I returned to Seattle for my first game as a starting pitcher. I was physically and emotionally drained, but decided to pitch with all the strength I could muster.

I had 13 strikeouts, winning the game and setting a record as a new starting pitcher for the Mariners. While I thought I had gone to Japan to repay my debt of gratitude to my parents, they were the ones protecting me.

What are your hopes for this Year of Victory for a Youthful SGI?

I want to live with the spirit to keep advancing. As soon as I feel satisfied, that’s when I start to decline. I will always forge ahead! Ever onward! I am determined to respond to all those supporting me by continuing to win!

Notes:

1. The Eiji Sawamura Award ( Sawamura Eiji sho): Commonly known as the Sawamura Award. An honor bestowed each year upon the top starting pitcher in the Japanese professional baseball league.

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May 21, 2013 · 3:04 am

QUOTE FROM THE ESSENTIALS FOR ATTAINING BUDDHAHOOD BY NICHIREN DAISHONIN PAGE 747

THE ESSENTIALS FOR ATTAINING BUDDHAHOOD

of the latter age. This is the function of wisdom. Shakyamuni Buddha transferred this teaching to Bodhisattva Superior Practices, and now Nichiren propagates it in Japan. With regard to the transfer of teachings, it is divided into two categories: general and specific. If you confuse the general with the specific even in the slightest,3 you will never be able to attain Buddhahood and will wander in suffering through endless transmigrations of births and deaths.

For example, the voice-hearers in Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime received the seeds of Buddhahood from Shakyamuni in the distant past when he was the sixteenth son of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence. Therefore, they could not attain enlightenment by following Amida, Medicine Master, or any other Buddha. To illustrate, if a family member brings home water from the ocean, the entire family can use it. But were they to refuse even a single drop of that water and instead go looking for water from some other ocean, it would be terribly misguided and foolish. In the same way, to forget the original teacher who had brought one the water of wisdom from the great ocean of the Lotus Sutra and instead follow another would surely cause one to sink into the endless sufferings of birth and death.

One should abandon even one’s teacher if he or she is misguided, though there will be cases where this is not necessary. One should decide according to the principles both of the world and of Buddhism. Priests in the Latter Day of the Law are ignorant of the principles of Buddhism and are conceited, so they despise the correct teacher and fawn on patrons. True priests are those who are honest and who desire little and yet know satisfaction. Volume one of The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra states: “Those who have yet to attain the truth should

humble themselves before the highest principle, which is comparable to heaven, and feel abashed before all the sages. Then they will be monks with a sense of shame. When they manifest insight and wisdom, then they will be true monks.”

The Nirvana Sutra states: “If even a good monk sees someone destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him, or to punish him for his offense, then you should realize that that monk is betraying the Buddha’s teaching. But if he ousts the destroyer of the Law, reproaches him, or punishes him, then he is my disciple and a true voice-hearer.” You should etch deeply in your mind the two words “see” and “disregard” in the phrase “sees someone destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach him.” Both teacher and followers will surely fall into the hell of incessant suffering if they see enemies of the Lotus Sutra but disregard them and fail to reproach them. The Great Teacher Nan-yüeh says that they “will fall into hell along with those evil persons.”4 To hope to attain Buddhahood without speaking out against slander is as futile as trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water. No matter how sincerely one believes in the Lotus Sutra, if one is guilty of failing to rebuke slander of the Law, one will surely fall into hell, just as a single crab leg will ruin a thousand pots of lacquer. This is the meaning of the passage in the sutra, “Because the poison has penetrated deeply and their minds no longer function as before.”5

The sutra states, “Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers,”6 and “If one stays close to the teachers of the Law, one will speedily gain the bodhisattva way. By following and learning from these”

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May 21, 2013 · 2:51 am

Even during that most trying time – HISASHI – COVER STORY LB 2013 – https://portal.sgi-usa.org/portal/subscription

 

fans as well as fans from all over Japan continued to cheer us on. For the rest of my life, I will never forget how deeply moved I was by their tremendous support. So that I would never forget the debt of gratitude I owe them, when I came to the U.S. major leagues, I had my baseball glove embroidered with the word hope ( kibo in Japanese). I determined to become a “bridge of hope” for the people of Tohoku.

https://portal.sgi-usa.org/portal/subscription

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