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Great Mountain

Great Mountain
Volume 30, Chapter 1 (1–10)

Ikeda Sensei’s ongoing novel, The New Human Revolution, which he began writing in 1993, is the history of the progress of the Soka Gakkai following his inauguration in 1960 as its third president, and a record of the modern development of the Soka Gakkai and the SGI. It also serves as practical guidance for how to further expand our movement for kosen-rufu. “Great Mountain” is the first chapter of volume 30, the final volume of The New Human Revolution. Ikeda Sensei appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.


Nichiren Daishonin declared: “My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow.”[1] And he said, “The ‘great vow’ refers to the propagation of the Lotus Sutra.”[2] He also predicted that “the great pure Law of the Lotus Sutra will be spread far and wide throughout … Jambudvipa [the entire world].”[3]

We, the members of the Soka Gakkai, are forging ahead with unwavering commitment toward the realization of worldwide kosen-rufu. Our desire is to bring happiness to everyone in our lives—our family members, relatives, friends, coworkers, neighbors and others in our communities.

It is through our relationships with others that we develop and grow; learn from one another; help and support one another; and cultivate genuine humanity. Therefore, we cannot enjoy happiness for ourselves alone. True happiness is happiness that is shared with others.

Reaching out to teach another person about Nichiren Buddhism is an expression of our wish for their happiness. Through our sincere, earnest, wholehearted efforts to talk one-to-one with those around us about our Buddhist practice, we expand our network of happiness and open the way to peace.

Global friendships—Shin’ichi and Mineko Yamamoto visit Hong Kong, intent on building bridges of educational and cultural exchange with other countries for the sake of world peace, February 1979. Photo: Seikyo Press.

Global friendships—Shin’ichi and Mineko Yamamoto visit Hong Kong, intent on building bridges of educational and cultural exchange with other countries for the sake of world peace, February 1979. Photo: Seikyo Press.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the members of the Soka Gakkai delegation who had been visiting India[4] departed Calcutta (now Kolkata) on the evening of February 16, 1979, and arrived in Hong Kong after 10 p.m.

Shin’ichi had begun his travels for kosen-rufu in Asia 18 years ago in Hong Kong, and now he was concluding his last overseas trip prior to the end of the Seven Bells[5] (on May 3, 1979) there.

The next morning, February 17, as Shin’ichi gazed up at the sun rising in the east over Hong Kong—the “harbor of peace” of kosen-rufu in Asia—he renewed his determination and formulated a vision for the future of worldwide kosen-rufu.

That evening, he and the members of the delegation attended a welcome banquet hosted by Vice Chancellor Ma Lin of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Shin’ichi took this opportunity to discuss how Soka University and the Hong Kong university might go about developing academic and educational exchange between the two institutions.

Shin’ichi was intent on building many bridges of educational and cultural exchange with other countries, convinced that doing so was crucial for the sake of the 21st century and world peace. The future exists right now. How we act and live in this moment and each passing day determines the future.

A sutra says, “If you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.”[6]

“It’s now or never! Don’t let this precious moment slip by!” This was what Shin’ichi told himself.

On February 18, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a Soka Gakkai Southeast Asia representatives conference held at hotel on Hong Kong Island. Sixty-five members had gathered from nine countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, and the two territories of Hong Kong and Macau. Many of them were dressed in colorful ethnic costumes for this event celebrating the culmination of the Seven Bells and marking a fresh departure for kosen-rufu in Southeast Asia.

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Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

All of the members had overcome great obstacles to pioneer the way for kosen-rufu in their respective countries and territories. Many were Japanese who had gone to live there with hardly any knowledge of the local language but, using gestures and the few words they had managed to learn, had striven earnestly to communicate the message of Nichiren Buddhism to others.

The countries of Southeast Asia had been invaded by the Japanese military during World War II, and anti-Japanese sentiment was still deeply rooted. Many people reacted with open hostility when they learned that the Soka Gakkai was an organization born in Japan.

But the members of the early days refused to retreat, no matter how formidable the walls of misunderstanding and misperception that stood in their way. They were determined to become happy through their Buddhist practice in the land where they were living. As the only Soka Gakkai members there, they knew that the development of kosen-rufu in their areas would depend solely on their efforts.

This personal commitment to stand up and take action is the driving force of kosen-rufu. No matter how times may change, there can be no progress without such commitment.

Though the religious climate, customs and traditions were very different from their own, the Japanese members living in Southeast Asia persisted in their efforts at dialogue, increasing their circle of fellow members first by one person, then two, then dozens, then hundreds and finally thousands of people.

Nichiren Daishonin declares that the great Bodhisattvas of the Earth appear “in the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law to teach all the living beings of this continent of Jambudvipa [the entire world] to chant the five characters[7] of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which are the heart of the ‘Life Span’ chapter of the essential teaching [of the Lotus Sutra].”[8]

All of the members in Southeast Asia were unsung ordinary people who were opening the way for kosen-rufu while challenging various personal problems and struggles. They were none other than the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, the Buddha’s emissaries possessing a great mission for kosen-rufu, who had appeared in this troubled age of the Latter Day of the Law.

Shin’ichi regarded the assembled members with the feeling that he was looking at a gathering of Buddhas, and he expressed his deepest appreciation, respect and praise for them.

At the Southeast Asia representatives conference, Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke about the qualities the members should strive to embody as leaders of kosen-rufu in their respective countries and territories: “Some people live their lives without making any contribution to society, concerned only with their own well-being. Others earnestly strive in their Buddhist practice to promote the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and realize lasting happiness for themselves and for other people as well. There may still be others, who, though professing faith in the Mystic Law, just go through the motions and avoid making real, wholehearted efforts to advance kosen-rufu.

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Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

“Though you may succeed in fooling others, no one can escape the Buddhist law of cause and effect, which is rigorous and uncompromising. The Gohonzon is aware of everything. As such, from the perspective of Buddhism, your contributions in splendidly blazing new trails as pioneers of kosen-rufu in Asia are incalculable, and the benefits you are accumulating in your lives as a result are truly immense.

“Nichiren Daishonin writes, ‘Be diligent in developing your faith until the last moment of your life. Otherwise you will have regrets.’[9] That’s why I would like all of you to live proudly with a lifelong commitment to spreading the Mystic Law. If you persevere in your Buddhist practice to the very end, you are certain to attain a state of indestructible happiness and enjoy lives rich in good fortune.”

Shin’ichi then offered three points for them to bear in mind as leaders of the global movement for kosen-rufu.

“First, remember that all our members possess the respectworthy life state of Buddhahood. While there are various leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai to ensure the coordinated functioning of the organization, all of us are equal as human beings; no one is superior or inferior to anyone else. Never think that your role as a leader in our organization gives you the right to speak to others harshly or disrespectfully.

“Second, never let the pursuit of personal profit intrude on the realm of faith and cause trouble over conflicts of interest in the Soka Gakkai.

“Third, remember that the happiness of the members is our goal, and that the organization is nothing more than a means to achieving that end. In that context, it’s all right to be strict about such things as attitude toward faith but, in running the organization, always solicit everyone’s opinions, respect the autonomy of each individual, and aim to create a democratic and harmonious organization.”

Shin’ichi Yamamoto thought to himself: “All those gathered here today have the lofty mission of illuminating Asia, imparting the light of happiness to people through sharing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun. Their actions and growth will determine the success of kosen-rufu in their respective countries and territories. I want each of them to hone their abilities even more and develop into wise and courageous leaders of kosen-rufu—each possessing the strength of a thousand.”

Great battle—On Jan. 1, the Seikyo Shimbun published the first installment of volume 30 of the The New Human Revolution, the final volume in the novelized history of the Soka Gakkai that SGI President Ikeda began writing in 1993. Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

He continued speaking with great emphasis: “We are living in the realm of faith. Therefore, we must unite based on the Gohonzon, with faith as our foremost guide. If we allow ourselves to be ruled by our emotions, jealousy and conflict are bound to arise. That is a sign that the devilish functions within us have taken control and we have strayed from the teachings of Buddhism. Uniting together entails a struggle with these inner devils, and achieving unity of purpose is proof that we have done our human revolution, exercising self-mastery and winning over our own negativity.

“I hope that, as leaders, you will have big hearts, deeply caring about your members, respecting your societies and loving the lands in which you live. Kosen-rufu means each of you, who base your lives on the supreme teaching of Nichiren Buddhism, becoming a pillar of spiritual support, a pillar of trust and a pillar of social conscience in your respective countries and territories.

“There are sure to be numerous difficulties and obstacles on the road to kosen-rufu. We may encounter opposition and persecution owing to others’ ignorance and misunderstanding of the Soka Gakkai. Some members may discard their faith; they may even betray or try to sow disunity in the organization. The devil king of the sixth heaven is always aiming to destroy the movement for kosen-rufu in ways that we cannot anticipate.

“But whatever challenges arise, believe in the Gohonzon and dedicate your lives to kosen-rufu, together with the Soka Gakkai, the organization striving in accord with the Buddha’s intent. By battling and triumphing over great adversity, you will gain limitless benefit and build an indestructible foundation for happiness. It will also lead to remarkable progress in the development of kosen-rufu in your respective lands.

“Faith is courage. Please advance boldly, with the heart of a lion king. I ask that you share the Buddhism of the Sun with faith like radiant sunlight, and pioneer the way for worldwide kosen-rufu.”

It was a heartfelt, prayerful appeal.

On the morning of February 19, [1979], Shin’ichi Yamamoto paid a courtesy call on the governor of Hong Kong, Sir Murray MacLehose, at his official residence. The governor had heard about Shin’ichi through correspondence from his friend British Ambassador to Japan Sir Michael Wilford, and he was looking forward to their meeting.

Shin’ichi and the governor had a lively conversation, discussing the policy successes and state of social welfare in Hong Kong, which was enjoying growing prosperity.

The governor also served as the chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, so their conversation also touched on the educational exchange taking place between the university and Soka University.

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Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Shin’ichi expressed his deep gratitude for the governor’s support as the university’s chancellor and frankly shared his feelings with him: “I think that the educational exchange between our two universities should be aimed at enabling young people to forge friendships, freely exchange their thoughts on the world’s future and advance together in a spirit of mutual cooperation.

“Through such exchange, I wish to foster capable individuals who, transcending differences of nationality, race, religion, customs and traditions, can share one another’s hardships, sufferings and joys as fellow human beings, and work together for common goals.”

The governor expressed his hearty agreement.

The world, after all, comes down to human relationships. If we can remember that we are all human beings, we should be able to communicate, understand and empathize with one another.

Only a little more than two decades remained until the start of the 21st century. There were many matters that Shin’ichi felt he urgently needed to act on for the sake of world peace and the future of humanity. He just wished he had more time. Life is a battle against time.

That afternoon, Shin’ichi and the delegation traveling with him attended a culture festival held by the Hong Kong members at the Academic Community Hall in Kowloon.

A total of 556 members participated in the festival, passionately expressing their wish for peace in Asia through colorful and riveting performances that included a traditional Chinese court dance, a harvest dance, a lion dance, and choral and musical performances.

The vibrant energy of those who wish and act for people’s happiness is the creative source that gives rise to art and culture.

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Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

The performers in the festival were culturally diverse, and included those of Chinese, British and Japanese backgrounds. In the finale, everyone took to the stage—even the stage crew in their safety helmets and the other support staff—linked arms and enthusiastically sang “The Song of Kosen-rufu in Hong Kong.” To Shin’ichi Yamamoto, it was a picture of genuine human harmony.

In the 18 years since the first Soka Gakkai district had been established in Hong Kong, the membership had grown to the extent they were able to hold such a large and splendid culture festival.

Shin’ichi wished to make even greater efforts for the movement’s development around the world. But he was so busy that it was very difficult to find time in his schedule to travel outside Japan. “If I could really focus on each country now,” he thought, “dramatic progress in kosen-rufu, in world peace, would be possible. I mustn’t let this chance pass me by!”

Shin’ichi, who was seated in the audience, stood to speak.

“All people are equal; all are members of the human family. This is the teaching of Nichiren Buddhism, which we practice, and I firmly believe that today’s performances are a symbol of that truth.

“We are practicing Buddhism to become happy, to attain lasting fulfillment. In addition, we are practicing to form bonds of friendship with others in our society and expand our network for peace.

“Your joyous and vibrant expressions today reflect the happiness and sense of purpose filling your lives. Your solid unity is a microcosm of peace forged through friendship. This, I wish to declare for all to hear!

“Building world peace is our mission as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism. But peace is not something abstract or removed from our lives; it is found in widening our circles of friendship and trust in our neighborhoods and communities, and in creating a model of human harmony there. I hope that, from here in Hong Kong, you will make the sun of a century of peace rise.”

Shin’ichi was convinced that a beacon of peace that would illuminate the 21st century had been built in Hong Kong.

Shin’ichi was thinking: “Soon, the Seven Bells[10] will be over and a new phase of four five-year periods leading up to the 21st century will begin. This is the time to make a powerful running start! We have to accelerate at full throttle to take flight anew.

It’s all the more important, therefore, that we stay on guard and pay the closest attention to every detail. I’m going to exert myself even more in encouraging members so that they can unite their hearts and advance with hope. I’m going to meet with as many members as possible and share with them the Soka spirit of dedicating one’s life to kosen-rufu!”

On February 21, the day after his return to Japan, Shin’ichi concentrated on writing articles about his trip to India that several newspapers had requested he contribute. On February 22, after encouraging members from Nordic countries who were visiting Japan, he departed for a guidance tour of Chiba Prefecture. On February 25, he took commemorative photographs with members from Yamanashi and Ibaraki prefectures who were meeting at the Soka Culture Center in Shinanomachi, Tokyo.

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Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Two days later, on February 27, he traveled to Kanagawa Prefecture to take part in a gongyo meeting with Shonan Zone women’s block (later district) leaders at the Shonan Culture Center in Fujisawa City. After that, he did gongyo and offered guidance at a commemorative event—extending over three separate sessions—marking the 16th anniversary of the establishment of Fujisawa Chapter, which was also held at the culture center. The next day, he attended two gongyo sessions commemorating the opening of the Odawara Culture Center.

Shin’ichi spent his days rushing ahead at full speed, without a moment’s pause.

Around this time, Nichiren Shoshu priests throughout the country were once again beginning to attack and criticize the Soka Gakkai. Shin’ichi was at pains to consider what could be done to protect the members. At the Soka Gakkai representative leaders meeting commemorating the lay organization’s 48th anniversary, held on November 7 the previous year, the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu had reaffirmed their commitment to harmony between priesthood and laity. This step was supposed to resolve the situation. However, shortly after that meeting, some Japanese tabloid magazines began to run stories alleging that the Soka Gakkai’s reconciliation effort was a sham. Behind the articles was a plot to incite attacks on the Soka Gakkai.

The path of Soka lions is always steep and treacherous.

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Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Nichiren Shoshu priests were desperate to find anything they could use to justify attacking the Soka Gakkai. At the beginning of 1979, they cited a student division leader calling on members to “clearly demonstrate that the Soka Gakkai is right and just” as proof that the Soka Gakkai wasn’t at all repentant.

On January 28, the second national general meeting for danto members—Nichiren Shoshu lay believers who were critical of the Soka Gakkai—was held at the head temple, Taiseki-ji. At the meeting, attended by some 230 priests and 5,000 danto members, it was maintained that the Soka Gakkai was guilty of slandering the Law, and that there could be no reconciliation or compromise with it on that account.

The Soka Gakkai, however, continued to exercise great patience and forbearance for the sake of harmony, acting with utmost care and restraint in its dealings with the priesthood.

Then, in early March, a priest who served as a secretary to the high priest phoned Soka Gakkai vice president Eisuke Akizuki, saying: “Soka Gakkai Vice President Genji Samejima has been making various statements about the problems existing between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai. The high priest and many of us have been surprised by his remarks. We will inquire about them in writing and request that you reply.”

The priesthood was referring to irresponsible statements made by Samejima at a meeting that had been held at Omuta in Fukuoka Prefecture, on March 6, to promote harmony between the Soka Gakkai and the priesthood. On numerous occasions in the past, Samejima had also caused much pain to the pure-hearted Kyushu members through his thoughtless words and actions.

At the meeting in question, he had said things such as: “The head temple is little more than a big tourist lodge,” and “The priesthood’s criticisms of the Soka Gakkai are nothing but groundless suspicions motivated by jealousy.” Not only did he recklessly air such personal views, but he declared that they were the opinions of all the Soka Gakkai vice presidents.

This was communicated to the priesthood and naturally caused an uproar. Declaring Samejima’s remarks to be insolent, both the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office and Internal Affairs Department sent letters of inquiry on this matter to the Soka Gakkai.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Misfortune comes from one’s mouth and ruins one” (“New Year’s Gosho,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1137). Arrogance and carelessness cause misfortunes that can not only bring about one’s own downfall, but also destroy the movement for kosen-rufu. These extremely ill-advised remarks by a single Soka Gakkai leader gave priests who sought to control and subjugate the laity the perfect ammunition for attacking the Soka Gakkai.

The voyage of kosen-rufu is always over stormy seas.

Since Genji Samejima was a vice president of the Soka Gakkai, Shin’ichi Yamamoto, as the organization’s president, became the primary target of the priesthood’s protest.

Priests of Nichiren Shoshu loudly claimed it was clear from Samejima’s remarks that neither the Soka Gakkai nor President Yamamoto felt any contrition for what had happened, and that they never had any intention of sincerely supporting the priesthood.

The Soka Gakkai had been trying hard to resolve the situation, but now all their sincere efforts were brought to nothing.

Shin’ichi held the position of chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations, and priests began to demand that he be asked to step down from that post. Some even sent letters denouncing him.

Then, at the end of March 1979, the Hokkeko Federation, an association of Hokkeko lay groups affiliated with Nichiren Shoshu throughout Japan, called an emergency meeting of its directors and adopted a recommendation calling for the Soka Gakkai president to step down as the chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations. It then sent a letter to him to that effect.

In addition, ex-Soka Gakkai members who had become danto members [Nichiren Shoshu lay believers who were critical of the Soka Gakkai] actively called on President Yamamoto to take full responsibility by resigning.

April 2 marked the 21st anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s death. Memorial services were held at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo, and at the main Soka Gakkai centers in each ward and prefecture throughout Japan. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, swaying gracefully in the spring breeze.

Shin’ichi participated in the memorial service conducted at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters Annex in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, along with General Director Kiyoshi Jujo, Vice President Eisuke Akizuki and Toda’s close family.

This memorial fell at a time when the Soka Gakkai was in the midst of great turmoil. Knowing, however, that he had realized all of his mentor’s dreams, Shin’ichi’s heart was as clear and bright as the blue sky. He was satisfied with the way he had lived his life thus far as a disciple of Toda. Genuine disciples are always able to face their mentor in their hearts with pride and joy.

The seventh of the Seven Bells,[11] the series of consecutive seven-year periods of development articulated by his mentor, was coming to a close. Like a river flowing into the sea, the great current of kosen-rufu had begun to flow to the entire world. A solid foundation had been built so that the Soka Gakkai could soar into the 21st century, and the organization was entering a new stage.

Shin’ichi sternly reminded himself to be ready for the even fiercer onslaughts of devilish functions that were certain to arise as kosen-rufu continued to advance.

As he chanted for his mentor during the memorial service, Shin’ichi envisioned Toda gazing at him.

He could hear his mentor say: “Shin’ichi, I’m counting on you to achieve worldwide kosen-rufu! Have no fear! Boldly pursue the great path of your mission!”

Courage rose in his heart. He felt a surge of strength course through his being.

“I am Mr. Toda’s disciple! I am the heir of this heroic lion king who stood up alone for kosen-rufu! Whatever may happen, I will faithfully transmit the Daishonin’s Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai spirit! I will fight to protect the members, the noble children of the Buddha!”

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

When Shin’ichi returned home after the memorial service, he pondered the problems between the Soka Gakkai and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood.

The Soka Gakkai had always done its utmost to protect and support Nichiren Shoshu, which had flourished as a result. In addition, the Soka Gakkai had devoted great energy to widely spreading the ideals and principles of Nichiren Buddhism in society with the aim of achieving kosen-rufu. But Nichiren Shoshu priests looked down on the Soka Gakkai members and continued to criticize and attack the organization at every turn. They nitpicked about things that its members had said or done, claiming that the Soka Gakkai was distorting the teachings or slandering the Law. There was not the slightest compassion in their actions.

Soka Gakkai members had put up with the priests’ highhanded, disrespectful treatment, holding back their indignation and frustration. When he thought of this, Shin’ichi couldn’t sit still and do nothing.

For the sake of maintaining harmony between the priesthood and laity, and protecting its members, the Soka Gakkai had made every possible effort to try to resolve the situation. It had listened patiently to and accepted the priesthood’s claims. Yet the priesthood persisted in its attacks on the lay organization.

There was a deeply engrained culture in Nichiren Shoshu—fostered over centuries of the temple parishioner system in Japan—that held that priests were superior to lay practitioners. Since the Soka Gakkai’s early days, the priesthood had brandished its clerical authority and caused suffering to Soka Gakkai members on numerous occasions.

This went completely against the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin. With such statements as “All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren … transcending all differences among themselves” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217), the Daishonin asserted throughout his writings that priests and lay practitioners are all equal.

Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching of equality that demolishes discriminatory barriers.

References

  1. “The Dragon Gate,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1003. ↩︎
  2. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 82. ↩︎
  3. “The Selection of the Time,” WND-1, 550. ↩︎
  4. The visit to India was from February 6–16, 1979. ↩︎
  5. Seven Bells: Seven consecutive seven-year periods in the Soka Gakkai’s development from its founding in 1930 through 1979. On May 3, 1958, shortly after second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s death (on April 2), Mr. Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, introduced the concept of the Seven Bells and announced targets for subsequent seven-year periods. ↩︎
  6. “The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 279. ↩︎
  7. Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, comprising two characters). The Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎
  8. “Letter to Shimoyama,” WND-2, 688. ↩︎
  9. “Letter to Niike,” WND-1, 1027. ↩︎
  10. Seven Bells: Seven consecutive seven-year periods in the Soka Gakkai’s development from its founding in 1930 through 1979. On May 3, 1958, shortly after second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s death (on April 2), Daisaku Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of sta , introduced the concept of the Seven Bells and announced targets for subsequent seven-year periods. ↩︎
  11. Seven Bells: Seven consecutive seven-year periods in the Soka Gakkai’s development from its founding in 1930 through 1979. On May 3, 1958, shortly after second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s death (on April 2), Daisaku Ikeda, then-Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, introduced the concept of the Seven Bells and announced targets for subsequent seven-year periods. ↩︎

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