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The New Human Revolution

Great Mountain—Volume 30, Chapter 1

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.

Installment 10 | Installment 20 | Installment 30 | Installment 40 | Installment 50 | Installment 60

Installment 1

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.

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.

Installment 2

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.

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.

Installment 3

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.

“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.”

Installment 4

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.”

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.

Installment 5

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.

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.

Installment 6

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.

Installment 7

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.

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.

Installment 8

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.

Installment 9

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.

Installment 10

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!”

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.

Installment 11

Nichiren Daishonin taught that all people equally possess the Buddha nature, and revealed the way by which anyone can attain enlightenment—that is, establish a life state of absolute happiness. He elucidated the core principles of human equality and respect for the dignity of life. This is what makes Nichiren Buddhism a universal teaching that can serve as the foundation for building peace for all humankind.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto sensed that behind the priests’ domineering attitude toward the lay believers lurked a frighteningly treacherous nature.

During World War II, when Japan’s authoritarian rulers increasingly sought to enforce thought control on the population, Nichiren Shoshu agreed to accept the Shinto talisman dedicated to the Sun Goddess. The Soka Gakkai’s first and second presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, however, steadfastly upheld the correct teachings and principles of Nichiren Buddhism. As a result, they were jailed by the militarist government, and Makiguchi later died in prison for his beliefs. The priesthood reacted to these developments by taking numerous shameful measures against the Soka Gakkai, such as banning its members from making pilgrimages to the head temple.

Yet despite that history, the Soka Gakkai after the war continued sincerely to do everything it could to support and protect Nichiren Shoshu, believing that doing so was for the good of kosen-rufu.

But the priests, who claimed to be the disciples of Nichiren, harassed and oppressed the Soka Gakkai, which persevered in selflessly propagating the Law, just as the Daishonin instructed. This unthinkable state of affairs had persisted from the prewar days.

When viewed in the light of Buddhism, however, the situation is absolutely clear. Nichiren tells us who it is that will destroy Buddhism: “Neither non-Buddhists nor the enemies of Buddhism can destroy the correct teaching of the Thus Come One, but the Buddha’s disciples definitely can. As a sutra says, only worms born of the lion’s body feed on the lion” (“Letter from Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 302).

It is the followers of Buddhism, not non-Buddhists and others who denounce Buddhism, who will destroy it. The Lotus Sutra states that “evil demons will take possession of others” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 233), describing how the devil king of the sixth heaven[12] will take possession of priests who will then sow confusion and disunity among believers. In this scenario, those wearing priestly robes will trample on Nichiren’s spirit and obstruct kosen-rufu.

So it was that, during Toda’s lifetime, too, the Soka Gakkai suffered unreasonable attacks from Nichiren Shoshu priests.

Shin’ichi was reminded of a stern warning delivered by his mentor: “Kosen-rufu will never advance without the Soka Gakkai. Those who seek to destroy the Soka Gakkai, a harmonious community of practitioners, are in fact obstructing kosen-rufu!”

Installment 12

After reflecting on the great path of correct practice that the Soka Gakkai was following, Shin’ichi Yamamoto then turned his attention to the immediate, urgent problem confronting the organization.

He thought: “Our top priority right now must be to put a stop to the priests’ reprehensible attacks and protect the members. That’s why we have accepted the various demands by the priesthood up to now, acquiescing each and every time.”

Whenever he learned of arrogant priests in different parts of the country behaving abusively toward Soka Gakkai members, it tore at his heart. He could picture the faces of anguished and suffering members, and hear their cries of sorrow and outrage. All the efforts the Soka Gakkai had made to break out of this situation had now been brought to nothing by the irresponsible words of Soka Gakkai Vice President Genji Samejima.

Shin’ichi thought: “The Soka Gakkai is the organization that Mr. Toda declared to be more precious than his own life. I absolutely must protect the Soka Gakkai and its members. What’s the best way to do that?”

He wasn’t afraid to bear the brunt of the priesthood’s attacks if it meant protecting his beloved fellow members. He had vowed from the day of his inauguration as third president that he would take full responsibility if anything happened. That vow remained unchanged.

The Soka Gakkai was experiencing a period of unprecedented development. It had become, in name and reality, the “king of the religious world” in Japan, and a strong and sure force for peace. The grass-roots network of Soka Gakkai members was beginning to spread all across the globe.

Through Buddhist study that emphasized practical relevance to daily life, the members had soundly established the principles of Nichiren Buddhism as their guiding philosophy and standard for living. Many outstanding individuals had emerged and were playing active roles in every sphere of society, inspired by a profound commitment to kosen-rufu. In addition, the Soka Gakkai’s multifaceted, socially engaged movement for peace, culture and education based on Buddhism was gaining widespread recognition, and the circle of understanding and praise for the organization was growing significantly.

In that way, the Soka Gakkai entered 1979—the year in which the Seven Bells[13] would come to a close—enjoying unparalleled development.

Working toward that achievement, Shin’ichi had prided himself on always being able to report victoriously to his mentor, Josei Toda. His commitment to responding to his mentor was what drove him.

Installment 13

For some time, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had been considering handing over the reins of the Soka Gakkai presidency to someone else.

When one person shoulders a responsibility for an extended period, it can be difficult for successors to develop. To ensure the eternal transmission of the Mystic Law, he wanted to create without delay a stream of successors.

In 1970, after serving as president for just over a decade, he had informed the executive leadership a number of times of his intention to step down at some point. But they had been against the idea, insisting that the presidency was a lifelong appointment.

Then, in 1974, he handed over his post of representative director of the Soka Gakkai as a religious corporation to the Soka Gakkai’s general director. On that occasion, and later in 1977, he again brought up the subject of passing on the post of Soka Gakkai president, but both times, the executive leadership insisted he stay on.

Now, the 19th anniversary of his inauguration was approaching and the Seven Bells[14] were also coming to a close. He had been thinking again about handing the post of president to someone new when the right time presented itself. He was just 51 and, fortunately, remained in good health. He could still support and encourage everyone after stepping down.

When Shin’ichi, as a Buddhist, thought about the world situation, it was clear there was still much work he had to do.

He wanted to take more substantial and broad-ranging action for world peace. He felt it important to meet and engage in dialogue with many more world leaders. He wanted to put even greater energy into promoting culture and education based on the ideals of Nichiren Buddhism. Above all, he felt the time had come to develop the worldwide movement for kosen-rufu in earnest.

But if he began to play a more international role, the next Soka Gakkai president and the rest of the executive leadership to whom he would entrust the baton of kosen-rufu in Japan would have rough seas to navigate. Although the Soka Gakkai was enjoying unprecedented growth at that time, dark clouds loomed and stormy winds were blowing. It would not be an easy voyage. Challenging trials would be inevitable. The leaders carrying on after him would need to recognize devilish forces with the clear eyes of faith and have the determination and initiative to boldly take them on and forge ahead. Shin’ichi wanted everyone to have courage now more than ever.

Seneca, the ancient Roman philosopher, said, “The assaults of adversity do not weaken the spirit of a brave [person].”[15]

Installment 14

Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a meeting of Seikyo Shimbun distributors in the afternoon of April 3.

Though harsh challenges were assailing the Soka Gakkai, Shin’ichi continued his efforts undaunted.

With the wish that these members with a noble mission would become proud victors in life, Shin’ichi addressed the gathering: “Your work starts before dawn, and I am sure you tend to be short on sleep. But please do your best to take care of your health, so that you can carry out your mission safely each day.

“The key to avoiding accidents is to observe the basics in both faith and daily life. Neglecting the basics is a sign of carelessness, and actually arises from arrogance. Especially, in the realm of faith, those who neglect the basics—consumed by a desire for fame and fortune, and try to get by with the least amount of effort—always stumble in the end. But don’t forget that though they may fool others, no one can escape the strict Buddhist law of cause and effect.

“I hope that you will diligently practice the basics in every area, remain unswayed by circumstances, give sincere, serious and wholehearted attention to dealing with each challenge you face, and triumph over all. As you repeat that process, your life will begin to shine brightly. I’d like you to have confidence in this.

“Running a local distribution center is hard, unglamorous work that often goes unrecognized, and rarely allows you to take a vacation. Moreover, it comes with a heavy responsibility. But because of your efforts and those of the members who deliver the paper, people can read the Seikyo Shimbun, and kosen-rufu advances.

“As you continue in your work, confident that the Buddhas and heavenly deities are aware of all your efforts, I am chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for your well-being and safety every day, with the greatest respect and admiration.”

Wherever there were sincere members, Shin’ichi never hesitated to encourage them, no matter how tired he was. He had decided to commit his life to encouraging people and sharing Buddhism with them, regardless of the situation in which he found himself.

Installment 15

On the evening of April 4, Isamu Nomura, the youth leader, received a telephone call from the attorney Tomomasa Yamawaki, who was serving as the liaison between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai. Yamawaki said he urgently wished to provide an update on how things stood with the priesthood.

Nomura, together with Soka Gakkai General Director Kiyoshi Jujo, met with Yamawaki to hear what he had to say.

With a seemingly troubled expression, Yamawaki began: “Because of Vice President Samejima’s statements, the priesthood is preparing to launch an all-out attack on the Soka Gakkai. To resolve the situation, Mr. Samejima naturally will have to be dealt with, but that won’t be enough. President Yamamoto will most likely have to resign, not only as the head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations but also as Soka Gakkai president. The young priests who are critical of the Soka Gakkai will not let up in their attacks unless he does so.

“Think of what will happen if the priesthood’s anger continues to grow. You need to be prepared for the worst. High Priest Nittatsu is also very upset about this most recent incident.”

The words “prepared for the worst” pierced Jujo’s heart. Samejima’s careless remarks had ruined all the Soka Gakkai’s earnest efforts to restore harmonious relations with the priesthood, and had become an easy mark for those scheming to take control of the Soka Gakkai.

Jujo contacted Shin’ichi, briefly relayed what Yamawaki had said, and requested that an emergency executive conference be convened.

Clouds blanketed the sky, but the cherry trees stood with regal majesty, branches outstretched in full bloom.

On the morning of April 5, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a Soka Gakkai executive conference at the Tachikawa Culture Center in Tokyo. Its purpose was to discuss how to handle the ongoing problems with the priesthood. Jujo was there, along with several other top leaders. They all looked heavy-hearted.

The meeting began with a report on the assessment made by Yamawaki, followed by an update on the recent moves by various Nichiren Shoshu priests.

Shin’ichi thought that at last the devilish functions had revealed their hand. It was a plot to force him to resign as president and drive a wedge between him and the members, between mentor and disciples. It was, ultimately, nothing other than an attempt to destroy the Soka Gakkai, the organization advancing kosen-rufu in exact accord with the Buddha’s intent.

It is crucial to see through the maneuverings of devilish functions with the eyes of faith.

Installment 16

Shin’ichi Yamamoto looked intently at each of the leaders present. They all wore expressions of deep concern, but none spoke. There was a long silence.

Prompted by Shin’ichi for his opinion, one of the leaders finally murmured, “You can’t go against the flow of the times … ”

A sharp pain shot through Shin’ichi’s heart—What cowardice! he thought.

Shin’ichi was prepared to bow in apology to the priesthood if that would bring an end to the turmoil. He realized he might have no choice but to resign. He also knew how hard everyone had tried to resolve the situation. Still, he found it pitiful that they should now view the unfolding events as “the flow of the times.”

“If we just allow ourselves to be swept along by circumstances,” he thought, “then what’s happened to the Soka Gakkai spirit?! What matters is the powerful inner determination to protect the Soka Gakkai with our lives, for the sake of kosen-rufu!”

Shin’ichi broke the continuing silence, saying sternly: “All right, I will resign as the head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and as the president of the Soka Gakkai. I’ll take full responsibility. That’s what you’re suggesting, isn’t it? That will settle everything, right?

“But it must be the Soka Gakkai, not the priesthood, that decides when its president steps down. My resignation as president is something I have been thinking about for a long time, in order to open the way for the Soka Gakkai’s future.”

Shin’ichi believed that they must not create a precedent in which the priesthood could pressure a Soka Gakkai president to resign. He also felt that if that were to happen, it would be an eternal blot on the priesthood’s own history.

It was, after all, the Soka Gakkai, through its sincere support, that had saved the priesthood from virtual ruin in the postwar period. And more importantly, the Soka Gakkai, with Shin’ichi’s leadership, was the one and only organization acting in accord with the Buddha’s intent—advancing kosen-rufu with selfless dedication just as Nichiren Daishonin taught, spreading the Mystic Law throughout the entire world.

One leader, overcome with emotion at Shin’ichi’s words, said, “Sensei! I am so sorry … ”

The path of kosen-rufu entails an intense and unrelenting struggle with the devil king of the sixth heaven. Precisely because the Soka Gakkai has been able, through faith in the Mystic Law, to recognize, fight and defeat the workings of the devil king, it has succeeded in creating a great tide of kosen-rufu.

Installment 17

Shortly before his death, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda had instructed his disciples to protect the third president throughout their lives. Doing so, he said, would ensure the achievement of kosen-rufu. It was key to the unity that would open the way to continuous victory.

It wasn’t that Shin’ichi Yamamoto wanted to be protected, but he was shocked to the core that everyone seemed to have forgotten this spirit their mentor had taught them for the sake of kosen-rufu.

Thinking of the future and with a prayer in his heart, Shin’ichi said to the top leaders present: “I am a lion! I’m not afraid of anything. You need to be lions, too! Otherwise, the members will suffer. Walk the great path of Soka mentor and disciple with dauntless courage and a strong fighting spirit. If you have that firm commitment, nothing will ever shake the Soka Gakkai. President Toda is watching!”

Shin’ichi then stood up and left the room.

From a window, he could see cherry blossoms dancing in the breeze. Stopping to gaze at them, Shin’ichi thought back to the momentous struggles waged by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda as mentor and disciple.

In June 1943, fearing persecution by the militarist authorities who were seeking to unite the country around State Shinto for the war effort, Nichiren Shoshu urged the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) to go along, at least outwardly, with the government’s demand that they enshrine a Shinto talisman dedicated to the Sun Goddess.

Makiguchi refused and prepared to remonstrate with the authorities, ready to face the inevitable persecution that would result. At that time, his disciple, Josei Toda, also resolved firmly to continue propagating the Mystic Law even at the risk of his life. Toda was later arrested and imprisoned along with Makiguchi. He prayed fervently in his solitary prison cell that he could bear the brunt of all charges, so that Makiguchi would be released as soon as possible.

While Nichiren Shoshu became submerged in the polluted current of slander of the Law, the spiritual unity of mentor and disciple shared by Makiguchi and Toda safeguarded the correct teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. Makiguchi died in prison, but Toda lived to be released. Carrying on his mentor’s earnest wish, he rebuilt the Soka Gakkai and paved the way for the eternal propagation of Nichiren Buddhism.

The mentor in the Soka Gakkai is the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear in the present age with a vow to widely propagate the Mystic Law, and also serves as the main axle for the advance of kosen-rufu. When the disciples’ resolve aligns with that of the mentor, the wheels of kosen-rufu begin to move powerfully. That’s why the unity of mentor and disciples is the lifeline of the Soka Gakkai.

Installment 18

Shin’ichi Yamamoto recalled the incident that took place in April 1952, during the head temple’s festivities for the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.

Soka Gakkai youth division members discovered Jiko Kasahara, an individual the priesthood had supposedly expelled from its ranks, at the head temple.

During World War II, Kasahara, then a Nichiren Shoshu priest, opportunistically espoused the erroneous doctrine that Buddhism is subordinate to Shinto. Seeking to court favor with the militarist authorities, he betrayed Nichiren’s teachings. His actions at that time triggered the government’s oppression of the Soka Gakkai, and ultimately led to Makiguchi dying in prison.

Having found Kasahara on the head temple grounds during the 700th anniversary festivities, the youth division members took him to Makiguchi’s grave and pressed him to admit the error of his doctrine. This incident caused an uproar in the priesthood.

It was revealed that Nichiren Shoshu had secretly reinstated Kasahara as a priest, thus turning a blind eye to his fallacious doctrine that fundamentally distorted Nichiren’s teachings.

In response to the incident, the priesthood convened a meeting of the Nichiren Shoshu Council, whose members adopted a resolution describing what happened as “a disgraceful incident unprecedented since the head temple’s founding.” Declaring that the Soka Gakkai president had assaulted Kasahara, troubled the high priest and disturbed the faith of the lay followers visiting the head temple, they called for Toda to submit a written apology, be dismissed from the position of senior lay representative of Nichiren Shoshu and be barred from visiting the head temple.

While protecting the unrepentant priest who had advocated the doctrine that Buddhism is subordinate to Shinto and trampled on the Daishonin’s teachings, the Nichiren Shoshu Council sought to take harsh disciplinary action against Toda, who had tried to correct that wrong.

Shin’ichi and other disciples of Toda rose up and expressed their firm determination to defend Toda, demanding that the council’s resolution be rescinded. They met individually with the members of the council and sincerely explained what had actually taken place with Kasahara, stressing the injustice of the resolution and requesting that it be withdrawn.

In these encounters, Shin’ichi was always polite, but inside he was burning with outrage.

He thought: “The council is seeking to single out President Toda for punishment, dismissing him as senior lay representative of Nichiren Shoshu and barring him from visiting the head temple. In that way, they are trying to drive a wedge between him as president and the members.

“Without President Toda, who will advance kosen-rufu? We must protect him, no matter what. He has always staunchly upheld the truth and is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. We cannot allow the priesthood to punish him!”

This was not only the fierce determination of Shin’ichi, but that of the Soka Gakkai’s top leaders and youth division leaders as well.

The devilish functions seeking to destroy kosen-rufu always plot to sever the bonds of mentor and disciple.

Installment 19

Hearing the sincere and well-reasoned explanations of Shin’ichi and Toda’s other disciples, many of the Nichiren Shoshu Council members changed their minds and agreed with revoking the resolution that called for disciplinary action against the Soka Gakkai president. Further, High Priest Nissho Mizutani did not act on the resolution.

Overcoming the Kasahara Incident served to further strengthen the united spirit of mentor and disciple in the Soka Gakkai. Uplifted by the headwinds of adversity, it launched forward majestically toward achieving Toda’s goal of 750,000 member households.

Returning to the present, what concerned Shin’ichi now, however, was that he could not discern in the attitude of the top leaders the resolute mentor-disciple spirit of dedicating one’s life to kosen-rufu, the passionate fighting spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

The following day, April 6, Shin’ichi went to the head temple to participate in its annual Scroll-Airing Ceremony. There, he met with High Priest Nittatsu and informed him of his intention to resign as the head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and also as Soka Gakkai president.

For Shin’ichi, his key priority was to protect the members from the attacks of self-serving priests. Even if he stepped down as president, he was fully confident that the younger generation of members would carry the Soka Gakkai’s torch of kosen-rufu and boldly take their place on the grand stage of the 21st century.

When one has successors, one has no worries or regrets. Leaders who know that there are youth to succeed them are happy and confident, because then a bright, hope-filled future lies ahead.

On the afternoon of April 7, Shin’ichi welcomed a 20-member delegation of the All-China Youth Federation in front of the Zhou Cherry Tree, which was in beautiful bloom, near the Pond of Literature on the Soka University campus (in Hachioji, Tokyo).

At 10 that morning, the group of Chinese youth had visited the Seikyo Shimbun Building in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. After receiving a warm welcome from Soka Gakkai youth division representatives, the delegation had engaged in discussions with them to promote friendly exchange between China and Japan that would endure throughout future generations. Following that event, they went to Soka University, where Shin’ichi was awaiting them.

Shin’ichi keenly felt that this was the time to bring people around the globe together through a philosophy of peace. Whatever happened, whatever storms of adversity arose, he was determined to continue his work of building bridges of peace throughout the world.

Installment 20

Shin’ichi Yamamoto said “Hello” in Chinese and thanked the group for coming.

He heartily embraced the youth delegation leader, Gao Zhanxiang, who was wearing a Mao suit, and shook hands with each of the delegation members.

Gao said excitedly: “We have been looking forward to meeting you, President Yamamoto, and now our dream has come true. We admire the efforts you have made to build bridges of friendship between China and Japan.”

In response, Shin’ichi explained for Gao and the others the origins of the Zhou Cherry Tree: “This cherry tree was planted on Nov. 2, 1975, with our prayers for the health of Premier Zhou Enlai and the wish for lasting peace and friendship between our two countries. At my suggestion, the actual planting was done by students from the People’s Republic of China who had come to study at Soka University.

“A year earlier, in December 1974, Premier Zhou met with me at the hospital in Beijing where he was being treated. Despite his illness, he spoke of his earnest wish for friendly relations between China and Japan and for world peace. During our meeting, he reflected nostalgically that he had left Japan in the season of the cherry blossoms.

“I urged him to visit Japan and see the cherry blossoms again, to which he replied that he would like to do so, but that it would probably be impossible. His expression at that moment was tinged with sad regret. That’s why I proposed planting a cherry tree, of which he was so fond, and asked the Chinese students, who carried on his vision, to do the planting.”

Ties of friendship are woven from the threads of sincerity.

The young people from the Chinese delegation listened carefully and nodded as Shin’ichi spoke.

He continued: “Premier Zhou died in January 1976, about two months after this cherry tree was planted. In my profound sorrow at the news, I made a vow. That was to devote my entire being to the friendship between China and Japan that had been his cherished wish, and do everything possible to see that it endured forever.

“With that determination, I decided to look for the opportunity to plant two more cherry trees with young Chinese leaders in honor of both Premier Zhou and his wife, Deng Yingchao. In fact, we have made preparations to do so today, and I would like to ask you to assist me now in planting those trees with gratitude for these two great leaders and a shared vow for everlasting friendship.”

Installment 21

Shin’ichi personally guided the members of the All-China Youth Federation delegation to the site.

A short distance from the Zhou Cherry Tree, two cherry trees were readied for the tree-planting ceremony, a mound of fresh soil piled in front of them. The trees were about four meters (13 feet) tall, and were adorned with pale pink blossoms. The one on the left was the Zhou Enlai Cherry Tree, and the one on the right, the Deng Yingchao Cherry Tree.

With the members of the visiting delegation and a group of Soka University students looking on, the tree-planting ceremony began. Shin’ichi and delegation leader Gao Zhanxiang were handed shovels, with which they placed soil at the base of the trees. When they were finished, the young people applauded.

“Now, let’s all take a picture together!” Shin’ichi suggested. Everyone gathered in front of the trees for a group photo.

Looking deeply moved, Gao began to speak. A young interpreter then translated his words into Japanese: “President Yamamoto, the Zhou Cherry Tree and this pair of trees dedicated to Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao, husband and wife, eloquently convey the sincerity of your concern and actions for peace and friendship with China. I am overwhelmed with emotion. I would like to express my gratitude with an impromptu poem.”

He began to recite sonorously in Chinese:

Visiting our eastern neighbor
in the season of cherry blossoms,
we feel the deepest consideration and truest affection.
Admiring the blossoms, we appreciate all the more those who planted the trees,
as when drinking water,
we think often of those who dug the well.

Gao’s resonant voice was very moving. Shin’ichi was touched and humbled by this expression of gratitude.

The true origin of friendship is mutual appreciation.

After his return to China, Gao composed a poem recording the joy he had felt on visiting Japan:

The contacts between close neighbors,
separated only by a narrow strip of water,
flow inexhaustibly;
the flower of friendship
remains forever in springtime.

He also began to study Japanese with his son. He was confident that friendly exchange between the people of China and Japan would continue forever.

Premier Zhou Enlai was deeply determined to build friendship that would endure for generations.

When the baton of friendship is passed from generation to generation, it becomes genuine and indestructible.

Installment 22

Shin’ichi had a great deal of respect and admiration for the All-China Youth Federation delegation leader Gao Zhanxiang, who was seven years his junior. The friendship they forged in Japan at that time never faded.

In the autumn of 1992, on the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, Shin’ichi made his eighth visit to China. On that occasion, the Chinese Ministry of Culture presented him with its first Contribution to Cultural Exchange Award, in recognition of his endeavors to promote cultural exchange between the two countries.

At the official ceremony, it was Gao Zhanxiang, then the vice minister of culture, who handed  Shin’ichi the award certificate. In addition, Gao, who was well-versed in poetry, calligraphy and photography, presented Shin’ichi with a calligraphy he had written, which read: “Separated only by a narrow strip of water; the farther the source, the longer the stream.”

Gao later went on to hold numerous other important posts, including member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, head of the Chinese Art Photography Association, secretary of the Chinese Federation of Literary and Art Circles and chairman of the Association for the Promotion of Chinese Culture. In these multiple capacities, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the promotion and development of cultural activities in China. He also authored several books, including Wenhua li (The Power of Culture) and Shehui wenhua lun (Social and Cultural Theory).

Gao continued to exchange views on the power of culture with Shin’ichi, and for a year starting in 2010, a dialogue between them, titled Chikyu wo musubu bunkaryoku (The Unifying Power of Culture), was serialized in the Soka Gakkai-affiliated magazine Ushio. Published in book form in 2012, their dialogue focused on the power of culture to act as a force for peace unifying humanity and covered a wide variety of subjects, including the history of exchange between China and Japan, art, culture and religion.

Having decided to step down as Soka Gakkai president, Shin’ichi had already turned his attention energetically to the world. The wars and conflicts troubling Asia and other regions deeply pained him. As a Buddhist and a human being, he resolved that now was the time to open the way to peace and human harmony. He also believed that this was the most important challenge in which world leaders and thinkers should join forces.

Like a great mountain, lofty and dignified, Shin’ichi gazed into the skies of the future. The uproar and commotion that swirled around him registered as little more than the sound of the trees rustling in the breeze.

Installment 23

On April 9, 1979, a beautiful, clear day, the 9th Soka University Entrance Ceremony was held. It began at noon, and Shin’ichi Yamamoto, the university’s founder, addressed the entering students, wishing them all bright futures. Speaking on the importance of learning in life, he urged them to always maintain “a humble spirit of learning” and make the most of their four years at the university.

In his speech, he introduced a quotation from the German philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel (1858–1918): “To the proud person, it is the absolute degree of his value that counts—to the vain person, it is the relative degree.”

Every individual has unique, absolute, inherent worth deserving of the highest respect and possesses a singular mission. When we take pride in this and dedicate ourselves to our own mission, we experience true joy and zest for living. Therefore, Shin’ichi stressed to thestudents, genuine success in life is not measured by such relative factors as social status or position.

“Your life’s worth is not decided by others,” he said. “You decide your own worth. It is pointless to compare yourself to others and allow yourself to be swayed by relative or temporary assessments, or to be overly concerned with other people’s opinions and the latest trends. That is because, in the end, such things are as fleeting and insubstantial as foam on the waves.”

Shin’ichi concluded by expressing his hope that the students would not be passive or dependent, but actively pursue their own chosen path in life in accord with their convictions.

After the entrance ceremony, Shin’ichi attended a reception for guests. Then, at 7 p.m., he went to the front lobby of the Liberal Arts Building. There, four students from China who were to begin studying at the university’s Institute of Japanese Language had just arrived.

“Welcome to Soka University!” Shin’ichi greeted them. “I offer you my heartiest welcome as its founder. I would also like to thank you very much for choosing to study here.”

In April 1975, Soka University welcomed its first six students from China. They were the first students sponsored by the Chinese government to study in Japan since the normalization of relations between the two countries.

This was now the third group of students from China to study at Soka University. Those from the first group were already playing active roles in promoting friendship between China and Japan.

Installment 24

Shin’ichi addressed the Chinese students: “Let’s take a photo to commemorate this occasion.”

He joined the students and accompanying Chinese embassy staff members in a photograph. Shin’ichi shook hands with everyone. As he started to walk with the group toward the entrance, he said to the Chinese students: “This is now your alma mater. If you have any questions, please feel free to confer with your teachers or fellow students.“The first two groups of students from China all studied very hard, achieved remarkable growth and have begun their careers. I hope you will do the same.

“The future of China and Japan rests on your shoulders. By studying hard, you will contribute to a deepening of China’s understanding of Japan. By making friends here, you will deepen Japan’s understanding of China. Let’s work together to build and protect a golden bridge for peace.”

The Chinese students, their eyes shining, nodded eagerly as they listened to Shin’ichi.

When they exited the building together and reached the two bronze statues that stood in the forecourt, a large group of Soka University students, seeing Shin’ichi and the Chinese students, came over.

Shin’ichi introduced the exchange students: “These are the third group of Chinese students to study here. Why don’t you welcome them by singing the Soka University song?”

The Japanese students quickly formed into rows and put their arms on one another’s shoulders, with the Chinese students joining in. Their lively singing rang out in the spring night: “Over hills ablaze with scarlet azaleas … ”

Shin’ichi and the university president clapped along with vigor. The students swayed side to side as they sang, their impassioned voices united in song soaring skyward.

In his mind’s eye, Shin’ichi visualized the future friendship that would unfold between the people of China and Japan. He saw a beacon of hope lighting the way to peace. The friendly interactions of these young people symbolized the peace that lay ahead for tomorrow’s world.

For these Chinese students, their first day at Soka University must have been a most memorable one.

Installment 25

On April 8, the day before Shin’ichi created new ties of friendship with the Chinese students at Soka University, Deng Yingchao arrived in Japan. She was the widow of the late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai and a vice chairperson of China’s Standing Committee of the NationalPeople’s Congress. She was visiting Japan as thehead of a delegation from the National People’s Congress at the invitation of leaders of both houses of the Japanese parliament.

On April 9, the 75-year-old Deng Yingchaohad a busy schedule filled with official meetings. These included meetings with the parliamentary leaders who had invited the delegation, with Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira and with the Japanese emperor.

Shin’ichi met Deng Yingchao at 3:30 p.m. on April 12, at the State Guesthouse in Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo. It had been seven months since their last encounter. In September the previous year (1978), during his fourth visit to China, Shin’ichi had the opportunity to meet with Deng Yingchao twice and talk with her at length. When he asked about her plans for visiting Japan, she said she would like to do so when the cherry blossoms her husband had loved were in full bloom.

Unfortunately, by the time she made her long-awaited trip to Japan, the cherry blossoms had already fallen in Tokyo. Wishing to allow herto enjoy the blossoms in some small way, Shin’ichi had double-flowered cherry blossoms from the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan delivered to her at the State Guesthouse. She expressed immense delight on seeing them.

The cherry blossoms were displayed in a beautiful arrangement in the Asahi no Ma (Morning Sun Room) of the State Guesthouse, where their meeting took place.

In addition to Deng Yingchao, the delegation of National People’s Congress members present at the meeting that day included many familiar faces from Shin’ichi’s visits to China. Among them were Standing Committee member Lin Liyun, who had interpreted at the meeting between Shin’ichi andPremier Zhou Enlai (in December 1974), and Zhao Puchu, who was also vice president of the Buddhist Association of China.

Deng Yingchao said energetically, “By all rights, I should have gone to pay my respects to you, but you have done me the honor of coming to see me.”

Consideration for others, expressed in words and actions, brings people’s hearts together. Demurring, Shin’ichi greeted her warmly:

“I’m just glad to see you so well. Thank you for making the long journey to Japan. I am overjoyed to be able to welcome you. Your visit to Japan will add beauty and fragrance to the history of our two nations, just like the cherry blossoms that perfume the spring air.”

Installment 26

For his meeting with Deng Yingchao, Shin’ichi had prepared an album of photographs. It contained pictures of the Zhou Cherry Tree, which he had planted as a symbol of the premier’s wish for lasting friendship between China and Japan, as well as the Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao Cherry Trees, which he had just planted with members of the visiting delegation from the All-China Youth Federation. There were also photos of the Chinese international students studying at Soka University.

He showed the album to Deng Yingchao one page at a time, and told her that the students from China were studying hard. Looking at the pictures, she smiled brightly and said, “I really wanted to visit Soka University on this trip, but unfortunately my schedule won’t allow it this time.”

She recalled Shin’ichi’s fourth visit to China the previous September and spoke fondly of her memories of their meetings on that occasion.

During that visit, Shin’ichi had spoken to her about holding an exhibition in Japan conveying Premier Zhou’s spirit and achievements, using it as a means to promote enduring friendship between the people of the two countries.

Their conversation at the State Guesthouse in Tokyo also touched on the proposed exhibition, Deng Yingchao’s impressions of Japan, her meeting with the Japanese emperor and China’s progress in implementing the goals set forth by Zhou Enlai known as the Four Modernizations. As they enjoyed a friendly exchange of thoughts, the time seemed to fly by.

Deng Yingchao asked Shin’ichi to visit China again, and he replied with a smile that he would and looked forward to seeing her again soon.

Their cordial conversation ended after about 40 minutes.

Everyone stood up and began to move toward the entrance. Then, feeling as if he couldn’t leave without telling her what was in his heart, Shin’ichi said to her, “Actually, I’m thinking of stepping down as Soka Gakkai president.”

Deng Yingchao stopped suddenly. She looked Shin’ichi in the eye and said: “President Yamamoto. You mustn’t do that. You are still too young. And most importantly, you have the support of the people. As long as you have their support, you must not step down.”

Hers were the serious eyes of a leader who had devoted her entire life, together with her husband, Zhou Enlai, to building the People’s Republic of China; they were also the eyes of a loving mother of the people.

Installment 27

Deng Yingchao, widow of the late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, said emphatically, “You must not retreat a single step!”

Then, a smile returned to her face.

As someone who had struggled ceaselessly for decades in the most perilous of circumstances, with foes on all sides, her words carried great weight. Of course, it would be up to him to decide whether to step down as president, but Shin’ichi Yamamoto was touched by Deng Yingchao’s sincerity and grateful for her words of support.

In response to her heartfelt concern, he renewed his determination to work as long as he lived for enduring friendship between China and Japan, no matter what his position or circumstances, just as  he had vowed he would to Premier Zhou.

To keep his promise to Deng Yingchao and to fulfill his vow to continue working for friendly relations between the two countries, Shin’ichi visited China for a fifth time the following year, in April 1980.

Deng Yingchao invited Shin’ichi and his wife, Mineko, to her residence, the Xihuating (Western Flower Hall), in the Zhongnanhai area of Beijing. She had lived there with Zhou Enlai for many years.

Shin’ichi and his wife, and the others in their group, were shown into the living room, which, they were told, was where Premier Zhou had met many overseas guests before the completion of the Great Hall of the People. Deng Yingchao also showed them the garden of the residence. A crab apple tree was covered with pink buds, and lavender lilac blossoms perfumed the air.

They strolled through the garden as they continued their friendly conversation.

Shin’ichi visited China again in June 1984. On that occasion, Deng Yingchao welcomed him at the Great Hall of the People, in her capacity as the chairperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. She spoke of her wish to further expand opportunities for exchange between the young people of China and Japan.

Five years later, on June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Square incident occurred in China. After that, many Western countries suspended official meetings with Chinese leaders, and Japan froze loans to the Chinese government, moves that isolated China within the international community.

Shin’ichi thought: “Ultimately, ordinary Chinese people are facing difficulties. Now is the time to strive even harder as their friend and open a window of exchange. That, after all, is the true meaning of loyalty and friendship!” Only when we open such windows can dialogue take place.

Installment 28

Originally, Shin’ichi was scheduled to visit China in September 1989 and take part in events celebrating the 40th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, but because of various circumstances, his visit had to be postponed. Shin’ichi had a representative convey to Deng Yingchao his firm determination to visit in spring the following year. He also sent her a life-size portrait of her and Premier Zhou.

Shin’ichi was firmly determined to prevent China from being isolated within the international community.

Then, in May 1990, the 7th Soka Gakkai Delegation to China and an additional Soka Gakkai friendship exchange delegation—together comprising 281 Japanese Soka Gakkai members— visited China. This served as a stimulus for the reopening of exchange with China, and after this many other groups who had been waiting and watching, hesitating to re-engage with China, followed.

Shin’ichi and Mineko once again visited Deng Yingchao at her residence in Zhongnanhai. She was 86 years old and had been hospitalized at the time, but she discharged herself from the hospital and greeted her guests at the door to her home. Shin’ichi rushed up to her and took her hand. She was already having difficulty walking, and it was obvious that she was quite weak, but her mind remained as sharp as ever. Shin’ichi said with great concern: “Please, as the mother of the people, stay well. When the mother is well, her children are well.”

Deng Yingchao presented Shin’ichi with an ivory paper knife that had belonged to Premier Zhou, as well as a jade pen holder that she had long used, saying that she very much wanted him to have them. Both gifts were tantamount to national treasures. She must have sensed that the end of her life was drawing near. Shin’ichi perceived her state of mind, and his heart ached. He accepted the gifts as symbols of the eternal struggle for peace and friendship.

It would be their last meeting. Deng Yingchao passed away two years later, in July 1992, at age 88. But the ties of friendship and trust she and Premier Zhou had built between China and Japan have lived on as an enduring bridge between the two peoples.

The heart is invisible. But when hearts are firmly joined, genuine friendship emerges.

Installment 29

On the afternoon of April 13, 1979, the day after his meeting at the State Guesthouse with Deng Yingchao, widow of the late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Matsushita Electric (later renamed Panasonic Corporation), in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Shin’ichi felt he should also inform Mr. Matsushita, with whom he had developed a close friendship, of his intention to resign as Soka Gakkai president.

“I intend to step down as president and continue my work in another capacity for the sake of the next generation and the future.”

Matsushita did not ask about the details, but said with a smile: “I see. So you are going to be stepping down from the post of president. I think the most admirable life is one where you can be proud of yourself and give yourself a pat on the back.”

It was a deeply insightful comment. Social or organizational positions or other people’s opinions and assessments are utterly insignificant. Living an honest life faithful to one’s own convictions is the way to true victory as a human being.

That evening, Shin’ichi traveled to the recently completed Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, arriving there shortly after 8 p.m. The next day, April 14, he would be attending gongyo sessions marking the center’s opening.

The Kanagawa Culture Center was a 10-story building with two basement levels. Its red-brick façade gave it a stately, cosmopolitan air.

It was here in Kanagawa, at the Eastern Japan Youth Division Sports Meet held at the Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama on Sept. 8, 1957, that his mentor, Josei Toda, had made his Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. Kanagawa was, in that sense, the place where the Soka Gakkai’s peace movement began.

In front of the culture center was Yamashita Park, and beyond that, Yokohama Harbor. In the dark, ship lights bobbed in the harbor and a line of streetlamps stretched out like a beautiful string of sparkling jewels. It was a fitting place, Shin’ichi thought, to bring to a close the Seven Bells[16] and to announce the Soka Gakkai’s departure on a new voyage of peace and culture.

As ship whistles sounded in the night air under starry skies, Shin’ichi sensed the coming dawn of a bright new day.

Installment 30

On April 14, two gongyo sessions, one in the celebrate the opening of the Kanagawa Culture Center. The members present were filled with joy and excitement.

Shin’ichi attended both sessions and expressed his deepest appreciation for everyone’s efforts. In his words of encouragement at one session, he reminisced fondly about the first discussion meeting he attended in Yokohama: “I think it was 30 years ago, when I was 21. The meeting was being held at a leader’s home near Kokudo Station on the JNR (now JR) Tsurumi Line. There were five guests, and the room was full of members—men, women, young and old.

“As befits a youth, I energetically shared my experience in faith and, introducing the guidance of my mentor, Josei Toda, stressed how great Nichiren Buddhism is. I recall that all five of the guests decided to join the Soka Gakkai that day.”

The most powerful force in propagation is not only rich life experience, but conviction in the power of the Gohonzon and the earnest wish for the happiness of the other person. Even if one is young, words filled with conviction and concern for others will resonate with people and strike a chord in their hearts.

“Here in Kanagawa, too, I have energetically participated in propagation activities and discussion meetings, and put my all into giving district lectures on Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and personal guidance to members. All of those efforts are now happy and meaningful memories of my youth. I have also deeply engraved in my heart all of the precious, unforgettable members who strove in activities together with me.”

Shin’ichi thought that if it was announced that he was going to resign, the members would be more than a little surprised. But it was vital that their faith remain unswayed by anything. That’s why he felt he had to urge them to establish absolutely unshakable faith.

He added: “The Soka Gakkai will experience many turning points and face critical junctures that it must overcome. But at all times, the starting point we need to return to is what Soka Gakkai Founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi called the ‘stand-alone spirit,’ the great spirit of kosen-rufu.”

Installment 31

The Soka Gakkai is a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who appeared in the world to actualize kosen-rufu, the wish that Nichiren entrusted to his disciples. That is why its first and second presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, both focused their attention on the goal of realizing happiness for all humanity, and devoted themselves to opening the way for kosen-rufu through their selfless commitment to spreading the Law.

Carrying on that spirit as their disciples, we, the members of the Soka Gakkai, are spreading the Mystic Law with courage and pride to fulfill our mission in this lifetime. No matter what happens, as long as we stay on this noble path of Soka mentor and disciple, the development of our movement to compassionately spread the Law will never cease. Then, the wheels of history will move in the direction of world peace and happiness for all, and we will be able to lead lives of joy and true fulfillment. Shin’ichi wanted the members to remain steadfast in that conviction.

On the afternoon of April 16, 1979, Shin’ichi welcomed former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who was visiting Japan, at the Soka Gakkai’s House of International Friendship (now Tokyo International Friendship House) in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. It was their first meeting in four years.

Kissinger was born in Germany in 1923. His family was Jewish and moved to the United States when he was still a child to escape Nazi persecution.

He attended Harvard College, where he received a degree in political science. He went on to study and receive his doctorate at Harvard University, where he joined the faculty and, in 1962, was promoted to full professor. He later served as national security advisor and secretary of state to U.S. President Richard Nixon. During Kissinger’s term in office, he encouraged Nixon to visit China and the Soviet Union. He also played an important role in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and in the Vietnam peace negotiations, and he worked to promote peace in the Middle East. His diplomatic efforts gained worldwide attention.

Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. Following the inauguration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1977, he left the White House and became a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“Welcome! I’ve been looking forward to our meeting!” Shin’ichi said, firmly shaking Kissinger’s hand. They strolled through the garden of the House of International Friendship and talked about each other’s recent activities.

Shin’ichi hoped that, through his dialogue with Kissinger, they could discover new possibilities for bringing about lasting peace.

Inspiration and insights gained through dialogue engender fresh wisdom and new ideas.

Installment 32

After their walk through the garden, Shin’ichi and Kissinger went inside and sat down in a reception room, where they continued their conversation.

Kissinger told Shin’ichi that a volume of his memoirs would soon be published, explaining that its focus was his work in foreign policy and diplomacy, rather than his personal life. Shin’ichi immediately said, “Actual efforts and accomplishments are what matter most— whether they be in the field of diplomacy, or in the lives we build for ourselves.”

Kissinger smiled shyly.

They discussed many subjects, including the people who had had an important influence on their lives, messages they wished to impart to today’s youth and situations taking place around the world. When the subject turned to the threat of war, Shin’ichi stressed that philosophies, religions and ideals that promote peace are indispensable. Kissinger voiced his complete agreement.

Shin’ichi then touched on the history of India, the reign of King Ashoka and the principles of Buddhism that served as a cornerstone for peace.

He said: “Ashoka was able to create an ideal government by basing himself on Buddhism, which teaches that all people possess the Buddha nature, the supreme and incomparable life state of Buddhahood. This principle is not only the foundation for respecting the dignity of life, but also a teaching of human equality. It gives rise to a philosophy that values peace and humanism.”

The two men agreed that they would need much more time to explore the various issues that they had raised in their discussion, and decided to meet again in the future to engage in a dialogue that could provide insights for shaping the 21st century.

That was realized when they met in September 1986 and spoke over two consecutive days. Their dialogue, which they also continued through correspondence, was serialized in the Soka Gakkai-affiliated magazine Ushio from January through August 1987. In September the same year, it was published as a book in Japanese, titled Heiwa to jinsei to tetsugaku wo kataru (Discussions on Peace, Life and Philosophy).

Installment 33

Shin’ichi Yamamoto was determined that now was the time to communicate and spread the Buddhist philosophy of respect for the dignity of life and the equality of all people, which could serve as a cornerstone for peace, and to make it the guiding spirit for the 21st century.

On April 20, the 28th anniversary of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, he met and talked with Indian Express Editor-in-Chief S. Mulgaokar at the Kanagawa Culture Center. They discussed efforts for promoting peace, the mission of newspapers, and other topics.

Focused on the monumental goal of realizing world peace, Shin’ichi continued his dialogues with leaders and thinkers from countries around the globe. At the same time, motivated by his wish for the happiness of every Soka Gakkai member, he devoted each spare moment he could to visiting members at home and offering personal guidance. At the Kanagawa Culture Center, too, he greeted and spoke with dozens of visiting members, offering them words of encouragement and guidance.

He had firmly resolved that no matter what happened and whatever his position, he would keep on encouraging his dear fellow members, and forever walk together with ordinary, hardworking people.

Our efforts to value, support, and encourage one person and our actions to realize world peace have the same starting point. Both are inspired by the Buddhist teaching that all people are inherently Buddhas, and embody compassionate practice based on that belief.

Shin’ichi also spoke with Kanagawa Prefecture youth division leader Takayoshi Oga and other youth, telling them: “The world is your stage! Make the most of this precious life and join me in the great adventure of worldwide kosen-rufu!”

Seeing the resolve and commitment shining in the young people’s eyes, he felt boundless hope.

Shin’ichi was always vividly aware of the suffering that people around the world faced from war, famine, poverty, and other challenging realities. He also pondered deeply what he could do to bring an end to the Cold War that had been dividing the world.

As one concerned citizen, as a private individual, he was determined to continue conducting dialogues with world leaders for the purpose of bringing people together. He knew that, no matter how impossible it seemed, this was the only way to build peace.

Shin’ichi had a powerful vision of the Soka Gakkai embarking on a new voyage, headed into the vast new expanse of the 21st century that lay ahead, holding high the banner of humanity.

Installment 34

On April 22, Shin’ichi Yamamoto went to the Nichiren Shoshu head temple to meet with High Priest Nittatsu.

It was a beautiful afternoon. Mount Fuji rose majestically in the blue sky, clouds floating above its snowcapped peak. Fierce cold winds were no doubt raging at the summit, but the mountain stood serene and imperturbable, a sight that Shin’ichi found inspiring and uplifting.

He had come to see resigning as head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and as Soka Gakkai president as a positive step for the sake of the future.

Of course, his purpose in resigning was to protect his precious fellow members by bringing an end to the unreasonable attacks on the Soka Gakkai by some of the younger Nichiren Shoshu priests. But now, as the Seven Bells were drawing to a close, he sensed the arrival of a new day of dynamic growth and development for the Soka Gakkai. In addition, there were still many things he wished to accomplish for which, as president, he hadn’t had the time. One of them was holding interfaith dialogue for the sake of world peace. Another was to spend more time personally encouraging members, especially visiting pioneer members at their homes.

In his meeting with High Priest Nittatsu that day, Shin’ichi confirmed his intention to resign as the head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations, as he had previously informed him. He said that he would formally submit his resignation on April 26. Nittatsu told Shin’ichi that he would like, after that, to appoint him as the honorary head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.

Shin’ichi further told the high priest of his plan to step down as Soka Gakkai president—a position he had held for 19 years—at this time coinciding with the completion of the Seven Bells.

Shin’ichi envisaged that, even after the start of a new phase for the organization, he would still be able to support the members and exert himself in activities for peace, culture, and education.

The Soka Gakkai is an organization dedicated to kosen-rufu; it appeared in the world to work for human happiness and world peace. It could, therefore, not permit the progress of kosen-rufu to falter. Shin’ichi not only resolved firmly to begin a fresh struggle in a new role, but also prayed earnestly for the fresh development of the Soka Gakkai as a whole. He called out in his heart: “A way forward opens when there is one determined individual. My disciples, rise up as lions! The crucial moment is here at last!”

Installment 35

Shin’ichi Yamamoto contributed an article titled “Thoughts on the Completion of the Seven Bells,” which was published on the front page of the April 24 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily newspaper. This had been decided in consultation with the organization’s top leaders.

With the Seven Bells drawing to a close, Shin’ichi wished to convey his gratitude to the members who had worked alongside him, sharing hardships and joys together, and also to help prepare them for the new start the Gakkai would be making.

He began: “Walking the great path of kosen-rufu since the time of founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, we have advanced with the Seven Bells—a series of seven seven-year milestones or goals—as landmarks for our progress. We are now celebrating the culmination of the Seven Bells, which will end on Soka Gakkai Day this year, May 3, 1979.”

Shin’ichi then went on to express his deep respect and admiration for the members who had devoted themselves with unwavering commitment to the sacred task of compassionately spreading Nichiren Buddhism.

“Twenty-one years have passed since the death of President Toda, and I have been honored and privileged to serve as Soka Gakkai president for a full 19 years until the present—close to two decades—and along with you write a history of shared struggles and victories.

“I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my humble gratitude to all of you, valiant champions of the Mystic Law, who have striven energetically for kosen-rufu while continuing in every imaginable way to support me, despite my shortcomings. Please be assured that the invaluable work we have achieved together will become an eternal treasure in your lives.

“We are an assembly of ordinary people in the Latter Day of the Law. Much of what we have done, we have done through a process of trial and error. We have achieved progress and also experienced setbacks. But we have always weathered the stormy seas of adversity, created a rising tide of development, and directed our efforts toward consolidating that tide so that we could realize the Daishonin’s ideal of ‘establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land’ and the happiness and peace of all humankind.”

Who was it that had opened the way for kosen-rufu through selfless efforts to spread the Mystic Law, just as Nichiren Daishonin instructed? Shin’ichi knew without a doubt that it was the Soka Gakkai, that it was the dedicated members who had worked tirelessly alongside him for kosen-rufu. He firmly believed that the Bodhisattvas of the Earth had assembled under the banner of the Soka Gakkai to actualize the Daishonin’s mandate of kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law, and that, without the Soka Gakkai, the Daishonin’s words would be false.

Installment 36

In the article, Shin’ichi Yamamoto shared his vision for the future, noting that, in the face of emerging threats to humanity’s survival, the Soka Gakkai’s membership, a network of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, had spread to more than 90 countries, and that the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism was humanity’s only hope.

“We are still in the very early stages of our effort to foster peace and culture around the world, but it is undeniable that the seeds have been sown here on our planet and they are beginning to sprout. I have also exerted myself in this endeavor up to now. But the real work lies ahead, and we need to view it as a grand vision for the future that we must accomplish as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

“Religion is the heart of both peace and culture, and the underlying power that fosters them is the power of the human being that transcends national boundaries. From ancient times, religion has given life to culture.

“Peace, too, is something that must be built in the fortress of each person’s heart. Once we have established a certain foundation, it will then be up to us to turn the current of history toward enduring culture and peace.”

When followers of a religion restrict themselves to the confines of religion and close their eyes to the challenges of the real world, that religion will serve no purpose. Religion must be a force for bringing positive change to society. Our mission as Buddhists is to realize happiness for humanity and world peace. That is why Nichiren Daishonin called for “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”

Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) wrote: “But, as always, religion remains the chief motivator and heart of human societies.”[17]

Shin’ichi continued: “We have made historic progress, and are now able to see in the distance the towering mountain range of kosen-rufu. We already have a sound force of capable people working for kosen-rufu, and a steady stream of young people who will carry on our movement into the 21st century is joyously emerging. This is extremely reassuring. We have long awaited this moment, this day. It is a victory won through the bonds of faith bringing together people from all spheres and walks of life, a song of human triumph.”

This was also Shin’ichi’s personal declaration of victory.

The reality of kosen-rufu achieved by the Soka Gakkai, by its members, is eternal and imperishable.

Installment 37

Great things can only be accomplished through continuous effort. Truly great undertakings are only achieved when there are future generations of successors to carry on that work.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued with his thoughts in the article: “The important thing now, given that kosen-rufu is an unremitting, ongoing revolution, is how we pass the torch on to the next generation. The completion of one phase is the start of another. Each milestone must lead to the creation of a new, even more magnificent page in our history.

“Day after day, month after month, I have pondered long and hard over how best to develop our movement so that we can open a great path to the 21st century; secure peace and happiness for each of you, our members; and ensure that your children carry on the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism and your families flourish eternally. This has been my responsibility as I grappled with and sought to respond to the challenges of the times.

“And now our movement for the substantive realization of kosen-rufu has grown from a small stream into a mighty river, and that river is flowing powerfully into the vast ocean.”

Shin’ichi then wrote that he keenly felt the need to stabilize and perpetuate the flow of that mighty river. He concluded by calling for members to engrave deep in their hearts the Daishonin’s assurance that kosen-rufu would be achieved “as surely as an arrow aimed at the earth cannot miss the target” (WND-1, 385), and to renew their vow to continue exerting themselves in faith, practice, and study, the basics of Nichiren Buddhism.

Those who read Shin’ichi’s Seikyo Shimbun article “Thoughts on the Completion of the Seven Bells” that morning felt his deep gratitude for the members and resolve to make a fresh start, inspiring them to renew their own determinations.

No one imagined that Shin’ichi’s resignation as Soka Gakkai president would be announced later that very same day.

In fact, the members started the day filled with joy. Two days earlier, April 22, had been the final round in the nationwide local assembly elections, with voting for special ward assemblies in Tokyo and town and city assemblies throughout Japan. And by the previous evening, April 23, the votes had been counted and the Soka Gakkai–backed Komei Party had won a major victory.

Installment 38

On April 24 at 10:00 a.m., a Soka Gakkai prefecture leaders meeting was held at the Shinjuku Culture Center, about a 10-minute walk from the Soka Gakkai Headquarters and the Seikyo Shimbun building in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. The participants, who had gathered from across the country, looked happy and upbeat, buoyed by the great success of Soka Gakkai–supported Komei Party candidates in the recent nationwide local assembly elections.

Although Shin’ichi was not yet present, the emcee announced the start of the meeting.

Soka Gakkai General Director Kiyoshi Jujo rose to speak first. The prefecture leaders meeting, taking place ahead of May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, was supposed to mark a fresh departure for organizational activities, but Jujo was grave and unsmiling.

He began by speaking of the origins of the Seven Bells.

“At the Headquarters General Meeting held on May 3, 1958, while everyone was still grieving over President Toda’s death, President Yamamoto shared the vision of the Seven Bells. Reaffirming President Toda’s observation that roughly every seven years since its founding, the Soka Gakkai had reached a major milestone in its development, he declared that the time had come to start ringing the fifth bell—to usher in the fifth seven-year period.

“This helped us overcome our grief and make a fresh start with bright hopes for the future, aiming for 1979—the year the final, seventh bell would come to a close.

“Now, that series of Seven Bells is ending. President Yamamoto has already announced a new vision for our development after this. From next year, 1980, we will advance our movement for kosen-rufu while aiming for a series of four five-year milestones leading to the year 2000, and then begin a new series of Seven Bells with the start of the 21st century.

“Since his inauguration, President Yamamoto has greatly expanded the movement for kosen-rufu from a stream to a river, and a river to an ocean, while implementing various changes to respond to the changing times. He has created a more democratic organization, ensuring that the will and needs of the membership are reflected in its leadership, and instituted a system of discussion and consensus. In 1974, he transferred the post of representative director of the Soka Gakkai as a religious corporation from the president to the general director.”

Shin’ichi had worked to build a new organizational structure for the sake of the future. Only by taking appropriate steps to reply to the needs of the times can we ensure that the Soka Gakkai flourishes forever.

Installment 39

Looking toward the future, both society and the Soka Gakkai membership were certain to grow ever more diverse. That is why Shin’ichi felt it was even more important than before to draw upon a wide variety of opinions and ideas and ensure that the organization was driven by a system of collective leadership based on discussion and consensus. He envisaged an organization in which, while the president would play a pivotal role, the executive leadership would work closely together to move the organization forward.

Further, he had a vision of the organization in which each member would share a personal sense of responsibility for its development, as if they themselves were the president, and unite with fellow members to carry out activities for kosen-rufu.

General Director Jujo continued: “President Yamamoto has implemented various organizational measures to facilitate the president’s ability to lead effectively, even after he himself is no longer in that position.

“For a long time, he has been saying to us: ‘Things are fine while I’m still here, but what will happen to the Gakkai when I’m gone? I want to take steps now to prepare for that eventuality. I can’t remain the president forever. In the near future, I’ll need to hand over the reins, and support and assist the next president.’

“He also said: ‘You are only thinking about the short term, but I am looking far ahead and taking the necessary steps for the future.’

“Now, seeing the completion of the Seven Bells as an important milestone in our movement, President Yamamoto is announcing his resignation as president.”

Everyone in the room gasped. Some doubted their own ears. Others looked at Jujo, dumbfounded, and still others had tears in their eyes.

Jujo was also overcome with emotion, but he rallied himself to continue: “President Yamamoto said: ‘For the stability, continuity, and ongoing development of the Soka Gakkai, we must set forth with a new organizational structure and leadership lineup.’ After long and careful consideration of the matter, he has decided to step down as president.”

The mentor opens the way for the disciples. Genuine disciples widen and extend that path even further. Ensuring the continuation of the movement for kosen-rufu is the true path of mentor and disciple.

Installment 40

The announcement of Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s resignation as Soka Gakkai president was so unexpected that the participants at the prefecture leaders meeting could not hide their surprise and confusion. They thought that he must be resigning to take full responsibility for the recent troubles with Nichiren Shoshu and put an end to the priesthood’s attacks on the Soka Gakkai. So when Kiyoshi Jujo explained that Shin’ichi was voluntarily stepping down, they found it difficult to accept.

It was an undeniable reality that the troubles with the priesthood had triggered Shin’ichi’s resignation. However, Shin’ichi also had a strong wish to make his resignation a positive move for the future.

Jujo’s forehead was covered with perspiration. Sensing from their expressions that his listeners were not fully satisfied with his explanation, he spoke more loudly: “President Yamamoto gave the following reasons for stepping down.”

He then began quoting from notes he had taken on Shin’ichi’s explanation for his decision: “‘First, having served as president for 19 long years, I feel I am approaching the limits of my physical endurance. Considering the long-term stability of the Soka Gakkai, I wish to pass on the baton while I am still in good health. Now is a perfect time, given that the disciples of Presidents Makiguchi and Toda are still playing a prominent role in the organization while a steady stream of capable young people is emerging.

“‘Second, the organizational and structural reforms needed in order to respond to the demands of society and the times, reforms that have been under consideration since 1970, have been steadily implemented, and a new set of rules and regulations based on those reforms will shortly be adopted. A sound deliberative and decision-making structure is now in place as the Soka Gakkai advances into the future. I feel that I can now hand over the running of the organization with an easy mind.

“‘Third, in recent years, I have been devoting considerable energy to promoting peace, culture, and education, based on the ideals of Nichiren Buddhism. I feel I need to make greater efforts and to blaze new trails in those areas for the sake of Japan and the rest of the world. I also would like to visit members around the country who have worked hard for kosen-rufu and created history alongside me over the years, and to do more writing as well. All of this requires time.’”

Jujo then continued: “These are the reasons that President Yamamoto has cited for stepping down.”

People, society, and the natural world all undergo changes. Faith in the Mystic Law and the Soka Gakkai spirit are the driving force for turning those changes into a catalyst for great development and growth, giving us the strength to embark on a fresh challenge, filled with hope.

Installment 41

Hearing Kiyoshi Jujo’s explanation enabled the participants of the prefecture leaders meeting to understand Shin’ichi’s reasons for deciding to step down as Soka Gakkai president, but they still had difficulty coming to terms with the reality of his resignation.

Jujo continued: “President Yamamoto will not only be resigning as Soka Gakkai president, but also as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations. He is taking this latter step to take full responsibility for the recent problems that have arisen between the Soka Gakkai and the priesthood.

“Unavoidably, our first reaction to President Yamamoto stepping down is sadness, but it is important for us to genuinely understand his decision and his intent, and to make a bright start toward the future, I believe.

“Though it may test our limited abilities, joining together and building a Soka Gakkai about which President Yamamoto can rest assured is surely the course we should take as disciples, is it not?

“As for the process of announcing this development, this afternoon the Soka Gakkai Executive Council will convene to accept President Yamamoto’s request to step down, and this will be followed by a press conference to make the official announcement.”

Jujo finished speaking. There was no applause. The eyes of many of the women’s division leaders were red and puffy with tears. Some of the men’s division leaders gazed blankly at the ceiling. Some youth division leaders bit their lips to control their emotions as they stared ahead with angry eyes.

At that moment, Shin’ichi Yamamoto entered the room.

“Sensei!” the members called out in unison.

Walking to the front of the audience from a side door, Shin’ichi said with energy: “What drama! It makes things interesting, doesn’t it? The struggle for kosen-rufu is always turbulent.”

After chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times with the assembled leaders, Shin’ichi sat down in a chair behind a table and gazed at the faces of those present. Everyone waited in suspense for him to speak.

“It’s exactly as you have just heard. But you have nothing to worry about. I will continue to strive my hardest in my own capacity. There is no end to the struggle for kosen-rufu. After all, I am a disciple of Josei Toda!”

He was a lion standing dauntless amid raging winds. The pride of Soka mentors and disciples burns brightly in the form of courage.

Installment 42

Shin’ichi said powerfully: “It’s important from now on for you to unite around the new president and work together to build a new Soka Gakkai. I’ll continue watching over you. There’s no need to be sad. This is the start of a great new journey.”

Someone in the room shouted: “Sensei, please don’t step down!”

Some of the members were sobbing, and gradually the sound grew. Some wept openly.

One men’s division leader rose and asked: “What will happen to you now?”

“Nothing is going to change with me. I will stay just as I am. Whatever my position, I will simply continue my efforts as a person who is dedicated to fulfilling the mission of a Bodhisattva of the Earth. I am a disciple of Josei Toda, who devoted his life to kosen-rufu.”

A youth division leader asked, as if seeking confirmation: “You will still remain our mentor even after you step down, won’t you?”

“I’ve taught you all the fundamental principles, haven’t I? As youth, you mustn’t let yourselves get emotional over something like this. I want you to declare, ‘It’s a new age! Let’s give it our best!’ and take the lead in encouraging our members. Be fearless!”

One hand after another went up for questions.

“Would it be possible for you to come and attend the prefecture leaders meetings?” asked a men’s division leader.

“You need to carry on with your new president in the lead. You can’t depend upon me forever. Up to now, I have put all my energy into guiding you and helping you develop into capable leaders. I have taught and shared with you everything you need. Every school has a graduation day.”

“Could you visit the prefectures to offer guidance? Please, come to our prefecture,” said a women’s division leader, tears in her eyes.

“Thank you. But please remember that I’ve already visited every prefecture many times. From now on, I would like to devote more time to visiting other countries around the world for the sake of peace. There are places that are on the verge of war. I want to do whatever I can to prevent that.”

Shin’ichi’s words brimmed with his fighting spirit for peace.

Installment 43

A man in the center of the room stood up. He was a prefecture leader from the Tohoku region who was still in his 30s. He shouted, as if angry with the meeting participants: “You’re all talking as if Sensei’s resignation is a done deal. I think that’s wrong. I can’t comprehend it!”

The room fell silent.

Then, Shin’ichi spoke: “It’s fine for everyone to take my resignation as a fact. That’s what I’ve decided. If it creates a fresh current and protects the members, I think that’s a good thing.

“Instead of shouting angrily, the Soka Gakkai needs to advance in unity, with harmony and calm. If you share my spirit, then now is the time to warmly encourage the members and lift everyone’s spirits. You must all stand up and take the lead as individuals who embody the same commitment I do!

“Although founding Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi died in prison, his disciple Mr. Toda stood up alone to carry on his mentor’s vision. Under his leadership, the Soka Gakkai developed dramatically, achieving a membership of 750,000 households. When President Toda died, I vowed to establish a solid foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan and create a movement for worldwide kosen-rufu without fail. And today, the Daishonin’s Buddhism has spread around the globe.

“All things have milestones and endings. The end of one thing is the beginning of another. Resolute determination is needed for a fresh departure. The bright flame of commitment, a passionate vow, is needed. Stand up! All of you, stand up as courageous successors. Have you got that? That’s my request. I’m counting on you.”

The prefecture leaders meeting came to close, many of those attending still in tears.

No matter what happens, as long as the solemn Soka spirit of mentor and disciple beats in the members’ hearts, a new path will open and kosen-rufu will continue to develop.

That afternoon, a meeting of the Soka Gakkai Executive Council was held. There, Shin’ichi’s request to step down was presented and accepted. The proposed new Soka Gakkai rules and regulations were also considered and adopted. Based on them, Kiyoshi Jujo was appointed the next Soka Gakkai president and Kazumasa Morikawa, the new general director. Shin’ichi was designated honorary president.

For Shin’ichi, this marked the start of a new chapter in the grand drama of his life.

Installment 44

The Soka Gakkai Rules and Regulations, adopted by the Soka Gakkai Executive Council on April 24, set forth the basic rules relating to the organization’s religious activities as well as its governance, operation, and the guidance and instruction of its membership. In other words, they provided a fundamental code for the Soka Gakkai’s activities as a religious organization.

Up to this time, the organization had been run based on the existing Rules of the Soka Gakkai, which set forth its rules as a religious corporation, as well as several sets of guidelines and rules relating to specific areas of its operation. The latter of these included the Executive Council Rules of Procedure and the Personnel Committee Rules of Procedure, as well as various precedents and conventions that had developed over the years since the organization was established.

These many overlapping rules, regulations, and precedents of the past were organized and set down in writing to form the new Soka Gakkai Rules and Regulations. This was done to better respond to the dramatic and multidimensional growth of the organization and to prepare the way forward into a new era following the completion of the Seven Bells.

The Rules and Regulations consisted of 15 chapters. They stated that the president and general director were to be selected by the Executive Council from within its ranks and that each would serve for a term of five years.[18]

At the same Executive Council meeting, Vice President Genji Samejima’s request to resign from his position was submitted and accepted.

From around noon, after the prefecture leaders meeting, news of Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s impending resignation as Soka Gakkai president was reported on radio and television. The reports added that he was also expected to resign from his post as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and that Kiyoshi Jujo was likely to become the new Soka Gakkai president, with President Yamamoto being named honorary president. Reports of these changes had already spread even before their official announcement.

The news came as a complete shock to members throughout Japan. Some rejected them outright, thinking “I can’t believe it! The reports can’t be true!” while others wondered whether they might be correct. Still others were outraged and couldn’t comprehend why President Yamamoto should have to step down.

The Soka Gakkai Headquarters was swamped with phone calls, many of them angry, from members wanting to know what was going on. Some of the callers were crying. The switchboard operators were overwhelmed as they tried to respond.

A ship crossing the ocean is sometimes buffeted by raging waves. Only by overcoming fierce gales and rough seas can it reach a new shore. Shin’ichi stood at the bow, braving the wind.

Installment 45

After the prefecture leaders meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto remained at the Shinjuku Culture Center. He spoke with and encouraged women’s division leaders who were more shocked than anyone by his imminent departure as president. He also had several meetings lined up with guests, and that took up a considerable amount of his time.

That evening, the Soka Gakkai was scheduled to hold a press conference, but the headlines of the evening newspapers, which went on sale mid-afternoon, blared that Shin’ichi was set to step down, and that Kiyoshi Jujo was slated to become the new Soka Gakkai president. The newspaper reports also mentioned Shin’ichi’s article “Thoughts on the Completion of the Seven Bells,” which ran in the Seikyo Shimbun that day, calling it an announcement of his resignation.

From early that evening, newspaper, television, and radio journalists began to arrive at the Seikyo Shimbun building, where the press conference was to be held, and by 6:00 p.m. the room was packed with several dozen reporters.

When the newly appointed Soka Gakkai president, Kiyoshi Jujo, and general director, Kazumasa Morikawa, made their appearance together with Vice Presidents Eisuke Akizuki, Hisaya Yamamichi, and others at 7:00 p.m., there was a flurry of snapping shutters and camera flashes.

Shin’ichi had decided to delay his arrival until 30 minutes after the start of the event, in deference to the new president.

At the press conference, Akizuki announced that the Soka Gakkai Executive Council had earlier that day accepted President Yamamoto’s request to step down and named him honorary president. He also said that former General Director Jujo had been appointed president, and Vice President Morikawa, general director.

He explained that Shin’ichi wished to step down in order to dedicate all his energy to activities for peace, culture, and education having now reached this major milestone for the Soka Gakkai, the end of the Seven Bells, with a new governance structure and operational mechanisms in place, along with a capable new leadership team.

Many of the journalists had heard that Shin’ichi would be resigning, but hadn’t thought it would be quite so soon.

The Soka Gakkai had achieved unprecedented development because it had always looked to the future and taken speedy, proactive measures for its continued growth.

Installment 46

At the press conference, Kiyoshi Jujo, looking somewhat tense, voiced his aspirations as the new Soka Gakkai president: “I have been appointed to succeed President Yamamoto, under a new system of administration and leadership for the Soka Gakkai. President Yamamoto has to date given us, the executive leadership, sufficient instruction so that we can work together as a team to run the organization. The Soka Gakkai’s basic direction will remain unchanged. Taking on the job of president is a big responsibility, but with a renewed determination, I will do my very best to fulfill my duties.

“The Soka Gakkai will now advance toward the 21st century, setting a series of four five-year milestones to mark our progress. In the first five-year period, in particular, we will focus on fostering capable individuals. We will also aim to develop the Soka Gakkai into a stable force for peace in society to ensure that war will never happen again.”

At this point, Shin’ichi Yamamoto arrived.

Smiling at the reporters, he thanked them for coming and nodded to Jujo before taking a seat next to him.

Immediately, a reporter asked Shin’ichi: “What are you feeling at this moment? And could you please tell us your reasons for stepping down?”

“I feel a great sense of relief, as if I have put down a heavy load. But I also feel as if I have taken on a new load, in that I will be watching over the continued development of the Soka Gakkai as it moves forward under the leadership of its new president. They won’t let me rest and relax, I’m afraid!”

The reporters laughed, and the somewhat heavy mood of the press conference was transformed, a smile spreading across Jujo’s face as well. Shin’ichi wanted to make the new leadership’s start a bright and positive one.

Humor dispels gloom.

Shin’ichi continued: “As, I think, has already been explained, my main reason for stepping down is that I decided that it’s really too long for one individual to serve as the head of the organization, as I have done for nearly 20 years. For some time now, I have been thinking of making way for successors in the hope that it might lead to dynamic, new creative accomplishments. I am also a bit weary. But I am only 51, and at this age, I can still continue to watch over and support everyone.”

Life is a continuous struggle.

Installment 47

Responding to questions from the reporters, Shin’ichi shared his future plans: “The Soka Gakkai, with the goal of world peace, will be carrying out an increasingly broad range of activities for peace, education, and culture, based on Buddhism. I would like to devote my time to such efforts.”

The reporters’ questions continued: “Will the relationship between the Soka Gakkai and the Komei Party change as a result of this change in the presidency?”

What appeared to interest the reporters most was the Soka Gakkai’s involvement in politics.

Smiling, Shin’ichi replied: “That’s something you’ll have to ask the new president. But I assume it will remain unchanged, won’t it?” he said, looking inquiringly at Jujo next to him.

Jujo nodded emphatically.

“Yes, it seems it will remain the same,” said Shin’ichi.

Once again, the reporters laughed.

“In other words,” he continued, “as it has until now, the Soka Gakkai will remain a supporting body of the Komei Party. It is my hope that the Komei Party will continue to develop and become renowned as the party making the greatest contribution to the Japanese people.”

Shin’ichi replied openly and directly to every question.

The press conference came to an end shortly before 8:00 p.m.

The young women at the front reception desk of the Seikyo Shimbun building looked at Shin’ichi with worried expressions.

He smiled and said: “Everything’s fine! Nothing has changed for me.”

Then, he went into a separate room for a discussion with youth division leaders.

Shin’ichi spoke with urgency, as if pouring his entire being into his words: “No matter what situation I may be placed in, as long as the youth strive in earnest, a bright future lies ahead. The true test for disciples is not when they are striving while receiving daily guidance and instruction from their mentor. That’s a period of training. Their real test is when their mentor is no longer directly taking leadership. But when the mentor steps back, some disciples take advantage of it to do as they please, and forget the Soka Gakkai spirit. The same happened when Mr. Toda stepped down as general director. You mustn’t be like that. Stand up resolutely in my stead! You must each become a ‘Shin’ichi’!”

Installment 48

It was just before 10:00 p.m. when Shin’ichi Yamamoto left the Seikyo Shimbun building and headed home. The sky was covered in clouds, hiding the moon and the stars.

One act in the drama of his life had closed. When he thought of this, he felt a rush of deep emotion.

The course of action he had taken was all his own decision, motivated by his concern for the future of kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai, harmony between the priesthood and laity, and the welfare of his beloved fellow members.

He thought: “Stormy seas will continue to buffet the Soka Gakkai, and it will have to navigate its way through them. My taking full responsibility for various issues and resigning like this may calm the waters for a time, but the real problem is the oppression and harassment by the priesthood, which happened in the past and is likely to happen again in the future. This is going to be a matter of the gravest concern for the Soka Gakkai as it strives to advance kosen-rufu.

“The plotting of priests seeking to control the Soka Gakkai and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of individuals who have discarded their faith and turned against the Gakkai are the workings of the devil king of the sixth heaven and the embodiment of ‘evil demons taking possession of others’ (cf. LSOC13, 233) to destroy the kosen-rufu movement. Unless there are courageous individuals who can see through this with the eyes of faith and are ready to fight with an impassioned spirit to ensure that no one inflicts suffering on our members, it will be impossible to protect the Soka Gakkai, and the path forward for kosen-rufu will be completely blocked.”

Shin’ichi was deeply concerned when he thought of the future.

His wife, Mineko, was waiting for him with a smile at the entrance to their home. When he came in and sat down, she poured him a cup of tea.

“I’m no longer president,” said Shin’ichi.

She smiled and nodded: “You have worked very hard all these years. I’m just glad you still have your health. Now you can meet with many more members. You can visit them all around the world. You have your freedom. Now you can begin your true work.”

He felt as if a ray of sunshine had brightened his heart.

In the 19 years since his wife had designated the day of his inauguration as a “funeral for the Yamamoto family,” she had earnestly supported and worked alongside him. She knew that he was now determined to begin traveling for the sake of peace, aiming for the realization of worldwide kosen-rufu. Filled with deep gratitude, Shin’ichi recognized again how wonderful it was to have a partner who shared in his struggles.

Installment 49

Late at night on April 24, Shin’ichi opened his diary. Recalling the events of the day, he felt a tumult of emotion.

“This day that should have marked our fresh, hope-filled departure toward the 21st century was all too somber,” he thought. “The members attending the prefecture leaders meeting looked heavyhearted … ”

He picked up his pen and wrote to record this day for posterity.

After he had finished with his diary entry, he thought: “The second act in my life’s drama has now opened! A great epic of formidable challenges and triumphs is beginning!”

And he vowed to himself: “I am not afraid of adversity! I am a lion. I am a direct disciple of the great leader of kosen-rufu, Josei Toda. I will foster new young people and once more, with fresh determination, work to build an indestructible Soka Gakkai!”

Shin’ichi felt a passionate fighting spirit arise from the depths of his being. Some words he had cherished since his youth flashed through his mind: “The greater the resistance waves meet, the stronger they grow.”

That evening, emergency meetings were held throughout the country to announce Shin’ichi’s resignation and the new leadership appointments.

At a meeting in Kansai, a leader recited a poem that Shin’ichi had dedicated to Toda when the latter stepped down as Soka Gakkai general director: “Still serving / an old / and mystic bond— / though others change, / I alter not.”

The leader then declared powerfully: “As this poem says, even though President Yamamoto has stepped down, he will remain our mentor here in Kansai forever!”

Everyone raised their fists and shouted in a show of solidarity.

Radio and television news that evening reported on the press conference announcing Shin’ichi’s resignation.

For Soka Gakkai members, it was a tremendous shock.

But many of them told themselves: “If President Yamamoto has decided to step down, it must have some great, profound significance. This is precisely the time when genuine disciples should dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to kosen-rufu and put President Yamamoto’s mind at ease.”

They remained firmly united with their mentor.

Installment 50

On April 25, the morning after the dramatic events of the day before, the front page of the Seikyo Shimbun carried the headline, “The Completion of the Seven Bells and a New Leadership Lineup.” The article announced that the Soka Gakkai was embarking on a fresh start under new leadership, with the appointment of Kiyoshi Jujo as the new Soka Gakkai president and Kazumasa Morikawa as the new general director. It also said that Shin’ichi Yamamoto, who had stepped down as president, was now named honorary president, adding further that he had also resigned as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.

A message from Shin’ichi titled “To Members throughout Japan” also appeared on the front page. In it, he outlined his three main reasons for stepping down, which had been conveyed by Jujo at the prefecture leaders meeting the previous day. Looking toward the approaching start of the 1980s, he added: “I hope you will support the new president and do everything you can to further the development of the Soka Gakkai so that it becomes a trusted and stable presence in society and the world.”

Many members read Shin’ichi’s message over and over. While they now understood how his resignation came about, they had only just learned of it the previous day and were still in a state of shock and confusion.

From 1:30 that afternoon, the April Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting commemorating the completion of the Seven Bells was held in the Kosen-rufu Hall of the Soka Gakkai Culture Center in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Normally, all the participants would be in high spirits, but today, their expressions were grave. They wondered what would happen to President Yamamoto and the Soka Gakkai, and their concern and anxiety robbed them of their smiles.

When they entered the hall, the atmosphere had felt somehow different. The table and chair that were always set on the left side at the front of the room for Shin’ichi to give his speech were not there. That contributed to everyone’s feeling of sadness.

Presently, Shin’ichi entered the hall. Cries of delight rang through the room.

Shin’ichi said confidently with a smile: “Let’s give three cheers together! This is a fresh departure for the Soka Gakkai. The Gakkai always advances dauntlessly! Remember, lions are always lions!”

His powerful voice filled the members with courage.

The fighting spirit of one person can rouse the fighting spirit in everyone’s heart. As Nichiren Daishonin writes: “When the lion king … roars, the hundred cubs will then feel emboldened” (WND-1, 949).

The bright voices of the cheering members filled the hall.

Installment 51

At the Headquarters leaders meeting, Shin’ichi delivered his greetings before the new president, Kiyoshi Jujo, took the floor to give his speech.

As Shin’ichi sat down at the microphone, everyone gazed at him with tense expressions.

“Please don’t give me such scary looks! This is a celebration for the new president. And since I’ve been working so hard for 19 years as president, couldn’t you at least give me a smile and say: ‘Thanks for all your efforts!’?”

Shin’ichi’s humor made them all laugh. The heavy atmosphere in the hall instantly lightened.

He continued: “The Seven Bells were an expression of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s profound and powerful determination for kosen-rufu—that is, his wish that we build the foundation for the vast, global development of kosen-rufu by the time the Seven Bells reached their culmination. Now, we have brought the Seven Bells to a successful close through the power of the Gohonzon and the dedicated efforts of our entire membership. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all our members.

“To ensure that our organization endures, it’s essential that we change the situation where one leader is at the helm for a long period of time. That’s the reason for this fresh start—to ensure a bright future for the Soka Gakkai.

“Our new president Kiyoshi Jujo is a few years my senior. Perhaps it might seem more natural to pass the baton to someone younger than me, but the Soka Gakkai is a large organization, and so I am very happy and relieved that it has chosen as its new president someone with good judgment and solid experience who has worked alongside me from the early days of our movement and contributed greatly to kosen-rufu.

“President Jujo is very meticulous and has a strong sense of responsibility. He is fair-minded and in sound health.

“General Director Kazumasa Morikawa, meanwhile, is senior in years to both myself and President Jujo, and along with us a fellow successor to the work and legacy of President Toda. While he hasn’t been much in the limelight, his faith is second to none.

“I hope that you will work with our new president and general director and make great efforts based on faith united in the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind.’”

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “If the spirit of many in body but one in mind prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals” (WND-1, 618). This passage sets forth the key to achieving kosen-rufu.

Installment 52

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s words gradually grew more impassioned: “All sorts of things will occur on the journey of kosen-rufu. Changes will take place—including, of course, in leadership. The key is to keep pressing forward steadily toward our goal, without being swayed by various occurrences. That’s the Soka Gakkai spirit, after all!

“Let’s forge ahead in accord with the admonition of Nikko Shonin: ‘Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life’ (GZ, 1618)!

“In my own capacity as an individual, I will continue to advance kosen-rufu with all my being. I hope that each of you will also awaken to your unique personal mission and stand up on your own to carry it out. The important thing is being committed to dedicating one’s life to kosen-rufu, no matter what.

“The organization is a means to lead people to attaining Buddhahood, to realizing a life state of happiness. The structure of the organization and leadership positions in it do not in themselves bring benefit. Though the organization is important, it could be likened to the way the skeleton serves as the body’s framework. It is only when we exert ourselves earnestly in activities for kosen-rufu and others’ happiness that the organization comes alive with warm humanity, everyone experiences joy, and we ourselves receive great benefit.

“That’s why leaders mustn’t sit idly atop the organization or turn into bureaucrats. I hope you will always make sure that the organization is run in such a way that it exists for the members’ happiness and kosen-rufu, that it is pervaded by mutual care and support based on the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind,’ thereby serving as a source of nourishment and reassurance for everyone.

“No matter what happens, the benefit of the Gohonzon is absolute. So advance with unwavering faith. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

“More than anything, please become happy. I would like you and your families—everyone—to become happy. That is my wish and prayer. I hope each of you will advance day after day without regret, so that Nichiren Daishonin would praise you for having outstanding faith and being a good disciple.”

Shin’ichi spoke from his heart.

He wanted each member to be a person of courage with self-reliant faith, because that is the key to achieving personal happiness and realizing kosen-rufu.

Installment 53

After Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke, the new president Kiyoshi Jujo took the microphone as the meeting’s final speaker and frankly shared his sentiments with the members.

“For several years now, President Yamamoto has been urging us to hone our abilities, since we’ll eventually have to take the lead and work together to propel the Soka Gakkai forward. But in my heart, I wished that he’d always be our president, and indeed hoped that he’d never resign. Now, however, with the completion of the Seven Bells, President Yamamoto has made a firm decision to step down.

“He has regularly been telling us that we mustn’t depend solely on him, because that would hinder the development of an enduring movement for kosen-rufu. And for our part, we assured him with some bluster that he had nothing to worry about, and that we would take care of the future. And now, that moment has actually arrived.

“Lacking in ability, and with no special talent, I feel completely unequal to the task ahead of me. But with your support, I promise to work my hardest for the sake of all our members.”

Jujo had witnessed firsthand the selfless efforts of Josei Toda, who had dedicated his entire life to kosen-rufu, as well as the continuing series of arduous struggles waged by Shin’ichi Yamamoto, Toda’s disciple. He recognized keenly the heavy responsibility that came with the position of president.

“Our first three presidents—Presidents Makiguchi, Toda, and Yamamoto—have embodied the Soka Gakkai spirit of dedication to Buddhism, the welfare of society, and people’s happiness, as well as an unwavering passion for kosen-rufu. I aim to carry on that great spirit and passion into the 21st century and create a steady and enduring tide of development. I am freshly determined to do my best—to reflect on and strengthen my own faith and my efforts to share this Buddhism with others—as if starting completely anew.”

Faith means making a new determination every day—for as long as we live. The Buddhist way of life is to keep challenging and improving ourselves with an ever-fresh spirit and unflagging commitment.

Installment 54

Kiyoshi Jujo, speaking directly from his heart, said in closing: “While bearing deeply in mind the guidance President Yamamoto has given us thus far and striving to be an example for others in my actions, I will learn from all of you, from your faith in working tirelessly on the front lines of the organization.

“Though I am president, I would like to request that you please do not call me ‘Sensei.’ Only the first three presidents, our three mentors, in the solemn lineage of Soka are deserving of that title.

“As for me, just call me ‘Mr. Jujo’ or ‘Jujo.’ As fellow members, let us begin a fresh advance as equals, developing ourselves through mutual support and encouragement as we forge ahead in the unity of ‘many in body, one in mind’!

“I am committed to serving all our members and creating an environment in which everyone can strive in their Buddhist practice with joy and peace of mind. Here again, I ask for your support.”

His earnest and heartfelt words left a positive impression on his listeners.

Giving guidance in faith does not mean putting oneself above the members and lecturing them from on high. It involves each leader showing the way forward, as they themselves strive with determination, passion, and initiative. It is an endeavor to form genuine connections with others by inspiring and deeply touching their lives.

As Shin’ichi watched over the proceedings, the wheels of fresh progress for the Soka Gakkai began to turn.

The following day, April 26, Shin’ichi visited High Priest Nittatsu at the head temple of Nichiren Shoshu in Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and presented his resignation as the chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations. On that occasion, High Priest Nittatsu thanked Shin’ichi for his great contributions to the prosperity of Nichiren Shoshu over the years, and designated him as the honorary chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.

That evening, Shin’ichi went to the Shizuoka Training Center [located in Atami, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the head temple]. At this facility honoring the memory of first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi[19], he wished to ponder what needed to be done to ensure the Soka Gakkai’s dynamic development into the 21st century.

The end of one thing is the beginning of another. To achieve great future development, a solid vision and detailed plans are essential.

Installment 55

At the Shizuoka Training Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto gave deep thought to how best to pursue exchange and dialogue with leaders and thinkers of different religious and cultural backgrounds around the globe to advance the cause of world peace.

While there, he also took time to meet and speak with representatives of the student division, the women’s division, and local Shizuoka members. He reaffirmed for them the path of Soka, a life dedicated to kosen-rufu based on the bond of mentor and disciple, and strongly urged them to make fresh strides forward.

Shin’ichi already found himself in a situation where he was unable to freely attend Soka Gakkai meetings. This was due to the plotting of the attorney Tomomasa Yamawaki and some ranking Nichiren Shoshu priests, who together sought to gain control over the Soka Gakkai.

They argued that after Shin’ichi stepped down as Soka Gakkai president, it would be inappropriate for him to be present at meetings and offer guidance; likewise, there would be no need for Soka Gakkai publications to report on his words or actions.

The only news about Shin’ichi that the Seikyo Shimbun could report was his overseas travels or meetings with foreign dignitaries. The only activities permitted to him within the organization were visiting the homes of longtime members and offering personal guidance. The aim of the traitorous Yamawaki and these self-serving priests was to isolate Shin’ichi completely and drive a wedge between him and the members. They believed that would allow them to manipulate the organization as they pleased and subjugate the membership to their authority.

The lifeblood of the Soka Gakkai is the mentor-disciple spirit dedicated to kosen-rufu. Founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, having died for his beliefs in prison, left an immortal example of selfless devotion to propagating the Law. And second president Josei Toda attained a profound awakening while in prison, becoming deeply aware of his great mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. These events are the origin of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

After his release from prison, Toda made a vow to achieve a membership of 750,000 households, thereby creating a great network of fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth—a goal he realized together with his disciple Shin’ichi. In this way, the Soka Gakkai demonstrated the principle, articulated by Nichiren Daishonin, that Bodhisattvas of the Earth would steadily emerge one after another to propagate the Mystic Law (cf. WND-1, 385). Shin’ichi then went on to forge strong ties of mentor and disciple with the members and take up the challenge of achieving worldwide kosen-rufu.

Toda once said: “In this time of the Latter Day of the Law, the Soka Gakkai has spread the Mystic Law to so many people and helped them become happy. In the Buddhist scriptures of the future, the name of our organization is sure to be recorded as ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha.’”

Precisely because the Soka Gakkai is a gathering of people dedicated to the great mission of kosen-rufu, the devil king of the sixth heaven attacks it with a vengeance.

Installment 56

The “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra recounts the story of a Buddha named Awesome Sound King. This name, however, does not apply to just one Buddha. After the first Awesome Sound King Buddha entered nirvana, another Buddha of the same name appeared in the world. As the Lotus Sutra puts it: “This process continued until twenty thousand million Buddhas had appeared one after the other, all bearing the same name” (LSOC20, 308). In other words, the Lotus Sutra teaches that twenty thousand million Buddhas named Awesome Sound King appeared one after another for long eons, guiding living beings to enlightenment.

Josei Toda insightfully suggested that we could view this collection of Buddhas as an organization, a harmonious community of practitioners, called Awesome Sound King Buddha.

The life of an individual is limited. But when the fundamental spirit of striving for kosen-rufu is passed on from mentor to disciples, and those disciples continue their efforts as a group or organization over time, that body of practitioners comes to possess the enduring life force of the Buddha ceaselessly guiding people to happiness.

“Soka Gakkai Buddha” is a network of members dedicated to the mission of realizing the great vow for kosen-rufu, a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth following in the footsteps of first and second presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, who were joined by the bonds of mentor and disciple.

What are the requirements for ensuring that “Soka Gakkai Buddha” lives on for all time?

The first requirement is that each member has a lifelong commitment to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu. With a profound awareness that kosen-rufu is the fundamental purpose of their life and empathizing with those who are suffering, each person must strive to put into practice the Daishonin’s words: “Teach others [about Buddhism] to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase” (WND-1, 386).

The second requirement is to persist in walking the great path of oneness of mentor and disciple. Inheriting the spirit of the mentor, who exemplifies selfless dedication to propagating the Law, the disciples must thoroughly study the mentor’s teachings and make them a guide for their actions and behavior. Each day, disciples should challenge themselves in their lives and in their efforts for kosen-rufu, always embracing and engaging in dialogue with the mentor in their hearts and reflecting on what the mentor would do in their place.

The third requirement is uniting in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “[Chanting] Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind … is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death” (WND-1, 217). The heritage of faith flows on vibrantly when members unite in purpose and demonstrate their full capacities for the sake of kosen-rufu.

Installment 57

Since the Soka Gakkai is “Soka Gakkai Buddha,” it must continue to fulfill the great mission of kosen-rufu by creating an eternal flow of successors.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto firmly vowed to himself that he would create a mighty river of capable individuals.

He remembered how, on January 6, 1951, his mentor Josei Toda, amid the direst adversity, called him to his home and entrusted everything to him.

In the fall of 1949, when his publishing company ran aground, Toda became involved in a financial cooperative, taking on the position of executive director of the Toko Construction Credit Union. The economic turmoil of the postwar period, however, hit the credit union hard and its situation went from bad to worse. Finally, the government ordered it to suspend operations. Seeking to find another way forward, Toda embarked on a new business venture as the executive advisor of Daito Commerce, but the results were just as disappointing.

Some of the employees quit filled with anger and resentment, blaming and cursing Toda as they left. Some creditors sued, and things reached the point where he might even be arrested. Toda decided to go personally to see the authorities and try to explain the situation.

It was in the midst of all this that Toda called Shin’ichi to his home that day, in January 1951, to assist him with the dissolution of the Toko Construction Credit Union.

With his wife, Ikue, at his side, Toda began to share his thoughts frankly with Shin’ichi, while Ikue wept softly, her shoulders trembling. Reminding her sternly that the wife of a general shouldn’t weep in a crisis, he then said to Shin’ichi: “If something should happen to me, I’d like you to take over the running of the Gakkai, the credit union, and Daito Commerce—everything. Would you do this for me? And if you would, take care of my family as well?”

He continued: “My mission in this life is your mission, too. You understand that, don’t you? No matter what happens, be strong.”

Striving together for the great mission of kosen-rufu, undeterred by any challenge or obstacle, is the way of mentor and disciple.

Installment 58

Josei Toda was focused on the future of kosen-rufu. He sought to entrust everything to his disciple Shin’ichi Yamamoto as his successor to ensure that the spirit of Soka would flow on forever.

Shin’ichi was acutely aware of Toda’s feelings.

As if to reconfirm his intent, Toda said: “If you and I remain true to our mission, the time will definitely come when the wish of Nichiren Daishonin is fulfilled. No matter what anyone says, let’s advance firmly and resolutely together!”

Shin’ichi lifted his tear-filled eyes to Toda’s and said: “Sensei, please don’t worry about anything. I have always been prepared to give my entire life to you without the slightest regret, and this will never change, for all eternity.”

This solemn dialogue between mentor and disciple took place at a time when Toda was engaged in a desperate struggle, his back against the wall.

At that moment, Shin’ichi recalled the final conversation between the famous samurai warrior Kusunoki Masashige and his eldest son, Masatsura, when Masashige was about to depart for the battle of Minatogawa (present-day Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture).

In 1336, Masashige was on his way to do battle at Minatogawa to prevent Ashikaga Takauji, a former loyalist general who had turned against the emperor, from invading the imperial capital of Kyoto. Masashige’s forces were greatly outnumbered by those of Takauji, however, and defeat was certain. He was prepared to give his life.

Before leaving for the battlefield, Masashige called Masatsura to his side at Sakurai (in present-day Osaka Prefecture) and instructed him to return home. But Masatsura was ready to die in battle alongside his father and refused to go back. Weeping, Masashige finally persuaded his son that if they were both killed, there would be no one left to prevent Ashikaga Takauji from conquering the realm.

The song “The Green Leaves of Sakurai”—popularly known as “Dainanko” (The Great Hero Kusunoki[20])—describes this exchange. Toda loved the song and often asked young men’s division members to sing it for him. In it, Masashige says to his young son Masatsura: “Grow quickly to be a fine youth, so that you may serve the emperor for the sake of our country.” For Toda, these lyrics expressed his wish that the youth of the Soka Gakkai would quickly take full responsibility for the future and devote themselves to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu.

Installment 59

Toda’s words that January 6, 1951—as he was putting his papers in order for the dissolution of the credit union after all efforts to save it had failed—reminded Shin’ichi of the feelings of Kusunoki Masashige as expressed in the song “Dainanko.”

Brushing away his tears, Masashige
called his son Masatsura to his side.
“I, your father, am departing for Hyogo
to fight to my death in a distant bay.
You have come all this way,
but quickly return home.”

Now, 28 years later, at the Shizuoka Training Center, Shin’ichi deeply understood how this courageous general Masashige, leaving his successor behind before departing for a life-or-death battle, and his own mentor, Josei Toda, must have felt. He himself was about to embark on a new journey for worldwide kosen-rufu while entrusting the Soka Gakkai to the new executive leadership team, headed by President Jujo, and to his capable successors in the youth division. This made him realize how profound the resolve in Toda’s heart must have been that January day.

Shin’ichi sat down at the white piano in the training center and began to play “Dainanko” with vigor.

“Father, no matter what you say,
how could I desert you
and return home?
I, Masatsura, may still be
young in years, but I will join you
on this journey to death.”

“Masatsura, I ask you to return
not for my own sake.
If I should die,
the realm will fall to Takauji.”

He vowed to his mentor in his heart: “Both Masashige and his son Masatsura, who carried out his father’s wishes, were ultimately defeated in battle by the Ashikaga forces and died without achieving their purpose, but I will not be defeated. I will protect all our members and open a new sphere of activity for worldwide kosen-rufu!”

Installment 60

Shin’ichi Yamamoto reflected deeply: “Mr. Toda entrusted everything to me, one loyal disciple. He poured his entire being into teaching me about Buddhism and faith, instructing me in a wide range of subjects, sharing with me his wisdom about the art of leadership and human nature, and thoroughly training me in every possible way. I feel that those days of bitter adversity after my mentor’s businesses collapsed were all the design of the heavenly deities to forge me into a true lion.

“In the 19 years since my inauguration as Soka Gakkai president, I, too, have fostered one group of capable individuals after another. But the real work of doing so still lies ahead.

“I would like our present top leaders, who could be called the first team of capable individuals I fostered as successors, to take full responsibility for the Soka Gakkai. I hope they will exert themselves wholeheartedly for our movement as they make a fresh start amid a storm of challenges, thereby becoming genuine lions. An all-out struggle from which there is no turning back solidifies people’s resolve and hones their courageous, lionlike spirit.

“Also, right now, I can still watch over them, encourage them personally, and give them advice as a fellow member. I must not allow the new executive leadership and the youth who are my successors to be like Masatsura and be defeated in their struggle!”

In that respect, Shin’ichi was convinced that everything was unfolding in accord with the Buddha’s intent.

“Another crucially important task will be developing young lions to whom I can entrust the 21st century. I would like the youth to grow into outstanding successors possessing both courage and wisdom, so they can respond to any changes the times may bring, no matter how turbulent.”

To communicate this wish to the youth division, Shin’ichi decided to make a tape recording of him playing “Dainanko” on the piano and present it to representatives.

He immediately had the center’s staff set up a tape recorder for him. First, he recorded the words: “I dedicate this song to you, my dear and trusted young friend, with prayers for your great endeavors toward the 21st century.” Then, he turned to the piano once more.

He put his whole heart into his performance, playing with power, intensity, and a fervent wish for each disciple’s growth.

“Stand up! My disciples, my fellow members, press boldly forward! May each of you become a ‘Shin’ichi’!” he called out to them in his heart as he played.

Installment 61

The previous year, on July 3, 1978, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had composed the music and lyrics to the young men’s division song “Stand Up, My Friends!” and presented it to his youthful successors.

Wholeheartedly pursuing the adventure of kosen-rufu,
ring the Seven Bells and make them resound far and wide.
Aiming for a glorious century of victory,
whether amid blossoms or blizzards, stand up, my friends!

The Seven Bells had resounded, just as these lyrics describe, and now, a year later, the Soka Gakkai was at the dawn of a new journey, aiming toward a century of victory.

On May 3, 1979, a sunny day, the 40th Soka Gakkai Headquarters General Meeting, commemorating the completion of the Seven Bells, was held in the Soka University Gymnasium in Hachioji, Tokyo. All the participants knew that the meeting was to celebrate a fresh departure for the Soka Gakkai, but they could not dispel a sense of sadness. They were also concerned about the Soka Gakkai’s future.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m., with High Priest Nittatsu and numerous other priests of Nichiren Shoshu attending. From shortly before 1:30, Shin’ichi stood in front of the Liberal Arts Building with new president Kiyoshi Jujo and other Soka Gakkai leaders to greet them. Eventually, a minibus and several cars pulled up and the priests stepped out.

Wearing a tailcoat, Shin’ichi bowed deferentially and greeted them in welcome. Most of the priests made no response and just walked past him with a haughty air, expressionless. Some glanced at him smugly or with scornful smiles.

The anguished faces of Soka Gakkai members around Japan who had been subjected to cruel treatment or harassment by ill-willed Nichiren Shoshu priests flashed through Shin’ichi’s mind. If his resignation put an end to that situation, as the priesthood promised, he would be satisfied, he thought.

Who needed to be protected? The sincere, dedicated members of the Soka Gakkai, his beloved comrades in faith, the noble practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism. Shin’ichi was resolved to shield the members and sacrifice himself to protect them, if need be.

The bright sun of courage rises in a resolute heart.

Installment 62

The general meeting that day lacked the overflowing enthusiasm and joy that usually characterized Soka Gakkai meetings. In sharp contrast to the clear skies outside, the members’ hearts were shrouded in dark clouds.

The leaders conducting the meeting were on egg shells, trying not to upset or provoke the priests in any way.

Before the meeting began, a youth division leader instructed the audience to refrain from calling out or loudly cheering and applauding either when Shin’ichi entered the gymnasium or took the microphone.

Learning of this, Shin’ichi was saddened by the leadership’s willingness to be so easily intimidated by authority.

When presently he appeared on the stage, everyone suppressed their desire to applaud and just looked at him intently.

After a leader gave opening remarks, there was a speech on the completion of the Seven Bells and the Soka Gakkai’s vision for the future, as well as two short speeches by youth division and study department representatives sharing their determinations.

Each speaker carefully avoided any mention of Shin’ichi’s efforts and achievements as third president.

Recalling that general meeting, a women’s division leader later said indignantly: “President Yamamoto worked very hard for all of us for 19 years. Why didn’t anyone come out and say that the remarkable growth we have achieved in kosen-rufu today is due to his efforts?”

Shin’ichi was up to speak next as honorary president. When he took the microphone, he was greeted with hesitant, scattered applause.

The right side of the stage, as viewed from the audience, was occupied mostly by priests. The atmosphere was oppressive, as if the meeting were taking place under the surveillance of the priesthood. But the audience gazed at Shin’ichi with earnest expressions. He was acutely aware of these dedicated members’ feelings as they valiantly controlled the impulse to call out to him.

Looking at the audience, Shin’ichi smiled and bowed, and addressed them in his heart: “Don’t worry! The future lies ahead!”

He behaved just as he always did.

“The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs” (WND-1, 997), writes the Daishonin. Shin’ichi wanted each member, at this crucial juncture, to have the strength and courage of a lion.

Installment 63

Shin’ichi’s calm and powerful voice rang out through the gymnasium: “I began practicing Nichiren Buddhism at the age of 19. In the roughly three decades since then, despite my weak constitution in those early days, I have never been hospitalized, and I have been able to fight continuously for kosen-rufu!”

He stressed that this was due to the magnificent power of the Gohonzon. Then, he shared a passage from the Daishonin’s writing “The Opening of the Eyes” that he had taken deeply to heart at the time of his inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960: “This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law” (WND-1, 280).

These words expressed the Daishonin’s passionate vow to selflessly devote his life to spreading the correct teaching of Buddhism. Taking this vow as their own, Shin’ichi and the members had pioneered the challenging path of kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law. Through their efforts, they had preserved the lineage of the correct teaching and made Nichiren Buddhism shine in contemporary society as a bright source of renewal and revitalization.

“I believe that we of the Soka Gakkai must uphold these words as our firm determination in faith as long as we live, don’t you agree?”

No matter what happens, our faith must be as unshakable as a great mountain.

Shin’ichi continued: “Now, in this year of the Soka Gakkai’s 49th anniversary—21 years after President Toda’s passing—we have completed the seven seven-year periods of the Seven Bells, the goal for the first phase of our organization’s history. In this way, through your incredible efforts, the wishes of our first two presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, have been realized during my presidency. Thank you!”

In the 19 years since Shin’ichi’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president, the Soka Gakkai’s membership had grown into a global network of happiness 10 million strong, and its activities for peace, culture, and education based on Buddhism had created a great current of humanism. This achievement heralded the arrival of an unprecedented, never-before-imagined age of worldwide kosen-rufu.

Installment 64

During his time as president, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had built an unshakable foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan and, through sowing the seeds of Buddhism in numerous other countries and regions, also created a vibrant network of happiness throughout the world.

Within the Soka Gakkai, he established the high school division, the junior high school division, and the boys and girls division, and—with the aim of promoting wide-ranging cultural activities—the Education, International, and Writers divisions. He also implemented the construction of Soka Gakkai culture centers and other facilities where members could carry out their activities for kosen-rufu.

He established an integrated system of schools from kindergarten through university level, based on the ideals of Soka value-creating education, thereby fulfilling a cherished wish of his predecessors, Makiguchi and Toda, who had both been educators. To promote peace and culture based on the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhism, he founded the Min-On Concert Association, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, and the Fuji Art Museums. In the realm of politics in Japan, he founded the Komei Party.

In addition, he steadfastly supported and protected Nichiren Shoshu. Not only did he sponsor the construction of numerous buildings at the head temple Taiseki-ji—including the Grand Main Temple (Sho-Hondo), the Grand Reception Hall, and the Daikejo Hall—but he also built branch temples for Nichiren Shoshu throughout Japan. In this way, he contributed to the school’s unprecedented prosperity.

These brilliant achievements of the Soka Gakkai under Shin’ichi’s leadership could never be erased by any false or defamatory declarations. They were forever engraved in the lives of the members who worked with tireless energy and devotion alongside him to create this proud and indelible legacy.

In his remarks at the general meeting, Shin’ichi introduced the new president, Kiyoshi Jujo, and the new general director, Kazumasa Morikawa. He voiced his heartfelt wish that everyone would work together in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind” to ensure that the Soka Gakkai continued to grow and develop. He also expressed his determination to watch over and protect the members as long as he lived.

“I am a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism,” he declared, adding: “As I have already requested to the new leadership, I would like, if possible, to visit pioneer members who have striven with me for many long years—as well as the families of such members who have passed away. I would also like to visit members who have made outstanding contributions to our movement, and those who are suffering from illness and facing other grave challenges, to thank them for their efforts and encourage them.”

No matter how his activities might be restricted, Shin’ichi was determined to keep working for kosen-rufu. He wouldn’t let anything stop him from doing so.

Those who stay true to their mission for kosen-rufu are genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

Installment 65

Shin’ichi had been allotted less than 10 minutes for his speech.

At so many previous Headquarters general meetings, Shin’ichi had given speeches filled with uplifting guidance and grand visions for kosen-rufu, and offered proposals for solving issues facing humankind. His relaxed manner of speaking, interspersed with warm humor, as if talking directly to each person present, always put everyone at ease, made them laugh, and inspired them to strengthen their resolve to challenge themselves anew.

But today’s general meeting lacked that warm interaction and felt very stiff and formal.

After Shin’ichi’s speech, High Priest Nittatsu gave a lecture, followed by speeches by the new general director, Kazumasa Morikawa, and the new president, Kiyoshi Jujo.

Jujo spoke of his determination to strive for stability and continuity as well as the steady growth of the Soka Gakkai, based on the solid foundation established by the first three presidents.

The general meeting came to a close, having proceeded in a staid and uneventful manner.

This no doubt delighted the ill-intentioned priests who had relentlessly attacked the Soka Gakkai in an effort to gain control over its members, as well as the unprincipled attorney and his cohorts who had been manipulating events from behind the scenes. They must have been congratulating themselves on how well their plan had succeeded. Shin’ichi could see the true nature of these individuals, prisoners of envy and greed, headed toward their own ruin.

When he left the gymnasium and was walking along a covered corridor to an adjacent building, several members in the university’s central plaza, including a woman carrying her child on her back, spotted him and rushed to the plaza’s railing, as they called out: “Sensei! Sensei!” They were not participants of the Headquarters general meeting, but must have been waiting outside hoping to catch sight of him. Some had tears in their eyes.

Shin’ichi waved to them, saying: “Thank you! Please take care!”

It was a momentary encounter, but it clearly reflected the deep, unchanging heart-to-heart ties he and the members shared—the true bonds of the Soka Gakkai.

“Who will protect these noble individuals, these sincere members, now?” Shin’ichi wondered. “Who will help them become happy?” In his heart, he renewed his resolve to staunchly support and protect them.

Installment 66

After seeing off High Priest Nittatsu and the other priests, Shin’ichi went to another room and asked his wife, Mineko, to bring him paper, an inkstone, ink, and some writing brushes. He wanted to leave a record, in the form of calligraphy, of his vow and his hopes for his disciples on this day that was certain to have deep significance in the Soka Gakkai’s history.

He had already decided what he would write.

The large brush, laden with ink, swept across the paper as he wrote the characters for “Great Mountain.” Underneath, with a smaller brush, he added the inscription:

My friends, I pray that your faith
will remain unshaken by any storm.

—May 3, 1979, Soka University,
after the Headquarters General Meeting.

In January 1950, when his mentor Josei Toda’s businesses were in crisis, Shin’ichi had composed a poem titled, “A Prayer to Mount Fuji,” which read in part:

In the burning house of this avaricious age,
it stands unadorned, fearing no attack.
I offer my praise to distant Mount Fuji . …

The majestic form of Mount Fuji reminded Shin’ichi of his brave and resolute mentor, who devoted himself to kosen-rufu, undeterred by the storms of criticism and abuse that assailed him.

The calligraphy “Great Mountain” expressed a cry from Shin’ichi’s innermost being: “The Mystic Law is eternal and indestructible. We who uphold the Mystic Law and dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu have limitless hope. We must remain as unflinching as a great mountain in even the fiercest storm. What have we to fear? We, the members of the Soka Gakkai, have forged ahead, donning the armor of endurance (cf. WND-1, 392), to spread the Mystic Law with selfless dedication, just as the Daishonin teaches. The mentors and disciples of Soka have triumphed in all spheres with this unshakable spirit of faith.”

Shin’ichi picked up the large brush again, this time writing: “Great Cherry Tree.” Below these characters, he added the inscription:

With prayers that our members
will enjoy a glorious flowering of benefit.

—With palms pressed together,
May 3, 1979, Soka University.

Shin’ichi silently called out to the members: “No matter what trials beset us, the Buddhist law of cause and effect is absolute. Please advance with the Great Cherry Tree of Soka ever in your hearts!”

Installment 67

Shin’ichi left Soka University with Mineko by car at 5:30 p.m. Instead of returning to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, they went straight to the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Shin’ichi had decided to begin his new struggle for worldwide kosen-rufu, his true struggle of mentor and disciple, from Yokohama—a port city that served as a gateway to the entire world.

It was 7:00 p.m. by the time they arrived in Yokohama. Night had already fallen. From a room in the Kanagawa Culture Center, Shin’ichi looked out at the harbor. He could see the ocean liner Hikawa Maru, now a museum ship, moored at the waterfront a short distance away. It was built in 1930, the same year that the Soka Gakkai was founded.

Having completed the Seven Bells—a series of seven seven-year development milestones from 1930 to the present—the Soka Gakkai was now embarking on a grand new voyage.

Shin’ichi felt as if he could finally catch his breath.

One of the leaders present said to him: “Your name was in the newspaper this morning.”

An article in the morning edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on a U.S.-Japan poll conducted by the newspaper and the U.S. Gallup Organization. Shin’ichi had ranked sixth in a list of 20 of the most respected people among the Japanese. The top five were former prime minister Shigeru Yoshida (1878–1967), the bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi (1876–1928), the agricultural technologist Sontoku Ninomiya (1787–1856), the educator and writer Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835–1901), and Emperor Hirohito (1901–1989).[21] One of the leaders noted that Shin’ichi was the only living private citizen and the only religious leader on the list.

Shin’ichi found it mystic that this article should have appeared on this drama-filled day. He also felt it somehow expressed the members’ high hopes and warm support.

Shin’ichi recalled his meeting with Deng Yingchao, the respected Chinese leader and widow of the late premier Zhou Enlai, three weeks earlier. When he shared with her his intention to resign as president, she had declared that he mustn’t step down as long as he had the support of the people. It was her way of encouraging him, no doubt, to live up to the hope and trust others placed in him and to continue working hard.

He had made up his mind to keep fighting, whatever the situation might be. And he told himself that his real struggle began from now.

That night, at the Kanagawa Culture Center, Shin’ichi again picked up his brush to compose another calligraphy: “Shared Struggle.”

With the heartfelt wish that his disciples stand up alongside him, he also added the inscription:

The evening of May 3, 1979—
I am determined,
my resolve unshakable,
to advance kosen-rufu
throughout my life,
trusting that I have true comrades.

—With palms pressed together.

Installment 68

The jet-black sky changed gradually to purple, and the faint outline of the peninsula became visible. Golden light filled the eastern sky and sparkled on the water as a refreshing May morning dawned.

On May 5, as the sun was rising, Shin’ichi gazed out over the sea from the Kanagawa Culture Center. The day was Children’s Day, a national holiday, as well as Soka Gakkai Successors Day.

A Kanagawa leader told Shin’ichi that a local member who owned a cabin cruiser wished to take him around Yokohama Harbor and adjacent waters. Shin’ichi agreed to a brief 30-minute ride on the boat, which was named 21st Century.

The Kanagawa Culture Center looked impressive from the water. Thinking how the harbor connected to the Pacific Ocean, Shin’ichi felt he could see the vast ocean of worldwide kosen-rufu in the 21st century, and his heart danced with excitement.

The previous day, May 4, he had met and talked with longtime Kanagawa Prefecture members, and on May 5, he met and encouraged early members of Mukojima and Joto chapters from the time of the old “line” organization. Shin’ichi’s efforts to encourage pioneer members were already under way.

Shin’ichi also wanted to attend meetings of the youth and future divisions, whose members would become the leaders of the next century, and wholeheartedly encourage them. In addition, many Soka Gakkai members had started gathering each day in Yamashita Park, in front of the Kanagawa Culture Center. If it were possible, he would have liked to hold meetings with them and commend them with every ounce of his energy, but now, he wasn’t permitted to engage in such activities.

“In that case,” he decided, “I will transmit the Soka Gakkai spirit in concrete form to my successors and disciples so that it endures into the future and lives on for all time!”

On that day, as a true disciple of Josei Toda, a great leader of kosen-rufu, Shin’ichi expressed his vow in calligraphy, writing in bold strokes the word “Justice,” and below it, the inscription: “I carry the banner of justice alone.”

“The real challenge has begun!” he thought. “Whatever my position, I will keep fighting—even if I am completely alone. I will win by striving in a spirit of oneness with my mentor. ‘Justice’ means advancing forever on the great path of kosen-rufu!”

(This concludes “Great Mountain,” chapter 1 of volume 30 of The New Human Revolution.)


  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. ↩︎
  12. Devil king of the sixth heaven: He is also named Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, the king who makes free use of the fruits of others’ efforts for his own pleasure. Served by innumerable minions, he obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings, the manifestation of the fundamental darkness inherent in life. The devil king is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost. ↩︎
  13. 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. ↩︎
  14. 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. ↩︎
  15. Seneca, “On Providence,” in Seneca in Ten Volumes: Moral Essays, translated by John W. Basore (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1928), vol. 1, p. 7. ↩︎
  16. 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. ↩︎
  17. Leo Tolstoy, A Confession and Other Religious Writings, translated by Jane Kentish (London: Penguin Books, 1987), p. 90 ↩︎
  18. The Soka Gakkai Rules and Regulations have gone through several revisions since then. ↩︎
  19. President Makiguchi was arrested by the wartime militarist authorities during a visit to Shizuoka Prefecture in July 1943. ↩︎

  20. The lyrics to this song were composed by the noted poet and scholar of Japanese literature Naobumi Ochiai (1861–1903). They describe the poignant leave-taking between the brilliant 14th-century military tactician Kusunoki Masashige (d. 1336) and his son, Masatsura. As the father departs for battle, his young son declares that he will accompany him, ready to die at his side. But his father asks his son to stay behind and live to carry on his aspirations. This song is popularly sung in the Soka Gakkai as an expression of the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple. ↩︎
  21. Yomiuri Shimbun, May 3, 1979. ↩︎

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