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The Brilliant Path of Worldwide Kosen-rufu

Volume 18: Chapter Two—Gratitude for One’s Mentor

Chapter Summary

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

“Shin’ichi Yamamoto knew that he needed genuine disciples. He was therefore determined to foster capable successors overflowing with the Soka Gakkai spirit” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 18, p. 86).

It was with this resolve that he attended the 1973 Soka Gakkai summer training session and poured his life into encouraging the 100,000 participants. Among them were members of the Shiraito-kai group, composed of young men who had gathered with Shin’ichi at the summer training course five years earlier. They had developed greatly since then.

On August 18, Shin’ichi attended a conference in Hawaii with representatives from North, Central and South America. There, the Pan-American League was established to facilitate collaboration among these countries.

In September, Shin’ichi visited Atsuta Village, the hometown of his mentor Josei Toda, located in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. It had been 13 years since his last visit there. At a community meeting, he was welcomed by representatives of the entire village. This was the result of the laborious efforts made by Shin’ichi and the members to create trust with local residents based on their resolve to make Mr. Toda’s hometown into an idyllic place.

After returning to Tokyo, Shin’ichi went to Saitama Prefecture, followed by a visit to Shimane Prefecture to participate in “The 1973 San’in Hometown Festival” and then to Tottori Prefecture. The members at each location vowed to engage in a shared struggle with their mentor and embarked on a new departure.

In November, he invited his elementary school teacher Kohei Hiyama and his wife to the Tochigi Prefecture Leaders General Meeting to convey his gratitude to them. As a Buddhist, this was Shin’ichi’s way of expressing his gratitude for his teacher, to whom he felt indebted.

Unforgettable Scene

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

Repaying Our Debts of Gratitude

In November 1973, Shin’ichi Yamamoto invited his former elementary school teacher, Kohei Hiyama, to the Tochigi Prefecture Leaders General Meeting.

Smiling, [Kohei Hiyama] said to Shin’ichi: “You’ve grown into a fine man. I’m always happy and proud to hear of your activities. I’ve read some of your books. You engaged in a dialogue with Dr. Toynbee.”

Being addressed with such respect by his beloved teacher embarrassed Shin’ichi. “Yes,” he replied. “We spoke earnestly for the sake of humanity’s future. I’m very moved that you’ve been following my endeavors so closely, and I’m struck by your kindness and caring for one of your students even after all these years.” (NHR-18, 159)

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“Thank you for coming to see me today, Mr. Hiyama,” he said. “I am what I am today because of you. I’m proud to have been one of your students, and I will continue striving to make a positive contribution to society. I’ll never forget how much I owe you.” Shin’ichi bowed his head deeply.

Moved to see what a fine man his former pupil had become, Mr. Hiyama smiled and said: “Please take care of your health and keep doing your best. Although it doesn’t look like you get any time to rest …” Shin’ichi was touched by the concern that Mr. Hiyama still showed for his welfare.

Shin’ichi felt a strong sense of gratitude not only to Mr. Hiyama but to all his teachers. That feeling, in fact, was not limited to his teachers but extended to everyone who had helped him throughout his life. It came from his faith as a Buddhist.

A fundamental teaching of Buddhism is the principle of dependent origination. In other words, the idea that nothing exists alone, that all phenomena arise from mutually interdependent relationships in response to various causes and conditions.

Nothing exists in isolation. All things are intrinsically interrelated and influence one another. (NHR-18, 162–63)

Key Passage

There are always problems in life. But if you chant in earnest when things seem hard or painful, those difficulties will become sustenance for your growth and serve as a springboard for your progress. (NHR-18, 102)

Volume 18: Chapter One—Lion’s Roar

Volume 18: Chapter Three—Moving Forward