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The New Human Revolution

Cheers of Victory—Volume 30, Chapter 5

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. “Cheers of Victory” is the fifth 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 70 | Installment 80

Installment 1

In the hearts of youth are found an endless blue sky of hope, a brightly burning crimson sun of passion and a wellspring of irrepressible courage and boundless creativity.

Youth are the protagonists of a new age. The future depends entirely on the aims they cherish, how hard they study, how bravely they act and how seriously they work to develop themselves.

Returning to Japan from his trip to the Soviet Union, Europe and North America, Shin’ichi Yamamoto resolved that now was the time to pour his energies into fostering young people.

On the evening of July 10, 1981, an exuberant youth division general meeting was held at the Soka Gakkai Kansai Culture Center in Osaka, an ever-victorious realm of kosen-rufu. It commemorated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the young men’s division and young women’s division. Shin’ichi sent a congratulatory message in the form of a poem via telegram, which was read at the event. It expressed his heartfelt hopes for the development and success of the youth, leaders of the next generation:

The way is steadily opening.
My young friends,
your time is steadily approaching.
I am striving with all my might
to prepare you for taking your place
upon the brilliant stage of kosen-rufu.
Let not one of you backslide,
not one succumb to cowardice,
not one be disparaged.

Our Soka youth division celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.
It is now thirty years old.
“At thirty, I took my stand,”[1]
said the ancient sage [Confucius].

I hope you will join me, with vibrant courage,
in aiming toward 2001,
making the next two decades
a wonderful age
when people throughout society
continue to applaud and admire our movement,
an age that will be the main arena of your mission,
a tumultuous yet exciting time.

Installment 2

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s message closed with these lines:

Youth in the United States,
in Germany, Italy, and France,
in the United Kingdom,
in Southeast Asia,
and around the globe,
have all stood up for genuine peace.

I pray and look forward to
your wonderful unity and growth,
to the wonderful record of continuous victory
that you, the youth of Japan, will achieve
as true like-minded friends in faith.

His message was an impassioned call for the youth to rise to action.

Shin’ichi wanted the youth of Soka around the globe to work together for kosen-rufu—for world peace—and to lead the way in spreading the revitalizing principle of respect for the dignity of life.

As if in response to his wish, a large banner reading “A New Chapter in Kosen-rufu Has Begun—Let’s Advance Boldly and Triumphantly toward 2001!” adorned the back of the hall, expressing the young people’s vow.

At 4:00 p.m. on July 11, on the other side of the globe in the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu—about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the great Iguaçu Falls—close to a thousand members from Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia gathered for the first Soka Gakkai South America young men’s division general meeting. Some had traveled for 80 hours by charter bus down the length of Brazil from Belém, a major port city in the Amazon region.

Shin’ichi also sent a congratulatory message to this gathering: “The 21st century belongs to you. I call on you, my young friends, to advance steadily but surely and accomplish wonderful achievements for kosen-rufu that will shine forever in South American history as you strive to take on all challenges, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo powerfully, excel at your jobs, value each stage of your lives, attend to daily life and study Buddhism. With all my heart, I am praying and looking forward to your growth and success.”

The youth of South America stood up eagerly in response to Shin’ichi’s call. The curtain had risen on an age of youth.

Installment 3

The news came like a bolt from the blue: Soka Gakkai President Kiyoshi Jujo had died of a heart attack at his home in Shinanomachi shortly before 1:00 a.m. on July 18 (1981). He was 58.

The previous day, Jujo had attended a Kita-Tama Zone general meeting with Shin’ichi Yamamoto on the athletic field of the Soka Schools in Kodaira City, Tokyo. He then attended the annual Glory Festival of the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools.

That evening, Shin’ichi had invited Jujo, Eisuke Akizuki and other top leaders to his home, where they did gongyo together. Afterward, Shin’ichi reported on the remarkable development of Soka youth around the world, and Jujo said with a happy smile, “I look forward to the 21st century.” A lively conversation ensued.

Jujo left Shin’ichi’s at 10:00 p.m. and, after talking with several other leaders, he returned home. He chanted to the Gohonzon, took a bath and went to bed. A short time later, he said he felt unwell and then passed away peacefully as if going to sleep.

Jujo had become Soka Gakkai president (in 1979) in the turbulent period of conflict with the priesthood, which had seen Shin’ichi step down to become honorary president and be barred from giving guidance at meetings. Under these challenging conditions, Jujo had done his utmost to steer the organization forward. He had also been under great strain trying to find the best way to deal with the unscrupulous scheming to take control of the Soka Gakkai by attorney Tomomasa Yamawaki, who was arrested in January (1981) on charges of extortion. Though he had been physically strong and robust, the pressure of the past two years had taken a heavy toll on his health.

Jujo was a fellow member with whom Shin’ichi had practiced and worked together for kosen-rufu since his youth. In March 1954, when Shin’ichi was appointed youth division chief of staff, Jujo became a member of the youth staff. Though five years older, Jujo had always admired Shin’ichi, who was his senior in faith, and had fought alongside him through numerous struggles and campaigns. Jujo was one of Shin’ichi’s trusted comrades, with whom he had shared the joys and hardships of striving for kosen-rufu.

When Shin’ichi became the third Soka Gakkai president, Jujo took Shin’ichi as his mentor and strove to be an exemplary disciple. He was deeply aware that the mentor-disciple relationship is the key to ensuring the Soka Gakkai’s perpetual development and the ongoing dynamic progress of kosen-rufu.

Installment 4

Fifty-eight may have been a young age to die, but Kiyoshi Jujo had dedicated his life, fulfilled his mission and completed his work for kosen-rufu in this lifetime. As a naval academy graduate, he had often sung the song “Doki no Sakura” (Cherry Blossom Classmates) and, fittingly, he had left this world like cherry blossoms scattering gracefully after blooming to the fullest.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “In no time one will return to the dream realm of the nine worlds, the realm of birth and death” (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 860). He is saying that we who embrace the correct teaching of Buddhism are quickly reborn into this world after death to work once again for kosen-rufu.

On the morning of July 18, Shin’ichi visited Jujo’s home to offer his condolences. He said to Jujo’s wife, Hiroko: “Your husband lived an admirable life, fulfilling his role as a valiant leader of kosen-rufu. I am sure that Nichiren Daishonin is praising him highly, and Mr. Toda is welcoming him with open arms.

“Please overcome your grief and carry on your husband’s aspirations, devoting yourself wholeheartedly to kosen-rufu in his stead. That is the best offering you can make for his eternal happiness. And please raise your children to be capable individuals for kosen-rufu. The best way a family can honor deceased loved ones is to become happy.”

That afternoon, a special meeting of the Soka Gakkai Executive Council was held. Vice President Eisuke Akizuki was nominated as the fifth Soka Gakkai president, and his appointment approved unanimously.

Akizuki was 51 and had joined the Soka Gakkai in 1951. He had contributed significantly to developing the young men’s division in the organization’s early days, serving as young men’s division leader and youth division leader. He was also involved in editing the Seikyo Shimbun, serving as managing editor and editor in chief. He had held key executive positions in the Soka Gakkai, including general administrator and vice president.

Shin’ichi believed that the calm and coolheaded Akizuki would demonstrate excellent capability as the central leader of the Soka Gakkai, which had achieved phenomenal development, and ensure that it progressed solidly in tune with the new age. He also vowed in his heart to continue to watch over and wholeheartedly support everyone more than ever.

Installment 5

On the evening of Jujo’s death, a wake was held at the Jujo family home, with the funeral taking place the next day, July 19. The Soka Gakkai conducted an official wake on the evening of July 23, followed by a solemn funeral service on July 24, both at the Tokyo Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo. Shin’ichi Yamamoto participated in all of these events and chanted for Jujo’s eternal happiness.

On the evening of July 24, Shin’ichi did gongyo in memory of President Jujo with members from eight Asian countries and territories at the Shinjuku Culture Center. Afterward, he discussed plans and ideas for the future of kosen-rufu in Asia with those present.

Shin’ichi continued with his busy schedule, never resting for a moment.

On July 25, he met with Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state, for the third time in his ongoing search for a way to realize world peace.

On the same day, he attended a Headquarters leaders meeting at the Tokyo Toda Memorial Auditorium marking the Soka Gakkai’s new start. He sincerely applauded the organization on setting sail with new president Akizuki at the helm, and expressed his hope that everyone would take another step forward in working together for kosen-rufu cheerfully, positively and harmoniously.

The following day, he went to Nagano, where he spent until the first week of August encouraging members.

Then, on August 17, he met with Yasushi Akashi, a United Nations under-secretary-general, at the Soka Gakkai’s House of International Friendship (later Tokyo International Friendship House) in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. They discussed the upcoming United Nations Day (October 24) and Japan’s role in promoting world peace and fostering culture.

Shin’ichi had consistently stressed that to realize world peace, the United Nations must have power and countries use it as a primary forum for conferring and working together on equal terms.

Shin’ichi said to Under-Secretary-General Akashi, “We will do everything we can to support the United Nations, because we believe it is our mission as people of religious conviction who proclaim the dignity of life to build peace throughout the world and save people from hunger, poverty and disease.”

Nichiren Daishonin’s struggle to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land begins with the challenge of freeing people from suffering and helping them realize happiness. We fulfill our religious mission as Buddhists by achieving this social mission.

Installment 6

Shin’ichi Yamamoto would meet with Under-Secretary-General Yasushi Akashi a total of 18 times. During those years, the Soka Gakkai cooperated with the United Nations on several exhibitions, including “Nuclear Threat to Our World,” “War and Peace” and “Toward a Century of Humanity: An Overview of Human Rights in Today’s World,” which were held in locations around the world.

In 1992, Mr. Akashi headed the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) as a special representative of the UN secretary-general. At his request, Soka Gakkai youth in Japan initiated a “Voice Aid” campaign, collecting used radios to send to Cambodia. They eventually donated over 280,000 radios, which came to play a crucial role in that country’s first general election following its civil war.

Toward the end of August 1981, Shin’ichi traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, for various events, including the Second SGI General Meeting, where he delivered a commemorative address to 7,500 representatives from around the world.

In closing, he affirmed that the SGI, based on the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, would always advance along the great road of peace, culture and education, and asked the members to join him in strengthening their support for the United Nations.

He also visited the East-West Center adjacent to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, engaging in dialogues based on the Buddhist philosophy of peace and harmony.

Our vow as Buddhists is to achieve kosen-rufu, to realize peace and happiness for all humanity.

Commemorative services and other events were held at the head temple from October 10 through 16 that year (1981) to mark the 700th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing. Shin’ichi had been appointed chairperson of the anniversary committee by the late High Priest Nittatsu, and continued to work in that role after Nikken succeeded him as high priest. Wishing to maintain harmonious relations between the priesthood and laity for the sake of kosen-rufu, Shin’ichi devoted himself to fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted him. Marked throughout by solemnity and grandeur, the 700th memorial commemorations came to a successful close.

Meanwhile, the Shoshin-kai had been steadily ratcheting up its criticism of Nichiren Shoshu. In September the previous year (1980), Nichiren Shoshu had disciplined some 200 Shoshin-kai priests for disrupting order within the school. In January 1981, a number of them filed a lawsuit against High Priest Nikken and Nichiren Shoshu. The confrontation intensified, growing ever more bitter.

Installment 7

One after another, priests of the Shoshin-kai were expelled from Nichiren Shoshu.

Though they claimed to be committed to kosen-rufu, they denounced the Soka Gakkai, the organization that had worked tirelessly for that very cause, as “slandering the Law.” They harassed its members, noble children of the Buddha, and disrupted the harmonious relationship between priesthood and laity. Eventually, they drifted from the mighty river of kosen-rufu and sank into the polluted waters of envy and rage that typify the life state of Anger.

Nichiren Shoshu ultimately expelled more than 180 of these priests. It also waged protracted court battles against Shoshin-kai chief priests inhabiting local temples, seeking, among other things, to evict them from properties the school owned.

The Soka Gakkai consistently supported Nichiren Shoshu throughout and strove wholeheartedly for its ongoing prosperity.

Hard-pressed after their expulsion, the Shoshin-kai priests not only kept up their barrage against Nichiren Shoshu but also persistently maligned and defamed the Soka Gakkai.

Only the mentors and disciples of Soka, however, had been advancing kosen-rufu in the real world, selflessly dedicated to propagating the Law, just as Nichiren Daishonin taught. Right and wrong were clear in light of Nichiren’s writings. That was the members’ unshakable conviction. And seeing Shin’ichi Yamamoto not hesitate to stand at the forefront of that struggle, traveling around Japan and the world on his counteroffensive to protect the members, they renewed their determination to stand alongside him.

No matter how deep the darkness or how fierce the storm, when a champion rises to action, the bells of a new day ring and a golden dawn arrives. When the mentors and disciples of Soka cast off their chains and take a step forward united as one, the curtain of victory has already risen.

Shin’ichi vowed to visit the areas where members had suffered the most during the problems with the priesthood. He very much wanted to praise and thank them for their unwavering efforts and to urge them to join him in making a fresh start toward new victories.

The first place Shin’ichi wished to visit was Shikoku [the smallest of Japan’s four main islands]. He wanted to respond to the sincerity of those disciples who, at a time when he wasn’t allowed even to appear at meetings, had traveled to Yokohama on the passenger ferry Sunflower 7 to visit him.

Installment 8

The September 6 Seikyo Shimbun reported that celebrations to mark the completion of the Soka Gakkai’s Tokushima Auditorium [in Shikoku’s Tokushima Prefecture] would be held in November and that Shin’ichi Yamamoto would attend. Shin’ichi’s attendance at events was rarely announced in advance. Publishing this news expressed his firm determination to join with members throughout Japan in making fresh strides forward.

On October 31, Shin’ichi attended the opening ceremony of the 11th Soka University Festival (in Tokyo) and delivered a lecture titled “Thoughts on History and Historical Figures: Living amid Persecution.”

In it, he discussed several eminent figures who left brilliant legacies, despite lives marked by persecution and adversity, such as Sugawara Michizane (845–903), who spent his last years in exile, and Rai San’yo (1780–1832) and Yoshida Shoin (1830–59), who prepared the way for Japan’s Meiji Restoration (in 1868). He also recounted how many other world figures remained true to their convictions and led great lives in stormy times, such as, in China, the poet and political leader Ch’ü Yüan (Qu Yuan) and the renowned historian Ssu-ma Ch’ien (Sima Qian; c. 145–c. 87 BCE), author of the Historical Records; in India, the nonviolent activist Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948); and in Europe, the writer Victor Hugo (1802–85), the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), and the father of modern painting, Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).

Shin’ichi observed that great undertakings are almost invariably destined to meet opposition and persecution. The reason, he explained, is that individuals who achieve something historic tend to be firmly grounded among and supported by the people. As a result, authorities who rule at the people’s expense feel threatened. Consumed by jealousy born of ambition and self-interest, they are desperate to drive out such leaders of the people. That is the pattern by which persecution unfolds.

He strongly affirmed: “As a Buddhist and as an ordinary citizen, I have faced continuous baseless attacks and harassment. Knowing this pattern, however, I humbly believe that persecution is a badge of honor for a Buddhist; it is a supreme honor in life. I declare here and now that history will be the stern judge that will make the truth clear.”

In front of his beloved Soka University students, Shin’ichi made this declaration of future victory.

Installment 9

After attending a friendship sports gathering of the Shinjuku Soka family in Tokyo on November 8, Shin’ichi Yamamoto made his way to Kansai. At the Kansai Culture Center that evening, he encouraged participants at a ward and zone leaders meeting. Afterward, he took time to speak informally with representative leaders. Shin’ichi wanted Kansai to always remain a source of perpetual victory, and his heart blazed with a resolve to make that so.

In Shikoku, a series of events marking the completion of the Soka Gakkai’s Tokushima Auditorium took place beginning November 7, led by General Director Kazumasa Morikawa. Members in Tokushima had readied everything to welcome Shin’ichi and were awaiting his visit.

But due to numerous requests to meet with prominent figures and appear at various events, Shin’ichi had been unable to fix a date to travel there. The Soka Gakkai Headquarters notified the Tokushima organization that President Yamamoto was determined to visit and was trying to rearrange his schedule, but there was no guarantee that he could make it.

Members in Tokushima Prefecture, like many others, had suffered bitterly from callous mistreatment by hostile priests. Yet they continued to valiantly defend and proclaim the truth of the Soka Gakkai, sustained by the vow for kosen-rufu they shared with their mentor. That is why they wanted to strive their hardest up to the celebration of the new auditorium’s completion and to make a fresh start together with Shin’ichi.

Shin’ichi, however, did not appear at the November 8 events, either.

November 9 came. In the afternoon, a commemorative gongyo session began. There was still no sign of Shin’ichi. General Director Morikawa led gongyo, and as everyone recited the sutra and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they wondered when Shin’ichi would arrive. After all, an article in the Seikyo Shimbun had announced his attendance. Following gongyo, the meeting steadily progressed until it was time for General Director Morikawa to speak. He had just finished when the doors at the back of the room opened.

It was Shin’ichi.

“I’m here at last! I came to keep my promise to you!”

Cheers and applause resounded. Greeting people as he went, Shin’ichi made his way through the audience to the front of the room.

The hearts of mentor and disciples united passionately as one, marking the start of a historic effort that would unfold from Shikoku.

Installment 10

Shin’ichi Yamamoto had flown in from Osaka in Kansai that afternoon and had come to the meeting straight from Tokushima Airport.

He led the members in gongyo, offered guidance in a relaxed and friendly manner, and urged them to remain courageous in faith, confident that winter always turns to spring.

With smiles as bright as the sun, everyone renewed their determination.

Shin’ichi also visited for the first time the Tokushima Culture Center (later the Tokushima Peace Center), about a 20-minute drive away, and then attended another gongyo session that evening back at the auditorium.

In addition to giving wholehearted encouragement, he played seven tunes for the members on the piano, including “The Three Martyrs of Atsuhara.” He wanted to thank them for their efforts and express his hope that they would raise the curtain on a new age of kosen-rufu in Tokushima.

The young women’s division Uzushio (Whirlpool) Chorus[2] and the women’s division Wakakusa (Young Grass) Chorus also performed. The latter sang the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—the first and second verses in Japanese and the third in German.

The city of Naruto[3] in Tokushima Prefecture happened to be the first place in Asia where Beethoven’s Ninth was performed in full.

During World War I, the Japanese army attacked and gained control of the German port of Tsingtao (Qingdao), China, which had been defended by a small German garrison. The German prisoners were sent to Japan, with around 1,000 placed in the Bando POW camp in part of present-day Naruto.

Toyohisa Matsue (1872–1956), the director of the camp, treated the prisoners respectfully as brave men who had served their country. He created a free atmosphere for them and treated them humanely. The locals, too, had a long tradition of hospitality and came to accept the Germans and enjoy friendly interactions with them.

Wishing to reciprocate, the Germans taught the local Japanese how to make bread, bake cakes, grow tomatoes and other vegetables, raise livestock and even how to play sports such as soccer.

In any age, having an open heart and mind is the most essential qualification for a world citizen. Real global citizenship starts with recognizing the dignity and worth of all people and fostering the spirit to expand ties of friendship.

Installment 11

In June 1918, an orchestra of German POWs performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Bando camp.

Beethoven incorporated voices—soloists and a chorus—in the fourth movement of that work, with lyrics based on the poem “Ode to Joy,” by the German poet Friedrich Schiller. All people coming together as one family—this is the theme of the Ninth Symphony. This hymn to humanity, this music of friendship reverberated from Tokushima.

Now, a Soka Gakkai women’s chorus was singing the choral section:

Clouds drifting across the clear skies
The birds singing in the forests and groves…[4]

Applauding enthusiastically, Shin’ichi Yamamoto felt as if he could hear the Tokushima members’ cheers of victory as they emerged triumphant from the oppression of authoritarian priests. Their hearts blazed with the joy of dedicating their lives to kosen-rufu. This joy itself was proof of their great victory.

The following day, November 10, Shin’ichi took part in a tree-planting to mark the auditorium’s completion, sat for photographs with event staff and led a gongyo session.

He said: “Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘Myo [of myoho, the Mystic Law] means to revive, that is, to return to life’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 149). We who embrace the Mystic Law will, therefore, always find a way forward. No matter how difficult the situation we may find ourselves in, we can turn it around and overcome it. Brimming with dynamic life force, we forge ahead anew. That is why we never give up, never despair.

“We are all originally magnificent Buddhas. Being convinced of this is the essence of our faith. Believe in yourselves, have confidence and dedicate yourselves to kosen-rufu, spreading the light of happiness of the Mystic Law throughout your communities.”

Shin’ichi was going to neighboring Kagawa Prefecture that day, and he encouraged the Tokushima members up until his departure.

To be seriously committed means to give your all at every moment.

“Tokushima is a wonderful name!” he said. “It means island of virtue, a home to people of noble character. Please create fresh momentum for kosen-rufu in Shikoku, starting from Tokushima!”

Installment 12

Shin’ichi Yamamoto left the Tokushima Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. and headed by car to the Shikoku Training Center in Aji-cho, in neighboring Kagawa Prefecture. After about an hour, he suggested they stop at a coffee shop, wanting to give his driver a short break.

In the coffee shop, the Shikoku youth leader, Okimitsu Owada, part of the group traveling with them from Tokushima, asked Shin’ichi if he could meet with Shikoku youth representatives. Shin’ichi replied immediately that he’d be glad to. He wanted to respond sincerely to this direct and earnest request from the youth.

It was decided to hold a small youth gathering on the evening of November 12.

Shin’ichi had the highest hopes for the Shikoku youth with their strong fighting spirit.

That August (1981), Owada had visited Shin’ichi at the Nagano Training Center and expressed his desire to generate new momentum for kosen-rufu, starting from Shikoku.

“If I may speak frankly,” he had said to Shin’ichi, “at this time, when Soka Gakkai publications only rarely report on your activities, I feel that the mentor-disciple spirit is all the more important. So we are thinking of creating an exhibition space at one of our centers in Shikoku to highlight your writings and actions for peace.”

Though he spoke somewhat hesitantly, Owada’s passion was obvious. Shin’ichi appreciated his sincerity.

“I understand your feelings. Please confer with the Shikoku Region leader and other top local leaders about how best to give hope to the members.”

The Shikoku youth began to research Shin’ichi’s activities for world peace. They learned that in 1968, wishing to prevent China’s isolation from the global community, Shin’ichi had called for Japan to normalize diplomatic relations with China. At the height of the Cold War, he had visited China and the Soviet Union a number of times to build bridges of friendship and work to relieve tensions between the two countries. Seeking a way toward peace, he had engaged in dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the United Nations secretary-general and other leaders. The young people’s research revealed Shin’ichi’s broad-ranging activities that rose above ideology.

Wishing to proudly communicate their mentor’s contributions to peace, the Shikoku youth had gone on to organize an exhibition at the Shikoku Training Center. Held from October 3 through November 3 (1981), it had been viewed by more than 61,000 people.

Installment 13

The exhibition on Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s activities for peace, which the Shikoku youth had planned and organized, became a ray of light that illuminated a new path forward for kosen-rufu.

Innovative future development will not be realized if we simply wait to be told what to do. We must identify the obstacles to progress, the problems of our times and society, and actively and continually strive to resolve them. That is the path to creating something new. As a poet from Shikoku, Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902), said: “Revolution and reform are the work of the new generation of youth emerging to take their place in society.”[5]

Shin’ichi arrived at the Shikoku Training Center in Kagawa Prefecture a little after 5:00 p.m. on November 10.

He attended a leaders meeting there that evening commemorating Kagawa Day. Everyone applauded as Shin’ichi made his way to his seat.

The members were in high spirits. They had suffered the words and actions of deceitful priests intent on severing the Soka ties of mentor and disciple. But they had now brilliantly overcome it all and were gathering joyously. It was time for a triumphant fresh start.

In a strong voice, Shin’ichi declared: “I will take the lead once again! I don’t want you to worry or suffer anymore. Those who understand my feelings, fight along with me!”

It was a lion’s roar, cutting through the constraints imposed on him. The thunderous applause seemed never to end.

Shin’ichi was thinking: “If the Soka mentor-disciple bond remains strong, we can overcome any evil. I must not allow authoritarian priests to obstruct the advance of the Soka Gakkai, the organization carrying out kosen-rufu in accord with the Buddha’s intent. Now is the time for our counteroffensive!” This was the vow that blazed in his heart.

Whatever happens, the Soka mentor-disciple spirit must not be allowed to perish. That would cut off the path to kosen-rufu.

The organization would be run, of course, through consensus under the leadership of President Akizuki. But Shin’ichi was resolved, for the sake of the youth, to demonstrate and convey through his own actions the essential Soka path of mentor and disciple.

Installment 14

After attending the Kagawa Day commemorative leaders meeting at the Shikoku Training Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto conferred with top Shikoku leaders and others.

The next day, November 11, he again exerted himself all out. He encouraged members gathered at the training center, and then visited the site of the new Shikoku Culture Center, which was under construction in nearby Chokushi-cho, Takamatsu City. He did gongyo at the adjacent Soka Gakkai Takamatsu Auditorium with local members who, hearing he was there, had come to see him, and encouraged them by playing the piano. Back at the training center, he met informally with Soka Gakkai staff and top Shikoku leaders.

He said: “Here in Shikoku, I have declared that I will once again take the lead in our movement for kosen-rufu as a lion of Soka. I will begin constructing a new era from here. This is because Shikoku is a forerunner in our movement. Please never forget this golden moment. Its significance will become all the greater and more profound with time.”

Shin’ichi’s words brimmed with passion and conviction.

That evening, youth division and young men’s division leaders from Shikoku’s four prefectures[6] gathered at the training center to discuss their meeting with Shin’ichi the following day. One proposed: “At tomorrow’s gathering, let’s show Sensei our resolve and reassure him that the future of Shikoku is secure. Let’s compose a song conveying our determination and commitment and then sing it for him.”

Everyone heartily agreed.

“It’s important that we all work together to create this song, so please suggest words or phrases for the lyrics.”

On a whiteboard, they wrote down whatever came to mind, such as “the toil of youth” and “our chosen path.” Using these as inspiration, they worked on the lyrics, and just before daybreak they had completed three stanzas of four lines each. They had all put their heart and soul into creating this new Shikoku young men’s division song.

Such single-minded dedication is an admirable quality of youth; it has the power to break through seemingly impossible barriers and open new paths.

Installment 15

November 12 finally came, the day of Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s meeting with Shikoku youth division representatives.

That morning, Tomohiro Suginuma of the Shikoku young men’s music corps arrived at the Shikoku Training Center. He had been asked to compose the music for the new song, as he had done for other Soka Gakkai songs, such as the Shikoku Region song “Our Land” and the high school division song “Torchbearers of Justice.”

When he looked at the proposed lyrics, he asked whether the four-line stanzas could be expanded into six lines, to create a fresh feeling. The young men who had written the lyrics had themselves felt that the four-line form didn’t allow them to express their spirit and resolve fully.

They began rewriting, which was surprisingly challenging. Still, they managed to complete the task by afternoon, and the music was finished by evening.

That afternoon, Shin’ichi had attended a leaders meeting commemorating November 11, Ehime Day, at the training center, where he spoke about the phrase “responding with joy” from the Lotus Sutra.

“For us, ‘responding with joy’ refers to the great joy that rises within us when we hear the supreme teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren Daishonin says: ‘Rejoicing is faith, and faith is rejoicing’ (Gosho zenshu, p. 835).[7] This teaching enables us to overcome all sufferings, attain Buddhahood in this lifetime and establish a state of unsurpassed happiness. And it has the power to lead all people to enlightenment into the eternal future. When convinced of this, we will overflow with endless gratitude and irrepressible joy at encountering the Mystic Law. That jubilant, vibrant state is itself the state of supreme happiness.

“When we respond with joy, we cannot help sharing the Mystic Law with others, and we spontaneously begin to spread this teaching. That, in turn, leads to even more benefit. This growing circle of joy is kosen-rufu. Propagating the teaching results naturally from the joy of faith.

“Please always remember that joy arises when you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in earnest, and when you actively and willingly take action for kosen-rufu.”

Installment 16

Shin’ichi Yamamoto wanted to reaffirm that the Soka Gakkai was a joyous gathering of ordinary people, and that the joy of each member was the driving force for Soka Gakkai activities.

He closed his remarks by urging everyone to join in making a fresh start with “Faith is rejoicing” as their motto.

The youth meeting at the Shikoku Training Center began a little before 6:00 p.m. About 80 Shikoku youth representatives and about 10 Ehime Prefecture leaders attended. After a series of reports on youth activities, youth leader Okimitsu Owada rose and said: “Sensei! We have created a Shikoku young men’s division song, and we’d like you to listen to it.”

The eyes of Owada and the others who worked on the song were puffy and red. Shin’ichi guessed that they must have stayed up all night.

“Certainly! What’s it called?”

“The Song of Dawn.”

Shin’ichi smiled. “Commonplace lines like ‘Ah, the dawn has arrived’ lack freshness. And without freshness, it will feel as if dawn is still far off.”

Someone handed Shin’ichi the lyrics, and the song played on the cassette deck.

Ah, the dawn has come
Set out as forerunners…

“Just as I thought—‘Ah, the dawn has come,’” he said humorously.

Everyone laughed.

Shin’ichi looked over the lyrics. “It’s a good song,” he said, “but it feels like you just stitched together some inspiring words.”

The youth men smiled ruefully; it was the truth. They felt as if Shin’ichi had seen their whole process.

Shinji Takahata, the Shikoku young men’s leader, spoke out: “Sensei! Please help us improve it. Please infuse it with your spirit.”

Takahata’s gaze was earnest, expressing his youthful eagerness to open the way for a new age. Shikoku was a land of hopeful aspiration.

Installment 17

Shin’ichi Yamamoto looked at the young men and said: “If you want my help, I can try. May I make some revisions?”

They responded with a resounding “Yes!”

“Okay, then, let’s work together to create a wonderful song that will be sung through the ages.”

Shin’ichi immediately went over the lyrics.

“First, regarding the opening line, ‘Ah, the dawn has come’—the word ‘dawn’ appears in many Soka Gakkai songs and other well-known school songs. How the song begins is very important. The first line is crucial. We need something that evokes a vivid, colorful image, such as that of the full moon rising, or the sun’s first rays bursting forth.

“I think for this song, the color should be crimson. How about starting with ‘Ah, the crimson . . . .’ Then we can make the song’s title ‘Song of Crimson.’

“As for the music, it should be upbeat and energetic, fresh and original, building as the song proceeds. What about something like this?” Shin’ichi hummed a melody.

Suginuma, the composer, immediately transcribed it into notes, which set the tone for the whole song.

“While bearing in mind the style of our songs until now, I’d like the melody to be something new and ahead of the times, a tune people will enjoy hearing even without knowing the words,” Shin’ichi said.

“If I may, it shouldn’t sound rushed or unsettled but rather confident and dignified—a melody you just want to sing along to.”

The meeting turned into a song-writing session.

“Let’s revise this phrase ‘storm of devilish functions,’ too. How about ‘arrogant devilish functions’?

“Instead of using phrases similar to those we’ve used in songs before, it’s important to be creative and original.

“Our aims of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land and realizing worldwide kosen-rufu have aspects that are completely original. They are new, unprecedented concepts, which means we need fresh expressions to communicate them.”

Installment 18

As he spoke with the youth, Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued to revise the lyrics. Through the songwriting process, he sought to teach them the Soka Gakkai spirit and to foster their awareness as successors.

“In the line ‘the castle of kosen-rufu that our pioneers have built’ in the third verse, let’s change it to ‘that our dear pioneer women have built.’ It’s more specific. I’d like to use ‘pioneer women’ here to represent all our pioneer members who built the Soka Gakkai in the early days.

“This is important. Today, we have wonderful training centers such as this one and fine community centers around the country. The Soka Gakkai has effectively become Japan’s largest religious organization. But for us to reach this stage, our pioneer members, including many of your mothers and fathers, worked extremely hard, through many painful struggles.

“Though disparaged as a gathering of the poor and sick and having to fight prejudice and insults due to misunderstanding of our movement, they never retreated. Rather, they continued to strive tirelessly and energetically to share Nichiren Buddhism.

“No matter how difficult things became, they always had high hopes. That’s because they believed that their successors—that is, you—would grow to be fine, outstanding people and take the lead in kosen-rufu and society. That’s why they could keep going, determined to succeed, to remain undefeated.

“You mustn’t betray the hopes of these pioneers, of your mothers and fathers. To do so would be the height of ingratitude. I want you all to grow to be upstanding individuals whom our pioneer members can look to and say: ‘We have fostered a stream of fine successors. That’s our greatest honor!’” Shin’ichi finished revising all three verses, making some 30 changes.

“I’ll keep thinking about how we can improve it. I want to create the very best song, one that our youth will sing forever. Let’s create a song affirming the declaration of our counteroffensive for kosen-rufu.”

Shin’ichi continued his revisions into the late hours. He thought deeply, infusing his spirit into every word.

Installment 19

On the afternoon of November 13, the next day, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a gongyo session in the auditorium of the Shikoku Training Center to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Kochi Chapter.

During his visit to Kochi three years earlier (in 1978), he had stayed at the Kochi Training Center, near Ashizuri-misaki [a cape that is the southernmost point of Shikoku], out of his wish to encourage all the members in Kochi Prefecture. He offered guidance and encouragement to each person he met during his visit.

Having overcome countless obstacles in the intervening years, members now gathered at the training center with fresh courage and hope.

At the gongyo session, Shin’ichi cited several passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, including: “Without tribulation there would be no votary of the Lotus Sutra” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 33). Reaffirming that great obstacles are inevitable on the path of kosen-rufu, he went on to discuss the proper attitude of faith.

“Times of trouble reveal the essence of a person’s faith. Some may display cowardice and flee or betray their fellow members. Others may decide ‘This is the crucial moment’ and rise up with firm resolve. The difference lies in whether one tries each day to polish and forge one’s faith. We can’t establish strong faith overnight.

“We consistently exert ourselves in Soka Gakkai activities so that we can persevere courageously with unshakable faith in times of adversity.

“We are ordinary people, humble everyday citizens. For this reason, we may be disparaged and persecuted. But because we spread the supreme and unparalleled Mystic Law, we are certain to succeed in advancing kosen-rufu.

“The Daishonin also states: ‘The Law does not spread by itself: because people propagate it, both the people and the Law are respectworthy’ (Goshi zenshu, p. 856).[8] Accordingly, those who propagate this supreme Law can lead the most wonderful lives possible.

“All of the unfounded attacks and outrageous treatment you’ve had to endure because of your efforts for kosen-rufu and for the Soka Gakkai will become sources of eternal good fortune for you. Don’t be disturbed by people’s trivial words and actions. Rather, live your lives following the unsurpassed way and in perfect accord with the teachings of Buddhism.”

There was a burst of loud applause.

Members throughout Shikoku’s four prefectures—Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi—began taking initiative as forerunners in the Soka Gakkai’s counteroffensive.

Installment 20

That same day, Shin’ichi Yamamoto encouraged the gongyo session participants, groups from various divisions and event staff. He also took commemorative photos with many members. In between, he continued revising the “Song of Crimson.”

Each time he made a change in the lyrics, he informed the youth involved.

Suginuma, who was composing the melody, had come up with a draft based on the part Shin’ichi had hummed the previous day.

Late that afternoon, Shin’ichi toured the training center. Looking into the auditorium, he found a small group of young men singing the revised song and recording it. He listened for a while and shared his impressions of the music with Suginuma.

“I think the melody is a little too complicated. Let’s make it more uplifting and easier to sing.”

That evening, a cassette recording was delivered to Shin’ichi. After listening to it, he said: “The melody is very good, so that takes care of the music! But now the music outshines the lyrics. Let’s see if we can improve the lyrics some more!”

Shin’ichi polished the lyrics further.

On November 14, he listened to the tape at the Shikoku Training Center and again at the Shikoku Culture Center and Shikoku Soka Gakkai Women’s Center, making additional revisions to the lyrics each time.

While enjoying a communal bath with some Shikoku men’s and young men’s division leaders that evening, he continued to go over the lyrics. The young men requested that the song, instead of being only for Shikoku members, be presented as a song for the young men’s division nationwide.

“If that’s the case,” Shin’ichi responded, “Let’s make it even better—the absolute best.”

After his bath, he examined each word and phrase again to see if there was any way he could improve it.

The creative process is a struggle with one’s own willingness to accept easy compromises. A new path can be blazed only by overcoming that temptation and pushing oneself to the very limits, taking on challenges, making efforts and applying one’s ingenuity. Shin’ichi wanted to communicate to his young successors this spirit of unremitting struggle that is key to creating something new.

Installment 21

“Ah, the crimson dawn breaks…”

As he listened to the tape of the song and pondered the lyrics, Shin’ichi Yamamoto called out silently to the youth: “A bright red sun rises, breaking through the clouds. Moment by moment, the sky turns crimson and a brand new day arrives. ‘Crimson’ describes the sun of time without beginning glowing in our hearts, the passionate fighting spirit to create a new age and the radiance of youthful vitality!

“Ah, like the light of the dawning sun, the dashing young heroes of Soka are leading the way to worldwide kosen-rufu! The morning bell, heralding a century of life, is now sounding loudly, and a brilliant new day has arrived. This brilliance is the light of happiness and victory emanating from a spirit of tireless and unflinching challenge. Youth, be not afraid! Vanquish the ‘arrogant crashing waves’ and surmount all obstacles as you press forward, ever forward.

“Kosen-rufu is a battle of right against wrong. But right does not always prevail. There are times when wrong triumphs. That’s why Buddhism is such a hard-fought struggle. We who dedicate our lives to fulfilling the mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and hold high the banner of Buddhist truth and goodness must not be defeated. We have a responsibility to win.

“The Bodhisattvas of the Earth are none other than the ordinary people who make up our gathering of Soka. We have chosen to appear in the Latter Day of the Law, an evil age stained with the five impurities,[9] to help those suffering attain happiness. We have willingly emerged in this world so that we can show the great benefit of practicing Buddhism by developing and strengthening ourselves through our own struggles and persevering efforts and achieving lives of victory.

“We will at times face tempests of karma. No life is without suffering. But when we fight with courage to carry out our mission of kosen-rufu, a rainbow of hope appears and our sufferings turn into joy.

“People create their own unhappiness when they let themselves be ruled by fear, stop trying, abandon hope and give up.

“But we of the Soka Gakkai, living in accord with the Mystic Law, the ultimate law of life, bring forth powerful life force to tackle one problem after another as we dedicate ourselves to kosen-rufu. This way, we can shine our brightest and create happiness for ourselves and others. This way, we can raise ‘the banner of the people’ with joy-filled hearts. This way, we can make the people’s cheers of victory ring out far and wide.”

Installment 22

[Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued to call out to the youth in his heart.]

“‘Paying no heed to those swayed by praise or censure’—To follow the noble path of our beliefs, unperturbed by the unprincipled who cast aside ideals and allegiances the moment circumstances change, is the spirit of Soka mentors and disciples. It is the true way of humanity.

“Those who admired Soka Gakkai founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi as a great educational thinker swiftly changed their tune when he was arrested and imprisoned by Japan’s militarist authorities. They shamelessly claimed, ‘Makiguchi deceived us!’ and showered him with curses and abuse. And when second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s businesses faced a crisis after the war, people he had helped forgot all gratitude and maligned him.

“We must not be influenced by the words of the fickle-hearted. We must proceed calmly and steadily along the ‘shining regal road’ of our commitment to kosen-rufu. It is our supreme honor to walk the great path of mentor and disciple. We are writing a song of our vow as mentor and disciple.

“Your presence, my young friends, gives me the greatest reassurance. My wish is that you will use me as a stepping stone, so that you may go on to surpass me and grow to be outstanding people who tower like mighty trees. I will gaze up at you with pride, and praise you with the deepest respect.

“My young friends who are reaching high into the skies of the new century! For the sake of the future, polish and forge yourselves, work and study and gladly take on difficult challenges. The ‘golden sweat of youth’ is a precious treasure that will adorn your lives forever. Above the luxuriant green canopy of trees growing into tomorrow, I can see it—a shining rainbow of brilliant achievement!

“Youth, spread your wings! Emerge in surging waves on the distant horizon! Soar joyfully and freely into an age of myriad songs celebrating humanity, a magnificent new era of respect for the dignity of life! Raise the curtain of great victory in the 21st century through the passion and power of Soka youth! You hold in your hands the baton of successors!”

Installment 23

On the evening of November 14, after more than 20 revision sessions, Shin’ichi Yamamoto declared to the youth: “All right, this is it! ‘Song of Crimson’ is complete! It is a song of the spirit of youth!”

Ah, the crimson dawn breaks—
valiant young heroes, brilliant forerunners,
sound the morning bell for all to hear!
Arrogant crashing waves, we fear you not!
The corrupt will never know glory.
The noble truth of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth
raises high the banner of the people.

Paying no heed to those swayed by praise or censure,
we ascend this shining regal road.
Gathered around our father, here we stand.
He calls on us to grow like mighty trees—that will be his pride.
Ah, the golden sweat of youth!
May a rainbow adorn the bright indigo sky of our vow.

The castle of kosen-rufu
that our dear pioneer women have built—
let us protect it always!
Youth! Spread your wings with vibrant hope,
as you surge forth on the dazzling horizon!
Together composing myriad songs of life,
soar freely and joyfully into the new century!

Shin’ichi’s wife, Mineko, said to him, “You have managed to put into this song everything you wish to say to youth, haven’t you?”

“Yes. I want the young men’s division to advance into the 21st century singing ‘Song of Crimson’ and the young women’s division members to do the same, singing their new song, ‘This Green Path.’”

“This Green Path” debuted eight days earlier (on November 6), to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the young women’s division. At the division’s request, Shin’ichi had revised the proposed lyrics and given advice about the melody.

Green is the color of youth, the glow of vibrant young lives. Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) described youth as “the gate and path whereby we enter upon a good life.”[10]

Installment 24

The November 6 Seikyo Shimbun announced the completion of “This Green Path” as a new song for the young women’s division and printed the music and lyrics.

Cherry blossoms dancing in the spring mist,
young friends dancing along with them.
In happiness wreathed,
we walk along this green path.

After the harsh light of summer
comes the autumn, with its glorious foliage.
And even in frosty winter, we are undaunted,
until our song of spring finally arrives.

Singing this song of father and daughter,
young women on this path
will spread their wings,
their wings,
and soar out into the world.
They will soar like angels
into the rainbow sky beyond.

On November 16, 10 days later, “Song of Crimson” was introduced in the Seikyo Shimbun as a new young men’s division song.

Both songs were uplifting, conveying a freshness and originality befitting the new age.

“Song of Crimson” was born of the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple shared by Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the Shikoku young men’s division. By the time it was completed, however, almost nothing of the young men’s original version remained. The young men were nevertheless credited with the lyrics. Shin’ichi wished to praise their spirit and their efforts.

While Shin’ichi was in Shikoku, the new Tokushima Prefecture song “Beloved Tokushima” was also written. He had helped revise that song as well at the members’ request.

Let friends from around the world come!
The joy of wonderful Tokushima
surges like the Naruto whirlpools…

Installment 25

Around noon on November 15, Shin’ichi Yamamoto flew back to Osaka from Shikoku’s Takamatsu Airport. He then visited the neighboring Kansai prefectures of Wakayama and Nara, continuing his tireless efforts for kosen-rufu.

On November 22, he attended the 3rd Kansai General Meeting, held at the Kansai Toda Memorial Auditorium in Toyonaka City, Osaka. There, he led participants in the well-loved song “Ah, the Dawn Approaches.”

Then, after visiting Shiga and Fukui prefectures, he traveled to the Chubu region, and then on to Shizuoka Prefecture, devoting himself to offering guidance and encouragement throughout, before returning to Tokyo on the evening of December 2.

The young men’s division held a nationwide leaders meeting on November 22 in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. Dubbing it the “‘Crimson’ Young Men’s Leaders Meeting,” they infused the gathering with their vow to strive alongside their mentor, embarking anew toward the 21st century singing “Song of Crimson.”

Ah, the crimson dawn breaks—
valiant young heroes, brilliant forerunners…

The young men solidified their determination as forerunners of kosen-rufu to blaze a path through thorny terrain.

They resolved in their hearts that no matter what fierce storms of adversity assailed them, as young heroes of Soka they would bravely scale the most treacherous slopes for the sake of their fellow members and society. They would not be defeated! They would resolutely protect the castle of kosen-rufu that the pioneer members had worked so hard to build!

Their singing was a victory song of youth who had so brilliantly overcome the turmoil with the priesthood, a triumphant cheer of victory in life resounding into the future.

Regarding the credit for “Song of Crimson,” the Shikoku young men’s division members strongly requested that Shin’ichi be listed as the lyricist for the sake of posterity. The reason, they insisted, was that he was the one who actually wrote the lyrics. The credit was changed accordingly.

In later years, Shin’ichi made further revisions, changing a phrase in the third verse in 2005—from “our dear pioneer women” to “our dear pioneer women and men”—and one in the second verse—from “gathered around our father” to “gathered around our mentor.” The latter was made at the request of the Shikoku youth division members on the occasion of the Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting held in Shikoku in October 2016.

Installment 26

“I will go where members have suffered the most! I will encourage them from the depths of my being, with my heart and soul, as if firmly shaking hands with each one!” That was Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s determination as he arrived at Oita Airport in Kyushu on the afternoon of December 8. Only six days earlier, he had returned to Tokyo after an intense, all-out guidance tour of the Shikoku, Kansai and Chubu regions.

This was his first visit to Oita in 13 and a half years.

Shin’ichi exhorted himself to seize the present moment to create a rising tide of victory for kosen-rufu.

Members in Oita, perhaps more than anywhere else in Japan, had suffered terrible harassment by Shoshin-kai (lit. Correct Faith Association) priests who brandished their clerical authority under the name of correct faith but whose actions went entirely against Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.

In one area, when members attended the monthly Gosho [The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin] lectures at their local temple, the chief priest would quote not from the Daishonin’s writings but from tabloid weeklies carrying defamatory articles about the Soka Gakkai. He asserted that the lay organization was “wrong” and committing “slander of the Law.”

Those who had quit the Soka Gakkai to practice directly with the temple would hurl abuse at their former fellow members, drawing applause from other temple members. The chief priest just looked on with a smirk. He silently incited others while pretending to remain aloof.

Some members came to their local community or culture center in tears, the chief priest having said he wouldn’t conduct funerals for them unless they quit the Soka Gakkai. Unbelievably, some priests went so far as to attack the Soka Gakkai at members’ funerals, unforgivable behavior that just rubbed salt in the grieving families’ wounds.

It pained Shin’ichi deeply whenever he received reports of such incidents. He felt so sorry for the members and their suffering.

“Don’t be defeated! The morning of victory is certain to come!” he called out in his heart as he continued to send them daimoku.

When the Kyushu Region and Oita Prefecture leaders waiting at Oita Airport saw Shin’ichi, they shouted “Sensei!” and ran up to him.

“Let’s fight!” he said. “This is the decisive battle for Oita. It’s the start of a dramatic turnaround!”

Hearing this mighty lion’s roar, the leaders nodded, eyes shining and determination on their faces.

The fighting spirit forged through holding fast to one’s beliefs amid adversity serves as an unending force for new construction.

Installment 27

As Shin’ichi Yamamoto was about to get into the car at the airport, 20 or 30 Soka Gakkai members rushed up to him. Some held bouquets.

“Thank you! I’m sorry that you’ve had to endure such pain and suffering. But all of you have now won!”

With a smile, he said to teary-eyed members, “Be bright and positive!”

He went directly from the airport to the home of a dedicated member and encouraged the entire family. From there, he was supposed to go straight to the Oita Peace Center, but instead, he asked to be taken first to the Beppu Culture Center. Beppu had been a major epicenter of the conflict with the priesthood.

Many members stood along the road and waved as Shin’ichi drove past. When they had heard that he was visiting Oita, they thought he’d definitely take this route and had been waiting there for some time.

Some women leaned over the guard rail, waving as long as his car was in sight.

Shin’ichi was deeply moved by everyone’s sincerity. He thought to himself: “They have all endured so much. The hostile Shoshin-kai priests have done nothing but torment these noble children of the Buddha who dedicate themselves to kosen-rufu. It is unforgivable. Nichiren Daishonin would surely admonish such priests, and their actions would bring them negative consequences in accord with the workings of the Mystic Law. I will never forget the sight of these members today.”

Each time Shin’ichi saw members standing by the roadside, he felt like pressing his palms together in a gesture of the most profound respect and reverence.

Just before sundown, he arrived at the Beppu Culture Center. Light came from all the windows, and he could see many people inside. As he stepped out of the car, three elderly women called out: “Oh, Sensei! We’ve been longing to see you!”

“I finally made it. I’m here now, so everything will be all right!”

About 200 members had packed into the center, and a banner proclaiming “Welcome Home, Sensei!” hung over the entrance. They’d all been confident that Shin’ichi would visit the Beppu Culture Center.

Shin’ichi and the Beppu members who had continued to battle against injustice and inhumanity were firmly united in the spirit of shared struggle.

Installment 28

Shin’ichi Yamamoto said to the members gathered around the entrance of the Beppu Culture Center, “Let’s take a photograph to commemorate Beppu’s fresh start!”

After the photo, Shin’ichi led everyone in gongyo in the center’s main hall.

“This gongyo is to report to the Gohonzon on your victory here in Beppu and to pray for your eternal happiness and the prosperity of your families!” he declared before he began.

The members were elated, their voices resounding as they recited the sutra and chanted with him. While persevering amid the priests’ cruel attacks, they’d been waiting for this moment.

After gongyo, Shin’ichi took his seat at the microphone and said: “I am so sorry for the long ordeal you’ve had to endure here. The true way of priests is to care for and treasure the children of the Buddha above all. These corrupt priests, however, have continually caused anguish and distress to our members, who are working tirelessly for kosen-rufu. It is outrageous.

“But Nichiren Buddhism teaches that those who have suffered the most and fought the hardest will enjoy the greatest happiness. Because you have overcome all obstacles and magnificently triumphed, you are certain to enjoy lives overflowing with benefit. Spring has finally come! Please lead the best possible lives and keep helping others who are suffering.”

Though the time was short, Shin’ichi encouraged the members with all his heart. He then headed to Oita City.

Arriving at the Oita Peace Center just after 6:00 p.m., he took a group photo with members waiting at the entrance. Everyone was smiling brightly.

About 400 members, representing their divisions, had gathered in the main hall. When Shin’ichi entered, they applauded and cheered.

A banner reading “Spring Has Come to the Oita Family” adorned the room, expressing the feelings of all.

An informal meeting began. Shin’ichi spoke in a powerful voice: “You have won. Weathering a long period of bitter struggle, you have vanquished the ‘worms within the lion’s body,’[11] and justice has finally prevailed over injustice!”

Installment 29

Shin’ichi Yamamoto read a passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, “‘Evil friends will employ enticing words, deception and flattery and speak in a clever manner, thereby gaining control over the minds of ignorant and uninformed people and destroying the good minds that are in them’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 221).

“‘Evil friends’ refers to wicked priests and others who teach falsely, confusing people and obstructing Buddhist practice. With beguiling words, they try to deceive those dedicating themselves to kosen-rufu, or they flatter them and twist words to portray good as evil, thereby gaining control over their minds and destroying their faith.

“You have all suffered dreadfully because of these wicked priests. They maligned the Soka Gakkai as being guilty of ‘slander of the Law’ on the one hand, while flattering and currying favor with carefully targeted individuals and deceiving them into quitting the Soka Gakkai on the other. This is how they operate.

“The true nature of these ‘evil friends’ is arrogance and egotism. If you follow them, you will stray from the path of correct faith.

“As you dedicate your life to kosen-rufu, it is important to be keenly aware of such negative influences that seek to destroy pure faith.

“I am sure you all know someone who, though having striven earnestly in faith alongside you over the years, was led astray by cunning priests and quit the organization. And some of you may have visited such individuals many times to persuade them not to leave the Soka Gakkai, which practices in accord with the Buddha’s intent. A few of them may even have decided to recommit to the Gakkai only to change their minds after again being misled by the priests, ultimately denouncing and quitting the organization. I am fully aware of your heartbreaking experiences.”

Seeming to remember the bitterness of such times, many of those listening had tears in their eyes.

Shin’ichi continued: “Buddhism teaches the principle of ‘changing poison into medicine.’ Our Buddhist faith and practice can transform misfortune into good fortune. Just as a strong wind makes a kite soar high into the sky, experiencing suffering and adversity expands our state of life and enables us to soar freely into the vast sky of happiness.”

Such a dramatic transformation reflects the dynamism of Nichiren Buddhism.

Installment 30

As Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke, his words grew more impassioned: “Nichiren Daishonin also writes: ‘My life from the beginning has been based upon firm conviction. I have no intention now of reversing my course, nor will I ever reproach [those who persecuted me]. Evil persons too will be good friends to me’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 432).

“Though his own life may have been an ongoing series of persecutions, he declares, he was prepared for that from the beginning. No matter how great the difficulties he faced as a result, his determination never faltered, and he never resented his persecutors, he says.

“What is the most crucial requirement for carrying out the mission for kosen-rufu we have embraced since the eternal past? What is key to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and establishing a state of indestructible happiness? Committed faith. When you make up your mind and have the heart of a lion king, you will fear nothing.

“At that moment, even malicious individuals who have caused you terrible hardship will come to serve as ‘good friends.’ By being ready for anything, rising to face major obstacles and persecution head-on, you will develop and strengthen your faith and be able to transform your karma.

“All of you here in Oita have suffered greatly in our recent troubles with the Shoshin-kai priests, but that has enabled you to forge the strength for achieving tremendous future development.

“I am going to begin another great effort for kosen-rufu. I will build a Soka Gakkai true to its ideals. Please fight alongside me!”

“Yes!” The members’ voices rang out powerfully, filled with determination. The Oita members, who had suffered so much, firmly united in their resolve to stand up with Shin’ichi.

During the meeting, the young men’s division reported that very few of their members had quit the Soka Gakkai because of the troubles with the priesthood. Hearing this good news, Shin’ichi leaned forward and said eagerly: “Is that so? That’s wonderful. When the youth are solid, the future of Oita will be solid, too. I want to present guidelines of some kind for the youth to encourage them as they make their way forward.”

An Oita youth division leaders meeting was scheduled for the day after the next, December 10.

Installment 31

After the meeting, Shin’ichi continued to discuss various matters with a handful of prefectural leaders and presented them with two documents he had written.

One recorded details related to the press conference on the evening of April 24, 1979, at which he announced his resignation as Soka Gakkai president. It was penned at the Seikyo Shimbun Building right after the event was held there.

The other described his state of mind on the evening of December 4, 1977, the year the priesthood issue erupted. He had written it at his lodgings during a visit to Miyazaki Prefecture.[12]

“An issue has arisen with the priesthood,” it said. “It pains me deeply, as if a needle were piercing my heart.”

It then continued: “Why do the priests trample on our desire to advance in kosen-rufu with priesthood and laity united as one? Why do they subject us to such unreasonable attacks? … Why is such persecution repeatedly directed at the exhausted children of the Buddha, who have devoted themselves wholeheartedly to sharing Buddhism with others and battling the three powerful enemies? … I find this impossible to comprehend. Knowing the sadness, anger and dejection felt by the dear and noble children of the Buddha, I am every day filled with heartache. This trouble all began in Oita. …”

Handing these two documents to the leaders, Shin’ichi said: “These are my feelings. The members are my life. Leaders have a duty to protect them.

“If such a situation ever arises again, you must stand up immediately to challenge it for the sake of the Buddha’s children and kosen-rufu, bearing in mind what I have shared in these documents. It is the mission for all of you in Oita, where our members have suffered the most, to lead the way in refuting error and revealing the truth!

A fierce determination shone on the leaders’ faces.

On December 9, the next day, Shin’ichi visited a coffee shop owned by a member, where he spoke informally with some women’s division members and others.

He offered advice to a younger leader of the women’s division about interacting with seniors in faith.

“In families, there is sometimes friction between a wife and her mother-in-law. In the women’s division, too, it’s only natural for younger leaders and senior leaders to have different ideas and outlooks. By overcoming those differences and uniting in shared purpose, you can together progress in your human revolution and advance kosen-rufu.”

Installment 32

Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued: “Younger women’s division leaders are eager to take on new challenges, while more senior leaders have a wealth of experience in faith and a long history of practice. It may sometimes be necessary for a leader who is between the two generations, who understands both, to act as a bridge and facilitate smooth communication and cooperation.

“And just as in relationships between mother and daughter or mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, it’s important for you as younger leaders not to reject your seniors’ ideas out of hand. Instead, be open and listen to what they have to say. Then you can share your thoughts as another way of looking at things.

“If you just flatly reject or curtly dismiss someone’s opinions, they aren’t going to be willing to listen to yours, either. But if you listen attentively and nod to show your understanding, you will make the speaker happy. This is especially true the older the other person is.

“A crucial quality for leaders is being sensitive to people’s feelings and responding wisely.”

As the organization entered a new phase of development, its leadership ranks had undergone a generational shift, with many younger leaders being appointed. At the same time, the requirements for leaders were changing substantially. In addition to pioneering new pathways, leaders increasingly needed to be like orchestra conductors, drawing out everyone’s strengths and achieving harmony.

The Soka Gakkai is the organization dedicated to kosen-rufu. Its leaders naturally need to be able to teach others about Nichiren Buddhism, guide members in faith and set an example through personal initiative. But they also need qualities such as sincerity, earnestness, common sense, diligence and consideration that express their humanity and enable them to win others’ trust.

Our faith is reflected in our humanity. Since the Soka Gakkai is a religious organization committed to human revolution, its leaders’ most important quality is character that inspires confidence and reassurance.

Installment 33

On his way back to the Oita Peace Center from the coffee shop, Shin’ichi Yamamoto drove past Osu Comprehensive Sports Park. It had an excellent baseball stadium.

Shin’ichi said to a leader in the car with him: “Why don’t we hold an Oita Culture Festival at this stadium? We can show the public how many young people are rallying to our cause and how splendidly they are growing. We can show them the joy of practicing Nichiren Buddhism and the inspiring unity of ordinary people.”

When Shin’ichi returned to the Oita Peace Center, a group of men from their 30s into their early 50s waited for him at the side entrance. They were the Oita 170 Group. Shin’ichi had promised to take a photo with them.

Shin’ichi had visited Oita for the first time after becoming president 21 years earlier in December 1960. These men had then served as outdoor event staff for Oita Chapter’s inaugural meeting held at a prefectural gymnasium. After the meeting, Shin’ichi personally thanked them for their dedicated behind-the-scenes efforts, standing since morning in the cold wind.

He told them: “Please remain steadfast in faith as long as you live, and dedicate yourselves to your mission. Our path in life is mostly determined in our 20s and 30s. Therefore, please set yourselves the goal of striving in the garden of kosen-rufu for the next 10 years, polishing and improving yourselves as you forge ahead.”

Shin’ichi promised to meet with them again 10 years hence, and in October 1970, he did just that in Fukuoka. At that time, he suggested the young men form a group, which he dubbed the 170 Group—since they were 170 in number. Later, he officially named it the Oita 170 Group.

Today was the group’s third meeting with Shin’ichi, the first in 11 years. They had all become pillars of trust in society and core leaders of the Soka Gakkai in their respective regions.

People grow capable when we treasure the connections we have formed with them, watch over their development and continue to support and encourage them.

Shin’ichi was happy. He called out to the group, “Let’s set our sights on the 21st century!”

As they posed for their picture with Shin’ichi, they all renewed their determinations.

To strengthen our vow with our mentor is to build an unerring path in life for the future.

Installment 34

That evening, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a prefecture leaders meeting at the Oita Peace Center celebrating the third anniversary of its opening. It marked a fresh start for the Oita members, who had triumphed over the troubles with the priesthood. The meeting began with everyone joining in a chorus of “Song of Human Revolution,” the stirring anthem that had always roused the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Take your stand, and I will take mine, too,
each in our own realm of kosen-rufu, standing up alone…

At Shin’ichi’s suggestion, it was decided to designate May 1982 as Oita Month and to hold a culture festival with 30,000 participants that would celebrate both May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, and May 20, Oita Day. The announcement drew especially enthusiastic applause.

An “Oita Declaration” of five articles was also adopted. It stated in part: “We will take our stand in accord with the will of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, raise the banner of a harmonious Oita and advance in unity to refute the erroneous and reveal the true.” It also declared Oita members’ commitment to contribute to the flourishing of the correct teaching as fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth, taking pride in “a life of sharing joys and sorrows with our unsurpassed leader in efforts for kosen-rufu” and praising and supporting one another throughout.

It expressed their vow to engage in shared struggle with Shin’ichi, who had called out the previous day: “I am going to begin another great effort for kosen-rufu. I will build a Soka Gakkai that is true to its ideals. Please fight alongside me!”

The members approved the declaration with thunderous applause.

Having overcome a bitter period of spiteful priests trying to divide the mentor and disciples of kosen-rufu, the members’ hearts brimmed with joy at finally being able to make this declaration of Oita’s victory and to loudly proclaim their resolve to strive alongside their mentor.

They all felt deeply that a new day had dawned. They were filled with hope, determined to make the culture festival a great success and a fresh starting point for expanding their network for peace. With youth in the lead, they would make it an event celebrating the triumph of ordinary people, overflowing with the joy and dynamism of faith.

Installment 35

At the leaders meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto sincerely thanked everyone for their courageous efforts.

“You have taken action for kosen-rufu in society, boldly sharing Nichiren Buddhism with others. When Mr. Toda became the second Soka Gakkai president, there were only around 3,000 members. But through everyone’s selfless commitment to spreading the Mystic Law, our movement for kosen-rufu has now spread around the world. The Soka Gakkai, each one of you, has actualized the principle of ‘emerging from the earth’ (The Writing of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 385) described by the Daishonin, which refers to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth appearing in ever-growing numbers.”

Shin’ichi then shared the following passage from Nichiren’s writings: “The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘If there were a person who spoke only one word to curse the lay persons or monks or nuns who uphold and preach the Lotus Sutra, then his offense would be even graver than that of cursing Shakyamuni Buddha to his face for the space of a kalpa’[13]” (WND-1, 756).

“The Daishonin is clear,” Shin’ichi said. “The fate of those who slander people striving to share the Mystic Law is severe. Moreover, despite your own financial hardships, you have made offerings for the development of the priesthood and devoted yourselves tirelessly to support it. According to the Buddhist law of cause and effect, anyone who slanders such children of the Buddha is sure to reap negative consequences.

“The troubles with the Shoshin-kai priests have been devilish functions seeking to obstruct kosen-rufu and are a form of persecution. The important thing to remember is that such opposition enables us to deepen our faith. If our Buddhist faith and practice were easy and gave us only benefits with no challenges, we could not transform our karma or attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. We need difficulties to develop an unwavering Buddhist practice, change our karma and establish a state of indestructible happiness. Encountering obstacles proves that we are on the right path.

“Nichiren Daishonin writes, ‘Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month’ (WND-1, 997). You should, of course, strive to have steadfast faith, but please also remember that it is very important to develop the perseverance to keep making progress in all aspects of your life.

“Buddhism is a struggle to be victorious. With strong and consistent faith, live wisely, work hard, polish your character and lead happy lives.”

Victory or defeat only becomes clear over the course of a lifetime. Those who remain steadfast in faith are victors.

Installment 36

The Oita Prefecture Youth Division Leaders Meeting was scheduled for the evening of December 10.

That morning, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with the central prefectural leaders to discuss future activities.

Shortly after noon, he visited the caretakers’ room at the Oita Peace Center. There, he encouraged the caretakers and several women’s division members who had made invaluable contributions to pioneering the kosen-rufu movement in Oita.

Also present were youth division leaders dispatched from the Soka Gakkai Headquarters to help oversee various events. One of them voiced their shared wish to present at the leaders meeting a poem about their noble cause that would express their renewed determination as they kicked off a fresh effort toward the 21st century.

It had been three decades since second Soka Gakkai Josei Toda issued his “Guidelines for Youth,” which opens with the words, “A new age will be created by the passion and power of youth.” Shin’ichi had also been thinking of presenting the youth with something containing fresh inspiration and direction.

“All right, I’ll compose a poem for you!”

He then began dictating, his heart blazing with fighting spirit and overflowing with myriad emotions:

A renowned mountaineer
when asked his reasons for climbing,
said of the mountain:
“Because it is there!”

The young men’s and women’s division leaders present quickly began taking down the words that poured forth from Shin’ichi’s life.

We are now climbing
the mountain of the twenty-first century,
the mountain of kosen-rufu!

Beloved youth!
Holding aloft the banner
of the correct teaching of the Mystic Law,
bravely scale the mountain
of the twenty-first century,
thereby establishing a truly
autonomous and satisfying
way of life.

To scale that mountain, Shin’ichi stressed, it would be important to ascend “step by step, one by one, the mountains large and small” that rose before them each day, and he urged the youth to “make today victorious in every way.”

Gongyo and daimoku would power their ascent, he said. They should “never lose hope, no matter how painful the situation” and “never be defeated in the realm of faith.”

Shin’ichi’s prayer that all the youth would grow to be immensely capable people of the 21st century infused his words.

The renowned Edo-period educator Hirose Tanso (1782–1856), a native son of Oita, said: “Educating people is a great good.”[14]

Installment 37

In the poem, Shin’ichi Yamamoto affirmed the Soka Gakkai’s unchanging path of “never forgetting to walk alongside the people.” He declared that, by refusing to let harassment from power and authority defeat them, the youth of Soka would make “the triumphant banner of human revolution ripple forever high in the sky.” He also said that the outcome of their efforts for the second phase of kosen-rufu would be decided on May 3, 2001, the goal to which they were aiming, and called on them to continue striving hard in their Buddhist practice.

Shin’ichi and the youth leaders together engaged in the intense work of composing and recording the poem. The youth, whose hearts were one with his, frantically took notes, trying not to miss a single word.

Shin’ichi was scheduled to meet informally with representatives from throughout Oita Prefecture at 4:00 p.m.

“Let’s continue this when I return,” he said, and then he rushed to the venue.

The youth leaders set about making a clean copy.

When Shin’ichi returned at 5:30, he immediately began revising the poem and started dictating again, producing a steady flow of new verse. At one point, he even rewrote more than half a page of the clean copy. Writing crammed each sheet of paper, with revisions scribbled in the margins and sometimes on the reverse side.

As they worked, the time for the Oita Prefecture Youth Division Leaders Meeting was drawing near.

Just after 6:00, the meeting began and members joined in a chorus of “Song of Crimson.” Words followed from an Oita Prefecture youth division leader, a national young women’s division vice secretary and a national student division leader.

The revisions were completed just as the program moved to remarks by a vice president.

“It’s done!” Shin’ichi said. “I’m leaving now. When you have a clean copy, please bring it to me.”

By this time, the vice president’s speech was over and it was almost 7:00.

Shin’ichi made his entrance to enthusiastic cheers and applause.

It was a leaders meeting celebrating the triumph of brave young men and women who, with strong, pure faith and an invincible spirit, had fought and won against the harassment of hostile priests.

The faces of these courageous young people, who had striven so hard and opened the way to victory, were happy and bright. Everyone was in high spirits.

A great wellspring of joy surges in the hearts of those who bravely exert themselves for kosen-rufu.

Installment 38

Shin’ichi Yamamoto led the participants in gongyo, praying for the happiness and continued development of his young friends who had risen to the challenge of defending the truth and justice of Soka.

In a separate room, the youth division leaders were still working on a clean copy of Shin’ichi’s poem. Pen in hand, one of them said: “We’ve run out of time. We’d better deliver it now, even if some pages aren’t done, or we won’t be able to present it today.”

They dashed off to the meeting room.

In his speech, Shin’ichi spoke of how noble are the lives of those who embrace the Gohonzon, and he contrasted correct faith with false faith and fanatical faith.

Those who try to exploit the Soka Gakkai for personal gain and recognition epitomize false faith, while those who disregard reason, common sense and social norms in carrying out their Buddhist practice characterize fanatical faith. On the other hand, devoting ourselves to kosen-rufu with good sense and wisdom based on steady efforts in faith, practice and study, and showing actual proof of the benefit of Nichiren Buddhism in society—in our workplaces and daily lives—is how we demonstrate correct faith.

He also spoke the way to live one’s youth.

“Youth is a time filled with problems and worries. It’s only natural to experience frustration and letdowns. That’s precisely the time to sit down in front of the Gohonzon, take a hard look at your situation and resolve to find a solution through faith, to overcome it by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. That’s the way to break through your karma and carry out your human revolution. All the efforts you make will become precious treasures of your youth.”

Without the struggles of youth and the opportunity for self-cultivation they provide, there will be no growth, no flowering of our potential and no harvest of rich fulfillment in our closing chapter.

The German poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) wrote:

All pleasure spring from hardship.
And only in travail thrives
the dearest delight of my heart,
the beautiful warmth of humanity.[15]

Shin’ichi brought his speech to a close: “I fully entrust the future of the 21st century to you, today’s youth division members. Please spend the golden days of youth together with the Soka Gakkai and bring your lives to brilliant fruition. I can state unequivocally that there is no surer path to victory in life than the great path of Soka.”

Installment 39

Shin’ichi Yamamoto then announced: “I have composed a poem in the hope of offering you a new source of inspiration and direction as you advance toward the 21st century. I just finished dictating it, and now I would like to share it with you.”

Koji Murata, a national vice young men’s division leader, rose to read it. Originally from Oita, he was one of the youth who only minutes before had been writing a clean copy of Shin’ichi’s poem.

It was titled “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the Twenty-First Century.”[16]

A renowned mountaineer
when asked his reasons for climbing,
said of the mountain:
“Because it is there!”

We are now climbing
the mountain of the twenty-first century,
the mountain of kosen-rufu!

Murata vividly recalled the sight of Shin’ichi dictating the poem, breathing life into each word for the sake of the youth, then revising it again and again. He continued reciting, his mentor’s spirit warming his heart.

Young people who are my disciples!
Live on—
for the cause of the Great Law
that is eternal, absolute and indestructible!
Live on—
to accomplish the noble mission
for which you were born in this world!

Putting great feeling into each word and phrase, he continued:

I know that the coming age
is eagerly waiting for
outstanding young leaders.
Those who have
neither faith nor philosophy
are like compassless ships!
The times are in motion,
steadily, inexorably shifting
from an age of material prosperity
to an age of spiritual prosperity,
from an age of spiritual prosperity
to an age of life.

Because he and the others had been unable to complete a clean copy, Murata had to read the last few pages that were heavily marked with revisions. He concentrated carefully not to make any mistakes.

My young friends,
I hope each of you
as youthful leaders of the new century
will remain engaged with the people
day in and day out,
living among them,
communicating warmly,
resonantly sharing their concerns,
always breathing
in rhythm with their lives.

I have faith in you!
I cherish high expectations for you!
I love each one of you!

The young people listened intently, deep emotion showing on their faces. Gazing at them, Shin’ichi called out in his heart: “Today here in Oita, we have launched our effort toward the new century. A new chapter in the indomitable history of the Soka Gakkai has begun!”

Installment 40

It was a long poem. Though the young leader’s voice had grown hoarse, it remained spirited.

To lead a richly fulfilling and meaningful life,
we require the true and great Buddhist teaching
and faith in it.
There is no greater pride and honor
than to embrace the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin
as you live out your youth
with passion and joy!
The mountain of the twenty-first century
rises before us!

As Shin’ichi listened, he envisioned the new century when the sun of human triumph would rise and the cheers of victory of Soka Gakkai members everywhere would ring out.

This new century belongs to you!
This is your dawn!
This is your time to shine!
This is the grand stage on which to realize
your fullest potential
and further solidify
all that you have achieved!

May 3, 2001—
That shall be the glorious day
when we together reach the summit!
Please remember that the outcome
of all our struggles
in the second phase of kosen-rufu
will be determined at that time.

The recitation ended. A massive round of applause seemed to go on forever. It expressed the young people’s vow to walk the great path of mentor and disciple as long as they lived. The youth of Soka had made a proud and confident fresh start.

When the applause subsided, Shin’ichi said: “The Seikyo Shimbun will publish the entire poem tomorrow. It will be conveyed nationwide from here in Oita. Please engrave the significance of this in your hearts. In addition, I would like to form two new groups here today: the Oita Young Men’s Twenty-first Century Group and the Oita Young Women’s Twenty-first Century Group. What do you think?”

Once again, there was joyous applause. The youth had all steadfastly championed and spoken out to defend the truth of Soka. Now they surged with fresh energy, and a bright crimson flame of passion burned in their hearts.

Victory gives rise to joy and the vitality to advance anew. One victory is the greatest cause for the next. Victory upon victory is the essence of the Soka movement.

In the words of the great writer Romain Rolland (1866–1944): “Justice means that that which is just shall triumph.”[17]

Installment 41

On December 11, Shin’ichi Yamamoto spent the morning wholeheartedly encouraging members who came to see him at the Oita Peace Center. He greeted them warmly and posed for photographs with them.

He also inscribed many pieces of calligraphy to present to members. These included one for the Oita 170 Group, with whom he had reunited on December 9. He also wrote a calligraphy for the newly established Oita Young Men’s Twenty-first Century Group and another for the Oita Young Women’s Twenty-first Century Group, expressing his good wishes for their futures.

“Are there any other members I should write calligraphies for? I’m sure there are still many others who worked hard during the painful troubles with the priesthood.”

When the prefecture leaders suggested names, Shin’ichi immediately dipped his brush in ink and inscribed individual calligraphies. He incorporated their names alongside the Chinese characters for cherry tree or mountain [expressing the wish that their lives would blossom brilliantly and remain unshaken].

In the afternoon, he visited a privately owned activity center, where he met with a small group of Oita Prefecture representatives. At their request, he revised the lyrics for an Oita prefectural song that a team was writing and made some suggestions for the melody.

In the evening, an open gongyo session was held at the Oita Peace Center. Here, too, Shin’ichi not only led the members in gongyo but afterward poured his entire being into encouraging them and offering guidance in faith.

He noted that many well-known figures in Japanese history had a connection with Oita: “Otomo Sorin (1530–87), the Sengoku period feudal lord, converted to Christianity and helped introduce Western culture to Japan. The late Edo period Confucian scholar Hirose Tanso (1782–1856) founded the private academy Kangien and fostered many students who went on to become outstanding leaders of society. The pianist and composer Rentaro Taki (1879–1903) produced beautiful musical works, and the writer and educator Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835–1901) founded a prestigious university.

“What will we, as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, accomplish and leave behind? Our gift to posterity will be spreading throughout the world the great Law of life revealed by Nichiren Daishonin, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and ensuring that it continues to be passed on eternally.

“Our mission in this world is to share the Mystic Law—the universal key to attaining absolute happiness—with as many people as we can during our lifetime.

“This is the only way to earn the praise of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law; to create an everlasting memory of our lives in this world; and to make the cause for gaining the highest distinction and honor as Buddhists. Having this conviction is the essence of being a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.”

Installment 42

Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued: “I don’t care if barrages of criticism are directed at me personally, because I’ve been prepared for that from the start. All that matters to me is that you will lead happy lives and enjoy boundless benefits through faith in the Gohonzon. That is my greatest joy. And your doing so proves that I am fulfilling my responsibility.

“I am praying earnestly that all of you will be safe and well.”

Those were his honest feelings. His gongyo session with the members had naturally evolved into a warm, heart-to-heart exchange.

As he would be heading to Kumamoto Prefecture the next day, Shin’ichi said to the Oita leaders that evening: “I really want to go to Taketa tomorrow. I want to see our members there before going to Kumamoto. After all, they suffered terribly during our troubles with the priesthood.”

On the morning of December 12, Shin’ichi met informally with Oita Prefecture and Kyushu Region leaders and discussed the future development of kosen-rufu on the community level. After listening to several reports, he said with deep emotion, “When I think of our members who have suffered so much until now, I wish I could visit each one at home, walking from house to house to encourage them.

“But my schedule makes that impossible. On my behalf, please encourage the members I could not meet this time and convey my feelings.

“It is essential that you treasure and support every noble child of the Buddha who has worked so hard for kosen-rufu. Please consider that a crucial part of your mission as leaders.”

Many members had gathered at the peace center in the hopes of seeing or meeting with Shin’ichi even briefly. He did gongyo with them and then, at 10:00 a.m., boarded a chartered bus to Taketa. This mode of transport had been chosen because it would allow Shin’ichi to have discussions and do other work while en route.

Kosen-rufu is a battle against time.

Installment 43

Taketa City is located in southwestern Oita Prefecture [about 42 kilometers (26 miles) from Oita City] and had in past times flourished as the town surrounding Oka Castle.

On the bus, Takeo Yamaoka, the Soka Gakkai’s Oita Prefecture secretary, shared some of the castle’s history with Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

It was said to have been built in 1185 by Ogata Saburo Koreyoshi, a nobleman and warrior, who fought on the side of the Minamoto clan and distinguished himself in a battle that defeated the forces of the Taira clan. He built the castle hoping that Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who had fallen out with his older brother Minamoto no Yoritomo [founder of Japan’s first shogunate], would take up residence there.

The castle was virtually unassailable. It was situated atop the natural stronghold of a high plateau scored with ravines, surrounded by mountains, and flanked by the Shirataki River to the south and the Inaba River to the north. But Yoshitsune was ultimately never able to take up residence there, and Koreyoshi himself was later captured and exiled. His hopes to support Yoshitsune wound up unfulfilled.

In the 14th century, the castle became the main residence of the Shiga clan. In a conflict that broke out in 1586, forces of the powerful Shimazu clan attacked Oka Castle and surrounding castles. While the others fell one after another, Oka Castle is said to have been protected by the young lord Shiga Chikatsugu, who fought valiantly to save it.

With the abolition of clans and the establishment of prefectures during the Meiji Restoration (1868), Oka Castle was torn down and its wooden structures destroyed. Its ancient moss-covered stone walls still stood, however, reminding people of its former glory.

The composer Rentaro Taki (1879–1903), who spent part of his childhood in Taketa, composed the famous melody “Kojo no Tsuki” (Moon over the Ruined Castle), recalling the ruins of Oka Castle. A bronze statue of Taki stands in the outer enclosure of the old castle site, and a stone monument engraved with the song’s lyrics, written by Bansui Doi (1871–1952), stands in the main enclosure.

Shin’ichi said with deep feeling: “So Oka Castle was built as a demonstration of Ogata Koreyoshi’s loyalty to Yoshitsune? That’s a beautiful story.

“And Shiga Chikatsugu’s valiant struggle reminds me of the dauntless fighting spirit of our Taketa members.”

The castle’s stone walls were visible amid the trees through the bus window.

Shin’ichi composed a poem:

Gazing at Oka Castle,
the inspiration for
“Moon over the Ruined Castle,”
I praise the Taketa members’
battle to protect the Law.

The heroic members of Taketa had fought bravely against the abuses of clerical authority and ushered in the age of a people-centered religion.

Installment 44

The bus arrived at the castle’s parking lot, and when Shin’ichi Yamamoto stepped outside, several members ran up to him, calling “Sensei!”

“Thank you!” he said. “I have come to see you, great champions of the people!”

The members gripped his extended hand, and Shin’ichi returned a firm grasp. The eyes of one rugged man filled with tears—an expression of his unsurpassed joy at having fought and triumphed after enduring for so long the heartless attacks by malicious priests.

Shin’ichi ate lunch with about 50 local representatives at a restaurant next to the parking lot, conversing with them and listening to their reports. They told him that members had gathered in the ruins of the castle’s main enclosure.

Shin’ichi said, “All right, I’ll go and meet them!”

Getting into a car with two local leaders, Shin’ichi went to encourage the members.

On their way, one leader said: “We fully supported the local chief priest, doing our best to protect the Daishonin’s Buddhism. At first, he would speak about the importance of harmony between priests and the laity. But then he suddenly started criticizing and attacking the Soka Gakkai. And all that time, he was working behind our backs to persuade members to quit the organization.”

In one block (present-day district), 32 out of 45 households quit the Soka Gakkai at once. It was heartbreaking. Enduring this trial, the leaders visited the members’ homes scattered throughout the mountains. They earnestly encouraged everyone, determined to prevent even one more person from falling away from the noble and honorable movement of Soka.

The other, older leader seated next to Shin’ichi described the priests’ behavior as “utterly inhuman.” He bit his lip to keep his emotions in check.

Shin’ichi nodded with an understanding smile. “You have endured great hardship, but you have won and made Taketa rise again. Thank you!”

Shin’ichi bowed his head with gratitude and respect. Tears fell from the man’s eyes.

The harsher the winter, the greater the joy we feel at the arrival of spring. Hardships give rise to joy.

Installment 45

A steady stream of members made their way to the castle’s main enclosure. A man in a suit vigorously climbed the stone stairs. A youth strode energetically, carrying an elderly member on his back. A woman walked with hurried steps, perspiration glistening on her forehead. Everyone shared happy smiles.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto got out of the car and began climbing to the outer enclosure. A dozen or so young men waited for him there, brave youth who had fought to protect the members from the priests’ malicious schemes. Shin’ichi shook hands firmly with each one, offering words of encouragement.

When he arrived at the main enclosure, about 300 members cheered and applauded as he came into view.

“I have come to see you all,” Shin’ichi said. “I have come here to set forth anew into the 21st century with you, my precious, dedicated friends. Let’s take a group photograph—a picture to commemorate the great, historic victory for kosen-rufu that all of you in Taketa have achieved.”

There were several children, including a little boy about two years old in the arms of his grandmother in the front row.

Shin’ichi thought, “This beautiful scene of the victorious spirit of the people will no doubt be engraved forever in the hearts of these children.”

The Seikyo Shimbun[18] photographer looked through his viewfinder. There were too many people to fit them all in. He had to sit on the shoulders of another photographer to get everyone into the frame.

The Taketa members had fought and broken through the heavy clouds of bitter hardship, and their faces glowed. A blue sky stretched above them and in their hearts.

The shutter clicked.

Shin’ichi said, “Since we’re here at the ruins of Oka Castle, let’s all sing ‘Moon over the Ruined Castle’!”

Takeo Yamaoka, the Oita Prefecture secretary, led the singing. Shin’ichi joined in.

A blossom-viewing banquet at the castle in the spring
The moon reflected in the sake cups passed around…

Waves of emotion swept through the members’ hearts.

As long as one has faith, the sun of victory is sure to rise.

Installment 46

Takeo Yamaoka, who led the chorus of “Moon over the Ruined Castle,” had traveled to Taketa many times to boldly confront the priests over their disgraceful behavior and do his utmost to encourage the local members. When he thought of those painful times and Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s heartfelt encouragement, he was overwhelmed with emotion.

Buddhism is a struggle to be victorious. The law of cause and effect is uncompromising.

These noble children of the Buddha had weathered storms of devilish functions and pressed forward in their efforts for kosen-rufu. They sang with great feeling, their heads held high and their faces bright.

Singing along, Shin’ichi called out in his heart: “You have won! As courageous champions of Soka you have steadfastly protected our noble castle of kosen-rufu. Now it’s time for us to set forth anew! Let’s embark on this journey together, to the summit of the 21st century!”

“Thank you!” said Shin’ichi when the song ended, raising his arms in a victory salute to the Taketa members. They gave three cheers in response, swinging their arms high. Their voices rang out as one, cheers of victory announcing the dawn of an age of the people.

“I will never forget this day as long as I live!” said Shin’ichi. “Stay well!”

As he started walking, the members followed him, chatting pleasantly.

The winter sun above smiled down.

After a while, Shin’ichi stopped.

“Today, I’d like to take my own photograph of you, the brave champions of Taketa. I will engrave each of your faces in my heart forever. Please line up on the stairs.”

Shin’ichi held up the camera he carried for snapping scenic photos and pressed the shutter. Every face beamed.

The ruined castle, bathed in moonlight, had long watched over the impermanence of the world, the endless cycle of prosperity and decline. Now, it had transformed into a castle of hope and joy, bright with sunshine, caressed by the breezes of eternal happiness and resounding with a song of triumph.

Installment 47

After taking a photograph of the Taketa members, Shin’ichi Yamamoto returned by car to the parking lot where he would board his bus to travel on to Kumamoto.

Members making their way down from the castle’s main enclosure formed a crowd around the bus. Shin’ichi went among them and called out: “Please live long! Please become happy without fail!”

He shook hands and encouraged one person after another before finally boarding.

As the bus pulled away, members waved and shouted: “Sensei, goodbye!” “Thank you!” “Oita will never be defeated!”

Standing inside the moving bus, Shin’ichi waved back vigorously from the window. As the bus approached a curve, he went to the opposite side and continued waving.

An invisible yet firm bond connected him and the members. It was the bond of faith, the bond of their vow from the infinite past, and the bond of mentor and disciple united in the cause of kosen-rufu.

Shin’ichi was headed on his first visit to the Soka Gakkai Shiragiku Auditorium in Aso-machi (part of present-day Aso City).

The bus crossed the border from Oita Prefecture into Kumamoto Prefecture and made its way through the foothills of Mt. Aso. Ahead in the distance, Shin’ichi and the others saw three kites in the sky. As they got closer, they could make out the images on the kites—a sunrise, a lion and a young eagle.

“I bet those kites are flying over the Shiragiku Auditorium!” Shin’ichi said.

At 2:00 p.m., the bus entered the front gate of the auditorium grounds. In an open space outside the gate, some young people were flying the kites. One, wearing a school uniform, appeared to be a high school student.

Stepping off the bus, Shin’ichi said to the leaders who greeted him: “Thank you for all your hard work. Now, let’s launch a new effort!”

In Kumamoto, too, members had suffered storms of abuse and defamation from hostile priests. Enduring this unforgivable persecution, they had fought bravely to the end.

Each time we conquer the devilish forces that try to destroy our movement, the momentum of kosen-rufu accelerates.

Installment 48

Instead of going straight into the auditorium, Shin’ichi Yamamoto stopped to pose for photos with local members outside, talking with and thanking them for their efforts.

He called over the high school student who had flown one of the kites and sincerely encouraged him. The young man’s name was Yuto Homma, and he was a senior at a prefectural high school.

“I saw the kites! We could see them clearly from a distance. It must have been cold standing outside. Thank you! I hope that you will also soar freely into the skies of the future.”

Shin’ichi then entered the building, where a large meeting was under way with Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki. As he walked into the room, Shin’ichi spotted a young man in a wheelchair and went directly over to him. His name was Hironori Nonaka, a first-year high school student with muscular dystrophy who lived in a long-term care facility.

The young man had felt sad and depressed for a time, unable to find hope for his future because of his illness. But very recently, he had been inspired to begin practicing Nichiren Buddhism seriously after hearing the experience of a young men’s division member who had overcome meningitis.

His mother, Fumino, seeing her son start to chant in earnest, vowed to welcome Shin’ichi to Kumamoto with a personal victory of introducing someone to the practice. Up to then, she had avoided talking about Buddhism with people who knew about her son’s condition. She thought she could offer no convincing proof of the benefit of faith in the Gohonzon.

But encouraged by her son’s new commitment to his practice, she found the courage to go with her daughter to talk about Nichiren Buddhism with a mother whose child was undergoing treatment at the care facility for the same illness.

The woman’s reply surprised Fumino: “I am impressed by how you support your son’s battle against illness without giving up, and to hear you speak with optimism, energy and conviction about how wonderful the Buddhism you practice is.” The woman decided to join the Soka Gakkai.

No life is without worries and struggles. Being alive means battling problems and karma. The key is to never part with the Gohonzon, no matter what. It is important to have courage and hope, chant bravely and fight on. That will demonstrate to others the strength, brilliance and dignity of human life, promoting understanding and support for our activities as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

Installment 49

Standing next to Hironori Nonaka and stroking his shoulder, Shin’ichi said: “Be strong. Everyone has a special mission. Those who don’t let their weaknesses defeat them are true victors.”

Nonaka felt he was hearing genuine words of encouragement spoken to him for the first time, rather than mere words of consolation.

The following day, he received a bouquet of roses from Shin’ichi. As he held the flowers, he was filled with deep gratitude to have lived to see this day.

Nonaka was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy before starting elementary school, and his doctor said he probably would not live until the sixth grade. He commuted to school from the care facility and, after graduating from junior high, pursued his high school studies by correspondence. Over those years, 19 of his friends at the facility had died of their illness.

Inspired by Shin’ichi’s encouragement, he resolved, “My life may be short, but I will live each day to the fullest and carry out my mission!”

Nonaka’s example of living in earnest, with strength and energy as he looked toward the future despite the challenges of his illness, deeply impressed his peers.

A local high school invited him to speak at its annual culture festival. In his presentation, titled “The Courage to Live,” he shared his battle with illness and hopes for the future. It moved and inspired the audience.

After doing gongyo with the members in the auditorium, Shin’ichi spoke with them in a relaxed manner.

“No matter our age, our practice of Nichiren Buddhism is indispensable. A plane taking off could be likened to one’s youth, while a plane flying steadily through the sky is like one’s maturity. During that time, the aircraft may be rocked and shaken by turbulence.

“To fly safely and arrive at the destination of happiness, we need enough fuel and a powerful engine to get us through. That is, we need a strong life force. And our Buddhist practice is the source of that strength. We also need reliable instruments that will keep us on the correct course—in other words, a sound philosophy. That sound philosophy is Nichiren Buddhism.”

Installment 50

Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued: “It eventually comes time for the plane of life to land. Landing is said to be the most challenging part of flying. In life, it is the final phase of our journey, the decisive point when we touch down on the runway of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime. This culminating period is crucial to crowning our lives with magnificent victory.

“I hope that all of you will remain young at heart as you age and continue to strive wholeheartedly for kosen-rufu and the happiness of others, living each day to the fullest. Continue to seek the way, rise to life’s challenges and stay youthful as long as you live.”

In closing, he said: “The white chrysanthemums on display outside [this Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum) Auditorium] and the flowers in the entryway and by the windows all exude your sincerity. I want to applaud and express my appreciation and praise for everyone’s efforts. It would be wonderful if the auditorium could remain decorated like this until the New Year for the enjoyment of all who visit.”

Shin’ichi composed several poems that day. For the young women’s division members in Kumamoto Prefecture, he wrote:

White chrysanthemums—
young women,
like the flowers of that name,
their eyes shining
in the scarlet dusk.

And for the members of Taketa in Oita Prefecture:

At the castle,
hearing the song
of moonlight over the ruins,
I rejoice at the smiling faces
of the Taketa members.

Shin’ichi and his party left the Shiragiku Auditorium in Aso, arriving at the Kumamoto Culture Center in Kumamoto City a little before 6:00 p.m. Without resting a moment, he took part in an informal meeting with prefecture leaders.

Afterward, he said to them: “Please let me know of any homes or shops I should visit to encourage members. I want to visit as many places and meet as many members as possible. For our movement to achieve dynamic development, it is vital to meet with members individually, listen to their problems and concerns and converse with them until they are satisfied. And we need to inspire them with our conviction in faith. Personal guidance is an earnest dialogue that aims to revitalize a person at the deepest level.”

Installment 51

At noon the following day, December 13, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with a group of around 50 divisional representatives at a coffee shop owned by a member. He then visited the Soka Gakkai’s Minamikyushu Women’s Center.

After returning to the Kumamoto Culture Center, he joined members in a series of group photos. In the evening, he attended a prefecture leaders meeting commemorating the center’s fifth anniversary.

At the meeting, Koichiro Hiraga, the prefecture leader, announced plans to hold a culture festival the following May. He also delivered a “Kumamoto Declaration,” which expressed the members’ vow as they made a fresh start toward the new century.

In his speech, Shin’ichi praised all the Kumamoto members for their valiant efforts, singling out those from Minamata, Yatsushiro, Hitoyoshi, Arao, Amakusa and Aso regions. He then stressed the importance of working in unity of purpose for kosen-rufu.

“It is no exaggeration to say that being united in purpose is a top priority for advancing kosen-rufu. The Soka Gakkai’s unprecedented development is due, of course, to the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law embodied in the Gohonzon. But it is also because our members have been united in their commitment, based on faith, to work for kosen-rufu in their communities.

“Discussion and planning are crucial in carrying out our activities. Reaching consensus can be difficult, however, since people may have many different ideas and opinions. When that happens, always return to the basic question, ‘What is the purpose of our activities?’

“For example, to carry passengers safely to their destination, airline pilots and crew must do their jobs responsibly, putting safety first. Pushing themselves beyond their limits or taking unnecessary risks could well result in catastrophe. Similarly, in Soka Gakkai activities, we must bring our members, the Buddha’s children, safely and securely to their destination of lasting happiness. Thus, we need to consider all factors so that everyone can lead joyful lives.

“If we all share this same sense of purpose and work together in solid unity, our discussions will be fruitful and we will achieve our organizational goals.

“Mr. Toda often used to say: ‘Those who cannot work in harmony in the realm of faith will fall by the wayside.’ Please take this lesson to heart.”

Installment 52

Shin’ichi Yamamoto then touched on the behavior common to those leaders who disrupted the organization during the recent problems with the priesthood: “There have been certain leaders who, claiming to be confidants or special disciples of mine, caused you all much trouble. Ultimately, they used my name under false pretenses to deceive the members.

“Every day I interact with members from all walks of life, and I always strive to treat everyone equally when offering guidance or encouragement. When it comes to faith, I have no ‘special’ connections with anyone.

“If I had to say which leaders were closest to me, to whom I have entrusted everything, it would be late President Jujo and our current President Akizuki. So please don’t allow anyone to deceive you by saying they are my confidants or special disciples. Please be aware that anyone saying such things must have some ulterior motive. The foundation for unity in carrying out activities for kosen-rufu is working together under the leadership of the Soka Gakkai president. I say this for the sake of the future.”

Shin’ichi then shared a passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings: “Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may fall down on an uneven path” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 598).

“To continue in our Buddhist practice to the very end of our lives,” he said, “it is important to have good friends—people who assist us on the path of faith. The existence of supportive fellow members is indispensable. Even the weak can remain upright if those supporting them are strong. Yet someone with reasonable strength, if alone, may stumble and fall on a rough road. I hope that with strong bonds of encouragement as fellow members, you will all, without exception, climb the mountain of kosen-rufu of the 21st century.”

After the leaders meeting, Shin’ichi visited the editorial office of the Seikyo Shimbun’s Kumamoto bureau, located within the Kumamoto Culture Center. He wanted to see the early edition of the next day’s paper, which would carry the group photo he had taken with the Taketa members at Oka Castle. On the bus from Taketa to Aso, he had asked the Seikyo staff reporters traveling with them to pass along his request to print the photo as large as possible.

Installment 53

While Shin’ichi Yamamoto was waiting at the editorial office, the early edition of the December 14 issue arrived. He immediately opened it and saw the photograph spread across pages two and three. It was unusual to publish such a large photo. Each person’s face was clearly recognizable. They stood proudly, and the picture seemed to proclaim their victory.

The accompanying headlines read: “Long Life and Happiness to the Brave Members of Taketa in Oita!” “A Grand Chorus of ‘Moon over the Ruined Castle’ at Oka Castle,” “Three Hundred Members Who Endured Pain and Bitterness.”

Shin’ichi spoke to the staff reporters near him: “This is wonderful. It’s very powerful. I know the members will be delighted! Thank you!”

From early morning the following day, joy exploded among the Oita Prefecture members. The photo was like a magnificent painting. It depicted the mentor and disciples of Soka, having weathered the storm, vowing to continue their far-reaching journey of kosen-rufu into the 21st century.

Many in the photograph clipped it from the paper and framed it or kept it as a family treasure. Later in life, in times of suffering or sadness, they would look at it to cheer themselves up, rousing the courage to keep striving.

Shin’ichi also traveled to neighboring Fukuoka Prefecture on December 14 and visited the Soka Gakkai Kurume Community Center. After doing a solemn gongyo with the members and encouraging them, he visited the Soka Gakkai Yame Community Center for the first time. Yame was a place where both first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda had exerted themselves to spread the Mystic Law in the pioneering days of the Soka Gakkai’s movement. Shin’ichi also visited the home of Yame Chapter’s first leader, who had contributed greatly to the development of kosen-rufu in the region, and spoke with him and his family.

After that, Shin’ichi visited the Soka Gakkai center in Chikugo City, a privately owned facility made available for the members’ use, where he did gongyo and spoke with Chikugo representatives and Fukuoka Prefecture leaders.

He wished to reaffirm that unexpected difficulties would inevitably arise on the road to kosen-rufu, and that the leaders’ presence and behavior would be crucial at such times.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “In battles soldiers regard the general as their soul. If the general were to lose heart, his soldiers would become cowards” (“The Supremacy of the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 613).

Installment 54

Employing the example of British prime minister Winston Churchill, Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke about the qualities required of leaders.

During World War II, Nazi Germany, under the rule of Adolf Hitler, bombed London. Churchill walked through the burned-out ruins, chomping on his cigar and flashing the V for Victory sign. His presence gave people courage.

Shin’ichi said: “Churchill was determined that London would survive and Great Britain would not be defeated. Londoners sensed this spirit, were inspired, and rose up. Determination creates waves, conviction resonates and courage spreads like fire.

“Also, witnessing the extremes to which Hitler was willing to go, the British people recognized him for the mad, destructive tyrant he was. They refused to lose to a country ruled by such a leader. Theirs was a flame of justice fueled by decency and a wish for peace.

“Those who attack and try to wreak havoc on our noble organization of the Soka Gakkai today are base, irrational destroyers of the correct teaching, no matter how they pretend to be on the side of right. We need to see through their malicious behavior and triumph over it. Otherwise, we cannot pave the way forward for kosen-rufu.

“No matter how great the difficulty, as leaders, please continue to forge ahead calmly and boldly on the path of your mission with rock-solid conviction, with the determination to win without fail. Your example will reassure and inspire the members.

“As leaders, you must have conviction and confidence; be sincere and likable; be healthy, making sure to lead a balanced lifestyle so that you can exercise leadership with energy and vitality; be a shining presence at your job and workplace because showing actual proof in the real world enhances the quality of your leadership; and be impartial and exercise good judgment and discretion when giving guidance. These are the points I’d like you to bear in mind as you move forward.”

Installment 55

Shin’ichi Yamamoto returned to the Kumamoto Culture Center that evening. The next morning, December 15, he met with the Nagasaki and Saga prefecture leaders, whom he had invited to the center. They discussed future activities and other topics. In the afternoon, he took part in an open gongyo meeting.

In addition to members from Kumamoto City, representatives from Amakusa City; Yatsushiro, Hitoyoshi and Minamata cities in the Jonan region; and Kagoshima, Saga, Nagasaki and Fukuoka prefectures attended the lively and inspiring gathering.

A convoy of buses had brought members from Amakusa and the Jonan region. Everyone was jubilant.

Manipulated by scheming priests, many Soka Gakkai leaders in those areas had quit the organization and affiliated themselves directly with their local Nichiren Shoshu temple. Having once professed owing everything to the Soka Gakkai, they turned suddenly into the pawns of authoritarian priests. They spoke ill of the Soka Gakkai and urged members to quit.

The members seethed with indignation and frustration. “If they want to increase their temple members,” they thought, “they should go out and share Buddhism with people themselves! Instead, they prey on weak Soka Gakkai members still inexperienced in faith, urging them to quit and join the temple! Those are the actions of cowards, not people of faith!”

Though outraged, members kept silent out of a wish to preserve harmony between the priesthood and the laity. The intolerable situation went on for so long that they came to think they had no choice but to endure it. Gritting their teeth, they continued chanting for the progress of kosen-rufu and for right to prevail over wrong.

They encouraged themselves and made even greater efforts to share Nichiren Buddhism, determined to create once more a Soka Gakkai that was bright, cheerful and free.

Things eventually started to change. After a long, harsh period, they could at last see a new dawn of hope and now welcome Shin’ichi to Kumamoto.

The members eagerly made their way to the Kumamoto Culture Center. With their mentor firmly in their hearts, they had triumphed in their bitter struggle. Shin’ichi had long wished to meet these members, who had endured so much and fought so hard, and encourage them as if embracing each one.

The ties of mentor and disciple united in the cause of kosen-rufu are unbreakable, regardless of distance or circumstance.

Installment 56

The meeting signaled a hope-filled new start. After remarks by the Kumamoto Prefecture leader and others, an Amakusa Declaration and a Jonan Declaration were adopted, each expressing the members’ vow to promote kosen-rufu in their areas.

The former stated: “Amakusa is a place with a sad and an all too tragic history. But today we pledge, based on the great teachings of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, to do our utmost to make Amakusa an ideal realm of happiness. … We, ‘Amakusa Shiros[19] of the Mystic Law,’ vow to make Amakusa a model of kosen-rufu, striving vibrantly, with an ever-youthful spirit of faith.”

The leaders of each prefecture then rose to speak. The Kagoshima Prefecture leader reported that a new Kagoshima Culture Center would be completed within the coming year. The leader of Saga announced that a prefectural friendship festival would take place in spring, bringing together 20,000 people. And the Nagasaki leader shared that the Isahaya Culture Center would be completed by spring.

As members delighted at all this good news, Shin’ichi Yamamoto took the microphone. He began by noting that, before coming to Kumamoto, he had visited Oita for the first time in 13 and a half years. He then spoke about the battle fought by a group of soldiers from Oita’s Nakatsu district during the Satsuma Rebellion.[20]

“In 1877, troops of former samurai led by Saigo Takamori (1828–77) engaged forces of the new Meiji government in a fierce battle at Tabaruzaka Hill, but they were defeated.

“Meanwhile, several dozen volunteers from Nakatsu led by Masuda Sotaro (1849–77) formed what is known as the Nakatsu Corps. They joined Saigo’s troops in Aso and made some headway in the fighting. Ultimately, however, government forces defeated them, and they lost their lives. It was a brave battle, yet terrible in its tragedy.

“My resolve, my credo, is not to sacrifice even a single person in our efforts for kosen-rufu. In war, ordinary people are the ones who suffer the most; they are always forced to endure pain and hardship. Transforming that history into one of happiness and hope is the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin and the starting point of our Soka movement.”

In his poem “The People,”[21] Shin’ichi had written:

I will fight,
fight until the day
when on this earth,
your rough hands tremble
and your humble faces shine
with the joy of living.

Installment 57

Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke with conviction: “In the light of the sutras and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, obstacles are sure to arise when we dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu and work tirelessly to spread the Mystic Law. The persecution we have encountered has occurred because of our faith in the Lotus Sutra.

“But as the Daishonin teaches in ‘The Opening of the Eyes,’ obstacles lead to enlightenment. Practicing Nichiren Buddhism means to strive for kosen-rufu, call forth difficulties by doing so and use them as an impetus to propel ourselves toward a wonderful life and unsurpassed happiness.

“Even when we’ve run out of options and seem on the brink of defeat, we have the Gohonzon. As long as our faith remains firm, we will definitely win in the end. We could also say that all our efforts and hardships will serve as assets we can put to use for the rest of our lives.

“A comfortable, secure life is not necessarily a happy one. Having difficulties is not necessarily a misfortune. In other words, if we build a strong self that nothing can defeat, we can enjoy navigating the rough waves of adversity with relative ease, as if we were surfing. That is the purpose of faith and our Buddhist practice.

“Therefore, no matter how great your difficulties, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Live with a bright, positive spirit and stay true to your convictions.

“Kumamoto is famous for the folk song ‘Tabaruzaka Hill.’ There are all kinds of hills in life. The path to kosen-rufu, too, has steep and rocky stretches that seem insurmountable. But we who dedicate our lives to the mission of kosen-rufu must surmount those fateful hills, one after another, without fail. That is the challenge of life and faith. Never lose heart at the sight of a little hill.

“‘Tabaruzaka Hill’ contains these lines:

With blood-stained sword in one hand
Reins in the other
A handsome youth
Valiant on horseback

“Let us entrust the next generation entirely to our gallant successors in the youth division, who in one hand hold compassion and in the other the great philosophy of life.”

In closing, he said, “I sincerely pray that our Jonan and Amakusa members will lead lives of good fortune and success through ever greater dedication and unity.”

Installment 58

When Shin’ichi Yamamoto finished his speech, loud applause rang out. Many from Jonan and Amakusa, in particular, brushed away tears. Faces flushed, they continued clapping enthusiastically, expressing their determination.

The meeting concluded on this emotional high.

After exiting the Kumamoto Culture Center, the participants hurried to Itchobata Park, a two-minute walk away. Shin’ichi had proposed they take a group photo together there.

A scaffold had been set up for the photographer. The only way to fit 1,500 members into a single shot was to take it from a considerable height.

Just as they all gathered, Shin’ichi arrived. It was a beautiful, warm, springlike day.

“All right, let’s take a picture together!” he said. “You have bravely endured, fought and won. You are all true lions. Let’s make this photo a record of a vibrant new start. I’ll make sure it’s prominently featured in the Seikyo Shimbun.”

The members cheered.

Shin’ichi proposed: “You have magnificently surmounted the hill of adversity and are now enjoying a springtime of victory. Let’s all proudly sing ‘Tabaruzaka Hill’ together!”

Beloved by the people of Kumamoto, the song expresses a deep pride for their homeland.

Everyone in the park sang slowly and powerfully, their voices resounding:

The rain falls ceaselessly
Drenching man and horse
The insurmountable slopes of
Tabaruzaka Hill
With blood-stained sword in one hand
Reins in the other
A handsome youth
Valiant on horseback

The members sang with all their heart. As they did so, they reflected on Shin’ichi’s guidance at the meeting and pledged to surmount all hills of adversity in their path. Their eyes shone with determination.

Determination is the power that brings forth strength.

Installment 59

The sound of the Kumamoto members’ jubilant, lively voices rose into the sunny sky.

As they sang, memories of their bitter struggle with anti–Soka Gakkai priests and the hardships they had to endure flashed through their minds. But now they tasted the joy of victory.

Singing along, Shin’ichi Yamamoto called out in his heart to his dear Kumamoto members, congratulating and thanking them for their valiant efforts.

The song continued:

Until you reign supreme
Dare not even a flea
Harm your precious body!

When they had finished, Shin’ichi suggested: “Your victory song rang out for all to hear. We have brilliantly surmounted our Tabaruzaka Hill. Let’s give a cheer for your great victory and Kumamoto’s fresh start toward the 21st century!”

Everyone gave three cheers filled with pride, swinging their arms high as their voices soared into the sky.

The photographer snapped his shutter.

The photo was printed large across the second and third pages of the December 17 Seikyo Shimbun. Another inspiring image of the victory of kosen-rufu by unsung men and women had been created.

Shin’ichi also composed poems for Jonan and Amakusa representatives:

How admirable are my friends
who have bravely endured
the storms on the
south of the castle [Jonan]
of the Mystic Law.

I will never ever forget
the smiling faces
of both young and old
proudly dedicated to kosen-rufu
in Amakusa.

On December 16, Shin’ichi returned to Tokyo, having completed his nine-day guidance tour to Kyushu.

On December 22, he attended a gongyo meeting with representatives from Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture and Gotemba in Shizuoka Prefecture at the Kanagawa Training Center [in Hakone]. In these areas, too, anti–Soka Gakkai priests had maligned and callously treated the members. But, united in their vow with their mentor, they had not been defeated.

The mentor-disciple bond is an unshakable spiritual pillar.

Installment 60

Shin’ichi Yamamoto was determined to travel the country encouraging the members who had suffered over the havoc caused by the Shoshin-kai priests and make a fresh start with them toward the 21st century.

Odawara and Gotemba now belonged to two different prefectures—Kanagawa and Shizuoka. In the Edo period (1603–1868), however, both had been part of the same Odawara domain. Soka Gakkai members there took great pride in their areas being home to the magnificent Mount Fuji.

In August 1975, Odawara members invited representatives from Gotemba to attend their Hakone Pampas Grass Festival. And the Gotemba members reciprocated by inviting representatives from Odawara to their Gotemba Family Friendship Festival in September.

From then on, even after the troubles with the priesthood arose, members of the two areas continued to encourage one another as they pressed ahead tirelessly on the steep and rugged road of kosen-rufu.

They were driven by their conviction and resolve: “It’s the Soka Gakkai that taught us about faith, about practicing Nichiren Buddhism!” “The Daishonin writes, ‘If you propagate [this teaching], devils will arise without fail. If they did not, there would be no way of knowing that this is the correct teaching’ (“Letter to the Brothers,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 501). We won’t be defeated!”

They had all proudly walked the path of mentor and disciple and now assembled together at the Kanagawa Training Center [in Hakone].

The skies were sunny and bright blue. Beyond the mountains of Hakone, one could clearly see the snowcapped Mount Fuji. With arms over one another’s shoulders, everyone sang the well-loved song “Mount Fuji”:

Peering out from above the clouds,
You gaze down on the mountains in all directions . . .
“We will be like magnificent, towering Mount Fuji!”—that was the spirit of Odawara and Gotemba members. Shin’ichi composed a number of poems for them that day.

Gazing up
at Mount Fuji
in its dazzling silver armor,
we, too, aspire
to be just as dauntless.

As we strive with
boundless and unending
devotion to kosen-rufu,
let’s never be afraid of scaling
even the steepest peaks under the sun!

In the closing weeks of that year, Shin’ichi also visited Itabashi, Koto, Setagaya and Edogawa wards in Tokyo, as well as the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “You cannot strike fire from flint if you stop halfway” (“Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment,” WND-1, 319). Only through unceasing, all-out effort can we open the way forward for kosen-rufu.

Installment 61

The brilliant sun of youth rises to dispel the darkness.

With their pure eyes, bright smiles, indefatigable fighting spirit and overflowing energy, youth are beacons of hope. When youth vibrantly step forward to take action, a new age dawns.

The Soka Gakkai designated 1982 as the “Year of Youth” and made a dynamic fresh start aiming toward the 21st century.

On New Year’s morning, Shin’ichi Yamamoto watched the sun rise in the eastern sky from the Kanagawa Culture Center.

“The curtain has risen on the age of youth!”

Shin’ichi keenly felt this whenever he visited different regions around Japan. The young people he had personally fostered with great care and attention had grown strong like young eagles. They were filled with eager determination to spread their wings wide and soar into the vast skies of the new century.

He called out in his heart: “Fellow members of Soka everywhere! Now is the time. We must seize the moment. Together with the youth, let us create a growing momentum for kosen-rufu!”

Shin’ichi composed several poems for the New Year.

On the distant horizon of
the widespread propagation of the Mystic Law,
mountains are visible
sparkling like diamonds
in the light of the morning sun.

I pray for the safety and well-being
of my precious friends
who time and time again
have surmounted
stormy peaks.

The joy of
selflessly dedicating one’s life
to spreading the Mystic Law!
Our efforts will live forever
in history.

On January 1, New Year’s gongyo sessions were held in five rooms at the Kanagawa Culture Center—on the third, fifth, seventh and eighth floors, as well as on the second basement level. Shin’ichi, wearing a formal morning coat, visited each room, attending over a dozen sessions to encourage the participants.

He had decided that this year would be crucial in opening the way to victory in the new century. The only means to achieve that, he concluded, was for him to engage personally with the members, talk with them, and motivate and inspire everyone through his own example.

Only a courageous leader can foster courageous leaders.

That afternoon members of the Soka High School soccer team visited Shin’ichi, their school’s founder, at the Kanagawa Culture Center. They had come directly from the opening ceremony for the All Japan High School Soccer Tournament at the National Stadium in Tokyo. They wanted to report on their participation as representatives of western Tokyo, the Tokyo B block.

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto took a photo with the soccer team members. Knowing this was the school’s first national tournament, he told them, “Just play like you always do and have fun!”

The players’ tension seemed to melt away.

Shin’ichi said to those gathered around them: “When they lose a match, please smile brightly and encourage them. When they win, cry with joy!”

On January 2, Shin’ichi’s 54th birthday, the Soka High School team played its first-round tournament game against a high school from Oita Prefecture [in Kyushu].

The team had vowed to win this first match and make it their birthday present to their school’s founder. They played better than ever and displayed excellent teamwork.

The goalkeeper had injured a ligament in his left knee in a practice game just before the end of the year. But he still played, knee taped up and defended the goal with all his might, at one point even suffering a bloody nose. It was a close-fought game, and as time ran out the teams remained tied 0-0. In the penalty shootout, the Soka High School team outscored their opponents to win the game. With their invincible spirit, they had achieved a brilliant victory.

The game was televised, and the jubilant players were seen proudly singing their school dormitory song, “Kusaki wa Moyuru” (The Trees and Grasses Are Blooming).[1]

On January 4, they played their second-round game against a Hokkaido high school. After a tight match, they lost 0-1. Though this was their first national championship, they had given their all, showing admirable fighting spirit.

The forward for the Hokkaido team was a Soka Gakkai member. He went over to the Soka High School coach after the game, bowed and thanked him, and introduced himself. The two shook hands firmly, and applause broke out.

A pleasant, energetic young man, he said, “In the remaining games, I’ll do my best for all of you as well.”

It was another drama of youth.

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On January 1, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended New Year’s gongyo sessions in the morning and afternoon at the Kanagawa Culture Center. He then traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture where, on January 2, he participated in a number of events at the head temple, Taiseki-ji.

On January 3, he encouraged leaders from throughout Shizuoka Prefecture at the Shizuoka Training Center [in Atami]. On January 4 and 5, he led a New Year’s training session there for Soka Gakkai Education Department members.

He was starting the New Year at full speed, like an airplane taking off.

On January 9, he attended a Tokyo Metropolitan Area high school division gongyo session with President Eisuke Akizuki in the Mentor-Disciple Hall at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters.

He prayed deeply with everyone in front of the Soka Gakkai Joju Gohonzon. Inscribed at the request of Josei Toda to realize the Soka Gakkai’s vow for worldwide kosen-rufu, this Gohonzon bears the inscription “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law.”

As Shin’ichi chanted, he vividly recalled the time in October 1965, more than 16 years earlier, when, in this very same hall, he had presented the newly designed high school division flag to the division’s leaders from each area.

Most of the high school students at that event were now actively involved in kosen-rufu as core youth division leaders. He felt exhilarated when he thought that the young people there today would become the pillars supporting the Soka Gakkai in the 21st century.

“The Soka Gakkai is fostering a steady stream of young lions who will carry on our work. The future is secure”—this conviction was the source of Shin’ichi’s courage. He was determined to make even greater efforts to foster the members of the youth division, student division, high school division, junior high school division, and the boys and girls division.

After gongyo, Shin’ichi took group photos with the participants, wholeheartedly celebrating the future of these bright young people. After the meeting, he also took photos with members of the boys and girls division.

He then went to the Meguro Peace Center[22] for an informal meeting with representatives of Meguro and Shinagawa wards. A temple in Meguro served as a base for the Shoshin-kai, and members had been fighting hard to defend the organization from these ill-intentioned priests.

From the start of the New Year, driven by his wish to encourage members striving earnestly amid significant obstacles, Shin’ichi lost no time in visiting this embattled area.

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At the gathering at the Meguro Peace Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto listened to various reports from the participants.

The Meguro members had suffered terribly from the Shoshin-kai’s arrogant and vicious attacks. The priests’ reprehensible actions, motivated by envy of the Soka Gakkai’s growth, undermined kosen-rufu.

Shin’ichi said to the Meguro leaders: “Now is the time to launch a fresh effort in earnest. Action is key. No matter how difficult the situation, action will move things in a new direction.”

He spoke quietly but powerfully.

“If your resolve changes, especially for you as leaders, you’ll be able to open the way forward, however challenging the circumstances.”

Afterward, Shin’ichi led a gongyo session for Meguro members and gave his all to encouraging them.

“What is correct faith? It is to believe in the Gohonzon as long as you live, whatever may happen. It is also important to clearly explain the truth to those confused about what is right and wrong, good and evil. That requires courage. I hope that you, our Meguro members, will actively engage in Buddhist dialogue with just such courage, not worrying about what others think or say about you.”

“What life wants from us is courage,”[23] said the Brazilian author João Guimarães Rosa (1908–67).

Shin’ichi was scheduled to leave Tokyo the following day for a guidance tour of Akita Prefecture [in the northern Tohoku region of Japan]. Though he still had to prepare for his trip, he continued encouraging the members as long as he could. The members in Meguro had suffered more intensely at the hands of anti-Soka Gakkai priests than any other area in Tokyo. Yet, they had remained steadfast and persevered on the noble path of Soka. He therefore wanted them to have a breakthrough and achieve fresh victories.

That evening Shin’ichi wrote in his diary: “The abominable actions of the priests have made our members weep bitter tears. That is truly unacceptable. When I think of the many who suffered, I am deeply anguished. The wisdom of the Buddha and the validity of our faith will be proven, without a doubt.”

The Meguro members rose to action with unwavering faith. They refused to condone the priests’ malicious attempts to disrupt the movement for kosen-rufu. Confident that Buddhism means being victorious, they were determined to win and demonstrate the integrity of the Soka Gakkai for all to see.

The courageous members of Meguro would go on to achieve the top propagation results in the country that year by introducing 1,115 new households.

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Viewed from the air, Akita was a beautiful silvery snowscape. Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s plane landed at the Akita Airport shortly after 2:00 p.m. on January 10, 1982, after an hour’s flight from Tokyo.

Shin’ichi had refused to be dissuaded from traveling to this region in the middle of winter, deciding to go ahead with his first guidance tour of Akita in close to a decade. This was because here, too, the Shoshin-kai priests had relentlessly attacked and harassed the members, as severely as they had done in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture. That is why he had flown to snowy Akita as soon as he possibly could after the New Year holiday period.

Shin’ichi greeted the Akita prefectural leaders who met him at the airport and went outside with them. The icy wind stung his face. About 70 or 80 members were waiting at the curbside. Shin’ichi would have liked to rush over to them, shake each person’s hand, and praise them for their courageous efforts. But since he didn’t want to inconvenience other travelers, he called out to them, “Let’s meet again soon!”

Shin’ichi then got into the waiting car and headed to the Akita Culture Center[24] in Sanno-numata-machi. The building had just been completed at the end of the previous year. From the car window, he saw snow-blanketed fields glistening in the sunlight that peeked between the clouds. Heavy snow had fallen the previous day from before dawn through the morning.

After driving a short distance, he saw about 40 people standing in front of a gas station. Soka Gakkai vice president Susumu Aota, who was in charge of the Tohoku region, said to Shin’ichi: “Those are Soka Gakkai members. All of them have worked really hard.”

Nodding silently, Shin’ichi asked the driver to stop the car. He got out and walked over to them. Water from the melting snow seeped into his leather shoes, but knowing they had been waiting in the cold wind, he couldn’t just pass by.

“Thank you all for waiting, despite the cold!”

The members cheered. Their faces shone with earnest resolve and their unbounded joy that this day had finally come.

The firewood of hardship makes the flames of joy burn brighter.

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There were men clad in padded jackets with trousers tucked into their boots; women in boots and woolen caps; and, since it was Sunday, rosy-cheeked children with their parents.

Taking care not to slip in the snow, Shin’ichi Yamamoto raised a hand in greeting and, with a warm, embracing smile, walked over to the group.

“Thank you, everyone! How are you? I am sorry for the trouble you’ve endured. I will continue to support and protect you. I hope you will all live long and be happy. Today marks a fresh start. Let’s do our best!”

Shin’ichi patted the children on the head and shook hands with the men. Some reported on their work or health. It became an outdoor discussion meeting.

Before leaving, Shin’ichi took a group photo with everyone.

The car drove off, and after a short while, they came upon another group of members standing by the road. Shin’ichi had the car stop again. He got out, offered encouragement and then posed for photos with them. The Seikyo Shimbun photographer was busy snapping his shutter.

It happened several more times. Near the intersection at Ushijima-nishi-ni-chome, a group of 70 or 80 members peered at each passing car. They had all chanted for fine weather and the success of the upcoming events.

“Sensei is certain to take this road,” they thought. “Let’s go out and welcome him!” So they waited.

Shin’ichi stopped the car and quickly stepped out, surprising everyone. Their faces lit up with joy.

“I’ve come here to see you all! To commemorate this day, let’s take a picture! I want to celebrate your victory after the suffering you’ve endured. You are always in my heart. I am chanting for you, and I know you are all chanting for me. This is the spirit of mentor and disciple. Though we may not meet every day, our hearts are connected.”

One woman said: “Sensei! We’re fine. Nothing anyone says can shake our conviction in faith. We are your disciples. We are lions!”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his party drove on, and just a few hundred meters away, another group was waiting in front of an auto factory. Shin’ichi got out of the car again and began another outdoor discussion meeting.

Among the group were local leaders who had worked hard to protect and encourage their fellow members as malicious priests tried to get them to quit the Soka Gakkai.

Shin’ichi shook their hands firmly and praised their efforts.

“I have received detailed reports about your all-out efforts to protect the members. The Soka Gakkai is strong because of people like you who share my spirit and fight hard on my behalf. That is the unity of ‘many in body, one in mind.’

“When troubles arise, some will always be easily swayed, have doubts about faith and criticize the Soka Gakkai. That will cause them great regret someday.”

A passage from “The Opening of the Eyes” rose to his mind:

Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. Do not have doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith. Foolish men are likely to forget the promises they have made when the crucial moment comes. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 283)

Shin’ichi continued: “You refused to be defeated. At the crucial moment, you fought your hardest and won. Your valiant struggle will shine brilliantly in the history of kosen-rufu.”

Everyone smiled brightly.

On his way to the Akita Culture Center, Shin’ichi stopped nine times to speak with and encourage members.

Tohoku Region leader Akio Yamanaka, who had observed Shin’ichi’s actions up close while accompanying him and Soka Gakkai vice president Susumu Aota, reflected deeply: “Sensei wholeheartedly encourages the members. He wishes to infuse the spirit of a lion into each person he meets. This is Sensei’s spirit and the Soka Gakkai spirit. I will also treasure and encourage members with all my heart!”

Words alone are not enough to pass on a spirit; it requires embodying that spirit, teaching it to others through one’s actions.

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Many members awaited Shin’ichi Yamamoto at the Akita Culture Center. In the center’s garden, preparations had been made for the unveiling of a monument engraved with the words “Akita Cherry Blossoms” in Shin’ichi’s calligraphy, followed by a tree-planting ceremony.

Shin’ichi arrived and, as sunlight poured down between the clouds, he conducted the two ceremonies and joined the members in commemorative photographs.

Afterward, Shin’ichi was shown around inside the center by prefecture leader Toshihisa Komatsuda, who then asked him to name the plaza in front of the entrance.

“I believe it snowed yesterday, but today the skies have cleared,” Shin’ichi said. “How about Sunny Skies Plaza? Even though there may be storms and blizzards, they always come to an end and sunny days return. And our Buddhist practice is about ensuring that this is what happens in our lives.”

Komatsuda beamed in delight. “‘Sunny Skies’ is our vow!”

Ten years earlier, in July 1972, destructive rains had fallen throughout Japan. By the time Shin’ichi visited Sendai on July 9 as part of his Tohoku Region guidance tour, landslides and mudslides in Kyushu and Shikoku had resulted in nearly 200 dead or missing. Akita also experienced heavy rains, and in the northern part of the prefecture, rivers overflowed and caused extensive flooding.

Shin’ichi had been scheduled to participate in group photo sessions in Akita on July 12, but these were canceled because of the rain. Nevertheless, after finishing group photo sessions in Yamagata Prefecture, Shin’ichi had left for Akita, arriving there on July 11.

“Everyone must be feeling down because of the flooding,” Shin’ichi had thought. “Therefore, I’ll let nothing stop me from going to Akita and encouraging those suffering the most.”

He had visited the Soka Gakkai Akita Community Center and asked in detail about the rain damage throughout the prefecture. He swiftly took steps, including dispatching leaders to the afflicted areas and sending messages of support and small gifts of encouragement to members who were affected. He also had attended a meeting at the center and stressed that the power of faith in the Mystic Law would enable them to change poison into medicine.

The rain had stopped by then, and a beautiful sunset filled the sky. Since that time, sunny skies and sunsets had become symbols of overcoming the ordeal of destructive rains for the Akita members.

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Having overcome the storms of troubles caused by Shoshin-kai priests, the Akita members now welcomed Shin’ichi Yamamoto with the sunny skies of joy.

And so Komatsuda and the others couldn’t conceal their delight at the name Sunny Skies Plaza.

On the evening that Shin’ichi arrived in Akita, a conference of Tohoku representatives took place at a venue in Akita City. A detailed report described the cruel and indefensible way Shoshin-kai priests had treated Soka Gakkai members in Omagari and Noshiro and other areas in Akita.

At one temple, when a family asked the chief priest to conduct a memorial service, he seized on the opportunity, saying he would only do so on the condition that they quit the Soka Gakkai. The family refused to bow to this ultimatum. Their local Soka Gakkai block (present-day district) leader led the ceremony instead. The Soka Gakkai members recited the sutra and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together with solemn dignity, ignoring the ex-members who had shown up primarily to mock them [for daring to hold a ceremony without a priest].

At another temple, a priest told a woman grieving over the untimely death of a loved one that it served her right because she was a Soka Gakkai member. This was an unbelievably cruel remark from someone whose profession was supposedly dedicated to people’s spiritual well-being.

At the conference, it was decided which leaders would be dispatched to Omagari and Noshiro to encourage the members there.

Feeling great respect for the members who had fought so hard, Shin’ichi said: “It tears me apart to hear what you’ve been through. You have shown incredible fortitude. Nichiren Daishonin would praise you most highly for your unwavering commitment to truth and justice for the sake of kosen-rufu.

“I hope those of you who are leaders will warmly embrace everyone and do your best to support and protect them. In that effort, being considerate is very important.

People can easily fall sway to emotions, and thoughtless offhand remarks can be hurtful. In the realm of faith, we must never be the cause of members quitting because our words and actions have been careless or our language abusive. Treating members with the same respect we would show a Buddha is fundamental.

“I’d like you to be deeply aware that the Soka Gakkai is a realm in which we respect each individual, exercise good sense, and help one another become better people.”

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After the Tohoku conference, Shin’ichi Yamamoto returned to the Akita Culture Center, where he did gongyo with event staff and took group photographs with youth division members. That day, he had encouraged close to a thousand people.

When Shin’ichi learned that many members were chanting at home for the success of the various events, he chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for them in deep appreciation. Years later, Shin’ichi bestowed the name Snowy Akita Guidance Tour Glory Group on these members.

The following day, January 11, dawned to blue skies. The sunlight was dazzlingly bright.

Just before noon, Shin’ichi and leaders from Akita and the Tohoku region took a Soka Gakkai Headquarters bus to the Akita Community Center. It had served as the local organization’s main center until the Akita Culture Center was completed at the end of the previous year. For a month from January 1, an exhibition highlighting Shin’ichi’s efforts to promote world peace was being held there.

He made this visit expressly to meet and convey his appreciation to those youth who had worked over the New Year holidays to prepare and run the exhibition.

“Thank you! You have worked very hard.”

Shin’ichi spoke with the young people in charge and those acting as guides. He also took the time to view the exhibition.

Afterward, Shin’ichi talked with representatives over lunch. He then visited the family of a pioneer member—the late Koji Sato, the first leader of Akita Chapter, which came to be known as the “champion of Japan’s northwestern coast.”

Sato joined the Soka Gakkai at the age of 39, in 1953. His youngest brother, who lived in Tokyo, started practicing first, and he shared Nichiren Buddhism with his five siblings. Four of them joined the Soka Gakkai in 1952—all except Koji, the eldest.

However, observing the organization, Koji Sato thought: “The Soka Gakkai is attracting so many young people. I would really like to meet its president and talk with him.”

He set off to visit Josei Toda. After they had talked at length, Toda looked at him intently and said, “I entrust Akita to you!”

Struck by Toda’s energy and character, Sato said instinctively: “Yes! I will do my best in Akita.”

Life-to-life communication moves the human heart.

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After joining the Soka Gakkai, Sato earnestly took part in activities. By nature, he was sincere and conscientious.

At that time, Akita belonged to Kamata Chapter’s Yaguchi District, and Shin’ichi’s in-laws, Yoji and Akiko Haruki, served as the district leader and the chapter women’s leader. The couple took turns visiting Akita almost every month, making the 12-hour overnight train journey to offer guidance and encouragement.

They carefully and patiently taught Sato and other Akita members the basics of faith. They would sometimes have members accompany them when they offered personal guidance or introduced others to Nichiren Buddhism. They stressed the importance of reading Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and speaking with conviction about the principles of Buddhism. The endearing, pure-hearted Akita members soaked up the Harukis’ lessons like sand absorbing water and quickly grew in capability.

Faith in the Mystic Law is passed on through taking action together for kosen-rufu. Newer and younger members learn and grow by following the examples set by their seniors in faith.

In 1954, a year after Sato joined, the first large group in Akita was established with a membership of 800 households. In 1956, it evolved into Akita Chapter, with Sato being appointed chapter leader. His younger sister Tetsuyo Sato became chapter women’s leader at the same time.

Sato ran a business that did exploratory drilling for hot springs and wells. In January 1955, Josei Toda, concerned about the lack of safe drinking water at the head temple, called on Sato to explore for groundwater in the area. Numerous attempts had been made since the late 19th century, but geologists had always concluded that there was no groundwater.

As the temple flourished with more Soka Gakkai members visiting each year, finding a source of safe drinking water became urgent. Over three months, Sato drilled as deep as 200 meters in places that seemed promising, but he never reached water.

Toda told him they needed to find water to support the priesthood and to protect the members, the children of the Buddha. Sato was moved by Toda’s concern for the welfare of the priesthood, which arose from his wish for kosen-rufu.

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Sato continued chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with powerful resolve. One day, drilling in yet another spot, he struck water at a depth of just 26 meters. It was a miraculous find. The water was of good quality, with an ample flow rate of 216 liters per minute. As a result, they were able to lay pipes to provide water throughout the head temple grounds.

As long as he lived, Sato could never forgive the priests for cruelly trampling on the sincerity of the Soka Gakkai members, who had done so much to support and protect Nichiren Shoshu.

In January 1979, three months before stepping down as president, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited the Aomori Culture Center and met with Tohoku representatives. Sato and his younger sister Tetsuyo were among them. Sato had been diagnosed with lung cancer two years before and been told that he probably had only three months, or at most a year, to live.

Shin’ichi squeezed Sato’s hand and said: “As long as you remain steadfast in faith, you have nothing to fear. Live each day to the fullest.

“Every sunrise leads to a sunset. Make the closing chapter of your life like a magnificent, radiant sunset. As a sun illuminating others, give guidance that will shine forever in members’ hearts.”

Sato rose up like a phoenix. He took the initiative to visit members’ homes and give them personal guidance. Inspired by his encouragement, many burned with a passionate spirit to “refute the erroneous and reveal the true.” They pledged to one another to firmly defend the castle of Soka. A life spent fighting for one’s ideals shines beautifully.

The following May [1980], Sato died at age 66, three years after his diagnosis, thus demonstrating the Buddhist principle of “prolonging one’s life through faith.” His final years were like a beautiful golden sunset.

Shin’ichi’s wife, Mineko, with one of their sons, visited the family in Shin’ichi’s stead to offer condolences.

At Sato’s request, he was placed in his coffin dressed in a tailcoat and holding a walking stick that Shin’ichi had given him. Sato had said it would symbolize his departure on the journey of kosen-rufu in his next life.

A year and eight months had passed since then. When Shin’ichi visited Sato’s home, he did gongyo with Sato’s wife, Mieko, his sister Tetsuyo, and other family members and relatives, praying for this dedicated pioneer’s eternal happiness.

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After gongyo, Shin’ichi Yamamoto said to the family warmly: “Koji was a man of fine character and wholehearted faith. He made outstanding contributions to our movement.”

He looked intently at each of them. “Koji built a solid foundation of good fortune for the Sato family. I hope you will carry on his legacy of faith and always continue to bring flowers of happiness to bloom.

“In a relay race, even though you receive the baton from the lead runner, you have to keep running to reach the finish line. As Koji’s successors, it’s your responsibility to show actual proof in many different ways so that everyone around you will exclaim: ‘That’s the Sato family for you!’

“The second chapter for the Sato family has now begun. Let’s make a fresh start together!”

On the evening of January 11, Shin’ichi attended an Akita Prefecture representatives conference at the Akita Culture Center. Announcements about opening a prefecture women’s center and plans to build a new culture center in southern Akita made the meeting a joy-filled new beginning.

Taking the microphone, Shin’ichi spoke about how to live as genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism: “It is nothing special. All sorts of things come up in life. ‘Whatever happens, I will sit in front of the Gohonzon and chant!’—maintaining this spirit and continuing in our Soka Gakkai activities is to live with faith. Above all, genuine practitioners are those who make kosen-rufu the center of their lives and devote themselves to spreading the Mystic Law, based solidly on Nichiren Daishonin’s writings.

“In the past, some people have for a time put on a great show in their activities, but they eventually stopped practicing and turned against the organization. If you look closely, you’ll invariably find that they were self-centered, obsessed with fame and fortune, self-righteous and vain.

“Ultimately, all they cared about was themselves. They used faith and the organization for their own selfish ends. However adept such people may be at impressing others, their true nature is always exposed in the end. This is the uncompromising nature of the Mystic Law and the realm of faith.”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto frankly shared his feelings with the Akita members, who had weathered many hardships: “I have been deceived by people quite a few times over the years. Some have taken advantage of me or tried to discredit me.

“I knew that some claiming to be disciples were like that. I was also warned about such people by others. ‘That person has ulterior motives,’ they said, ‘so you should distance yourself from him as soon as possible.’ Nevertheless, I have been embracing and tolerant. Fully aware of their true nature and hidden agenda, I persisted in efforts to speak with them to awaken their faith. Time and again, I firmly pointed out their underlying life tendencies and gave them guidance.

“Why? Because, even when deceived or let down, the mentor believes in the disciples and works wholeheartedly to help them change for the better. That is my spirit.

“But those who are clearly acting with ill intent—causing suffering to their fellow members, the children of the Buddha; sowing turmoil in the organization; and undermining the movement for kosen-rufu—are enemies of the Buddha. We must resolutely oppose them. We cannot hesitate.

“People eager to discredit others have a guilty conscience. To hide their own wrongdoing, they desperately attack others. That is what I have learned in my more than three decades of Buddhist practice.

“All of our actions are subject to the law of cause and effect, the law governing all life. Only with conviction in this uncompromising law can we live as Buddhists.

“We of the Soka Gakkai have been devoting ourselves tirelessly to kosen-rufu, world peace and the happiness of others. Self-serving priests and those deceived by them cannot recognize this indisputable fact. Nichiren Daishonin describes how evil people saw Shakyamuni Buddha, whose life radiated a golden brilliance: ‘Some saw his color as ashen, some saw him as tainted, and some saw him as an enemy’ (“On Losing Faith and Falling into Evil,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1079).

“Everything appears distorted to distorted eyes. Hearts twisted by envy, anger and prejudice cannot see the Soka Gakkai as it truly is. That’s why they accuse us of slandering the Law. Being despised by evil people proves that we are in the right.”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto finished speaking. The participants’ hearts were filled with determination and pride as members of Akita, known as the “champion of Japan’s northwestern coast.”

On his way out, Shin’ichi walked to the back of the room and smiled at a woman there. It was Tomiko Sekiya, the Tazawa Headquarters women’s division guidance leader.

He had met Sekiya in January 1979 during an informal gathering at the Mizusawa Culture Center in neighboring Iwate Prefecture. As a representative of Akita Prefecture, she had reported on the outrageous attacks being made there against the organization by priests and danto members—Nichiren Shoshu lay believers who were critical of the Soka Gakkai.

She had recounted, for instance, how, in February 1978, danto members stood at the local temple’s entrance turning away Soka Gakkai members to prevent them from attending the chief priest’s monthly Gosho lecture. But Sekiya told them they had no right to do so and entered the temple’s main hall anyway. The chief priest shouted at her to get out.

Unflinching, she demanded to know why.

“The Soka Gakkai is slandering the Law!”

“How is it slandering the Law?” she asked without the slightest hesitation. Refusing to retreat, she defended the Soka Gakkai.

“Obstacles and devilish functions the Daishonin warns about have finally begun to attack us!” she thought. And she redoubled her efforts to encourage her fellow members.

The bold confidence of this one woman and her well-reasoned arguments to challenge error and reveal the truth inspired many Soka Gakkai members to stand up and take action.

Three years had passed since that meeting in Mizusawa.

Shin’ichi now said to Sekiya: “You did a fantastic job, even though you had no seniors in faith to consult! The Soka Gakkai is being protected by people who share my unwavering determination to help everyone become happy, to stand up and take full responsibility. This is what it means to champion the Soka Gakkai’s cause.

“Being an onlooker or a critic rather than someone who takes personal initiative to support and protect the Soka Gakkai is a mark of cowardice. Being a slave to others’ opinions leaves one easily shaken and prone to badmouthing the organization.

“You remained true to your convictions. You triumphed brilliantly. Thank you!”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued: “Time now for a fresh start! Let’s advance together, aiming for the 21st century, for May 3, 2001.”

“Yes. I’ll be 81 then,” Sekiya said. “I promise to stay well. Would you let me come and see you again?”

Shin’ichi smiled. “That’s almost 20 years from now. Let’s meet many, many, many times before that. I will never forget those who strive their hardest for kosen-rufu at the crucial moment. Your name will shine forever in the history of kosen-rufu.”

Later, he sent Sekiya a poem:

Let us live on together
into the new century
as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

The next day, January 12, a prefecture leaders meeting was held to commemorate the opening of the Akita Culture Center.

Also attending were representatives from Oita Prefecture, where members had triumphed over the troubles with priesthood too. At the meeting, it was announced that the two prefectures would form a sister relationship and together build a “rainbow bridge of kosen-rufu.” Akita Prefecture also reaffirmed that its fresh start would focus on reinforcing chapters and creating inspiring discussion meetings.

In his speech that day, Shin’ichi said: “My sole wish is that you will all be healthy, enjoy security and have wonderful lives. Always remember that is the purpose of your Buddhist practice and what it means to apply faith in daily life.”

Why do we practice Nichiren Buddhism and carry out Soka Gakkai activities? Of course, it is to realize kosen-rufu and Nichiren Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” And the fundamental purpose is to achieve our own happiness. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and working for kosen-rufu and a peaceful world by spreading the life-affirming principles of Nichiren Buddhism make our lives vibrant and joyous and enable us to do our human revolution and transform our karma. Through our daily Soka Gakkai activities, we bring happiness to blossom in our families and our communities.

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At the Akita Prefecture leaders meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto then spoke about what will be our most profound memories of life in this world.

“Each of us has many memories, but most fade with time. Memories of practicing Buddhism, however, will endure, consciously or unconsciously, as the very best for all eternity. From the standpoint of the law of cause and effect, our activities for kosen-rufu are causes toward our eternal happiness; they are engraved in the innermost depths of our lives as joyful and vibrant memories.”

As Nichiren Daishonin says, “Single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and urge others to do the same; that will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world” (“Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 64).

Shin’ichi reminisced about his days as acting chapter leader of Tokyo’s Bunkyo Chapter and leading the campaign in Kansai where members introduced 11,111 households to Nichiren Buddhism in a single month. By striving wholeheartedly for kosen-rufu day after day, he said, we create golden memories that will adorn our lives forever.

Later that day, Shin’ichi said to the Akita leaders: “Many of those I’ve talked with here at the center say they wish their chapter and district members could also participate in gongyo sessions. How about holding some for everyone tomorrow?”

They all nodded happily.

“All right, it’s decided. Up to now, we’ve had gatherings just for chapter leaders and above, but from tomorrow anyone who wants to can attend. Tomorrow will be decisive. Even if we need two or three sessions, that will be fine. I have to go out for a meeting with representatives in the morning, but I’ll come back to join the members for group photos after the morning gongyo sessions are over.”

The snow that began the night before was still falling on the morning of January 13. Akita members gathered in high spirits, having made their way through the snow from places such as Noshiro in the northwest and Omagari in the central area of the prefecture.

“Amid howling winds, / we gather on snowy fields / for our struggle for kosen-rufu …” goes a line from the prefectural song “Whirlwind,” which the members often sang.

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That morning, after gongyo with staff and others at the Akita Culture Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a conference in the city. Returning just past noon, he headed to the park in front of the culture center for the commemorative photo.

The participants of the two morning gongyo sessions were gathered there in excited anticipation. The snow was still falling, but everyone’s spirits were high.

The past few years had been incredibly frustrating for the Akita members. Anti–Soka Gakkai priests regularly demanded members quit the Soka Gakkai in exchange for conducting funeral services. Some priests delivered long, rambling tirades against the Soka Gakkai at funerals, which relatives and friends who were not members also attended. On top of that, some priests coldly asserted that the deceased had not attained Buddhahood. It was cruel and despicable, utterly inhuman.

Having endured and rebuffed such pressure, the members now set forth on a new journey toward the 21st century with Shin’ichi. Their hearts brimmed with the joy that spring had come at last.

As the snow fell, Shin’ichi arrived wearing a white parka. It was minus 2.2 degrees Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit). The crowd of some 1,500 members cheered and applauded.

Shin’ichi stepped onto a riser and took up the microphone.

“Thank you for gathering here despite the snow!”

“We’re fine!” shouted cheerful voices.

“Your strength and energy epitomize the spirit of ‘pressing on through blizzards, we boldly advance,’ as the ‘Song of Human Revolution’ goes. Let’s sing it today as a declaration of Akita’s great victory!”

Their voices rang out with a passion that could melt the snow.

Take your stand, and I will take mine, too,
each in our own realm of kosen-rufu, standing up alone…

Shin’ichi sang along as a fighting spirit blazed in everyone’s heart. It was a proud victory song of Soka mentor and disciples.

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Shin’ichi made another suggestion to the members who had fought so hard, “Let’s give a victory cheer to celebrate your brave struggle and great triumph!”

The members roared in approval.

A series of cheers resounded across the snowy landscape, a powerful declaration of the people’s victory.

They pumped the air with their fists and raised their voices, expressing the joy of victory with their entire beings.

The falling snow was like a whirling shower of blossoms, as if the heavenly deities were joining them in celebration. At that moment, the Seikyo Shimbun photographer, from the raised platform of a bucket truck, snapped the shutter.

Shin’ichi called out: “Stay well! Please don’t catch cold. Let’s meet again!”

The day’s third gongyo session began just after 1:30 p.m.

Shin’ichi led gongyo and then took the microphone.

He reaffirmed that faith, practice, and study make up the basics of Buddhist practice in Nichiren Buddhism, stressing that they are the purpose of Soka Gakkai activities. He also explained that by doing Soka Gakkai activities, we put the teachings of Buddhism into practice, transform our karma, and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

He announced that because there were many outstanding educators among the Akita membership, it had been decided at that morning’s conference to form an Akita Educators Group for local members of the Soka Gakkai Education Division. He voiced his hope that members of the new group would contribute actively to their communities.

Shin’ichi also noted that Ota Area in Semboku County (present-day Ota Area in Daisen City) in Akita Prefecture was one of the communities in Japan where kosen-rufu was advancing the most. He spotlighted the pioneer members who had been the driving force for that development, praised their efforts, and sincerely encouraged them.

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Joryo Komatsuda was the first district leader in Ota Area.

He learned about Nichiren Buddhism in 1953, when his fifth son, who was attending university in Tokyo, returned home for a visit. Joryo’s wife, Miyo, suffered from poor health. His eldest son, in only three years of marriage, had lost young children in close succession and then his wife, who died of sepsis.

Having inherited large, productive rice fields owned by his family for generations, Joryo was financially comfortable. Nevertheless, he felt dejected. Unhappy with a life so plagued by misfortune, when he heard about the law of cause and effect taught in Nichiren Buddhism, he decided, though somewhat skeptical, to join the Soka Gakkai along with his wife and eldest son. The three of them became the first Soka Gakkai members in the area.

As Joryo’s wife did gongyo regularly, she grew stronger day by day, and laughter began to fill the formerly gloomy house. In addition, the members who came to encourage them brimmed with a strong, positive and optimistic spirit, even while grappling with their own serious challenges. This convinced Joryo of the power of faith.

He eagerly wished to share Nichiren Buddhism with others, and the first person he introduced was one of his cousins. His parents-in-law also began to practice.

Joryo would put aside time, set out with his wife—both donning traditional straw cloaks and reed hats to protect against the elements—and go to meet with people to talk with them about Buddhism. He and his wife had many relatives in the area, and the practice spread from one to another and from one acquaintance to another, the circle of members steadily expanding. In 1959, a district was formed in Ota Area, and Joryo became the district leader.

By the time he reached the 10-year mark in his practice, 47 families related to him or his wife had joined the Soka Gakkai. The membership in the southern part of the prefecture, where Ota Area was located, had grown to about 4,700 households.

But things did not always go smoothly. In 1963, Joryo’s house burned to the ground while he was away. The family home and household goods, which had been passed down through generations, were destroyed.

Some expressed doubts about Buddhism on this account: If it was such a great teaching, why wasn’t Joryo protected, as he had promised that practitioners would be. But in response, Joryo just smiled and said confidently: “I’m fine, so don’t worry. I have the Gohonzon!”

The sun of conviction shining in our hearts dispels the dark clouds of anxiety shrouding those around us.

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Joryo Komatsuda and his family enshrined the Gohonzon in the shed that served as their temporary home and continued to chant earnestly. They worked tirelessly, riding their bicycles along the narrow paths between rice fields, to tell people about Nichiren Buddhism and encourage their fellow members.

They were eventually able to build a new house. Many Soka Gakkai members in Joryo’s family circle became successful and contributed to the community in such roles as high school board of trustees chairperson and senior civil servant. Many also held Soka Gakkai leadership positions. Among them was Toshihisa Komatsuda, the Akita Prefecture leader.

Joryo’s secret in fostering capable people was to thoroughly support those he had introduced to Nichiren Buddhism until they developed a self-reliant practice. He often said to fellow members: “We have a responsibility to do activities with and foster those we introduce until they can share Nichiren Buddhism with others on their own. This means that introducing someone to the practice includes thoroughly teaching them the basics of practicing for oneself and others.”

Shin’ichi had heard in detail from Akita leaders how Joryo Komatsuda had become one of the first in his family and his community to start working for kosen-rufu and that he was now 84 years old.

Shin’ichi pondered: “The phenomenal development of the Soka Gakkai has been achieved thanks to countless such unsung heroes. With sincerity, perseverance and untold effort, they steadily forged strong bonds of trust and solidarity with their families, siblings, relatives and the people in their communities.”

In his remarks that afternoon at the Akita Culture Center, he expressed profound gratitude for the truly monumental efforts of the pioneer members. He then proposed naming the participants of that day’s morning sessions the Snowstorm Group, and those of the afternoon session, the Whirlwind Group.

Joyous applause rang out for a long time.

Afterward, another group photograph was taken in the park in front of the center. By that time, the snow had stopped falling.

Prefecture Leader Komatsuda led the members in giving three cheers. Their shouts of victory rose into the heavens.

To commemorate the day, Shin’ichi composed a poem:

Braving the cold winds
the proud members of Akita shine
as they joyously
seek the way
and advance kosen-rufu.

Installment 82

On the evening of January 13, Shin’ichi attended a prefecture youth division executive conference held in the city. A prefecture youth division general meeting was scheduled the following day. Shin’ichi took as much time as possible to listen to the young leaders’ ideas and requests.

Among the topics discussed was how to better foster capable people through various training groups to secure the ongoing development of kosen-rufu in the local community.

The youth also suggested holding an international forum on agriculture in Akita.

“What a good idea!” Shin’ichi exclaimed with a delighted smile. “Ideas like this are very important. Food shortages are a serious concern for the world. This is where Tohoku, a major agricultural region, has a role to play. The key is finding solutions to such pressing issues facing humanity and communicating them to the world. Such efforts should start not from Tokyo or other large cities, but from rural communities and regions. This way, we can open new horizons for Akita as well.

“Young people should always consider what problems everyone is facing and what needs to be done to develop their communities. And they should think outside the box to find creative solutions. You can’t change anything if you just give up, thinking it’s impossible. Decide that you’ll find a way to do it, then keep racking your brains, challenging yourselves, and persevering through trial and error. Having that passion will change the times. That is the mission of youth.”

Wishing to entrust them with the future, Shin’ichi continued: “Today Tohoku and Hokkaido are known as rice-growing areas, but in days past, cultivating rice in such cold climates was thought too difficult. Yet people made it happen by working hard over many decades to improve rice varieties.

“In a similar vein, one of our members in the Dominican Republic, after a great deal of ingenuity and effort, succeeded in using rice to replicate awaokoshi [a traditional Japanese sweet made with puffed millet].

“In Akita, for instance, you might want to think about what you can do with all this snow! If someone could come up with a really good idea, it would have a major impact on Akita. Earnestly challenging each issue is key. You can open the way to a brighter future only through all-out efforts.”

Once we decide that we will improve things, our potential expands limitlessly, and new doors will open.

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“When you try to achieve or improve something,” Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued, “you are sure to hit roadblocks and face contradictions. Indeed, the world is full of contradictions. We just have to keep forging ahead day after day with wisdom and perseverance. Even more so as we navigate the new and uncharted course to worldwide kosen-rufu. It is an undertaking fraught with difficulty. You have to take initiative with a self-reliant spirit!

“You all need to become Shin’ichi Yamamotos. If all of you stand up with that awareness, the 21st century will be a century of boundless hope. Let’s make tomorrow’s prefecture youth division general meeting the kickoff.”

In the January 14 Seikyo Shimbun, a headline proclaiming “Proud Akita Members Brave Snow, Joyfully Turning Winter into Spring” ran across the second and third pages, with the two group photos that Shin’ichi had taken with members in the snow the previous day filling both.

Snow continued to fall heavily on January 14, the temperature below freezing all day. Inside the Akita Culture Center, Shin’ichi composed poems for pioneer members who had made important contributions to kosen-rufu, and inscribed calligraphies of the names of local chapters.

The lives of those who exert themselves fully each moment, day after day, shine like gold.

Shin’ichi also encouraged Joryo Komatsuda, the first district leader of Ota Area in Semboku County, and his wife, Miyo, who had come to the culture center.

“I am praying for your health and long life. Your being healthy and well is a source of pride for everyone. Please look after our members.”

Later on, Shin’ichi went out to see an igloo-like snow hut, known as a kamakura, that Sanno Chapter members and others had built in a corner of the park fronting the center. Such snow huts are a central feature of the traditional winter Kamakura Festival, held in the Yokote region of Akita and in other parts of Japan.

Earlier, when Shin’ichi was inside the center inscribing calligraphies, he had seen the members through the window working hard on the kamakura in the falling snow. Shin’ichi was moved by the thoughtfulness of these noble members who wished to show him one of the beautiful winter traditions of Akita. He wanted to respond to their sincerity with his own.

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto quickly composed a poem expressing his gratitude to those who were building the kamakura, and he inscribed it on a decorative card to present to them.

The joy of seeing
young friends building
a kamakura—
a song of spring
in Akita.

He later went out to see the snow hut with his wife, Mineko.

The interior was about 7 square meters (75 square feet). A carpet had been laid and candles lit.

“I’ve wanted to go inside a kamakura since I was a child,” Shin’ichi said to their guide. “I am delighted to have my dream come true today.”

As he and Mineko sat inside and sipped warm amazake,[25] they heard children’s delightful voices singing, “It’s snowing, it’s sleeting …” It was a chorus of local boys and girls division members.

Shin’ichi went out to greet them.

“Thank you,” he said, shaking their hands. He then posed for a photograph with them.

He also took photos with junior high school students, a group of young women from Iwate Prefecture, and others.

He thanked and praised those who had built the snow hut, naming them the Kamakura Group.

Trying to make even the briefest encounter a source of fresh, lasting inspiration is the true spirit of encouragement in faith.

Known in the Soka Gakkai as the “champion of Japan’s northwestern coast” and the “champion of Tohoku,” Akita Prefecture was about to take off toward the future. On the evening of January 14, as snow fell, 1,500 representatives from throughout the prefecture joyfully gathered for the 1st Prefecture Youth Division General Meeting at the Akita Culture Center, where Shin’ichi was based during his visit.

At the meeting, it was announced that the 1st World Youth Conference on Agriculture would take place in Akita in September, and that a Friendship Sports Festival would be held at an outdoor venue the following May [1983].

It was also announced that, at Shin’ichi’s suggestion, the general meeting’s participants would be named the “1st Class of 2001,” with the goal of advancing together toward May 3, 2001.

These announcements thrilled everyone, and with hearts full of hope, they all renewed their determinations.

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Late that afternoon, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had visited a pioneer family at their home, his fifth such visit since arriving in Akita. Now, back at the center, he looked forward to meeting the members of the youth division, who would shoulder the future.

On joining the meeting, he took group photos with young men and young women in two separate sessions to commemorate the establishment of the 1st Class of 2001. Wishing to entrust everything to them, he sat down before the microphone.

“How we use our time is one of the crucial issues in life. Someone once said that the key to success in life is how you use the hours after work, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

“Naturally, you need to do your best at your job, but carrying out activities you believe in after work will without question make all the difference in your life. For us, those are the hours we devote to our Soka Gakkai activities.

“These actions are for the lasting happiness and prosperity of ourselves and others, a way to contribute to the community and build enduring peace in the world. They give us joy and allow us to discover the true meaning of life. Through such consistent actions, we break down the walls of loneliness and alienation in today’s society and bring people’s hearts together.

“Please keep striving all your lives and never stray from this path of Soka Gakkai activities.”

Shin’ichi’s voice grew more impassioned: “I fully entrust the future of kosen-rufu to you, the youth. The next 10 years will therefore be a time of major transition for our movement, so forge and train yourselves through study and effort.

“In particular, I would like you to gain a thorough grounding in the principles of Nichiren Buddhism, a philosophy for living. All outstanding people have applied themselves, working and studying harder than anyone else. Now, as philosophers and leaders of the people, you need to practice and deeply study the teachings of Buddhism, the foundation for all things. That is the noble path to victory as a human being.”

At that moment, the seeds of a vow were planted in the hearts of the Akita and Tohoku youth. It was a vow to make cheers of victory resound in the 21st century.

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No matter how the times may change, if a steady stream of young people appears on the stage of kosen-rufu, the mighty river of Soka is sure to swell and flow on, long into the future.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto called out in his heart: “Youth! I am entrusting you with the Soka Gakkai, kosen-rufu, the world and the 21st century!”

The Japanese author Shugoro Yamamoto (1903–67) wrote, “What will grow will grow, no matter how harsh the elements.”[26]

Shin’ichi believed that these young people would play active roles as leaders of the new century, expanding the circle of trust and friendship in society and multiplying the ranks of capable successors.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Even one seed, when planted, multiplies” (“A Robe and an Unlined Robe,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 602).

Shin’ichi continued to sow the seeds of inspiration, commitment and courage in the hearts of youth. It was an intense effort into which he poured his entire being. But without it, there was no hope for a brighter future.

The harder we strive to foster people, the more the garden of beautiful human flowers will expand.

On January 15, Shin’ichi attended a gongyo session with Akita and Oita prefecture representatives to commemorate their new sister relationship. He then departed from the Akita Culture Center.

On the way to the airport, he asked the bus driver to pass by the Akita Community Center, where an exhibition about his peace efforts was being held.

As they neared the center, he could see several dozen young people waiting out in front. They held a large banner that greeted him with the words “Thank You, Sensei!” emblazoned in red. Smiling, Shin’ichi waved enthusiastically.

The young people waved back and called out: “Thank you!” “Akita will fight hard!” “Please come again!”

Though just a brief encounter through a bus window, it was a heart-to-heart dialogue, an unforgettable moment that would endure forever like a beautiful painting.

Shin’ichi felt sure that these six days in Akita would shine brightly in the history of kosen-rufu as a vital chapter in the drama of the Soka Gakkai’s counteroffensive in response to the priesthood’s oppression.

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Shortly after returning from his guidance tour in Akita, Shin’ichi Yamamoto left to visit Ibaraki Prefecture on February 7.

Ibaraki had also experienced a storm of despicable attacks against the Soka Gakkai by Shoshin-kai priests. The Kashima Area Headquarters in particular had battled to protect the members from those onslaughts. In Kashima, Itako, Ushibori, Hasaki and other places, many members, deceived by the priests’ rhetoric, had quit the organization to become active anti–Soka Gakkai danto members.

Though the priests continued to malign the Soka Gakkai at the monthly temple Gosho lectures, funerals and other Buddhist services, the members bravely endured.

In February 1979, a temple the Soka Gakkai had built and donated to Nichiren Shoshu opened at Kamisu in the Kashima area. Members hoped that, at least at this temple, they would hear pure messages about faith. But at the opening and Gohonzon-enshrining ceremony, the newly appointed chief priest accused the Soka Gakkai of slandering the Law. His actions trampled on the members’ sincerity, on their prayers and efforts for kosen-rufu and for harmonious relations between priesthood and laity. Anti–Soka Gakkai criticism and attacks also intensified in Ryugasaki and the area south of Mount Tsukuba (present-day Tsukuba City).

Most regrettable for members was that some of their comrades in faith, with whom until just days before they had spoken of working together for kosen-rufu throughout their lives, were led astray in faith and changed completely, unaware they were being manipulated by wicked priests.

“The truth will come out in the end! We must show that the Soka Gakkai is in the right!” With that vow, members resolved to work hard for kosen-rufu and bring springtime to their communities. They often sang the Soka Gakkai prefecture song “A Life of Victory,” the lyrics of which Shin’ichi had composed for them in October 1978.

My friend, though it may be hard now, someday
the golden winds of kosen-rufu will blow
and you will raise joyous cheers of victory
that resound through the heavens.
Ah, champions abound in Ibaraki.

Each line clearly conveyed Shin’ichi’s hope and prayer. Everyone’s heart brimmed with the determination to become a champion and remain undefeated.

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On the afternoon of February 7, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited the Soka Gakkai Mito Women’s Center and then went to the Ibaraki Culture Center in the city to attend a prefectural representatives meeting celebrating the building’s opening.

“During this visit, I’d like to meet as many members as possible, give them hope-inspiring goals and make a fresh start toward the new century,” he said at the meeting.

The next day, February 8, he attended a prefectural leaders meeting commemorating the center’s opening. There, he spoke about the fundamental reason some Soka Gakkai leaders had quit practicing.

“Common to those who have lost the pure spirit of faith is arrogance. That, I believe, is the leading cause.

“In fact, arrogance and cowardice or laziness are two sides of the same coin. That’s why arrogant people don’t take responsibility for kosen-rufu and avoid new challenges or hardships. As a result, they don’t progress or grow. Their faith stagnates, their ego takes over and anger fills their lives. In many cases, this leads them to undermine kosen-rufu.

“And arrogant people, almost invariably, neglect gongyo. Consumed by arrogance, they take the basics of faith lightly.

“Some who become leaders at a young age and are put in a position to give guidance succumb to the illusion that they are more capable than they really are. They grow arrogant and look down on others. But a position doesn’t make you an outstanding person. You become outstanding when you fulfill the mission and responsibilities of that position through hard work.

“Never forget that a position is just a position, and that everyone has a unique mission or role to play. Only when all sorts of people unite and work together can kosen-rufu advance. Your position has nothing to do with being above or superior to anyone.

“Over more than 30 years, I have observed many members. As a result, I can say that schemers don’t last long. The cunning always reach a dead end. The self-serving are easily swayed.

“In the end, it is those with a seeking spirit, with sincere and steady faith and whose daily lives are firmly grounded who are victors in life.”

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On February 9, a gongyo session took place to celebrate the Ibaraki Culture Center’s opening. Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended that meeting, too, and encouraged 2,000 members from Mito, Kashima and Hitachi: “Another name for the Buddha is ‘Hero of the World’—one who bravely and vigorously guides people in the real world. That’s why we, as disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, must become capable leaders who win people’s trust amid society’s stormy seas.

“Yet another name for the Buddha is ‘One Who Can Endure.’ This is a person who appears in the saha world, a realm of endurance, in an evil age stained with the five impurities,[27] and can endure wickedness and embrace others with compassion. When we reflect on the great persecutions the Daishonin faced, our difficulties are minor indeed. Faith requires perseverance. As the Daishonin’s disciples, establish strong, unwavering faith! Take on the storms of reality, endure them and raise the banner of victory in life!”

On February 10, Shin’ichi went to Hitachi City and attended a gongyo session commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Hitachi Community Center.

He said to the members: “Tokugawa Mitsukuni, the second lord of the Mito domain, once saw the sun rising over the ocean here and described it as the most spectacular view in the entire region. That led to the area being called ‘Hitachi,’ or ‘rising sun.’ For this reason, I propose we change the way we write the name for our Hitachi Zone, replacing the existing characters with these for ‘rising sun.’”

Everyone applauded happily.

On February 11, Shin’ichi took a group photograph with the 3,500 participants of the Ibaraki Prefecture Youth Division General Meeting in the Sunrise Garden on the Ibaraki Culture Center’s grounds. Two new groups were formed—the Ibaraki Young Men’s Division Year 2000 Group and the Ibaraki Young Women’s Division Year 2000 Group.

That same day, Shin’ichi visited the Kashima Community Center for the first time. Kashima was an area where the troubles with the priesthood had been especially acute. At the center, he solemnly led a gongyo session commemorating the birthday of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, and afterward attended a conference at Hokota with representatives of the Kashima Area Headquarters.

The following day, February 12, Shin’ichi drove to Tsuchiura by way of Ishioka to attend a gongyo session commemorating the third anniversary of the Tsuchiura Culture Center. He also joined in a group photo with those participating outside. He devoted every moment to encouraging members.

After that, Shin’ichi kept up his busy pace. He traveled to towns and cities all over Japan to meet with fellow members, the precious children of the Buddha. These champions of Soka had stayed true to the noble path of kosen-rufu while enduring the attacks of authoritarian priests. He wanted to commend and encourage them so they could raise cheers of victory in the shared struggle of mentor and disciples.

The members had won. They had overcome another towering trial. Their song of triumph resounded in the skies of hope.

This concludes “Cheers of Victory,” chapter 5 of volume 30 of The New Human Revolution.


  1. Confucius, The Analects, translated by D. C. Lau (London: Penguin Books, 1979), p. 63 ↩︎
  2. Named after the famous whirlpools found in the Naruto Strait off the northeast coast of Tokushima Prefecture. ↩︎
  3. Naruto is a port city located some 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Tokushima City. ↩︎
  4. Lines from one of the most popular versions of original Japanese lyrics that were created for the choral section of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and that were not translations of Schiller’s poem. This version was composed by Toichiro Iwasa (1905–74). ↩︎
  5. Translated from Japanese. Masaoka Shiki, Byosho Rokushaku (A Six-Foot Sickbed) (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1927), pp. 67–68. ↩︎
  6. The four prefectures of Shikoku are Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. ↩︎
  7. “Oko Kikigaki” (The Recorded Lectures); not included in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vols. 1 or 2. ↩︎
  8. From “Hyaku Rokka Sho” (The One Hundred and Six Comparisons); not included in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vols. 1 and 2. ↩︎
  9. Five impurities: Also, five defilements. Impurity of the age, of desire, of living beings, of thought (or view), and of life span. This term appears in the “Expedient Means” (2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. (1) Impurity of the age includes repeated disruptions of the social or natural environment. (2) Impurity of desire is the tendency to be ruled by the five delusive inclinations, i.e., greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance, and doubt. (3) Impurity of living beings is the physical and spiritual decline of human beings. (4) Impurity of thought, or impurity of view, is the prevalence of wrong views such as the five false views. (5) Impurity of life span is the shortening of the life spans of living beings. ↩︎
  10. Dante Alighieri, The Convivio of Dante Alighieri (London: J. M. Dent and Co., 1903), p. 350. ↩︎
  11. Worms within the lion’s body: A metaphor for those who, despite being followers of Buddhism, destroy its teachings, just as worms within the body of the lion devour it. ↩︎
  12. This scene appears in the “Justice” chapter in volume 27 of The New Human Revolution. ↩︎
  13. Paraphrase of a passage in “The Teacher of the Law” (10th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎
  14. Translated from Japanese. Sekai Kyoiku Hoten—Nihon Kyoiku-hen: Hosoi Heishu Shu, Hirose Tanso Shu (Treasury of World Education—Japanese Education: Hosoi Heishu and Hirose Tanso), (Tokyo: Tamagawa Daigaku Shuppan-bu, 1968), p. 207. ↩︎
  15. Translated from German. Friedrich Hölderlin, “Das Schicksal” (Destiny), in Friedrich Hölderlin Gedichte (Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin), Friedrich Hölderlin Sämtliche Werke und Briefe (Collected Works and Letters of Friedrich Hölderlin), edited by Jochen Schmidt, vol. 1 (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1992), p. 158. ↩︎
  16. The poem was later revised by the author in 1999. ↩︎
  17. Romain Rolland, “Danton,” in The Fourteenth of July and Danton: Two Plays of the French Revolution, translated by Barrett H. Clark (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1918), p. 199. ↩︎
  18. Amakusa Shiro: A 17th-century Catholic who led an uprising of peasants against the shogunate, which prohibited Christianity. The uprising was soon quashed, and Amakusa was executed at age 17. He is admired as a heroic figure in Japanese. ↩︎
  19. At the time, “Kusaki wa Moyuru” was the song of the Tokyo Soka Junior and Senior High Schools’ young men’s dormitory. It became the official school song in September 1983. ↩︎
  20. Satsuma Rebellion: Rebellion which lasted from January to September 1877. The last major armed uprising in Japan. Former samurai of the Satsuma domain (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture), under the leadership of Saigo Takamori (1828–77), rose up to protest reforms of the new Meiji government, which abolished the samurai class and accompanying privileges, thus undermining the samurai’s traditional way of life and standard of living. The rebellion was crushed by the government’s conscript army, bringing to an end to the samurai’s power. ↩︎
  21. The poem was composed in September 1971. ↩︎
  22. The center was later renamed the Meguro International Culture Center. ↩︎
  23. Translated from Portuguese. João Guimarães Rosa, Grande Sertão: Veredas (Rio de Janeiro: Livraria José Olympio Editôra, 1958), p. 301. ↩︎
  24. Later named the Akita Central Culture Center. ↩︎
  25. A traditional sweet, nonalcoholic drink made of fermented rice. ↩︎
  26. Translated from Japanese. Shugoro Yamamoto, Yamamoto Shugoro kara no Tegami (Letters from Shugoro Yamamoto), edited by Yuzo Toki (Tokyo: Miraisha, 1984), p. 34. ↩︎
  27. Five impurities: Also, five defilements. Impurity of the age, of desire, of living beings, of thought (or view), and of life span. This term appears in the “Expedient Means” (2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. (1) Impurity of the age includes repeated disruptions of the social or natural environment. (2) Impurity of desire is the tendency to be ruled by the five delusive inclinations, i.e., greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance, and doubt. (3) Impurity of living beings is the physical and spiritual decline of human beings. (4) Impurity of thought, or impurity of view, is the prevalence of wrong views such as the five false views. (5) Impurity of life span is the shortening of the life spans of living beings. ↩︎

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