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. “Launching Out” is the third chapter of volume 30, the final volume of The New Human Revolution. Ikeda Sensei appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.
Beijing was bathed in bright sunshine. The tranquil rural landscape surrounding the airport spoke of springtime in the capital.
At 2:30 p.m. on April 21, 1980, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the rest of the Fifth Soka Gakkai Delegation to China arrived at Beijing airport.
This was Shin’ichi’s first overseas trip since stepping down as Soka Gakkai president. He was determined to solidify the golden bridge of friendship between China and Japan that had been built through grassroots exchange and to continue expanding the great path of lasting peace toward the 21st century.
China-Japan Friendship Association Vice President Sun Pinghua, who met the delegation at the airport, remarked to Shin’ichi: “For the last two or three days, Beijing has been covered in clouds of yellow dust. You couldn’t see an inch in front of you. The winds finally stopped yesterday evening. Today, the weather is springlike and the skies are blue. Nature is celebrating your arrival.”
The formal invitation from the China-Japan Friendship Association had expressed the hope of welcoming the Soka Gakkai delegation “in the warmth of spring when the flowers are in bloom,” and the weather on this day perfectly matched that description.
For a moment, Shin’ichi thought of the situation affecting the Soka Gakkai in Japan. The extreme and unrelenting attacks by the young priests of Nichiren Shoshu, he mused, were like swirling clouds of yellow dust, but they could not continue forever. Shin’ichi was confident that once the Soka Gakkai rode through this storm, a new hopeful future for kosen-rufu would arrive, as bright and clear as today’s blue skies.
A large embroidered tapestry of a waterfall was hanging on the wall of the airport VIP room to which they were escorted. It depicted the great waterfall that lies upstream from the Dragon Gate rapids or falls in the Yellow River. According to legend, carp that succeed in climbing these are transformed into dragons. This is the origin of the Japanese expression tō-ryūmon—literally, “climbing the Dragon Gate”—meaning “the gateway to success in life.”
The Daishonin employed the story of the Dragon Gate in a number of his writings as a metaphor for our Buddhist practice and the difficulty of attaining Buddhahood.
The delegation members gazed intently at the tapestry, thinking of the Soka Gakkai’s history of surmounting countless raging rapids.
On the morning of April 22, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the other delegation members viewed an exhibition on the life and achievements of the late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai at the National Museum of Chinese History. After that, at the invitation of Deng Yingchao, the premier’s widow and vice chairperson of China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Shin’ichi, his wife Mineko and several other leaders visited Madame Deng at her residence, Xihuating (Western Flower Hall), in the Zhongnanhai area of Beijing.
She showed them around her garden, where beautiful crab apples and lilacs were in bloom. Afterward, in the living room where Premier Zhou had welcomed important foreign guests, Shin’ichi conversed with Madame Deng for 90 minutes, engaging in an animated exchange that included sharing their memories of the late premier. It was their first meeting in a year, their last having taken place at Japan’s State Guesthouse in April 1979.
In the afternoon, during a welcome banquet at the Great Hall of the People, they again discussed Premier Zhou’s life, and Madame Deng related the moving story of having scattered her late husband’s ashes from an airplane.
“When we were young,” she said, “Comrade Enlai and I pledged to devote our lives to serving the people. In our later years, to stay true to that pledge even in death, we agreed that we would not have our ashes stored somewhere.”
Storing their ashes would have entailed building a tomb or burial monument, which would have required both land and labor. That would not be serving the people, they felt. But if their ashes were scattered over the land, they would become nutrients for plants and thus be of use to the people. This idea, however, ran completely against Chinese customs and traditions, and carrying it out was a truly revolutionary act.
“When Comrade Enlai grew very ill and could only stand with the support of two nurses, he said to me: ‘You must carry out our pledge.’ After he died, my only request to the Central Committee was that they not preserve his ashes but rather scatter them around the nation. Chairman Mao Zedong and the Central Committee agreed to my request, and I was able to keep my promise to Comrade Enlai.”
The story symbolized Premier Zhou’s thoroughgoing service to the people.
A wish or intention becomes real when put into action, and becomes a genuine commitment when carried through to the end.
On the afternoon of April 22, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the Soka Gakkai delegation visited Peking University, where they were welcomed by Vice President Ji Xianlin and others. An academic exchange agreement between Peking University and Soka University was signed in the Lin Hu Xuan Reception Hall on campus. On that occasion, the Chinese university announced its decision to confer the title of honorary professor on Shin’ichi.
After expressing his appreciation for this honor, Shin’ichi delivered a special lecture in which he shared his observations on China and his vision for a new perspective on the people.
Shin’ichi noted that Kojiro Yoshikawa, a respected scholar of Chinese literature, had described China as a civilization without gods, and that it seemed to be one of the earliest countries in the world to divest itself of mythology.
He then went on to recount an episode from the life of the great Chinese historian Sima Qian (Ssu’ma Ch’ien). Sima Qian incurred the wrath of Emperor Wu and was punished with castration for speaking in defense of Li Ling, a general who had been captured by enemy forces. This, Shin’ichi said, made the historian question the validity of the so-called Way of Heaven, which was meant to reward good and punish evil. Shin’ichi argued that this is an example of the tendency underlying Chinese civilization to view the universal in terms of the particular, since Sima Qian questioned the supposed universal Way of Heaven based on his personal tragedy.
In contrast, Shin’ichi suggested, until the end of the 19th century, Western civilization tended to view the particular in terms of the universal, never questioning the concept of an absolute, universal deity exercising divine providence. In other words, it contemplated the human and natural worlds through the prism of the concept of God. Trying to directly apply that viewpoint to peoples of completely different histories and traditions had led to coercion and, ultimately, contributed to aggressive and discriminatory colonialism in the name of God.
Shin’ichi then stressed the importance of seeing reality for what it is and striving to discover the universal principles underlying it. China, he said, had a tradition of following this approach. He added that the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee had spoken of the universalist attitude that the Chinese people had developed in the course of their long history. Shin’ichi also voiced his hope for the emergence of people with a new awareness who would play the leading role in developing a new universalism.
Shin’ichi believed in China’s tremendous energy and potential. That is why he visited it repeatedly out of a wish to promote friendship between China and Japan, as well as stability in Asia.
After the lecture at Peking University, a presentation of books was made to Sichuan University. Initially, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had planned to visit Sichuan University in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, but his tight schedule had not made it possible, and the ceremony was held at Peking University instead.
Shin’ichi handed Sichuan University Vice President Du Wenke a small selection of books along with a complete catalogue of the 1,000 titles being presented, and applause rang out. It marked the start of a fresh collaboration in promoting educational and cultural exchange.
On the morning of April 23, at the Beijing Hotel where he was staying, Shin’ichi met and spoke with Chang Shuhong, director of the Dunhuang Cultural Relics Research Institute (later the Dunhuang Academy), and his wife, Li Chengxian.
Seventy-six years old, Chang Shuhong was an eminent international authority on the art of Dunhuang and research on the Silk Road, as well as a member of the Fifth National People’s Congress. He had just returned to China from West Germany the day before, but he didn’t appear the least bit fatigued.
Shin’ichi opened their conversation by asking Director Chang what had set him on the path to becoming a researcher of Dunhuang. His answer was quite interesting.
In 1927, when he was 23 years old, he went to France to study painting. While in Paris, he came across a book of photographs of Dunhuang and was astounded by the beauty of its art. Before then, he had known nothing about Dunhuang, even though it was located in his own country. That a place of such wonderful art and culture was so little known seemed wrong to him. In 1936, he set everything aside and returned to China to devote himself to preserving and studying the art of Dunhuang and introducing it to the world.
In 1943, he finally realized his cherished dream of going to Dunhuang, doing so as a member of the advance party tasked with establishing a research center there. And now he had spent the last 37 years living in Dunhuang, dedicating himself to preserving and restoring its cultural relics.
“The great art of Dunhuang was created over the course of a millennium. But its finest treasures were taken out of the country by foreign explorers.”
As he said this, Director Chang’s face showed his deep regret. He had managed to transform that sorrow into a passion and commitment to study and preserve the site.
Unflagging commitment is the driving force for great achievement.
When Chang Shuhong began living near the Mogao caves in Dunhuang, it was an extremely remote and isolated area surrounded by desert. Buying living essentials meant traveling to a town 25 kilometers (15 miles) away—and, of course, he had no car of his own.
For a bed, he laid a thin woven mat on a platform of handmade clay bricks, which he topped with a makeshift mattress of straw covered with cloth. There wasn’t even a satisfactory source of drinking water. In the winter, the temperature often dropped to below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit).
There were no medical facilities nearby. Tragically, when his younger daughter fell ill, she died five days later.
A painter, who had been doing research in Dunhuang since before Chang’s arrival, wryly observed when he left that living there was like serving a life sentence. But Chang Shuhong described his sentiments at the time: “I felt that if I could receive a life sentence in this vast expanse of ancient Buddhist culture, I would gladly accept it.”
Those who have made a firm commitment are strong. Having decided to press ahead through all kinds of hardships and challenges, they are able to accomplish what they set out to do and be victorious in life. That is also the Buddhist way of life, which is why Nichiren Daishonin tells us: “[Do not] expect good times, but take the bad times for granted” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 998).
Forgotten, buried in sand, and exposed to erosion by wind and sand for centuries, the Mogao caves were in danger of collapsing. It was under these conditions that work was being done to preserve and restore the wall paintings and sculptures inside the caves.
The first step was to plant trees to block the wind and sand. It was an arduous and seemingly endless task. But, eventually, Chang Shuhong’s efforts paid off, and the Dunhuang Cultural Relics Research Institute won international acclaim for its endeavors.
That day in Beijing, Shin’ichi and Director Chang enjoyed a lively conversation, finding themselves in deep accord. They would go on to meet and speak a total of seven times, their last encounter in 1992. A book based on their discussions, titled The Brilliance of Dunhuang, was compiled and published in Japanese in 1990.
Their ongoing dialogue was inspired by their impassioned wish to open a new “Silk Road” of friendship and spiritual culture leading into the future.
In November 1990, an exhibition of paintings by Chang Shuhong opened at the Fuji Art Museum in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture.
One painting in particular stood out—a giant canvas more than three meters tall and five meters wide (10ft x 16ft) titled “Chomolungma Peak” “Chomolungma,” meaning “Goddess Mother of the Land,” is the Tibetan name for Mount Everest.
The painting depicts the magnificent, snow-blanketed peak of Everest towering to the heavens, with people climbing toward its lofty summit.
It was an immortal masterpiece, which Chang Shuhong had painted with his wife and fellow artist, Li Chengxian. They created it immediately following the Cultural Revolution, when conditions were at their harshest and it was almost impossible to acquire painting supplies. And they had done so with a vow to endure those difficulties and aim together for the summit of the world of art.
Shin’ichi spoke with the couple, who had come to Japan for the exhibition. During this, his sixth meeting with Chang Shuhong, the latter said he wished to present this great masterpiece, the crystallization of enormous efforts, to Shin’ichi. It was a very precious painting, into which the couple poured their heart and soul. Shin’ichi protested that he couldn’t possibly accept it, saying the thought was more than enough.
But Chang insisted that there was no more fitting recipient for the painting than Shin’ichi, adding: “During the Cultural Revolution, we were subjected to unspeakable indignities. Our lives were shut in darkness, without a single ray of light. But by creating this painting, we were able to spread wings of hope that could not be bound by authority, and soar high into the sky. After its completion, we were filled with a fresh sense of hope.
“You have given hope to countless individuals. That’s why I think presenting this painting to you is completely appropriate.”
While feeling that Chang praised him too highly, Shin’ichi also thought he should respond to this sincere gesture by the director and his wife. He, therefore, humbly accepted the painting as a representative of all Soka Gakkai members, who were engaged in a struggle to illuminate humanity with the light of hope.
With regard to this gift, Chang Shuhong and his wife, Li Chengxian, expressed their desire to create a new version of the painting. The materials they had used in producing the original in the immediate post–Cultural Revolution period, they explained, were of poor quality, and they wanted to ensure that they presented Shin’ichi Yamamoto with a work that would last into the future.
Shin’ichi was humbled by their sincerity.
On its completion, they presented Shin’ichi with the new painting, which was the same size as the first. A special unveiling ceremony was held in April 1992. Later, it would be named an important treasure of the Soka Gakkai and adorn the first-floor lobby of the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji, welcoming members from around the world who were striving earnestly to impart the light of hope to all humanity.
The friendly exchange between Shin’ichi and Dunhuang, initiated through meeting Chang Shuhong, continued to grow and flourish. In October 1985, the “Treasures from Dunhuang, China” exhibition opened at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. After that, it traveled to four other cities, introducing the art of Dunhuang to a wide audience throughout Japan. In a gesture of appreciation for Shin’ichi’s support, the Dunhuang Academy included his portrait among a display of distinguished contributors at the entrance to the Mogao Caves.
In 1992, the Dunhuang Academy named Shin’ichi an honorary research fellow; and in 1994, it presented him with a bronze medal in recognition of his profound understanding and ongoing support for its work to protect and preserve the ancient cultural relics of Dunhuang.
During his 1980 visit to China, Shin’ichi and the other delegation members met with Communist Party chairman and premier Hua Guofeng on the evening of April 24.
In the Great Hall of the People, Shin’ichi and Premier Hua conversed for some 90 minutes, discussing China’s new Ten-Year Plan, the Cultural Revolution, the problem of bureaucratization, education for a new generation and many other topics.
Premier Hua said to Shin’ichi with a smile: “I believe that this is your fifth visit to China. I have heard your name mentioned before as an old friend of China.
“Like me, there are many people who, though they’ve never met you, know about you and the Soka Gakkai. I have also seen a Soka Gakkai film about your organization’s activities.”
Premier Hua was aware of the Soka Gakkai’s grassroots movement based on human revolution. The key to building a sound society is the inner transformation or reformation of people themselves.
In his conversation with Shin’ichi Yamamoto, Premier Hua Guofeng spoke of the challenge of meeting the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing for China’s more than one billion people. Given the particularly serious problem of ensuring sufficient food production, he said, China’s goal was to establish agriculture as the foundation of the national economy. The improvement of the livelihood of farmers, he added, would increase their purchasing power, and this in turn would also contribute to industrial development.
Premier Hua’s words gave Shin’ichi a fresh appreciation of the challenges the Chinese leaders were facing as they searched for a way to protect the livelihoods of the country’s huge population.
Government means dealing with realities. People’s lives depend on it. Idealistic theories unrelated to reality are nothing but empty abstractions. When policymakers set the way for steady, practical reform and improvements, they will also win the support and approval of the people.
Shin’ichi inquired about the premier’s thoughts on the tendency for bureaucratism to set in once a revolution has been achieved, creating a gap between the people and their government.
Premier Hua replied that rectifying bureaucratism was an important challenge in carrying out the Four Modernizations, and spoke of the need to educate officials, reform institutions, and promote public oversight.
Any organization will descend into rigid bureaucratism if its leaders forget their purpose of serving the people and begin to act out of self-interest. Leaders of the people, especially, need to always take their place at the front lines of the organization, live their lives with the people, and strive and work together with them. They must engage in human revolution, constantly returning to their original purpose and developing their own lives, while reflecting on themselves and exercising self-discipline.
Premier Hua was scheduled to visit Japan at the end of May. During their conversation in Beijing, Shin’ichi and the Chinese leader confirmed the importance of solidifying the golden bridge of friendship connecting China and Japan.
While visiting Beijing, Shin’ichi also met and spoke with a young Chinese woman who had studied at Soka University as an international student and returned home to China that spring.
The present moment never comes again. Determined not to let a second slip by, Shin’ichi met with as many people as possible. He put his whole heart into talking with them and encouraging them, forging and deepening friendships.
The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote: “It is important, first and foremost, to live in the present moment, in one’s present circumstances, in the best possible way.”
On April 25, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the rest of his delegation left Beijing, flying to Guilin via Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province.
The next day, they headed by car to Yangdi, where they then walked through the misty rain to the pier on the Li River. When they emerged from a bamboo grove, several children by the riverside approached them. Among them were two young girls selling medicines and carrying their wares on shoulder poles.
They were calling out to passersby: “We have every kind of medicine. Please choose anything you’d like.”
Simply dressed, they wore their hair in braids without any ornaments. Their bright eyes made a delightful impression.
Smiling, Shin’ichi pointed to his head and said jokingly: “Do you have any medicine that will make us smarter?”
One of the girls replied without any sign of hesitation: “We’ve just run out of it, I’m afraid.” She broke into a wide grin.
It was a witty comeback, and everyone burst into laughter.
With a shrug, Shin’ichi said: “Well, that’s very unfortunate for our poor brains!”
Shin’ichi and his wife, Mineko, bought some ointments from the girls to give as souvenirs when they got back to Japan.
The girl must have honed her wit through the many encounters she had with people while selling her wares.
Children are the precious treasures of society; they are a mirror reflecting the future. Seeing them growing strongly and vigorously, like trees putting down solid roots into the earth, gave Shin’ichi hope for the 21st century. He renewed his pledge to promote educational and cultural exchange for the sake of these children.
Accompanied by Guilin’s deputy mayor and others, the delegation took a boat ride down the Li River from Yangdi to Yangshuo, a journey of about two and a half hours, enjoying a lively conversation along the way.
The beautiful scenery of Guilin inspired the great Tang poet Han Yu to sing: “The river is a blue silk ribbon; the mountains, like jade hairpins.”
Fantastically shaped cliffs rose along both sides of the river as the boat sailed through an enchanted realm veiled in white mist.
The Li River was at its most beautiful in the misty rain, explained China-Japan Friendship Association Vice President Sun Pinghua, who was accompanying Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his party. Yet even as the group savored the poetic beauty of Guilin, the conversation turned to current international events.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late December the previous year (1979) sparked intense criticism in China. Some Chinese officials took a dim view of Shin’ichi’s visits to the Soviet Union to promote friendship and engage in dialogues with its leaders.
During the riverboat conversation, one official said: “You have worked to build a ‘golden bridge of friendship’ between China and Japan, but you’ll undermine relations between our two countries if you visit the Soviet Union. We’d prefer that you not go.”
Shin’ichi was grateful for that frank opinion, but he could not agree with it.
“I understand your feelings, but the times are changing dramatically. As we approach the 21st century, we must steer the world in the direction of peace for all humanity. This is no time for great powers to be antagonistic toward each other. We need a humanistic approach—a willingness to foster harmony while drawing forth one another’s good points and to work together in a spirit of mutual support and cooperation to create a new age.”
Though he did his best, he could not persuade all of the Chinese officials to his way of thinking, and the conversation kept returning to the question of which was more important, China or the Soviet Union.
The Li River flows on through the constantly changing scenery, until at last it reaches the sea, Shin’ichi thought. The times, too, he was sure, were moving toward the great ocean of peace for all humanity.
“I love China. China is important. At the same time, I love human beings. Humanity as a whole is important. Soviet leaders have told me that they would never attack China, and I have conveyed that message to your country’s leaders. I want China and the Soviet Union to get along. I’m sure you’ll see what I mean one day.”
That was his honest opinion and belief.
Persistent effort makes the impossible possible.
On the evening of April 26, at the Ronghu Hotel where he was staying, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with Li Luogong, president of the Guilin Art Academy and a professor at the Guangxi Arts Institute. President Li had studied in Japan and was a distinguished painter, calligrapher, and seal engraver.
They had a lively conversation about calligraphy and painting, and Shin’ichi was struck deeply by President Li’s observation: “Calligraphy is not writing for writing’s sake. It arises from one’s thoughts and feelings and expresses one’s view of the world and the universe, as well as one’s character.”
Three decades later, in April 2010, Guangxi Arts Institute bestowed a lifetime honorary professorship on Shin’ichi.
On the morning of April 27, the Soka Gakkai delegation left Guilin, journeying through Guangzhou to arrive in Shanghai that evening. This was the last stop on their visit to China.
The following morning, Shin’ichi attended a ceremony at the Shanghai Indoor Stadium, where the delegation presented a gift of sports equipment to Shanghai City. In the afternoon, he visited the Shanghai Changning District Correctional Work-Study School, a boarding school aimed at rehabilitating 16- and 17-year-old youth.
The school’s principal led Shin’ichi’s group on a tour of the classrooms.
Shin’ichi shook hands with the students one by one and spoke with them. Young people have boundless potential. Wishing for each one of them to lead strong, positive lives, he clasped their hands firmly and encouraged them with his whole heart.
He said to them: “Life is long. There might be times when you experience a setback for some reason or other, but you mustn’t let it cause you to lose hope. As long as you keep challenging yourself, there is hope.
“But if you give up on yourself and become self-destructive, you are extinguishing the light of hope through your own actions. No matter what happens, don’t be self-defeating. Winning over yourself leads to winning over everything.
“Study hard here at your school and become victorious—for society, for your parents, and for yourself. Achieve great development, never be disheartened, and be sure to come to Japan someday!”
Grasping the students’ hands tightly, he also told them: “It’s all a matter of perseverance. Don’t be defeated!”
The students nodded in agreement, determination sparkling in their eyes.
On the afternoon of April 28, Fudan University President Su Buqing came to see Shin’ichi at the Jin Jiang Hotel, where he was staying in Shanghai. Shin’ichi had visited Fudan University in 1975 and 1978 to donate books, and he and President Su were old friends.
President Su was a renowned mathematician, and on this day they once again discussed mathematics and education. During their conversation, Shin’ichi asked President Su if there was an easy way to teach the difficult subject of mathematics. The president’s reply impressed Shin’ichi.
“In everything,” he said, “the process must move from the shallow to the deep, the small to the big, the easy to the difficult. It’s possible to teach mathematics if you explain each step along the way carefully and patiently and help students master them.”
President Su went on to say emphatically: “In other words, the learner must take it a step at a time, skipping nothing, and master the subject gradually and steadily. Then one must just keep moving forward, aiming at one’s highest goal. There will be times along the way when one feels it’s impossible, and such moments are crucial. If you keep persevering and forging ahead, you will reach a point where the way opens before you. It may be something like attaining enlightenment.”
When you advance toward a goal, obstacles are certain to rise in your path, and that is the moment of truth when the struggle with yourself begins. By vanquishing your own inner weakness—the tendency to give up or compromise—and continuing to press onward, the situation will change for the better. Victors are those who practice self-mastery.
In the ensuing years, Shin’ichi stayed in regular touch with Su Buqing. They met and spoke in person on six occasions.
In June 1987, Shin’ichi presented Su Buqing, then honorary president of Fudan University, with a poem titled “The Great River of Peace,” in tribute to the friendship and trust they shared. The poem contained the lines:
Just as a great river
starts from a single drop of water,
let us advance together as single drops
creating a Yangtze River of peace.
Following his meeting with Su Buqing, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with the writer Ba Jin, who visited him that evening at the hotel.
Ba Jin was a prominent Chinese literary figure, internationally renowned for such works as Family and Cold Nights, who also served as first vice-chair of the China Writers Association. This was their second meeting.
They had first met at the Soka Gakkai Shizuoka Training Center on April 5, just before Shin’ichi’s trip to China, when Ba Jin was visiting Japan as head of a delegation of Chinese writers. Also present on that occasion was Bing Xin, one of the most famous women writers in modern Chinese literature, honorary chair of the China Writers Association and vice-head of the delegation visiting Japan. Together they had enjoyed a lively discussion on literature, the state of literary arts in Japan, and Japanese writers such as Murasaki Shikibu and Natsume Soseki.
Six days after that meeting (on April 11), Ba Jin was a guest speaker at a lecture series (in Kyoto) sponsored by the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper. In his speech, he declared: “I wrote to battle enemies.”
Throughout his career, the Chinese writer had wielded his fiery pen with a passionate wish to awaken those who, under the yoke of the feudal ethical code that pervaded China before the revolution [carried out in the first half of the 20th century], were trapped in a prison of suffering, robbed of their youth.
Ba Jin said: “What are my enemies? All the outdated, traditional notions, all the irrational policies and systems that hinder the progress of society and the development of human potential, everything that destroys love.”
He was 75, but still brimming with the spirit of a warrior battling the people’s enemies.
“I am deeply impressed by your youthful spirit,” Shin’ichi said to Ba Jin [at their meeting at the Shizuoka Training Center]. “One of Japan’s biggest problems today is that young people, who should be the flag bearers and agents of change, have grown apathetic, succumbing to resignation and escapism. The current state of literature is partly responsible for this. I find it truly regrettable that there are so few writers and books rich in philosophy and ideals that can provide young people with sound principles, great hope and lofty, eternal goals in life.
“It has always been the youth, the power of young people, that has changed society. They have a mission to create the future, and they possess the real ability to do so. They must not give up. For if they do, they are tossing away their own future.”
In their conversation in Japan, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had said to Ba Jin and the other visiting Chinese writers: “Next time, let’s discuss revolution and literature, politics and literature, peace and literature, and other such topics.” They all promised to meet again.
Shin’ichi had already reconnected with Bing Xin at a thank-you banquet in Beijing on April 24, which he held for his hosts during this most recent trip to China. Now, in Shanghai, he had the opportunity to meet with Ba Jin for the second time.
When Shin’ichi asked his thoughts on politics and literature, Ba Jin replied without hesitation: “Literature cannot be separated from politics. But politics can never replace literature. Literature can build the human spirit, but politics cannot do that.”
Next, they spoke about China’s Cultural Revolution.
During the Cultural Revolution, Ba Jin was labeled a counterrevolutionary and driven from the literary sphere. Thousands of posters condemning him were pasted up on walls, and he was denounced as a traitor. The Chinese writer stressed that it was important for him to seriously assess the suffering he had undergone, thoroughly analyze himself, and clarify what had happened at that time.
In his remarks at the lecture series in Japan earlier that month (on April 11), he said: “I have to write. I will continue to write. To do so, I must become a better, purer, and more useful person.
“My life will soon be over. I don’t want to leave without having done everything I must. I have to write; I cannot lay down my pen. I set my soul on fire with my pen, and when the flames burn my body to ashes, my love and hate will be left to endure forever in this world.”
We must not ignore the wrongs that take place in our world. We need to deeply contemplate their causes and essence and launch a struggle for a better future.
In his conversation with Shin’ichi, Ba Jin said: “I have begun a novel about the Cultural Revolution. I intend to take my time writing it.”
The fighting spirit for truth and justice is what builds a new society.
Through encounters, people become acquaintances; through repeated conversations, they become friends; and through sincere caring and mutual empathy, they become close friends.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto and Ba Jin continued to stay in touch, forging bonds of deep trust and strong friendship.
Later, Ba Jin became chair of the China Writers Association. In November 2003, the association joined with the Chinese Literature Foundation to honor Shin’ichi with an International Literary Award for Understanding and Friendship.
Two years later, in 2005, Ba Jin passed away at the age of 100.
Bing Xin had died in 1999 at the age of 98. Two years earlier, in 1997, the Bing Xin Research Society, whose president was Ba Jin, established the Bing Xin Literature Museum in Changle, Fujian Province, to preserve and promote her legacy. In September 2004, the museum presented Shin’ichi with the title of honorary director and his wife, Mineko, with that of friendship ambassador.
In response to these expressions of goodwill, both Shin’ichi and Mineko vowed anew to devote even greater energy to promoting friendship and cultural and artistic exchange between China and Japan.
April 29 was the day the fifth Soka Gakkai delegation to China would return to Japan. The manager of the Jin Jiang Hotel, where the group was staying, requested that Shin’ichi write something in the hotel guest book. Shin’ichi signed his name and added a poem:
A golden bridge
on this fifth visit to China—
Treatise on Hachiman
In his treatise “On Reprimanding Hachiman,” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The moon moves from the west eastward, a sign of how the Buddhism of India spread in an easterly direction. The sun rises in the east, an auspicious sign of how the Buddhism of Japan is destined to return to the Land of the Moon [India]” (Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 936). It was the Daishonin’s prediction of the westward transmission of Buddhism.
He entrusted to his disciples of later ages the mission to illuminate Asia and the world with the humanistic light of Nichiren Buddhism and create happiness for all people. Shin’ichi had poured his life into his travels for peace in order to actualize the Daishonin’s prediction.
Our social mission as Buddhists striving to realize the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” is to establish a philosophy of compassion and the dignity of life in people’s hearts, creating a prosperous society and lasting world peace.
A new struggle toward the new century began.
At 1:40 p.m. on April 29, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and the other delegation members departed from Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport for Japan.
Shin’ichi was headed for Nagasaki in Kyushu. He was determined to launch a fresh struggle to open a new way forward for kosen-rufu. Now was the time, he firmly resolved, to break free of the fetters imposed on him through the scheming of treacherous members and Nichiren Shoshu priests who were intent on severing the Soka mentor-disciple bond. With that goal in mind, he decided to attend commemorative gongyo sessions and other meetings in Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, and other cities on his way back from China and wholeheartedly encourage the members there.
He was well aware that this action on his part would trigger a backlash from the devilish forces seeking to destroy kosen-rufu, but he was determined that, no matter what might happen, he had to protect the members who were suffering as a result of the base and malicious attacks by authoritarian priests.
A beautiful rainbow spanned the sky over Nagasaki Airport that day. Shin’ichi and his party’s flight landed shortly after 4:30 p.m. on April 29.
Shin’ichi stood on the steps leading down from the plane. A large banner reading “Congratulations on the Great Success of the Soka Gakkai’s Fifth Delegation to China” hung from the observation deck and a crowd of Soka Gakkai members were there waving, welcoming him and his party home.
Shin’ichi waved back at them. From that moment on, he embarked on a fresh effort to encourage the members.
Nagasaki Prefecture Leader Tsuguya Umemori was smiling broadly, but when Shin’ichi shook his hand, he was overwhelmed with emotion and tears came to his eyes. The city of Omura, home of Nagasaki Airport, was one of the places where members had been bullied and harassed by Nichiren Shoshu priests. Holding back bitter tears, the members there had been waiting patiently for this day.
Shin’ichi called out: “The lion is here! Everything will be all right. Don’t worry.”
A young women’s division member said, “Sensei, welcome home!” and presented Shin’ichi with a bouquet.
“Thank you!” Shin’ichi exclaimed and then said to everyone gathered: “We are about to make a fresh start. The long journey for kosen-rufu has begun. Let’s open the door to the future!”
As long as we keep moving forward, a hope-filled tomorrow will come. As long as we burn with a fighting spirit, the future will be sunny and bright.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto made his way from Nagasaki Airport to the Soka Gakkai Nagasaki Culture Center. It was his first visit to Nagasaki in 12 years.
Nagasaki Prefecture Leader Tsuguya Umemori told him that a leaders meeting was being held at the center to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of Nagasaki Chapter. Shin’ichi went straight to the meeting room. The members burst into loud applause.
“It’s good to see you all again!” said Shin’ichi. “Let’s all give a big cheer to celebrate Nagasaki’s victory over storms of adversity!”
Umemori then led the audience in a resounding three cheers for the Nagasaki Soka Gakkai.
Shin’ichi explained that he had to leave shortly because he had a press conference at a hotel in the city to report on his visit to China, and then added: “How can we win in life and become happy? The life state of Buddhahood and the life state of hell both exist within our hearts. By drawing forth the life state of Buddhahood we can build indestructible happiness. To do that, we need to focus our mind on kosen-rufu and strive unflaggingly in our Buddhist practice, chanting with a vow to realize happiness for ourselves and others.
“Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. . . . Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase’ (“The True Aspect of All Phenomenon,” Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 386). If we strive earnestly for kosen-rufu, dedicating ourselves to spreading the Mystic Law and introducing others to our Buddhist practice, we will bring forth the boundless life state of Buddhahood within us and be able to transform all of life’s sufferings into great joy. That’s why even when in exile on Sado Island, the Daishonin could write: ‘Though we may be exiles, we have cause to be joyful in both body and mind!’ (“Reply to Sairen-bō,” WND-1, p. 312).
“Though we of the Soka Gakkai may pride ourselves on the membership goals we have reached so far—each new million milestone and, most recently, the landmark goal of 10 million—there are now more than 4 billion people on our planet. That means that only one person in several hundred is now a Soka Gakkai member. Viewed in that light, our movement for worldwide kosen-rufu is still in its infancy. We have only just begun. Our efforts will really take off in the 21st century.
“I want all of you to live long lives. Together let’s dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu!”
The members applauded with joy and a vow for kosen-rufu.
After encouraging the members at the commemorative leaders meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto hurried from the Nagasaki Culture Center to the hotel where the press conference was to be held.
At his meeting with the press, the gathered reporters asked him about the situation in China and his impressions from his fifth trip there.
After the press conference, Shin’ichi hosted a dinner to thank the members of the delegation who had accompanied him to China.
Reflecting on that visit, he said: “I believe that our trip to China has opened the curtain for world peace in the coming era. These two decades leading to the start of the 21st century will be an extremely important time for promoting exchange on the grassroots level and in the educational and cultural arenas, creating a groundswell toward peace that will unite the world.
“During that time, I’m sure China will achieve tremendous development and the world, too, will undergo rapid and radical changes. That makes it all the more imperative that we communicate the ideals of peace and the humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism far and wide. It will therefore be important for us to develop a Buddhist study movement that will delve deeply into the Daishonin’s teachings and spread its life-affirming principles throughout society and the world.
“In every respect, we have now entered a crucial stage in building peace in the 21st century; there is not a moment to be lost.”
When the dinner ended, an accompanying Seikyo Shimbun reporter said to Shin’ichi: “In addition to reporting on your return from China, I would like to write about your attending the leaders meeting held at the Nagasaki Culture Center to commemorate Nagasaki Chapter’s 22nd anniversary.”
“I have no objection,” Shin’ichi responded. “There is no need to hide the truth. We cannot achieve kosen-rufu if the mentor-disciple bonds of the Soka Gakkai are severed and the spirit of shared commitment is lost. That’s why I’m going to embark on a struggle together with our members. You can also report on my upcoming schedule. It’s time to launch a counteroffensive! The battle begins!”
The front page of the April 30 Seikyo Shimbun carried an article reporting on Shin’ichi’s return to Japan, his press conference, and his attending the leaders meeting at the Nagasaki Culture Center. It further stated that, after Nagasaki, Shin’ichi planned to travel to Fukuoka (also in Kyushu) and cities in the Kansai and Chubu regions to encourage members and offer them guidance.
Readers seized on this last piece of information. A powerful surge of joy raced through members’ hearts across Japan.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto was scheduled to depart Nagasaki for Fukuoka by train shortly after 1:00 p.m. on April 30. But there was one place he really wanted to visit before leaving. That was the home of Kikumaru Obayashi, the men’s division prefecture secretary, who lived in the Inasamachi area of Nagasaki.
At the 1st Kyushu Youth Division General Meeting, held in March 1973 in Kitakyushu City (in the northern part of Fukuoka Prefecture), Shin’ichi had promised Obayashi, then Nagasaki general headquarters young men’s division leader, that the next time he went to Nagasaki he would visit him at home.
When Obayashi told his mother, Shizuyo, about this, she said resolutely: “Making that happen depends on our faith as disciples. Let’s chant!” From that time, the whole family joined together in earnestly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Shizuyo was one of the pioneering members of the kosen-rufu movement in Nagasaki.
The Obayashi home was on a hill overlooking Nagasaki harbor. Shizuyo, Obayashi, his older and younger brothers, and their wives greeted Shin’ichi. They took a group photo and did gongyo together.
Shizuyo had specially sewn cushions so that she would be ready to welcome Shin’ichi whenever he dropped by. Expressing deep gratitude for this sincerity, Shin’ichi had a friendly conversation with the family. As they talked, the subject turned to his resignation the previous year as Soka Gakkai president and chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.
Shizuyo said that when she heard the news on TV, she trembled with outrage and shouted: “This is ridiculous! It must be a plot of some kind. It’s unacceptable!”
She absolutely refused to countenance injustice, ingratitude, and the kind of evil that would destroy kosen-rufu. She had spent the last year filled with bitter indignation at the arrogant speech and actions of Nichiren Shoshu priests, and was determined to show everyone that truth and justice would prevail in the end.
No outside pressure could prevent the wellspring of the Soka spirit from flowing powerfully in the members’ hearts.
“Thank you!” said Shin’ichi. “Your sons have inherited your spirit. You have won. I will act freely from now on. And I’ll come to Nagasaki again.”
As their conversation came to a close, a local young women’s division leader stopped by to ask for personal guidance. Shin’ichi encouraged her up to the very last minute before his departure.
When Shin’ichi Yamamoto got to Nagasaki Station, a large crowd of members had gathered to see him off. While being careful not to cause any disruption for the station staff and other passengers, Shin’ichi warmly addressed them: “Thank you. I am well aware of your efforts.
“Please become happy. It’s important to advance with complete confidence that you can. Bodhisattvas of the Earth who have dedicated themselves unflaggingly to kosen-rufu cannot fail to become happy.
“Let’s work together to build a new Soka Gakkai.”
Even after boarding the train, he bowed and waved from his seat, continuing a heart-to-heart dialogue through the window glass.
After the special express train Shin’ichi was riding left Nagasaki Station, it stopped at Isahaya, Hizen-Kashima, Hizen-Yamaguchi, Saga and Tosu. Soka Gakkai members had gathered at each station. Because his visit to Fukuoka had been reported in the Seikyo Shimbun, it was relatively easy to deduce which train he would be taking.
When the members saw Shin’ichi, they smiled broadly and waved. But there were others on the platform who hid behind pillars and gazed at him from a distance. Having been so harshly criticized by the priests even for calling him “Sensei,” they didn’t want to cause any trouble for him. Shin’ichi felt very deeply for those members. He wished he could get off the train and encourage them with all his might.
Shin’ichi said to a leader accompanying him: “These unheralded members built today’s Soka Gakkai. In the burning heat of summer and the freezing storms of winter, praying for the happiness of their friends, they chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, went to engage them in dialogue, and actually advanced our movement for kosen-rufu. They are the driving force that will realize a change in the destiny of society, the nation and finally all humankind. Each of them is a child of the Buddha with a noble mission, who has appeared in order to actualize the Daishonin’s ideal of ‘establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.’ I will fight for these people!
“Leaders need to show the greatest respect to these sincere members, treasuring, protecting and encouraging them above all.”
The organization and its leaders all exist to enable members to become happy.
That evening (April 30), Shin’ichi Yamamoto arrived at the Kyushu Culture Center (now the Fukuoka Central Culture Center) in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City. When he stepped out of the car, he immediately made his way over to the members who had gathered outside.
Many of them had thought they might not get to meet with Shin’ichi in person. So they were overjoyed when he walked up to them and called out: “Thank you! You have triumphed!”
A man and an elderly woman shook Shin’ichi’s hand and wouldn’t let go. One woman showed him a magazine she had brought, saying: “I was able to open the restaurant I’d always dreamed of, and it’s been featured in this magazine. Please come and see it.” Smiling, Shin’ichi said he would.
People sharing bonds forged through faith, bonds free of discrimination of any kind—this is the essence of the Soka family.
The next day, May 1, a large number of members gathered at the center from early in the morning. When he saw this, Shin’ichi beckoned them over and expressed his appreciation for their efforts, shaking their hands and joining them in group photos. Their number kept growing, troubling the young men’s division leader on duty.
“If this keeps up,” he thought, “we won’t be able to handle all the visitors, and Sensei will be exhausted.”
He did his best to steer the members away from where Shin’ichi was. Noticing this, however, Shin’ichi said with deliberate sternness: “No one has the right to stop those who have come here to meet me from doing so.”
Having been unable to meet with members freely for the past year since stepping down as president, he had long been waiting for the time when he could encourage members like this without constraint. He was determined to meet with everyone he could and put all of his energies into encouraging them.
The young men’s division leader was ashamed that he had failed to fully grasp what was in his mentor’s heart.
That day, Shin’ichi went to the restaurant owned by the woman who had invited him there earlier. He strove to meet as many members as possible, resolved to spare no effort.
He was determined not to let the time for launching his counteroffensive slip by. In his heart, he called out to the members: “Lions, stand up! The time has come to fight!”
On the afternoon of May 1, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited the Soka Gakkai Kyushu Memorial Hall in Fukuoka’s Nishi Ward (later Sawara Ward). That evening, he attended a meeting of Fukuoka Prefecture headquarters leaders at the Kyushu Peace Center in Fukuoka’s Hakata Ward, where he called out to those present, wishing to infuse them with a lionlike spirit: “Never lower the banner of kosen-rufu in your hearts! Never lower the banner of your efforts to share Buddhism with others! Never extinguish the bright flame of faith for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime!”
Shin’ichi powerfully repeated those words.
Representatives from neighboring Oita Prefecture, a region whose members had suffered deeply because of the problems with the priesthood, were also at the meeting.
In Oita’s Beppu City, the chief priest of a local Nichiren Shoshu temple had been maligning the Soka Gakkai, declaring it guilty of slandering the Law. Certain individuals, who had been deceived by this and quit the organization, were now going around distributing pamphlets critical of the Soka Gakkai. The members had responded by strengthening their unity and staunchly proclaiming the integrity of the lay organization.
Shin’ichi joined the Oita members for a group photo in the lobby of the Kyushu Peace Center.
He said to them: “The greater the hardships you undergo, the more your faith is polished and the brighter it shines. Your struggles will go down forever in the history of kosen-rufu.”
“Sensei! Please come visit us in Oita!” the members called out, many with tears in their eyes.
Shin’ichi nodded emphatically.
Throughout Shin’ichi’s visit to Fukuoka, members flocked to the Kyushu Culture Center, Kyushu Peace Center and Kyushu Memorial Hall, as news spread that by doing so they would be able to meet Shin’ichi.
Some arrived by taxi or bicycle. Some came dashing from their homes, still dressed in their house clothes. By the time Shin’ichi left Fukuoka the following afternoon on May 2, he had encouraged more than 20,000 members.
Before Shin’ichi’s departure, Takeo Yamaoka, the Oita Prefecture secretary, visited him at the Kyushu Peace Center.
Yamaoka had received an urgent report that a Nichiren Shoshu chief priest in Oita had been trying to persuade a leading Soka Gakkai member to quit, and he had gone to the priest’s temple to lodge a protest. His discussion with the priest in question had gone on into the middle of the night. It was only after that that he was able to make his way by train to the center in neighboring Fukuoka.
In any battle, prompt action is of the essence.
On the train to Fukuoka, Takeo Yamaoka did his best to control the outrage and resentment he felt toward the Nichiren Shoshu priests.
The chief priest he had visited had expressly stated in the past that he and his fellow priests would not urge Soka Gakkai members to quit the organization and directly join the local temple instead. But they had surreptitiously proceeded to do just that. When pressed on the matter, the chief priest simply talked around the subject. Yamaoka felt he had seen the true nature of the Nichiren Shoshu priests.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto listened to Yamaoka’s report in the caretaker’s room at the Kyushu Peace Center. With a warm smile, he said: “You must be exhausted. I understand completely. One of my discussions with the priests lasted six hours.”
He then continued: “We must absolutely protect the precious children of the Buddha. We must work to ensure that they all become happy without fail, and to do that, we must fight wholeheartedly, with our last ounce of strength. That’s my determination. That’s the spirit of Soka leaders. Please protect my disciples, the members who are children of the Buddha, in my place. I’m counting on you!”
Shortly thereafter, Shin’ichi left the Kyushu Peace Center to fly to his next destination, Kansai.
Yamaoka from Oita and other Kyushu members stood in the center’s garden and looked up into the sky, waving to Shin’ichi’s plane as it soared above. As they did so, they made a powerful vow in their hearts to their mentor that Kyushu would be victorious. The early summer breeze was pleasant. They all sensed that a new breeze of progress for the Soka Gakkai had begun to blow from Kyushu.
It was May 3, 1980. In February, the Soka Gakkai had designated May 3, the date both Toda and Shin’ichi had been inaugurated president, as Soka Gakkai Day. Shin’ichi spent that first Soka Gakkai Day at the Kansai Culture Center in Tennoji Ward, Osaka, together with his beloved fellow members in Kansai.
The Kansai Culture Center had just opened five days before. The new building was light brown, with five stories above ground and one below, and would now serve as the Soka Gakkai’s main center in Kansai.
The clear May sky of ever-victorious Kansai was beautiful to behold. A fresh stage of development was about to begin.
A gongyo meeting commemorating Soka Gakkai Day was scheduled to be held at the Kansai Culture Center on May 3, starting from 1:00 p.m.
However, a steady stream of members, largely those without tickets for the afternoon meeting, started arriving at the center excitedly from the morning, filling the surrounding area. Members all over Kansai had heard by phone from relatives and friends in Nagasaki and Fukuoka how Shin’ichi Yamamoto had encouraged members there. This news spread like wildfire, and members turned out with the eager wish to meet Shin’ichi.
The Kansai leaders and event staff at the center held an urgent meeting to discuss how to handle the growing crowd. They ushered members without tickets to the fourth-floor meeting room of the adjacent annex building that was serving as the auxiliary venue for the day’s meeting.
Shin’ichi arrived at the Kansai Culture Center from the Kansai Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture, just before 11:00 a.m. He immediately thanked the event staff inside the center.
Members continued to converge on the center, brimming with ardent seeking spirit. The gate at the entrance to the annex had been closed out of consideration for the members’ safety.
A short while later, Shin’ichi came out into the center’s courtyard. A loud cheer went up. When he saw all the people waiting outside the closed gate, Shin’ichi said to the youth division event staff: “Please open the gate and let them in.”
“There’s no more room inside the center to accommodate them,” one of the staff members said.
“That’s all right. I’ll encourage them out here. These members are the most important of all.”
When the gate was opened, those waiting outside rushed joyously into the courtyard. Some curious passersby even followed in along with them.
“Welcome!” said Shin’ichi to everyone. “I’m happy to see you.” He shook hands and took one group photo after another with members.
He directed the event staff: “Please record their names, so we can send them copies later.”
He also took photos with event staff, including members of the Soka Group and Gajokai. Shin’ichi’s heart was filled with a burning determination to encourage each and every member.
That is the true Soka spirit.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto walked toward the fire escape stairs outside the annex. A young man serving as event staff said: “The annex’s Ever-Victorious Hall is the auxiliary venue for today’s meeting, and the PA system has been set up so that members there can listen to the meeting taking place at the main venue next door.”
“Let’s start by encouraging them first, then,” Shin’ichi said.
His wife, Mineko, climbed up the emergency staircase with him.
To enter the hall from the stairway, the door had to be unlocked from inside. One of the event staff rushed into the building, making his way through the packed room to open the door. People looked at him expectantly, wondering what was about to happen.
Then, with a loud creak, the door in the side wall near the front of the hall opened, and Shin’ichi could be seen standing in the doorway.
He raised an arm in greeting, and when handed a microphone, he said: “Hello everyone! I hope you’re all well!”
A gasp arose from the enthusiastic crowd. It was a moment they had long been waiting for. They looked at Shin’ichi, their faces beaming with joy. Some had tears in their eyes.
“Thank you for coming all the way here today. No authority or power can sever the deep bonds that unite us!”
Loud cheers erupted and thunderous applause shook the room.
“Who are the ones supporting the Soka Gakkai? Far more than those in the limelight, it is those who are working hard behind the scenes. They are true Buddhas and genuine victors. And you are those people. There would be no Soka Gakkai or kosen-rufu without you.”
Shin’ichi felt deep affection for these members. The eyes of some were swollen with tears as they listened intently to his words and nodded their approval. He called out powerfully to them: “While struggling each day with all sorts of personal problems and hardships, you are devoting yourselves with a bright, positive spirit to sharing Buddhism with others. Your actions shine with the brilliance of true humanity; they are those of Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Please join me in forging ahead with fresh resolve!”
The members responded unanimously in agreement, their voices brimming with determination.
When he stepped outside the annex, there were even more members gathered there. Shin’ichi took photos with them, too.
He gave his whole being to encouraging them all, as if he was attending to Buddhas.
At the day’s main venue, the Kansai Culture Center, the commemorative gongyo meeting was already under way, with President Kiyoshi Jujo in attendance.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto proceeded to the third-floor hall, entering as the meeting was nearing its end. Everyone had been waiting eagerly to see him, and their joy exploded when he finally appeared. Taking the microphone, he said: “On this bright and sunny May day, I would like to heartily congratulate you on this celebration of Soka Gakkai Day and the opening of the Kansai Culture Center.
“The Mystic Law is eternal. Our lives as practitioners, too, are eternal and always aligned with the Mystic Law. Viewed from the perspective of our eternal lives, our present existence is but one milestone on the journey of our mission to realize kosen-rufu.
“The road to kosen-rufu is an unending struggle against devilish functions. In his writings, the Daishonin stresses the importance of pressing ahead steadily on the great path of faith without being swayed by the ‘eight winds.’
“The ‘eight winds’ are workings that agitate people’s minds and cause them to lose their faith—things such as short-term gain, worldly honor, praise, censure, suffering, pleasure, and so forth.
“Our human revolution, through which we cultivate self-mastery, is the key to establishing our own happiness and advancing kosen-rufu. Let us win over the ‘eight winds’ with resolute faith and make fresh hope-filled strides toward the 21st century!
“I call on you to make mighty Kansai a model for Japan and the world, and to forever be the trailblazers of kosen-rufu. I am also determined to keep writing new pages of history in our ever-victorious struggle and in life as long as I live, together with all of you.
“Cheering on the development of Kansai, I would like to close by expressing my deepest appreciation and respect for your sincere devotion.”
Next, everyone joined in a chorus of the Kansai Soka Gakkai song “Ever-Victorious Skies”: “Now again forming our ranks…”
Their song of triumph reverberated into the skies of ever-victorious Kansai. It signaled the spirited stand of Soka mentor and disciples holding aloft the banner of Buddhist humanism and the start of a religious reformation led by awakened people, rejecting the oppressive authoritarianism of the priesthood.
After the meeting, Shin’ichi went to one of the other rooms at the Kansai Culture Center to encourage members there. He also attended another commemorative gongyo meeting that started at 5:00 that evening.
Shin’ichi played the piano to encourage the participants, and continued at every opportunity to take photos and firmly shake hands with them. Eventually, his hand grew red and swollen, but still he made his way tirelessly among the members.
Later, he stopped by the Kansai Office of the Seikyo Shimbun, where he wholeheartedly encouraged the paper’s reporters and other staff before going to the Kansai Makiguchi Memorial Hall.
There, that evening, resolved to make a powerful fresh departure, Shin’ichi took up a calligraphy brush and with his entire being wrote in bold strokes: “May 3.”
In the right margin, he listed the dates of May 3 in various years that he regarded as particularly significant:
May 3, 1951
May 3, 1960
May 3, 1979
May 3, 1983
May 3, 2001
May 3, 1951, was the day Josei Toda became second Soka Gakkai president, while May 3, 1960, marked Shin’ichi’s inauguration as third president. May 3, 1979, was the date of the Headquarters general meeting Shin’ichi attended a short time after announcing his resignation as third president (on April 24).
May 3, 1983, the 32nd anniversary of President Toda’s inauguration, and May 3, 2001, in the new century, were two milestones Shin’ichi had set, with an unbreakable vow, for creating fresh groundswells of unprecedented development for the Soka Gakkai.
He also wrote in the lower right corner of the calligraphy:
This date is
the starting point of the Soka Gakkai.
Inscribed on May 3, 1980.
My heart serene and tranquil.
Palms pressed together.
A year had passed since Shin’ichi had stepped down as president. The dark intrigues of treacherous individuals colluding with priests of Nichiren Shoshu to destroy the Soka Gakkai and enslave the membership were becoming more apparent each day. Just as described in the Daishonin’s writings, the devil king of the sixth heaven was attempting to obstruct people’s Buddhist practice and hinder kosen-rufu.
In ever-victorious Kansai, Shin’ichi set forth with determination in a new struggle for victory.
During the morning of May 4, Shin’ichi attended a gongyo meeting for Tottori Prefecture members held at the Kansai Toda Memorial Auditorium in Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture. The members had come all the way from Tottori (on the southwest coast of Japan’s main island). He joined them at the meeting, wishing to do everything he could to encourage and support them.
It had been almost two years since he last attended a meeting of Tottori members, during a visit to Yonago back in July 1978. The faces of those now gathered in the auditorium shone with joy and seeking spirit.
Tottori Chapter was established on May 3, 1960, the same date that Shin’ichi was inaugurated as the third Soka Gakkai president. The gongyo meeting was, therefore, also a celebration of the chapter’s 20th anniversary. With deep emotion, Shin’ichi addressed these members who continued to strive alongside him.
“Thank you for making the long journey here. Seeing your bright and cheerful faces, I feel I am looking at a future filled with hope. On this beautiful, sunny May day, it seems the heavenly deities are celebrating with you. Please enjoy these skies of ever-victorious Kansai to the utmost.
“You are all noble Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Battling and winning in your own struggles with karma and destiny day after day, you are showing proof of the great benefit of practicing Nichiren Buddhism and carrying out your mission for kosen-rufu. All adversity is just a step toward achieving a state of boundless happiness. Always advance serenely based on faith, come what may, and create deeply meaningful, golden memories.
“All sorts of things happen in the course of our lives, but in the long run, those who exert themselves earnestly in their Buddhist practice invariably triumph and shine without fail. There’s no need to try to be someone you’re not. You are fine just as you are. Please continue to advance together with the Soka Gakkai.
“Buddhas have problems, too. Problems are part and parcel of life. But Buddhism teaches that ‘earthly desires are enlightenment’ and ‘the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.’ Nam-myoho-renge-kyo enables us to transform suffering into joy and happiness. In this degenerate world filled with unremitting hardships, you, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, have emerged to create happiness for yourselves and others. To become happy, please win over yourselves. I will also send you daimoku.”
Shin’ichi’s guidance deeply penetrated the members’ hearts.
When we awaken to our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and rise into action to fulfill it, courage and powerful life force surge forth from within us.
On May 4, an Osaka Prefecture chapter leaders meeting celebrating the opening of the Kansai Culture Center was held in four sessions. Shin’ichi attended all of them and poured his whole heart into his guidance, wishing to make a new start together with these all-important chapter men’s and women’s division leaders. He told them:
Please put your health first and take vibrant leadership for kosen-rufu in your communities. If you are in good spirits, all the chapter members will be, too. Be leaders who are always brimming with vitality.
• • •
No matter what great material wealth, social position, or worldly honors one may gain, if one is plagued by a nagging sense of emptiness, one’s life will not be truly happy. In contrast, when you earnestly exert yourself in faith and participate in meetings and other activities for kosen-rufu, you will feel light in both body and mind and savor a sense of inner fulfillment. That fulfillment is the greatest satisfaction and happiness possible in life.
• • •
In the course of carrying out activities for kosen-rufu, there may be times when people say unpleasant and hurtful things to you. But in light of the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, it is only natural that you will encounter difficulties, because you have appeared in the Latter Day of the Law and are spreading Buddhism as emissaries of the Buddha. Also, please remember that your continued efforts for kosen-rufu enable you to transform your karma in this lifetime and establish a state of eternal happiness. When you think of it that way, all your hardships are actually a source of joy!
• • •
Never allow the flame of faith for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime to die out. Please know that steadfast faith—an unflagging, lifelong commitment to remain part of the movement for kosen-rufu—is the key to great victory in life.
Each time, Shin’ichi put everything he had into giving guidance. Between sessions, he took group photos with the new members of the 13 university groups in Kansai. He also played the piano for the chapter leaders and shook hands with many of them. The fourth and final session of the chapter leaders meeting came to a close after 8:00 p.m.
A large group of members from neighboring Nara Prefecture also arrived at the center, and a gongyo meeting was hastily arranged for them as well.
Never spare any effort for the sake of the members—this was Shin’ichi’s spirit and is the eternal and unchanging spirit of all true leaders of the Soka Gakkai.
From 11:00 a.m. on May 5, Soka Gakkai Successors Day, representatives of the high school, junior high school, and boys and girls divisions gathered at the Kansai Culture Center for the 5th Successors Day Commemorative Gongyo Meeting.
A year earlier, Shin’ichi had spent May 5 at the Kanagawa Culture Center. Though he had wanted to attend a meeting with Future Division members and encourage them with all his might, the situation at the time prevented him from doing so. But now he felt strongly that the time was right. He very much wanted to meet and give his all to fostering the Future Division members, wishing to entrust these young phoenixes with the future of kosen-rufu in the 21st century.
When Shin’ichi entered the room, representatives of the boys and girls division presented him with a paper samurai helmet (an item traditionally associated with Children’s Day in Japan, which is celebrated on May 5).
Addressing the members at the meeting, he said: “You are all like young saplings that will put down roots in the earth and grow into tall trees. Young trees need stakes to support them, and they must be watered. It takes a lot of hard work to make them grow.
“Please be aware that your parents are making untold efforts in the midst of the harsh challenges of society to raise and help you grow. Having a sense of appreciation for your parents is one of the most important human qualities.
“There might be times when you and parents have a difference of opinions and you get mad at them. But just take everything as encouragement for your personal growth. Being willful or spoiled is self-defeating, whereas a spirit of patience and perseverance enables you to develop yourself. Such experiences will all become precious spiritual treasures for you in the future.
“As members of the Future Division, you are all at an age when it is important to master the basics and build a solid foundation. Building a foundation requires patience. Persevere in your studies. And in the realm of faith, don’t forget to develop yourself, growing like a tall tree to become a person who can make great contributions to kosen-rufu.”
The Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870–1945) said: “Patience and perseverance are of prime importance in any endeavor. Don’t give up if you fail once or twice. Be persistent and tenacious, trying again and again, employing all your ingenuity. The sages of old tell us that genius lies in perseverance.”
On the afternoon of May 5, Shin’ichi attended an Osaka Prefecture young men’s division chapter leaders meeting, where he offered guidance, saying: “You will open the way to success in life by making steady efforts. Youth may be a time filled with problems and worries, but I hope you will keep striving calmly, steadily, and patiently in faith and your Soka Gakkai activities, and show actual proof of victory in your life and workplace.
“You’re also bound to encounter hardships of one kind or another. But if you steadfastly persevere in your practice of Nichiren Buddhism, they will be resolved over time. If you continue to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo earnestly, you will gain good fortune and experience personal growth. No matter how hard things are for you, you must never give up hope. Have solid faith in the Gohonzon. Whatever challenges you may face, you have the Mystic Law. As long as you embrace this eternal and imperishable Law, you will not fail to become great victors in life.
“It’s important to take a long-term view of things. By the start of the 21st century, many of you will be in your 50s, at the peak of your working lives. Don’t neglect the training that you need to put down deep roots to develop a solidly grounded life where you can exercise your capabilities to the fullest when that time comes.”
After the young men’s division meeting, Shin’ichi encouraged a group of graduates of the Soka Girls Junior and Senior High Schools who had come to the center. Then, at 4:00 p.m., he attended a young women’s division chapter leaders meeting, where he emphasized to those present: “Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day like a steadily flowing stream and become the happiest people in Japan and all the world. I can assure you that, whatever the situation, those who remain steadfast in faith are absolutely certain to win in the end and lead lives brimming with good fortune.
“Also, no matter what storms of karma you face, please have the firm conviction that being able to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is itself the greatest happiness. Faith means never forsaking the Gohonzon.”
That evening, Shin’ichi joined Kansai leaders for dinner and informal discussion at a nearby restaurant, and on the way back he stopped by the Naka-Osaka Culture Center.
He gave words of encouragement at every meeting he attended and to everyone he met.
The future, after all, exists only in the present moment. It hinges not on what we plan to do tomorrow, but what we actually do right now.
After returning to the Kansai Culture Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto heard that members of the stage crew group Tetsujin-kai were gathered there, so he decided to go meet them. He was glad to spend time talking with and encouraging them.
As a matter of fact, the stage crew members had presented Shin’ichi with a chair they had made especially for his use while in Kansai. Shin’ichi wanted to show his appreciation for their sincere gift and also express his heartfelt gratitude for their constant efforts behind the scenes to support various Soka Gakkai events.
“Thank you. I am well aware of all your hard work,” he said. “I’ve sat many times in the chair you made for me. I am touched, and very much appreciate your kind gesture. In the realm of Soka, we are all linked by the purest of heart-to-heart bonds. I deeply understand your sincere spirit.”
Some members’ eyes filled with tears at Shin’ichi’s words. They hadn’t built the chair expecting anything in return. It was simply an expression of their pure faith and their commitment as disciples eagerly desiring to do something for their mentor, who was leading the movement for kosen-rufu with all his might. That’s why their actions were so beautiful and noble. The fact that Shin’ichi understood their feelings was enough for them.
Shin’ichi wanted to offer them the highest praise and express his greatest admiration for their spirit.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1,1000). In the realm of faith, it is always our heart that matters most.
Next, Shin’ichi attended a gongyo meeting with members of a training group called the Kansai Comrades-in-Faith Group. He said to them: “Truly capable individuals are those who have awakened to their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and try to make Buddhism more broadly and deeply known. They are always striving to become a dependable source of support for as many people as they can. They are wise and reasonable, and win the understanding and trust of many others. They contribute to fostering the next generation of our movement. They have sound judgment and give everyone hope, confidence, and peace of mind. Please thoroughly polish and train yourselves so that you can develop these qualities.”
Shin’ichi spoke with his whole being.
Only by giving our all can we offer encouragement that truly moves others’ hearts.
On May 6, three gongyo meetings were held for members of the Kansai guidance division from the afternoon into the evening at the Kansai Culture Center. Shin’ichi attended all three.
Addressing the women’s division members, he cited a passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 681). He then went on to say: “Happiness is found in your immediate environment. No one’s life is without problems. But problems are the nourishment for happiness. Turn everything into a force for happiness through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!”
To the men’s division members, he said: “Our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo reverberates throughout the universe and is a source of eternal and boundless life force. Make a fresh start, basing yourself on the Gohonzon and putting daimoku first!”
Day after day, a steady stream of members gathered at the Kansai Culture Center, not only from Osaka but from every part of Kansai. And their numbers only kept growing.
Shin’ichi said to the Kansai leaders: “Let’s hold more gongyo sessions. Since members are making the effort to come here, I will meet with all of them.”
On May 7, two additional gongyo sessions not on the original schedule and open to all members were held—one during the day and one at night.
A national prefecture leaders conference was also held that evening from 7:00 p.m., and Shin’ichi put in an appearance there, too. He said to those present: “When wrong tries to defeat right, leaders need to stand up bravely and fight. No compromise is possible. Otherwise, the members will suffer. Right must win. That’s the only way to prove that it is right.
“If the Soka path of mentor and disciple is severed, the flow of kosen-rufu will be cut off. I will fight to protect the correct teaching and principles of Nichiren Buddhism and broadly open the way for kosen-rufu. I would like to begin a fresh advance of mentor and disciple, together with courageous individuals who stand ready to fight alongside me.
“The mentor-disciple relationship in the realm of kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai is different from social contracts or relationships based on self-interest. Nor is it a form of apprenticeship. It is a spiritual bond to which people have committed their lives based on their own personal vow. That makes it the purest, noblest, and strongest human bond of all.”
Shortly before noon on May 8, Shin’ichi left the Kansai Culture Center and made a brief stop at the Shin-Osaka Culture Center. He then boarded a bullet train for the Chubu region just after 1:00 p.m. to visit Nagoya.
In the seven days he had spent in Kansai since arriving from Kyushu on May 2, Shin’ichi had met with and encouraged more than 70,000 members.
He had also visited the Naka-Osaka Culture Center. Back in December 1969, during a guidance tour of Kansai, he had developed a high fever and slept that night in the center’s Gohonzon room. The floor on which that room was located later became the Kansai Women’s Center.
In 1969, Shin’ichi’s wife, Mineko, rushed to his side from Tokyo and nursed him through the night. When his fever dropped a bit, he went ahead with his visit to Wakayama, even though he wasn’t fully recovered. He attended a Wakayama prefecture leaders meeting at the city’s prefectural gymnasium and offered wholehearted guidance, after which, at the request of members, he led them in singing “Takeda Bushi.” When the meeting was over and he was leaving the stage, he felt faint and swayed on his feet. He had expended all his strength. Should he die there and then, he thought, he would have not the slightest regret.
Each day was a series of unending challenges and struggles. The great path of Soka dedicated to the realization of kosen-rufu has been opened through such continued all-out efforts. Shin’ichi hoped that his disciples, united with him in shared purpose, would inherit and carry on this selfless spirit, however the times might change.
In his “Twenty-six Admonitions,” Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin’s direct disciple and successor, exhorts practitioners: “Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life” (GZ, 1618).
If that spirit is lost, it will not be possible to fulfill the great vow for worldwide kosen-rufu.
To commemorate the opening of the Kansai Women’s Center on May 1, 1980 (the day before his arrival in Osaka), Shin’ichi composed and sent the following poem:
With the firmest resolve,
On this most recent trip to Kansai, Mineko had also visited the center and written a poem in the visitor’s book:
at this palace dedicated to
the women of Soka
and strive for kosen-rufu
rich in spirit.
The Kansai members stood up intrepidly alongside Shin’ichi, just as the members in Kyushu had.
Solidarity in the shared struggle of mentor and disciple gives the Soka Gakkai its indomitable strength.
“Now, on to Chubu!”
Shin’ichi was filled with fighting spirit.
On the morning of May 9, a long line of people began forming outside the Chubu Culture Center in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.
“Let’s hold gongyo sessions for the men’s and women’s division chapter leaders. But let’s also invite anyone else who wants to join, regardless of position. Let’s make them open gongyo sessions!” Shin’ichi suggested.
Members joyfully made their way to the Chubu Culture Center. Soon they filled not just the main hall where the gongyo sessions were to take place, but also the conference and reception rooms.
Five gongyo sessions were held that morning. Though his throat was sore, Shin’ichi did gongyo with the members and encouraged them without respite. He couldn’t think about himself when he saw their happy faces, some with tears in their eyes, as they clasped his arm or shook his hand.
A year earlier, after his resignation as president was announced, he had received many letters and telegrams from concerned members in Chubu, too. He wanted to express his heartfelt appreciation to those members and begin a fresh advance together with them.
Each time he finished offering guidance at a gongyo session, he went to see the members waiting in the conference rooms, the lobby, and outside the center, speaking with them, shaking their hands, and taking photographs with them.
There were another five or six gongyo sessions that afternoon and evening. Even after 10:00 p.m., there were still people waiting outside the building. Shin’ichi lost no time in going to encourage them.
“Sensei!” the members called out loudly when they saw him.
“Shhh, let’s keep our voices down! It’s late,” Shin’ichi said with a warm smile, reminding them to be considerate of the neighbors.
It was almost 11:00 p.m. before the day’s activities came to a close.
While in Chubu, Shin’ichi also traveled to Gifu Prefecture.
On May 11, a beautiful sunny day, Shin’ichi visited the home of a pioneer member in Gifu City, and then attended a chapter leaders meeting at the Gifu Culture Center to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Gifu Chapter.
In the center’s second-floor lobby, he chatted with a pioneer women’s division member, who was just shy of 100. She was the oldest person in Gifu City, and was attending the meeting with her daughter. She said that she had joined the organization in its early days and that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was her greatest pleasure.
“I came specially to see you,” Shin’ichi told her. “You are a treasure of Japan and a treasure of the Soka Gakkai. Please be well and live many more years!”
Since it was Mother’s Day, he presented her with a bouquet of carnations and took a photo with her.
How noble this woman was, determined to stand up with him for kosen-rufu in spite of her advanced age! Shin’ichi felt as if he were looking at a Buddha.
Shin’ichi next made his way from the Gifu Culture Center to the Kakamigahara Culture Center, also in Gifu Prefecture. Here, too, members who heard about his visit flocked to the center, filling it so that it was impossible to enter from the front door.
“Let’s hold an open gongyo meeting!” said Shin’ichi. He then climbed the spiral fire escape stairs to enter the building and made his way to the meeting room.
He said to the members gathered for the gongyo session: “I know you’ve had a very difficult time, but everything’s all right now! You’ve won. May each of you, without exception, attain happiness, crowning your life with victory. I will resolutely support and protect you!”
His dauntless tone filled the members with courage.
Shin’ichi did gongyo with everyone, and then played a number of songs for them on the piano, including “Spring Has Come.” He had an informal discussion with women’s division members and took group photos with members of each division.
During his visit to Chubu, he took part in well over 100 group photo sessions.
The next day, May 12, Shin’ichi continued to encourage members right up until boarding the train at Gifu Hashima Station. Nineteen members had come to the station in the hopes of meeting him, if only for the briefest moment. He spoke with them until it was time for him to go through the ticket gate. He also proposed that they be known henceforth as the Hashima Group.
Rather than let an encounter become just a memory, he wanted to make it the starting point for a renewed commitment and a fresh departure for the future.
Shin’ichi’s guidance tour continued on to Shizuoka Prefecture. There, he attended a young men’s division chapter leaders meeting at the Shizuoka Culture Center. With the highest hopes and expectations, he told the participants: “I’m counting on you to carry on the work of kosen-rufu!”
“Remember that now is the time to make strenuous efforts in your Buddhist practice!”
“Deeply engrave in your hearts the spirit of ‘valuing the Law more highly than your life’!”
“Be victors in society and the workplace!”
On May 13, an open gongyo session was held at the Shizuoka Culture Center, and Shin’ichi energetically spoke with members striving at the forefront of the organization. On May 14, he returned to Tokyo.
During his just over two week trip that had begun in Nagasaki on April 29, he had encouraged more than 150,000 members. Feeling a fresh surge of joy and courage, they all vowed to walk the great Soka path of mentor and disciple dedicated to kosen-rufu.
The signal fire had been lit, its brilliant flame rising skyward, marking the start of the counteroffensive against the schemes of unscrupulous priests and other treacherous individuals.
The season of spring greenery had come to Tokyo.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto had broken free from the chains of intrigue that had hindered his activities for kosen-rufu and was now soaring forth like a mighty eagle into the boundless blue skies of hope.
He had returned to Shinanomachi, having completed his fifth visit to China and his subsequent guidance tours in Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Osaka, Aichi, Gifu, and Shizuoka prefectures. With the aim of rebuilding the Soka Gakkai organization in Tokyo, the main bastion of kosen-rufu, he lost no time in visiting Soka Gakkai centers and other places in Nerima, Taito, Setagaya, and Minato wards to encourage members.
Exerting himself fully, Shin’ichi continued his earnest struggle to usher in a new age of kosen-rufu.
Soka Gakkai President Kiyoshi Jujo and other top leaders, for their part, had for some time been racking their brains trying to figure out how to deal with the situation concerning Tomomasa Yamawaki.
Driven by the desire for financial gain, five years earlier Yamawaki had become involved in some shady land deals in Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and used the large sum of money he made as a result to start a frozen food company. But his lack of experience and poor management caused the business to flounder, eventually leaving him with a huge debt of more than 4 billion yen. Desperate, with no prospects for repaying it, he came up with the idea of extorting money from the Soka Gakkai.
Throughout this time, Yamawaki had been goading young priests of Nichiren Shoshu and others to harshly criticize the Soka Gakkai while simultaneously playing the role of the Gakkai’s liaison with the priesthood. In this way, he tried to manipulate the organization for his own ends. He had secretly fanned mistrust and antagonism toward the Soka Gakkai among the priests and continued to ply them with fabricated misinformation to incite them to attack it.
He also devised strategies for undermining the Soka Gakkai, which he constantly communicated to the priesthood, while also continuing to make false accusations to High Priest Nittatsu.
Time and again, he instigated a crisis and then stepped forward to contain it, playing the role of a fixer. Like someone secretly setting a fire and then rushing to extinguish it, he purposely stirred up trouble only to claim credit for resolving it.
He also fed the media distorted information in an attempt to discredit the Soka Gakkai and oust Shin’ichi as president.
But his true colors were gradually coming to light and his plotting and double-dealing revealed. And now, his business had fallen into serious difficulty. This was the natural result of his own misdeeds. As Nichiren Daishonin writes: “[Those] who despise the votaries of the Lotus Sutra seem to be free from punishment at first, but eventually they are all doomed to fall” (WND-1, 997).
Yamawaki had been colluding behind the scenes with Takao Harayama, the Soka Gakkai’s Study Department leader. In September 1979, the previous year, Harayama had photocopied a large number of documents that were stored at the Seikyo Shimbun Building and taken the copies from the premises. Yamawaki used the documents in his scheme to drive a wedge between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai, and as a source of information that he would distort and supply to certain media outlets as ammunition for them to attack the lay organization.
In April 1980, Yamawaki finally resorted to extorting the Soka Gakkai for money.
Becoming aware of Yamawaki’s unscrupulous methods and relentless nature, Kiyoshi Jujo and the other executive leaders wrestled with how to respond. If they just ignored him, it was clear that he would engage in further base attempts to disrupt the harmonious relationship the Soka Gakkai had worked so hard to forge with the priesthood. That would lead to so many members again being harassed and tormented by domineering priests. They wanted to prevent that at all costs.
While in a quandary over what to do, the executive leadership received a demand of 300 million yen from Yamawaki, who declared: “I don’t care if it’s extortion. I don’t care if I go to prison.”
After a great deal of agonizing, Jujo made the wrenching decision to meet Yamawaki’s demand, extracting from him the promise that he would cease all of his plotting and attacks. This took place while Shin’ichi Yamamoto was in China.
But then Yamawaki demanded another 500 million yen. On June 7, the Soka Gakkai filed a complaint of extortion and attempted extortion against him with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.
This prompted Yamawaki to begin a frenzy of disruptive activity. He used the weekly tabloid magazines to carry out vile attacks on the Gakkai. It was nothing but the spreading of jealous lies, just like the “groundless falsehoods” (cf. WND-1, 803) and “fabrications of those who harbor jealousy” (cf. WND-1, 807) that the Daishonin condemns in his writings.
Harayama also appeared in the weekly magazines, repeatedly slandering the Soka Gakkai. During Yamawaki’s subsequent trial, it became clear that Harayama had received a large sum of money from him.
The Soka Gakkai is an organization of purehearted faith, a gathering of sincere and honest people. It is not a place for the corrupt and ill-intentioned. In the end, both Yamawaki and Harayama completely lost the trust of everyone.
The members felt they were witnessing the inevitable self-ruin brought about by those who betray their fellow practitioners.
On June 7, the day the Soka Gakkai filed a complaint with police against Tomomasa Yamawaki, the results of the election for members of the Nichiren Shoshu Council were announced. Candidates antagonistic to the Soka Gakkai, including young priests who continued to openly attack the lay organization, won a majority of 10 out of the 16 council seats. On July 3, the first council meeting following the election was held, and a number of them obtained key posts, including that of council chairperson.
The following day, July 4, the young priests officially formed an organization called the Shoshin-kai (lit. Correct Faith Association). During the regular Gosho lectures at many Nichiren Shoshu temples that month, the priests of this group harshly attacked the Soka Gakkai in blatant disregard of the repeated directives from the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office to cease doing so.
The secret maneuverings of Yamawaki, who felt himself cornered, were behind these actions. Incited by him, these priests ignored the directives of Nichiren Shoshu and continued to act as they pleased.
Members continued to endure the concerted attacks on the Soka Gakkai by malicious priests and sensationalist elements of the media. Some had to listen to negative comments from their boss or coworkers who had read the tabloid articles. But the members encouraged one another and continued to share Nichiren Buddhism with others, recalling the Daishonin’s words: “Difficulties will arise, and these are to be looked on as ‘peaceful’ practices” (OTT, 115); and “Worthies and sages are tested by abuse” (WND-1, 303).
Though the Seikyo Shimbun was finally starting to report on Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s activities again, its coverage was still rather restrained and lacked the kind of vibrant spirit that would inspire the members to advance powerfully.
Shin’ichi, thinking of the members, was deeply pained. “I must send fresh inspiration to our members!” he resolved.
The Seikyo Shimbun around this time asked Shin’ichi to contribute an essay series about his memories of pioneer members who had passed away along the road to kosen-rufu. Shin’ichi decided to accept, motivated by his wish to tell the stories of members who had worked for kosen-rufu to the end of their lives, diligently exerting themselves in faith and supporting the Soka Gakkai from the early days. He wanted to encourage everyone through sharing how these admirable members had lived their lives. The title of the series was “Unforgettable Friends in Faith.”
Also around that time, many readers were making requests for the serialization of Shin’ichi’s novel The Human Revolution to be resumed. There had been no further installments published since volume 10 had ended in the paper in August 1978, almost two years before. Shin’ichi decided to start work again on writing The Human Revolution as well.
Bravely standing alone to face the harshest storms—this is the Soka Gakkai spirit and the path of lions.
Toward the end of July, Shin’ichi convened a meeting at the Kanagawa Training Center with the Seikyo Shimbun editors in charge of his new essay series, “Unforgettable Friends in Faith,” and the editor responsible for his serialized novel, The Human Revolution.
When Shin’ichi announced that he would be resuming the latter work, its editor looked surprised and said hesitantly: “I’m sure the readers will be thrilled. But I fear the young priests critical of the Soka Gakkai will make a big fuss, and jump on it as an excuse to attack you.”
The editor then fell silent.
Shin’ichi said in a forceful tone: “I’m aware of that. But what matters now is not me; it’s our members we need to protect. They have stoically endured cruel treatment at the hands of corrupt priests and their sympathizers and continued in spite of that to work for kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai with sincere, steadfast, and earnest devotion.
“My responsibility is to protect the children of the Buddha, our members. It is to impart the light of courage, of hope, and of conviction to them and make it possible for them to advance along the path of their mission with confidence and pride. That’s why I am here.
“And that’s why I need to start writing The Human Revolution again. That’s my battle. Do you understand?”
The editor nodded in affirmation.
With a smile, Shin’ichi added: “I’d like to start as soon as possible. Please contact Teikichi Miyoshi, the artist who has been doing the illustrations, right away. Actually, my shoulder is so sore at the moment that I can’t lift my arm. So I hope you will agree to take dictation for me if necessary.”
The summer of 1980 was very rainy and humid. Shin’ichi had been driving himself extremely hard since the previous year, and the hot weather had taken its toll. But he was eager to begin. His heart was brimming with fighting spirit.
As Mahatma Gandhi observed: “Our inspiration can come only from our faith that right must ultimately prevail.”
The essay series “Unforgettable Friends in Faith” began publication on July 29, and the serialization of the 11th volume of The Human Revolution commenced on August 10, with three installments to be published each week.
Shin’ichi had titled the first chapter of the new volume “Turning Point.” It opened in September 1956, with Josei Toda making the decision to withdraw from all his business activities to dedicate the rest of his life to kosen-rufu full time, and with his charging Shin’ichi to take the lead of the Yamaguchi Campaign.
Shin’ichi dictated the manuscript for the new installments of The Human Revolution in various places where he engaged in activities for kosen-rufu, including the Kanagawa Training Center and the Shizuoka Training Center. Before and after his dictation sessions, he would meet informally with representatives from regions throughout Japan and of different divisions, or with local members. He also used whatever time was left to visit members at home.
Shin’ichi said to the editor of The Human Revolution: “I am Mr. Toda’s disciple. Therefore, no matter what circumstance I find myself in or what my position, I cannot give up on my struggle for kosen-rufu. I will fight as long as I live. Just watch me.”
But he was very fatigued from his intense efforts. He was coughing, and some days he had a fever.
One day, having prepared for a dictation session, he lay down on the room’s tatami matting, with a wet towel on his forehead, to wait for the editor to arrive. Before long, he heard the editor say “Excuse me” and enter the room.
Still on the floor, Shin’ichi opened his eyes slightly and said: “I’m sorry, but can you please allow me to rest a while longer?”
With a look of deep concern, the editor sat down next to Shin’ichi.
Shin’ichi was coughing from time to time. His eyes were red. The editor wondered if he would be able to dictate the novel in this condition.
The clock ticked loudly as the time passed. After about 10 minutes, Shin’ichi slapped the tatami with his hand and sat up.
“All right, let’s begin! Let’s leave a chronicle for the future. Everyone is looking forward to reading these installments. Can’t you just picture their happy faces? The thought that it’s all for the sake of the members fills me with energy!”
Reduced-size bound copies of the Seikyo Shimbun from the period described in the chapter, handwritten notes, and reference books were scattered around Shin’ichi. He picked up his notes and said to the editor: “Let’s get to work, then! Are you ready?”
Shin’ichi began to dictate. As he went on, his voice grew stronger. The editor wrote frantically but couldn’t keep up with the speed of Shin’ichi’s narration, so Shin’ichi slowed his pace to match the editor’s writing.
After about 15 minutes, Shin’ichi began to cough. Even after his coughing let up, his breathing was rough and labored.
“Let me rest a while,” he said, and he lay down on the tatami again.
After about 10 minutes, when the editor had finished making a clean copy of the dictation he had taken, Shin’ichi’s breathing had become a bit easier. He slapped the tatami again forcefully and sat up.
“OK, let’s continue! Everyone is waiting. Our members are doing their best while enduring much bitterness. Just the thought of it fills me with emotion. That’s why I want to lift their spirits even a little. I want to rouse their courage.”
He began dictating again, but after 10 or 15 minutes, he was forced to take another break.
In this fashion, he composed the manuscript and revised it several times. After he made additional revisions to the galley proof, it was printed in the newspaper. Once the serialization resumed, he wouldn’t be able to stop halfway. That is the arduous nature of composing a serialized novel. For Shin’ichi, it was an all-or-nothing struggle, and he dictated each installment with every last ounce of his strength.
The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–75) remarked that words “can be forged into whistling arrows, into flaming swords.” Shin’ichi repeated that message to himself as he worked on polishing the manuscript, carefully pondering each word to make his writing resonate with the hearts of his fellow members.
The serialized publication of The Human Revolution and the new essay series drew an enthusiastic response. They were a source of inspiration and revitalization for the entire membership.
The turmoil within Nichiren Shoshu deepened.
After Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s resignation from his posts as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and Soka Gakkai president (in April 1979), the priesthood clearly stated that it would cease criticizing the Soka Gakkai. However, harassment and mistreatment of Soka Gakkai members by the priests who formed the Shoshin-kai only escalated, so the Soka Gakkai asked the priesthood to keep the promise it had made.
Although Nichiren Shoshu had tried to direct the Shoshin-kai priests to maintain harmonious relations with the laity in accord with the wish of the previous high priest Nittatsu, they ignored this. On August 24, they held a national rally for danto believers—Nichiren Shoshu lay believers who were critical of the Soka Gakkai—at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo.
At that meeting, there were calls for Shin’ichi to resign as honorary chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations [a position to which he had been appointed by Nittatsu the previous year, after stepping down as chief representative] and for the Soka Gakkai to relinquish its status as an independent religious corporation and come directly under Nichiren Shoshu.
Tomomasa Yamawaki did not attend the meeting, but Takao Harayama made an appearance, criticizing the Soka Gakkai and declaring that High Priest Nikken should also be denounced.
Incited by Yamawaki’s scheming, the Shoshin-kai priests ran out of control. They made clear their opposition to Nikken, sending him a letter of inquiry and a petition accusing him of abusing his authority, among other claims.
It was a situation that could easily shake the priesthood to its very foundations.
On September 24, Nichiren Shoshu convened its board of directors. Affirming that the priests of the Shoshin-kai had sown disorder in the priesthood, the board decided to take disciplinary action against 201 priests—roughly one-third of those who had the rank of teacher.
The priests in question held a meeting protesting the board’s decision, claiming that it violated their rights.
As part of the disciplinary measures, Nichiren Shoshu began expelling Shoshin-kai priests one after another. Seeing this development, some of the priests quickly changed their tone and decided to follow the directives of the high priest and the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office.
A number of chief priests who were expelled and ordered to vacate their temples during this period later took Nichiren Shoshu to court.
At 10:00 p.m. on September 30, Shin’ichi Yamamoto departed from the New Tokyo International Airport (later Narita International Airport) for Honolulu to attend events celebrating two decades of kosen-rufu in the United States and open a new page of worldwide kosen-rufu.
There was not a moment to be lost in advancing worldwide kosen-rufu.
During his stay in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first stop on his trip, Shin’ichi attended a number of events at the Hawaii Community Center. He also took time out to encourage members of two Soka Gakkai friendship delegations—one had just arrived for activities in Hawaii and the other was stopping off in Hawaii on its way back to Japan after visiting countries in South America.
On October 2, he attended a gongyo meeting commemorating World Peace Day held at the Hawaii Community Center.
The Soka Gakkai had designated October 2, the date Shin’ichi Yamamoto departed on his first overseas trip in 1960, as World Peace Day.
Shin’ichi had chosen Hawaii as his first destination on that trip two decades ago because it was where the Pacific War had begun. He had resolved deep in his heart to create a great groundswell for peace from this place that had experienced the destruction and devastation of war.
On that first visit to Hawaii, only about 30 or 40 members gathered for a discussion meeting. Many of them were desperately unhappy. Most were Japanese women who had married American servicemen and come to live in Hawaii with their husbands. Some were suffering from severe economic hardship and some even living in fear of domestic violence. They lamented over their misfortune, wishing they could return to Japan.
Shin’ichi confidently assured them that if they exerted themselves earnestly in their Buddhist practice, they would definitely become happy. He also strongly stressed that they had gathered here because of their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth so that they could transform their karma and create happiness for themselves and others.
Supporting, encouraging, and reinvigorating each suffering individual we encounter is the first sure step to realizing a society that respects the dignity of life; it is the starting point for building peace.
Shin’ichi sensed a bright new sun of conviction rising in the participants’ hearts. Full of hope for a brighter future, they went on to challenge themselves based on a clear awareness of their mission for kosen-rufu.
During that first overseas trip, Shin’ichi traveled to cities in North and South America and established a general chapter in the United States; a chapter in Los Angeles and one in Brazil; and 17 districts, including one in Hawaii.
In the two decades since then, the Soka Gakkai, a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, had spread to about 90 countries and territories. At the gongyo meeting commemorating World Peace Day in Hawaii, Shin’ichi prayed deeply. Setting his sights on the year 2000—another 20 years in the future—he vowed to bring humanity and the world together by building a strong network of ordinary people united in the cause of peace.
During this most recent visit to Hawaii, Shin’ichi engaged energetically in activities to promote peace and friendship, including meeting with Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi. He also gave his all to encouraging the members while attending the Hawaii General Meeting and other events.
From Hawaii, he traveled to San Francisco and then to Washington, D.C., before arriving in Chicago on October 10.
Shin’ichi was firmly determined to meet with and wholeheartedly encourage as many members as possible wherever he went.
He attended general meetings in each of the three cities to commemorate 20 years of kosen-rufu in the United States, visited the organization’s local centers, and participated in conferences and other meetings. If he had any spare time, he visited members at their homes.
In San Francisco, he attended a general meeting together with some 3,500 members. He also went to see the statue of Columbus on Telegraph Hill, which he had visited on his first trip. There, he took a group photo with representative members, and pledged with them to take a fresh step forward together for kosen-rufu in the U.S.
In Washington, D.C., Shin’ichi addressed around 4,000 members attending a general meeting held there. At an executive leaders meeting in the same city the following day, he offered guidance based on the parable of “a great king’s feast” (LSOC6, 146) mentioned in the Lotus Sutra.
“The parable likens the greatness of the Lotus Sutra to ‘a great king’s feast’—replete with the rarest and most delicious delicacies. We can take this to correspond to an inner state of complete fulfillment that we, as ordinary people who have struggled with suffering, can attain through encountering the Gohonzon, exerting ourselves in faith and practice, and gaining immeasurable benefit as a result.
“However, no matter how sumptuous the feast, dining while feuding with one another is ‘a feast of asuras.’ Devouring everything greedily is ‘a feast of hungry spirits.’ And eating while plotting someone’s downfall is ultimately ‘a feast of hell.’
“All of us are praying with the purest sincerity for the realization of kosen-rufu and the happiness of all people. Please be assured therefore that our ‘feast’—which can be broadly interpreted to include all our daily activities and meetings for kosen-rufu—is ‘a great king’s feast’ of rich and wonderful abundance.
“The Lotus Sutra also contains the expression ‘human flowers’ (LSOC5, 142), celebrating the beauty of those who, illuminated by the light of the Mystic Law, strive joyfully for kosen-rufu. These ‘human flowers’ radiate joy, are fragrant with benefit and virtue, impart the sweet scent of happiness to others, and come to full blossom as lives of deep fulfillment. Please keep advancing with the confidence that you are such ‘human flowers.’”
After Washington, D.C., Shin’ichi Yamamoto flew to Chicago. On October 12, some 5,000 members gathered joyfully in the Medinah Temple Auditorium for the Chicago Culture Festival and the commemorative general meeting that followed.
It was an amazing contrast to the dozen or so members who had met Shin’ichi in Chicago during his first visit there 20 years earlier. At the culture festival, he was particularly impressed by the experience of Sachie Perry and the performance by her seven children.
Sachie was 14 years old when she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In 1952, she married an American soldier and moved with him to the United States. But endless problems awaited her there, including her husband’s alcoholism and domestic violence, poverty, her sons’ involvement with gangs, the language barrier, prejudice, and discrimination. She worked incredibly hard to raise her seven children. Racial strife and conflict were rampant in their community. Her days were filled with fear and suffering.
Then one day, another Japanese war bride, who lived a short distance away, told her about Nichiren Buddhism, and Sachie began to practice. That was in 1965.
Warmly assured that she would become happy without fail, Sachie was deeply inspired. Above all, she wanted to change her unfortunate destiny. When she chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, courage surged within her. And as she studied the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, she learned that she had a mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth to share the Mystic Law with people in the United States and realize happiness for herself and others.
When people come to understand the true meaning of life, they are revitalized.
With her broken English, Sachie began to introduce those around her to Nichiren Buddhism.
Relentlessly, the waves of karma assailed her. Her youngest daughter was plagued with illness and had to have repeated surgeries. Her husband’s alcoholism and the family’s poverty continued. But by basing herself on faith, Sachie became a person who could take on challenges with the firm resolve not to let anything defeat her.
Her seven children also earnestly practiced Nichiren Buddhism. They formed a band to help support the family and began working as professional musicians.
Even while battling misfortune, Sachie felt a sense of genuine hope and joy each day.
Now at the culture festival in Chicago, she stood on the stage sharing the story of her life and Buddhist practice.
Individual experiences of inner renewal affirm the universal power of the Mystic Law.
At the Chicago Culture Festival, Sachie Perry read her experience, which she had written in the form of a letter to Shin’ichi Yamamoto.
“Dear President Yamamoto,” she began. “When I first started practicing, I had no confidence, no courage, no aspiration. Each day was just a struggle for survival. Believing that this practice was the only way to become happy, I made serious efforts to share Nichiren Buddhism with others.”
A slideshow of family photos was projected on a large screen. Her voice shaking with emotion, Sachie called out: “Sensei! I now have a harmonious family and am very happy. My children have grown into fine young people. I have always wanted you to meet them someday, and here they are!”
The spotlights on the stage illuminated her seven children. They began to play and sing along to a buoyant rhythm. Tears sparkled in their mother’s eyes. Their voices were a fanfare heralding a new day of hope, and the melody communicated the joy of happiness.
The performance was emblematic of the family’s victory, and Shin’ichi responded with enthusiastic applause.
World peace begins with one individual doing their human revolution and changing their karma, or destiny. And happy and harmonious families are the true image of peace.
Throughout the festival, Shin’ichi composed one poem after another to encourage the performers. He presented the eldest son of the Perry family with one that read:
your mother’s song.
The children inherited their mother’s commitment to Buddhism and grew into leaders in American society and in the movement for kosen-rufu. Ayumi, Sachie’s youngest daughter, who had suffered ill health throughout her childhood, was able to attend university in spite of the family’s financial difficulties. She became an educator, eventually going on to graduate school where she completed her doctorate. She later embarked on a career providing training for leaders in education, business, and non-profit organizations, and also for United Nations staff. In the SGI-USA, she went on to play an active role as national women’s leader.
On the 20th anniversary of kosen-rufu in the United States, a new American dream had come to fruition, and countless “human flowers” had begun to blossom with happiness, thanks to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism and its teaching that all people equally possess the life state of Buddhahood.
After the Chicago Culture Festival, a general meeting was held.
The American general director introduced Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s suggestion that a World Peace Culture Festival be held in Chicago the following year, and the audience expressed their approval with powerful applause.
In his remarks at the general meeting, Shin’ichi spoke of the importance of Buddhist study and stressed that they should always strive in their Buddhist practice based on the Gosho, the writings of Nichiren Daishonin.
If everyone follows their own arbitrary view of faith and practice, unity will be impossible. But if we return to the Daishonin’s writings, we can all unite together in shared purpose, or one mind. The principles of Nichiren Buddhism are the standard for our actions.
Shin’ichi had emphasized the importance of Buddhist study, and on the morning of October 13, the following day, he gave a lecture on The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings to a group of representative leaders before departing from Chicago. At the airport as well, while waiting for his flight, he gave another lecture on “The Opening of the Eyes” and spoke about the qualities of genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.
Setting a personal example of initiative is a crucial requirement for leaders.
On his arrival in Los Angeles, Shin’ichi headed to Santa Monica, where he attended a gongyo meeting and an SGI representatives conference at the World Culture Center during his stay. On the evening of October 17, he attended the 1st SGI General Meeting together with some 15,000 representatives from 48 countries and territories. The meeting was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, an impressive building with a long and storied history, including as a venue for the Academy Awards ceremony and many other notable events.
Congratulatory messages for the occasion were received from the Secretary-General of the United Nations; members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; the governors of California, New York, and other states; the mayors of major cities such as Los Angeles and Detroit; and university officials, including the president of the University of Minnesota.
In his speech, Shin’ichi shared a poem that his mentor, Josei Toda, had presented to him in July 1953:
May you live
a thousand years
like the phoenix
soaring through the heavens.
Shin’ichi affirmed his determination to travel the world with that spirit and do his utmost to spread the Mystic Law.
“The time is coming, the future awaits!”—Shin’ichi’s sight was set on the new century, a shining morning of hope.
Back in Japan, meanwhile, Tomomasa Yamawaki was now attacking and maligning the Soka Gakkai in the weekly tabloids and on television programs. These were desperate attempts to justify himself following his being accused by the Soka Gakkai of extortion in June. Fabricating preposterous lies, he repeatedly claimed that the Soka Gakkai was engaged in unlawful activities. He also pressed the members of the Shoshin-kai to petition elected officials and hold rallies and demonstrations demanding that Shin’ichi be called before the Diet for questioning. The Shoshin-kai did just that, but all their efforts ultimately ended in failure.
The Shoshin-kai priests’ dispute with the high priest, Nikken, and with the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office deepened, and eventually led to a decisive rift.
While Nichiren Shoshu was in a state of turmoil and disarray, the Soka Gakkai remained unchanging in its commitment to maintaining harmony between the priesthood and the laity.
On November 18, 1980, a festive meeting was held at the Soka University Central Gymnasium to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding.
Shin’ichi appeared on the stage, looking confident and energetic. As he stood up to address the audience, thunderous applause rang out.
“I would like to begin by expressing my deepest thanks to first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who founded the Soka Gakkai, and to second president Josei Toda, who built its foundation and is responsible for today’s tremendous development.
“I also sincerely thank, with all of my heart, the dedicated pioneer members who have shared in the joys and hardships of ascending the steep path of kosen-rufu over these past five decades, and all our members.
“As long as we continue to strive with solemn devotion to faith, as long as we continue working courageously to spread Nichiren Buddhism with the aim of realizing kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai will endure forever.
“The first act of the Soka Gakkai’s great people’s movement, dedicated to promoting peace and education based on the Mystic Law, has come to a close. Now the second act begins!
“From today, as we aim for the centennial of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, let’s recommit ourselves to working even harder to promote peace and culture throughout the world and advancing our movement of kosen-rufu!”
Shin’ichi’s statement was a powerful lion’s roar. Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs” (WND-1, 997). The members’ hearts blazed with a fighting spirit.
The year 1981 arrived. It would be a decisive year for the Soka Gakkai’s newly launched counteroffensive.
The organization had designated 1981 as the “Year of Youth,” and the members vowed together to make a fresh start.
On New Year’s Day, Shin’ichi Yamamoto recalled a poem that his mentor, Josei Toda, had composed on that day in 1952, having been inaugurated as second Soka Gakkai president in May the previous year:
Now, let us set out on a journey,
our hearts emboldened
to spread the Mystic Law
to the farthest reaches
This poem had been on display along with Toda’s portrait in the Nihon University Auditorium during Shin’ichi’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960. The lines seared in his memory, Shin’ichi had gazed at the image of his mentor and vowed deeply to initiate a great, lifelong struggle to spread the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and, as a disciple whose heart was one with his mentor, to set forth on the journey of worldwide kosen-rufu.
On the morning of his inauguration, Shin’ichi had also composed a poem infused with a vow to live true to the words of his mentor:
“Don’t be defeated!”
“Resolutely take the lead!”—
my mentor’s voice
still resounds powerfully
in the depths of my being.
And now, on New Year’s Day 1981, he resolved to take full-fledged leadership for kosen-rufu, making greater efforts than ever before to go out into the world and work hand in hand with members around the globe.
The following day, January 2, he would turn 53. Life was short, and there were so many things he had to do right now for the sake of worldwide kosen-rufu. He could not afford to hesitate even for a moment.
There were signs of growing turmoil within Nichiren Shoshu. Shin’ichi was determined to pave a new way forward while he continued to shield his fellow members from attack and protect the priesthood, no matter what might happen.
On the evening of January 13, Shin’ichi departed from Narita Airport for Hawaii. He planned to spend about two months outside Japan, visiting Hawaii, Los Angeles, Miami, and other places in the U.S., before traveling to Panama and Mexico.
During his stay in Hawaii, the 1st International Study Executive Conference was held, attended by representatives from 15 countries and territories. Shin’ichi felt it was crucial to delve deeply into the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, which form the basis of genuine respect for the dignity of life, and establish a sound, universal philosophy of peace for all humanity.
During his last visit to the U.S. in October 1980, Shin’ichi had called on the members to apply themselves in Buddhist study. And on this most recent trip, he once again led by example, quoting passages from the Daishonin’s writings and giving guidance based on them.
At the International Study Executive Conference, he read out the passage:
“Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” (WND-1, 386; “The True Aspect of All Phenomena”)
He then went on to explain: “‘Practice’ here means our actions for the happiness of ourselves and others—in other words, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and sharing it with others. ‘Study’ means learning the teachings and principles of Nichiren Buddhism. Those who exert themselves in both practice and study are genuine disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. Unless we persevere in these two ways, we are not truly practicing Buddhism, the Daishonin says.
“Only the Soka Gakkai has been acting in perfect accord with this passage and advancing kosen-rufu while being subjected to all kinds of opposition and abuse. This is a fact that no one can deny.
“The two ways of practice and study arise from faith. Neglecting practice and study means losing one’s faith. Faith means wholeheartedly embracing the Gohonzon and striving earnestly and steadfastly for kosen-rufu, undefeated by any threat, attack, or temptation.
“Practice and study are like the two wheels of a cart, while faith is like the axle. No matter how knowledgeable someone may be about Buddhist doctrine, without practice, they are like a cart with only one wheel, and will inevitably veer from the correct path of faith.
“There have been a number of individuals who became engrossed in Buddhist study while making no real effort in Buddhist practice. Thinking they were better than everyone, they behaved arrogantly, alienating their fellow members who were striving sincerely in faith, and eventually they quit the Soka Gakkai. That is extremely unfortunate.
“We are not studying the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism to become professional Buddhist scholars. I wish to reaffirm that the purpose of our Buddhist study is to deepen our faith, attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, and advance kosen-rufu.”
Buddhist study in the Soka Gakkai is practice-oriented study, delving into the principles of life for creating happiness for ourselves and others.
While in Hawaii, Shin’ichi laid a wreath and offered deep prayers for peace at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, where the Pacific War began. He also attended the 1st U.S.-Japan Friendship Culture Festival, held at the Waikiki Shell, along with representatives from 15 countries and territories.
In addition, he held a study session for leaders from throughout Hawaii, at which he discussed a passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “The Opening of the Eyes” and spoke of the noble mission of members who were striving for kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law: “The wall of conflict between East and West has divided our world and intensified the prevailing chaos and turmoil. As disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, let us continue to spread the supreme teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to enable all humanity to attain enlightenment. Let us renew our efforts to illuminate the innermost depths of people’s lives, and sound the bell of happiness and peace.
“There can be no world peace as long as darkness shrouds people’s hearts. Respect for the dignity of life starts with manifesting our inherent Buddhahood and enabling each individual to shine. Reviving people through Buddhism, bringing people together through culture, and building bridges of lasting peace for humankind—these make up our social mission as Buddhists.”
After concluding his eight-day schedule of activities in Hawaii, Shin’ichi flew on to Los Angeles shortly before 2:00 p.m. on January 20.
During his stay there, he participated in a world peace prayer meeting at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica, a meeting of editors of Soka Gakkai publications from various countries and territories, and a U.S.-Japan Friendship Culture Festival at the Shrine Auditorium celebrating Los Angeles’ bicentennial.
Held on January 24, the culture festival brought together some 15,000 people, and included performances by U.S. and Japanese members and a series of song and dance numbers celebrating the history of the city and the people who built it. Each presentation drew loud applause.
A celebrity guest at the festival later said that she had been deeply moved by the enthusiasm and passion of the performers and inspired by the ideals and spirit of the Soka Gakkai.
Culture and the arts create a resonance of shared feeling in people’s hearts and bring them together.
On the same day, January 24, back in Japan, Tomomasa Yamawaki was arrested on charges of extortion and attempted extortion. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department had officially accepted the Soka Gakkai’s complaint in October of the previous year (1980), and since then had been conducting a detailed investigation. Now, with enough evidence to charge him, Yamawaki was arrested.
To protect himself, Yamawaki had used certain tabloid weeklies to wage a smear campaign against the Soka Gakkai, but during his trial it became clear that he had been spreading vicious lies and that his allegations lacked any credibility.
After Yamawaki’s arrest, the Tokyo District Prosecutor’s Office requested an interview with Shin’ichi. The Soka Gakkai, too, wanted the real situation to be brought to light and the truth clarified. So Shin’ichi interrupted his U.S. trip and returned to Japan.
Before leaving, Shin’ichi informed the American members: “I have something that I need to return to Japan for, but I’ll be back. The United States is the cornerstone of worldwide kosen-rufu. Please unite solidly and build an organization of human harmony that is a model for the rest of the world.”
Shin’ichi returned to Japan on January 28, and was interviewed by the prosecutor’s office on four separate occasions. He also attended a number of Soka Gakkai meetings, including an informal discussion with participants of a prefectural leaders conference. On February 15, he flew back to Los Angeles.
There, he offered guidance and encouragement to members at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica and at the Malibu Training Center.
Next, he made his way to Miami before flying to Panama on February 19.
It was his first visit to Panama in seven years, and many new members had emerged. He participated in an informal meeting with representatives of seven Central and South American countries and then attended a Japan-Panama Friendship Culture Festival at the National Theater of Panama. He also met with the president of Panama and the mayor of Panama City, donated books to a local Japanese school, and visited the University of Panama, working energetically to lay the groundwork for the development of kosen-rufu in the 21st century.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68), leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, said: “There is only one thing certain about time, and that is that it waits for no one. If not used constructively, it passes you by.”
On February 26, Shin’ichi flew from Panama to Mexico. It was his second formal visit there, the first in 16 years.
In Mexico, as in Panama, national television network journalists and newspaper reporters were waiting for him at the airport. This testified to the high regard in which the Soka Gakkai’s activities for peace, education, and culture were held throughout the world.
In Mexico City, Shin’ichi visited the local organization’s community center for the first time, went to see the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, and attended a Japan-Mexico Friendship Culture Festival.
On March 2, he met with the president of Mexico, visited the National Autonomous University of Mexico to donate books, and spoke with the university rector and other university officials.
On the drive back from the university, Shin’ichi took time to stop and go for a stroll around the city with his wife, Mineko.
When they arrived at a broad avenue, they saw the Angel of Independence Monument bathed in sunlight rising into the sky. Atop the central column stood a golden statue known as the Angel, wings outspread, with a laurel crown symbolizing victory in her right hand, and a broken chain symbolizing freedom in her left.
“This is it,” said Shin’ichi. “Yes, that’s right,” replied Mineko.
Their mentor, Josei Toda, had once described this scene to Shin’ichi very clearly.
It was about 10 days before his death. The bedridden Toda had sent for his young disciple. When Shin’ichi approached, Toda smiled warmly and said: “Last night I dreamed that I went to Mexico. They were all waiting, waiting … seeking Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. I would like to see the world, to take a journey for kosen-rufu. …”
Though Toda was physically weak, his mind carried him eagerly forward on a journey around the world. That is the fighting spirit and the heart of a great champion of kosen-rufu.
Toda then described the Independence Monument standing in the center of Mexico City and other local sites that he had seen in his dream.
Josei Toda had never traveled outside Japan. But he often read books about Mexico, and the image of the Independence Monument and surrounding cityscape he had seen in photographs had lodged in his mind. He also frequently asked Fumiko Haruki, the first Osaka Chapter women’s division leader, about the country. She had lived in Mexico as a child because her father’s job had taken their family there.
Toda described the scene with astonishing clarity. And then he added: “Shin’ichi, you must go out into the world. The world is your true stage.”
Looking at Shin’ichi intently, he extended his thin arm out from under the bedcovers. The disciple silently clasped his mentor’s frail hand.
“Shin’ichi, live out your life. Live long. And travel the world.”
Shin’ichi had shared that conversation in detail with his wife, Mineko.
When Shin’ichi saw the Independence Monument on his first visit to Mexico 16 years earlier, in August 1965, he recalled Toda’s words and was deeply moved.
As he stood before it again now, the monument glistened in the sunlight, and his mentor’s heartfelt words “Travel the world” echoed in his heart.
“Sensei! I am traveling around the world. I will build a firm foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu in your stead!”
Shin’ichi silently renewed his vow, and Mineko remarked: “Today, the second, is President Toda’s monthly memorial.”
“That’s right. And on this day, we happened to come to this place.”
“No doubt he led us here.”
Nodding their agreement, they looked up at the monument.
The next day, Shin’ichi and his party visited Mexico City Hall and other places, before departing for their next destination, Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara.
There they visited a private community center for Soka Gakkai activities, where Shin’ichi met informally with and encouraged members. He also visited the University of Guadalajara, met with the university rector, and delivered a lecture.
Shin’ichi ’s lecture at the University of Guadalajara was titled “The Mexican Poetic Spirit.”
In it, he spoke of the unique warmth of the people of Mexico, a “land of sunshine and passion.” Their poetic spirit and ready smiles, he said, opened pathways between people’s hearts, and this was vitally important in building peace and promoting cultural exchange. He also expressed deep admiration for the Mexican people’s strong initiative and ongoing efforts to ensure that Latin America would remain a nuclear-free zone.
From Guadalajara, Shin’ichi returned to Los Angeles and then to Hawaii. In both places, he once again poured his heart into giving guidance at informal meetings and study sessions, before arriving back in Japan on March 12.
He had continued his earnest efforts to encourage members in Japan and around the world, and the kosen-rufu movement was now gradually gaining fresh momentum.
Events celebrating Soka Gakkai Day, May 3, were held at Soka University in Tokyo, where Shin’ichi attended a series of commemorative gongyo meetings and other events from May 2 to May 5.
Soka Gakkai members, linked by the bonds of mentor and disciple, had begun a spirited march toward the 21st century amid warm spring breezes.
With hardly a moment’s rest, Shin’ichi left Japan again on May 9 to travel to the Soviet Union, Europe, and North America, determined to continue working for world peace.
The Soviet Union, his first destination, was at the time facing a barrage of worldwide condemnation for its December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. More than 60 nations had boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics in protest, and the country found itself in an extremely difficult position internationally.
But Shin’ichi believed it was wrong to close off avenues for dialogue as a result of focusing only on political issues. It was at such challenging times, he was convinced, that we should put the greatest emphasis on culture and education and do our utmost to conduct grassroots exchanges to encourage mutual understanding.
Shin’ichi visited the Soviet Union this time at the invitation of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education and Moscow State University. He was determined to promote educational and cultural exchange between the Soviet Union and Japan as a means to open new paths for friendship.
A large delegation of some 250 members accompanied him, including the Fuji Fife and Drum Corps and the Soka University Ginrei Chorus. Plans had been made for a broad range of exchanges with Moscow State University students and with ordinary citizens.
During his eight-day stay, Shin’ichi visited the Moscow Musical Theater for Children and formed a friendship with its founder and director, Natalya Sats. He also met and spoke with a number of Soviet officials about peace and cultural exchanges.
Among those with whom he had lively conversations were Minister of Culture Peter Demichev; Minister of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education Vyacheslav Yelyutin; Chairperson Zinaida Kruglova of the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries; Chairperson Timofei Guzhenko of the Soviet-Japan Society (who also served as Marine Minister); Moscow State University Rector Anatoli Logunov; and Chairperson Aleksey Shitikov of the Soviet of the Union, the lower chamber of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.
Shin’ichi also visited and laid flowers at Lenin’s Mausoleum; the Kremlin Wall, where the remains of former Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin were interred; and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Paying his respects at the gravesite of the former premier was one of the main purposes of his visit to the Soviet Union.
Kosygin had died the previous December. Shin’ichi had met him twice at the Kremlin. Their conversation in September 1974, on Shin’ichi’s first visit, took place at a time of heightened Sino-Soviet tensions. Shin’ichi frankly asked the premier whether the Soviet Union was planning to attack China.
Kosygin clearly stated that it had no intention of doing so. With the premier’s permission, Shin’ichi conveyed those words to Chinese leaders on his second visit to China that December.
Shin’ichi did everything he possibly could in his private capacity to ensure that the Soviet Union and China would not go to war.
The road to peace begins with one steady step forward.
On May 12, Shin’ichi attended the opening of an exhibition of Japanese dolls sponsored by the Soka Gakkai, the Soviet Ministry of Culture, and the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow. That afternoon, he also visited the All-Union State Library of Foreign Literature, meeting with its director, Lyudmila Gvishiani, who was the daughter of the late premier Aleksey Kosygin.
Director Gvishiani wore a blue suit over a cream-colored top. Her kind, intelligent smile and clear eyes resembled her father’s.
Shin’ichi told her that he had visited her father’s gravesite and offered his condolences to her.
“I am very moved by your visit,” she replied, choked with emotion. “And I’m deeply touched by your warm heart.”
She then began to reminisce about the day her father first met Shin’ichi: “That day when he had finished with his work and returned home, he said to me: ‘I met an extraordinary and very interesting Japanese today. I was happy to have had a most refreshing discussion, even though we spoke about complex issues.’ He then asked me to take good care of the books you had presented to him.
“I wanted to present you with something in return, and after discussing the matter with the rest of my family, we would like to give you this.”
She then handed Shin’ichi a crystal vase that Premier Kosygin had received at age 60, when he was honored with the country’s highest civilian title, Hero of Socialist Labor.
She also presented him with two leather-bound books, the last the premier had written, which had been in his study until his death.
“These books still retain the warmth of my father’s hands. In his stead, I would like to present them to you.”
Expressing his gratitude, Shin’ichi said: “These gifts are symbols of a very deep, eternal friendship. I will communicate that friendship to the people of Japan. I pray for the happiness of all the members of your family.”
A steady current of peace is created when friendships are forged across generations from parent to child.
As Shin’ichi left, Director Gvishiani waved good-bye until he was out of sight, an image he would always remember.
On the morning of May 13, Shin’ichi and Mineko went to the Novodevichy Cemetery to offer prayers at the grave of Rem Khokhlov, the former Moscow State University rector, who had died four years earlier. Afterward, they visited the Khokhlov family home.
There they met with Professor Khokhlov’s wife, Elena, and their two sons, Aleksei and Dmitry, and reminisced about the late rector.
Aleksei, the older son, was a physicist at Moscow State University, and Dmitry was studying physics at the university’s graduate school.
Shin’ichi and Mineko’s visit genuinely delighted the family, and Aleksei expressed their gratitude: “Thank you for making a special visit to pay your respects to our father. Your visit to our country has been blessed with beautiful weather, as if the heavens are celebrating. Moscow’s long winter has ended, green shoots are sprouting, and the season when nature returns to life is here.”
“Your family is beginning the same season,” Shin’ichi responded. “You’ve weathered the winter of sorrow, and now fresh hope is sprouting as the time of new life arrives. I am sure Rector Khokhlov wishes for nothing more than his loved ones’ happiness and well-being. As his sons, please study hard and become great scholars who surpass even your father and make a positive contribution to society, while leading happy lives.”
Aleksei nodded. “My father was always talking about you. I am very pleased to be able to meet you in person.”
“I hope we’ll have many more occasions to meet and reminisce about your father. Please come to Japan sometime, and please visit Soka University.”
Elena said with emotion: “I feel like we have known you forever.”
Sharing a warm rapport, they enjoyed a lively conversation.
The Khokhlovs presented Shin’ichi with a collection of the rector’s writings and a photograph of him in a mountain setting. “My husband loved mountain climbing,” Elena said with a smile.
Shin’ichi stayed in regular touch with the Khokhlov family over the years.
Just as plants that sink their roots deep into the earth grow and flourish, forming deep-rooted friendships with people everywhere is the way to create rich, ever-expanding green fields of peace.
That afternoon, Shin’ichi visited Moscow State University and met with the rector, Anatoli Logunov, a noted theoretical physicist and member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
In April, the rector had visited Japan. At that time, he had asked Shin’ichi to join him in a dialogue about the important role that educational exchange could play in promoting Soviet-Japanese friendship and world peace. Shin’ichi had agreed, seeing it as a way to transmit the principles and philosophy of peace to future generations.
For their meeting in Moscow, he had prepared a list of questions on a variety of subjects. Rector Logunov was happy to go along with Shin’ichi’s suggestion that their dialogue cover such topics as issues facing modern science; religion and literature; war, peace, and ethnicity; and the challenges of cultural exchange.
Before the meeting, the rector was presented an honorary professorship from Soka University. In his acceptance speech, he noted that universities have a mission to safeguard peace for humanity. He then addressed the problem of nuclear weapons: “The use of nuclear weapons today would result in the complete annihilation of the human race. We must, therefore, abandon the idea of securing peace by force rather than through human wisdom, since it would mean condoning nuclear warfare.”
Interpreting for them during their discussion was Leon Strijak, a senior lecturer at the university’s Institute of Asian and African Studies.
Both Shin’ichi and Rector Logunov strongly believed that a nuclear war must be averted and that building peace through cultural exchange was the only way to ensure the survival of the human race. Their conversation flowed in an atmosphere of warm mutual accord.
They met and spoke together a total of 13 times, in the course of which two books of their dialogues were published in Japanese—the first in June 1987, titled Daisan no Niji no Hashi—Ningen to Heiwa no Tankyu (“The Third Rainbow Bridge—The Search for Humanity and Peace”); and the second in May 1994, titled Kagaku to Shukyo (“Science and Religion”).
World peace begins with joining people’s hearts. Shin’ichi wanted to show the world that when we focus on people and peace, we can rise above differences of political system and ideology and come to understand and empathize with one another, forming close friendships.
Also, on the evening of May 13, a Japan-Soviet Student Friendship Festival took place at Moscow State University.
It began with a colorful parade by the Fuji Fife and Drum Corps, angels of peace, in the university’s front courtyard, and then moved to its Palace of Culture, where a celebration of friendship and peace unfolded.
The Soka University Ginrei Chorus and others in the Soka Gakkai delegation sang a number of Japanese songs, including “Kuroda Bushi” and “Haha” (Mother). When they sang the much-loved Russian folk song “Katyusha,” the whole audience clapped along as one. Moscow State University students also performed piano and chamber music, and sang and danced to Russian folk songs in traditional costumes. Toward the end, the choruses of both universities together sang “Shiki no Uta” (Song of the Four Seasons) in Japanese and “Waltz of Friendship” in Russian. The hearts of all from Russia and Japan became one.
Shin’ichi had fond memories of the Palace of Culture. Six years earlier, in May 1975, he had delivered a lecture here titled “A New Road of East-West Cultural Exchange.” In it, he shared his conviction that cultural exchange could open a new Silk Road of the spirit and connect the hearts of people all across the world.
Now, watching this exchange of culture and friendship between Soviet and Japanese youth, Shin’ichi felt that indeed a new spiritual Silk Road was being opened. Leaning forward in his seat, he heartily applauded each performance.
The following afternoon, on May 14, Shin’ichi visited the Kremlin and met with Soviet Premier Nikolai Tikhonov. Since it was the premier’s 76th birthday, he presented him with a bouquet of flowers.
Shin’ichi said to him: “I am not a politician, a businessman, or a diplomat, but I hope you will allow me to offer some frank suggestions as an ordinary citizen who loves peace.”
“I’d be happy to!” the premier responded, and the two enjoyed a friendly conversation.
All people essentially desire peace. It is not flowery rhetoric or pretense that draws forth that inner spirit from people’s lives, but only open, honest dialogue coming from genuine and sincere humanity.
Shin’ichi said to Premier Tikhonov: “The hope of all humankind is that war will be prevented. I believe that if you and General Secretary Brezhnev were to meet for thoroughgoing talks with the president of the United States and leaders of China and Japan—in a mutually agreeable location somewhere outside of Moscow, such as Switzerland—the people of the world would be enormously reassured. I very much hope you will call for such a summit for the sake of world peace. It is important to continue holding talks to totally reject war and give humanity a sense of security.”
Shin’ichi also spoke about Japan-Soviet relations: “Before focusing on such things as treaties, there is a need, I feel, for your country to engage in cultural exchange with Japan to better understand the hearts of the Japanese people and foster mutual trust. Top leaders of our two countries should meet regularly for talks and, without being held back by past positions, be forward-looking and interact in a way that will gain the support of both countries’ citizens.”
Mentioning the economic and trade issues between the two countries, Premier Tikhonov acknowledged that cultural exchange perhaps lagged somewhat and that Shin’ichi had made an important point. He said he intended to pursue greater bilateral exchange to promote peace and culture.
Shin’ichi also gave the premier a letter addressed to General Secretary Brezhnev, thanking him for the invitation to visit the Soviet Union.
He also urged a meeting between U.S. and Soviet leaders in his 1983 and 1985 peace proposals, which were issued on SGI Day, January 26. Many people were very concerned about the continuing serious tensions between the two countries.
When Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary in 1985, he steered a course toward ending the Cold War. He held a summit with Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president, that November in Geneva, after which the pace of dialogue between East and West accelerated.
In December 1989, Gorbachev met with U.S. President George H. W. Bush in Malta. They together declared the end of the Cold War and their intention to embark on building a new world order through cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States.
In 1990, Shin’ichi met with Gorbachev, who had become the Soviet Union’s first president. They went on to forge a lasting friendship and together published a dialogue, Moral Lessons of the Twentieth Century.
On the evening of May 14, after meeting with Premier Tikhonov, Shin’ichi sponsored a banquet at his hotel to thank those who had assisted him during his visit. He also invited guests from various fields.
The next day, Shin’ichi and his party visited Tolstoy House and the State Literary Museum of Leo Tolstoy, both in Moscow.
The house, a two-story wooden structure built in the 19th century, retained its original form. The floorboards creaked underfoot, a reminder of its age.
Tolstoy spent the last 19 years of his life in this modest home. In his study, a desk, chair, pen holder, and ink pot were kept as they were then. Tolstoy chopped his own firewood for the stove that warmed the room, and the apron he wore while doing so was also on display.
He had composed Resurrection, his great final work, and many other important writings here.
Shin’ichi and the others then made their way to the museum. In the high-ceilinged, richly historic building, Tolstoy’s elementary school compositions, the diary he kept throughout his life, manuscripts of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and busts and paintings of him were on display.
Shin’ichi’s eyes were drawn to a large green glass paperweight, which sat next to a censored manuscript. A gift from workers at a glass factory, it was etched with their names and words of praise for Tolstoy: “You have shared the fate of many great people ahead of their time. … Russian people will always be proud, seeing you as their own great dearly beloved.”
Tolstoy fought tirelessly to improve the lives of those forced to endure poverty. He used his pen to combat the lies and hypocrisy of church and state. As a result, his works were harshly censored or their publication blocked, and the Russian Church excommunicated him. Enraged, the people defended Tolstoy and cried out for truth and justice.
Awakened people saw through the clergy’s deceptions and sought a religion truly concerned with the welfare of human beings. The wisdom of the people rejects the false and dishonest elements of religion and embraces the true and humane.
Tolstoy continued his quest to identify the nature of a genuine religion and what constitutes true religious faith. He perceived God as existing within the human being. This was not the God taught in churches, but God as the highest pinnacle of the human spirit, the crystallization of conscience. Committed to realizing peace and happiness for all people, he taught moral regeneration, the rejection of violence, and nonviolent resistance to evil. That stance was incompatible with the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church of his day, which had close ties with the state.
Because of this, his novel Resurrection and other writings on religion such as What I Believe and The Kingdom of God Is Within You could not be openly published in Russia. They had to be published and distributed underground or in other countries.
Victor Hugo (1802–85), who had a profound influence on Tolstoy, famously declared: “Derision is counted by posterity as the sound of honor.”
As the government and the Church intensified their efforts to suppress Tolstoy, he found great support among the people. This gained him growing praise and trust from around the world. One of those deeply inspired by Tolstoy’s ideas was Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948).
The Russian Church’s excommunication of Tolstoy backfired completely. It stirred worldwide support for Tolstoy, which made it difficult for the government or the Church to touch him. Instead, they focused their oppression on Tolstoy’s disciples, exiling Vladimir Chertkov (1854–1936). Paul Biriukov (1860–1931) was also sentenced to internal exile for eight years. Undaunted, he later completed the biography Leo Tolstoy: His Life and Work, in which he sought to give a genuine account of his teacher’s life and accomplishments.
Ordinary citizens were also subjected to persecution for supporting Tolstoy, and mere possession of one of his banned books was cause for arrest. But the people, who keenly sensed Tolstoy’s sincerity and were sympathetic to his ideas about religion, remained steadfast in their support.
The value of religion is measured by what it brings people. A religion truly concerned with people’s happiness brings them courage, hope, and wisdom, fortifies their spirits, and enables them to free themselves from the chains of suffering.
Visiting Tolstoy House and the State Literary Museum of Leo Tolstoy, Shin’ichi was inspired by the great writer’s life, giving him renewed courage. He savored a proverb that Tolstoy cited in his final diary entry: “Do what you must, come what may.”
Shin’ichi felt a deep sense of mission to carry through with the challenge he was devoting his life to—world peace through the accomplishment of worldwide kosen-rufu.
The group next visited the Space Pavilion of the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy. The exhibit about satellites reinforced their appreciation of the Soviet Union’s commitment to their space program. Shin’ichi shared his impression with the government official showing them around: “What a marvelous display of technological prowess! I hope these wonderful achievements can be used for the peace and prosperity of humanity. This is what the people of the world are waiting and hoping for.”
May 16 was the last day of Shin’ichi’s eight-day trip to the Soviet Union. That evening, he was scheduled to fly to Frankfurt, West Germany, where he would begin his tour of European countries.
Before departing, he was invited by Vyacheslav Yelyutin, the Minister of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education, and his wife to sail along the canal connecting the Moscow and Volga rivers. They had an impassioned discussion about educational exchange.
From the boat window, Shin’ichi saw beautiful greenery covering the banks. The canal made Moscow an inland port city, the center of an extensive waterway network linking five bodies of water—the White Sea, Baltic Sea, Caspian Sea, Sea of Azov, and Black Sea.
It occurred to Shin’ichi that educational exchange can be likened to canal building. With a view to the future, it is an effort that links people of different nations, ideologies, and ethnic backgrounds, creating ports of friendship leading to the great ocean of peace.
At 7:00 p.m., Shin’ichi and his party departed on their flight from Sheremetyevo International Airport, seen off by Moscow State University Rector Anatoli Logunov and others. Operating under daylight saving time, the northern capital of Moscow was still sunny at that hour, and the plane took flight under the bright rays of the evening sun.
Shin’ichi was excited, knowing that many members were eagerly awaiting him in Europe.
(This concludes “Launching Out,” chapter 3 of volume 30 of The New Human Revolution.)
- The Four Modernizations was a policy program aimed at strengthening and modernizing China’s agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology sectors. ↩︎
- Translated from Russian. Leo Tolstoy, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (Complete Works), (Moscow: Terra, 1992), vol. 69, p. 144. ↩︎
- This refers to the direction of the moon’s apparent retrograde motion. While the moon rises in the east and sets in the west like the sun, because of the direction of its orbit around the earth, each night it appears a little farther to the east of its position in the sky at the same time the previous night. ↩︎
- Eight winds: Prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. In a letter to Shijo Kingo, the Daishonin writes: “Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds. … They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds” (WND-1,794). ↩︎
- Translated from Japanese. Kitaro Nishida, Nishida Kitaro Zenshu (Collected Writings of Kitaro Nishida), vol. 18 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1966), p. 513. ↩︎
- Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. vol. 68 (Oct. 15, 1938–Feb. 28, 1939) (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1977), p. 169. ↩︎
- Yamaguchi Campaign: A propagation campaign that unfolded over a three-month period spanning October and November 1956 and January 1957. On the instructions of President Toda, the young Daisaku Ikeda traveled to Yamaguchi Prefecture and launched an unprecedented effort to open the way for the development of the kosen-rufu movement there. At the end of September 1956, just before the campaign was launched, the Soka Gakkai had a membership of 459 households in Yamaguchi. By the end of January 1957, the number had increased almost tenfold, to 4,073 households. ↩︎
- Hans Christian Andersen, A Poet’s Bazaar: Pictures of Travel in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1871), p. 342. ↩︎
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), p. 128. ↩︎
- He had also made a brief stopover at the airport in Mexico in 1974. ↩︎
- In addition to annual memorials for the deceased, monthly memorials are also often observed. Mr. Toda passed away on April 2, 1958. His annual memorial is observed on April 2 each year, while his monthly memorial is observed on the second of each month. ↩︎
- Rosamund Bartlett, Tolstoy: A Russian Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), p. 391. ↩︎
- Translated from French. Victor Hugo, Actes et Paroles, III: Depuis l’Exil (Acts and Words, III: Since the Exile), in Oeuvres Complètes (Complete Works), edited by Jean Massin (Paris: Le Club Français du Livre, 1970), vol. 15, p. 1382. ↩︎
- Cf. Leo Tolstoy, Tolstoy’s Diaries: Volume II, 1895–1910, edited and translated by
R. F. Christian (London: The Athlone Press, 1985), p. 677. ↩︎