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The New Human Revolution

Vow—Volume 30, Chapter 6

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. “Vow” is the sixth chapter of volume 30, the final volume of The New Human Revolution. Ikeda Sensei appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Installment 10 | Installment 20 | Installment 30 | Installment 40 | Installment 50 | Installment 60 | Installment 70 | Installment 80 | Installment 90 | Installment 100 | Installment 110 | Installment 120 | Installment 130

Installment 1

The door to a new era is opened by young people. A steady stream of talented young people emerging and fully displaying their potential is essential to the ongoing development of organizations, societies and nations. For that reason, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had always focused his attention and energies on fostering youth.

The most vital requirement for young people to grow as successors for kosen-rufu is to gain unshakable conviction in faith, and to develop themselves and forge their character based on an awareness of their profound mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth. It is extremely important, therefore, that they achieve personal growth by developing such qualities as the spirit of challenge, persistence and a sense of responsibility. To provide opportunities for young people to do that, Shin’ichi had proposed holding youth-centered culture festivals on the prefectural and regional levels.

Soka Gakkai culture festivals are celebrations of the triumph of ordinary people, giving expression to the joy and vitality gained through their practice of Nichiren Buddhism. They are microcosms of human harmony, showing the beauty and strength of unity arising from trust and friendship. They are festivals of hope, proclaiming a vow for the realization of kosen-rufu, or world peace.

Kansai was the first region in Japan to hold such a culture festival in this period when the Soka Gakkai was making fresh strides in its development toward the 21st century. On March 22, 1982, the First Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival was held at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka.

In 1966, another historic gathering had been held in Kansai, which had inspired many people throughout Japan and around the world. That event, held outdoors at the Koshien Stadium despite heavy rain, came to be proudly known as the “Kansai Culture Festival in the Rain.”

At the time, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai instructed close aides tasked with studying the Soka Gakkai to view filmed footage of that festival. One of those individuals was Lin Liyun, who would serve as the interpreter at Shin’ichi’s 1974 meeting with Premier Zhou. She later remarked: “Seeing the young people performing joyfully in the rain and mud was truly inspiring … I got the sense that the Soka Gakkai was an organization with a solid base among the ordinary people. I deeply felt that it was an important organization for building friendship between China and Japan.”

The Kansai youth division members were strongly determined to make this latest culture festival even more inspiring than the first in terms of the artistry of the performances and their power to convey the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Installment 2

In November 1981, a few months before the First Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had traveled to Osaka to attend the Third Kansai General Meeting. At that time, the Kansai youth told him: “We’re going to make next year’s Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival in March an event that will show the world that the Soka Gakkai is here and that the Soka bond of mentor and disciple is strong!” “One hundred thousand youth are waiting for you!”

Shin’ichi felt their youthful passion, which radiated with sunlike brilliance.

The culture festival was originally scheduled to be held over two days—on March 21 and 22, 1982—but the session on March 21 was cancelled due to heavy rain. Arriving in Osaka that evening, Shin’ichi dropped by an event staff meeting to encourage the youth, who were no doubt deeply disappointed.

At the culture festival, the Kansai youth were going to attempt to build a six-tier human pyramid, a very difficult gymnastic formation. While a team of young men from Koto Ward had succeeded in building one at a Family Friendship Gathering of members from areas in downtown Tokyo, held in April 1981, this would be the first time for a six-tier pyramid to be attempted at a culture festival.

Aware of this, Shin’ichi said to the event staff: “I’m sure you’re all very disappointed by today’s cancellation, but attempting to achieve the extremely challenging feat of a six-tier human pyramid two days in a row is just too much for all involved. An accident could easily happen. The rain might have been a blessing in disguise. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s festival!”

Safety and no accidents are the golden rules for culture festivals. The Kansai youth were keenly aware that any accident could have devastating consequences. When it had been decided to include a six-tier human pyramid in the event program, they resolved that there would be no accidents. They took various steps and precautions to that end, studying the best and safest way to form the pyramid, and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together earnestly for its success.

In selecting participants for this performance, they gave priority to those experienced in gymnastics and implemented a program of physical training. Day after day, the members went through rounds of running, pushups and other exercises to strengthen their backs, legs and core muscles.

When the team members held practice sessions outdoors, local men’s and women’s division volunteers worked to clear the ground of stones and small pieces of broken glass beforehand so that no one would be injured.

Buddhism is reason. In one of his writings, Nichiren Daishonin lauds a disciple for his “usual prudence” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1000). Taking precautions and being well prepared are the keys to success.

Installment 3

Uplifting blue skies stretched out across ever-victorious Kansai. At 1:30 p.m. on March 22, the Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival began with a “procession of peace” by 10,000 newly joined youth division members.

These new members had embarked on the path of Soka, seeking a positive way to spend their youth and lead their lives. On this day, they marched together proudly into the stadium.

The sight deeply moved the members who had earnestly spoken with them about Nichiren Buddhism and introduced them to it, which they had done amid continuing criticism and harassment by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood.

The fresh energy of new people is the driving force for creating a new future.

After the United Nations Flag and the Soka Gakkai Peace Flag were carried in and raised, a chorus of 2,000 members sang “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century”—a song adapted from a poem that Shin’ichi Yamamoto had presented to the youth division—as young women in flowing white dresses took the field and performed a ballet that they had created and choreographed.

Many other beautiful and inspiring performances followed: a parade by the young women’s and future division fife and drum corps, the emissaries of peace; rhythmic calisthenics by high school division members; a dance performance by the young women’s division; a dance by young men’s student division members dressed in traditional Japanese hakama; a presentation chronicling the 30-year history of the Kansai Soka Gakkai, combining music, grandstand card art, and narration; gymnastics by junior high and elementary school division members; another ballet by the young women’s division; a marching band performance by the Music Corps; and a powerful “Ever-Victorious Taiko” drum performance.

Finally, it was time for the young men’s division gymnastics event.

With a great roar, 4,000 young men ran onto the field. To the accompaniment of a medley of Soka Gakkai songs such as “Song of Crimson” and “Challenge New Frontiers,” they made one formation after another—including a sea of rolling waves and flying “human rockets.” Next, they formed eight individual five-tier human pyramids. Finally, in the center of these, they began to build a grand six-tier pyramid. The first tier comprised 60 members; the second, 20; the third, 10; the fourth, 5; the fifth, 3; and the sixth, 1.

The young men on the first tier positioned themselves standing. The remaining 39 young men readied themselves to climb onto their shoulders. If the first level didn’t hold firm, it would not support the upper levels. The second-tier members took their position, forming a circle in a crouching position on the shoulders of the first, while the third-, fourth- and fifth-tier members followed in succession, doing the same on the shoulders of the level below. Then, the final member climbed to the top, sixth tier.

“Let’s go!” That call signaled the start of a drama of breaking through limitations.

Each team member possessed a confidence forged through intense training and practice.

Installment 4

The youth on the second tier of the human pyramid straightened up from their crouching position, bearing the weight of the 19 young men on their shoulders. Their feet dug into the shoulders of those standing on the first tier. Unless the second-tier members stood up in solid alignment, those above them would lose their balance and fall. They gritted their teeth and pushed themselves upright.

Next, the youth on the third tier, and then the fourth tier, stood up in turn in the same manner. Their bodies shook and strained.

A helicopter with a film crew covering the event circled overhead, its blades chopping loudly and creating unexpectedly strong gusts of wind. The pyramid, not yet complete, swayed from side to side, everyone straining together to keep it steady. The members surrounding the pyramid’s base chanted in their hearts, and at last, the helicopter moved away.

The young men on the fifth tier then stood up, as the drums of the Music Corps resounded in the background.

The final young man, who alone would form the sixth tier, made an attempt to stand, but he couldn’t gain his balance. Bending down again slightly, he put his hand on the shoulder of a youth below him to steady himself.

The audience gasped and held their breath, all eyes on the top of the pyramid.

The young men in the tiers supporting him cried out in their hearts: “Stand up! We’ve got you!”

“You can do it!” came cries from the audience.

The young man took a deep breath, looked up at the sky, and then stood up in one smooth motion.

Atop the pyramid, he stretched his arms skyward.

Cheers and thunderous applause erupted throughout Nagai Stadium. One of the stands was transformed into a card art display reading in vivid colors “The Kansai Spirit.”

Shin’ichi Yamamoto applauded vigorously.

The young man at the top of the pyramid shouted something. It was a cry from the heart, but no one heard it, his words drowned out by the cheers and applause. What he said was “Koji, we did it!”

The young man’s name was Hiroyuki Kikuta, and Koji was the name of his close friend and fellow young men’s division member Koji Ueno, who had passed away five days earlier. Ueno had worked at the same plumbing firm as he, and also been scheduled to participate in the culture festival as a member of the gymnastics event. But on March 17, he had died from a sudden illness.

Seeking to fulfill his friend’s wish for their success, Kikuta had challenged himself to the end.

The six-tier human pyramid built by the young men’s division members was also a beautiful and indestructible monument of friendship.

Installment 5

It was on March 6 that Koji Ueno, who had been participating regularly in practice sessions with fellow members of the young men’s division’s gymnastics team, reported feeling unwell and was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital.

After seeing a doctor, he was sent home. When he started to become disoriented and confused, he was hospitalized. Though only half conscious, he kept repeating, “My best friend’s going to stand atop a six-tier human pyramid.”

A short while later, he lost consciousness completely and the hospital arranged to have him transferred to an emergency and critical care facility. Hiroyuki Kikuta rushed to the hospital, arriving just in time to be at Ueno’s side as he was being put on a stretcher. It was then that Ueno said faintly yet clearly, “We’ll make the impossible possible!”

These were the last words he spoke.

At the emergency medical center, Ueno was diagnosed as having suffered a serious stroke of a type known as a primary subarachnoid hemorrhage.

On March 13, he stopped breathing and was placed on a ventilator. He lived for another four days, making it to March 16, Kosen-rufu Day, before passing away peacefully the next afternoon.

Near his bedside hung the blue uniform that he would have worn for the gymnastics event at the culture festival.

At the medical center, Kikuta vowed to his departed friend: “Koji, I’ll do my best for you, too!”

On March 18, with a photo of Ueno in his breast pocket, Kikuta headed to a practice session in the gymnasium of the Soka Girls Junior and Senior High Schools[1] in Katano, Osaka. The gymnastics team had not yet succeeded even once in building a six-tier human pyramid, but that day they managed to achieve the difficult feat for the first time.

That same day, the young men at the Soka schools’ gymnasium and also their fellow team members practicing at other locations were informed of Ueno’s death, his invincible spirit, and his final words, “We’ll make the impossible possible!”

The hearts of the 4,000 young men blazed as one with fresh resolve.

Kikuta took Ueno’s final words deeply to heart. He challenged himself to the limits of his ability and put the crowning touch on a spectacular performance, actualizing his friend’s declaration “We’ll make the impossible possible!”

The Soka Gakkai presented Ueno with the posthumous title of honorary young men’s division headquarters leader.

His mother reflected: “When my son was in his second year of junior high, he nearly died from purpura.[2] Looking back, I feel that he had prolonged his life until now thanks to the benefit of faith in the Gohonzon.”

Installment 6

In a letter she sent to Shin’ichi Yamamoto, Koji Ueno’s wife wrote: “At the end of his battle with his karma, my husband died with a beautiful expression of almost childlike innocence on his face. He left for us an irrefutable testimony of faith. He taught us, through giving his all to the very end, what it means to practice Nichiren Buddhism, what it means to fight and win over one’s karma.”

When a collection of signatures and written resolutions by participants in the Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival was compiled, his teammates wanted to include Ueno’s name. In response, his wife wrote on his behalf: “Kosen-rufu is my life! —Koji Ueno, honorary young men’s division headquarters leader.”

Learning of this, Shin’ichi offered prayers in memory of Koji Ueno, and also chanted for Mrs. Ueno, praying that she would continue to dedicate herself to kosen-rufu for her late husband as well and lead a happy life.

Many of the young people who performed in the culture festival were of a generation that disliked intensive training and large group activities. They were also busy with work or school. For them, participating in the many rehearsals and practice sessions leading up to the culture festival was a battle—a battle not to be defeated by their own weakness and a battle with time. Throughout, they had chanted, continued to challenge themselves based on faith and encouraged one another not to give up.

As a result, they had each created a drama of human revolution and written countless stories of friendship. Through participating in the culture festival, they had learned the Soka Gakkai spirit of bravely confronting and battling hardships, and put that spirit into practice in their own lives. It was here that they inherited the invincible Kansai spirit of breaking through impossible barriers.

Where was the Kansai spirit born?

Josei Toda declared his wish to rid the people of Osaka of poverty and sickness and enable all to become happy without exception. And to realize that wish, he sent his disciple Shin’ichi Yamamoto to Kansai on his behalf. Making his mentor’s spirit his own, Shin’ichi took the lead for kosen-rufu there, traveling throughout the region to encourage and inspire the members. And in May 1956, he and the members of Kansai’s Osaka Chapter achieved the record result of 11,111 new households joining the Soka Gakkai in a single month, achieving a resounding breakthrough for the victory of the people.

Installment 7

In July 1956, the Soka Gakkai fielded candidates for the first time in the national House of Councilors (Upper House) election. Shin’ichi Yamamoto had led the campaign activities in the Osaka district to great success, with the candidate there being elected. It was a dramatic victory, overturning widespread public forecasts calling it impossible. In fact, a major newspaper announced the outcome with the headline: “The ‘Impossible’ Has Been Achieved!”

On July 3, 1957, Shin’ichi was arrested on trumped-up charges of election law violations in connection with campaign activities for a House of Councilors by-election in the Osaka district, held in April that same year. This became known as the Osaka Incident. It was an act of repression by the authorities, who feared the rise of a powerful new people’s movement. The members were outraged.

On July 17, the Osaka Rally was held at the city’s central public hall in Nakanoshima to protest the actions of the Osaka Prefectural Police and Osaka District Prosecutors Office. Thousands of members also filled the area outside the hall, unable to fit inside. Suddenly, it began to rain heavily, and lightning ripped through the sky. As they stood in the downpour, members listened intently to the words flowing from the speakers that had been specially set up for those outside. No one in the crowd, including women with infants strapped to their backs, made a move to leave.

They were indignant that Chief of Staff Yamamoto had been arrested on completely false charges. All he had ever done was work tirelessly for people’s happiness. He had ignited their courage. They could not condone the authorities’ malicious actions to persecute him.

The flame of justice burned brightly in the members’ hearts. The vow to be ever victorious was forged deep within them, and a great movement of awakened people began.

Now, the children carried by their mothers that day had grown to be fine young adults. Many had performed vibrantly on the grand stage of the youth peace culture festival, giving expression with all their beings to the people’s triumph and to their joy and vision of peace.

After finishing their work or studies that day, the youth had raced out of breath to the rehearsal venues and practiced wholeheartedly, determined to let nothing defeat them. The men’s and women’s division members who had worked so hard since the early days of the Soka Gakkai regularly stopped by to show their support and encourage them. Some would say to the grandchildren they brought along with them: “Take a good look! That all-out effort is the Kansai spirit, the Soka Gakkai spirit!”

The pioneer members felt pride and joy that these successors—all young lions—were growing splendidly and carrying on their spirit.

Installment 8

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda had gone among the people of Osaka, having vowed to rid the world of misery and to help absolutely everyone become happy. That resolve was none other than the spirit of peace.

Making this spirit of his mentor his own, Shin’ichi Yamamoto put everything he had into actualizing those goals. The Kansai members had striven alongside him, undeterred by oppression by the authorities, and created a new page of history, bringing happiness and revitalization to countless people. Inheriting the Kansai spirit and Soka Gakkai spirit was to inherit the spirit of peace.

Next on the Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival program was a declaration for peace. Kansai Youth Division Leader Masashi Oishi took the microphone and powerfully addressed the audience: “Fellow disciples of third President Yamamoto, gathered 100,000 strong from throughout Kansai!” He then read the pledge for peace:

First, we pledge to elevate Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism far and wide so that it becomes the spirit of the age and the spirit of the entire world and, basing ourselves on the principles of respect for the dignity of life and humanistic pacifism, to advance our movement for lasting peace in accord with the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”

Second, it will soon be 25 years since second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda issued his Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. The indomitable spirit of that declaration, carried on by the third Soka Gakkai president, Shin’ichi Yamamoto, has now become a global current, resonating in the hearts of many. We will step up the peace activities that have emerged from our profound commitment as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism toward the 21st century. We will continue to promote the penetrating insights articulated in President Toda’s declaration and work for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Third, the lifeline for building lasting peace is solidarity among the world’s people. We pledge, by rallying the wide-ranging power of youth who seek world peace, to shape global opinion for a new era in which humanity upholds the spirit of the United Nations Charter, and to make the 21st century the century of life and peace that all humanity longs for.

The peace declaration was adopted with the thunderous applause of the members who packed the stadium.

A peace movement needs a solid underlying philosophy. Nichiren Buddhism teaches that all people possess the Buddha nature. This principle fundamentally affirms that each individual is equally worthy of supreme respect and that everyone has the right to lead a happy life.

Installment 9

The Soka Gakkai’s movement for peace is based on building the “defenses of peace,”[3] spoken of in the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution, by establishing in people’s hearts the Buddhist principle of respect for the dignity of life.

Nichiren Buddhism, which embodies the essence of the Lotus Sutra, shows us how to reveal the Buddhahood inherent in our lives; vanquish evil in the human heart and bring forth human goodness; and realize happiness for ourselves while helping others do the same.

Soka Gakkai members had been putting the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism into practice each day, challenging themselves in their human revolution and changing negative karma that was a cause of suffering. In addition, through playing an active role in contributing to the betterment of society, they had created a growing network of people who shared these life-affirming values.

Peace is not simply the absence of war. True peace exists when all people on our planet can live with a genuine sense of happiness and joy, free from fear and anxiety caused by the threat of nuclear weapons, hunger, poverty and discrimination. Soka Gakkai members exemplify such genuinely happy and joy-filled lives.

As representatives of the some 5,500 guests attending the Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki delivered greetings.

Hiroshima Mayor Takeshi Araki cited Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s belief that, as the sole country to have suffered atomic bombings in war, Japan had the mission to lead the world toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. This, he said, advocated the need for making the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki known throughout the globe, and provided a guiding philosophy for taking action with the same commitment to peace as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He also passionately stated: “The establishment of lasting world peace, for which all humanity yearns, is nurtured and fostered by heart-to-heart interactions based on strong solidarity between the world’s people and through discovering the goodness that resides within each other. In that respect, he said, he sincerely applauded the efforts of the Soka Gakkai youth in carrying out activities to promote peace and the advancement of culture.

Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima expressed admiration and appreciation for the Soka Gakkai’s peace-building efforts over many years, since the time of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s 1957 declaration against nuclear weapons. He cited such initiatives as publishing testimonies by survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a petition drive calling for nuclear weapons abolition.

Installment 10

Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima noted that Shin’ichi Yamamoto had held numerous dialogues with world leaders—including Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai—motivated by the wish to promote world peace and human happiness. These efforts, he stressed, were key to actualizing peace. He continued: “Let us pledge together to ensure that nowhere on our planet will a third nuclear bomb ever be dropped—that Nagasaki will remain the last place to suffer a nuclear attack in the world! … I ask that you please take the lead in activities for peace throughout Japan!”

In his greetings, Soka Gakkai Kansai Region General Leader Koichi Towada called the youth peace culture festival a fresh departure and proclaimed the organization’s determination to contribute to peace with the aim of realizing a world free of nuclear weapons and the tragedy of war. He also shared the message that United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar had sent SGI President Yamamoto on the occasion of the culture festival.

The secretary-general had written: “It is greatly encouraging to us to note the dedication of Japanese nongovernmental organizations such as Soka Gakkai to the promotion of world peace and disarmament . . . I deeply appreciate your efforts to better inform the peoples and governments of the world of the dangers of the arms race.”

In discussions between member states at the United Nations, it was often the case that each country gave precedence to protecting its own national interests. As a result, little progress had been made in international negotiations to reduce arms stockpiles or eliminate nuclear weapons. NGOs had an important role to play toward breaking through this impasse, by helping build grass-roots solidarity for peace and create a powerful momentum for change.

The previous year, 1981, the Soka Gakkai had been registered as an NGO with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Department of Public Information. Also, on January 26, 1982, the seventh anniversary of the SGI’s founding, the Soka Gakkai Peace Committee was established and began to undertake more extensive and substantial activities for peace.

Buddhism exists to protect human beings. As its practitioners, therefore, we have a mission to protect peace.

Installment 11

At the Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival, after greetings by Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki, Shin’ichi Yamamoto took the microphone.

Expressing his deep appreciation to all the performers and guests, Shin’ichi spoke of the Soka Gakkai’s commitment to peace.

“Peace is the wish of all humankind. Based on the correct teaching and principles of Nichiren Buddhism, we have worked with a single-minded commitment for peace, and will continue to do so in the future.

“Even if we encounter slander and criticism, we must rise above them, and each continue to forge ahead as a drop in the mighty river moving powerfully toward the realization of the most important goal of peace, the cherished wish of all people. My young friends, I entrust you with this task.”

After voicing his hope that the youth would continue to make great contributions in their workplaces and communities, he called out: “I would like the Soka Gakkai to become an organization that is even more appreciated and trusted than it is today!”

Shin’ichi also presented the Kansai youth with the following poem:

Ah, Kansai!
The skies clear, the earth illuminated—
one hundred thousand
champions of peace
have created history!

The First Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival came to a close amid an explosion of joy and celebration. It was like the sun dawning on a new day of peace built through the efforts of ordinary people.

Nichiren Shoshu High Priest Nikken Abe was among the many guests who attended the festival. A couple of days later, there was a message from the priesthood summoning Shin’ichi to come immediately to the head temple. Shin’ichi changed his plans to visit Kyoto and Shiga, two prefectures in the Kansai area, and traveled with Mr. Akizuki to the temple on March 25.

A furious-looking Nikken awaited them and launched into an imperious tirade.

He was enraged about a passage that had been used by the youth division in their declaration for peace at the culture festival that read: “We pledge to elevate Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism far and wide so that it becomes the spirit of the age and the spirit of the entire world.” It was utterly disrespectful, he asserted, for them to speak of “elevating” a teaching that was already as lofty as Nichiren Buddhism.

In fact, he was splitting hairs over semantics. It was obvious to anyone hearing these words that they were a vow for peace and kosen-rufu based on spreading the principles of Nichiren Buddhism widely and making them the spiritual foundation for the age and the world.

In the mirror of a warped mind, everything appears distorted.

Installment 12

Nikken also demanded to know why Shin’ichi Yamamoto had referred to him as the Most Honorable Nikken Shonin, and not His Holiness the High Priest, in his remarks at the Kansai Youth Peace Culture Festival.

Nikken had attended and watched that spectacular culture festival, but instead of even thinking to thank the youth, he had summoned Shin’ichi and Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki to the head temple specifically to berate them in this way.

They were simply stunned by his arrogant, high-handed attitude. Whether out of jealousy or just showing his true colors, he seemed intent on flaunting his authority.

Despite this, Shin’ichi’s stance of maintaining harmony between the priesthood and laity for the sake of kosen-rufu didn’t change in the slightest.

“Now is the time to make new creative efforts for culture and peace!” It was with this spirit that the First Chubu Youth Peace Culture Festival was held on April 29 at the Gifu Prefectural Stadium. Some 70,000 youth gathered for this event commemorating the 30th anniversary of kosen-rufu in the Chubu region.[4]

Contrary to forecasts of cloudy weather with rain, clear blue skies stretched overhead.

The festival began with the United Nations Flag, the Soka Gakkai Peace Flag and the Chubu Soka Gakkai Flag being paraded onto the field and raised. Then, a dazzling pageant of human harmony unfolded, featuring beautiful dances celebrating youth; joyful, rousing music; and many other performances brimming with the passion and energy of young people united in a common purpose.

U.N. Information Center Vice Director Nobuaki Oda, one of the guests who spoke at the festival, said: “Through today’s culture festival, I have strengthened my conviction that peace isn’t something created in some distant part of the world, but something we must work to build right here in our immediate environment. I have witnessed firsthand the spirit behind SGI President Yamamoto’s support of the United Nations, and I am deeply inspired.”

Noting that the U.N. General Assembly would soon convene a special session on disarmament (June 7–July 10, 1982), he said the U.N. welcomed the Soka Gakkai youth peace culture festivals being held at this important time.

As the German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) proclaims with his “Solidarity Song,” unity is the ultimate key to victory.

In order to realize the grand ideal of peace, we must rally the passion and power of youth.

Installment 13

Taking the microphone as the final speaker, Shin’ichi Yamamoto praised the festival as brimming with “the brilliance, sounds and power of peace,” and expressed his sincere appreciation to the guests for attending, including the governors of Gifu and Aichi prefectures. He then conveyed a few brief points.

“To lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, it’s important that we continually return to the basics and consider the direction we should be heading. This means thinking about such questions as ‘How do I best live my life?’ ‘What is my life’s true purpose?’ ‘What are the key principles for realizing peace?’ In other words, having the foundation of a solid philosophy is crucial.

“I wish to state that we, the members of the Soka Gakkai, are working to achieve the ideal of peace as we discuss these questions with many friends and practice such a sound philosophy together each day.”

Applause resounded, echoing out to nearby Mount Kinka, where Gifu Castle stands.

He continued: “Since ancient times, religions that genuinely empower people have been subjected to groundless slander and criticism. However, I hope all of you—who are striving to usher in an age that values life and to create lasting peace—will boldly set forth toward the 21st century, courageously overcoming all obstacles along the way.

“Please be reliable and trustworthy people in your workplaces, schools, homes and communities. That is one way to demonstrate the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism, and it will pave the way to peace.”

Rain began to fall now, as if it had been waiting until the Chubu Youth Peace Culture Festival drew to a close.

As he watched the young people participating vibrantly in the festival that day, Shin’ichi was confident that an indestructible golden castle of Soka had been built in Chubu. Establishing an invincible fortress for kosen-rufu in Chubu, a region located halfway between Tokyo and Kansai, was a vow that Shin’ichi and his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, had shared.

In his youth, Shin’ichi had presented Mr. Toda with the poem:

Now is the time
for valiant youth to rise
and strive resolutely
to build the golden castle,
the strong fortress of Chubu!

Mr. Toda had immediately responded with a poem of his own:

Now is the time to advance!
The forces of the Buddha
fear nothing.
The strong fortress of Chubu—
how I look forward to seeing it stand!

The wish of mentor and disciple had now been splendidly achieved.

The culture festival was a triumphant, history-making event.

Installment 14

On Sept. 18 and 19, 1982, the Second World Peace Culture Festival, with the theme “A Renaissance of Peace,” was held at the Seibu Lions Stadium in Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture.

The First World Peace Culture Festival had been held a little over a year earlier, in June 1981, at the Rosemont Horizon Arena near Chicago.

The Second World Peace Culture Festival was a nighttime outdoor event involving 40,000 youth division members—of whom 3,000 were from 37 countries and 3 territories outside Japan.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended the festival on Sept. 19.

Before an audience of 30,000, including 12,000 invited guests from various fields of society, the performers put on a spectacular display of light and sound that was both a celebration of world peace and an expression of their vow to make that dream a reality.

It had been raining intermittently since morning, sometimes heavily and sometimes lightly.

A little after 4:30 p.m., about an hour before the festival was to start, Shin’ichi, wearing a suit, went down onto the rain-misted stadium field. He wanted to convey his heartfelt gratitude to the many performers, event staff and spectators gathered, especially the youth in the stands who were participating in the card art presentation.

He began to walk around the perimeter of the field without an umbrella as it continued to drizzle. Cheers resounded through the stadium. He waved as he walked by, stopping several times to bow deeply in appreciation.

One of the event staff handed him a microphone, and Shin’ichi addressed the youth: “Thank you for all your efforts despite the rain! Please do what you can so that you don’t catch a cold. Thank you all so very much!”

Shin’ichi spoke without any pretension, his words like those of a father voicing concern for his children.

Naturally, it was important for the festival to be a success. Everyone involved had been practicing for months toward this day—striving throughout the rainy season and the hot days of summer. And Shin’ichi had also chanted earnestly for the event’s success. But far more important to him was that the youth not become ill or be involved in accidents. For they were the precious successors who were the treasures of the Soka Gakkai and flag bearers for world peace.

Installment 15

The many inspiring performances at the World Peace Culture Festival included a lively, upbeat dance titled “Sparkling Eyes” by young women’s junior high and high school division members; group gymnastics with the theme “Soaring Flight” by young men’s junior high and high school division members, brimming with the energy of young people moving dynamically toward the future; and a young men’s division card art display that emblazoned the words “Waves of Peace” across the stadium field, giving expression to their vow to build lasting peace.

The boys and girls division members performed a delightful dance in which they tossed giant balloon-like balls in the air, expressing their boundless hopes and dreams for the future. The young women’s division’s “Dance of Torches” began with the light of a single torch, followed by another and yet another, until 600 beautiful lights of peace bobbed and twirled around the field.

There was also a parade by SGI members who had traveled to Japan from around the world to perform in the festival. Everyone marched together singing and smiling, including members from Ireland and the United Kingdom, whose countries were embroiled in a bitter dispute over fishing rights.

As the lines in the SGI song “March Toward the 21st Century” declare:

The road that we travel is long,
but with hope in our hearts, we’ll go on.
Marching forward to victory,
in the 21st Century.

U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, whom Shin’ichi Yamamoto had met the previous month, on Aug. 24, also sent a message to this culture festival, which read in part:

In these difficult times, when division and disorder characterize international life, it is vital that we renew our dedication to the ideals enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. We have at our disposal the international machinery capable of maintaining security and promoting disarmament. But such machinery can only be effective if we are committed to its use and to strengthening the organization’s authority. Otherwise, we may find ourselves moving toward a global catastrophe without the institution to prevent it.

He further noted that NGOs such as the SGI have an extremely important role to play in helping generate public support for the United Nations and in furthering its goals of peace and disarmament. He said he was confident that the present culture festival would help sustain the international momentum toward disarmament.

Shin’ichi was determined to expand the international grassroots network for peace that the SGI had forged and make even greater efforts to support the United Nations, a parliament of humanity.

Installment 16

Soka Gakkai peace culture festivals were held not only on a regional level, such as those in Kansai and Chubu, but also in each prefecture throughout Japan, providing a new forum for fostering awareness of the value and importance of peace.

For the Soka Gakkai, 1982 was an unprecedented year for launching bold new initiatives in its movement for world peace.

Youth peace lectures were sponsored by both the Youth Peace Conference and Student Peace Committee, and a lecture series was organized by the Women’s Peace Committee. The second showing of the “Women and the Pacific War” exhibition was held, and numerous exhibitions highlighting the war experiences of different regions were put on display as part of the Soka Gakkai’s local grass-roots efforts for peace. These included the “Civilians and the Battle of Okinawa” and “The War and the People of Tokushima” exhibitions.

In April, the Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees jointly sponsored a fundraising campaign to assist Asian refugees, which was conducted in some 650 locations around Japan.

The youth division, together with the U.N. Information Center, also mounted an exhibition titled “The United Nations and Us,” which was displayed at the Nagasaki City Peace Hall.

On June 7, the U.N. General Assembly’s second special session on disarmament began at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. To support that event as a U.N.-affiliated NGO, the Soka Gakkai sent a 50-person delegation to New York. The group, which included 30 atomic bomb victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, co-sponsored a forum, where the bombing survivors shared their experiences. It also held an exchange meeting with American antinuclear NGO representatives.

In addition, the exhibition “Nuclear Threat to Our World” (later renamed “Nuclear Arms—Threat to Our World”), organized by the Soka Gakkai in cooperation with the U.N. Department of Public Information and the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was displayed in the public lobby of the General Assembly building, beginning four days before the start and continuing through to the closing of the special session on disarmament.

The world’s people are largely unaware of the terrible consequences of an actual nuclear attack. Since Japan was the only country in the world to have suffered this fate in war, directly experiencing the horror and tragedy of the atomic bombings, and the resulting catastrophic loss of life, it had a vital mission to work to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The Nobel Prize–winning physicist Albert Einstein voiced his firm conviction: “If we have the courage to decide ourselves for peace we will have peace.”[5]

Only the human will has the power to free the world of war.

Installment 17

The “Nuclear Threat to Our World” exhibition was divided into three sections: “Atomic Destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki”; “Factual Information on Nuclear Capabilities”; and “Disarmament and Development.”

The first section comprised photo panels depicting the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombings; a model of Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings left standing at ground zero; and some 30 artifacts and other items from the blasts, including burned and tattered clothing worn by bomb victims and roof tiles melted by the intense heat. There was also a section portraying a scenario of what would happen if a nuclear bomb were detonated over New York City.

Nothing can give people a more deeply personal appreciation of the terrifying nature of nuclear weapons than hearing the stark firsthand accounts of A-bomb survivors who have lived with its painful aftereffects, or seeing the consequences of the blasts by viewing video footage or artifacts of the aftermath. Helping people recognize this threat not only intellectually, but viscerally and existentially, is essential to building greater solidarity for peace and opposition to nuclear weapons.

The Soka Gakkai’s exhibition at the U.N. drew a very positive response. It was viewed by more than 200,000 people, including Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and other top U.N. officials, numerous ambassadors and diplomats, and representatives of various NGOs.

A bookstore owner from New Jersey shared her impressions after viewing the exhibition. She said that she couldn’t believe human beings had perpetrated something so horrifying; the very thought sickened her. If a megaton bomb were detonated over New York, she noted, her town would also be wiped out. She declared it imperative that nuclear war be prevented at all costs.

The U.N. General Assembly’s second special session on disarmament decided to initiate a World Disarmament Campaign. As a part of that initiative, the “Nuclear Threat to Our World” exhibition was held at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva the following year, 1983.

The exhibition subsequently traveled to India, Canada, China and the Soviet Union. And, by the time of the U.N. General Assembly’s third special session on disarmament that opened on May 31, 1988, it had been shown in 25 cities in 16 countries, including seven cities in Japan. Viewed by more than 1.2 million people, it played a significant role in raising people’s awareness of the importance of peace.

The driving force behind this achievement was the youth of the SGI, whose dedicated efforts expressed their commitment to peace as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

Installment 18

Josei Toda once told Shin’ichi Yamamoto that it was important to make concrete proposals toward the peace of humankind and to take the lead in seeing them realized. He added: “Even when such proposals are not fully or immediately accepted, they can serve as a ‘spark’ from which a movement for peace will eventually spread like wildfire. Theorizing that is not grounded in reality will always remain a futile exercise. Concrete proposals provide a framework for the transformation of reality and can serve to protect the interests of humanity.”

Shin’ichi had put this guidance of his mentor into action.

On the occasion of the 1982 U.N. General Assembly’s second special session on disarmament, he issued his “Proposal for Disarmament and the Abolition of Nuclear Arms.” On June 3, a few days before the start of the special session, a visiting Soka Gakkai delegation hand delivered the proposal on Shin’ichi’s behalf to U.N. Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar.

In it, Shin’ichi voiced his belief that NGOs whose goals and character are transnational can be instrumental in helping bring about disarmament. He also called on the General Assembly, through the consensus of non-nuclear weapons states, to pass a resolution requiring a firm commitment from the nuclear powers, especially the United States and Soviet Union, not to carry out a pre-emptive nuclear strike. In addition, he proposed that the U.N. create a special committee to work on the establishment of peace-preserving organizations in nuclear-free regions with the aim of creating a global network of peace.

On the occasion of the U.N. General Assembly’s first special session on disarmament in May 1978, as well, Shin’ichi had made a 10-point proposal for nuclear disarmament and abolition. He could not sit by while nuclear weapons continued to threaten humanity with annihilation.

And to commemorate the SGI’s eighth anniversary on Jan. 26, 1983, he issued the first of his annual peace proposals, which was titled “A New Proposal for Peace and Disarmament.” In it, he called for the early realization of a summit meeting between the United States and the Soviet Union, and an agreement on freezing nuclear arsenals at their present levels. He also proposed establishing a “Nuclear War Prevention Center” and that the United States and Soviet Union hold an international conference on freezing military spending.

From 1983 onward, Shin’ichi continued to make proposals each year on SGI Day, sharing them with the world in order to set in motion a new momentum toward peace.

Our voices have the power to move people’s hearts and to change society and the world. A new step forward begins when we speak out.

Installment 19

In May 1983, the SGI was registered as an NGO with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Also, on Aug. 8, the same year, SGI President Shin’ichi Yamamoto received the United Nations Peace Award. U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Public Information Yasushi Akashi presented the award, comprising a letter of commendation from the secretary-general accompanied by the United Nations Peace Medal, in a ceremony at the Soka Gakkai’s House of International Friendship (now Tokyo International Friendship House) in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. U.N. Information Center Director David Exley and other U.N. officials also attended. In the letter, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar enumerated the reasons for honoring the SGI leader:

You have made ceaseless efforts to promote understanding and friendship among nations by mobilizing your wide constituency behind the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. You have made constructive proposals for the relaxation of international tension and for the promotion of disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament, the most vital issue of our times. In addition, the contribution of the Soka Gakkai and the Soka Gakkai International under your leadership to the United Nations public information activities has been of great assistance to us in our endeavors to further public support for the aims and ideals of the world Organization.

The road we travel is long, but we must press onward. Such tenacious, persevering efforts will give rise to an impetus toward peace that will spread throughout the world. If people around the globe raise their voices to demand the abolition of nuclear weapons, the times will definitely change.

In 1989, Shin’ichi received the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Humanitarian Award in recognition of his long-standing contributions to aiding refugees. In his acceptance speech on that occasion, he said: “This Humanitarian Award belongs not only to me. It is the result of the dedicated humanitarian efforts our youth division members have undertaken as Buddhists in conjunction with the activities of the Soka Gakkai’s peace committees and conferences. I accept this award as a sign of global recognition for our collective efforts.”

The origins of the Soka Gakkai’s peace activities can be traced back to Soka Gakkai founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s struggle against the oppression of the Japanese militarist government, which had adopted State Shinto as a spiritual pillar for uniting the population behind its war effort. Mr. Makiguchi adamantly refused the authorities’ demands to enshrine the mandatory Shinto talisman, and in July 1943, he was arrested and jailed, along with his disciple Josei Toda.

Installment 20

Openly refusing to accept the Shinto talisman, which the militarist government had made compulsory, meant taking a stand against the authorities and maintaining one’s freedom of belief under the wartime system of thought control. This was literally a life-and-death struggle for human rights. In fact, founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi died for his beliefs behind prison walls in the bitter cold of late autumn, on Nov. 18, 1944, a little over a year after his arrest.

All people have a fundamental right to freedom of thought and belief, and protecting those rights is the foundation of peace.

The Buddhist view that sees each person as a Buddha offers a solid spiritual foundation for securing human rights.

Mr. Makiguchi, as a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, which upholds this view, had no option but to take a stand against the militarist authorities who treated people as tools to serve their aims.

It was also inevitable that his disciple Josei Toda should feel compelled as a Buddhist to issue a declaration on Sept. 8, 1957, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and denouncing them as an “absolute evil” that threatened humanity’s very right to survival.

Nichiren Buddhism, on which the Soka Gakkai’s activities are based, is a teaching that finds supreme value in human life and does not view the nation or state as absolute. Nichiren Daishonin called the leader of the military government of his day “the ruler of this little island country” (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 765).

He also declared: “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (“The Selection of the Time,” WND-1, 579). These words were also included in a UNESCO publication titled Birthright of Man.[6]

Nichiren’s message here was that people are not slaves of the state or the social system. No authority can shackle the human spirit. It was a human rights declaration that affirmed the universal value of human life, transcending the powers of the state.

Of course, nations and governments play indispensable roles, and it is important that people do their best to contribute to their country, because its condition strongly affects their happiness and well-being.

It is essential to remember that people do not exist for the sake of the nation or a small handful of leaders; the nation exists for the people.

Installment 21

Nichiren Daishonin was dedicated to the happiness of the people who were struggling with hardships and suffering. And he aspired to achieve kosen-rufu not only in the country of Japan, but throughout the entire world—that is, to realize happiness and peace for all humankind. When we base ourselves on this spirit of the Daishonin, we will quite naturally come to believe in the importance of living together in harmony with all people and working for the common good of humanity.

In February 1952, during a time of intensifying East-West tensions in a world split by the United States and Soviet Union, Josei Toda advocated the concept of a global human family. This, too, was an expression of the ideals of Nichiren Buddhism.

As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, Soka Gakkai members embrace a life philosophy that views everyone as precious, equal and deserving of happiness. When they see others suffering, they empathize and take compassionate action to encourage them out of a wish that they become happy. Broadening understanding and support for this way of thinking and living is the key to building a solid grassroots movement for peace that can unite people around the world.

In April 1982, war broke out between the United Kingdom and Argentina over control of the Falkland Islands (known as Islas Malvinas in Spanish) in the South Atlantic Ocean. Fighting continued for several weeks, but in mid-June the Argentine military surrendered, and the war ended. It was not until February 1990, however, that diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored. Both sides suffered heavy casualties in the war, with more than 900 killed in total.

Leaders of SGI-UK and SGI-Argentina, including their respective general directors, knew one another from participating together in various training courses in Japan. While war was being fought between their two countries and hostility grew among their people, the SGI members in Britain and Argentina started chanting together for peace. Thinking of fellow members in the other country, each prayed fervently for the war to end.

American humanitarian and social activist Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) declared: “If peace is going to come about in the world, the way to start is by getting a better understanding between individuals. From this germ a better understanding between groups of people will grow.”[7]

Trust between human beings is the cornerstone of peace.

Installment 22

In November 1983, the year after the Falklands War, SGI-U.K. General Director Raymond Gordon spoke about that time in an interview featured in the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper: “Virtually every member in the U.K. chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo earnestly to the Gohonzon for the war to come to an end as soon as possible. When I called a leader in Argentina [SGI-Argentina General Director Kazuya Okida] to see how everyone was doing, I learned that he and the members there, like us, were chanting for peace.

“Hearing this, I felt that though our two countries were separated by a great distance and sadly embroiled in a military conflict, we shared the same wish for peace. We were definitely united by warm human bonds and a genuine commitment to peace.”

Gordon prayed for his country Britain to change its karma.

In May 1982, while the Falklands War was still under way, Gordon visited Japan and accompanied Shin’ichi Yamamoto to the Peace Park in Nagasaki. There, he laid a wreath at the base of the Peace Statue, praying for the repose of the atomic bomb victims and the realization of lasting world peace, including an end to the war in the Falklands.

Fortunately, the war ended the following month, without it spreading any further.

In March 1983, a little less than a year after the conflict, SGI-U.K. held an audio-visual peace exhibition in London, titled World Peace Exposition and with the central theme of “Choose Life.” Television and radio stations, including the BBC, as well as leading newspapers, covered the event and praised it highly.

When a philosophy of respect for the supreme dignity and preciousness of life becomes deeply rooted in the hearts of people all around the world, it will be possible for humanity to come together in the cause of peace. At the most fundamental level, building peace means firmly establishing this philosophy and tirelessly expanding the circle of those who embrace and support it.

In March 1986, representatives of SGI-U.K. and SGI-Argentina participated in a joint training session at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo. They were all members who had continued chanting together for peace. Any initial tension that might have existed was swiftly dispelled. The members pledged to keep fighting together as champions of peace until war no longer exists in the world.

Installment 23

Shin’ichi Yamamoto believed that steadily carrying out activities for kosen-rufu, a movement deeply rooted in the lives of ordinary people and dedicated to spreading the Buddhist philosophy of peace and humanism around the world, was the key to building an unshakable foundation for lasting peace. The power of the people and grassroots efforts are essential for creating a sound public consensus against war and nuclear weapons, and are also the driving force for uniting people around the world.

In addition, he was deeply determined to continue engaging in dialogues with leaders of many countries and to work in tandem with the United Nations to create a global trend toward peace.

He had also decided to put a special effort into educational and cultural exchanges with universities around the globe, so that the students who would shoulder the future could form broad-ranging bonds and networks of solidarity for promoting friendship and peace.

While the realms of government and politics tend to be swept along by the tumultuous shifting currents of the times, universities and other centers of learning possess a universality and permanence. The students who graduate from each country’s highest institutions of learning go on to become the next generation of leaders who will be responsible for the development of their societies. In addition, exchange and interaction among the youth of different countries are certain to become a new force for uniting the world in the age of globalization.

Shin’ichi poured all of his energy into his activities. To encourage members, he traveled even more extensively throughout Japan as well as overseas.

In May and June 1983, he visited the United States and Europe.

In February and March 1984, he traveled again to the United States, and also to South America. On that trip, he visited Brazil for the first time in 18 years and met with President João Figueiredo—who in May 1982 had sent him a personal letter inviting him to visit the country. Their meeting took place on Feb. 21 at the Presidential Office in Brasília, the nation’s capital.

On his visit to Brazil 18 years earlier, Shin’ichi had been under constant surveillance by the military government’s political police. Some members of the government at that time had accepted spurious rumors claiming that the Soka Gakkai was actually a political organization masquerading as a religion. Such rumors were spread by certain Japanese Brazilians and others hostile to the organization due to misunderstanding and prejudice.

From that time on, SGI-Brazil members had launched into an all-out effort to promote public understanding of and trust in the Soka Gakkai in Brazil.

Misunderstandings can be created in a moment, but it takes years and decades of hard work to dispel them and build trust.

Installment 24

Shin’ichi Yamamoto had planned to visit Brazil in 1974, but his visa application was denied, and the visit had not been realized. SGI-Brazil members regretted that they hadn’t been able to do more to dispel public misunderstanding about the Soka Gakkai. They vowed deep in their hearts to exert themselves even harder in their efforts to engage in dialogue and positively contribute to society. They were determined that, through doing so, they would promote understanding for the organization and its activities, and create an age when the Brazilian government would actively welcome a visit by President Yamamoto.

A dauntless spirit fosters the causes for victory amid the mire of adversity.

Finally, in February 1984, Shin’ichi was able to visit Brazil and meet with President João Figueiredo.

During their meeting, President Figueiredo informed Shin’ichi that he would be making a visit to Japan in late May or early June that year. They also discussed such issues as scientific and technological cooperation between Brazil and Japan, the transition from military to civilian rule in Brazil, nuclear weapons and prospects for the future. In particular, President Figueiredo expressed emphatic agreement with Shin’ichi’s suggestion that face-to-face discussions among the world’s leaders are the path to a world without war.

While in Brasília, Shin’ichi met with a number of top government officials, including the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of education and culture. He also took a group photo with 600 members. In addition, he visited the University of Brasília and made a donation of books to the university library.

On Feb. 25, Shin’ichi visited Ibirapuera Gymnasium, an indoor sporting arena in São Paulo, where an open rehearsal for the 1st SGI-Brazil Grand Culture Festival was being held. After walking around the large circular stage in the center of the arena, his arms raised in the air in a gesture of greeting and congratulation as the crowd cheered, Shin’ichi took the microphone and said with deep emotion: “I am truly delighted to be able to meet you all, my dear friends and noble emissaries of the Buddha, in such happy circumstances after 18 years. This magnificent culture festival is certain to shine brilliantly in the history of Brazil and the annals of kosen-rufu.

“The incredible efforts you have made, the solid development you have achieved, and the beautiful heart-to-heart network of solidarity you have built over the years are truly amazing. With the deepest appreciation, and moved to tears by all you have done, I would like to wholeheartedly applaud and commend you, wishing that I could personally embrace and shake hands with each one of you.”

The crowd roared with joy, and a lively cheer—Brazil’s victory chant—rose in the stadium: “É pique, é pique, é pique, pique, pique! …”

Installment 25

On February 26, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended the SGI-Brazil Grand Culture Festival, the theme of which was “Song of Peace for the World in the 21st Century.” During the festival, a message from President João Figueiredo was read.

In it, the president acknowledged SGI-Brazil’s efforts to promote culture, education and world peace, as well as its broad-ranging contributions to the cause of nuclear weapons abolition and other peace-related issues. He also expressed his earnest hope that the organization would succeed in realizing its lofty ideals.

This was a striking difference from a decade earlier, when the government viewed the Soka Gakkai with intense suspicion and even rejected Shin’ichi’s application for a visa to visit the country. It was eloquent testimony to the success of SGI-Brazil members in building trust in society and their steadfast efforts to engage in dialogue with people from all walks of life and backgrounds. It was also an indisputable example of the kind of positive transformation described by the Buddhist principle of “changing poison into medicine.”

In Peru, the next stop on Shin’ichi’s itinerary, he met with President Fernando Belaúnde Terry at the presidential palace in Lima.

A world-renowned architect, Belaúnde became president in 1963, but a military coup in 1968 forced him into exile in the United States. Eventually, he returned to Peru, and was re-elected to the office of president in the 1980 elections that restored democracy in the country.

In recognition of Shin’ichi’s important contributions to culture, education and world peace, President Belaúnde presented him with the Order of the Sun of Peru in the Grade of Grand Cross.

That same day, Shin’ichi also visited the National University of San Marcos, one of the oldest universities in South America, and made a donation of books to the university library. The university had previously conferred an honorary professorship on Shin’ichi at the April 1981 entrance ceremony for the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools in Tokyo. The university president and other university officials had traveled all the way to Japan to present him with the honor.

Shin’ichi engaged in continuous efforts to solidify this path of educational exchange.

In 2017, the National University of San Marcos also presented him with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his contributions to peace and education based on humanistic ideals.

The path of exchange, once opened, must be traversed repeatedly to consolidate and widen it into a great road.

Installment 26

During his visit to Peru, Shin’ichi Yamamoto also attended the 1st SGI-Peru World Peace Youth Culture Festival (on March 3, 1984), where he addressed the gathering of some 10,000: “You have adorned your youth with victory. I would like to reach out to the hearts of each one of you and firmly shake your hands with utmost sincerity and affection.

“Culture is the flower of the nation. Cultural activities are equivalent to activities for peace, and ultimately bring happiness to blossom in people’s lives. Seeking no recognition or personal gain, and with the pure hearts of youth, you have overcome every challenge and difficulty to successfully conduct this marvelous culture festival, which will go down in the history of Peruvian cultural events. In doing so, you have qualified yourselves to lead lives of brilliant victory.”

Noting that a rainbow had graced the skies over Lima earlier that day, Shin’ichi expressed his conviction that it was “a symbol indicating that Peru and SGI-Peru will enter an age that shines like a beautiful rainbow.” And he said, “I am sincerely praying for the prosperity, peace and brilliant future of my beloved Peru.”

Shin’ichi also attended three gongyo sessions held at the SGI-Peru Culture Center. In addition to praising the contributions of the late general director of SGI-Peru, Vicente Seiken Kishibe, he stressed that the teaching of the Mystic Law is the driving force for happiness, with the power to benefit the country and make it flourish. Those who have faith in the Mystic Law, he said, possess conviction and happiness throughout their lives and for eternity. His words were imbued with his wish that they would all strive with unwavering faith and become champions of happiness.

On his trip to the United States and Central America in February 1987, Shin’ichi also visited the Dominican Republic, known as “the pearl of the Caribbean.” He met with President Joaquín Balaguer, and also received the Order of Christopher Columbus in the Grade of Grand Cross, one of the nation’s highest honors.

Shin’ichi also visited the SGI-Dominican Republic Community Center (in Santo Domingo) and attended a gongyo session commemorating the 21st anniversary of the start of the kosen-rufu movement in the country.

He wished to sincerely commend and encourage the pioneer members who had migrated there from Japan. Struggling against despair while working arduously to till the stony, uncultivated soil of their new homeland, they surmounted one hardship after another to build the foundation of kosen-rufu in the Dominican Republic.

Installment 27

Among those present at the gongyo session were noble pioneers of kosen-rufu in the Dominican Republic, their suntanned faces beaming. Addressing them with a smile, Shin’ichi Yamamoto said: “Through your trailblazing work for kosen-rufu, you are fully experiencing the immeasurable beneficial power of the Gohonzon, and leading good lives with fortitude and joy. That in itself demonstrates that kosen-rufu in the Dominican Republic contributes to society’s prosperity and indicates that a magnificent, hope-filled future is in store.

Further encouraging them, he said he was praying that they would all, without exception, enjoy happy, successful and long, fulfilling lives.

Afterward, Shin’ichi attended the First SGI–Dominican Republic General Meeting.

The next day (Feb. 10, 1987), Shin’ichi visited the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. Rector Fernando Sánchez Martínez announced with a smile that, in recognition of Shin’ichi’s broad-ranging humanitarian activities as SGI president, the university had decided to present him with the title of honorary professor in its School of Law and Political Science. The conferral took place that same day.

On the day of his departure from the Dominican Republic, Shin’ichi laid a wreath at a memorial to the country’s founding fathers in Santo Domingo’s Parque Independencia (Independence Park), after which he took a group photo with more than 200 local members.

During his visit to Panama (Feb. 17–20), Shin’ichi met with President Eric Arturo Delvalle, and was awarded the Order of Vasco Núñez de Balboa in the Grade of Grand Official, one of the nation’s highest honors.

Attending a commemorative gongyo session at the SGI-Panama Culture Center, Shin’ichi stressed the importance of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

While in Panama, he also visited the University of Panama and met with Rector Abdiel Adames. In 2000, the university awarded Shin’ichi an honorary doctorate.

All such honors were recognitions of the SGI’s efforts for peace, culture and education, as well as affirmations of the praise and trust members of each country had won through their contributions to society.

Shin’ichi regarded receiving these awards on behalf of the SGI as a way of paying tribute to the great achievements of his predecessors, Soka Gakkai Presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, as well as honoring the dedicated efforts of his fellow members. He hoped that these awards would be a source of joy and pride for the members as they forged ahead in their activities for kosen-rufu.

Installment 28

Shin’ichi Yamamoto poured his energies into meeting and talking with leaders of various countries. He believed it would help pave the way to realizing world peace and promote understanding of the Soka Gakkai, thereby protecting the members in those countries.

In 1985, he paid a courtesy call to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at the State Guesthouse in Tokyo, when the Indian leader was visiting Japan. They discussed peace, fostering youth and India-China relations.

In May 1987, Shin’ichi attended the opening of the “Nuclear Arms—Threat to Our World” exhibition in Moscow. In his remarks on that occasion, he spoke of the fervent wish of the world’s people for peace. He also met and spoke with Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov. In France, at the beginning of June, he met and exchanged views with Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and Senate President Alain Poher.

On a trip to Asian countries in February 1988, he met with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.

While visiting Europe in 1989, he had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden and President François Mitterrand of France. During this trip, he gave a lecture, as an invited speaker, on the subject “Art and Spirituality in the East and the West,” at the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France in Paris.

That same year, in Tokyo, he met with Chancellor Franz Vranitzky of Austria and President Virgilio Barco Vargas of Colombia. The Colombian head of state presented Shin’ichi with the Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit during their meeting.

In May 1990, during his seventh visit to China, Shin’ichi had frank and open discussions with Premier Li Peng and Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin.

In July that year, on his fifth visit to the Soviet Union, he had his first meeting with President Mikhail Gorbachev, at the Kremlin.

Saying that he was very pleased to meet him, Shin’ichi told Gorbachev with a touch of humor: “I have come to have an argument with you. Let’s make sparks fly, and talk about everything honestly and openly, for the sake of humanity and for the sake of Japan-Soviet relations!”

Installment 29

[Soviet Union] President Mikhail Gorbachev responded to Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s remark with humor of his own: “I have heard a great deal about your activities, but I didn’t realize you were so passionate! I, too, like honest and open dialogue. I feel as if we are old friends—people who have known each other a long time and are overjoyed to be meeting today in person for the first time.”

Shin’ichi nodded and said in return: “I feel the same way. But you are a leader who is the focus of world attention, a statesman of conviction who is fundamentally concerned with peace for all humanity, a leader who possesses charisma and integrity as well as lively passion and intelligence. I am just an ordinary citizen. Today, I would like to become your student and ask your views on a variety of subjects—for the people of the world who are waiting to hear your message, as well as for posterity.”

With the broad smile that he was famous for, President Gorbachev said: “You beat me to the punch before I could welcome you properly! You could never be my student. As a champion of humanistic values and ideals, you are making tremendous contributions to humanity. I have profound respect and admiration for you. Your ideals resonate closely with me, and I have a deep interest in the philosophical side of your activities. The ‘new thinking’ that is part of our program of perestroika (reform) is like a branch of the tree of your philosophy.”

Shin’ichi shared his thoughts frankly: “I am also a supporter of perestroika and the ‘new thinking’ you seek to foster. They have much in common with my ideas—which is really only to be expected, since both you and I are focused on human beings. All human beings share a common humanity. You are a philosopher-statesman for whom I have the highest hopes.”

Twenty-five years earlier, Shin’ichi had proposed the idea of a “humanistic socialism.” President Gorbachev, meanwhile, had raised the banner of reform to create a “socialism with a human face.”

When people base themselves on the universal standpoint of their shared humanity, it is possible for them to come together in harmony.

Installment 30

President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke of Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s actions for the betterment of society and for peace.

“I have the highest regard for your intellectual and social activities and the movement for peace that you are leading, one reason being that there is a spiritual aspect to all your endeavors. We are now trying to gradually incorporate such spiritual elements as morality and ethics into government. While it certainly is a challenge, I think that if we succeed, the results will be remarkable. At present, people may not believe this is possible, but I would like to believe that it is.”

Shin’ichi and President Gorbachev also agreed on the importance of the alliance and integration of politics and culture. They also discussed a wide range of other topics, including Soviet-Japan relations, the present state of perestroika and its significance, and their hopes for youth.

In his meeting with President Gorbachev, Shin’ichi had one agenda item he hoped to accomplish. While nearly 45 years had passed since the end of World War II, no Soviet head of state had ever visited Japan, and many were wondering whether Mr. Gorbachev would be the first. But in a meeting with a delegation from the Japanese Diet two days earlier, he had made no mention of a trip to Japan.

Shin’ichi asked the Soviet leader: “Where did you go on your honeymoon? Why didn’t you visit Japan?”

With a smile, he added: “Many Japanese women are very much hoping that you will visit your neighbor Japan with your wife, Raisa—either in the spring when the cherry trees are in bloom, or in the fall when the autumn leaves are so lovely.”

“Thank you. I’ll put that on my schedule,” he replied without hesitation.

Shin’ichi repeated his invitation: “As a philosopher who loves Japan and Asia and who wishes for world peace, I sincerely hope that you will visit our country.”

“I most certainly will,” President Gorbachev declared. “I am prepared to engage in a dialogue on a wide range of topics … If possible, I’d like to visit Japan in the spring.”

The doors to a new age were beginning to open wide.

Installment 31

During his conversation with Shin’ichi Yamamoto, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev shared his honest feelings: “As far as I’m concerned, no topic is out of bounds. Please freely say what you wish to say. I’ll do the same.

“In the past, most of my discussions with Japanese have been rather stereotyped. But I believe that if we begin to work together in a spirit of cooperation, any problems that we have can be resolved. When representatives of two great peoples gather, but only focus on preconditions or issuing ultimatums to one another, nothing will be achieved.”

In these words, Shin’ichi sensed President Gorbachev’s commitment to dialogue.

Dialogue is fruitful when both parties set aside the trappings of power and position to discuss various problems in depth, and frankly and openly express their viewpoints. They should never go in to any discussion having concluded in advance what the outcome will be. By discussing matters thoroughly, with flexibility and perseverance, a new way forward will open.

The conversation between President Gorbachev and Shin’ichi lasted about 70 minutes.

News of their meeting was sent immediately around the world. It was also prominently reported in the Soviet Union by Radio Moscow, the Communist Party newspaper Pravda and the official government newspaper Izvestia.

President Gorbachev’s announcement that he would visit Japan signified a new ray of light in Soviet-Japan relations, which had been at a stalemate for many years.

From that evening, the news of the two men’s meeting and President Gorbachev’s upcoming visit to Japan was reported on NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting network, as well as other television and radio stations. All the national newspapers gave it front-page coverage.

In April 1991, the following year, President Gorbachev made his promised trip to Japan.

Shin’ichi paid a courtesy call on the Soviet leader at the State Guesthouse in Tokyo. Delighted by their reunion, they engaged in a lively conversation. Shin’ichi sincerely praised President Gorbachev for his courage in sacrificing his personal comfort to wage the difficult struggle of perestroika for the sake of the Soviet Union and humanity. Both expressed their strong hopes for enduring friendship between their two countries, a friendship now dawning as a brilliant sun to illuminate the future.

Installment 32

“Viva Mandela!”

On Oct. 31, 1990, the area in front of the Seikyo Shimbun building in Tokyo resounded with the cheers of some 500 youth. On that day, Shin’ichi Yamamoto, together with youth division representatives, welcomed Nelson Mandela, the leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC), and engaged in a dialogue with him.

Mr. Mandela, a champion of human rights, had been imprisoned for 10,000 days—more than 27 years—but, in the end, had triumphed in his struggle against discrimination. The following year (1991), he became ANC president, and, in 1994, was elected president of South Africa in the country’s first election open to all races.

“I welcome you with profound respect as a hero of the people!” Shin’ichi said to Mr. Mandela as he stepped out of the car.

The South African leader smiled warmly and replied: “I am honored to meet you. I had been thinking that, if I visit Japan, I must meet you.”

As their conversation began, Shin’ichi expressed his gratitude that Mr. Mandela had come to see him, and sincerely praised the ANC leader for his struggle. He said: “You have demonstrated that justice triumphs in the end. You have given courage to people all over the world.”

While in prison, Mr. Mandela organized a system through which prisoners could teach one another their special knowledge and skills. And he fought against countless obstacles, successfully expanding the right of political prisoners to learn while incarcerated. In this way, he won a victory over what he described as the prison’s tendency to undermine the human spirit, negate intelligence and create mindless, robot-like inmates.[8]

Touching on the subject of Mr. Mandela’s struggle in prison, Shin’ichi said: “I think the fact that you transformed prison into a place for learning, a ‘Mandela University’ of sorts, is particularly noteworthy. I am deeply struck by the passion with which you have always promoted education wherever you are and persisted in striving to elevate yourself.”

For people with an unflagging commitment to self-improvement, anywhere can be a place of learning.

Installment 33

In response to Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s praise of his achievements, South African President Nelson Mandela responded: “Thank you for your warm welcome. You are internationally renowned, Mr. Yamamoto, and well known in my country as well. Your role as the leader of an organization creating lasting value for humanity and using that value to bring people together is very important in the world.”

He added with a smile, “I’ve wanted to meet you ever since I first learned about you and the SGI, and now that I am in Japan, I couldn’t leave without seeing you.”

His eyes shining, he said, “My meeting with you is a source of illumination, strength and hope.”

Great leaders value dialogue, using all it has to offer as fuel for further growth and development.

Thanking Mr. Mandela for his kind words, Shin’ichi praised the South African leader for his travels around the world since his release from prison to rally international support for the anti-apartheid movement. Mr. Mandela had visited as many as 30 nations in Africa, Europe and North America, and met with their leaders. Now, he was doing the same in Asia and Oceania.

With the intent of offering sustained support to the anti-apartheid movement, Shin’ichi made a number of suggestions. These included welcoming students from the African National Congress, young people who would shoulder Africa’s future, to study at Soka University, and inviting South African artists to perform in Japan under the auspices of the Min-On Concert Association. He also proposed holding a comprehensive exhibition tentatively titled “Apartheid and Human Rights” that, with the cooperation of the appropriate international organizations, could also be shown around the globe. He further proposed holding in Japan an anti-apartheid-themed photography exhibition as well as human rights seminars on apartheid and other topics.

His suggestions arose from his strong conviction that it was important not only to foster friendship between Japan and South Africa through educational and cultural exchange, but also to raise people’s awareness about apartheid, and expand in Japan and around the world support for protecting human rights.

Changing people’s awareness is essential to ushering in an age of human rights.

Installment 34

Shin’ichi Yamamoto said that Nelson Mandela’s actions marked him as a great humanistic educator in the broadest sense and that Soka University wished to confer upon him its Award of Highest Honor in recognition of his efforts. The Soka University president, who was also at the meeting, then presented Mr. Mandela with the award.

Shin’ichi went on to note that South Africa is a rich treasure trove of flowers and that the Cape region is home to more than 7,000 plant species. He introduced the beautiful term “human flowers” that appears in the Lotus Sutra, which he explained is the king of all Buddhist scriptures.

“Human flowers” are mentioned in “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” the 5th chapter of the Lotus Sutra (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 142). In that chapter, living beings with their differing qualities and capacities are likened to the great variety of plants, while the Buddha’s teachings are likened to rain that falls impartially to nourish them all, enabling them equally to bring their Buddha nature into full flower.

As exemplified by the Lotus Sutra, Buddhism since its inception has opposed discrimination in any form. It rejects discrimination based on caste or social class, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, profession or background. As a result, Buddhism underwent numerous persecutions by the established institutions and authorities.

Nichiren Daishonin called himself the “son of a chandala family” (“Banishment to Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 202). Identifying himself with those of the most marginalized classes, who are the target of discrimination, he fought to spread the Buddhist philosophy of absolute equality.

Shin’ichi stressed that the SGI, reflecting Buddhism’s history and ethos of fighting for human rights, was promoting a movement for peace, culture and education based on Buddhism that was open to all people. He added that it was clear from the long-term perspective that the cause of a nation’s development is education. The reason being, he said, that as knowledgeable and aware individuals increase in number, more people are able to see the reality of their society and clearly distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil.

Shin’ichi also presented the South African champion of human rights with a poem he had composed expressing his respect and admiration, which read in part:

Let me offer the highest praise,
for the great power of your spirit,
for the indomitable strength of your convictions.
With profoundest respect, I declare you
my comrade in spirit,
who walks the way of humanism
as the proud Conscience of Africa.

Installment 35

When the interpreter had finished reading the poem, Shin’ichi stood and firmly shook the hand of the human rights warrior.

Mr. Mandela appeared deeply moved as they clasped each other’s hands. Shin’ichi said to him: “Never forget that you have comrades in Japan and all around the world. And their numbers will grow in the future.”

Shin’ichi told him that he had been deeply impressed by the closing words of the statement Mr. Mandela delivered immediately after his release from prison in February 1990. They were words originally spoken by Mr. Mandela at his trial 26 years earlier (on April 20, 1964). Shin’ichi read them aloud:

I have fought against White domination, and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.[9]

“Your spirit is distilled in this statement. I, too, have been walking the path of a warrior for peace, human rights and justice, which is why these words continue to resonate so deeply in my heart.”

Mr. Mandela replied: “The great harvest we have reaped here today are your words of wisdom. Medals may be destroyed; award certificates may be burned. Words of wisdom, however, are imperishable. In this sense, today, we have received a gift exceeding any medal or award. Hearing your words, we will leave here as better people than when we arrived. I will never forget you.”

“The gratitude I feel is even more profound,” said Shin’ichi.

Genuine dialogue is a source of mutual inspiration and illumination.

Installment 36

Shin’ichi Yamamoto and Nelson Mandela’s animated conversation continued, and the 50 minutes scheduled for their meeting flew by in no time. As they walked together after the meeting, Shin’ichi said: “All great leaders experience persecution. This is a constant of history. Overcoming such persecution and triumphing in one’s struggle is what makes a person great. You will no doubt continue to be the target of insidious attacks, but true justice will be demonstrated 100 or 200 years from now. Please take good care of yourself!”

In a way, Shin’ichi was also addressing himself. The hearts of these two men, both fighting for the happiness of humanity, resonated warmly with one another.

Following his meeting with Nelson Mandela, Shin’ichi continued to pursue his citizen diplomacy for the sake of peace with even greater vigor. Each encounter was an earnest effort to spark mutual inspiration through communication at the deepest level.

In November 1990, a month after his meeting with Mr. Mandela, Shin’ichi met in quick succession with a number of other African leaders, including former Nigerian President Yakubu Gowon and Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda. That same month, he also engaged in dialogues with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and Turkish President Turgut Özal. In 1991, the following year, he met with Philippine President Corazon Aquino, German President Richard von Weizsäcker, British Prime Minister John Major and other leaders.

Talking together, sharing hopes for peace and forging heart-to-heart ties—such dialogue constitutes a voluntary, gradualist approach to solving problems. Genuine dialogue continues until it bears fruit, which is why it requires such perseverance and spiritual tenacity.

In contrast, those who adopt an extremist approach that tolerates no questions often resort to aggression because of inner weakness. It is in fact a declaration of the defeat of their humanity, leading to a dependence on violence and other forms of coercion to attain given ends.

Uniting people’s hearts through dialogue is a force that creates a network for peace.

Installment 37

Shin’ichi Yamamoto met not only with the presidents and prime ministers of various nations, but also with leading figures in academia, the arts and education from all over the world—Europe, Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Africa.

Among those he met during the period from December 1990 to mid-1991 alone were Peace Research Institute Oslo Director Sverre Lodgaard, University of Montreal Vice Rector René Simard, Harvard University Professor Emeritus John Montgomery, UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor Zaragoza, University of the Philippines President José Abueva, Chinese University of Hong Kong Vice-Chancellor Charles K. Kao and Argentina’s University of Palermo Rector Ricardo Popovsky.

Further, in his effort to forge genuine bonds with leaders and thinkers around the world, Shin’ichi not only engaged in friendly dialogues, but also presented many of them with poems he composed to convey his thoughts and express his admiration.

In China, these included Buddhist Association of China President Zhao Puchu; Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairperson Deng Yingchao, wife of the late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai; and Peking University President Ding Shisun. In the Soviet Union, he dedicated a poem to the late Moscow State University Rector Rem Khokhlov and presented poems to Valentina Tereshkova, chairperson of the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries; Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev; and others. He also composed poems for such figures as Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi; former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; Argentine President Raúl Alfonsín; Peru’s National University of San Marcos Rector Juan de Dios Guevara; and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

There are invisible “golden strings” within each person’s heart. Poetry can produce a deep resonance that eventually becomes an uplifting melody of friendship and peace.

The person who truly embraces ideals
will find that ideals are her ally.
The person who truly practices justice
will find that justice is her friend.
The person who truly protects the people
will find the people on her side.[10]

This is a passage from the poem “Shine Brilliantly! Crown of the Mother of the Philippines,” which Shin’ichi composed for Philippine President Corazon Aquino, who stood up for the people of her country, carrying on her husband’s cause after he was assassinated.

Installment 38

Shin’ichi Yamamoto also continued composing poems for his dedicated fellow members around the world to encourage and offer them guidance for their activities and lives as they strove tirelessly for kosen-rufu.

While visiting Europe and North America in 1981, he presented poems to the youth division members of France and the United States.[11]

That same year, during a guidance trip to Kyushu, including Oita and Kumamoto prefectures, he presented the poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century!” to the youth division members throughout Japan and the world. Subsequently, he went on to devote even greater energies to composing lengthy poems for members.

For example, in 1987 alone, he wrote “Arise, the Sun of the Century” (for SGI-USA), “The Flowers of Panama” (for SGI-Panama), “Eternal Current of the Amazon” (for SGI-Brazil), “Great Sun of the Caribbean” (for SGI-Dominican Republic), “Flower of Culture, Castle of Life” (for SGI-France), “Toll the Bell of the New Renaissance” (for SGI-Italy), “Across the Seven Seas and Beyond to the Century of Humanity” (for SGI-UK), “Symphony of Peace Resounding on the Rhine” (for SGI-Germany) and “A Rainbow over Niagara” (for SGI-Canada).

That same year, Shin’ichi also presented poems to the Japanese members, including “Winds of Happiness—The Skies of Chubu” and “Green Haven—An Ode to Shikoku.” Also, the following year, in addition to “Dome of Peace, Song of Triumph” for members in Hiroshima, he composed poems for Hokuriku, Okinawa and Tohoku, and went on to present poems to every prefecture and region of Japan and each ward of Tokyo.

In “A Rainbow over Niagara,” dedicated to the members of SGI-Canada, he wrote:

Nichiren Daishonin states,
“The Law does not spread by itself.
Because people propagate it,
Both the people and the Law are worthy of respect.”[12]

This is why, my friends,
You must thoroughly polish your character.
Faith is manifested in your daily life;
Faith is reflected in your character.
We must show that
A person of strong faith is one
Whose well-rounded personality
Embraces all with compassion.
Only the brilliance of your character
Will make it possible to expand the circles
Of the Law forever wider.

Through his poems, Shin’ichi offered guidance and direction in life and faith, continuing to impart hope and courage to members.

Installment 39

In the decade since stepping down as third Soka Gakkai president (in 1979), Shin’ichi Yamamoto had traveled and spoken tirelessly to create a great tide of kosen-rufu with the wish that it would open the way to world peace.

Now, the world was approaching a major turning point—the end of the Cold War.

This division of the world into two camps or blocs—East and West, communist and capitalist—can be traced back to the Yalta Conference held in February 1945, a few months before the end of World War II. The Allied leaders—U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin—met in the city of Yalta, in the southern part of the Crimean Peninsula, where they discussed and reached agreements on plans for after the war, the establishment of the United Nations, the Soviet Union’s entry into the war against Japan and other topics.

This created the framework for the order of the postwar world, in which the countries of Europe were divided into the capitalist Western bloc, allied with the United States, and the communist Eastern bloc, allied with the Soviet Union. After the war, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in an ongoing nuclear arms race as they vied to achieve their goals. For the Soviet Union, that was to spread socialism around the world, and for the U.S., to bring the countries of the world under its sphere of influence.

Because no direct military engagement between the two nuclear powers took place, this conflict was dubbed a “cold war,” but there was the ever-present danger that it could escalate into a “hot war.”

As tensions mounted between the two sides, a wall was built in Germany in 1961, separating East Berlin from West Berlin, and citizens of each zone were prohibited from traveling freely to the other.

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 made the world painfully aware of the volatility of a situation that could erupt at any time into full-scale nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The conflict between the Eastern and Western blocs spread to Asia and other parts of the world, leading to tragic wars such as that which unfolded in Vietnam.

In addition, tensions rose within the socialist sphere between the Soviet Union and China, bringing even greater divisiveness and complexity to the overall conflict.

Division begets division, which is why it is so important to establish a unifying philosophy that returns to the universal common denominator of our shared humanity.

Installment 40

The world is in a constant state of turbulent change. No age is static; no society stands still. Even conditions that seem permanently frozen eventually thaw.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto was confident that human history would definitely move toward peace and unity, or rather, he was determined to do whatever he could to ensure that it did.

Eventually, the United States and the Soviet Union began taking steps to ease the tensions between them. In 1969, the two countries entered into Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). In the 1970s, they finally signed two treaties based on those talks, known as SALT I and SALT II. Although the latter was never ratified, the signing of these nuclear arms limitation agreements was nevertheless a historic event for the two adversaries and also for the world at large.

As these events unfolded, Shin’ichi was deeply concerned about the increasingly tense relations between China and the Soviet Union, a situation that could have serious ramifications for Japan, as a neighbor of both countries, as well as for peace in Asia.

At a student division general meeting in September 1968, Shin’ichi offered several proposals concerning China, including normalizing Japan-China diplomatic relations and admitting China to the United Nations. He did so not only out of a wish to promote enduring friendly relations between Japan and China, but also from a conviction that if world peace was to be achieved, China must not be isolated from the international community.

Later, in his capacity as a private citizen, he directly urged the Chinese and Soviet leaders to pursue a path of reconciliation.

From May to June 1974, six years after issuing his original proposals at the student division meeting, Shin’ichi traveled to China for the first time and met with Vice Premier Li Xiannian. In September, he made his first visit to the Soviet Union and met with Premier Aleksey Kosygin, receiving from the Soviet leader a clear assurance that the superpower had no intention of attacking China. During his second visit to China in December, Shin’ichi conveyed that message to Chinese leaders and also met with Premier Zhou Enlai.

All of these efforts were motivated by his sincere wish that the conflict between the two countries could somehow be resolved for the sake of peace and the happiness of humanity.

Nothing can be achieved by giving up. Peace is a struggle against resignation.

Installment 41

Because human beings wage war, there is no war that human beings cannot put an end to. With this strong conviction, Shin’ichi Yamamoto made his second visit to China. Premier Zhou Enlai, very eager to meet with him, brushed aside his physicians’ objections and welcomed Shin’ichi at the hospital where he was undergoing treatment.

Shin’ichi felt that his earnest wish for peace between China and the Soviet Union had definitely reached Premier Zhou.

The Chinese leader was convinced that the world was moving toward friendship among all peoples.[13]

The 1970s saw a gradual reduction in international tensions, but when Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in support of the pro-Soviet regime in 1979, Western nations harshly condemned it. In protest, many of them boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

The nations allied with the Soviet Union then retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as a protest against the U.S. invasion of the small Caribbean nation of Grenada in 1983. It seemed as if time were moving backward, and there was talk of a “new Cold War.”

To overcome the standoff between the two sides, Shin’ichi continued his efforts to meet and talk with leading figures in the U.S. and Soviet Union, making a number of concrete proposals, including selecting an appropriate place such as Switzerland for a meeting of their top leaders.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev played a major role in bringing an end to the Cold War. In 1985, as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he implemented the new policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring)—leading his nation on a bold change of course from its strict communist system toward greater liberalization.

Advocating a program of “new thinking,” Gorbachev sought improved relations with the nations of the West, and proposed and carried out arms reductions. In November 1985, the door that had been closed for more than six years was opened, and talks between top U.S. and Soviet leaders were held in Geneva. When Shin’ichi heard this news, he felt that at last the time had come. His long-cherished wish had indeed been realized.

When both sides are serious about peace, it is possible for them to surmount their differences and reach accord, just as rivers flowing on different courses eventually merge into the ocean.

Installment 42

Mikhail Gorbachev made the decision to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan, where the fighting had reached a stalemate.

In December 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty eliminating all intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF), an epochal event in military history.

The reforms taking place in the Soviet Union spread to other nations in Eastern Europe, creating a groundswell of freedom and democracy that led to the fall of the communist governments of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other nations. These came to be known as the Revolutions of 1989.

East Germany was lagging behind in reform, and its citizens continued to flee to the West. Then, on Nov. 9, 1989, a government spokesman announced at a press conference that citizens were now free to travel outside the country, effective immediately. This was actually an error, for the announcement was supposed to say that applications for visas to leave East Germany would be accepted, starting the following day, Nov. 10.

East Germans rushed to the border checkpoints, which guards were eventually compelled to open, and people poured into West Berlin. At the same time, they began to tear down the wall that divided their city. This surging tide of freedom and democracy seemed to be historically inevitable.

At the beginning of December 1989, U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met for a summit in the Mediterranean nation of Malta.

They held the first joint press conference by leaders of their nations and announced the start of a “new peaceful period,” effectively marking the end of the Cold War.

On Dec. 22, the Brandenburg Gate, which had come to symbolize the two Germany’s division, was opened.

Watching the television news, Shin’ichi Yamamoto remembered what he had said to those traveling with him as they stood together in front of that gate, after the rain had stopped, on his visit to Berlin in October 1961: “I am sure that in 30 years, this Berlin Wall will no longer stand.”

This was an expression of Shin’ichi’s faith that the conscience, wisdom and courage of people longing for peace would triumph in the end. At the same time, it was an assertion of his determination as a Buddhist to dedicate his life to achieving world peace. Now, 28 years later, it had become a reality. The times had taken a great step forward.

Installment 43

Mikhail Gorbachev had initiated moves toward disarmament, taken steps to rebuild the Soviet economy and implemented political reforms to promote democratization. In addition, he oversaw constitutional amendments to create an executive presidency and shift away from dictatorial one-party rule to a multiparty political system. In March 1990, he was inaugurated as the first president of the Soviet Union. That same year, he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his enormous contributions to peace.

Gorbachev foresaw the difficulties and confusion that his historic social experiment, the new reform policy of perestroika, would incite.

At his first meeting with Shin’ichi Yamamoto, he said: “Our society has had a unique history. Around 120 languages are spoken in the Soviet Union, and the number of ethnic groups is even larger. Ours is an extremely complex society. The first thing that perestroika has brought is freedom. But the challenge before us now is how we use that freedom.”

Someone who has been long confined in darkness will be dazzled by sunlight when they step outside for the first time. Likewise, it is only to be expected that people in a society lacking a foundation of freedom and democracy will be disoriented once those liberties are granted. Various forces in society will begin to make demands and seek to promote their own interests.

Gorbachev’s concerns in this regard were indeed warranted. Ethnic conflicts flared up across the country and economic stagnation obscured the way ahead. Bureaucrats, intent on safeguarding their privileges, sought to oust Gorbachev, and advocates of more radical reform took advantage of their new freedoms to attack him for not doing enough.

Several Soviet republics moved to break away from the Soviet Union and the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—began preparations for declaring their independence. The times roiled with a turbulence far surpassing anything Gorbachev had anticipated.

In June 1991, Boris Yeltsin, a proponent of radical reform, was elected president of the Russian republic.

In August, however, a hard-line communist faction opposed to reform carried out a coup d’état, holding Gorbachev under house arrest in Crimea, where he was staying at the time.

Amid these raging waves of historic change, Shin’ichi prayed for Gorbachev’s safe release.

Installment 44

Russian President Boris Yeltsin called for the defeat of the coup d’état by the hard-line leaders, and, with the support of people demanding democratization, it was quashed.

After being released, Mikhail Gorbachev returned to Moscow to find that power was shifting to Yeltsin’s hands, a trend that consequently accelerated.

In August 1991, Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary of the Communist Party and called for the Communist Party Central Committee to dissolve. In September, the State Council of the Soviet Union recognized the independence of the three Baltic States. In December, Yeltsin, as Russia’s leader, and the leaders of the Ukraine and Belarus, announced the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to replace the Soviet Union. Eleven Soviet republics signed the founding agreement, making official the Soviet Union’s demise, and Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president.

Seventy-four years after the Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union, the leader of the Eastern bloc of nations, came to an end, swept away by the surging currents of history.

Gorbachev, the first and the last president of the Soviet Union, was harshly criticized, but his resolve and his actions had brought a fresh breeze of freedom and democracy to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and created an important turning point in history.

Soon after Gorbachev’s resignation as president, the writer Chinghiz Aitmatov, his close friend and a supporter of perestroika, wrote a letter to Shin’ichi Yamamoto. It was titled “A Parable Told to Gorbachev” and detailed the latter’s commitment to perestroika.

When the implementation of perestroika was under way and being applauded as a historic democratic reform, Gorbachev invited Aitmatov to visit him at the Kremlin. At their meeting, Aitmatov shared the following parable with Gorbachev.

One day, a prophet visits a great lord and asks, “Is it true that out of your concern for the people’s happiness, you wish to give them complete freedom and equality?” That is true, confirms the lord, to whom the prophet then says, “You have two paths forward, two fates, two possibilities, and you are free to choose between them.”

Installment 45

One of the two courses the prophet presented to the great lord was to govern strictly to consolidate the power of the throne. If he did that, then as heir to the throne, he would acquire unmatched power and be able to enjoy the privileges of that position.

The second course was to give his people their freedom. That, however, was the difficult path of martyrdom. Why? The prophet explained, “The freedom you give the people will come back to you as the dark ingratitude of its recipients.”

He continued: “Those who obtain their freedom will take revenge on you for the past as soon as they are liberated. They will denounce you to the masses, revile you in public, and scoff at and mock you and those close to you.

“Many of your once-trusted colleagues will openly criticize you and refuse to follow your instructions. To the end of your days you will never be free from the ambitions of your associates, who will continually try to humiliate you and trample on your name.

“Great lord, you are free to choose between these two fates.”

The lord asked the prophet to wait, saying that he would ponder this and make his decision in seven days.

After Aitmatov finished recounting the parable and prepared to leave, Gorbachev spoke.

“There’s no need to wait seven days—not even seven minutes. I have already made my choice. I will hold to my course no matter what. Democracy, freedom and deliverance from the horrors of the past and all forms of dictatorship—these are the only way for me. The people are free to judge me however they please.

“Even if many today don’t understand, I am determined to follow that path.”

This letter sent by Chinghiz Aitmatov to Shin’ichi Yamamoto fully conveyed Gorbachev’s extraordinary commitment to pursuing perestroika.

People who only care about protecting their own interests, who hunger for fame and profit, cannot carry out true reform. The great undertaking of kosen-rufu, too, will be achieved by people of resolute commitment.

Installment 46

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Republic led by Boris Yeltsin became the Russian Federation, inheriting the international rights and privileges of the former Soviet Union. Many difficulties lay ahead, however, including a severe economic crisis.

The countries of the Eastern bloc gained their freedom, but ethnic and regional conflicts broke out in Yugoslavia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Chechnya Republic in Russia and other places. Acts of terrorism also became more frequent.

Additionally, with the end of the Cold War, struggles triggered by ethnic, religious and economic factors became more deeply entrenched, and regional strife spread around the world.

The road to peace is a perilous one—which is why we must never halt our progress toward achieving it.

In the peace proposals that Shin’ichi Yamamoto issued every Jan. 26, SGI Day, he urged that the post-Cold War world order should be forged by creating an international system and rules aimed at realizing peace, with the United Nations taking the lead.

He also felt that in order to usher in the dawning of a new age, there was a need to dispel the despair, cynicism and suspicion that had clouded the minds of people seeking peace, democracy and freedom.

To accomplish that, channels for open and broad-minded dialogue must be made possible on every level. This means searching not just for a way to alleviate the symptoms of the pathology of our times, but undertaking the much more arduous work of finding a fundamental cure that treats the causes of that illness.

After Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down as president, he and Shin’ichi continued to meet on several occasions.

In April 1993, when Mr. Gorbachev and his wife Raisa visited Japan, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Soka University, and Raisa was recognized with Soka Women’s College Award of Highest Honor. Mr. Gorbachev gave a speech that day in the university auditorium.

In 1996, a compilation of the dialogues between Shin’ichi and Mr. Gorbachev was published, titled Moral Lessons of the Twentieth Century.

In November 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Gorbachev visited the Kansai Soka Junior and Senior High Schools.

Through persistence, friendship becomes more deeply rooted and blossoms more beautifully.

Installment 47

In response to the baseless attacks on the Soka Gakkai by priests of the Shoshin-kai, Shin’ichi Yamamoto launched a series of fresh initiatives for kosen-rufu. Inspired by this, Soka Gakkai members began a new, joyful advance. The movement for kosen-rufu spread and grew steadily, regaining its momentum month by month, year by year, to flow powerfully like a mighty river.

The path of kosen-rufu, however, is always steep and challenging, and one must overcome all sorts of ordeals and obstacles to keep moving forward.

Shin’ichi himself experienced numerous personal trials. On October 3, 1984, his second son, Hisahiro, died suddenly of an illness. He was only 29.

Hisahiro had obtained a master’s degree in law at Soka University, and joined the university staff after graduating, motivated by his wish to protect the citadel of Soka education for future generations.

On September 23, Hisahiro was on campus making preparations for various upcoming events. Later, he complained of stomach pain and was hospitalized. It appears that even the day before he passed away, he was discussing plans for the Soka University Festival with other staff members over the phone in the hospital.

Hisahiro often told his friends about his dream to build Soka University into a leading world university that would have a place in history. That would require truly dedicated individuals who were willing to give their all to achieving that goal, he said, and he was determined to be one of those individuals.

Shin’ichi was in Kansai to attend the 5th SGI General Meeting and other activities, and was devoting himself to encouraging members day after day.

On the evening of October 3, when he learned of Hisahiro’s death, he offered prayers at the Kansai Culture Center for his son’s eternal happiness. Although Hisahiro died so young, Shin’ichi was confident that he lived his life exactly as he had resolved, doing his utmost to fulfill his mission.

Shin’ichi felt that there must be profound meaning in his son’s death.

It is to be expected that all sorts of difficulties and hardships will arise in the process of striving for kosen-rufu. Genuine faith enables us to confront anything that happens without fear or doubt, to deeply perceive the true nature of every painful event with the eyes of faith and to overcome every hurdle.

The path of kosen-rufu is a long, ongoing series of struggles from which we can never retreat. To have this awareness and embody the principle that “difficulties are peace and comfort” (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 115) is what it means to apply the Daishonin’s teachings to our lives and is the heart of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Installment 48

In October 1985, Shin’ichi Yamamoto himself fell ill and entered a university hospital for a thorough medical examination.

He had suffered from tuberculosis when he was young, and his physician at the time had said he probably wouldn’t live to see the age of 30, but since then he had spent his days exerting himself tirelessly. Even after stepping down as Soka Gakkai president, he traveled around the world and was, in fact, even busier than before. At one point, Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki had fallen ill, and Shin’ichi responded by striving even harder to support the members.

It occurred to him that he would soon be 58, the same age that his mentor, Josei Toda, was when he passed away. Further, reflecting on the fact that his immediate successor as Soka Gakkai president, Kiyoshi Jujo, had also died at 58, Shin’ichi made a fresh determination: “I have a mission for worldwide kosen-rufu that was entrusted to me by my mentor. For that reason, I cannot afford to be ill. I must live out my life to the fullest for the sake of my mentor and lay the enduring foundations for our global movement for kosen-rufu!”

Shin’ichi turned his thoughts to new plans for the future of kosen-rufu, while freshly recognizing the importance of taking good care of his health.

Life is an unrelenting struggle with our destiny.

We may experience the loss of loved ones, or become ill ourselves. We may struggle with family discord, children getting into trouble, unemployment, bankruptcy or financial hardship. Suffering assails us without end, like raging waves pounding us one after another. That’s why we practice Nichiren Buddhism, why we have to become strong. There is no destiny that we cannot overcome through faith.

The harder we continue to strive without letting difficulties defeat us, the more our spirits are forged, strengthened and deepened, fostering the power to overcome any challenge. At the same time, we attain an expansive life state that enables us to understand the sufferings and sorrows of others, to empathize with those who are struggling and to sincerely support and encourage them.

When we live undeterred by suffering, fearlessly challenging our problems and moving forward, this itself attests to the tremendous power of Nichiren Buddhism. In other words, when we dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, our karma is transformed into our noble mission, and our problems become invaluable treasures of the heart.

Installment 49

Shin’ichi Yamamoto kept striving wholeheartedly for worldwide kosen-rufu. Time does not wait.

In Japan, the criminal case continued against Tomomasa Yamawaki [a former legal counsel of the Soka Gakkai], who had been arrested (in 1981) on charges of extortion and attempted extortion against the Soka Gakkai. Shin’ichi testified as a witness for the prosecution in October 1982 and again in 1983. The Tokyo District Court rendered its decision in March 1985.

Yamawaki was sentenced to three years imprisonment with mandatory labor and no suspension. In explaining its sentence, the court stated: “Considering not only the large amount of money involved, but also Yamawaki’s breach of his duty of confidentiality as an attorney, this should be described as a crime that constitutes a grave violation of trust.” In addition, the court exposed Yamawaki’s disgraceful, malicious methods. It found that while “colluding with activist priests and supporting their attacks on the Soka Gakkai, and acting to inflame public opinion against the Soka Gakkai through the tabloid media,” he also made threats against the Soka Gakkai, an organization that only wished for harmonious relations with the priesthood.

The court also noted the dishonest tactics Yamawaki had adopted in the course of the trial, finding: “The defendant has not only denied the charges from the earliest stage of the investigation, but fabricated numerous stories and submitted falsified evidence. By doing so, he has demonstrated no sense of remorse at all … [T]he nature of the crime is serious, and the defendant’s culpability grave.”

The decision contained the phrase “the defendant’s testimony was not credible” multiple times, making it clear that Yamawaki had repeatedly lied in court.

Yamawaki immediately appealed the Tokyo District Court’s decision, but the District Court’s ruling was upheld by the Tokyo High Court (in 1988). He then appealed to the Supreme Court. In January 1991, however, the court rejected his appeal, thereby finalizing his three-year sentence.

The Soka Gakkai had originally filed a criminal complaint with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department in June 1980, with Yamawaki being arrested in January 1981. Ten years had passed since then.

No plot or conspiracy that attempts to block our efforts to realize kosen-rufu can stop the progress of the Soka Gakkai. As Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Though evils may be numerous, they cannot prevail over a single great truth” (“Many in Body, One in Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 618)

Installment 50

Shin’ichi Yamamoto worked with all his might to create a growing momentum for peace around the world based on the teaching of Nichiren Buddhism, overcoming every obstacle along the way.

He also made the greatest efforts to promote harmonious relations between the Soka Gakkai and the priesthood, and strove in every way possible to support Nichiren Shoshu for the sake of kosen-rufu.

Following the 700th memorial service commemorating Nichiren Daishonin’s passing (in 1282) held in 1981, the priesthood turned its attention to creating a wonderful celebration for the 700th anniversary of the founding of the head temple Taiseki-ji, slated for the autumn of 1990, and ensuring it was a great success.

At the beginning of January 1984, at the strong request of High Priest Nikken, Shin’ichi was reappointed as the chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations [after having resigned from that position in 1979].

In March, at a planning meeting for events commemorating the head temple’s 700th anniversary, Shin’ichi announced the Soka Gakkai’s goal of building 200 new temples for Nichiren Shoshu within the next decade: “In accord with the Daishonin’s declaration that ‘The “great vow” refers to the propagation of the Lotus Sutra’ (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 82), I humbly submit our proposal to build new temples in order to ensure the eternal transmission of the Law and achieve kosen-rufu.”

The donation of these temples was an expression of the Soka Gakkai’s sincere wish for enduring harmonious relations between the priesthood and the laity.

In October 1985, High Priest Nikken appointed Shin’ichi the chairperson of the Head Temple 700th Anniversary Celebrations Committee. Shin’ichi applied himself wholeheartedly to the preparations, determined to make the event a resounding success.

The Soka Gakkai was pouring tremendous energy into building the promised 200 temples, and it had made significant progress, completing 111 temples by December 1990.

Shin’ichi cherished the hope that the priests would sincerely appreciate and treasure the Soka Gakkai members, who were striving for kosen-rufu day after day.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 385). Soka Gakkai members who exert themselves tirelessly to spread the Mystic Law as Nichiren Daishonin taught are Bodhisattvas of the Earth and the children of the Buddha. The Lotus Sutra passage that “You should rise and greet [a practitioner of the Mystic Law] from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 365) is the essence of the Daishonin’s spirit.

Praising, supporting and encouraging the children of the Buddha are essential to the development of kosen-rufu.

Installment 51

In the summer of 1990, Soka Gakkai youth division members were working tirelessly at the head temple on preparations for a culture festival to be held on September 2 in celebration of the 700th anniversary of Taiseki-ji’s founding. It was to mark the start of a series of commemorative events, including grand ceremonies scheduled in October.

On the evening of September 2, the culture festival was held in the large open space in front of the Grand Reception Hall on the head temple grounds. Its theme was “May the Heavens Shine with the Light of Happiness.”

Attending from the priesthood were High Priest Nikken, the Nichiren Shoshu general administrator, high-ranking executives and many other priests, and from the Soka Gakkai, Honorary President Shin’ichi Yamamoto, President Eisuke Akizuki, General Director Kazumasa Morikawa, vice presidents and other representatives.

The festival featured enthusiastic performances by arts division and youth division members, including traditional Japanese music and dance, and ballet.

Members from 67 countries and territories paraded in traditional national costumes to warm, sustained applause from the audience.

Shin’ichi also applauded with all his might, wishing to respond to the members’ pure-hearted spirit as they smiled and waved, brimming with the vow for worldwide kosen-rufu.

Nikken sat next to him, smiling as he viewed the performances.

At that moment, no one could have imagined that in December that year the priesthood would carry out a plot to drive a wedge between Shin’ichi and the members and to destroy the Soka Gakkai.

After the culture festival celebrating Taiseki-ji’s 700th anniversary, Shin’ichi had a series of events and engagements awaiting him: a reception for members of a Chinese delegation that had traveled to Japan to attend a Japan-China nongovernmental conference; the 12th SGI General Meeting; and meetings with the director of the São Paulo Museum of Art, the United Nations under-secretary-general for public information, the founder of India’s International Cultural Development Organization (ICDO) and others.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “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]” (“On Reprimanding Hachiman,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 936), expressing his vision for the realization of worldwide kosen-rufu, which ensures world peace.

Shin’ichi continued to make earnest efforts to open the way for the achievement of that goal. For him, each day was an important step forward in building peace.

Installment 52

On September 21, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited South Korea for the first time. The “Masterpieces of Western Oil Paintings” exhibition, featuring works from the collection of the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, was to be shown at the Ho-Am Gallery in the JoongAng Ilbo Building in Seoul [the headquarters of the JoongAng Ilbo (The Central Times), one of the country’s leading daily newspapers]. He would be attending the opening of that event as the art museum’s founder.

Shin’ichi regarded Korea as Japan’s cultural benefactor, and felt that having Tokyo Fuji Art Museum’s collection of Western paintings shown outside of Japan for the first time in this Seoul exhibition was one small way of repaying that debt of gratitude.

Further, he believed that cultural exchange in the form of sharing great treasures of humanity would deepen mutual accord and understanding and serve to foster friendship between Japan and South Korea. He was also convinced that it would enhance the public’s understanding of the Soka Gakkai, as an organization promoting interaction and collaboration in the areas of peace, culture and education based on the humanistic ideals of Nichiren Buddhism, and be a source of encouragement for members.

After departing from Seoul on September 22, Shin’ichi traveled to Fukuoka, Saga, Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures in Kyushu [the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands]. He returned to Tokyo on October 2.

On October 6 and 7, he attended the opening sessions of the grand ceremony commemorating the 700th anniversary of Taiseki-ji’s founding. In the period leading up to this milestone, the Soka Gakkai had sponsored extensive renovations and repairs to the Grand Main Temple (Sho-Hondo) and had built and donated two new general lodging quarters on the temple grounds.

On October 7, the second day of the opening sessions, the lighting ceremony was held for the chandelier suspended from the ceiling in front of the altar in the Grand Reception Hall. The enormous chandelier, which the Soka Gakkai had donated to the head temple through Shin’ichi’s initiative, was in the shape of an eight-petaled lotus, and was 5.4 meters (approx. 18 feet) in diameter and 3.45 meters (approx. 11 feet) in length. When Shin’ichi pressed the button, the openwork ornamentation and cut glass sparkled with golden light.

Speaking in his capacity as the chairperson of the Anniversary Celebrations Committee, Shin’ichi voiced his firm resolve: “Nichiren Daishonin wrote to Nanjo Tokimitsu, the eminent lay disciple who donated the land for the head temple: ‘Only one who has met with great persecution can be said to have mastered the Lotus Sutra’ (“The Workings of Brahma and Shakra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 799). As long as we live, we are determined to uphold the unshakable conviction expressed here by the Daishonin, never fearing any persecution in the course of propagating the correct teaching; or rather, regarding great persecution as our highest honor.”

Indeed, a great persecution was about to befall the Soka Gakkai.

Installment 53

In his sermon on the first day of the opening sessions of the grand ceremony commemorating the 700th anniversary of Taiseki-ji’s founding, and in his congratulatory speech on the second day, High Priest Nikken praised the achievements of the Soka Gakkai. In the former, he lavished praise, saying, “In particular, the rise of the lay organization the Soka Gakkai in recent years has led to the correct teaching spreading throughout Japan and the world.”

When the opening sessions ended, Shin’ichi Yamamoto headed immediately to Aichi Prefecture to offer guidance to the members there. Then, on Oct. 12 and 13, he returned to the head temple to attend the culminating sessions of the anniversary grand ceremony.

On the second and final day of those sessions, Nikken presented Shin’ichi with a certificate of appreciation and a list of commemorative items to be bestowed in recognition of his dedication and outstanding contributions to Nichiren Shoshu as chairperson of the Anniversary Celebrations Committee.

It was only a short time later that Nikken and his supporters set into motion their plot to destroy the Soka Gakkai.

After participating in these anniversary celebrations, Shin’ichi was again busy engaging in dialogue with leaders around the world in various fields. He met with Ankara University Rector Necdet Serin and his wife, Semiramis; peace scholar Johan Galtung; Director Cornell Capa of the International Center of Photography in New York and his wife, Edie; and Rector Fabio Roversi-Monaco of the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university.

Now that the Cold War had come to an end, Shin’ichi earnestly devoted his days to building new bridges of peace toward the 21st century.

On Dec. 13, he met with Director Sverre Lodgaard of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) at the Seikyo Shimbun building. One of the topics they focused on in their discussion was Director Lodgaard’s proposal for environmental security, a vision that regarded protecting the environment and disarmament as two components of the effort to guarantee peace and security.

Introducing the Buddhist teaching of the oneness of life and its environment, Shin’ichi pointed out that the fundamental cause of such socially disruptive problems as environmental destruction, famine, disease and war is the pollution or impurity within people’s lives that poisons their innate goodness. He said: “Transforming and purifying our lives represent the sure path to peace. Practical efforts to achieve this kind of ‘human revolution’ based on the teachings and principles of Nichiren Buddhism are what form the core of the SGI’s movement for peace, education and culture.”

Installment 54

On Dec. 13, when Shin’ichi Yamamoto was meeting with Director Sverre Lodgaard of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), a liaison session between the Soka Gakkai and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood was taking place at a temple in Sumida Ward, Tokyo. President Eisuke Akizuki and other leaders were representing the Soka Gakkai, and General Administrator Nichijun Fujimoto and others represented the priesthood.

Just as the conference was ending, the general administrator handed an envelope to President Akizuki. He said that the priesthood had prepared a list of questions, based on a tape it had obtained, regarding the speech that Shin’ichi had given at the previous month’s headquarters leaders meeting on Nov. 16, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding. and that they would like the Soka Gakkai to respond in writing.

It was a sudden and unexpected demand. The Soka Gakkai leaders could not fathom the priesthood’s intentions.

Akizuki said that if the priesthood had any questions, it would be better to discuss them at a liaison session, rather than exchange written questions and answers. The general administrator promised to reconsider the matter and took the envelope back.

However, the priesthood then mailed a letter dated Dec. 16 to the Soka Gakkai. It said: “We request that a responsible written reply to these questions be sent to the Nichiren Shoshu Administration Office within seven days of receipt of this notice.”

In his speech, Shin’ichi had discussed how to spread the teachings and promote activities in order to develop into a world religious movement. The priesthood’s questions, however, completely ignored the primary intent of the speech and nitpicked about minor matters.

In the speech, Shin’ichi had also proposed holding large-scale choral performances of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” One of the priesthood’s questions was made on the assertion that “singing ‘Ode to Joy’ in German constitutes praise for the Christian God and violates Nichiren Daishonin’s sacred intent.”

On Dec. 16, Shin’ichi attended that month’s headquarters leaders meeting, held in conjunction with the 1st Men’s Division General Meeting. Because it took place on the 220th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday, Shin’ichi referred to the German composer’s heroic way of life, which embodied his conviction that the kingdom of his spirit extended to the heavens.

Why was Beethoven able to continue composing in spite of all his personal suffering? Shin’ichi believed it was because he wished to share with the poor and the distressed, and with those of future generations, the joyous state of life he had attained. The spirit of this great composer, he felt, resonated closely with the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Installment 55

In response to the document from the priesthood titled “Inquiry,” the Soka Gakkai sent a letter on Dec. 23, stating their wish to “deepen mutual understanding through discussion.” In addition, the organization frankly sought clarification about matters and problems relating to the priesthood that had long troubled the Soka Gakkai as it strove to maintain harmonious relations between priesthood and laity. These amounted to nine points, including statements made by the high priest when Eisuke Akizuki met with him together with Shin’ichi Yamamoto, as well as the indiscretions of many of its priests.

The priesthood then sent a letter dated Dec. 26, stating: “Your action in sending a nine-point written interrogation, containing baseless accusations, in the form of a letter of inquiry, is absolutely shameless … We regard this as indicating that you have no intention of presenting sincere answers in writing concerning the speech of Nov. 16.”

On Dec. 27, the priesthood convened a special meeting of the Nichiren Shoshu Council and revised its rules. One of the revisions was to set the term of the chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations, which until then had no term limit, to five years, and the term of the other lay officers (including senior lay representatives and others), to three years. They also added a regulation to allow disciplinary action against lay believers “who criticize, defame or slander the chief administrator [namely, the high priest] in speech, writing or by other means.”

These revised rules went into effect immediately, stipulating that “the status of all those heretofore holding leadership positions in the association of Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations is revoked.” In other words, Shin’ichi, the chief lay representative, and Akizuki, Morikawa and several other Soka Gakkai leaders, who were senior lay representatives, were dismissed from their posts.

The aim of Nichiren Shoshu was clear. Using the revisions to its rules as a pretext, it was intent on eliminating Shin’ichi’s role within the school and eventually destroying the Soka Gakkai, subordinating all its members to the authority of Nichiren Shoshu.

Nichiren Shoshu announced the change in status of the chief and senior lay representatives to the media on Dec. 28. This was before the official notification had reached those involved.

On this day just before the year’s end, Shin’ichi was meeting with Director Duan Wenjie of China’s Dunhuang Research Academy at the Seikyo Shimbun building in Tokyo, discussing the Buddhist spirit of putting the happiness of the people first.

While those around him were upset and incensed by the priesthood’s actions, Shin’ichi steadily continued his efforts to engage in dialogue with leading world thinkers toward fostering peace and culture. With the future of humanity in mind, he proceeded straight ahead on the path of his convictions.

Installment 56

Soka Gakkai members learned from the newspapers and other media that Shin’ichi Yamamoto and senior Soka Gakkai leaders had been removed from their positions as chief representative and senior representatives of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations through a revision of the Nichiren Shoshu rules.

They reacted with surprise to this completely unexpected turn of events, and with anger toward the priesthood.

“Why have the priests done something so unreasonable?” “Wasn’t it President Yamamoto who enabled Nichiren Shoshu to achieve such great development? How can they just revoke his position as chief lay representative without even discussing the matter?!”

The official notice removing Shin’ichi and the other leaders from their positions representing the Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations arrived on Dec. 29. Though it was the busy year-end, the Soka Gakkai took swift action, holding emergency leaders meetings at ward and prefecture levels throughout Japan to explain the situation with the priesthood.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68), the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, declared: “We must act now, before it is too late.”[14]

The new year began—1991, designated the Year of Peace and Development by the Soka Gakkai.

Shin’ichi composed New Year’s poems, which were published in the Seikyo Shimbun and other Soka Gakkai publications. One that appeared in the Seikyo Shimbun read:

Let us rejoice
and celebrate
the New Year together,
our hearts shining
with dauntless courage.

One of three poems published in the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal, read:

Free and unconstrained,
we fearlessly
and joyfully overcome
the tempests and harsh winds
of jealousy.

Soka Gakkai members held spirited New Year’s gongyo meetings in centers throughout Japan, and also in 75 countries and territories around the world, making a hope-filled start to the new year.

At the Soka Gakkai Headquarters Annex, Shin’ichi exchanged New Year’s greetings with and offered encouragement to representatives of various divisions who had participated in the gongyo sessions held at the Headquarters.

“Let’s open the door to a new age of worldwide kosen-rufu! Let’s face and launch ourselves bravely into the storm!” he said.

Installment 57

On Jan. 2, 1991, Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki and General Director Kazumasa Morikawa went to the head temple and requested an opportunity to talk with Nikken, but they were refused. Nichiren Shoshu continued thereafter to reject the lay organization’s overtures for dialogue, declaring, for instance, that the Soka Gakkai leaders were “unworthy of an audience” with the high priest.

Another letter, dated Jan. 12, arrived from the priesthood.

Several of the quotes attributed to Shin’ichi Yamamoto in the original letter of inquiry that the priesthood cited in its criticisms actually contained serious inaccuracies. Other questions showed that the priesthood had clearly misunderstood the meaning of the statement, and still others were based on completely unsupported hearsay.

The Jan. 12 letter was a response to the Soka Gakkai’s written inquiry pointing out these specific errors. The priesthood acknowledged a number of errors and retracted some of their questions. As a result, the very basis of their arguments collapsed.

Yet they refused to amend the unreasonable measures they had taken against the Soka Gakkai, and went so far as to say that with regard to the relationship between the priesthood and the laity “to assert that everyone is essentially equal and promote harmonious unity between priests and laity assuming their equality is a sign of gross arrogance and one of the five cardinal sins[15]—namely, that of causing disunity in the Buddhist Order.”

This contention on the part of the priesthood could not be ignored, since it could only result in a distortion of the core principles of Nichiren Buddhism and fundamentally obstruct the movement for worldwide kosen-rufu.

The Soka Gakkai demanded a public apology. It also pointed out that there were several more serious errors in the priesthood’s original letter of inquiry, and requested a response from the priesthood concerning them.

Nichiren Shoshu refused all of the Soka Gakkai’s repeated requests for discussion, in spite of the fact that Nichiren Daishonin was a staunch advocate of dialogue, writing, “Let us discuss the question at length” (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 7). He taught the importance of being open to dialogue with anyone and promoting understanding, sympathy and agreement through reason and logic. His stance was the exact opposite of imposing one’s will on others through external pressure, such as force of arms or power and authority.

Dialogue is the mark of Buddhist humanism, and rejecting it is a rejection of the very spirit of Nichiren Daishonin. The Soka Gakkai has succeeded in broadly expanding the realm of kosen-rufu through its continuous grassroots efforts centered on dialogue, in such forms as home visits, small group gatherings and discussion meetings.

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The Soka Gakkai’s commitment to dialogue is based on a philosophy of respect for all people and on its faith in humanity. It is supported by the egalitarian principles of Nichiren Buddhism, which teach that all people equally possess the Buddha nature and have a noble mission to fulfill.

But Nikken and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood went against those teachings, subscribing instead to the attitude inherent in Japan’s traditional parish system, which regarded priests as superior to lay followers. They sought to impose this view on the Soka Gakkai and subjugate its members.

The Lotus Sutra, on which Nichiren Daishonin placed key importance, is a teaching of equality, resisting and overturning discrimination on the grounds of social status or any other basis, as is evident in its revelation that persons of the two vehicles—the voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones—and women can attain enlightenment.[16] That is the reason that thinking people around the world have high regard for Buddhism, which teaches respect for the dignity of life, and promotes harmony and peace for all humankind.

The Daishonin also clearly affirmed the equality of all, transcending distinctions of clergy and laity or of gender, stating, “Anyone who teaches others even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra is the envoy of the Thus Come One [Shakyamuni Buddha], whether that person be priest or layman, nun or laywoman” (“A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 33).

The purpose of Nichiren Buddhism is to enable people to become happy. Overlooking the priesthood’s attempt to distort Buddhism’s essential character would allow their outdated authoritarianism to run rampant, bring about unjust discrimination, and create turmoil and misery.

It could also ultimately lead to the correct teachings being destroyed. Citing Buddhist scriptures, Nichiren states: “The Buddha says in a prediction that the enemies of his teachings will not be evil men … He states that it will be monks who resemble arhats with the three insights and six transcendental powers[17] who will destroy his correct teachings” (“Response to the Petition from Gyobin,” WND-2, 388).

The Soka Gakkai was also deeply concerned about the priesthood’s lack of cultural awareness. The dogmatic, parochial attitude of the priesthood toward culture was not limited to rejecting Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal, had previously carried a photo of one of the items in “The Prince’s Trust: Robes of the Realm—An Exhibition of 300 Years of British Ceremonial Dress,” to be displayed at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. It was a photo of the mantle and insignia of the Order of the Garter [the highest honor the British sovereign can bestow]. When a senior Nichiren Shoshu priest saw it, he complained that it contained an image of a Christian cross—referring to the symbol embroidered on the mantle.

Without an appreciation of the unique traditions and culture of other nations, regions and peoples, mutual understanding is impossible. Respect for culture is respect for human beings.

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All spheres of human endeavor, including culture and the arts, customs and traditions, have been influenced to a greater or lesser degree by religion.

The Western calendar designates the year of the birth of Jesus Christ as Year 1, and the convention of regarding Sunday as a holiday derives from the Christian designation of that day as a day of rest. The use of stained glass developed to enhance the magnificence of Christian churches, and as such is also a product of Christian culture. Many Western buildings and architectural styles also have deep connections to Christianity. Anyone who rejects all such things because of their associations with Christianity would find it next to impossible to live within society.

Buddhism teaches the principle of adapting to the local customs and the manners of the times, calling on practitioners to respect the present customs, traditions and norms in each country and region, as long as they do not go against the core principles of Buddhism.

In other words, as long as we do not violate the fundamental teachings of Nichiren Buddhism—upholding the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the heart of the Lotus Sutra; exerting ourselves in faith, practice and study; and dedicating ourselves to realizing the mission of kosen-rufu—we should maintain a flexible attitude toward local customs and culture.

Our faith is expressed in society. Worldwide kosen-rufu is possible only when each person who practices the Mystic Law respects culture as a product of human wisdom and wins the trust of others through active participation in every aspect of society.

Friedrich Schiller’s poem that Beethoven set to music in his “Ode to Joy” contains the phrase “the gods” (Götter), which is clearly not praise for a particular god or religion.

In December 1987, Shin’ichi listened as 500 student division members presented a special orchestral and choral performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, including “Ode to Joy,” to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the student division’s establishment. He never forgot how deeply that performance moved him.

At the Headquarters leaders meeting commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding (held in November 1990), he proposed that “Ode to Joy” be performed by 50,000 members on the 65th anniversary, and by 100,000 members on the 70th anniversary. He also suggested that they sing it not only in Japanese, but eventually also in German.

Great music and art transcend national and ethnic barriers, resonating in people’s hearts and bringing them together.

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“Ode to Joy” is sung around the world as an anthem of humanity and freedom.

In 1989, the so-called Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia brought an end to communist rule without the tragedy of bloodshed, and on Dec. 14, a concert was held in the Czech capital, Prague, to celebrate. In that concert, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was performed with a chorus singing “Ode to Joy.”

When the performance ended, the auditorium exploded with applause, which continued unabated as Václav Havel, the new president of Czechoslovakia, walked onto the stage, the audience chanting: “Havel! Havel!” The Ninth Symphony expressed the joy in the hearts of the people.

On Dec. 23 and 25, after the wall had fallen, two concerts were held in Berlin to celebrate the end of the division between East and West Germany. Once again, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was performed.

The orchestra was a composite of several ensembles. Centering on the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, it included musicians from East and West Germany, and from the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union—the four nations that had administered Berlin after World War II, before the wall was built.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and its “Ode to Joy” are true symbols of the triumph of freedom and unity.

Many scholars and thinkers spoke out against Nichiren Shoshu’s objection that singing “Ode to Joy” in German constituted “praise for non-Buddhist teachings,” pointing out that this completely ignored the universality and cultural value of that great work.

Prof. Haruo Kawabata of the Shibaura Institute of Technology, a well-known Japanese philosopher and scholar of Nietzsche, observed: “Art is a sublimation of the universal human spirit. To subject it to the categories of petty religious dogmatism and condemn its appreciators as heretics is an example of the narrow-minded self-righteousness that produced the witch-hunts of former eras.”[18]

Schiller’s use of the plural “gods,” he said, indicates that he was not praising the monotheistic Christian God but referring back to the gods of ancient Greece, symbolizing the ideals and highest qualities of the human spirit. He did this because the only way to articulate new ideas, Kawabata said, was to use existing modes of expression.[19]

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Hidehiko Ushijima, Japanese author and professor of Tokai Women’s College (now Tokai Gakuin University), who was acquainted with a number of Soka Gakkai members in the United States, referred back to the essential nature of culture, saying: “Culture and religion have an inseparable yet distinct relationship. They are not synonymous. Culture and art are deeply rooted in society, transcending the confines of any one religion and, while absorbing, culling from and merging with other cultures over the course of history, shape how people live. As such, to condemn the choral section of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (which I regard as a hymn to all humanity, transcending religions) as heretical, and thus reject it, is to reject world culture and people’s way of life.

“It is easy to close oneself off and be dogmatic. But Nichiren Shoshu needs to recognize that, by doing so, they will not only fail to fulfill Nichiren’s mandate to propagate his teachings around the world, but will themselves be impeding that effort.”[20]

A religion that lapses into dogmatism and sanctimoniously passes judgment on culture and art is self-serving—religion for religion’s sake. It is not a religion that can serve the people.

Soka Gakkai members felt the need for a renaissance—to bring about a new era in which the people would once again be the prime focus of religion.

The Soka Gakkai’s top leaders were also deeply troubled by the behavior of many Nichiren Shoshu priests. Members throughout the country had expressed dismay and unease over the priests’ insolent words and actions, licentious behavior and extravagant lifestyles. The Soka Gakkai had reported such cases to Nichiren Shoshu out of concern that, if such behavior continued unchecked, the priesthood would degenerate to the point of no return.

Nichiren Daishonin declared that a priest who does not propagate the teachings but “simply spends his time in idleness and chatter” is “no better than an animal dressed in priestly robes” (“The Fourteen Slanders,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 760).

Since the Soka Gakkai’s earliest days, there were Nichiren Shoshu priests who had lost the spirit to work for kosen-rufu and arrogantly brandished their clerical authority. This is why second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, out of his sincere faith and concern, had sternly warned the priesthood on numerous occasions, declaring, for instance, that “priests obsessed with honor and status, who try to ingratiate themselves with the rich, have no place lording it over believers.”[21]

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To continue advancing worldwide kosen-rufu, Nichiren Daishonin’s wish, the Soka Gakkai had to speak out forthrightly and correct the errors of Nichiren Shoshu, regardless of the backlash it might invite.

On Jan. 3, 1991, a nationwide Soka Gakkai prefecture leaders conference was convened, and the problems with Nichiren Shoshu were reported.

President Eisuke Akizuki explained the requests that the Soka Gakkai had made to Nichiren Shoshu in order to secure a foundation for kosen-rufu that would enable Nichiren Buddhism to lead the way in the 21st century as a world religion, and to thereby realize the Daishonin’s mandate. There were three requests in all: 1) to adapt to the egalitarian and democratic values of the present age and be more open to the world; 2) to accord with the fundamental spirit of Nichiren Buddhism and discard its authoritarian tendencies and contempt for lay believers; and 3) to admonish corruption in the priesthood and establish a climate of integrity among priests marked by moderation and modesty.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto did gongyo with those attending the meeting and urged them to strive with profound commitment as people of mission and conviction, and make 1991 a year of wonderful success. For the sake of worldwide kosen-rufu, he was powerfully determined, no matter what happened, to protect the Soka Gakkai, which was carrying out the Buddha’s intent. He gave his all to encouraging members from the start of the year, which the Soka Gakkai had designated the Year of Peace and Development.

On Jan. 26, he issued a peace proposal commemorating the 16th anniversary of SGI Day.

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the previous year, had triggered the Gulf War. In January, a multinational force led by the United States engaged Iraqi troops in battle. In his peace proposal, Shin’ichi called for a speedy end to the Gulf War and for a Middle East peace conference to be held under the aegis of the United Nations.

On Jan. 27, Shin’ichi left Japan to visit Hong Kong and Macau, and on Jan. 31, he attended the SGI Asia Council General Meeting held at the Hong Kong Culture Center, with some 1,500 representatives from 14 countries and territories in Asia and other parts of the world.

At the conference, an urgent appeal was adopted calling for a swift resolution to the Gulf War. The appeal, based on the strong wish that peace be realized as soon as possible through U.N.-led efforts, called for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait, the implementation of measures to prevent a recurrence of hostilities, holding an international conference on Middle East peace and convening an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.

The flame of faith gives rise to a passionate commitment to work for peace.

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While visiting Hong Kong, Shin’ichi Yamamoto made his first trip to neighboring Macau. There, he attended a ceremony at the University of East Asia (now the University of Macau), at which he was presented with an honorary professorship. On that occasion, he also delivered a commemorative lecture titled “A New Global Awareness.”

On Feb. 2, he flew directly to Okinawa where he offered guidance to the members, after which he visited Miyazaki Prefecture.

He continued his travels to encourage members throughout Japan, visiting the Kansai, Chugoku and Chubu regions in March.

That same month, Nichiren Shoshu, which was still rejecting requests for dialogue with the Soka Gakkai, suddenly announced a change in its policy toward overseas lay organizations.

Up to this time, the SGI had been the only overseas lay organization it had officially recognized, but now Nichiren Shoshu sent a notice to the Soka Gakkai stating that it was ending this policy.

It also informed the organization that it was discontinuing the monthly pilgrimages to the head temple, Taiseki-ji, by Soka Gakkai members, stating that, from July, only those with a request for permission form issued by their local temple would be allowed to make pilgrimages. This was clearly an attempt to undermine the Soka Gakkai.

Soka Gakkai members were appalled by the arrogant and one-sided manner in which these changes were announced. They had, after all, made regular pilgrimages to the head temple as an expression of their sincere faith, as well as made countless offerings—donations involving considerable self-sacrifice—to improve and beautify the head temple.

In the postwar agricultural land reforms, Taiseki-ji was stripped of most of the farm land it had once possessed. This was a major financial blow, reducing the head temple to a state of poverty. To support themselves, the priesthood planned to turn Taiseki-ji into a tourist attraction. In November 1950, the local mayor, a village leader, tourism association members and journalists gathered at the head temple to hold a Northern Fuji Tourism Promotion Meeting and begin making concrete plans to open the temple to tourists.

Hearing this news, Josei Toda was greatly shocked and saddened. He had deep concerns that turning the head temple into a sightseeing spot for tourists with no faith in Nichiren Buddhism, just for the sake of profit, would desecrate Nichiren Daishonin’s noble spirit. Thinking of a way to avoid that situation, he came up with the idea of holding regular pilgrimages to the head temple for Soka Gakkai members, a plan implemented two years later, in 1952. As a result, Nichiren Shoshu overcame its financial difficulties and achieved great development. In the four decades these pilgrimages were held, Soka Gakkai members made a total of 70 million visits to the head temple.

The faith of Soka Gakkai members dedicated to kosen-rufu had supported Nichiren Shoshu and made the head temple flourish.

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The Soka Gakkai had also put great energy and resources into improving the facilities and grounds of the head temple. During second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s day, the Soka Gakkai constructed and donated the Hoanden Hall and the Grand Lecture Hall. Further, after Shin’ichi Yamamoto became president, it donated numerous other buildings and facilities at the head temple, including the Grand Lodging (the complex housing the high priest’s quarters and the priests’ dormitories), the Grand Reception Hall, the Grand Main Temple (Sho-Hondo), the main gate and lodging facilities for pilgrimage participants.

In Japan’s postwar agricultural land reforms, the head temple had been reduced to a mere 41 acres, but since then it had grown to roughly 956 acres—about 23 times the original size. Most of this land had been donated by the Soka Gakkai. The lay organization had supported Nichiren Shoshu with utmost sincerity in this way for many years. Its members had made heartfelt donations. And many youth division volunteers had worked day and night, often forgoing sleep, to ensure that members’ visits to the head temple took place safely and without incident. Now, however, without any preamble or words of appreciation, the priesthood abruptly introduced a new pilgrimage system administered by the local temples.

In July 1991, the priesthood announced, as a new official policy, that it would require lay believers to be registered as parishioners of their local Nichiren Shoshu temples. The aim was to force members to quit the Soka Gakkai and become temple members.

One of the most serious of the five cardinal sins[22] in Buddhism is causing disunity and disorder in the community of believers. The priesthood had committed this grave offense in launching into a full-fledged effort to undermine the unity of the Soka Gakkai, the organization that was carrying out the Buddha’s intent and making kosen-rufu a reality. Its actions were cold and unscrupulous. After eagerly taking all of the Soka Gakkai’s offerings, they were callously tossing the lay organization and its members aside.

Nichiren Shoshu also began to insist on the importance of venerating the high priest, a direct transgression of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, and plotted to bring lay believers under the control of clerical authority with the high priest in the supreme position of power.

But Soka Gakkai members had already seen through the unscrupulousness and backward nature of the priesthood.

In September 1991, it was revealed that two years earlier, in July 1989, Nikken had erected a tombstone for his ancestors at a cemetery on the grounds of a Zen temple in Fukushima City (in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region) and conducted a Buddhist ceremony there. While stridently accusing the Soka Gakkai of slandering the Law, he had no qualms in committing an act that could easily be described as such from the standpoint of Nichiren’s writings. Soka Gakkai members were disgusted by his hypocrisy.

Many examples of corruption and degeneration among the priests kept coming to light, one after another.

Nichiren Shoshu was no longer teaching or practicing Nichiren Buddhism. The spirit of Nikko Shonin [who had founded Taiseki-ji] had been lost and the pure stream of the Fuji school, sadly muddied beyond recognition.

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto went into action with a vision for a new era of peace following the end of the Cold War.

In April 1991, he visited the University of the Philippines to promote educational and cultural exchange. There, he delivered a lecture titled “Beyond the Profit Motive” at the College of Business Administration graduation ceremony. He also received an honorary doctorate of laws from the university that day.

In early June, he traveled to Europe, visiting Germany and making his first trip to Luxembourg, before going on to France and the U.K. In each country, he continued his efforts for cultural exchange, and also met with national leaders as well as noted scholars and thinkers. From late September into early October, he traveled to the United States, and on Sept. 26, he gave a lecture at Harvard University titled “The Age of Soft Power.”

When not overseas, he was busy traveling around Japan, devoting all of his energies to encouraging members.

Through the unfolding second priesthood issue, as it came to be known, Soka Gakkai members gained clear and objective insights into the treachery and scheming of the priests. They took a resolute stand, brimming with passionate determination to refute the erroneous and reveal the true.

From the time of the first priesthood issue, when Shin’ichi stepped down as Soka Gakkai president, he focused his attention on meeting with and encouraging individual members, seeking to build, once again, a rock-solid Soka Gakkai united by the bonds of mentor and disciples dedicated to the mission of kosen-rufu. He gave personal guidance, visited members at their homes, had small-group dialogues and informal discussions, and attended all sorts of meetings, making tireless efforts to encourage his fellow members.

Whenever possible, he dined with members, turning mealtimes into an opportunity to talk with them. He also used every spare moment he could to compose poems and inscribe calligraphy or inspirational messages on cards and inside books to present to members as encouragement.

He exerted himself unstintingly, ready to give his all for the members’ happiness and growth. He sought to do everything he could to infuse them with the spirit of kosen-rufu, wishing that each one would stand up as a courageous, self-reliant champion.

As a result of these efforts, young successors were showing splendid development, and a great bastion of Soka was being built—united by indestructible ties of mentor and disciple that would remain fast and strong, even amid the harshest adversity. That mentor-disciple spirit also created close bonds among members throughout the world.

Dedicated actions move people’s hearts.

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Each time Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a monthly headquarters leaders meeting or other Soka Gakkai gathering, he spoke of the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, who wished for the happiness of all people, and the way genuine practitioners of his teachings should live.

In one speech, for instance, he might share the words of the great comic actor Charlie Chaplin and talk about the importance of having the courage to fight for freedom. In another, he might cite Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables to deliver the message that the people must become strong and wise, and stand up for truth and justice.

Shin’ichi also pointed out that the attacks and obstacles encountered by the Soka Gakkai exactly match those described in the Daishonin’s writings, and therefore show that its efforts for kosen-rufu are correct. He stressed that, in light of the fundamental principles of Buddhism, all who devote themselves to kosen-rufu, have faith in the Gohonzon, and persevere in their Buddhist practice are Buddhas, and that pursuing people-oriented religious reform is the right course of action. He also confirmed basic truths about the Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun—that it is dedicated to the happiness of the individual, that it is a universal and egalitarian teaching and that the great path of worldwide kosen-rufu must always be centered on the Gohonzon and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings.

The 1st Tokyo General Meeting on Aug. 24, 1989, was the first meeting to be video broadcast nationwide by satellite. From that time on, these broadcasts played an important role in the members uniting together as one and overcoming the oppression of Nikken and Nichiren Shoshu. Prior to that, members around Japan had listened to audio broadcasts of such meetings, but now, they were able to watch satellite video broadcasts on large screens at major Soka Gakkai centers throughout Japan.

At these meetings, Shin’ichi spoke with the spirit of engaging the entire membership in dialogue. Returning to the principles of Buddhism and the guidance of Nichiren Daishonin, he clarified from various perspectives what is right and what is wrong; the essential nature of the current problems with the priesthood; and the correct way to live as human beings.

Shared understanding gives rise to solid unity.

Through these satellite broadcasts, the members came to gain a deep and accurate appreciation of the truth and essence of the priesthood issue. They keenly felt Shin’ichi’s intense commitment to kosen-rufu and determination to dedicate his life to his mission. The members’ hearts were firmly and powerfully united in their resolve not to be defeated by the schemes of corrupt priests or any other obstacle, and to continue to strive together for kosen-rufu.

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On Nov. 8, 1991, a document from Nichiren Shoshu titled “Remonstrance to the Soka Gakkai to Disband” arrived at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters. Dated Nov. 7, it was sent in the names of Chief Administrator and High Priest Nikken Abe and General Administrator Nichijun Fujimoto, and was addressed to Honorary Soka Gakkai President and SGI President Shin’ichi Yamamoto, Soka Gakkai President and SGI General Director Eisuke Akizuki and Soka Gakkai General Director Kazumasa Morikawa.

The document stated that there was a clear distinction between the priests and lay followers of Nichiren Shoshu in terms of their respective roles as teachers and disciples. The Soka Gakkai, however, it noted, did not revere the high priest or other members of the priesthood as their teachers, but claimed instead that priests and lay believers were equals. It described the organization’s assertion of equality as “an erroneous view that destroys the relationship of teacher and disciple that should rightfully exist between the priesthood and the laity,” and cited this as one of its reasons for calling on the Soka Gakkai and all SGI organizations to disband.

The Soka Gakkai, however, had already become an independent religious corporation, separate from Nichiren Shoshu, in 1952. This step had been taken based on the keen foresight of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who was determined to fulfill the mission of kosen-rufu. Consequently, Nichiren Shoshu was in no position legally to compel the Soka Gakkai to disband. In fact, it had no authority over the organization at all.

Mr. Toda had anticipated the future clearly, warning that once Nichiren Shoshu acquired wealth, it would discard the Soka Gakkai, and declaring that he would take appropriate steps to deal with that eventuality. His wise judgment and actions served to protect the Soka Gakkai, the organization upholding the correct teaching and practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

Soka Gakkai members scoffed at the absurdity of the arguments contained in the priesthood’s notice.

“They go around saying that lay believers must obediently follow the high priest, that priests are the teachers of lay believers, and anything else that suits them, but what really counts are actions!” “Hardly any of the priests have introduced others to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism or patiently gone to visit lay believers to offer personal guidance and inspire them in their faith. They’re only interested in pursuing idle pleasures. Do they really think they could lead Soka Gakkai members, who have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to kosen-rufu?” These were some of the opinions members voiced.

On Nov. 8, the Tokyo women’s division held a Renaissance Meeting, during which some members who formerly worked at Nichiren Shoshu temples shared firsthand accounts of the corrupt lifestyles and arrogant behavior of the priests and their families, which showed not a hint of faith. Everyone at the meeting strengthened their conviction that an age of a renaissance of humanity was dawning and the time had come to break the spell of priestly authority.

The moment was ripe for returning to Buddhism’s starting point as a humanistic religion.

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On Nov. 8, 1991, after receiving Nichiren Shoshu’s “Remonstrance to the Soka Gakkai to Disband,” President Eisuke Akizuki and other top leaders of the Soka Gakkai held a press conference.

Stating that the document’s demands were completely meaningless, the leaders spoke of how Nichiren Shoshu had seriously strayed from the teachings and spirit of Nichiren Buddhism.

They also detailed the priesthood’s deep-rooted contempt for lay believers, their refusal to engage in dialogue and their intolerant views, including criticizing the Soka Gakkai for holding choral performances of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in German. They explained that the Soka Gakkai was presently engaged in an effort to try to awaken Nichiren Shoshu from its narrow authoritarianism and carry out a religious reformation as Nichiren Buddhism continued to spread as a universal religion.

The Soka Gakkai leaders informed the reporters present that members were outraged by Nichiren Shoshu’s actions and had begun collecting signatures for a petition calling for the high priest’s resignation.

Corrupt and dissolute behavior was rampant among the priesthood. Funeral services and memorial tablets for the deceased were exploited by priests as money-making devices to fill their own pockets. Priests repeatedly threatened sincere Soka Gakkai members—brandishing their authority with the aim of controlling and dominating them, priests told members that they were slandering the Law and ran the risk of falling into hell. Soka Gakkai members had become deeply convinced that such behavior was unacceptable, that it demeaned the correct teaching and practice of Nichiren Buddhism. It was a deplorable state of affairs resembling that created by corrupt priests in medieval Europe.

Members began to ask for what purpose and for whom Buddhism and its teachings were really intended.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto consistently spoke to members about the correct path of faith, stressing the importance of always returning to the Gohonzon, the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin and the original teachings of the Daishonin contained in his writings.

As the coercive authoritarianism of Nichiren Shoshu became increasingly apparent, members came to recognize more deeply the need to revive the original spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, carry out a religious revolution for people’s happiness and continue advancing worldwide kosen-rufu.

The power of awakened members became a new impetus for reform, which, by returning to the Daishonin’s spirit, led to a reexamination of such traditional rites and practices as funerals and the assignment of posthumous names.

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When it came to the matter of funerals, the Soka Gakkai again returned to the original teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, and, after researching Buddhist funeral rites and observances and how they evolved, began to conduct lay funerals—funerals among and facilitated by family and fellow Soka Gakkai members, without priests.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Because your beloved departed father chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while he was alive, he was a person who attained Buddhahood in his present form” (“White Horses and White Swans,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1064); and “Since your deceased husband was a votary of [the Lotus Sutra], he doubtless attained Buddhahood just as he was” (“Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” WND-1, 458).

According to these writings, attaining Buddhahood is based on one’s faith and the daimoku one has chanted during one’s life. The suggestion that we cannot attain Buddhahood if our funeral services are not officiated by priests is nowhere to be found in the Daishonin’s teachings.

In Buddhism in Japan, the custom of bestowing special posthumous Buddhist names on the deceased actually originated from the tradition of conferring names on individuals when they entered the priesthood and accepted the precepts—while they were still alive, naturally. Posthumous Buddhist names were not in use during the Daishonin’s lifetime; the practice only evolved in later years, and was simply adopted by Nichiren Shoshu. Receiving a posthumous Buddhist name has absolutely no connection to whether or not one attains Buddhahood.

Unlike many Buddhist denominations in Japan, Nichiren Buddhism is not preoccupied with funeral rites; rather, it is a teaching that exists to enable all people to lead happy lives throughout the past, present and future.

The Soka Gakkai memorial parks in locations around Japan are bright, uplifting and egalitarian in their design, based on this Buddhist view of life and death.

When the Soka Gakkai began holding lay funeral services, they were received very favorably—earning high praise not only from members but also friends who were not practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

Among the comments received were: “Funerals often tend to be dark, sad, mournful affairs, but the funerals held by the Soka Gakkai are inspiring and buoyant, and convey a feeling of hope toward the deceased’s departure from this world. They are an expression of the Soka Gakkai’s positive attitude toward life and death.”

“Today, people tend to rely on proxies for almost everything. Asking priests to recite sutra passages at a funeral could be called one of the earliest examples of this. But in Soka Gakkai funerals, family and friends recite sutra passages and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the eternal happiness of the deceased. I was struck by their profound sincerity. This is the way, I feel, we should send off all those who have passed away.”

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One scholar described the lay funerals being conducted by the Soka Gakkai as “a revolutionary change in Japanese funeral practices,” adding that “because of their progressive nature, they might face resistance from the more conservative minded. But, ultimately, they are the funerals of the future, and are certain to become widely accepted.” He also said: “The development of the Soka Gakkai, and the speed at which it has moved forward, can only be called astonishing. In just three decades, it has overturned the Buddhist parishioner system in Japan that was established over three centuries.”

In the years following the first priesthood issue, the true authoritarian nature of Nichiren Shoshu had resurfaced in full force. In response, Soka Gakkai members throughout Japan stood up to embark on what has come to be known as the Heisei[23] Reformation [starting from the end of 1990 and continuing to the present], based on the original principles and intent of Nichiren Buddhism.

The arrival of Nichiren Shoshu’s “Remonstrance to the Soka Gakkai to Disband” [on Nov. 8, 1991] galvanized members’ resolve to fight for reform. They launched a petition campaign calling for Nikken Abe to step down from the position of high priest for violating the correct teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and attempting to destroy the harmonious community of believers striving together for kosen-rufu.

Even before Nov. 18, the anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding—in less than 10 days since the petition drive began, close to 5 million signatures had been collected. The scale of response in such a short time testified eloquently to the outrage members felt at the unreasonable and unacceptable actions Nichiren Shoshu had taken against the Soka Gakkai.

Members also strongly felt that the time had arrived for the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism to flourish around the world. The Daishonin had predicted that “the three powerful enemies will arise without fail” (“On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 394), and now his words had become a reality.

Leading up to 1991, the Soka Gakkai had endured numerous attacks of slander and abuse by the first of the three powerful enemies—arrogant lay people who were ignorant of Buddhism. It had also suffered harassment and attack at the hands of the second of the three powerful enemies—arrogant priests who did not seek the true teachings of Buddhism but remained attached to their own arbitrary views.

Yet, until this point, it had not experienced the third of the three powerful enemies—arrogant false sages, namely, high-ranking priests who harbor malice in their hearts and persecute the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra. Now, however, this third powerful enemy had appeared in the form of the high priest, Nikken, who was persecuting the Soka Gakkai, the organization striving for kosen-rufu in accord with the Buddha’s intent. This was clear proof that the Soka Gakkai was practicing the Lotus Sutra in the present age, and doing so just as the Daishonin taught.

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On Nov. 29, three weeks after the Soka Gakkai received Nichiren Shoshu’s “Remonstrance to Disband,” another document arrived titled “Notice of the Excommunication of the Soka Gakkai.”

This document stated that Nichiren Shoshu was excommunicating the Soka Gakkai because the lay organization had not complied with the demands specified in its previous notice. It also advised that it was simultaneously excommunicating “all SGI (Soka Gakkai International) organizations and equivalent organizations that accept and follow the guidance of the Soka Gakkai.”

Several top leaders of the Soka Gakkai had become members in first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s day and also worked alongside second president Josei Toda to rebuild the Soka Gakkai after World War II. They had witnessed the true state of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood over many long years, and now denounced the unprincipled actions of Nikken and the priests aligned with him. These leaders included Hiroshi Izumida, chairperson of the Soka Gakkai Executive Guidance Conference, as well as Hisao Seki and Katsu Kiyohara, respectively the chairperson and vice chairperson of the organization’s Executive Advisory Council.

Izumida said with disgust: “Just who have they excommunicated? Ordinarily, excommunication is an action taken against individuals, but they say they are excommunicating the organizations of the Soka Gakkai and SGI. Stating that individual Soka Gakkai and SGI members retain their status as lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu, they call on members to leave the organizations. Their ulterior motive is blatantly obvious: to steal our members and make them Nichiren Shoshu temple parishioners.

“Nichiren Shoshu’s authoritarianism, self-interest, cowardice and dishonesty haven’t changed in the least from the past. They have no faith. That’s why they accepted the Shinto talisman and deleted crucial passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings [at the request of the militarist government during World War II]. And whenever some issue arises between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai, they refuse to confer the Gohonzon on our members, using the object of our faith as a tool to manipulate lay believers.

“We should also note how they have tried to sever the ties of mentor and disciple in the Soka Gakkai.

“There is the incident involving Jiko Kasahara, a corrupt priest who, during World War II, advocated the erroneous doctrine that Buddhism is subordinate to Shinto. During a commemorative pilgrimage on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the establishment of the Daishonin’s teachings (in 1952), Soka Gakkai youth made Kasahara apologize before Mr. Makiguchi’s tomb for his offenses. At that time, the Nichiren Shoshu Council met and adopted a motion removing Mr. Toda from his post as senior lay representative of Nichiren Shoshu and banning him from visiting the head temple. By punishing only President Toda, they attempted to drive a wedge between him and the members, sever the ties of Soka mentor and disciples, and bring Soka Gakkai members under the control of Nichiren Shoshu.”

Installment 72

The Soka Gakkai is a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth committed to the mission of realizing kosen-rufu, the heart of which is the mentor-disciple relationship. This is why the devil king of the sixth heaven,[24] intent on destroying the movement for kosen-rufu, employs every possible means to sever this bond.

Leaders such as Hiroshi Izumida, who had been practicing since the early days of the Soka Gakkai, were well aware of the corruption within Nichiren Shoshu and its deep-seated contempt for lay believers. Feeling that now was the time to confront and fight this once and for all, they took the lead in protesting the actions of the priesthood.

To pass the Soka Gakkai spirit on to younger generations, there is no other way than for older, more experienced members to demonstrate it through their own example and actions. Fostering young successors is the mission and responsibility of seniors in faith.

Izumida resolutely declared: “With these recent actions, it is clear that Nichiren Shoshu is denigrating the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and has turned into a school of slanderers of the Law. They cannot escape the stern rebuke of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin!”

The members were in jubilant spirits. All felt they could now advance joyfully, with light hearts, toward worldwide kosen-rufu, without having to worry about the authoritarian and mean-spirited priesthood.

On Nov. 29, the day that the “Notice of Excommunication” arrived at the Soka Gakkai, a ceremony was held at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Sendagaya, Tokyo, to confer a Certificate of Appreciation on SGI President Shin’ichi Yamamoto. Paying tribute to his contributions to education, culture and humanity, the accolade was presented by the Association of African Heads of Mission in Tokyo, a diplomatic group representing 26 African nations. Ambassadors and representatives from 19 African embassies, the African National Congress (ANC) representative to Japan and other officials were present at the award ceremony. It was extremely rare for so many African ambassadors and diplomatic representatives to make a visit of this kind together.

In his speech at the ceremony, the ambassador from Ghana, leader of the association, acknowledged the efforts for world peace being made by Shin’ichi and the SGI, citing their support of the anti-apartheid movement and their promotion of educational and cultural exchange between Japan and Africa through Soka University, the Min-On Concert Association and other Soka Gakkai–affiliated organizations. He also called the SGI a gathering of global citizens sharing the same humanistic ideals, and said, “I am convinced that we have made the right choice in selecting the SGI as our partner in striving to realize common ideals.”

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Speaking on behalf of the African delegation, the ambassador from Ghana also said to Shin’ichi Yamamoto, “In every way, you are a true world citizen and Japan’s greatest ambassador.”

The history of the African continent for too long had been one of struggle against oppression, discrimination and countless other challenges. Shin’ichi was profoundly honored and humbled to receive this recognition from African diplomats whose keen insight had been fostered under such conditions.

When the Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Shin’ichi, the room filled with applause. The citation on the certificate read in part: “In recognition of your achievements in the promotion of world peace through education, culture, moral behavior, equality of race, respect of human rights, assistance to the poor, spiritual counseling and dedication to the cause of humanity, the Association of African Heads of Mission in Tokyo attests to the validity of the outstanding human qualities and traits endowed in you and which you have put into the services of [humankind].”

Stepping up to the microphone, Shin’ichi said, “This is a deeply moving and historic day.”

He went on to explain that, since its establishment, the Soka Gakkai had fought to defend human dignity and equality, and noted that second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda had advocated the ideal of global citizenship. Shin’ichi promised to put even greater energy into promoting exchanges between Japan and Africa, the “continent of the 21st century” advancing toward the victory of the people.

The representative from the African National Congress also delivered a message to Shin’ichi from ANC President Nelson Mandela, conveying his personal regards and his sincere prayers for Shin’ichi’s health.

When the time came for the members of the Association of the Heads of Mission and other visiting officials to leave, Shin’ichi saw them off at the entrance, shaking their hands and expressing his profound gratitude.

It is by opening paths of education, culture and humanity that the true spirit of Nichiren Buddhism will come to pulse vibrantly throughout the world, and the humanism and commitment to peace that are its essence will surmount all barriers and bring people together. Working to make this a reality is the right course of action as Buddhists, and a goal befitting a movement of global citizens in the 21st century.

On that day, the curtain rose on a new age of victory for human rights. The heartfelt congratulations of the African diplomats were an expression of praise and high hopes for the future of the Soka Gakkai, which had boldly achieved its spiritual independence.

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On the evening of Nov. 30, the following day, leaders meetings were held across Japan with the theme “A Great Victory for the Soka Renaissance.”

Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended the one held at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Sendagaya, Tokyo, along with Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki and other top Soka Gakkai leaders.

Shin’ichi had composed a poem to commemorate this day marking a fresh start for the Soka Gakkai and dedicated it to the entire membership:

The hour of destiny
has arrived at last—
for the champions of Soka.

At the meeting, President Akizuki introduced the poem and explained that “champions of Soka” expressed the idea that all Soka Gakkai members were “champions of faith.” He then went on to discuss the true nature of Nikken and Nichiren Shoshu:

“Nichiren Shoshu, having committed countless acts of slander of the Law, has now degenerated into the ‘Nikken sect.’ It lacks any right or authority to excommunicate the Soka Gakkai. For his grave offenses, Nikken, the high priest, is sure to be harshly rebuked by Nichiren Daishonin …

“I declare that Nichiren Shoshu, because of its actions to disrupt the harmonious community of believers and obstruct the progress of kosen-rufu, has without doubt already been excommunicated by Nichiren Daishonin …

“The priesthood’s excommunication of the Soka Gakkai is in essence no more than an unscrupulous attempt to turn Soka Gakkai members into temple parishioners. Its ambition to dismantle the Soka Gakkai remains unchanged. We must see these actions for what they truly are.”

He loudly proclaimed: “In terms of faith, too, we have severed their dark, insidious chains, and can now advance freely and powerfully toward worldwide kosen-rufu. Today, I wish to make a declaration of great victory for our Soka Renaissance, in which we have won our spiritual independence! What do you say?”

Cheers and thunderous applause filled the hall.

Akizuki then cited the following passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “Be resolved to summon forth the great power of faith, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death, and manifest it in your life … Even embracing the Lotus Sutra would be useless without the heritage of faith” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 218).

He emphasized: “Faith is the true heritage of the Law, and the benefit of the Gohonzon emerges without fail when all of the four powers are activated—when the powers of the Buddha and the Law are drawn forth by our powers of faith and practice. The ‘great power of faith’ is what produces immeasurable benefit. Let us demonstrate this for all to see.”

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Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki announced the establishment of a ceremonies division in each ward and prefecture throughout Japan to oversee funeral services and other ceremonies. He also reported that the petition drive being conducted in Japan and countries across the globe calling for the resignation of High Priest Nikken had to date collected 12,420,000 signatures. Akizuki said he would present Nichiren Shoshu with this petition expressing outrage at Nikken’s actions from people around the world.

The audience applauded loudly in approval. Everyone felt that a momentous turning point had arrived for worldwide kosen-rufu. All were excited and exhilarated to be playing a leading role on the grand stage of a historic and new religious reformation.

At last, it was time for Shin’ichi Yamamoto to speak.

He began with a little humor: “I heard that a special celebration was happening today, so I thought I’d come along and join in!”

The audience erupted in laughter and applause. The atmosphere of the meeting was cheerful, relaxed and filled with joy and determination.

Referring to the fact that Nichiren Shoshu had sent the Soka Gakkai its Notice of Excommunication, dated November 28, Shin’ichi said: “November 28 is now a historic date. November is the month of the Soka Gakkai’s founding and, as you all know, the number 28 is significant as the number of chapters in the Lotus Sutra. Quite unexpectedly, yet very appropriately, this date—November 28—has become the day of our spiritual independence.”

This was met with another roaring wave of applause. Hearing the words “the day of our spiritual independence,” everyone felt limitless hope and envisioned a future of boundless possibilities.

Shin’ichi reaffirmed that the members of the Soka Gakkai, while striving with a selfless spirit, had succeeded in widely spreading the Mystic Law in exact accord with Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, and he stressed: “No other organization has propagated the Mystic Law to this extent, sharing its greatness with people all around the world. And our real work still lies ahead.

“I am convinced, just as President Toda said, that the name of the Soka Gakkai is certain to be included in the Buddhist scriptures of future ages.”

The Soka Gakkai is carrying out the Buddha’s intent, and every one of its members working with tireless dedication for kosen-rufu is a Buddha.

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People do not exist for the sake of religion; religion exists for people, to enable people to become happy. Confusing or reversing this essential relationship distorts everything. Noting that this was the fundamental error of Nichiren Shoshu, Shin’ichi Yamamoto voiced his hopes for the future: “The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddhism of the Sun; it is a world religion illuminating all humanity. Viewed from every aspect, the Soka Gakkai’s development, as an organization whose members uphold this great philosophy, should also be global and universal. It mustn’t be held back within a narrow, closed, feudalistic framework.”

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “When the sun rises in the eastern sector of the sky, then all the skies over the great continent of Jambudvipa in the south will be illuminated” (“The Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 169). “The great continent of Jambudvipa in the south” here means the entire world. The sun of Nichiren Buddhism has the power to dispel the dark clouds of all suffering and misery, and illuminate the entire world with the light of happiness.

Drawing on remarks made by various scholars, thinkers and commentators regarding the issues the Soka Gakkai was facing with Nichiren Shoshu, Shin’ichi outlined the requisite qualities of a world religion:

1. Administration conducted in an open, democratic fashion.
2. Adherence to the fundamentals of faith while allowing free speech.
3. Egalitarianism that promotes mutual respect and the participation of all believers.
4. Emphasis on faith rather than ritual.
5. Leadership that is open to all members, based on ability rather than birthright.
6. Universal doctrines that are propagated using methods appropriate to the times.

He also shared President Toda’s guidance that the Soka Gakkai must remain directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin through his writings. Shin’ichi emphasized that the Soka Gakkai continued to exert itself steadfastly based on the Daishonin’s writings and in accord with his intent, striving to fulfill the great vow for “kosen-rufu through the compassionate propagation of the Great Law.”

He insisted that there was no need for anyone to act as an intermediary between us and the Daishonin, and that, in the context of the Soka Gakkai, the role of leaders was simply to help people forge their own direct connection with Nichiren.

Presidents Makiguchi and Toda selflessly dedicated themselves to spreading the Mystic Law just as Nichiren Daishonin instructed, and set an example of how his disciples should strive in faith and practice. In the Soka Gakkai, the mentor-disciple relationship, our fellow members and the organization all exist for teaching and learning the spirit of the Daishonin and correct Buddhist faith and practice based on his writings.

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto reaffirmed the Soka Gakkai’s mission to carry the movement for kosen-rufu forward into the future and throughout the world.

“In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin says, ‘Now when Nichiren chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, he is enabling all living beings to attain Buddhahood in the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law’ (p. 41). With the firm belief that anyone who strives as the Daishonin teaches can attain Buddhahood, let us set forth on a magnificent, hope-filled new start, aiming toward the future, ten thousand years hence.

“Nikko Shonin [the Daishonin’s direct disciple and successor] also writes, ‘The sacred scriptures of this country [Japan] should be translated from Japanese into Chinese and Sanskrit when the time for widespread propagation arrives’ (Gosho zenshu, p. 1613).[25] This means that, just as the words of Shakyamuni in India were translated into Chinese, Japanese and other languages in former ages, the noble words of the Daishonin should be transmitted to India, China and other countries at the time of kosen-rufu by translating his writings from Japanese into those different languages.

“It is the Soka Gakkai alone that is correctly translating the writings of Nichiren Daishonin and sharing it with people throughout the world in perfect accord with these instructions. The Soka Gakkai will continue to advance based on the Daishonin’s writings, in the spirit articulated by Nikko Shonin. I am sure that both Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin would be delighted by this and praise us for our efforts.”

Shin’ichi then referred to one of the articles from the “Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikko,” which states, “Do not follow even the high priest if he goes against the correct teaching of Buddhism and propounds his own views” (GZ, 1618). This is a stern warning against following any arbitrary doctrines that contradict the Buddhist teachings, even if those doctrines are advocated by the current high priest.

Shin’ichi stressed the importance of remaining directly connected to the Daishonin, as Nikko Shonin’s admonition urges, and continuing to work energetically for worldwide kosen-rufu. In closing, he called out: “I hope that all of you will forge ahead with unrivaled good cheer and courage to build an unrivaled Soka Gakkai. Let us celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding in the year 2000 with resounding victory!”

Applause rocked the room as members expressed their determination to do just that.

The Soka Gakkai had made a buoyant fresh start toward the new century, toward the goal of becoming a truly global religious organization and toward an age of humanism.

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Members throughout Japan and around the world rose up vigorously as champions of the Soka Renaissance.

They began a fresh journey for worldwide kosen-rufu, with these words of Nichiren Daishonin ever in mind: “If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity” (“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 736).

They vowed to one another to never stray from the correct path of faith and practice they learned from the Soka Gakkai, to advance forever with the Soka Gakkai and lead happy lives, and to make sure that none of their fellow members were led astray by negative influences that might cause them to have eternal regrets. Solidifying their unity in this way, they set forth with optimism and confidence toward the 21st century, toward a century of life.

On Dec. 27, 1991, roughly a month after Nichiren Shoshu had sent the Notice of Excommunication, the Soka Gakkai submitted to Nikken the petition calling for his resignation as high priest, which had been signed by more than 16 million people around the world. This indisputable fact will be forever engraved in the annals of kosen-rufu.

That same December, a number of local Soka Gakkai organizations held culture and music festivals, including Edogawa, Katsushika and Adachi wards in Tokyo, and Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture. In addition, the Fuji Fife and Drum Corps, the Fuji Student Light Music Orchestra and the Fuji Student Chorus held many performances. A song titled “The Joyous Triumph of Soka”—the lyrics set to the tune of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”—was sung proudly at many of these events.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended whenever his schedule allowed, not only to view the performances but to encourage everyone present.

The members’ vibrant singing rang out as a fanfare of hope heralding the dawn of 1992, the Year of the Soka Renaissance.

The past year, 1991, had been truly tumultuous, but it was the year the Soka Gakkai gained its spiritual independence and underwent an important rebirth—the year that propelled it powerfully forward on the path to becoming a global religious movement.

Now, the great bastion of Soka, dedicated to creating peace and happiness for all humanity, stood magnificently. Just as the age of worldwide kosen-rufu was arriving, Nichiren Shoshu—embodying the Lotus Sutra passage “evil demons will take possession” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 233)—revealed its true devilish nature and cut itself off from the Soka Gakkai. A wondrous time had come. It was all in complete accord with the Buddha’s intent.

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The bell of the Soka Renaissance resounded far and wide.

On New Year’s Day 1992, Shin’ichi Yamamoto did gongyo with representatives from various divisions at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters Annex, and began his efforts for that year by encouraging members.

At the New Year’s leaders meeting on Jan. 5, he called on those present to make a fresh start, urging them to show warm concern for each member and warmly encourage them as the first step in guiding them in faith.

In 1992, many priests left Nichiren Shoshu. Some of them together sent a “Letter of Remonstration” to the school, denouncing the conduct of Nikken and the priesthood as betraying the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin.

In August of that year, Nichiren Shoshu specifically expelled Shin’ichi from its laity. They were determined to somehow drive a wedge between Soka mentor and disciples, but the members were no longer fazed by such actions.

Separated from the Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Shoshu saw the number of its followers plummet as it slid toward inevitable decline.

After excommunicating the Soka Gakkai, the priesthood stopped conferring Gohonzon on Soka Gakkai members. In response, Chief Priest Sendo Narita of Joen-ji temple in Tochigi Prefecture, who, along with his temple, had left Nichiren Shoshu, proposed that the Soka Gakkai use a Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan Shonin [(1665–1726); the 26th high priest and restorer of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings] in that temple’s possession as a basis to produce Gohonzon for conferral upon its members.

In September 1993, meetings of the Soka Gakkai’s Executive Council, Executive Advisory Council, Study Department Executive Conference, Prefecture Leaders Conference and Executive Directors Council were convened to deliberate on the matter. As a result, it was decided that the Soka Gakkai would accept this offer and confer this Gohonzon on members throughout the world. It did so, in its capacity as the sole organization advancing kosen-rufu in accord with the Daishonin’s intent and as the harmonious community of practitioners carrying on the true heritage of faith.

In 1995, claiming, as a pretext, that the structure was not earthquake-proof, Nichiren Shoshu announced that it would demolish the Grand Reception Hall, and proceeded to do so. In June 1998, it went ahead and destroyed the Grand Main Temple (Sho-Hondo), the crystallization of the sincere donations of 8 million believers. One after another, Nikken set about destroying the buildings that were donated to the head temple through Shin’ichi’s initiative and which represented the achievements of his predecessor Nittatsu’s tenure as high priest.

At the end of January 1992, the Year of Soka Renaissance, Shin’ichi left Japan to visit neighboring countries in Asia.

With the Cold War over, now was the time to build bridges of peace throughout the world. Driven by this thought, he couldn’t let a moment go to waste.

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While in Thailand, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had an audience with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Chitralada Palace in Bangkok. It was four years since he last had that honor. Their conversation touched on culture, peace and the arts. Praised as a man of culture, King Bhumibol was known for his scholarship and erudition, and his deep appreciation of the arts.

During his first audience in 1988, Shin’ichi proposed holding an exhibition of the king’s photographs. That proposal was realized in 1989, when the exhibition went on display at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. From there, it traveled to the United States and the United Kingdom, where it was received with great acclaim.

During this, his second audience, Shin’ichi proposed holding a concert featuring music composed by the king. This was realized the following year, in November 1993, at the Soka University Auditorium, as a special event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the first state visit to Japan by King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.

During his third audience, in 1994, Shin’ichi proposed holding a special exhibition showcasing King Bhumibol’s paintings, which was later held in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (in 1996).

Throughout his stay in Thailand, Shin’ichi again devoted himself tirelessly to encouraging members.

The very heart of Nichiren Buddhism is found in the wish and action to encourage others. Its humanistic teachings shine brightly in the behavior of those who practice them.

The members of Soka Gakkai Thailand took pride in the friendship between King Bhumibol and Shin’ichi and strove to make positive contributions to society, steadily winning the trust of their fellow citizens. The organization went on to achieve great development as its members expanded their network of happiness throughout Thailand, the “land of smiles.”

On his next stop, in India, Shin’ichi met with Indian President Ramaswamy Venkataraman and Vice President Shankar Dayal Sharma, as well as other leading figures. Among them was Bishambhar Nath Pande, a direct disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and the vice chairperson of the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti [a two-campus museum complex dedicated to the memory of the great Indian independence leader and champion of nonviolence]. And at the Gandhi museum’s invitation, Shin’ichi delivered a lecture titled “Toward a World Without War―Gandhism and the Modern World.”

He also attended a culture festival held by members of Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai. Everyone had grown tremendously, and a multitude of able young people was developing splendidly. Members from Nepal, Shakyamuni’s birthplace, also gathered for the event, and Shin’ichi joined them and other members for group photos.

Shin’ichi sensed the arrival of a new dawn.

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Arriving in Hong Kong after his visit to India, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with Governor David Wilson and participated in a number of other events. From there, on Feb. 22, he headed back to Japan, stopping first in Okinawa.

This had been Shin’ichi’s first overseas trip for peace since the Soka Gakkai had achieved its spiritual independence from the priesthood.

In India, where Buddhism has its origins, as well as in Thailand and Hong Kong, members were steadily forging strong bonds of friendship and trust with people in their communities and actively working to promote peace, culture and education. Looking to the future, Shin’ichi devoted himself fully to securing a new foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu.

In Okinawa, the 1st SGI Asia General Meeting—held over three days—began on Feb. 25 at the Okinawa Training Center in Onnason. Representatives from countries and territories throughout Asia participated. Shin’ichi attended all three days’ events and encouraged the members with every ounce of his being.

At a gongyo session on the second day (Feb. 26), Shin’ichi announced that a Soka Bodhi Tree Garden would be established on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Noting that Nichiren Daishonin wished for the happiness of all people, he reaffirmed that the purpose of our Buddhist practice is for each of us to live a vibrant and enjoyable life.

He said: “There’s no need to be obsessive about faith and put pressure on yourself as a result. Also, you mustn’t give guidance that makes people feel burdened and lose their joy.

“Doing gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo benefit your life. But that doesn’t mean that you will be punished or suffer negative consequences if you don’t do them. If that were the case, we’d have a situation where those who never practiced Nichiren Buddhism in the first place would be better off!

“The Daishonin teaches that sincere faith in the Mystic Law, and even chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just once, is a source of immeasurable benefit. With that conviction and the determination to strive in your Buddhist practice with courage, confidence and joy, your life state will expand limitlessly and you will accumulate ever-growing good fortune. Our Buddhist practice is not an obligation; it is our greatest privilege. The key to faith in Nichiren Buddhism lies in this subtle shift in our mind-set.”

Shin’ichi wanted everyone, as members of the Soka family, to advance wisely and enjoyably along the path of kosen-rufu, savoring the joy and exhilaration of their Buddhist practice.

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On Feb. 27, the third and final day, the SGI Asia General Meeting and a peace music festival were held in conjunction with the Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting and Okinawa Prefecture General Meeting. Members from Okinawa and throughout Japan participated with 250 visiting SGI members from 15 countries and territories in Asia.

Okinawa was poised to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its reversion to Japan [from U.S. rule on May 15, 1972], and the members there brimmed with a determination to bring everlasting happiness to the islands of Okinawa—to make each one a Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. They also renewed their vow to spread from Okinawa, the gateway to Asia, Nichiren Daishonin’s philosophy for realizing genuine peace and prosperity.

The members from throughout Asia also strengthened their commitment to work closely with their fellow members, forge ties of friendship and trust with people in their communities, and thereby build the foundations for promoting friendly, peaceful relations.

During the peace music festival, the young men’s division leader of Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai read the SGI’s “Asia Declaration” in English:

We, the SGI members in Asia, affirm the following three points:

First, to respect the culture and traditions of our countries and show actual proof of the principle that “faith manifests itself daily life” in order to contribute to the flourishing of our societies.

Second, to engage actively in international cultural and educational exchange based on a global vision.

Third, to support United Nations–centered efforts to build a new, peaceful world order.

The declaration was unanimously adopted with resounding applause.

The Okinawa Music Corps and Fife and Drum Corps then played a fanfare titled “The Dawn of Asia.” This was followed by uplifting song and dance performances led by SGI members from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, many of whom were dressed in traditional national costumes. The atmosphere overflowed with youthful vitality and the vibrant joy that comes from dedicating one’s life freely to kosen-rufu.

For the finale, a 200-member chorus—the majority of whom were 20-year-olds born in 1972, the year that Okinawa returned to Japan—took the stage and sang “The March of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth” and “Our Beautiful Islands of Okinawa.” Some people stood up and started dancing the traditional Okinawan kachashi dance in rhythm with the music.

When Shin’ichi Yamamoto heard that most of the chorus members were 20 years old, his eyes sparkled.

“That’s amazing,” he said. “Young people are all treasures. As long as young people enthusiastically strive in faith, the future is assured.”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued speaking to the Okinawa leaders [while watching the performances]: “You need to value young potential and warmly support each person so that they can develop and grow. You can’t help people grow if you leave them on their own.

“We should do activities together with younger or newer members, such as chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, studying Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, going on home visits and introducing others to Nichiren Buddhism. We must thoroughly teach them the basics of faith, practice and study. It’s important that we diligently and patiently devote attention to fostering their growth.

“And, just as with this music festival, give young people a chance to take center stage so that they can learn to think for themselves and act on their own initiative, thereby confidently giving full play to their abilities and potential.

“Their example will be a model for the future of the Soka Gakkai organization in Okinawa.

“Truly great leaders are those who steadily foster youth to be even more capable than they themselves are. By earnestly nurturing young people now, and making it a tradition, you will assure a strong Okinawa in the 21st century.”

The members of the audience stood up one after another until all were on their feet dancing the kachashi in rhythm with the young performers’ singing that overflowed with passion and energy.

The members at the general meeting came from countries with different histories and cultures, but they were united by their shared concern for Asia and their commitment to peace.

Shin’ichi went to the microphone and began his speech: “There are lovely flowers here; there is the beautiful sea and brilliant sunlight. The Okinawa Training Center is awash in the colors of spring.” The members applauded warmly.

Shin’ichi’s words perfectly resonated with the immense joy they all felt now that the Soka Gakkai had cast off the chains of an authoritarian priesthood and begun a bright new journey.

In his speech, Shin’ichi announced plans to build a training center in the Philippines and establish a Soka kindergarten in Singapore, in addition to the one that was scheduled to open in Hong Kong. The announcements all brimmed with hope.

Shin’ichi also mentioned Okinawa’s historic role as a bridge linking nations and declared that this SGI Asia General Meeting in Okinawa marked the start of an age of great exchange in the spheres of philosophy, culture and peace, leading into the 21st century.

As he spoke, Shin’ichi thought how overjoyed his mentor, Josei Toda, would have been to see this general meeting, knowing how he had wished for all the people of Asia to enjoy happiness and peace.

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Okinawa brims with respect for life and a spirit of generous, openhearted friendship—illustrated by two famous Okinawan expressions “Nuchi du takara” (Life is a treasure), and “Ichariba chode” (Once we meet, we are brothers and sisters).

As the great Okinawan leader Saion (1682–1761) put it: “A person’s life must be considered his most important treasure, and he must guard it and nourish it.”[26]

During World War II, however, Okinawa was the site of a bloody land battle, in which countless residents lost their lives.

Whenever Shin’ichi Yamamoto thought of Okinawa, he strongly sensed the need to change the destiny of these islands so that they would exemplify Nichiren Daishonin’s vision of peace through the humanistic ideals of Buddhism.

On July 16, 1960, two and a half months after he was inaugurated as third president of the Soka Gakkai, Shin’ichi made his first visit to Okinawa. He chose July 16 because it was the date on which the Daishonin had submitted his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” in 1260. He wanted the members in Okinawa to rise to the challenge of building a beautiful realm of lasting peace and prosperity, and thus lead the world in realizing the Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”

On his first trip to Okinawa, Shin’ichi visited a number of World War II battle sites in the southern part of the main island. He listened to members’ accounts of their horrendous experiences during the war. Pained by their heartbreaking stories, he made a profound and resolute vow to strive together with the Okinawa members to transform their islands into places brimming with happiness and the brilliant development of kosen-rufu.

In light of the teachings of Buddhism, those who have suffered the most deserve to enjoy the greatest happiness.

One expression of Shin’ichi’s determination was choosing Okinawa as the place to start work on his novel The Human Revolution on Dec. 2, 1964. It opens with the words: “Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is more cruel.”

The novel’s theme is that “a great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” It encapsulates the principle for creating peace set forth by his mentor, Josei Toda.

Then, in 1977, the Soka Gakkai opened its Okinawa Training Center. It was built on a former U.S. Mace B missile launch site, which had missiles pointed at targets in Asia. Shin’ichi had come up with the idea of turning the site into a base for transmitting the message of peace to the world.

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The original plan for the Okinawa Training Center had been to remove the missile launch complex from the grounds. But when Shin’ichi Yamamoto heard this, he suggested: “Why don’t we leave it in place as a historical reminder of humanity’s foolish obsession with war, and make the training center a symbol of world peace?”

Now [at the time of Shin’ichi’s visit in February 1992], the grounds of the training center were beautifully landscaped. The missile launch complex had been transformed into the World Peace Monument topped with six statues of youth looking to the future, becoming a place where people made a pledge to work for lasting peace. More than a hundred varieties of plants adorned the center’s grounds, including cherry trees, bougainvillea and hibiscus. The former U.S. Mace B missile site was reborn as a center where members gathered to reaffirm their commitment to kosen-rufu and world peace.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds” (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 4). He is declaring that one land is not essentially different from another; we can change the place where we live into the best possible environment through our own inner resolve and outlook.

The inner transformation of human beings, who are themselves the agents of all change, is key to actualizing a peaceful and prosperous society.

The Daishonin dedicated his entire life to the goal of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land. “Establishing the correct teaching” means establishing the ideals of Buddhism—such as respect for the dignity of life and compassion—in people’s hearts through our efforts to widely spread the teaching of the Mystic Law. “The peace of the land” is the realization of a flourishing society and lasting peace that results from establishing the correct teaching.

Our religious mission as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism is “establishing the correct teaching,” or kosen-rufu, which leads quite naturally to efforts to fulfill the social mission of actualizing “the peace of the land.”

Without establishing the correct teaching, it is not possible to achieve true peace. And without contributing to peace, our efforts to establish the correct teaching will not fulfill their purpose.

We, the members of the Soka Gakkai, filled with pride in our mission and firmly grounded in reality, continue our gradual yet steady advance to actualize Nichiren’s vision for peace by reaching out in dialogue to one person after another. Here, we find the path leading to the true victory of the people.

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[At the SGI Asia General Meeting on Feb. 27, 1992,] Shin’ichi Yamamoto addressed the members from Okinawa and throughout Asia gathered at the Okinawa Training Center, as well as members across Japan who were watching by satellite broadcast: “Our Soka family will always advance in solidarity based on sincerity, equality and trust, transcending national boundaries and ethnic differences, and free of any kind of discrimination. I am confident that nowhere else in the world exists such a beautiful global family joined by humanistic ideals. As first-rate global citizens, let us set forth onto the great stage of a new renaissance, a new religious reformation.”

He added powerfully: “The road ahead in the coming new era of kosen-rufu is also bound to be filled with trials and challenges. We cannot obtain victory or accomplish brilliant achievements unless we are wise and determined.

“Buddhism is a win-or-lose struggle. So is life and, indeed, everything. Therefore, we of the Soka Gakkai must win. Winning is the only way to protect our members and defend what is right.

“I want you to become determined, victorious leaders who resolutely protect our members and enable them to become happy!”

Pledging in their hearts to do just that, the audience broke into loud applause.

After visiting Okinawa, Shin’ichi traveled to Oita Prefecture in Kyushu. It was his first trip there in 10 years. Attending the prefectural general meeting, he led the members in a Soka Gakkai song.

The members in Oita had remained unshaken by the recent trouble with the Nichiren Shoshu priests (which later came to be known as the second priesthood issue). This could be attributed to the fact that, during the first priesthood issue (starting in the late 1970s), while enduring callous attacks by priests of the [anti–Soka Gakkai] Shoshin-kai, they had courageously stood up to proclaim the integrity of the lay organization.

They knew all too well the devious nature of the priests and the underhanded methods they used to attack the Soka Gakkai. They were also powerfully aware, in light of the Daishonin’s writings, that the workings of the devil king of the sixth heaven were finally appearing, and they were determined not to be defeated.

Overcoming the challenge of the first priesthood issue had fortified their resolve to strive for kosen-rufu with the Soka Gakkai and strengthened their conviction in faith.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “It is not one’s allies but one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress” (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 770). The proud history of the Soka Gakkai has been one of achieving dynamic development by calling forth difficulties and opposition, battling them and overcoming them.

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto exerted himself tirelessly for kosen-rufu. Now that the Soka Gakkai was free of the shackles of a dogmatic and authoritarian Nichiren Shoshu, he felt driven to build a magnificent solid foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu. “The time has come!” he told himself. “The hope-filled dawn of a new era has arrived!”

To finish laying the necessary groundwork for that goal by the year 2000—in other words, within the 20th century—he decided to travel around the globe as much as was physically possible. In 2001, the first year of the 21st century, he would be 73 years old. His plan was to complete the foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu by the time he was 80.

From early June through early July 1992, he made a monthlong trip overseas, visiting Germany, Egypt, Turkey and other countries.

In Frankfurt, he attended a historic joint conference of SGI members from 13 countries, including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Russia.

In his speech, Shin’ichi told the members that Josei Toda had cherished a profound concern for the people of Eastern Europe and Russia. Especially, at the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he said, Mr. Toda grieved for the Hungarian people and the terrible hardship and suffering being inflicted on them.

Shin’ichi encouraged those present, saying: “In order to transform that tragic destiny of humankind, Mr. Toda called on us young people to establish a solid life philosophy and bring the world together through humanistic action. I have striven to realize each and every one of my mentor’s ideals and visions in that regard. And now, so many wonderful Bodhisattvas of the Earth have emerged in Hungary, the focus of Mr. Toda’s concern at the time, and the rest of Eastern Europe and Russia.”

Shin’ichi sensed that people in every country he visited had been waiting for the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.

In October that same year, Shin’ichi made his eighth trip to China. During that visit, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences presented him with the title of Honorary Research Professor, the first time it had ever bestowed this honor.

On that occasion, Shin’ichi delivered a lecture titled, “The Twenty-first Century and East Asian Civilization.” In it, he spoke of the ethos of symbiosis, or harmonious coexistence, that characterizes East Asian civilization, and stressed the need for a new trend of thought that would promote harmonious coexistence among human beings and between humanity and nature.

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Toward the end of January 1993, which the Soka Gakkai had designated “Soka Renaissance—Year of Victory,” Shin’ichi Yamamoto set off on an overseas trip lasting close to two months, visiting the United States and countries in South America.

At Claremont McKenna College in California, he gave a lecture titled “In Search of New Principles of Integration.”

In it, he suggested that the restoration of human wholeness is key in seeking new integrating principles for our world and, to accomplish this, open dialogue and gradualism based on tolerance and nonviolence are necessary. He also discussed the life states of bodhisattva and Buddhahood as taught in Nichiren Buddhism.

Dr. Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate in chemistry and peace, served as one of the commentators after the lecture. He voiced his belief that the bodhisattva spirit presented by Shin’ichi in his lecture was vital for the happiness of humanity, and declared that the world was fortunate to have the Soka Gakkai because it embodies this spirit.

Shin’ichi also met with Rosa Parks, known as the mother of the American Civil Rights Movement, at the Soka University Los Angeles campus.

In 1955, Mrs. Parks protested the discriminatory seating policy of the buses [in Montgomery, Alabama] through an act of deliberate defiance. Her action sparked the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott, which ultimately led to the end of segregation.

Together with a group of young people, Shin’ichi welcomed Mrs. Parks, and in tribute to her selfless human rights struggle, greeted her with the words: “Welcome, treasure of humanity, mother of the world!” During their meeting, Shin’ichi and those present also celebrated Mrs. Parks’ upcoming 80th birthday with a cake that his wife, Mineko, had arranged for.

In her conversation with Shin’ichi, which reverberated with their shared love for humanity, Mrs. Parks mentioned a book titled Talking Pictures that was then being compiled. The idea was to have noted figures select a photograph that had influenced their life most deeply. She shared that she had been asked to contribute to the book and said: “At first, I thought I would select a photograph from the time of the Bus Boycott, but I changed my mind, realizing that my meeting with you, President Yamamoto, is sure to be the most impactful event of my life. I would like to embark on a journey with you for world peace. If you agree, I would like to include a photograph of our meeting together today as my contribution to the project.”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto was humbled by Rosa Parks’ request to use a photograph from their meeting together as her selection for the book Talking Pictures.

Sometime later, a copy of the published book arrived and, true to her word, it contained a photograph of the two of them shaking hands during their meeting in Los Angeles. In the photo, the mother of the American Civil Rights Movement wore a beautiful, gentle smile.

An accompanying brief commentary by Mrs. Parks began: “This photograph is about the future, and I can’t think of a more important moment in my life.”[27] She also said that, in spite of different cultural backgrounds, people can come together, and that she regarded her meeting with Shin’ichi as a new opportunity to work for world peace.[28]

During this trip to the United States, Shin’ichi visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

The museum featured exhibits on the Holocaust, the greatest atrocity in human history, as well as other instances of human rights oppression around the world. After touring the museum and being confronted with images of the cruel persecution inflicted on the Jewish people, Shin’ichi said to the museum representatives present: “I found the museum deeply moving. But more than that, it roused great outrage in my heart. And still more, it stirred in me a profound determination for the future, that such a tragedy must never be allowed to occur again, at any time or in any place.”

The devilish nature lurking in the depths of human life manifests itself in discrimination and oppression based on ethnic, ideological and religious differences, and is found at work in the human heart that accepts and condones such discrimination and oppression. Battling this devilish nature is the mission of practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

First Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi died in prison for his beliefs, having battled persecution by Japan’s militarist government, which was carrying out a policy of thought control so that the war effort could proceed without hindrance. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who was imprisoned along with him, stood up after the war and advocated the ideal of global citizenship. The actions of these two, mentor and disciple, constituted a struggle against any form of intolerance that divides people.

Kosen-rufu is a process of building and expanding solidarity for human rights.

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On Feb. 6, Shin’ichi Yamamoto flew from Miami, Florida, to the Republic of Colombia. The visit, his first to the Latin American country, was being made at the invitation of President César Gaviria Trujillo and the Colombian Ministry of Culture. President Gaviria had been inaugurated in August 1990 as the nation’s youngest president at age 43, and was energetically engaged in fighting terrorism and the drug cartels.

Shortly before Shin’ichi and those accompanying him were set to depart from Miami, a car bomb had exploded in a busy commercial section of Colombia’s capital, Santafé de Bogotá (now Bogotá), killing and injuring many people. There had been a long series of drug cartel–led terrorist attacks, and a state of emergency had been declared.

In Colombia, Shin’ichi was scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of an exhibition featuring the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum collection of Japanese art, “Eternal Treasures of Japan.” The exhibition was being held in reciprocation for the “Colombian Gold Exhibition: Legendary Treasures of El Dorado,” which had been held at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, three years earlier (in 1990).

The president’s office sent an inquiry to Shin’ichi asking whether he still intended to visit Colombia after the recent bomb blast. Shin’ichi replied without a moment’s hesitation: “Please don’t be worried on my account. I intend to visit Colombia as planned. I will act as a citizen of Colombia, whose people are so incredibly courageous.”

That was Shin’ichi’s vow.

Four years earlier (in 1989), he had received Colombia’s Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit from President Virgilio Barco Vargas during that leader’s visit to Japan. On that occasion, Shin’ichi said, “We are eager to make a positive contribution to your country in the spirit of compatriotas [fellow citizens].”

Shin’ichi believed that trust must always be repaid with trust, no matter what the circumstances, for that is the path of friendship and humanity.

On Feb. 7, the day after his arrival in Colombia, an SGI chapter was established there. Shin’ichi took a group photograph with members and encouraged them.

On Feb. 8, he met with President Gaviria and First Lady Ana Milena Muñoz at the presidential palace, known as the Casa de Nariño. He presented the president with a lengthy poem he had composed, praised the youthful leader’s courage and activism, and expressed his hopes that Colombia would enjoy a bright future.

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Colombian President Gaviria welcomed Shin’ichi Yamamoto warmly, and presented him with the country’s Order of San Carlos in the Grade of Grand Cross.

That day, Shin’ichi also attended the opening ceremony for the “Eternal Treasures of Japan” exhibition, during which he received a medal honoring his contributions to culture from the general director of the Colombian Institute of Culture, a division of the Ministry of Education.

On Feb. 9, Shin’ichi flew to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

An elderly gentleman had been waiting at Rio de Janeiro International Airport since two hours before Shin’ichi’s arrival.

He had a thick mane of white hair and his face was etched with wrinkles that told of the courageous struggles he had fought. Because of his advanced age, his step was slightly unsteady, but his resolute appearance, belying his 94 years, was reminiscent of a dauntless lion. He was Austregésilo de Athayde, president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, a leading bastion of thought and culture in Latin America and one of the institutions that had extended an invitation to Shin’ichi to visit Brazil.

After graduating from law school in Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil’s capital, Mr. Athayde had become a journalist. In the 1930s, he fought against Brazil’s ruling dictatorship. He was imprisoned and even forced to live in exile for three years. After World War II, he represented Brazil at the third United Nations General Assembly meeting (in 1948), playing an important role together with human rights champion Eleanor Roosevelt, French Nobel Peace laureate René Cassin and others in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He continued to wage a battle against discrimination as a newspaper columnist, and even after being appointed director of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, carried on his activism through his writing.

Mr. Athayde learned about Shin’ichi from a friend living in Europe. Through reading Shin’ichi’s writings and speaking with SGI-Brazil members, he developed a strong interest in and sympathy with Shin’ichi’s thoughts and actions, and very much wished to meet him in person.

At the airport, Mr. Athayde was eagerly waiting for Shin’ichi’s arrival.

Concerned for Mr. Athayde’s health, an SGI leader suggested he sit down and rest for a while. But Mr. Athayde simply said: “I have waited, and been waiting, for 94 years to meet President Yamamoto. Therefore, another hour or two is nothing.”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto arrived at the airport in Rio de Janeiro at 9 p.m. on Feb. 9. Brazilian Academy of Letters President Austregésilo de Athayde and those waiting with him greeted Shin’ichi and his party with warm smiles.

Born in 1898, Mr. Athayde was a contemporary of Shin’ichi’s mentor Josei Toda, who was born in 1900. Mr. Athayde reminded Shin’ichi of Mr. Toda, and he felt as if his mentor were standing there welcoming him.

Upon greeting, Mr. Athayde and Shin’ichi grasped each other’s arms in a friendly embrace.

“You are one of the defining figures of this century, President Yamamoto. Let us work together to change the history of humankind!”

Shin’ichi was humbled by Mr. Athayde’s all too generous words of praise. He sensed that they expressed his fervent wish and hopes for the future that the human rights of all people would be protected.

Shin’ichi responded: “You are my comrade! You are my friend! You are a treasure of the world.”

Walls of discrimination were rising around the world and human rights were being degraded and violated by authoritarianism, economic power and brute force. To make the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality, humanity had a long, arduous road ahead. Mr. Athayde was no doubt earnestly seeking people to whom to pass the baton of that undertaking.

The following day, Feb. 10, Shin’ichi attended an SGI-Brazil Rio de Janeiro representatives conference held in the city. The day after that, Feb. 11, would mark the 93rd anniversary of Josei Toda’s birth, and with that in mind he cited his mentor’s guidance in addressing how to apply Buddhism to daily life and society: “Mr. Toda said: ‘There are those who have the simplistic idea that because they have the Gohonzon, they’ll definitely receive benefit even if they don’t put any thought or effort into how they conduct their business. This is a big mistake and must be categorized as slander of the Law [because it goes against the teachings of Buddhism].’”[29]

Toda stressed that Nichiren Buddhism does not call on us to believe in or depend on a higher power. Rather, he said, it teaches us to actively create value by drawing forth our inherent wisdom and strength through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo before the Gohonzon, and to continue challenging ourselves while positively putting that wisdom and strength to work.

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With a strong wish for the members’ happiness, Shin’ichi said: “Referring to Nichiren Daishonin’s words, ‘When one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs’ (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376), Mr. Toda declared it a grave mistake to interpret this passage to mean that we can attain benefits without any effort on our part.

“He added: ‘People who fail to notice the weaknesses in their business or consider ways to improve it should seriously reflect on themselves. It’s vital that you keep studying and learning about your business and strive to do better. My wish is that you, my dear fellow members, will come to “understand the meaning of all worldly affairs” as quickly as possible in the context of your own work and lead secure lives.’[30]

“Mr. Toda’s wish is also my wish. Today, the winds of economic recession are blowing fiercely around the world. We mustn’t simply lament the situation, but should instead summon powerful wisdom and life force through our Buddhist practice and use it to brilliantly overcome difficult circumstances. That is what makes us ‘one [who] understands the meaning of all worldly affairs’ (see WND-1, 376).

“To have the easygoing attitude that things will somehow work out simply because we have faith in the Mystic Law is a mistake. It is because we practice Nichiren Buddhism that we must chant earnestly about how to resolve each problem before us and then take action to do so. That earnest resolve and challenging spirit produces unparalleled wisdom. And making use of this tremendous power of wisdom generated by faith is the key to victory in all things.”

On Feb. 11, the anniversary of Josei Toda’s birth, the final installment of The Human Revolution, Shin’ichi’s 12-volume novel describing his mentor’s actions for kosen-rufu, was published in the Seikyo Shimbun.

Shin’ichi had begun writing the novel in Okinawa on Dec. 2, 1964, and its serialization commenced in the Seikyo Shimbun on Jan. 1, 1965. Over the years, there were occasional extended breaks in the novel’s publication due to Shin’ichi’s overseas travels or ill health, but he had completed his writing on Nov. 24, 1992, and the final, 1,509th installment was printed on Feb. 11, 1993. At the end of that installment, he wrote: “Dedicated to my mentor, Josei Toda.”

The Human Revolution embodied the vow for kosen-rufu of the disciple, Shin’ichi Yamamoto, and was an expression of his gratitude to his mentor.

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On Feb. 11, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a ceremony at which he was presented with an honorary doctorate from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

In his acceptance speech, he mentioned that it was the anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s birth, and spoke about his mentor’s philosophy: “My mentor taught me the philosophy that all people, no matter who they are, can equally reveal the supreme treasure inherent in their lives. He entrusted me with the royal road to peace, that is, to continually engage in sincere dialogue and expand solidarity among people. I also inherited his view of the nature of human beings—that when we devote ourselves with a compassionate commitment for people’s happiness, limitless wisdom will well forth from within us.

“Soon after World War II, my mentor urged young people to adopt the ideal of global citizenship. At the time, his vision went unacknowledged, but the world today, racked by intensifying ethnic conflicts, is now beginning to seek this path to harmonious coexistence.”

Shin’ichi wanted to convey Josei Toda’s greatness to the world. He also wished to dedicate the honorary doctorate he had received to his mentor, who had fostered and instructed him.

The next day, Feb. 12, Shin’ichi visited the Brazilian Academy of Letters in Rio de Janeiro. There, he met and spoke with the academy’s president, Austregésilo de Athayde. During their conversation, they agreed to go ahead with a proposal they had previously discussed to publish a dialogue together titled Human Rights in the Twenty-first Century.

They decided that, to begin the process, Shin’ichi would prepare several written questions and send them to President Athayde.

“I am delighted,” said Mr. Athayde, “to be able to engage in a dialogue with you, President Yamamoto, a person who so deeply understands matters of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights may well have been issued, but you are the one who is translating and spreading that spirit most clearly in terms of concrete actions. Your achievements surpass those of the declaration’s drafters. Action is key. So is a sound philosophy. Let’s complete our dialogue!”

Shin’ichi renewed his resolve, determined to respond to Mr. Athayde’s high expectations.

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Speaking quietly, but in a tone conveying intense feeling, Austregésilo de Athayde, president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, said to Shin’ichi Yamamoto: “I am nearly 100 years old, and this is the first time in my life I have wanted to meet anyone as much as I’ve wanted to meet you.

“You are a person with a great mission. You are a person of insight and humanity, and you are a spiritual leader.

“Everything in your life has been meaningful. The destiny of the world has gradually yet significantly begun to improve through your actions. You are a person who is changing the history of humankind.

“I am deeply impressed by how you have concretely realized your ideals through your own efforts.”

Shin’ichi felt that President Athayde’s great expectations for him were an expression of his strong desire to see the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights become a reality.

Looking intently at Shin’ichi, President Athayde said: “A new century will soon be here. I believe this will mean the dawn of a new age for Brazil and Japan, and for the entire world.”

“That’s right,” Shin’ichi responded. “And you have fought to create this new age. I have also. Our goal is to usher in a new age in which all people can live in happiness.”

President Athayde smiled at Shin’ichi’s words and said with vigor: “The Latin for ‘word’ is verbum, also meaning ‘God.’ Let us carry on our struggle using noble words as our supreme weapon!”

The spirits of the two men resonated powerfully and intensely.

After his meeting with President Athayde, Shin’ichi attended a ceremony inducting him into the Brazilian Academy of Letters as a foreign associate member.

The academy was established in 1897—after the country had transitioned from a constitutional monarchy to a republic—with the founding vision to shine as a beacon of intellect and wisdom for Brazil. It is composed of 40 Brazilian members and 20 foreign associate members, all of whom are appointed for life.

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Among the foreign associate members inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters as “great custodians of culture and literature” were such intellectual giants as Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, French novelist Émile Zola and British sociologist Herbert Spencer.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto was the first Japanese and the first Asian to be named a foreign associate member.

The induction ceremony was attended by Minister of Culture and presidential representative Antônio Houaiss and other leading figures from Brazil’s cultural and literary circles. Brazilian President Itamar Franco also sent a congratulatory message.

During the ceremony, Shin’ichi was additionally presented with the Machado de Assis Medal. Named after the first president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the medal was the academy’s highest honor, reserved for “cultural figures whose achievements are of global significance.”

As a part of the ceremonies, Shin’ichi delivered a lecture titled “The Dawn of Hope for Humanistic Civilization.”

In it, he noted that scientific and technological advances continued to accelerate the pace of globalization, creating a need for religion that cultivates and elevates human spirituality while providing the foundation for building a new harmonious universal order. Such religion will form the backbone of global civilization in the 21st century, he suggested.

Journalists from major Brazilian newspapers attended the event and reported on Shin’ichi’s appointment as a foreign associate member and on his lecture.

Shin’ichi regarded all of the honors bestowed on him in Brazil, including those from the Brazilian Academy of Letters, as a brilliant testament to the victory of the SGI-Brazil members, who had been making positive contributions to society and working successfully to promote understanding of the Soka Gakkai among their fellow citizens.

In the past, misunderstanding and prejudice against the Soka Gakkai had resulted in Shin’ichi being denied a visa to enter the country, but now he had received the highest tribute—an expression of trust—from Latin America’s premier intellectual institution and had been appointed a foreign associate member.

Our daily inconspicuous efforts can change society.

Shin’ichi wanted to sincerely praise each member and call out: “Viva Brazil!”

Installment 97

On Feb. 14, Shin’ichi Yamamoto left Rio de Janeiro to make his first visit to Argentina.

A short time after their meeting, President Athayde of the Brazilian Academy of Letters fell ill, but this didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for continuing his dialogue with Shin’ichi. When he recovered somewhat in mid-June, he recorded his verbal responses to the questions and thoughts that Shin’ichi had sent him. As if waging a battle with the limited time left to him, he summoned forth his remaining strength to say what he wished to communicate. He devoted his life to the very end to a struggle for human rights for the age to come.

Shin’ichi and President Athayde’s dialogue continued through correspondence, focusing on the subjects they had agreed upon during their meeting in Rio de Janeiro. President Athayde made his final response in mid-August. Several days later, he was hospitalized and, on Sept. 13, 1993, just before his 95th birthday, the remarkable life of this towering champion of human rights came to a close.

After the dialogue was serialized in the Soka Gakkai–affiliated magazine Ushio, it was published in Japanese in book form on Feb. 11, 1995, under the title Nijuisseiki no jinken o kataru (Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century).

On Feb. 15, the day after Shin’ichi arrived in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, he met at his hotel with Alberto Kohan, former secretary-general of the presidency, and then attended an SGI-Argentina representatives conference being held in the city.

Among those attending were energetic, suntanned young men and women who were preparing for the 11th SGI World Youth Peace Culture Festival to be held on Feb. 18.

The youth division members in Argentina, too, had achieved splendid growth, boundlessly opening the way for the future of kosen-rufu.

The evening of Feb. 15 in Argentina was in Japan the morning of Feb. 16, the birthday of Nichiren Daishonin. Shin’ichi spoke powerfully to the gathered members: “When the sun rises in the eastern sky, its great light illuminates the entire world. In the same way, while Nichiren Daishonin was born in Japan, his Buddhism of the Sun will brightly illuminate the lives of all people on our planet with the great compassionate light of the Mystic Law. Your activities here in Argentina brilliantly demonstrate the global and universal nature of Nichiren Buddhism.”

Installment 98

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s voice rang with energy: “Argentina and Japan are on opposite sides of the globe, separated by a vast distance, but today we are celebrating Nichiren Daishonin’s birthday together here in Argentina. I’m sure the Daishonin would be delighted by this.

“An Argentine proverb says that the sun shines for everyone. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun is the Buddhism of equality. Nichiren expounded his great teaching for everyone—for all people of the ten thousand years and more of the Latter Day of the Law. It is free of intolerance and discrimination, making no distinction between people according to whether or not they practice Nichiren Buddhism.

“I hope that, with big hearts and a spirit as bright as the sun, you will spread the light of hope throughout Argentina and to all people.”

Shin’ichi continued to encourage the members with the spirit that now was the last moment of his life (see “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 216). He introduced the words of the renowned Argentine poet Almafuerte: “Sometimes a great destiny sleeps to be awakened by anguish.”[31]

“Buddhism teaches that suffering is the springboard to enlightenment. No one is free from problems and worries—nor is any family or region.

“Life is a struggle against problems. What’s important is how we solve the various sufferings and problems that weigh down on us. We need to call forth all our wisdom and make repeated efforts to overcome those problems and reach the victory that lies beyond them.

“Dreaming about what life might be like if only you didn’t have any problems is just an escape from reality into a fantasy realm. It only leads to defeat in life. People who are always making positive efforts, thinking about how to overcome each problem and transform it into a source of value and victory are the winners in life.

“Your resolve determines your life. I hope you will all be great actors in your own dramas of victory, brilliantly proving this truth, and be people who encourage and impart self-confidence to everyone around you.”

Shin’ichi wanted each member in Argentina, without exception, to be a dauntless victor.

Installment 99

At noon on Feb. 16, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met with Argentine President Carlos Menem at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.

In their conversation, Shin’ichi stressed the importance of making the 21st century an age in which humanity comes together in unity and a global culture flourishes. He voiced high hopes for Argentina’s contributions to these aims through its vibrant cosmopolitan spirit as a multicultural and multiethnic country.

This trip to Latin America was marked by an uninterrupted succession of official events and meetings with the leaders of each country on his itinerary. The Spanish-language interpreters and translators who did such a wonderful job throughout were young women originally from Argentina.

They had grown up in Argentina as the children of Japanese immigrants. They learned the spirit of faith through participating in the fife and drum corps and other Soka Gakkai activities, acquiring a deep desire to dedicate their lives to kosen-rufu for the sake of people’s happiness.

They had studied at national universities in Argentina and at universities in Japan on Japanese government scholarships for overseas students. In addition to their chosen fields of study, they applied themselves diligently to honing their Japanese language abilities, later becoming official SGI interpreters.

The seed of a vow that takes root in a young person’s heart eventually grows into a towering tree of mission reaching high into the sky.

On the evening of Feb. 16, Shin’ichi visited the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, the upper and lower houses of the Argentine legislature.

The National Congress, home to both houses, was a grand Greco-Roman–style building completed in 1906. It had been closed when the military dictatorship suspended the legislature, but when the dictatorship came to an end in 1983, it resumed its function and became a symbol proclaiming the dawn of democracy in Argentina.

The Argentine Senate presented Shin’ichi with a special certificate commending his “tireless endeavors for peace,” while the Chamber of Deputies likewise honored him for his “struggle for peace for the peoples of the world.”

Even here on the opposite side of the globe from Japan, people were listening to Shin’ichi’s words and observing his actions. This, too, was due to the constant efforts of local SGI-Argentina members to engage in sincere dialogue and build trust.

Shin’ichi wished to thank them deeply for their wonderful contributions and share with them the honors he had received.

Installment 100

While talking with Shin’ichi Yamamoto, the leader of the Argentine Senate told him that the legislature had passed a bill based partly on one of Shin’ichi’s peace proposals.

It had established a new “Peace Day” and provided for teaching about peace in elementary and secondary schools, and instituting various peace-related events.

In the explanation for the new law, it stated that “A noted Japanese thinker summarized the challenges of the age in which we live as follows… ” and then quoted from Shin’ichi’s 1983 SGI Day peace proposal, citing him by name: “We must not allow war to destroy the bright futures of people whose period of greatest activity will be in the 21st century. If we wish our children to have any future at all, we the ordinary citizens of the world must make the wise choice of heeding the pacifist instinct in all peoples.”[32]

The new law went into effect in August 1985.

The leader of the Senate said: “Your insistence that peace is not simply the absence of war is, I believe, a message for building a world in which people are afforded the respect they deserve as human beings and live with dignity. Fortunately, the Cold War has ended, but war and conflict continue to rack many parts of the world. In your activities and those of the SGI, I believe we can find the guiding principles and values we need to resolve all those conflicts.”

People around the globe held very high hopes for the SGI. Those traveling with Shin’ichi felt deeply that their movement for peace based on the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism was what times were calling for.

The following day, Feb. 17, Shin’ichi attended a ceremony where he received an honorary doctorate and honorary law professorship from the National University of Lomas de Zamora. It was announced on that occasion that the legislative assembly of Buenos Aires Province had adopted a resolution proclaiming Shin’ichi’s visit to Argentina an official event, and 10 cities in the province presented Shin’ichi with city plaques or the keys to their cities.

Installment 101

On the evening of Feb. 18, 1,500 youth division members participated enthusiastically in the 11th World Youth Peace Culture Festival, held at the Coliseo Theater in Buenos Aires. The theme of the festival, an event officially endorsed by the city, was “Melody of Hope in the Land of Ethnic Harmony.”

United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali sent a congratulatory message and many leaders of Argentine society attended. They included former Argentine president Arturo Frondizi; the mayor of Buenos Aires; and the presidents of National University of Córdoba, National University of Lomas de Zamora and National University of La Matanza. Representatives from SGI organizations in 10 nations of Central and South America were also in attendance.

Visibly moved by the event, one of the invited guests said: “The majority of people in Argentina trace their ancestry back to various European nations, which has at times been a cause of tension. Many feel a strong attachment to their country of origin, so their awareness of being fellow Argentineans tends to be rather weak. The festival’s theme ‘land of ethnic harmony’ expresses our heartfelt wish.”

He said he was moved and inspired to see a wonderful example of such harmony at the culture festival.

Another guest recognized the SGI’s focus on fostering global citizens, commenting that this is what the world needs today.

The theater’s stage was set to depict an airplane, expressing the idea of taking off from Argentina on a journey toward peace for the world and for all humankind.

The festival opened with a parade of flags, followed by fife-and-drum-corps, choral and energetic dance performances—all by young men and women who would shoulder the future. Six artists from the Colón Theater in Buenos Aires, one of the great theaters of the world, also performed a beautiful, uplifting dance.

The high point of the festival was a joint musical performance by the great masters of the Argentine Tango, Osvaldo Pugliese and Mariano Mores.

All those attending were captivated, unable to believe their good fortune to witness what could surely be called an event of the century, a dream combination. It was all the more special because after Pugliese’s retirement performance in November 1989, the culmination of his seven-decade career as a pianist and composer, it had been rumored that he would never perform on stage again.

Shin’ichi was profoundly grateful for these renowned artists’ generous gesture.

Installment 102

On Feb. 15, three days before the 11th World Youth Peace Culture Festival, Mariano Mores visited the Coliseo Theater in Buenos Aires, where the festival would be held, and said to the SGI-Argentina members there preparing for the event: “The 18th, the date of the festival, is my birthday, but I’m not going to have a party. Instead, I will perform for President Yamamoto and all of you.”

When Mr. Mores learned of the festival, he applauded the idea and voiced his wish to help out in any way he could, promising to perform on that day.

Shin’ichi had first met Mr. Mores and his wife, Myrna, in April 1988, when the Argentinian artist was in Japan on a concert tour sponsored by the Soka Gakkai–affiliated Min-On Concert Association. On that occasion, Mr. Mores said that he wanted one day to compose a piece of music and present it to Shin’ichi. In response, Shin’ichi said that he would like to plant a cherry tree in a place with a fine view of Mount Fuji in honor of the couple’s son, Nito, who had passed away four years earlier.

Sometime later, Mr. Mores presented Shin’ichi with a musical composition titled “Ahora” (“Now”).

Osvaldo Pugliese had come to Japan in 1989 on his farewell tour, which had also been sponsored by the Min-On Concert Association. Shin’ichi had first met him and his wife, Lidia, at that time. During their conversation, Mr. Pugliese said he wished to compose a tango for Shin’ichi. Fulfilling his promise, he named the completed work “Tokio Luminoso” (“Shining Tokyo”) and presented it to Shin’ichi, at whose suggestion he added the subtitle “Ode to Friendship.”

On Feb. 16, the day after Mr. Mores dropped by the Coliseo Theater, Mr. Pugliese came to the same venue with his orchestra to rehearse for the youth festival. The instruments were all brought in, including Mr. Pugliese’s beloved grand piano. The 87-year-old maestro then tried to push the piano into place by himself. The SGI-Argentina members present were astonished; they hadn’t expected Latin America’s greatest tango artist to come for a rehearsal, much less see him try to move his own piano!

Both Osvaldo Pugliese and Mariano Mores responded in a personal way to Shin’ichi’s friendship. They wholeheartedly endorsed the festival of young people who cherished a wish for peace, and offered their unstinting support and cooperation.

Fostering friendship unites people. Peace is another name for friendship.

Installment 103

Osvaldo Pugliese and Mariano Mores, the two giants of Argentine Tango, thrilled everyone at the Youth Peace Culture Festival with their unbelievable joint performance.

Deeply moved by all the festival performances, Shin’ichi Yamamoto applauded enthusiastically to express his encouragement and praise. He also composed a poem to commemorate the event:

Both heaven and earth
rejoice at
this culture festival
the heavenly deities of Argentina
are dancing with delight.

On the afternoon of Feb. 19, the following day, the 1st SGI-Argentina General Meeting was held at a venue in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. In addition to 2,500 members from across Argentina, members from three other countries in Latin America and from Spain also attended.

At the meeting, Shin’ichi was presented with an honorary doctorate by Argentina’s oldest university, the National University of Córdoba.

Among the reasons for conferring the honor, Rector Francisco Delich cited Shin’ichi’s efforts in establishing and spreading a “new humanism,” thereby showing that it is possible for the countries of Asia and the West to come together in harmony. The rector said: “He has taught us that the human race can overcome conflict arising from cultural and religious differences, and that we can forge friendships transcending geography, distance and time. This great universal message of peace and friendship transcends all national borders, as well as the borders in our minds created by ignorance that limit us. It unites all humanity as one.”

The general meeting also featured several performances, including Argentinian folk songs and dances, to welcome Shin’ichi to Argentina. Accompanied by strumming guitars and stamping feet, the songs and dances created a bright, exuberant atmosphere. The members expressed with their whole beings their joy in realizing at last this long-awaited meeting with Shin’ichi, 29 years after the Argentine organization first became a chapter.

Before and after the meeting, Shin’ichi took photographs with event staff and various groups, continuing to encourage everyone. The young people and children he met and encouraged on this visit would grow to become leaders of their country in the 21st century.

Encouragement is the driving force for growth and development.

Installment 104

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s journey for peace continued.

On Feb. 20, 1993, Shin’ichi left Argentina for Paraguay, the next stop in his travels to open fresh horizons for kosen-rufu. It was his first visit to the South American country, which he found to be a beautiful land of forests and water, home to the vast Paraguay River and many other rivers that nourished the fields and people’s lives.

The mayor of Asunción, Paraguay’s capital city, welcomed Shin’ichi at the airport, presenting him with a plaque inscribed with the city’s emblem.

The next day, Feb. 21, Shin’ichi attended the 1st SGI-Paraguay General Meeting along with 700 members who gathered at the SGI-Paraguay Culture Center, and a “Friendship Evening” commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the kosen-rufu movement in Paraguay. Here, too, Shin’ichi began by first encouraging the children.

“I am so happy to see you all,” he said. “When you’re older, please come to Japan. I’ll be waiting for you!”

At the general meeting, Shin’ichi mentioned the names of the pioneer members and praised their efforts. He also read aloud the names of local organizations: Amambay District,[33] followed by each of the country’s chapters—Santa Rosa, Encarnación, Yguazú, Asunción—and thanked their members for their hard work.

The kosen-rufu movement in Paraguay began with Japanese immigrants, who faced indescribable hardships in their new country.

Though the members of SGI-Paraguay were few in number, all of them, starting with the immigrants from Japan, had made diligent efforts over the years to create deep-rooted ties of trust with people throughout society.

When the “World Boys and Girls Art Exhibition” was held in Asunción in 1990 (jointly sponsored by the SGI and Paraguay’s Ministry of Education and Culture), Paraguayan President Andrés Rodríguez attended.

And on the occasion of Shin’ichi’s visit to the country, the General Post Office of Paraguay had decided to stamp all mail items with a special “SGI” postmark throughout the duration of his stay. The official resolution announcing this noted that the SGI, an organization dedicated to value creation, was also a United Nations–registered NGO, its activities focused on the fundamental aims of promoting world peace, understanding among peoples and respect for culture. The resolution further stated that the SGI president’s visit would be welcomed with “expressions of esteem and friendship on the part of the national government and related institutions.”

Such recognition for the SGI was a result of the members’ steady efforts to make positive contributions to society.

Installment 105

At the 1st SGI-Paraguay General Meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto declared: “The protective functions of the universe always safeguard those who have courage!”

Stressing the importance of standing alone, he continued: “It’s not a matter of numerical strength. If one person stands up in earnest, they can bring happiness to all those around them and also positively transform their environment. The vital point is actually chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and taking action for that purpose with earnest resolve.”

With the radiant sun of faith shining in their lives, SGI members continue to illuminate others and their communities with the great light of hope and revitalization, and to build a network of human harmony based on friendship and encouragement. This is the sure path for achieving kosen-rufu and demonstrates the significance of the pioneering SGI movement.

With the wish that members would remain steadfast in their commitment to Buddhist practice, never letting the flame of their faith die out, Shin’ichi urged: “Do not be swayed by life’s ups and downs. Take a long-term view of your life and keep pressing forward calmly.

“For your children, their job now is to study. Making school studies their top priority, while properly learning the basics of faith, is the way for them to put Buddhism into practice in their lives.

“Though it is important to pass on our faith to the next generation, religion is something that young people must choose for themselves. As adults, teach them and show them by your example that, if you earnestly chant, you can overcome any problem. Don’t be overly anxious or worried, and just let them grow freely, at their own pace.”

The members’ joy exploded at the “Friendship Evening.” A women’s division chorus and a children’s chorus filled the venue with uplifting song, and members also performed Paraguay’s traditional danza de la botella (bottle dance) to lively music.

The internationally acclaimed classical guitarist Cayo Sila Godoy, a friend of the SGI, also performed a piece he had composed especially for the occasion titled “Fantasía Japonesa” (Japanese Fantasy).

Youthful members of the Music Corps and the Fife and Drum Corps proudly performed the “Paraguay Headquarters Song,” which had been sung since the movement’s earliest days in the country. It was a song that held unforgettable memories for many members.

Installment 106

Shin’ichi Yamamoto had planned to visit Brazil in 1974. But misunderstanding and prejudice toward the Soka Gakkai in Brazilian society led to him being denied a visa, and he ultimately had to cancel his trip.

The SGI-Paraguay Music Corps, hoping to perform for Shin’ichi and convey the spirit of the Paraguayan members, were already on their way to Brazil. Unfortunately, they were also refused entry, but they were able to travel by bus to the Iguazú Falls, a famous tourist destination near the Brazilian border.

“Let’s play here!” they decided. “Our hearts are sure to reach Sensei!”

They performed with all their might, competing with the thunderous roar of the waterfall.

Ten years later, in 1984, Shin’ichi finally visited Brazil for the first time in 18 years. The SGI-Paraguay members who traveled there for the occasion, their hearts dancing with joy, had enthusiastically sung the “Paraguay Headquarters Song” for Shin’ichi:

The sound of the wind, the swaying trees, the red earth,
our trekking through the forest,
the perspiring faces of friends who joined us
to open the way for a new community.[34]

When it was over, Shin’ichi said: “What a wonderful song! I can feel your determination. I will definitely visit Paraguay in the future.”

Nine years had since passed, and that long-awaited day was now here.

At the “Friendship Evening,” Shin’ichi applauded wholeheartedly after the performances by the Music Corps and the Fife and Drum Corps, and said: “Thank you! Our hearts have resounded as one.

“In the 21st century, I hope that you, the youth, will carry on the legacy of our pioneering members and freely soar into the skies of your mission. Please surpass me. When you do, the current of kosen-rufu will become a mightily flowing river, nourishing the entire world.”

On Feb. 22, Shin’ichi visited Paraguayan President Andrés Rodríguez at the presidential palace and presented him with a long poem titled “The Flow of the Great River of the People.”

Installment 107

After his meeting with President Rodríguez, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited the Paraguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attend a ceremony bestowing on him the National Order of Merit in the Grade of Grand Cross. The foreign minister, in his remarks, mentioned Shin’ichi’s activities for peace, saying: “Your efforts for peace, based on your belief that only through sincere dialogue can we eliminate discrimination and realize lasting peace and mutual understanding on a global scale, are a model for all humankind.”

Later that day, Feb. 22, Shin’ichi attended a ceremony at the National University of Asunción, in which he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Philosophy.

The following day, Feb. 23, he departed for his next destination, Chile.

Shin’ichi presented the Paraguayan members with a poem:

Your skies, your land,
your flowing rivers, too,
conjure images of a Buddha land.
My dear fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth,
I will never forget you.

As the plane from Paraguay flew over the Andes, their snowcapped peaks were visible below, glowing gold in the setting sun.

Chile would be the 50th country that Shin’ichi had visited. Each of his visits to countries around the world had been an all-out struggle for kosen-rufu, a journey into which he had poured his entire being to open a new page of history.

On New Year’s Day 1952, the year after he became second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda composed the poem: “Now, let us set out on a journey, / our hearts emboldened / to spread the Mystic Law / to the farthest reaches / of India.” And about 10 days before his death, he called Shin’ichi to his bedside and told him that he had dreamed of traveling to Mexico.

“They were all waiting. Everyone was waiting,” he said, summoning his last reserves of strength to speak the words. “They were all seeking Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. I want to go—to travel the world on a journey for kosen-rufu…”

“The world is your true stage,” Mr. Toda continued, urging Shin’ichi: “You must live as long as you can and travel the globe!”

Mr. Toda wished for the happiness of all humanity and for worldwide kosen-rufu, but he never was able to travel outside Japan. Shin’ichi engraved his words in the depths of his life, taking them as his mentor’s final wishes, and traveled the world in his mentor’s stead, bringing the Buddhism of the Sun to people everywhere.

Installment 108

Shin’ichi Yamamoto was inaugurated as the third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960, just over two years after the death of his mentor, Josei Toda. Five months later, on Oct. 2, he made his first overseas trip.

On arriving at his first destination, Hawaii, he found no one had come to meet him at the airport. The members who had planned to be there were absent because of a communication mix up. On some of his travels, he became seriously ill and suffered a high fever. And there were countries where, due to misunderstandings about the nature of the Soka Gakkai, his efforts to encourage members took place under surveillance by the authorities.

Shin’ichi traveled to countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania, motivated by his wish for the happiness of all people.

He also made many visits to communist countries, building bridges of friendship and cultural exchange.

To actualize Nichiren Daishonin’s wish for worldwide kosen-rufu, he devoted his entire being to traveling the world and continuing to sow the seeds of peace and happiness, the seeds of the Mystic Law. It was a journey of mentor and disciple, which he undertook while having an ongoing inner dialogue with his mentor, Josei Toda.

His trip to Chile would mark the 50th country he had visited.

He composed a poem in his mind:

Flying over
the snowcapped peaks of the Andes
bathed in the magnificent golden light
of the evening sun,
I cry, “I have won!”

Eventually, a crescent moon shone above the mountain peaks, Venus glittered beautifully and countless stars began twinkling in the sky. To Shin’ichi, it seemed as if the heavenly deities were celebrating.

On Feb. 24, the day after his arrival in Chile, Shin’ichi was presented with a certificate naming him an “Illustrious Visitor” at the City Hall in Santiago, the country’s capital. The resolution to confer the honor called his visit “a special opportunity to strengthen understanding between the people of Chile and Japan, and to consolidate the ties of friendship that make possible the sharing of fundamental human values.”

After the presentation ceremony, Shin’ichi visited the SGI-Chile Culture Center in Santiago and attended the 1st SGI-Chile General Meeting. The members were overjoyed to see him. They sensed that Chile had seen the end of its long winter of economic uncertainty and human rights abuses by a military dictatorship, and that a springtime of hope had arrived.

Installment 109

In 1973, a military coup erupted in Santiago, Chile. Warplanes flew overhead, and tanks and armed troops filled the streets. The home of the husband and wife who were the central leaders of the Soka Gakkai members in Chile came under machine-gun fire in the fighting. The second floor was riddled with bullets, but the couple remained safe in the ground-floor room where the Gohonzon was enshrined.

Concerned for the safety of their fellow members, the couple immediately set about visiting them, making their way around the city day after day, despite the imposition of martial law. Assemblies were banned, so they held informal “family discussions” about Buddhism at the homes they visited.

For many years after that, too, meetings could only take place with the authorities’ permission, and only at a single community center. The members, however, remained in high spirits. They even tried to communicate how wonderful the SGI’s peace movement was to police officers who came to observe their meetings.

Now, excitedly describing the conditions at that time to Shin’ichi Yamamoto, one of the Chilean members said: “[Soka Gakkai] Presidents [Tsunesaburo] Makiguchi and [Josei] Toda both fought bravely for kosen-rufu in wartime Japan, under the surveillance of the ‘thought police.’ And you continued to send us warm encouragement from time to time, giving us courage. Knowing that you were aware of what we were going through filled us with strength.”

With their mentor in their hearts, the Chilean members had devoted themselves energetically to kosen-rufu. Because he was always with them, they remained undefeated.

It was only with the return of democracy to Chile some three years earlier that each chapter and district was able to freely hold meetings.

For the longest time, the members had wished and prayed for Shin’ichi’s visit to Chile, striving earnestly in their activities and waiting impatiently for that day.

Despite continuing political uncertainty and the vast size of their country, spanning some 2,600 miles from north to south, the members had carried out an arduous struggle. They had worked hard together, summoning all their wisdom and ingenuity to advance kosen-rufu. Shin’ichi was profoundly moved by their dedicated efforts.

Here in Chile, too, one of the countries farthest from Japan, a steady stream of Bodhisattvas of the Earth had emerged.

At the SGI-Chile Culture Center, Shin’ichi said to the future division members gathered: “Thank you for coming to welcome me. I have come from Japan, your neighbor across the ocean.”

The children appeared to be filled with wonder, their eyes sparkling.

Installment 110

In his speech at the 1st SGI-Chile General Meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto praised the members for their tremendous efforts for kosen-rufu throughout the country: “You have striven your hardest, undefeated by adversity. You are assured of accumulating benefit as boundless as the vast expanse of the Andes.”

Shin’ichi then mentioned that Chile was the 50th country he had visited.

As he prepared to embark on his journey for world peace 33 years earlier (in October 1960), he had gazed at the towering summit of Mount Fuji, and now he had come to Chile, this country on the opposite side of the earth from Japan, home of the “Mount Fuji of South America,” the soaring Mount Osorno.

Shin’ichi powerfully called out to the members: “I am absolutely certain that Josei Toda would be delighted by this. But we have only just begun. With you always in my heart, as if we are together engaging in activities day after day, I will continue to travel the globe in high spirits!”

Citing Nichiren Daishonin’s words “The wise may be called human, but the thoughtless are no more than animals” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 852), Shin’ichi stressed the importance of wise and prudent conduct. He explained that practicing Nichiren Buddhism involves keeping the future of kosen-rufu firmly in mind and striving with open hearts to forge cordial and harmonious relations with members and nonmembers alike, showing consideration and mutual respect and treasuring friendship.

Faith equals daily life, and Buddhism is manifested in society. Shin’ichi wished to impress upon the members that, as these principles indicate, Nichiren Buddhism is a tolerant, engaged religion and that members should never create walls between the Soka Gakkai and society.

In conclusion, he urged that everyone without exception lead a life of great satisfaction, victory and good fortune.

Installment 111

At the Soka Family Gathering, all the members joined in singing the famous Chilean song “Si vas para Chile” (If You Go to Chile), and Shin’ichi Yamamoto clapped along:

Peasants and people of the village
Will come out to greet you, traveler,
And you will see how in Chile, they love
Friends from abroad.

The members sang passionately, their faces glowing with happiness, with a vow to be a model for the rest of the world in achieving great progress in their movement for kosen-rufu.

At noon on Feb. 25, Shin’ichi met with President Patricio Aylwin at the presidential offices in the Moneda Palace. The two had last met in November the previous year (1992), when the Chilean leader was visiting Japan.

At that time, they had enjoyed a lively conversation on various subjects—the need for leaders to serve the people, the dramatic process of democratization unfolding in Chile, and the role of cultural exchange between Chile and Japan in opening a new pan-Pacific age. The 15 minutes allotted for their meeting had stretched to 45.

As they parted, President Aylwin said: “I very much hope this is not our first and last meeting. Next time, let’s meet at the presidential offices in Chile.”

Now, that proposal was being realized.

The Chilean leader said that, after their meeting in Tokyo, he had read Shin’ichi’s dialogue with Arnold Toynbee, Choose Life, and he expressed his happiness at their reunion.

This time, they discussed the power of culture, environmental problems and many other subjects. Shin’ichi also presented Mr. Aylwin with a poem he had composed as a tribute to the Chilean leader’s achievements as a champion of democracy as towering as the Andes. It contained the lines:

The power of reason surpasses military might!
The power of the spirit surpasses the power of the sword!
Callous, unscrupulous power,
no matter how fiercely wielded,
in the end brings only temporary, illusory victory,
for the power of reason and the spirit
will finally, through understanding and joy,
broadly enrich the earth of the people.

Installment 112

In July 1994, four months after finishing his term as president, Mr. Aylwin visited Japan with his wife, Leonor, and gave a lecture at Soka University.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s meeting with Mr. Aylwin during that visit marked their third. Based on their conversations and other exchanges (from 1992 to 1994), a book of their dialogues was published in Japanese under the title Dawn of the Pacific in October 1997. The publication coincided with the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation between Japan and the Republic of Chile.

On the evening of Feb. 25, 1993, Shin’ichi arrived in São Paulo, Brazil, from Chile. During his stay, he attended the 16th SGI General Meeting along with representatives from 32 countries and territories, at the SGI-Brazil Nature Culture Center.

In his speech on that occasion, Shin’ichi described Soka Gakkai members as the pioneers of the unprecedented endeavor of worldwide kosen-rufu, and he called on those present to always take pride in being the direct heirs of Nichiren Daishonin. He also urged each of them to strive to shine their brightest as individuals and illuminate their families, communities and society with the light of their humanity. He encouraged them to continue to advance joyfully and energetically along with him on the SGI’s great path of humanism, forging and spreading countless ties of friendship among people.

On March 8, he went to Miami, Florida, where he attended a training session with SGI-USA members and other events. After that, he flew to San Francisco, where he met with the scientist Linus Pauling for the fourth time, and then met and encouraged members, before returning to Japan on March 21.

In May 1993, Shin’ichi visited the Philippines and Hong Kong. From September through October, he traveled once more to the United States and also visited Canada. During this trip, he gave his second invitational lecture at Harvard University, “Mahayana Buddhism and Twenty-First-Century Civilization.”

From January to February 1994, Shin’ichi traveled to Hong Kong, China’s Shenzhen Province and Thailand. From mid-May, he embarked on a trip of more than one month to Russia and several countries in Europe. Every day and every moment was devoted to building the foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu.

Failing to act when action is called for, failing to do what must be done when the time is right, leads to eternal regrets. For Shin’ichi, the present moment was everything.

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On Jan. 1, 1995—designated as the Year of Glory and Advancement—Shin’ichi Yamamoto started his activities for the year by leading a New Year’s gongyo meeting at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters.

On Jan. 15, Coming-of-Age Day in Japan, he held a conference with representatives of the women’s division and Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, and spoke of the kind of leaders needed for the 21st century: “What will be required of our leaders from here on? In a word, it is nothing but sincerity. They must be committed to humbly serving the members. Honesty, kindness, responsibility, conviction and approachability—these are the human qualities that everyone wants from a leader. There’s no need for you to pretend to be other than who you are. The important thing is that you continue to grow as a human being, in your own way, based on faith.”

For the sake of the future, Shin’ichi wanted to give clear, accessible guidance about leadership.

“The aim of Nichiren Buddhism,” he continued, “is to relieve people’s suffering. This cannot be done through ideas alone. It requires real wisdom and concrete action. From our perspective, this means ‘substituting faith for wisdom,’ that is, using our Buddhist practice to tap the ‘wisdom of the Buddha’ within our lives. That’s why in everything, we must start by chanting, and keep chanting and taking action until we achieve a clear result.

“Both Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin were people of action, and we want to be the same.”

Two days later, at 5:46 in the early predawn hours of Jan. 17, a major earthquake struck west-central Japan. The most serious damage occurred in Kobe, Awaji Island and other parts of southern Hyogo Prefecture, with areas in Osaka and Kyoto also affected. The earthquake toppled sections of the area’s elevated expressway and destroyed many homes and buildings. Widespread fires broke out in its aftermath. Some 6,400 people died and about 44,000 were injured in the disaster. This became known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake (also, the Kobe earthquake of 1995).

When Shin’ichi heard the news, he immediately took steps for the Soka Gakkai to mobilize all of its resources to support rescue and relief efforts.

He was scheduled to fly to Hawaii to visit and deliver a lecture at the East-West Center, a leading academic institute in the Asia Pacific region, but he delayed his departure and concentrated on doing everything in his power to assist those affected by the earthquake.

Relief coordination centers were set up right away in Tokyo, at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters, and also in Kansai. Shin’ichi conferred with top Soka Gakkai leaders and also attended a meeting about response efforts.

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In the areas affected by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, Soka Gakkai facilities became both temporary evacuation centers and relief centers for collecting, storing and distributing emergency supplies.

Many roads were blocked due to the collapse of sections of the expressway and from the debris of destroyed buildings, and those roads that remained open were incredibly congested. Soka Gakkai members quickly formed a motorbike corps, riding through the rubble-filled streets and delivering emergency supplies to the distressed areas.

It pained Shin’ichi deeply to think of all the people who had lost loved ones, homes and workplaces. He wanted to rush personally to the affected areas and encourage everyone, but the day of his lecture at the East-West Center in Hawaii was drawing near. Soka Gakkai President Eisuke Akizuki and a group of leaders, including the national women’s division leader and youth division leader, were about to make their way together to the disaster area.

Shin’ichi said to them: “I would like you to pour your entire beings into encouraging everyone on my behalf. Some of our members will have lost loved ones who were also practicing Nichiren Buddhism. Please convey this message to them:

Though everything else might be destroyed, the good fortune and benefit we accumulate in our lives through our Buddhist practice will endure eternally. Nichiren Buddhism teaches that if we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo even once, we can attain Buddhahood. Our members who have lost their lives, therefore, have most certainly transformed their karma in this existence, and will be able to embrace the Gohonzon again in their next existence and lead happy lives.

In accord with the principle of “changing poison into medicine,” we can positively transform everything through faith in the Mystic Law. Nichiren Daishonin writes, “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (“Great Evil and Great Good,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1119).

No matter how painful things may be now, please believe that you will absolutely become happy. Indeed, please become happy without fail. I am praying and hoping that you will rebuild your lives splendidly, with inner strength and fortitude.

Akizuki and the others arrived in Kansai on Jan. 24, and began visiting and encouraging members in the stricken areas.

On the evening of the following day, Jan. 25, Shin’ichi left Japan for Honolulu, Hawaii.

On Jan. 26, after visiting the University of Hawaii at Manoa, he went to the adjacent East-West Center.

There, he delivered a lecture in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, titled “Peace and Human Security: A Buddhist Perspective for the Twenty-First Century.”

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In his lecture, Shin’ichi Yamamoto noted that, until now, guaranteeing security had been discussed in terms of institutions and policies. However, the lesson of the 20th century, he said, was that as long as we focus solely on enhancing the structures of society and the state while avoiding the key issue of inner change in human beings, efforts for peace could even be counterproductive.

Efforts to reform society, he proposed, must start from inner transformation, or human revolution, and for that to happen a fundamental shift in the thinking of humankind was required—from knowledge to wisdom, from uniformity to diversity and from national sovereignty to human sovereignty.

At the East-West Center, Shin’ichi was reunited with Harvard University professor emeritus John Montgomery, University of Hawaii professor emeritus Glenn Paige and the founder of peace studies, Johan Galtung.

While in Hawaii, Shin’ichi participated in the World Peace Youth Culture Festival commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, and the SGI Pan-Pacific Peace and Culture Conference. On Feb. 2, he returned to Japan, taking a direct flight to Kansai.

In Kansai, he attended a meeting of Soka Gakkai leaders from both Tokyo and Kansai to discuss the organization’s response to the devastating January earthquake, as well as a memorial gongyo service for those who lost their lives in the disaster. He gave his all to encouraging the members.

At the memorial gongyo service, Shin’ichi said: “I am praying for the speediest possible recovery for Kansai. The entire world is warmly supporting your efforts. Please stand up courageously as a model for the rest of the world. Our fellow members who have died in the disaster will soon rejoin the ranks of ever-victorious Kansai.

“Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘One will … without hindrance attain the highest level of rebirth, rebirth in the Land of Tranquil Light. Then in no time one will return to the dream realm of the nine worlds, the realm of birth and death’ (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas of the Three Existences,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 860). We attain the world of Buddhahood, described here as the supreme Land of Tranquil Light, and, after death, are quickly reborn, returning to the realm of the nine worlds [the saha world], where we can again take an active part in kosen-rufu.

“On behalf of all our departed fellow members as well, let us keep pressing forward—cheerfully, filled with hope and vibrantly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. That is the way, based on the principle of the ‘oneness of life and death,’ to create a powerful resurgence of brilliant good fortune here in Hyogo and all of Kansai.

“Please convey my sincerest good wishes to all those in the areas affected by the earthquake and its aftermath.”

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From the end of October 1995, Shin’ichi Yamamoto traveled to four countries and territories in Asia. This included his first visit to Nepal, the birthplace of Shakyamuni—the 51st country he had traveled to on his journeys for peace.

On Nov. 1, 1995, Shin’ichi met with King Birendra of Nepal at the royal palace in Kathmandu. On Nov. 2, he was the main guest at the commencement ceremony of Nepal’s Tribhuvan University, held at the International Convention Center in that city. There, he delivered a commemorative speech titled “Homage to the Sagarmatha[35] of Humanism: The Living Lessons of Gautama Buddha.”

In it, he discussed the spiritual legacy of Shakyamuni, a great teacher of humanity, from the two perspectives of his radiant wisdom and boundless compassion. He went on to assert that people united in their humanistic ideals and committed to happiness for themselves and others will be a force for building prosperity in each country and will light the way to a brighter future for all humanity. He also voiced his hope that the graduating students, who have a profound mission as leaders of the next generation, will spread their wings of wisdom and compassion, and soar majestically into a 21st century of peace and respect for the dignity of life.

On Nov. 3, Tribhuvan University conferred on Shin’ichi an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. The honor was presented by the minister of education, who also served as the university’s pro-chancellor.

In his acceptance speech, Shin’ichi described Nepal as “a land of great beauty and poetry,” and stated his conviction that “a country derives its richness from the richness of heart found among its people.”

Later that day, with members of SGI-Nepal acting as his guides, he traveled by car to a hill outside Kathmandu. He readily complied with their wish to show him the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountains.

Dusk was falling, and the Himalayas were blanketed in pearly white clouds. But when Shin’ichi and the others reached their destination, the clouds parted and for a brief moment, as if a veil had lifted, the snow-covered peaks made an appearance. In the light of the setting sun, the sky was tinged a pale pink. The mountains towered above magnificently, with awe-inspiring splendor.

Shin’ichi reflexively raised his camera and clicked the shutter.

Soon after, the Himalayas were enfolded in the gathering dusk, and a big silver moon appeared in the sky.

A group of about 20 children were looking at him curiously from a distance.

When Shin’ichi gestured to them, they approached shyly. Their eyes sparkled like gems.

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto said to the children: “We’re Buddhists. This is the land where the Buddha was born. He grew up looking at the great Himalayas. He strove hard to become a person like those mountains. He made himself into a mighty champion. You are just like he was. You are living in an amazing place. You can become great people, too.

“You all have beautiful faces and seem very smart. When you get a little older, please come to Japan.”

Shin’ichi wanted to make the most out of this brief encounter. He wanted to wholeheartedly encourage the children and send a spring breeze of hope into their little hearts.

The following day, Nov. 4, Shin’ichi attended the 1st SGI-Nepal General Meeting, held in Kathmandu, and took a group photo with the more than 100 members present. He encouraged them, saying: “Please advance together in harmony and friendship. I hope each of you will strive to become a shining presence as a good citizen and an upstanding member of your community.”

The majority of Soka Gakkai members in Nepal were youth. These hope-filled young people, like vibrant saplings watched over by the Himalayas, were growing with limitless potential.

After Nepal, Shin’ichi traveled to Singapore, where he attended the 3rd SGI Asia Culture and Education Conference and made his first visit to the Singapore Soka Kindergarten. He also attended the Singapore organization’s 1st Friendship Youth Arts Festival, held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Republic of Singapore’s founding.

Then, on the evening of Nov. 10, he arrived in Hong Kong.

A British territory at the time, Hong Kong had long been scheduled to return to Chinese rule in 1997. But it was only after talks between China’s paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 that the transfer of its sovereignty started to become a concrete reality.

It was difficult for Hong Kong residents, who had lived in a free market economy for so long, to imagine life under Communist rule, and many were deeply anxious about the future. At one point, the Hong Kong dollar declined steeply and the stock market was thrown into turmoil.

“This is precisely the time for me to go to Hong Kong! I must meet with everyone and encourage them!”

This resolve was what had prompted Shin’ichi to visit Hong Kong back in December 1983.

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During his 1983 visit to Hong Kong, Shin’ichi Yamamoto energetically addressed the members: “I am sure some of you are worrying about what will happen to Hong Kong because of the so-called 1997 Problem. But I wish to state that there’s absolutely no need for you to worry. Please confidently live out your lives here in your beloved Hong Kong—with its spirit of freedom, peace and culture, and its ongoing development as an international hub—illuminated and protected by the Mystic Law.”

“After 1997, when the handover is scheduled, let us continue our exchanges with many times the energy and many times the enjoyment. Let us create a record of victory together that will endure forever!”

Through his discussions with SGI–Hong Kong members and with many informed people in Hong Kong society, he was confident that the key to Hong Kong’s tremendous growth and development was the boundless vitality of its people and the power of hope that pulsed in their hearts.

The words “many times the enjoyment” gave the Hong Kong members courage.

In December 1984, China and the U.K. issued a joint declaration stating that in 1997 Hong Kong would return to China and become a special administrative region in which, for 50 years after the handover, Communist Party policies would not be implemented. Hong Kong would stay a free capitalist economy, under a policy of “one nation, two systems.” Hong Kong residents continued to be deeply anxious, however, and hundreds of thousands emigrated to Canada, Australia and other countries.

With Hong Kong’s future in mind, Shin’ichi met and spoke with numerous Chinese officials and remained in contact with successive Hong Kong governors.

On his present November 1995 visit to Hong Kong, he met with Jin Yong (pen name of Louis Cha), a famous writer and founder of the daily newspaper Ming Pao. Known for many years as a “beacon of conscience” and an opinion leader, Jin Yong was also a member of the committee drafting the Hong Kong Basic Law that would determine Hong Kong’s social system after the return to China.

In 1998, Shin’ichi and Jin Yong published a Japanese-language edition of their discussions, titled Compassionate Light in Asia: A Dialogue. It was based on their five meetings from 1995 onward, during which they discussed a broad range of topics, including the future of Hong Kong and the role of literature in life.

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Five months before Hong Kong’s handover to China, Shin’ichi Yamamoto said to Jin Yong: “I am certain that Hong Kong will continue to prosper after its return to China.” He then went on to say that he believed that from now on there would be a new focus in Hong Kong, not just on economic development but on spiritual fulfillment as well.

Jin Yong responded emphatically: “I hope that SGI-Hong Kong and all SGI members will communicate the importance of spiritual values, sound human values, to many people.”

Both men’s thoughts were on the happiness and prosperity of the people of Hong Kong.

Shin’ichi had continued to stress to members that as long as they had dauntless faith they could make any place they were into a shining “treasure land of happiness.”

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The place where they [disciples of Nichiren] live will become the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light” (“The Entity of the Mystic Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 420).

On July 1, 1997, the former British territory of Hong Kong was handed over to China in a historic ceremony. As part of the celebrations, the SGI-Hong Kong Golden Eagle Gymnastic Team performed with youthful energy. Several SGI-Hong Kong chorus groups also participated in the special music festival held that evening.

Shin’ichi sent congratulatory telegrams to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who was an old friend, and Tung Chee-hwa, new chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. SGI-Hong Kong members resolved to join together to make post-handover Hong Kong a harbor of peace and prosperity, and to soar into the 21st century, the start of the third millennium.

While visiting Hong Kong in November 1995, Shin’ichi had also gone to Macau. In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate of social sciences from the University of Macau, he made an official visit to the Macau municipal government offices. A Portuguese territory, Macau returned to Chinese rule in 1999, and SGI-Macau members, like SGI-Hong Kong members before them, made a fresh and hope-filled start.

On Nov. 17, 1995, Shin’ichi returned to Japan from his trip to Asian neighbors, heading directly to the Chubu region and then Kansai, to offer guidance to the members there.

On Nov. 23, a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting was held at the Kansai Culture Center, in conjunction with the Nationwide Youth Division Meeting and Kansai General Meeting.

At that gathering, the new SGI Charter was announced by SGI General Director Koichi Towada.

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Soka Gakkai International was born at the 1st World Peace Conference held in the Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, on Jan. 26, 1975. Since then, it had been steadily promoting the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism and developing a movement aimed at contributing to world peace and the happiness of all humankind. In the process, SGI organizations in various countries and territories had created growing trust in their communities, and many in society had high hopes for the members’ endeavors.

Following the SGI Standing Directors Meeting and SGI Board of Directors Meeting in 1995, the 20th anniversary of the SGI’s founding, a committee was formed to draft an SGI Charter as a vehicle for clarifying the SGI’s aims, ideals and guidelines of conduct for its member organizations. An SGI resolution related to this was adopted at the SGI General Meeting held on Oct. 17, and after further deliberation by the committee based on this, a charter was established with the approval of all SGI organizations.

The SGI Charter consisted of 10 articles, affirming the organization’s commitment to such aims as: contributing to peace, culture and education based on Buddhism; respecting human rights and religious freedom; contributing to the prosperity of society; promoting cultural exchange; protecting nature and the environment; and promoting the cultivation of character.

Article 7 of the Charter states: “SGI shall, based on the Buddhist spirit of tolerance, respect other religions, engage in dialogue and work together with them toward the resolution of fundamental issues concerning humanity.”

The key to realizing world peace and happiness for all humanity is for all people to join hands and strive together with an awareness that they share a common destiny. The greatest obstacles to this are self-righteousness and intolerance, whether religious, nationalistic or ethnic. In order for humanity to live in harmony and peace, we need to return to the starting point that we are all fellow human beings and help one another, transcending all our differences.

At the time of the January 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the Soka Gakkai had poured all its energy into rescue and relief activities, and SGI organizations around the world also offered support and assistance in a variety of ways. The victims of the disaster and many others expressed their gratitude for those efforts.

The SGI had also been working with other religious groups and organizations in its movement to abolish nuclear weapons.

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In pursuing humanitarian action, it is essential that we cooperate with others and transcend the boundaries of religious affiliation. This is most crucial for us as human beings and in fulfilling our social mission as people of faith who wish for the happiness of humankind.

Working together on shared initiatives requires respect for each other’s personality, beliefs and cultural background.

The original wish of the founder of every major religion has been to realize peace and happiness for the people and relieve them from suffering. It is that spirit that we need to respect.

People often view Nichiren Daishonin’s criticism of the Pure Land (also known as Nembutsu), Zen, True Word and Precepts schools of Japanese Buddhism as demonstrating an intolerant, self-righteous attitude. But the Daishonin did not reject the scriptures that were the basis of these other schools. In his writings, he quotes from a wide variety of Buddhist sutras as he explains the true nature of human existence.

The Lotus Sutra is a teaching that opens the way to enlightenment for all people. It is the perfect and complete teaching, “the king of sutras,” that expounds the true reality of life. In contrast, the other sutras do not teach that all people can attain Buddhahood. They fail to describe life in its entirety, presenting only partial views. The established Buddhist schools of Nichiren’s day misguidedly regarded scriptures that presented only partial truths as complete and absolute, while denying and rejecting the Lotus Sutra, which teaches the complete and universal truth. He highlighted and exposed this fundamental error, using the clearest possible language.

And to clarify which teaching accorded with Shakyamuni’s true intent, he requested opportunities for dialogue and debate with the other Buddhist schools. This was solely motivated by his concern to alleviate the sufferings of the people. However, enjoying cozy relations with the Kamakura military government, the priests of those schools rejected his requests for discussion. Instead, they spread false rumors and accusations, prompting the authorities to take action against Nichiren, which led to him being persecuted and almost killed.

Despite of all this, the Daishonin declared: “I pray that before anything else I can guide and lead the ruler and those others who persecuted me” (“On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 402). In other words, he wished to guide to Buddhahood, first of all, the nation’s leaders and priests who persecuted him. This exemplifies the way of life of a genuine practitioner of Buddhism, one overflowing with compassion and tolerance.

This spirit of wishing to relieve people of suffering and help them become happy is the basis of all our actions as SGI members.

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It is perfectly natural for people of faith to have confidence and pride in their religion and share their beliefs with others. But, in doing so, they must always possess humility and a spirit of self-improvement—a willingness to listen to different ideas and points of view, learn from them and keep striving to become better. Religion must not become a source of hatred and conflict among fellow human beings.

The greatest mission and responsibility of people of faith today is to strengthen their commitment to building a world free of the scourge of war and bring people together based on the shared goal of realizing peace and happiness for all humankind. To achieve that aim, people of different faiths must work together in a cooperative and collaborative spirit. At the same time, they should engage in what first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi called “humanitarian competition,” inspiring one another to improve and contribute all the more to the welfare of humankind.

Having clarified its mission to realize world peace with its new Charter, the SGI went on to make further great strides as a truly humanistic global religious movement.

The following year, 1996, Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued his travels for peace, visiting Hong Kong in March and then North and Central America from late May through early July.

On June 8, during his trip to the United States, the University of Denver in Colorado presented him with an honorary degree of Doctor of Education.

On June 13, Shin’ichi delivered a lecture at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York. In it, he defined a global citizen as a person of wisdom who recognizes the equality and interconnectedness of life; a person of courage who respects others’ differences; and a person of compassion who empathizes with others. The bodhisattva in Buddhism, he argued, is a model of just such a person, and education is the work of the bodhisattva, who brings benefit to self and others.

The next day, Shin’ichi visited the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and exchanged views over lunch with United Nations Under-Secretary-General Yasushi Akashi and U.N. ambassadors from various nations.

From June 24, he was scheduled to visit Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Shin’ichi acted boldly. Action opens a new era.

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With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the communist regimes of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Cuba had lost its most powerful supporter, the Soviet Union. As a result, it found itself increasingly isolated and facing harsh economic and political challenges. In February 1996, an incident occurred in which the Cuban air force shot down two U.S. civilian airplanes, prompting the United States to pass a congressional act (The Helms-Burton Act) that strengthened its economic sanctions against Cuba, a development that further heightened tensions.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto resolved in his heart: “That is precisely why, as a person who wishes for world peace, I must go to Cuba. Because there are people there … I want to contribute somehow to promoting educational and cultural exchange with Cuba!”

On June 17, a week before his scheduled trip to Cuba, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met and renewed his old friendship with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in New York City. Dr. Kissinger offered his thoughts on improving relations between the United States and Cuba. Shin’ichi responded: “It is my belief that rather than allowing short-term public opinion and vested interests to stand in our way, we must act with firm conviction and vision for the future and build a bridge for peace in the 21st century.”

The two men spoke frankly with each other.

Before traveling to Cuba, Shin’ichi flew to Miami, where he visited the SGI-USA Florida Nature and Culture Center for the first time and attended the 21st SGI General Meeting, together with representatives from 52 countries and territories.

On the afternoon of June 24, he made his first visit to the Bahamas, a nation of 700 islands in the Caribbean. At the time, there were no direct flights from the United States to Cuba, and the only way to go there was to travel by way of a third country. This trip to the Bahamas brought to 52 the number of countries and territories Shin’ichi had visited.

Two members, a man and a woman, were waiting to greet him at the airport.

Shin’ichi only had a stopover of about four hours or so, but he encouraged the members wholeheartedly and presented them with a short message he inscribed: “Here, too, the SGI exists. Long live SGI-Bahamas!”

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Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his party departed from the Bahamas aboard a Soviet-made jet the Cuban government had provided for his trip, and flew to José Martí International Airport in Cuba’s capital, Havana.

Arriving just after 5:30 p.m. on June 24, they were greeted by the minister of culture and his wife, and numerous other government officials.

Shin’ichi thanked them sincerely and said: “I am just a private citizen, but with courage and action, I would like to change the divisions between peoples and nations into unity. I wish to do my utmost to open the way to peace for the 21st century.”

Though he was only going to be in Cuba for three days and two nights, he had vowed deeply in his heart to forge bonds of friendship with as many people as possible. He put his whole heart and being into each event and each encounter.

At 4 p.m. on June 25, Shin’ichi visited the University of Havana. In a ceremony at the university’s auditorium, Culture Minister Armando Hart presented him with a national honor—the Order of Felix Varela, First Grade—for his contributions to cultural exchange. Calling Shin’ichi “a tireless activist for peace,” he said that the award was an expression of the “solidarity of people who wish for peace.”

Next, the University of Havana conferred an honorary doctorate of letters upon Shin’ichi, who then gave a commemorative lecture titled “Building a Great Spiritual Bridge to the New Century.”

In the midst of the ceremony, the clear skies quickly darkened and a torrential downpour ensued. Lightning flashed outside the auditorium windows and thunder roared. In the tropical heat of Cuba, rain brought cool relief, but this was a very sudden and violent thunderstorm.

Stepping to the microphone, Shin’ichi began: “What marvelous thunder! It is the music of the heavens, the resounding drum, the resplendent symphony of the skies, congratulating the progress of humanity toward the victory of peace.

“And what wonderful rain! The skies are telling us that we must not allow ourselves to be defeated by hardships! We must advance courageously through the storm of adversity!”

The audience applauded, and everyone smiled. A deep, shared feeling spread through the hall.

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In his lecture, Shin’ichi Yamamoto said, “I am deeply convinced of the need to create a civilization of hope and harmony, based on respect for human dignity, in the new millennium that will begin with the 21st century.”

He proposed three “bridges,” or connecting pathways, for that purpose. The first was the restoration of the wholeness of life, achieved through cultivating a poetic spirit that links the individual, society and the universe; the second was bringing people together through empathy for the suffering of others; and the third was building a bridge to a brighter future through efforts devoted to education.

That evening, Shin’ichi met with Cuban President Fidel Castro for about 90 minutes at the Palace of the Revolution, the presidential residence, in Havana. Though known for always wearing military fatigues, President Castro was dressed in a suit and tie when he welcomed him with a smile. Shin’ichi sensed his wish for friendship and peace.

Their conversation covered many topics, including leadership succession, fostering capable individuals, politics, life philosophies and worldviews. In their discussions, they affirmed their shared recognition of the vital importance of the power of dialogue and culture in achieving peace in the 21st century.

Shin’ichi stressed that the future of Cuba, and indeed the world, rested on education. He explained that the SGI was an international movement for peace, transcending political systems and based on the human being, calling it the inevitable conclusion and concrete expression of the Buddhist philosophy that all people are equally precious and worthy of respect.

President Castro welcomed Shin’ichi and his party wholeheartedly and declared his wish to take positive steps to promote exchange between Cuba and Japan to foster mutual understanding.

After their meeting, President Castro was presented with an honorary doctorate from Soka University. In accepting the honor, he said that he regarded this visit of an SGI delegation to Cuba as being very important, in that it exemplified how humanism contributes to peace. Noting Japan’s remarkable growth and development despite its lack of natural resources, its small land area, and its susceptibility to typhoons and earthquakes, he declared that the Japanese people had demonstrated to the world that nothing is impossible for human beings.

Through their encounter, Shin’ichi and President Castro forged a strong bond of friendship.

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After Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s visit, Cuba stepped up its cultural and educational exchange with Japan.

On Jan. 6, 2007, SGI-Cuba was officially recognized as a religious organization by the Cuban government, and a special signing ceremony was held.

The United States gradually relaxed its economic sanctions against Cuba, and in 2015, diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored.

On June 26, 1996, following his trip to Cuba, Shin’ichi made his first visit to Costa Rica, located next door to Panama and known as the “green paradise of Central America.” It was the 54th country he had visited. Costa Rica was a nation that had enshrined in its constitution the abolition of its military, and proclaimed its “perpetual, active and unarmed neutrality.”

On June 27, Shin’ichi met with Costa Rican President José María Figueres Olsen at the presidential offices in the capital, San José, after which he attended a gathering with SGI-Costa Rica members and presented them with a poem:

Costa Rica—
here, too, are
friends who have emerged from the Earth.
May you lead lives
of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.

On June 28, the opening of the first Latin American showing of the “Nuclear Arms—Threat to Our World” exhibition was held, attended by the Costa Rican president and first lady, as well as former president and Nobel Peace laureate Óscar Arias Sánchez and many other distinguished guests.

The exhibition site, the Costa Rican Center for Science and Culture, included a Children’s Museum, and the happy voices of children playing there could be heard by those attending the opening ceremony. Shin’ichi rose to speak and said with a smile: “The sight and sound of these youngsters, boisterous and full of vitality, are the very image of peace. It is here that we can find the power to stem the tide of nuclear weapons. It is here we can find hope. Children are symbols of thriving life, while nuclear weapons are symbols of death and destruction.”

Shin’ichi further spoke of developing the power of life into a force surpassing the power of nuclear weapons, and expanding the solidarity of ordinary people to outpace the spread of such weapons. This, he argued, is an important objective for humanistic education, for the education of all people.

Installment 127

In 1997, the year after his trip to North and Central America, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited Hong Kong in February, made his 10th trip to China in May and traveled to India in October. Every day was a race against time.

In February 1998, he visited the Philippines and Hong Kong, and in May traveled to South Korea, visiting the SGI-South Korea Headquarters for the first time.

In May 1999, he made his third trip to South Korea, visiting Jeju Island.

In 2000, he traveled to Hong Kong again in February, and visited Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong in November and December.

On Nov. 23, he met with Singapore’s President S. R. Nathan at his official residence. The president was a warmhearted man of firm convictions.

In 1974, a group of four terrorists, including members of the Japanese Red Army, attempted to blow up an oil refinery in Singapore, taking five of its employees hostage. President Nathan had been the director of the Security and Intelligence Division of the Defense Ministry at the time. He led the negotiations during the crisis, showing clearheadedness and unwavering resolve throughout. The terrorists demanded safe passage to Kuwait and that officials of the Japanese and Singaporean governments accompany them. Mr. Nathan volunteered to fly onboard the plane as a hostage. The incident eventually came to an end without a single casualty.

The most important quality required of leaders is to be prepared to give their all and take full responsibility in a crisis.

Whether one’s top priority as a leader is protecting oneself or protecting the people and one’s fellow citizens becomes clear at a crucial moment and with the passage of time. The world today, more than ever, calls for leaders of dedication and integrity.

At his meeting with Shin’ichi, President Nathan said: “Singapore is a small country. It is a new country. It is a country of diverse ethnic groups, religions and languages. Amid various difficult circumstances, the people of Singapore have advanced together toward a common goal.”

In the sense of responsibility with which the president lived, Shin’ichi saw the spirit behind Singapore’s dynamic development.

Installment 128

In response to Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s request for a message to the young people of the 21st century, President Nathan offered unsparing praise for the Soka youth: “I have seen the performances of Singapore Soka Association members a number of times in National Day parades here, and they are truly wonderful. I have also seen the performances of Soka Gakkai Malaysia members. They are all beautifully coordinated and disciplined, and truly captivating. I am always surprised and ask myself how they are able to put on such wonderful performances.

“And these young people are participating voluntarily, under their own direction. Their performances embody the teachings of Buddhism. In Singaporean society, too, the qualities of human character are becoming all the more important. In that sense as well, the Soka Gakkai is making a wonderful contribution to our society and nation.”

Shin’ichi was delighted by the president’s words. He was especially happy to see that trust and expectations for the Soka Gakkai had spread to this extent in Singaporean society and that his young successors had won such praise.

Finding joy, pleasure and hope in the growth of youth who will shoulder the next generation—in the victory of one’s disciples—is the heart of the mentor. Such is the nature of the mentor-disciple bond.

On the following day, Nov. 24, Shin’ichi was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Sydney in Australia. The presentation of the honor took place at the graduation ceremony for international students from Singapore and neighboring countries who were studying at the Australian university. The venue was a hotel in central Singapore.

The University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia. It has a large international student population of about 3,000, many of whom are from Asian countries, including Singapore.

The university held special graduation ceremonies in both Singapore and Hong Kong for its international students, out of consideration for their families and friends who would like to see them graduate. This sensitivity and warm concern were expressions of the university’s student-centered philosophy.

The belief that universities exist for the sake of students is the firm foundation for humanistic education.

Installment 129

Shin’ichi Yamamoto entered the room with the chancellor, deputy vice-chancellor and other university representatives to a rousing fanfare, and the University of Sydney’s Singapore graduation ceremony got under way.

Chancellor Leonie Kramer and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Judith Kinnear were both renowned women academics. The chancellor was also highly respected for her wide-ranging contributions to society and had been named one of Australia’s National Living Treasures.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Kinnear read the award citation, and Chancellor Kramer personally handed Shin’ichi the doctoral diploma.

Next, diplomas were presented to the 45 graduates, each coming forward as their names were called. The chancellor addressed them warmly as she handed them their diplomas: “What will be your next challenge?” “Please make a positive contribution to society!” “It’s important to enjoy life as you move forward.”

It was a heartwarming scene, reminiscent of a mother encouraging and expressing affection for her children. Shin’ichi sensed the great power of education that is rich in love and kindness.

In his acceptance speech, he shared that the founder of Soka education, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, had referred to Australia in his book The Geography of Human Life, published in 1903. Makiguchi, he said, used the example of his jacket being made from Australian wool to illustrate that our lives are intimately intertwined with the labors of countless people around the world. He also spoke of Makiguchi’s death in prison as a result of persecution by Japan’s militarist authorities during World War II.

Shin’ichi further stated: “At a time when the ideology of imperialism was at its height, Makiguchi urged an awakening to the realities of global interdependence. He advocated a philosophy of altruistic contribution, setting forth a vision of creative coexistence and mutual prosperity that embraced all of humankind.

“He also maintained that humanity must move beyond reliance on what we would now term ‘hard power,’ that is, the use of military, political or economic might to dominate others. Instead, he advocated that humanity must aspire toward a world in which the ‘soft power’ of culture, spirituality and character inspires a mutual striving toward humanistic excellence and achievement.”

Shin’ichi believed that the 21st century must be an age when, based on humanism and consideration for others, we strive for harmonious coexistence that allows both ourselves and others to flourish.

Installment 130

On Nov. 25, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited the Singapore Soka Kindergarten. It was his second time to visit the kindergarten, but his first to the new Tampines campus.

Shin’ichi and his wife, Mineko, were presented with flowers by two of the children. Shin’ichi then shook hands with the kindergartners one by one, saying thank you to each of them. Some of them squealed with joy while others were shy.

“I am so happy to meet all of you,” said Shin’ichi. “Yesterday, I was shown an album containing your drawings. They were all very good!”

The children then gave a delightful choral performance, singing in Japanese while swaying side to side with the music. Shin’ichi clapped along as they sang.

“Your Japanese is great!” he said.

They beamed with pride.

The kindergarten principal, who observed this exchange, later said: “You could just see the children’s faces light up. They looked so happy to be showered with such affection.”

Cards with messages written on them in English were posted around the school: “Sensei, you are creating world peace. That’s why I want to become a pilot and fly people to many different countries.” “Sensei, you work too hard. Thank you. I will study my hardest to respond to your love.”

Shin’ichi said to Mineko: “How wonderful! They make me look forward to the 21st century!” He saw a rainbow of hope reaching into the future.

After visiting the kindergarten, Shin’ichi and those accompanying him went to the Singapore Soka Association Headquarters. It was his first visit. There, he attended a meeting commemorating 40 years of the SGI’s worldwide kosen-rufu movement.

In his speech at the meeting, Shin’ichi quoted Nichiren Daishonin’s words “Only the seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are the seed for attaining Buddhahood” (“Daimoku as the Seed of Buddhahood,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 804). He then said: “Whatever happens, maintain faith in the Gohonzon and keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Just share all your joys and sorrows with the Gohonzon as you would with a caring mother or father. Pour out your whole heart. The Gohonzon will understand everything.”

Installment 131

On Nov. 26, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a joint executive conference with SGI representatives from Singapore and Australia.

At the meeting, he noted that the name Singapore means “Lion City” and discussed the significance of the lion in Buddhism: “In Buddhism, the Buddha is described as a lion, and his preaching of the Law as the ‘lion’s roar.’ Nichiren Daishonin taught that the word ‘lion’ has the significance of ‘mentor and disciple.’[36] The Lotus Sutra teaches that disciples—that is, living beings—who live out their lives together with the Buddha, their mentor, can attain the same elevated life state as the Buddha.”

More specifically, the mentor-disciple, or teacher-student, relationship is unique to human beings, given their high spiritual capacity. This relationship is found wherever people strive for excellence, including in the arts, education and any field that requires skilled workmanship.

Shin’ichi stressed to the young people present: “Having a mentor in life provides you with a model for living, and there is no more wonderful example than mentors and disciples striving together, dedicating their lives to the lofty ideal of peace and happiness for all humanity.

“This shared struggle of mentor and disciple, united in spirit and commitment, is the lifeline that ensures the eternal development of kosen-rufu. Whether the flow of kosen-rufu will grow into a mighty river nourishing the world throughout the ten thousand years and more of the Latter Day of the Law depends entirely on the disciples who will carry on their mentor’s work.

“Mr. Toda often said: ‘As long as Shin’ichi’s here, there’s nothing to worry about!’ ‘I can rest easy knowing you’re here!’ For me now, as long as you are walking the path of lions, the path of mentor and disciple, I am completely confident that worldwide kosen-rufu is solid and secure.”

Quoting the Daishonin’s call, “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 997), Shin’ichi also emphasized that the “heart of a lion king” is courage.

He said: “We all possess courage. Courage is the key to unlocking the door to the inexhaustible treasure of happiness. Many people, however, have sealed that door and remain adrift upon a sea of cowardice, weakness and indecision. I hope that you will all summon up great courage and vanquish every trace of cowardice in your hearts. That is the cause for victory in life.”

The future belongs to youth. Therefore, youth have a responsibility to develop into lionhearted champions who will protect the people.

Installment 132

On the evening of Nov. 27, 2000, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his party arrived from Singapore at the international airport in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It was Shin’ichi’s second visit to the country, his first in 12 years.

In those dozen years, both Malaysian society and Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) had experienced remarkable growth. Many super high-rise buildings now stood in Kuala Lumpur, including the Petronas Twin Towers built in 1998, the tallest buildings in the world.

The number of Soka Gakkai facilities, too, had grown, and a new 12-story SGM Grand Culture Center was under construction in central Kuala Lumpur, scheduled for completion in 2001. Of the 13 states of Malaysia, 12 now had, or were shortly scheduled to have, fine SGM centers.

On Nov. 29, Shin’ichi was presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Universiti Putra Malaysia, one of the country’s leading universities, in a solemn convocation ceremony held in his honor. The event overflowed with a spirit of goodwill and friendship.

Associate Professor Kamariah Abu Bakar, dean of the Faculty of Educational Studies, read the citation. Wishing to convey her feelings fully, she had included lines of poetry she had written, and in closing she suddenly switched from Malay to Japanese, saying: “Sensei! You are a remarkable person. May your lifelong dream of world peace be achieved.”

Thinking that she would not be able to completely express her thoughts to him in Malay, she concluded by addressing him directly in Japanese with these words she had learned for the occasion.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Chancellor and Penang State Governor Haji Hamdan Bin Sheikh Tahir then handed the honorary doctorate certificate to Shin’ichi.

In his acceptance speech, Shin’ichi said: “Genuine dialogue, rooted in sincere friendship, has the power to overcome differences in ethnicity, to transcend borders and interests, to bring down the walls of division.

“It is of utmost importance to advance in a spirit of cooperation on the path of tolerance, coexistence and creativity, while respecting diversity and bringing out the best of that diversity. Friendship realized through education, in particular, is the most powerful defense against that which would harm or undermine peace and human happiness.”

Installment 133

Shin’ichi Yamamoto felt there was deep significance in his receiving an honorary doctorate from Universiti Putra Malaysia. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and he, a Buddhist, was being recognized by one of its national universities.

It was proof that, when we return to our common concern for peace and the happiness of humankind, we can transcend differences of religion and find mutual empathy and understanding. It was also a testament to the tolerant nature of Islam.

Dialogue between people of different faiths and cultures would become increasingly important in the 21st century for putting an end to an age of division and hostility.

Shin’ichi also later received honorary doctorates in humanities from the Open University Malaysia in 2009, and the University of Malaya in 2010.

On Nov. 30, 2000, Shin’ichi met with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for the second time, at the prime minister’s office.

Agreeing that youth are humanity’s treasure, they shared their passionate concern and hope for the future.

On Dec. 1, Shin’ichi made his first visit to the Malaysia Soka Kindergarten (Tadika Seri Soka), after which he attended a Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) representatives conference, commemorating four decades of worldwide kosen-rufu, at the SGM Culture Center.

Enthusiastic applause resounded through the hall.

SGM was growing at an astonishing pace. Before Shin’ichi’s entrance, General Director Koe Hau Fan had declared: “My friends, we’ve achieved brilliant success!”

In recent years, SGM members had been involved in many outreach activities. Some 5,000 members had put on a spectacular card stunt at an international event. Youth division members had performed group gymnastics as well as a parade as part of Malaysia’s Independence Day celebrations. Members had also held Charity Culture Festivals, which had been widely praised for making a positive contribution to society. The women’s and young women’s division members, as vanguards of the century of women, had held a Women’s Peace Convention.

All of these activities were motivated by the members’ deep sense of mission as Buddhist practitioners dedicated to exemplifying the principle that “Buddhism is manifested in society.”

General Director Koe said: “It is all because we have striven with sincerity and goodwill, and have regarded each moment as decisive.”

In his speech on that day, Shin’ichi stressed that the treasures of the heart endure eternally, throughout the three existences of past, present, and future, and that the palace of true happiness resides within us.

He also presented members with a poem:

The world’s supreme
capital of victory,

Installment 134

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s tour of encouragement moved next to Hong Kong. This would be the last stop in his world travels for the 20th century.

On Dec. 4, 2000, he attended an executive conference of SGI leaders from Hong Kong and neighboring Macau, held at the SGI-Hong Kong Culture Center. To commemorate this visit, his 20th to Hong Kong, he presented the participants with a poem:

On my twentieth visit,
I give a resounding cheer
for kosen-rufu in Hong Kong!

Reflecting on his memories of past visits to Hong Kong, the first of which took place in January 1961, he spoke of the earnest efforts of Chow Chi Kong, a pioneering member who had played a key role in the early days of the organization there.

“Mr. Chow used to write letters every few days to members who were scattered throughout Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries. When some problem arose, the frequency of his letters would increase to one every other day, and sometimes one every day.

“Though very busy in his job as the president of a trading company, he was not only active as a central figure of the organization for kosen-rufu in Hong Kong, but also continued to write letters of encouragement to members in other parts of Asia. It must have required incredible effort on his part. And the letters he wrote were quite lengthy, often 5/five or even 10/ten pages.”

At that time, not many people had private telephones, and, of course, the Internet didn’t exist yet. Mr. Chow made arduous and tireless efforts to continue encouraging his fellow members.

Shin’ichi continued: “In a letter to the leader of a certain area, he wrote: ‘It’s important to create many opportunities to speak with members heart to heart. Home visits are the only way to do this. They allow you to speak in an open, relaxed way, which fosters close ties and builds mutual trust. This is easy to say, but difficult to put into practice.’ ”

Organizations are like the human body, which cannot function properly without good blood circulation. Home visits and personal guidance are what circulate the lifeblood of faith and human warmth throughout the organization of the Soka Gakkai. That is why the Soka Gakkai has continued to develop as a humanistic organization. Valuing each individual, taking a personal interest in their well-being, and making steady efforts in dialogue and offering encouragement represent the eternal and unchanging key to fresh growth and development for both individual members and the organization.

Installment 135

At the Hong Kong-Macau executive conference, Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke of the brilliant history of the kosen-rufu movement in Hong Kong: “My journey to realize Nichiren Daishonin’s prediction of the westward transmission of Buddhism began here in Hong Kong. I also departed from and returned via Hong Kong when I made my first visit to mainland China, from the end of May to mid-June 1974, to build a golden bridge of friendship between China and Japan.

“Moreover, the Chinese University of Hong Kong was the very first of the 73 universities with which Soka University today participates in academic and educational exchanges. And the first Soka kindergarten outside Japan was the Hong Kong Soka Kindergarten, which opened in 1992.”

Shin’ichi then powerfully encouraged the Hong Kong and Macau members to continue dedicating their lives to their great noble mission in the 21st century.

Earlier that year, in February 2000, a long-awaited auditorium had also been completed at the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden in India, and on Nov. 26 [a few days before Shin’ichi’s arrival in Hong Kong], a general meeting of Bharat Soka Gakkai, the SGI organization in India, had been held there to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun was now shining brightly in India, the Land of the Moon,[37] and starting to illuminate Indian society. Shin’ichi felt that a magnificent path for kosen-rufu in the 21st century was now opening widely in Asia and the rest of the world.

On the evening of Dec. 5, Shin’ichi and Mineko were invited to a dinner at the official residence of Hong Kong Chief Secretary Anson Chan.

In 1993, Mrs. Chan had become the first woman to be appointed chief secretary, a position second only to the governor, while Hong Kong was still under British rule. Following Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, she had been active as the chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong Administrative Region, second only to the chief executive.

Her mother was the renowned Chinese painter Fang Zhaoling, whose works were at the time being shown to great acclaim in an exhibition at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. Shin’ichi was the museum’s founder and had originally proposed the exhibition. He had received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hong Kong in 1996, along with both Anson Chan and Fang Zhaoling, and they had stayed in touch since then.

Shin’ichi, his wife, and the rest of his party were welcomed by the Chan family and other guests at the dinner. Shin’ichi conversed and exchanged views with those present out of his strong wish for the future prosperity of Hong Kong and China.

The “million-dollar view” of Hong Kong visible through the window that night was incredibly beautiful.

Installment 136

On Dec. 7, 2000, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended the graduation ceremony of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Science, making him the first Japanese recipient of an honorary doctorate from that institution. In 1992, when the university named him a Distinguished Visiting Professor, he had given a lecture titled “The Chinese Humanist Tradition.”

On Dec. 8, Shin’ichi returned to Japan, flying from Hong Kong to Osaka, gateway to Ever-Victorious Kansai.

Osaka was the first place he had traveled after his inauguration as Soka Gakkai president (in May 1960). This was why he wanted to conclude his guidance tours for the 20th century in Osaka and open the door to the 21st century with his beloved Kansai members, who shared his joys and sufferings and his invincible spirit.

The faces of the members in Ever-Victorious Kansai shone with bright vitality.

On Dec. 10, Shin’ichi attended a Kansai representatives conference.

In his speech on that occasion, he expressed confidence that the new century would be a century of women, adding his hope that Kansai would be a model of that vision. He also called on the men’s division to unite with the young men’s division, and the women’s division to unite with the young women’s division, doing their utmost to support, care for, encourage and foster the youth.

On Dec. 14, a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting was held in conjunction with a Kansai representatives leaders meeting and a Kansai women’s general meeting, at the Kansai Toda Memorial Auditorium in Toyonaka City, Osaka. As the last major meeting for 2000, it marked the organization’s fresh departure for the 21st century.

“From next year, 2001, we will begin the second series of Seven Bells,[38] aiming toward the year 2050!” Shin’ichi spoke of the start of a new series of seven-year periods of development and urged the members to work together, harnessing the solidarity of ordinary people, to make the 21st century a century of humanism and peace.

He also noted that women were taking active leadership roles around the world: “The times are clearly changing. Societies and organizations that respect and value women will flourish from now on.

“The Daishonin states that women open the gateway (see “The Treasure of a Child,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 884). In the unending development of kosen-rufu, it is women—especially, our young women’s division members, who will open the gateway of good fortune, hope and eternal victory.”

Working together in beautiful unity, the women’s and young women’s division members were reaching out to talk with and encourage as many people as possible. Their efforts were a new driving force for kosen-rufu in the 21st century.

Installment 137

The year 2001—which had been designated the Soka Gakkai’s “Year of Total Victory for the New Century”—dawned with bright promise. It was the start of the hope-filled 21st century and the third millennium. Shin’ichi Yamamoto contributed a poem to the New Year’s Day edition of the Seikyo Shimbun:

As the new century unfolds,
our new stage
will be the entire world.
Let us refresh the flame of
resolve in our hearts!

Jan. 2 was Shin’ichi’s 73rd birthday. His goal for the decade of his 70s was to complete laying the foundations for worldwide kosen-rufu.

On May 3, Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, Orange County, California, held its eagerly anticipated dedication ceremony. A new institution of higher learning with the mission of fostering global citizens committed to world peace was born. Yoshinari Yabuki, a member of the first graduating class of both Soka High School and Soka University in Japan, was appointed as its president.

Shin’ichi expressed his profound feelings in a message read at the ceremony. In it, he offered four principles for the university:

  • Foster leaders of culture in the community.
  • Foster leaders of humanism in society.
  • Foster leaders of pacifism in the world.
  • Foster leaders for the creative coexistence of nature and humanity.

On Sept. 11, 2001, four passenger jets were hijacked in the United States. Two were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City and another into the Pentagon, the U.S. Defense Department headquarters. The fourth crashed en route to its target.[39] These events came to be known as September 11, or simply 9/11.

Some 3,000 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured in the horrific attack. The U.S. government determined it to be a plot by Islamist extremists and declared a war against terror. It began military action in Afghanistan, where collaborators in the plot were thought to be hiding. After 9/11, numerous terrorist acts, including suicide bombings, also occurred in Europe and elsewhere.

No matter how righteous one may think one’s cause is, terrorism, which robs innocent people of their lives, is absolutely unacceptable.

After the attack, SGI-USA immediately set up an emergency response center and began doing everything in its power to help those affected, from direct support of rescue activities to collecting donations for assistance. Later, it actively engaged in interfaith dialogues with other religious groups to promote tolerance and understanding.

Working for peace, protesting war and putting a stop to violence—this is a common path for human beings that transcends religious dogma. Addressing such issues is also the original purpose of religion.

Installment 138

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,[40] in his meetings with leading thinkers from countries around the world and in interviews with Japanese newspapers, Shin’ichi Yamamoto strongly made the case that this was the very moment to powerfully rally public opinion in support of peace and dialogue.

In his annual SGI Day peace proposal issued on Jan. 26 of the following year (2002), he stated that dialogue among civilizations is crucial for humanity in the 21st century and called for the development of coordinated, U.N.-centered international efforts to prevent terrorism. He also argued that in order to put an end to terrorism and to safeguard human security, the entire world needs to join forces to focus on the issues of human rights, eradication of poverty and disarmament.

Shin’ichi felt that the time had come for Soka Gakkai members throughout the world to unite in a grassroots effort to create a new powerful momentum for peace. The path to peace is always challenging. Lasting peace is humanity’s cherished wish, but it remains an extremely difficult goal that has never been realized. But that is precisely why the Soka Gakkai appeared! That is why Nichiren Buddhism, the key to human revolution, exists! We must build, through dialogue, a great network of ordinary citizens working together in friendship and trust!

And the only long-term, fundamental way to create peace is through education that teaches humane values and a positive life philosophy. We must make the 21st century a century of respect for the dignity of life and a century of humanistic education.

On Nov. 12, 2001, a Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting was held at the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo, Tokyo, to celebrate Soka Gakkai Foundation Day on Nov. 18. It was held in conjunction with the first Kansai general meeting in the new century, a Hokkaido general meeting, and a young men’s division and young women’s division leaders meeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of the two divisions.

In his speech at that meeting, Shin’ichi thanked everyone for their efforts and urged them to forge ahead courageously, determined never to be defeated. He asked that they always base themselves on faith and keep moving forward, no matter what happens in life. That, he said, is the spirit of practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism. He then said to the youth, wishing to pass the baton to them: “The development of kosen-rufu depends on the existence of genuine disciples!”

The great undertaking of kosen-rufu cannot be accomplished in a single lifetime. It can only be achieved when that mission is passed on from the mentor to the disciples, who in turn pass it on to the disciples of future generations.

Installment 139

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s voice rang with resolve: “I will never forget what Josei Toda said at a meeting of the young men’s division Suiko-kai[41]: ‘As long as there is a core of youth—no, even a single true disciple—we will achieve kosen-rufu.’

“Who has been that one disciple? Who has given his life to spreading Nichiren Buddhism around the world, just as Mr. Toda taught? I am proud and confident to say that I am that one disciple.

“I would like you, my young friends of the youth division, to staunchly carry on the solemn spirit of the first three Soka Gakkai presidents, who are eternally linked by the bonds of mentor and disciple. Those who do so will be the ultimate victors. This is also the fundamental path for the Soka Gakkai’s ongoing success in the 21st century. It is the way for us to fulfill the great vow for kosen-rufu and create lasting world peace.

“I’m counting on you, the members of the young men’s division, young women’s division and student division! I’m counting on all Soka youth around the world!”

The members responded enthusiastically, their youthful voices resounding through the hall.

Portraits of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, the Soka Gakkai’s first and second presidents, hung on the walls at the back of the room. To Shin’ichi, it seemed that both were smiling and nodding in approval, warmly watching over the youth and everyone present, enfolding them in their compassionate gaze.

In his heart, he called out to the youth: “Let’s set forth together! As long as we live, let’s fight! Let’s advance with confidence and vigor as we vibrantly ring in the second series of Seven Bells!”

In his mind’s eye, Shin’ichi had an uplifting vision of the youth of Soka as majestic young eagles bathed in the dawning light of the third millennium. He saw them soaring, in an unending stream, into the vast skies of the world.

They were the countless multitudes of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, forever dedicated to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu.

Manuscript completed on Aug. 6, 2018, at the Nagano Training Center.

Dedicated to Soka Gakkai founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi;
to my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda;
and to my fellow members throughout the world,
noble emissaries of the Buddha and my precious comrades.

Daisaku Ikeda

This completes the 30th and final volume of The New Human Revolution.


  1. From April 1982, the schools became coeducational and were renamed the Kansai Soka Junior and Senior High Schools. ↩︎
  2. Purpura is a form of vasculitis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the small blood vessels in the skin, kidneys and intestinal tract. Symptoms include purple-spotted skin rash, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal upset, and inflammation, swelling and pain of the joints. ↩︎
  3. The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” ↩︎
  4. In the Soka Gakkai organization, Chubu comprises Aichi, Mie and Gifu prefectures. ↩︎
  5. Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, based on Mein Weltbild, edited by Cal Seelig, and other sources, and translated by Sonja Bargmann (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1982), p. 162. ↩︎
  6. Birthright of Man: A Selection of Texts, a collection of inspiring quotes on human rights compiled to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1968. ↩︎
  7. Eleanor Roosevelt, This Troubled World (New York: H. C. Kinsey and Company, Inc., 1938). ↩︎
  8. Barbara Hutton, Robben Island: Symbol of Resistance, edited by Josie Egan (Johannesburg: SACHED Books, 1997), p. 55. ↩︎
  9. Nelson Mandela, Conversations with Myself (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), pp. 121–22. ↩︎
  10. Daisaku Ikeda, Journey of Life: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), p. 195. ↩︎
  11. This refers to the poems “To My Beloved Young French Champions of the Mystic Law” and “To My Beloved Young American Friends—Youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” ↩︎
  12. Gosho zenshu, p. 856. ↩︎
  13. Translated from Japanese. Zhou Enlai, Shu Onrai senshu (Selected Writings of Zhou Enlai), translated and edited by Shuichi Morishita (Tokyo: Chugoku Shoten, 1978), p. 700. ↩︎
  14. Martin Luther King, Jr., A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard (New York: Warner Books, 2001), p. 50. ↩︎
  15. Five cardinal sins: The five most serious offenses in Buddhism. Explanations vary according to the sutras and treatises. The most common is 1) killing one’s father, 2) killing one’s mother, 3) killing an arhat, 4) injuring a Buddha and 5) causing disunity in the Buddhist Order. It is said that those who commit any of the five cardinal sins invariably fall into the hell of incessant suffering. ↩︎
  16. In the pre–Lotus Sutra, provisional Mahayana teachings, persons of the two vehicles, women and evil people were deemed unable to attain enlightenment. The Lotus Sutra overturns that idea and specifically teaches that all three groups, and all people, can readily become Buddhas. ↩︎
  17. Arhats are those who have attained the highest stage of awakening in the Hinayana teachings. The Sanskrit term arhat means “one who is worthy of respect.” The three insights are the ability to know the past, to foresee the future and to eradicate illusions, which Buddhas and arhats are said to possess. The six transcendental powers, or six supernatural powers, are powers that Buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats are said to possess. They are 1) the power of being anywhere at will, 2) the power of seeing anything anywhere, 3) the power of hearing any sound anywhere, 4) the power of knowing the thoughts of all other minds, 5) the power of knowing past lives and 6) the power of eradicating illusions. ↩︎
  18. From an article in the Seikyo Shimbun, Jan. 24, 1991. ↩︎
  19. Ibid. ↩︎
  20. From an article in the Feb. 10, 1991, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper. ↩︎
  21. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), vol. 1, p. 52. ↩︎
  22. Five cardinal sins: The five most serious offenses in Buddhism. Explanations vary according to the sutras and treatises. The most common is 1) killing one’s father, 2) killing one’s mother, 3) killing an arhat, 4) injuring a Buddha and 5) causing disunity in the Buddhist Order. It is said that those who commit any of the five cardinal sins invariably fall into the hell of incessant suffering. ↩︎
  23. This refers to the Heisei period, a Japanese imperial reign period, which officially began on Jan. 8, 1989, and is scheduled to continue until April 30, 2019, when the current emperor is set to abdicate. ↩︎
  24. Devil king of the sixth heaven: Also, devil king or heavenly devil. The king of devils, who dwells in the highest or the sixth heaven of the world of desire. He is also named Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, the king who makes free use of the fruits of others’ efforts for his own pleasure. Served by innumerable minions, he obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings, the manifestation of the fundamental darkness inherent in life. The devil king is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost. ↩︎
  25. From “Gonin shoha sho” (On Refuting the Five Priests). ↩︎
  26. Edward E. Bollinger, Saion, Okinawa’s Sage Reformer: An Introduction to His Life and Selected Works (Naha, Okinawa: Ryukyu Shinpo Newspaper, 1975), p. 118. ↩︎
  27. Talking Pictures: People Speak about the Photographs That Speak to Them, developed by Marvin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994), p. 198. ↩︎
  28. Ibid. ↩︎
  29. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), vol. 1, p. 161. ↩︎
  30. Ibid., p. 162. ↩︎
  31. Translated from Spanish. Almafuerte, Obras Completas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad S.A., 1990), p. 62. ↩︎
  32. Daisaku Ikeda, “New Proposals for Peace and Disarmament,” A Lasting Peace (New York and Tokyo: John Weatherhill, Inc., 1987), vol. 2, p. 147. ↩︎
  33. The members of Amambay District had traveled some 370 miles to attend the meeting, and the district was poised to soon become a chapter. ↩︎
  34. The original Japanese lyrics were written by Kunio Yamamoto, a pioneer member of SGI-Paraguay. The English translation here is of the Spanish lyrics for the first verse of the song. ↩︎
  35. Sagarmatha: The Nepalese name for Mount Everest, the highest peak in the Himalayan mountain range and in the world. ↩︎
  36. In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin says: “[With regard to the phrase ‘to roar the lion’s roar’ (Jpn. sa shishi ku):] The lion’s roar (shishi ku) is the preaching of the Buddha. The preaching of the Law means the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, or the preaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in particular. The first shi [which means ‘teacher’] of the word shishi, or ‘lion,’ is the Wonderful Law [Mystic Law] that is passed on by the teacher. The second shi [which means ‘child’] is the Wonderful Law as it is received by the disciples. The ‘roar’ [ku] is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison. The verb sa, ‘to make’ or ‘to roar,’ should here be understood to mean to initiate or to put forth. It refers to the initiating of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the Latter Day of the Law” (see p. 111). ↩︎
  37. Land of the Moon (Chin Yüeh-chih): A name for India used in China and Japan. In the late third century B.C.E., there was a tribe called Yüeh-chih who ruled a part of India. Since Buddhism was brought from India to China via this territory, the Chinese seem to have regarded the land of the Yüeh-chih (moon tribe) as India itself. ↩︎
  38. Seven Bells: The first series of Seven Bells refers to the seven consecutive seven-year periods in the Soka Gakkai’s development from its founding in 1930 through 1979. On May 3, 1958, shortly after President Toda’s death (on April 2), President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, introduced this idea and announced targets for subsequent seven-year periods. On May 3, 1966, President Ikeda spoke of a new series of Seven Bells that he envisaged unfolding in the 21st century. And in 1978, just before the end of the first series of Seven Bells, he stated that the second set of Seven Bells would begin from May 3, 2001, and continue through 2050. ↩︎
  39. This fourth plane was initially flown toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field in Pennsylvania as passengers and crew attempted to regain control of the plane from the hijackers. ↩︎
  40. On Sept. 11, 2001, four passenger jets were hijacked in the United States. Two were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City and another into the Pentagon, the U.S. Defense Department headquarters. The fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania en route to its target. These events came to be known as Sept. 11, or simply 9/11. ↩︎
  41. The Suiko-kai (Water Margin Group) was a young men’s division training group formed by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. It was named after the ancient Chinese epic novel The Water Margin, which the group studied. ↩︎

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