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The New Human Revolution

Great Path—Volume 28, Chapter 2

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

Installment 1

We recite and we sing!
A rainbow of poetry and song of our grand adventure
shines in the skies of kosen-rufu.

Why do I sing?
To kindle hope and ignite a flame of courage
in the hearts of sorrowing friends!
To sound in each person’s heart
an ode to the human spirit,
so we may walk together the great path of truth and justice!

Of what do I sing?
Of the limitless power of human potential!
Of noble heroes of the people
who bravely face the tempests of hardship,
turning suffering into joy,
and make triumphant songs of life resound!
Of lives pure, beautiful, and strong,
like the lotus flower blooming in muddy water.
Of hearts, rich, vast, and boundless,
encompassing the whole universe!

Ah, people!
How noble, how lofty!
With reverence,
I will continue to sing of my friends’
victorious dramas of human revolution.

The summer sun blazed.

A power boat glided over the Seto Inland Sea[1] with its silver waves and green islands. The breeze was pleasant.

At 1 p.m. on July 24, 1978, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his party embarked on the King Romance, which they had chartered to save time, from Okayama Prefecture to the Shikoku Training Center in Aji, Kagawa Prefecture. This was Shin’ichi’s second visit to Shikoku this year.

Shin’ichi said to his wife, Mineko: “I will foster highly capable people here in Shikoku. Our members are the Soka Gakkai’s treasures. Kosen-rufu develops only when we raise capable people. I will meet with everyone I can and nurture champions who share my spirit.”

Installment 2

The King Romance docked at the pier in front of the Shikoku Training Center shortly after 2 p.m. The summer sun beat down, and the temperature exceeded 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Sensei! Welcome!” Kagawa members greeted Shin’ichi with smiles, their faces wet with perspiration in the intense heat.

“Thank you for meeting us despite the hot weather,” Shin’ichi said. “Let’s take a group photo.”

Shin’ichi’s encouragement began the moment he arrived. He next toured the training center and spoke to everyone he met inside, on the grounds, and at the beach, thanking and encouraging them. He even went for a swim in the ocean with some of the youth, hoping it would become a fond memory for them.

Members from Okayama had gathered that day to participate in a training course. Shortly after 6 p.m., an outdoor session began in the training center garden as sunset colored the sky over the Inland Sea a bright red.

A banner reading “Welcome to the Shikoku Training Center!” hung at the back of the stage set up for the occasion.

Chorus groups from Kagawa, where the center was located, welcomed the Okayama members with the new Soka Gakkai songs “Stand Up, My Friends,” “The Stars Shine,” and “Life’s Journey.” A koto performance by a group of Kagawa women’s division members came next, followed by an Awa Odori traditional dance by members from Tokushima and a chorus singing the new Chugoku song, “Ode to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” Then the new Shikoku song, “Our Land,” was introduced.

The distant summits, our summit,
the land of Shikoku is our land . …

The members’ voices rose into the sunset sky as they sang with all their might, expressing their passion to contribute to their beloved home region. They sang it again and again.

When they got to the lines in the second verse “eagerly embrace and protect us, / like the Iron Encircling Mountains [of Jambudvipa],”[2] Shin’ichi vowed in his heart: “I will become the Iron Encircling Mountains and protect my fellow members in Shikoku, children of the Buddha with the mission of Bodhisattvas of the Earth! Don’t be defeated, my friends in Shikoku! You must win no matter what!”

Installment 3

Twilight approached on the Aji seashore.

After the joyous singing, which brimmed with fresh resolve, Shin’ichi faced the microphone. With a smile, he said: “I enjoyed your enthusiastic performance to mark a new dawn of kosen-rufu in Shikoku, sung with great love for your region! I was filled with hope!”

During the training session, Shin’ichi emphasized that it is in the realm of faith, where we dedicate our lives to the grand objective of kosen-rufu, that we can find supreme joy and fulfillment, and he called on everyone to be determined to make a fresh start.

After the session, Shin’ichi jumped in among the participants, shaking their hands, putting his arm around their shoulders and encouraging them. A number of vice presidents and Shikoku region and prefecture leaders followed along.

Sweat streamed down Shin’ichi’s face and body.

When he visited Shikoku six months earlier, it was winter. Bracing himself against the cold winds, he had stressed to each group of leaders, and showed them through his actions, the importance of serving and respecting every member as they would a Buddha. He had insisted that supporting members is a leader’s prime responsibility, launching a leadership revolution in Shikoku.

Buddhism is a teaching of compassion. And compassion can only impart value when it is embodied in our behavior. Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 852). The Buddhist way of life is to respect others, guiding and encouraging them toward the great path of happiness. In such behavior lies the essence of Buddhist practice.

If leaders revolutionize their thinking and character and make compassion their way of life, that compassion will ripple through our membership, expanding the network of people committed to encouraging and supporting others in their community and society. And no doubt the bonds between people, which have steadily eroded in the modern world, will be restored.

From another perspective, kosen-rufu means each of us embodying the principles of Buddhism as our personal philosophy and way of life and connecting with others by forging bonds of trust.

An important mission of Soka Gakkai members is broadening such circles of connection and creating an age and a society of respect for the dignity of life in which people value and support one another.

Installment 4

The next afternoon, July 25, a commemorative leaders meeting took place at the Shikoku Training Center to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the first chapter in Shikoku.

Here as well, everyone sang the new Shikoku song, “Our Land,” spreading waves of joy.

At the meeting, Shin’ichi offered guidance based on Nichiren Daishonin’s letter “On the Treasure Tower.” The Daishonin writes: “In the Latter Day of the Law, no treasure tower exists other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that whether eminent or humble, high or low, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are themselves the treasure tower, and, likewise, are themselves the Thus Come One Many Treasures” (WND-1, 299).

The treasure tower refers to the magnificent tower that appears in the Lotus Sutra adorned with the seven kinds of treasures[3]—such as gold, silver and lapis lazuli. The Thus Come One Many Treasures is the Buddha who attests to the Lotus Sutra being the true teaching for the enlightenment of all people.

In other words, by striving in faith, human beings toiling in the real world can, just as they are, shine with the golden brilliance of treasure towers—as embodiments of the Mystic Law—and, like Many Treasures Buddha, attest to the greatness of Buddhism.

Founding Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi studied this letter deeply, underlining many of its passages in his copy of the Daishonin’s writings.

Shin’ichi then read another passage: “Abutsu-bo is therefore the treasure tower itself, and the treasure tower is Abutsu-bo himself. No other knowledge is purposeful” (WND-1, 299).

“Here, the Daishonin tells Abutsu-bo, the letter’s recipient, that each of us, just as we are, embody the Mystic Law and that the treasure tower is none other than we who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the conclusion of the Daishonin’s teachings, which is why he states: ‘No other knowledge is purposeful.’

“Essentially, we are the treasure tower and the supreme object of devotion. The Gohonzon is the clear mirror of life that enables us to reveal our inner treasure tower. As such, the treasure tower exists wherever we are, and we can transform that place into a Land of Eternally Tranquil Light.[4] We have nothing whatsoever to worry about.”

Installment 5

Nichiren Daishonin also writes, “You, yourself, are a Thus Come One [a Buddha] who is originally enlightened and endowed with the three bodies”[5] (WND-1, 299–300). In other words, we ordinary people are complete and perfect Buddhas, lacking nothing.

This is the foundation of Soka humanism. It was on this passage that Shin’ichi based his spirit of serving the members as if they were Buddhas and encouraging leaders to do the same.

Thinking of Shikoku’s beautiful mountains, Shin’ichi said: “Shikoku is a land of great scenic beauty. Just the mention of Shikoku fills me with excitement. I hope you will make this land and your communities the stage for carrying out your mission, an eternal Buddha realm, and strive cheerfully to advance kosen-rufu here with your sights set on the 21st century.

“I would also like to see many capable individuals emerge from this wonderful place. Perhaps you could adopt ‘Let’s become capable people’ and ‘Let’s produce capable people’ as your mottoes as you move forward. What do you say?”

Applause resounded through the room.

“Since you all agree, let’s take a great step toward building a Shikoku of capable people. I am looking forward to the next five, ten and twenty years!”

With a rousing chorus of “Our Land,” the Shikoku members set off toward a new era.

The Kagawa Future Group[6] was also established that day, and Shin’ichi expressed his high hopes for them: “You are setting forth into the future. I entrust the next century to you!”

In between these activities, Shin’ichi thought about lyrics for a song for Tokyo.

Tokyo, Japan’s capital, was home to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters. As the main bastion, the organization there was crucial for kosen-rufu and the future of the Soka Gakkai. It was no exaggeration to say that a strong Tokyo meant a strong Soka Gakkai, and the advance of Tokyo was the advance of kosen-rufu.

That’s why Shin’ichi wanted to give the Tokyo members an uplifting song that would make them proud and inspire them to achieve great progress.

Installment 6

After the events at the Shikoku Training Center, including the commemorative leaders meeting and an informal discussion with women’s division members, Shin’ichi worked on the Tokyo song late into the night.

As he pondered the lyrics, he considered what the Tokyo organization needed to develop even further as the main bastion of kosen-rufu in Japan and the world.

Tokyo had a large membership with a diverse range of talent. But this could quite easily weaken each individual’s sense of responsibility and mission. That is, they might fall into the trap of thinking that things will turn out fine without them, that someone else would take care of it. In addition, many leaders in Tokyo had been around since the Soka Gakkai’s early days and had a wealth of organizational experience. They knew well what kinds of activities were to take place and when and the usual procedures to be followed. Undeniably, as a result, they tended toward complacency, with some losing their enthusiasm and seeking spirit.

Shin’ichi wanted to create a song that would motivate members to break through such tendencies, to which they might succumb without noticing, a song that would revitalize their spirits.

At that moment the word inspiring popped into his head.

“When we take the Buddhist view, we find inspiration in everything,” he thought. “We realize that we have appeared at this time here in Tokyo, the headquarters of kosen-rufu, as Bodhisattvas of the Earth with the great mission to spread the teachings. We see that we have wondrously gathered with innumerable friends in faith from every corner of the universe to engage in a great struggle for Buddhism and fulfill our vow from time without beginning. We understand that we ourselves are raising the curtain on an age of worldwide kosen-rufu, the wish of Nichiren Daishonin. Each is a truly wondrous and profoundly moving fact, nothing but deeply inspiring.”

Once Shin’ichi had settled on this key word, inspiring, the vision of the song gradually started to take shape.

“Each of our daily acts is itself the dance of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. That’s it, I’ll make a song about one day in our lives. Morning prayers, the midday sun, members rushing to activities in the evening, a star-filled night sky … It could have four verses.”

Installment 7

On the afternoon of July 26, the King Romance departed from the Shikoku Training Center, sending white spray into the air as it weaved between the islands of the Seto Inland Sea[7] toward Shodo Island.

The day before, a Shikoko leader had told Shin’ichi about the struggles and efforts of the members there: “Two torrential rainfalls have caused many deaths and injuries on Shodo Island. Our members’ faith moved them to stand up as pillars of the community and work hard for the recovery.

“In addition, because the Shodo Island Center will soon be celebrating its 10th anniversary, everyone is eagerly engaging in activities so they can mark the occasion with an increase in membership.”

Shin’ichi quickly responded: “That’s great! I want to meet and encourage them. Tomorrow, on our way back to Okayama, I’d like to visit the center. What do you think? When I first visited Shodo Island 11 years ago, I promised that I would come again.”

Shikoku Region leader Seitaro Kumegawa smiled excitedly and said, “That would be wonderful!”

The high-speed boat had been chartered to shorten travel time. It would only take about 30 minutes to reach the island from the Shikoku Training Center.

Kumegawa contacted the Shodo Island leaders, and it was decided to hold a gongyo session to commemorate the center’s 10th anniversary at 3 p.m. the next day, July 26.

Shin’ichi said powerfully: “I want to encourage with all my might those who have gone through hardships and suffering. I want to praise them wholeheartedly. I will go anywhere to meet our members, the precious children of the Buddha.”

And so the trip to Shodo Island came about.

The more we visit and talk with people, the wider we open the path for kosen-rufu and the more we inspire others to stand up with fresh resolve in faith.

As the boat carrying Shin’ichi passed several other vessels, people on them waved and called out. They were Soka Gakkai members who made their living fishing.

Shin’ichi and his companions waved back, a scene of friendly exchange on the blue waters.

Installment 8

Shodo Island had a tropical feel. Green mountains spread under the summer sky and sago palms swayed in the wind.

“Sensei! Welcome!”

Members greeted him with big smiles as he stepped off the boat.

“Thank you! Thank you! I am so happy to meet you! Thank you for welcoming me.”

Shin’ichi first visited Shodo Island in September 1967, when he attended a Shikoku Headquarters leaders meeting in a gymnasium in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. At that time, he had toured the island to solidify plans for building a Soka Gakkai center there.

The decision to build the center was made, and in June the following year, 1968, the building was completed and an opening ceremony held. The 2200-square-foot center stood against a backdrop of lush mountains.

In the decade since, Shodo Island had suffered two torrential rain disasters. In July 1974, 249 homes were destroyed or seriously damaged by mudslides and 29 people killed. Two years later, in September 1976, Typhoon Fran caused landslides that destroyed 212 homes, killed 39 people and seriously injured 91. In the wake of both tragedies, Soka Gakkai members had immediately launched relief efforts, working tirelessly to aid the victims. Shin’ichi had also done everything he could to help.

Arriving at the center shortly after 2 p.m. on this latest visit, he called out to the members: “I made it! Your daimoku drew me here. Let’s make a fresh start together!”

People already filled the center’s large meeting room.

In a separate room, Shin’ichi met with local leaders who reported on the island’s current conditions. They told him that scars from the two storms remained and that the emotional recovery of those who had lost loved ones was the most pressing matter.

Nichiren Buddhism has the power to revive people’s spirits.

Installment 9

Mamiko Otsu, the Shodo Island Headquarters young women’s leader, said, “One of our young women’s division members lost both her parents in the heavy rainstorms two years ago.”

Shin’ichi immediately replied: “I’d like to meet her if possible. I really want to meet with those in similar situations and encourage them face-to-face. That’s why I came.”

Otsu went to find the young woman and brought her in. She looked with surprise at Shin’ichi, who spoke resolutely: “I can imagine how hard it has been for you. You must have been devastated. It must have been so painful. But don’t let this hardship defeat you. You need to be strong. Devote yourself earnestly to faith, live your life to the fullest and become happy for both yourself and your parents. That’s what they would have wished, and it’s the best way you can honor them.

“Please think of me as a father. I will never forget you. Even if you forget, I will be praying for you. Don’t be defeated, no matter what happens and always do your best.”

Fighting back tears, the young woman nodded repeatedly as Shin’ichi spoke.

Shin’ichi then said to Otsu, “Please take good care of her.”

Otsu vowed in her heart to watch over the member like an older sister and encourage her.

Soka Gakkai members strive to help those who are suffering and experiencing hardships. They do everything they can to encourage them. When they see people having a difficult time, they are moved by compassion and cannot overlook them. This is altruism, a way of life cultivated by dedication to one’s mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.

Society today has a strong tendency toward individualism, and people often withdraw and avoid interacting with others. As a result, ties are severed, with people growing increasingly alone. Under such circumstances, Soka Gakkai members wish for others’ happiness and strive to connect with them, serving as a force for bringing people together, reviving their spirits and enriching society.

Installment 10

At 3 p.m., Shin’ichi attended the gongyo session commemorating the Shodo Island Center’s 10th anniversary. The room was packed with people, about 100 of whom were non-member family and friends. 

Shin’ichi went over to a bespectacled elderly woman sitting in the front row.

“You’re the person who started it all! I’m happy to see you looking so well. I came back, just as I promised 11 years ago.”

“Oh, Sensei! Thank you for coming. We’ve been waiting for you. We’ve been waiting a long time.”

Shin’ichi placed a lei of carnations around her neck. Her name was Hanano Michihata, and she was 78 years old. In August 1953, she became the first Soka Gakkai member on the island.          

At the time, due to the strong influence of local customs and traditions, there was much misunderstanding and prejudice toward the Soka Gakkai. Michihata was often rebuked and shunned when she tried to engage others in Buddhist dialogue. People would point at her as she walked down the street, saying scornfully, “Look, there goes Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”

But she refused to be defeated, telling herself: “They oppose my Buddhist practice even though they know nothing about it. They ridicule and insult me. This is just what the Soka Gakkai taught me would happen. That means this Buddhism is genuine!”

The negative comments and criticism only strengthened her conviction.

Michihata initially belonged to Suginami Chapter, which was based in faraway Tokyo.[8] When there was something she didn’t understand, she would send a letter with her questions to a senior in faith, averaging around four letters a month. She would then read the responses and encouragement she received over and over until she had practically memorized them and go out to share Nichiren Buddhism.

In August 1954, a year after joining the Soka Gakkai, Michihata was successful for the first time in helping someone begin their practice. It was Chiyo Takuma, the daughter of one of her friends from her school days. Though there was a more than 20-year age difference between them, they worked together to spread Nichiren’s teachings.

Even when they faced opposition or verbal abuse, both felt tremendous joy. And being able to practice together gave them strength and courage.

Those who brim with passionate conviction will not be disheartened by a cold reception. When a new member appears, courage is multiplied a hundredfold.

Though both had their own struggles, they were filled with confidence and hope for the future.

Installment 11

The kosen-rufu movement on Shodo Island that started with Hanano Michihata developed steadily. By July 1978, the organization had grown to comprise one headquarters and five chapters.

Shin’ichi met Michihata when he first visited the island in September 1967. Learning that she was the starting point of kosen-rufu there, he had said to her, “Once we build a center here, kosen-rufu will advance tremendously and the island will prosper further along with it.

“At that time, your presence as the first member will shine brilliantly. One day when a center has been built here, I will come back. I will come to see you.”

Now that reunion was taking place.

“Sensei, I’m so happy,” Michihata said, gripping Shin’ichi’s hand. Tears poured from her eyes.

“I’m happy, too! I’m ten times happier than you!”

“Oh, Sensei!”

“You are so precious to me. You remind me of my mother. May I ask your age?”

“I’m 78. I’m so glad I’ve lived this long.”

“You’re still young! Please stay well for years and years to come, and then let’s meet again.”

“Yes! I will live long and look forward to meeting you many more times!”

Observing pioneer members striving with joy and enthusiasm enables those who come after to strengthen their conviction in faith. That’s why pioneers who have built our movement have a responsibility to practice steadfastly throughout their lives. And younger members need to treat such seniors in faith with kindness and consideration, showing them utmost respect.

That will ensure that kosen-rufu flows on from one generation to the next.

Installment 12

Shikoku Region leaders shared words at the meeting, as did the national women’s division leader and some Soka Gakkai vice presidents.

Each speaker brought smiles and laughter to the members. For instance, when the women’s division leader said, “This is my first time on Shodo Island. I find both the people and the natural setting wonderful, and feel like staying here forever!” smiles and applause filled the room. Everyone was delighted to be there.

A poster featuring a short poem Shin’ichi had written for them that spring hung on one wall:

I will never forget
my dear friends of Shodo Island.
I am praying earnestly
for you to shine with
the smiles of spring.

Beautiful smiles filled the meeting, like spring in full bloom.

Next, a chorus of 43 women’s, young men’s and young women’s division members of the Shodo Island Headquarters took the stage to perform the Shikoku song “Our Land.” The song had debuted two days earlier at the outdoor training session at the Shikoku Training Center, and the music and lyrics had been published just that day in the regional page of the Seikyo Shimbun. Though not having much time to practice, the chorus decided to sing it to show the spirited resolve of members on Shodo Island.

We, Bodhisattvas of the Earth, dance joyfully …

They sang with great enthusiasm, though often out of rhythm and out of tune. But they didn’t let that bother them and continued singing heartily, filled with pride.

Shin’ichi applauded and said with a bit of humor: “Fantastic! You have the spirit ‘Who cares about following the music! We’re following our own path!’ That’s great!

“It’s okay if you’re a little out of tune. The song was only just released, after all. Expecting you to give a perfect performance would be like asking someone who only took faith yesterday to be perfect at doing gongyo.”

Everyone laughed at Shin’ichi words.

Laughter springing from joy is a force for fresh progress. Our gatherings of Soka are bright like the sun.

Next, at Shin’ichi’s suggestion, everyone gave three resounding cheers expressing their vow for the growth and development of Shodo Island.

Installment 13

Shin’ichi next led everyone in a solemn gongyo. He prayed in earnest for Shodo Island’s development, the kosen-rufu movement there and for all the members to enjoy happiness and boundless benefit. Outside, a chorus of cicadas seemed to buzz in harmony with everyone’s chanting.

After gongyo, Shin’ichi presented members with poems he had written on the boat ride there, including one that read: “Shodo Island / from today / unrivaled in good fortune.”

Sitting at the microphone and smiling warmly, Shin’ichi spoke of his joy at returning to Shodo Island for the first time in 11 years. In a conversational manner, he said: “Today, I’d like to talk to you a little about Nichieren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Shakyamuni engaged in various practices and as a result became a Buddha. This is referred to as ‘his practices and the virtues he consequently attained.’ Those virtues, or benefits, are infinite and immeasurable. In ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,’ the Daishonin writes: ‘Shakyamuni’s practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo.[9] If we believe in these five characters, we will naturally be granted the same benefits as he was’ (WND-1, 365).

“How great is the benefit of faith in the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! It is unfathomable. And that benefit does not depend on one’s social status or position in the Soka Gakkai. The benefit of chanting is the same for everyone.

“Imagine money in a wallet. One person’s wallet may differ from another’s, but the money in it has the same value. Or imagine lighting a candle. The flame will be the same no matter who lights it. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like this. Everyone who chants receives benefit equally.”

We should speak and explain Buddhism in ways that anyone can understand. Only then can we make it accessible to everyone and expand kosen-rufu.

Installment 14

Buddhism’s law of cause and effect is the fundamental law of life that pervades the universe, and no one can escape it. Unaware of this, however, people tend to be preoccupied with immediate things, and that is the cause of human suffering.

Shin’ichi then referenced the examples of members who had practiced since the early days of the movement: “In light of the principle of cause and effect, the outcome of staying true to one’s faith or betraying it is strict. We ordinary people find it difficult to understand this, but after 20 or 30 years, the difference becomes apparent.

“Though hardships occurred along the way, those who remained steadfast and diligent in their faith surmounted them and attained a state of great happiness. So please don’t avoid making efforts or try and take the easy path, but live your lives with sincerity and single-minded dedication, convinced of the law of cause and effect.”

He then spoke about the essence of faith.

“The basics of our Buddhist practice are faith, practice and study. Faith means having faith in the Gohonzon. Practice is practice for ourselves and others, which includes not only chanting but also spreading the teachings and working for kosen-rufu. Study is studying Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.

“Simply believing in the Gohonzon, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and studying Buddhism are not enough. To correctly practice Nichiren Buddhism requires actions for kosen-rufu.

“Visiting someone to inspire them, sharing Buddhism with another because we want them to become happy, engaging in dialogue to promote kosen-rufu in the community—genuine Buddhist practice is found only in such altruistic action.

“When you take action for kosen-rufu, you shoulder a whole new set of challenges beside the ones you already face in daily life. You may at times find it hard or even painful.

“Nichiren Buddhism teaches that this saha world is a world of endurance. We must endure and live with strength. The source of such life force is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When you’re sad and when you’re suffering, when you’re happy and when you’re enjoying yourself—keep chanting. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo enables us to transform our lives, turning earthly desires into enlightenment and suffering into joy.”

Installment 15

The Daishonin writes: “I became more determined than ever to attain enlightenment and continued to speak out. Accordingly, the difficulties I encountered became increasingly severe, like great waves that rise up in a gale” (“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, 727). Buddhist practice is a struggle against difficulty.

Shin’ichi’s voice grew more powerful: “If you decide to work for kosen-rufu, you will meet opposition and hardships. But your actions are those of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, the emissaries of the Buddha. Therefore, when you strive bravely in Buddhist practice, your life becomes filled with joy. This is the principle that earthly desires lead to enlightenment. It is the great path to forging a state of indestructible happiness.

“Please be confident that the good fortune you have gained by living for the sake of kosen-rufu will become clearly apparent in your lives and those of your children and descendants. I hope you will cheerfully and energetically work together to build a Shodo Island of unity, a Shodo Island brimming with good fortune and benefit.

“However we choose to live it, we get only one life. So let’s strive with courage to make it the best life possible, supporting one another as we advance along the great path of our mission!”

“Yes!” The members’ determined voices rang out as one.

Shin’ichi nodded and said: “I will continue to chant for all of you here on Shodo Island. Please live long, chant abundant daimoku and accumulate boundless good fortune.”

In closing, Shin’ichi suggested that the Shodo Island Headquarters hold a local festival in the coming year. Members applauded vigorously.

After the meeting, Shin’ichi met with married couple Iwao and Hana Nagai, the headquarters men’s and women’s leaders.

“Shodo Island is famous as the birthplace of Sakae Tsuboi (1889–1967), author of the novel Twenty-four Eyes, a work filled with a strong hope for peace. You are here to work for peace and people’s happiness. Shodo Island is your home, your land. Through your hard work and efforts, please make it an island of victory pioneering the way for kosen-rufu.”

Installment 16

Shin’ichi continued: “Since we now have a Shikoku song, how about creating a song for Shodo Island, a trailblazer for all our other islands? I’ll help.”

He then turned to Seitaro Kumegawa, the Shikoku Region leader: “I’ll come to Shikoku again this year. I want to build a strong foundation for Shikoku’s great development. The age of Shikoku is here.”

Shin’ichi departed from Tonosho Port at 4:50 p.m., seen off by many local members. Though lasting only two and a half hours, his visit had filled them with pride and a passionate resolve to live for kosen-rufu on Shodo Island.

As the boat left the dock, the members called out: “Sensei! Please come again!” “We’ll do our best! Please watch us!” “We’ll make Shodo an island of good fortune!”

Their voices faded into the blue skies over the Seto Inland Sea. Shin’ichi waved vigorously in response, and kept waving until the dock was out of sight.

That autumn, he wrote a song for Shodo Island and sent it to the members there. A young women’s division member from Kagawa Prefecture composed the music.

Starting with the words, “Shodo Island, fragrant with olives,”[10] the song expressed Shin’ichi’s wish that the island would abound with flowers of happiness.

Wishing for a rich green isle of happiness,
our voices ring out clearly:
Behold the splendor of this island,
its jeweled trees of benefit!

Sunrises and sunsets like beautiful paintings,
the sea connecting us to the world,
carrying the sound of our prayers.
Ah, our beloved Shodo Island.[11]

An island becoming prosperous, its residents genuinely happy—that is the epitome, the true picture, of kosen-rufu. Once that model is created, it can spread throughout Japan and the world. That’s why Shin’ichi devoted heart and soul to making Shodo Island rock solid.

Installment 17

Shin’ichi returned to the Okayama Culture Center, thus completing his Shikoku guidance tour. The next afternoon, July 27, he traveled by bullet train to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, in the Chubu Region.[12]

That evening, at a leaders meeting commemorating Chubu Day, a new Chubu song would debut. Shin’ichi had written it in spare moments amid his busy schedule in Chugoku the week before. 

Chubu members had been eagerly awaiting a song for their region after reading about other regions’ new songs, including Kansai’s “Ever-victorious Skies,” Chugoku’s “Ode to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth,” Shikoku’s “Our Land” and Kyushu’s “The Land of Fire.”

In response, Shin’ichi had worked on the lyrics as he traveled in Okayama and Yonago.

Two years earlier, in 1976, out of the local members’ growing call for a song befitting a new age of kosen-rufu, a committee had been formed to solicit ideas for lyrics. None quite worked, however, so no official song had come about.

After several discussions, the committee decided to ask President Yamamoto if he could write the lyrics. Finally, at the end of June, Chubu leaders conveyed that wish to Shin’ichi.

“Of course, I’ll do my best to help, but why don’t you first all go ahead and write a song together?”

Volunteers thus strove to come up with words and music.

When Shin’ichi arrived in Okayama from Kansai on July 19, he was given a tape recording along with copies of the lyrics and music and asked to refine it.

Shin’ichi began doing so while also composing songs for Chugoku and Shikoku. It was an ardent struggle.

Out of Shin’ichi’s resolve to ignite in everyone a flame of courage sprang one heartfelt line after another. Strength flows from the wellspring of earnest effort.

Installment 18

Shin’ichi continued working on the lyrics, hoping to create a song good enough that members would want to sing it forever. The next thing he knew, he had completely rewritten it. He made still further refinements and asked a men’s division member, a music teacher in Tokyo, to help with the music.

When the song was finished, Shin’ichi informed the Chubu leaders, and the prefectural page of the Seikyo Shimbun for each Chubu prefecture carried the music and lyrics on July 26, the day before the Chubu Day commemorative leaders meeting. It was titled “This Path.”

Chubu members eagerly anticipated the song’s debut.

Shin’ichi arrived at the Nagoya Culture Center in Aichi Prefecture at 3:30 p.m. on the 27th.

While touring that center and the Chubu Culture Center (also in Nagoya City), he asked two Chubu Region leaders, Toyotaka Tayama and Kazusuke Ota, about how things were going in Chubu.

They reported that, in several areas, Nichiren Shoshu priests were criticizing the Soka Gakkai and pressuring members to leave the organization and join the local temple.

It broke Shin’ichi’s heart to think of dedicated members holding back tears of frustration as they endured these unscrupulous priests’ vicious attacks.

He said quietly, “In which area are the members facing the toughest challenges, not just from the priesthood, but in general?”

Ota replied: “Right now, from various perspectives, I think Tono Zone in Gifu is struggling the most, in the hardest of circumstances. It includes the cities of Tajimi, Mizunami, Toki, Ena and Nakatsugawa, which all share the Tono Culture Center in Tajimi City.”

“Are the zone leaders attending today?”

“Yes, they’ll be there.”

“All right, let’s meet with them before the meeting. The most important thing is to hear directly from them about how they are feeling and what the reality is. As leaders, we need to gather the facts ourselves.”

Installment 19

Shin’ichi met with the Tono Zone leaders before the leaders meeting.

The zone was dealing not only with problems from the priesthood but with jealousy and backbiting among the members, making it difficult for everyone to unite happily.

Turning to Tayama, Shin’ichi said: “Despite many painful challenges, including the priests’ attacks, the Tono members keep striving with all their might to protect the Soka Gakkai. They are fighting hard in very difficult circumstances.

“No matter how challenging things may be right now, truth and falsehood, good and evil will eventually become clear in the sunlight of Buddhism. Therefore, please encourage everyone not to let anything that happens sway them and to live their lives with the conviction of Soka lions, always together with the Soka Gakkai and the Gohonzon.

“I will go to Tono tomorrow. Let’s hold gongyo sessions to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s establishment there. I realize it’s last minute, but please invite whoever can come. They are all children of the Buddha. They are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth persevering valiantly through sad and bitter circumstances. I wish to offer them my most heartfelt praise and encouragement and serve them in any way I can.

“Since tomorrow, July 28, is a Friday, many people will be working. Let’s begin in the evening when enough members have arrived. Then we can have as many sessions as necessary for those who have to work late and rush there directly.

“Please tell everyone that a meeting with President Yamamoto will take place tomorrow evening, and that whoever can make it should come to the Tono Culture Center. But also stress that it’s no problem if they can’t.”

Shin’ichi then said emphatically: “Leaders must be the first to go to where members are struggling most and offer encouragement. Failing to do so shows they have become bureaucratic, which will cause the organization’s collapse.”

News of the meetings was conveyed quickly, reaching every corner of the local organization.

“President Yamamoto is coming to Tono!” Everyone was filled with eager anticipation.

Installment 20

On the evening of July 27, at the Chubu Culture Center, men’s and women’s chapter leaders gathered excitedly for the commemorative leaders meeting, looking forward to the debut of the Chubu song “This Path.”

Red, pink and yellow gladiolas adorned the area in front of the stage, adding a festive touch.

At 6:30 p.m., the meeting started, and Shin’ichi led everyone in a solemn gongyo. In his heart, he prayed earnestly: “May the strong fortress of Chubu, always based on Nichiren’s teachings, never succumb to attacks and schemes aimed at destroying kosen-rufu. May it always hold aloft the Soka banner of truth and justice!”

Kazusuke Ota, the Chubu Region leader, delivered greetings first, speaking with great feeling about the origins of Chubu Day.

“You’ll recall, on July 27 two years ago [1976], President Yamamoto presented us with the Chubu flag. That was the moment when the banner of indomitable determination unfurled in our hearts. I will never forget how moved I was that day, holding back tears as thunderous applause shook the auditorium. We designated that day as Chubu Day and vowed to make it the starting point for renewing our determination in faith and making a fresh start each year.”

Soka Gakkai anniversaries are always marked with fresh vows and action.

Filled with emotion, Ota’s voice rose as he called: “Holding high the banner of truth and courage bestowed by President Yamamoto, in harmony and unity, we have created one dynamic wave of progress after another.

“And today, our long-awaited Chubu song ‘This Path’ will debut. With this song, let us initiate a powerful advance brimming with hope!”

The members burst into applause, their hearts joined as one. The room bubbled with joy.

Installment 21

Toyotaka Tayama next explained how the song came to be.

“At President Yamamoto’s suggestion, we drafted a song and presented it to him to revise. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good, and we ended up giving him a lot of work.

“In fact, all that remains of that original draft are the words ‘Chubu’ and ‘this path’!”

Everyone laughed. Without missing a beat, Shin’ichi jumped in: “Well, it’s a song about Chubu, so I couldn’t lose that word. That would’ve been a real problem! I’d never be able to show my face in Chubu again! And as for ‘this path,’ it wouldn’t make sense to call it ‘that path,’ would it?”

Laughter erupted again.

The vitality of Soka Gakkai activities does not emanate from a grim sense of duty, but from joy. That’s why our meetings brim with cheerful laughter and singing that invigorates our lives. They lubricate the wheels of progress.

Tayama then straightened up and in a clear voice read out the lyrics, which were written on a banner at the back of the stage.

Ah, the path we have chosen—
I will cheerfully walk this path
with you, my friends of unwavering faith,
without regret, without regret.
Ah, Chubu, Chubu, may you enjoy peace and harmony!

Ah, run and converse on this path!
Beyond the hardships stands a castle of lapis lazuli—
this is the bastion you, my friends,
must protect, must protect.
Ah, Chubu, Chubu, may you be filled with joy!

Ah, morning and evening, on this path,
whistling a happy tune, talking with dear friends,
the night sky carrying our
animated voices, animated voices.
Ah, Chubu, Chubu, where the heavenly deities dance!

Installment 22

“This path”—Shin’ichi had used these words three months earlier, at the April 1978 Headquarters Leaders Meeting held at the Chubu Culture Center in Nagoya.

On that day, he had called out: “Throughout our lives, let us remain true to this path we have chosen—the path of faith, the path of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime, the path of kosen-rufu, the path of mentor and disciple, the path of comrades in faith—and together adorn our lives with victory!”

The Chubu members adopted this as their personal guideline and resolved to follow the great path of their convictions throughout their lives.

When Tayama finished reading the lyrics, everyone applauded enthusiastically.

Shin’ichi then said: “Now let’s ask the chorus to sing it.”

Vibrant, powerful voices in perfect harmony filled the room. Everyone sang along.

When they finished and the applause died down, Shin’ichi said, “Now let’s have Mie Prefecture Leader Tomisaka sing it!”

In Mie, the members had been anguished by ill-intentioned Nichiren Shoshu priests. In asking Tomisaka to sing for everyone, Shin’ichi hoped to inspire them to view the situation, however painful, from a Buddhist perspective and advance with dignity along the path of kosen-rufu.

The tall and well-built Tomisaka sang proudly, his voice captivating the members.

The great castle of Soka will stand strong so long as leaders remain undaunted whatever happens, sing with confidence and forge ahead ever true to their convictions. Victory hinges on the leaders’ resolve.

When Tomisaka finished, Shin’ichi said: “You’re very good. I know which prefecture leaders are good singers. But don’t think you can attain Buddhahood just because you can sing well!”

Shin’ichi’s quip prompted laughter from the members, showing a sunlike optimism to continue advancing cheerfully while laughing off the priests’ deplorable actions.

Installment 23

“Now let’s have the men and women take turns,” Shin’ichi said.

The men stood and sang with vigor. Then the women stood, singing with pride and passion. The Chubu Day Commemorative Leaders Meeting had become a joyful song contest.

“Well, you’re all very good. Top scores for both. It’s a tie for today!”

Shin’ichi’s masterful way of leading the meeting elated the members. Everyone engraved “This Path” deeply in their lives.

Shin’ichi then began to speak on a passage from “A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life”:

My disciples, you should believe what I say and watch what happens. These things do not occur because I myself am respectworthy, but because the power of the Lotus Sutra is supreme. If I praise myself, people will think that I am boastful, but if I humble myself, they will despise the sutra. The taller the pine tree, the longer the wisteria vine hanging from it. The deeper the source, the longer the stream. How fortunate, how joyful! In this impure land, I alone enjoy happiness and delight. (WND-1, 642)

Shin’ichi stressed that the way we live, the way we think and the power of our lives all stem from the teaching we believe in and make our foundation. The teaching we believe in determines our entire life.

Shin’ichi continued, “In the passage before this, Nichiren predicts that no matter what prayers the nation offered, if people failed to listen to him the country would experience the same fate as the islands of Iki and Tsushima, which were invaded by the Mongol forces.[13]

“He says: ‘My disciples, you should believe what I say and watch what happens.’ And he further declares: ‘These things do not occur because I myself am respectworthy, but because the power of the Lotus Sutra is supreme.’”

People’s minds are easily swayed, and it is difficult to see where things are headed in troubled times. If, however, we ground ourselves on a great teaching, we can bring forth tremendous power. It all comes down to the teaching we follow. But without someone to convey such a teaching, Buddhism would not exist.

Installment 24

Shin’ichi explained at length: “Based on the principle that ‘Since the Law is wonderful, the person is worthy of respect’ (WND-1, 1097), the Daishonin recognizes that he is clearly ‘the foremost sage in all Jambudvipa [the entire world]’ (WND-1, 642). But what would happen if he were to proclaim that? As he says: ‘If I praise myself, people will think that I am boastful’ (WND-1, 642). That is, people would criticize him as being arrogant and full of himself.

“On the other hand, what would happen if he remained modest? He says: ‘If I humble myself, they will despise the sutra’ (WND-1, 642). That is, people would look down on the great teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that he upholds.

“That’s why his only choice was to bravely speak the truth and press ahead, without fear of criticism or abuse.

“With the next line, ‘The taller the pine tree, the longer the wisteria vine hanging from it’ (WND-1, 642), Nichiren implies that because the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo embodies the supreme teaching and the fundamental Law of the universe, those who and embrace it will enjoy limitless benefit and good fortune, and attain a vast, serene state of life.

“Furthermore, ‘The deeper the source, the longer the stream’ (WND-1, 642) means that the Gohonzon embodies the Mystic Law from time without beginning and because this source is boundlessly deep its flow will be equally long. In other words, Nichiren Buddhism will spread throughout the ten thousand years and more of the Latter Day of the Law and each person practicing it will attain eternal happiness.

“The next part, ‘How fortunate, how joyful! In this impure land, I alone enjoy happiness and delight’ (WND-1, 642), expresses his great joy in propagating the Mystic Law as the votary of the Lotus Sutra, even though he has been born in the defiled Latter Day and has been persecuted throughout his life.

“The impure land refers to this saha world, filled with suffering. But even while in exile on Sado Island, the Daishonin declared: ‘I feel immeasurable delight even though I am now an exile’ (WND-1, 386).

“When we embrace the Mystic Law and work for kosen-rufu with the same resolve as the Daishonin, we too can attain a state of unsurpassed joy, regardless of our circumstances.

“That’s why it’s important to have pure faith in the Gohonzon and strive earnestly in our Buddhist practice.”

Installment 25

Shin’ichi continued: “The Daishonin urged his disciples to practice as the Buddha taught. Today, we of the Soka Gakkai are advancing kosen-rufu just as the Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, instructed.

“Overwhelmed by suffering, we encountered the Gohonzon and revitalized our lives, and now we are engaging in the noblest of endeavors as the Buddha’s emissaries. That represents the emergence of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

“‘The path we have chosen,’ ‘this path,’[14] is the great path of spreading the Mystic Law. It is the great path of fulfilling our vow for kosen-rufu, of carrying out our mission from time without beginning.

“On this path we experience the true joy of faith, a joy not found in worldly pursuits, but a profound joy that springs from the depths of our beings.

“I’ll close today by pledging with you to transmit this great teaching for fulfilling our hopes and desires and to spread waves of happiness for ourselves and others throughout society and into the eternal future.”

Everyone sang “This Path” once again. The meeting ended in an atmosphere of great joy.

Shin’ichi then picked up the microphone. Looking at the flowers at the front of the stage, he said: “Thank you for decorating the hall with these beautiful gladiolas. Who provided them?”

“The Aichi women’s division!” called out some women in the audience.

Volunteers had raised them at home and brought them. In the language of flowers, gladiolas represent victory, and red ones in particular stand for strength; the women had chosen the flowers to symbolize Chubu, which prided itself as being a “strong fortress.”

Shin’ichi picked up some stems and said, “Let’s have the men present these flowers to the women to express our gratitude.”

Everyone applauded.

The men took the flowers and handed them out.

“Flowers are hopes,”[15] wrote the great Russian author Dostoyevsky.

Installment 26

At 1:30 p.m. the following day, July 28, just before leaving for Tono, Shin’ichi took a group photo with youth representatives at the Chubu Culture Center. They were students and graduates of Soka University, the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools in Tokyo, and the Soka Girls Junior and Senior High Schools in Kansai (present-day Kansai Soka Junior and Senior High Schools).

Many were home for the summer holidays and had gathered at the center hoping to meet with their schools’ founder.

Shin’ichi was extremely busy, but he wanted to meet, even briefly, with these young people to encourage and connect with them.

Soka University had graduated only four classes at that point, and compared with graduates of more traditional, well-known universities, those of Soka University had a harder time finding employment. But they regarded themselves as “founders of their university” and gave their all to landing jobs, performing well and winning the trust of their employers.

Shin’ichi wished to convey his sincere appreciation to these graduates and to wholeheartedly encourage the students who would follow after them.

“Thank you so much for coming today. I am so happy to see you.

“The road ahead of you will not necessarily be smooth. You need to be prepared to face bitter gales and stormy seas. You may feel lonely, even hopeless. Life is hard. The world is full of contradictions. Patience is key. And whatever happens, live your lives with resilience and strength, determined to win in the end.

“Even if you fall again and again, just pick yourself up and keep trying. Not giving up is winning, and those who can do that will triumph in the end.

“Right now, negotiations are underway in Beijing for the signing of a Japan-China peace and friendship treaty. I have long wished for, and even proposed, such an agreement. I am scheduled to make my fourth visit to China in September. I will strive with all my might to open the way so that you can dance freely and exuberantly on the world stage to create a brighter future for humanity. Thinking of you fills me with strength and courage. I am counting on you!”

Installment 27

As soon as Shin’ichi got into the car to go to the Tono Culture Center, he pulled out the lyrics to “This Path” and said to Mineko, “I want to make some more changes.”

As the car drove off, he had someone play a tape of the song. He thought for a while, then lifted his head and said: “Yes, I need to revise it. The last line of the third verse, ‘Ah, Chubu, Chubu, where the heavenly deities dance!’ has bothered me all along. It puts us in a passive, not an active, role. The important thing is that through our prayer and resolve, we cause the heavenly deities to dance, we activate them.

“Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘When you shake your head, your hair sways; when your mind begins to work, your body moves. When a strong wind blows, the grass and trees can no longer remain still; when the earth shakes, the seas are atremble. Thus if one can move Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, can the grass and trees fail to respond, can the waters remain calm?’ (“Concerning the Statue of ShakyamuniBuddha Fashioned by Nichigen-nyo,” WND-2, 811).

“For us, ‘Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings’ means the Gohonzon, which embodies the fundamental Law of the universe, the Mystic Law. When we chant to the Gohonzon, we can move the universe. So let’s change ‘where the heavenly deities dance’ to ‘make the heavenly deities dance,’ and also change the preceding lines to the more active ‘… talk with dear friends, / the night sky carrying your / animated voices, animated voices.’”

These changes were promptly communicated to the Chubu members.

Shin’ichi then set to revising the song for Tokyo he had been working on, pondering Tokyo’s mission as the main bastion of kosen-rufu.

“Nichiren Daishonin chose Kamakura, where the Shogunate was located, as the base for his struggle. It was not only the nation’s political and economic capital but also an ideological battleground, where there were many temples of the established Buddhist schools and countless suffering people. Through his steady efforts there to clarify the correct teaching of Buddhism, the Mystic Law spread widely.

“The Soka Gakkai has its headquarters in Tokyo for the same reason. By carrying out our struggle in the nation’s political and economic center, we are bound to face criticism. The powers that be may attack us. But if we can raise the banner of victory there, the path of kosen-rufu will open wide. Tokyo must forever be our great citadel of Soka.”

Installment 28

On the way to the Tono Culture Center, Shin’ichi stopped at a coffee shop in Moriyama Ward, Nagoya City. He wanted to encourage the members who ran it, their family and the local chapter leaders. Even with his limited time, he was determined to do all he could for the members.

“I won’t let any opportunity slip by! Every moment is critical. One word of encouragement can sow the seed for a lifetime of inspiration!”

His car drove through Moriyama Ward along the Shonai River. Steep cliffs fell off to one side of the narrow road. The deep green of the mountains shone in the summer sun and light shimmered on the water. As they crossed into Gifu Prefecture, the river’s name changed to Toki.

Shin’ichi arrived at the Tono Culture Center at 3:50 p.m.

He went right over to the many members who had gathered there.

“I’ve come to see you all!”

A display set up near the front entrance showcased Mino ware, traditional Japanese pottery the region was famous for. It included unglazed white platters and flower vases.

A young staff member said cheerfully: “Sensei! Please write something for us!”

Shin’ichi smiled and said: “All right. I’ll do whatever you want.” He sat down at the table, picked up a brush, dipped it in pigment and on a large platter wrote: “Tajimi Kosen-rufu.”[16]

On another, he wrote: “Music of Happiness and Delight.” He took the phrase from the Daishonin’s words he had cited at the Chubu meeting the previous day: “How fortunate, how joyful! In this impure land, I alone enjoy happiness and delight” (WND-1, 642). The inscription conveyed his hope that, no matter what, the Tono members would remain undefeated and play a melody of “happiness and delight.”

Sato Issai (1772–1859), a Confucian scholar who hailed from Gifu, wrote: “Delight is like springtime; it is the heart’s true purpose.”[17]

Installment 29

Enthusiastic applause greeted Shin’ichi as he entered the center’s large meeting room. A gongyo session began just before 4 p.m.

After a solemn gongyo, Shin’ichi shared a passage from Nichiren’s writing “Happiness in This World.” Referring to the first sentence, “There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 681), he spoke about what true happiness means.

“We were born into this world to experience true happiness. How do we do that? This letter clearly explains how.

“People often think that happiness is just enjoying oneself and having fun. But such a life doesn’t bring fulfillment. Rather, it leaves one feeling empty because it is just about satisfying one’s own desires.

“There is no limit to human desires. They multiply endlessly. And if they aren’t satisfied, we suffer.

“True happiness is the ‘joy of the Law,’ the happiness we experience through upholding the Mystic Law. By striving to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and teach it to others, we bring forth a life state of Buddhahood that nothing can destroy, and we transform our surroundings into a Land of Tranquil Light. Tremendous joy then wells up from the depths of our lives. That is ‘the boundless joy of the Law’ (WND-1, 681).

“In other words, the only way to attain true happiness is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ourselves and teach others to do the same. Happiness is not found in self-indulgent pleasure-seeking.

“Buddhist practice may seem difficult and demanding, but it is through our practice and daily Soka Gakkai activities that we savor true happiness.

“Please remember the vitality, fulfillment and joy you experience when you chant daimoku wholeheartedly to introduce a friend to Buddhism and engage them in dialogue. When you take the initiative, Soka Gakkai activities become a source of joy.”

Installment 30

Shin’ichi next spoke about the passage “Though worldly troubles may arise, never let them disturb you” (WND-1, 681).

“People may look at you strangely, criticize you or insult you because of your Buddhist practice. But isn’t that just what the Lotus Sutra and the Daishonin’s writings predict? Therefore, we shouldn’t fear such ‘worldly troubles’ or let them unsettle us.

“Nichiren next writes: ‘No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies’ (WND-1, 681). If we commit to truth and justice, we will encounter difficulties. This is inevitable.

“That’s why, no matter what others may say or how they treat you, just tell yourself: ‘This is exactly as the Daishonin teaches. Problems have come up, just as expected. It’s time to fight!’ Then carry on with determination. Continue boldly along your path, this path, the great path of Soka dedicated to truth and justice.”

Everyone’s eyes sparkled as they listened.

Shin’ichi next discussed the passage “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens” (WND-1, 681).

“In life there may be times when others attack you, storms of karma rage and you suffer. Rather than try to escape such suffering, you should see it for what it is, deal with it head-on and chant with all your might to overcome it through faith. And when happy or joyful, chant to the Gohonzon with gratitude and make that joy the cause for even greater joy.

“Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in times of suffering and joy. In that diligence, that tenacity in faith, you can transform your karma and achieve human revolution. When chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself brings you great joy and pleasure—that’s real faith.”

Strong faith means persistent daimoku and strong prayer.

Those who put chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo first are unshakable, fearless, unwavering and invincible, because a bright flame of joy and an indomitable fighting spirit burns in their hearts.

Installment 31

Shin’ichi continued: “‘Happiness in This World’ ends with the words ‘Strengthen your power of faith more than ever’ (WND-1, 681). This sums up the entire letter.

“‘More than ever’ is crucial. Just because you have practiced for a long time, don’t ever think ‘this is enough.’ To always start fresh, take on new challenges and keep advancing as long as you live—that is the faith and way of life of Nichiren Buddhists. Therein lies vitality, joy and happiness. Living this way will keep you youthful no matter your age.

“I hope that all of you here in Tono will engrave this message deep in your hearts and, strengthening your faith more than ever, enjoy lives brimming with benefit.”

Shin’ichi put everything he had into his lecture, which lasted about 20 minutes.

As the members exited, those who had been waiting outside entered, and at 5:30 p.m. a second gongyo session began.

Here, Shin’ichi spoke on “Encouragement of Bodhisattva Universal Worthy,” the 28th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. It describes the great benefits of those who uphold the Lotus Sutra as well as the severe and inescapable consequences awaiting those who slander the Lotus Sutra and disparage its practitioners.

It also contains the passage “You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (LSOC, 365). In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin identifies these words as “the foremost point [the Buddha] wished to convey to us” (see OTT, 192).

This passage teaches us to “rise and greet” those who uphold the Lotus Sutra—that is, those who embrace the Gohonzon and strive in faith—respecting them as we would a Buddha. This is the key to our unity as we work together for kosen-rufu.

Mutual respect, seeing the Buddha within one another’s lives, forms the core of that unity. For that to be possible, we must be convinced of the Buddhist principle that all people possess the Buddha nature. Simply put, the foundation for genuine unity is faith.

Installment 32

In closing, Shin’ichi said: “It is important that we respect one another as fellow members and advance in harmonious unity. Unity is what powers kosen-rufu.

“In light of the sutras and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, devilish functions will inevitably arise and try to obstruct the progress of the Soka Gakkai, the organization dedicated to realizing kosen-rufu. They may come from outside the organization, as attacks and oppression from powerful authorities, or from within the organization, as jealousy and resentment among the members.

“We must be especially vigilant against destruction from within. If members disparage, resent, or speak ill of one another, then no matter how hard they strive in faith, they’ll have no joy, and they will gradually erase their benefit and good fortune.

“Even worse, if leaders are at loggerheads, unable to unite and undermine each other behind their backs, they will confuse and divide our organization devoted to carrying out the Buddha’s intent and destroy our movement for kosen-rufu. That is a very serious offense indeed.

“That all of you are harmoniously united proves you are elevating your state of life and carrying out your human revolution.”

The Daishonin warns against the grave offense of causing disunity, “If any of Nichiren’s disciples disrupt the unity of many in body but one in mind, they would be like warriors who destroy their own castle from within” (WND-1, 217).

External enemies will search for a breach in unity. They will try to drive a wedge between mentor and disciples and foment discord among members. That’s why maintaining ironclad unity that leaves no space for devilish functions to take advantage protects the members and enables the great development of kosen-rufu.

As the second gongyo session ended, everyone applauded Shin’ichi’s suggestion that they all sing “This Path” together.

The chorus groups and the audience joined in lively song.

By this time, the third verse had been modified to “talk with dear friends, / the night sky carrying your / animated voices, animated voices. / Ah, Chubu, Chubu, make the heavenly deities dance!”

Their joyous voices rang out with a power that could move the heavens.

Installment 33

After the second gongyo session, Shin’ichi looked out the window. People were walking along the Toki River’s raised bank in a long line toward the center.

He said to the Chubu leaders: “Let’s hold a third session. I will meet and do gongyo with everyone who comes to the center. I will hold as many sessions as necessary.”

Turning to an accompanying Seikyo Shimbun reporter, he said: “How about printing photographs of each gongyo session in tomorrow’s paper? I want everyone in Tono to be happy. Please find a way to do that.”

Shin’ichi then opened his copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and pored over it to prepare for the next session.

Success in anything comes from thorough, earnest preparation.

Shin’chi’s health had not been the best during his visits to Chugoku and Shikoku, and it remained poor now in Chubu. He had frequent fevers, and the extremely hot weather sapped his strength.

In the meeting room, which brimmed with excitement, Shin’ichi became drenched in sweat as he gave his all to encourage and offer guidance to the members. When he went to an air-conditioned room, his wet shirt chilled him and made him feel worse.

But thinking that this might be his one and only chance to meet with these members, he couldn’t help throwing himself fully into each gongyo session.

In all things, timing is important.

The second phase of kosen-rufu was gaining momentum, and the age was dawning when a new tide of Buddhist humanism would nourish the community, society and the world. These precious encounters with his dear fellow members took place at this crucial juncture.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda said, “To meet and encounter an auspicious time, to be in rhythm with that time, makes having been born worthwhile.”[18]

Shin’ichi was resolved to not let the present moment slip by. Victory depends on giving one’s entire being to every moment.

Installment 34

The third gongyo session started a little before 7 p.m. Intense fatigue began to take its toll on Shin’ichi.

Here he lectured on “Reply to the Lay Nun Nichigon.” Commenting on the passage “Whether or not your prayer is answered will depend on your faith; [if it is not] I will in no way be to blame” (WND-1, 1079), he said: “The benefits of the Gohonzon are boundless and immeasurable. But if our faith is weak or we just go through the motions, we will be unable to bring them forth. For example, if we chant absentmindedly, reluctantly or out of obligation, our prayers will not be realized and true benefit will elude us.

“Rather than being passive, we need to engage in our Buddhist practice actively and positively, with a sense of gratitude and joy at having encountered the Gohonzon and being able to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. When we do so, we can enjoy the Gohonzon’s tremendous benefits. To be born a human being and embrace the Gohonzon at this time is truly remarkable.”

After reading out the rest of this letter, Shin’ichi emphasized: “We all equally possess the Buddha nature. Life’s ultimate purpose is to manifest that innate potential and attain Buddhahood. The Gohonzon’s beneficial power makes that possible.

“To tap that enormous power and receive such benefits, we have to decide to devote our lives to kosen-rufu and maintain courageous, pure faith to the very end.

“Alone, human beings are weak. People’s hearts change easily. It’s human nature to forget one’s firm determinations or vows with the passing of time. That’s why our fellow members and the Soka Gakkai organization are so crucial. We must unite, look out for and encourage one another with the resolve that neither we nor anyone else will fall by the wayside.

“I hope that everyone in Tono will work together closely, in harmony and good cheer, and walk the great path of kosen-rufu—a path abloom with happiness—leading lives filled with good fortune.”

Installment 35

The fourth gongyo session started at 7:45 p.m. After playing the piano for everyone, Shin’ichi lectured on the Daishonin’s writing “The Meaning of Faith.”

First, he read the passage “Faith means putting one’s trust in the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and the heavenly gods and benevolent deities, and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 1036). He then spoke about the importance of prayer instilled with faith.

“In prayer, simply express your thoughts and feelings just as they are to the Gohonzon. Put your trust in the Gohonzon—in other words, pray wholeheartedly with absolute conviction in its boundless and immeasurable benefits.

“To change our karma, achieve human revolution, and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, we need to pray with a vow to dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu. This is the pivot that transforms our lives into the great lives, the great life state of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

“Specifically, it’s an earnest and altruistic prayer to share Buddhism with others and help them become happy. Pray to achieve your own organizational activity targets and take action. This is the direct path to accumulating great good fortune and benefit.

“Therefore, even when you pray to overcome your own problems and worries, or to fulfill your wishes, do so with the determination that it be for the sake of kosen-rufu, to demonstrate remarkable proof of your practice. Be resolved to make it happen no matter what. It’s crucial that a vow for kosen-rufu be the foundation of your prayers.

“With faith aligned with this great vow, this great purpose of Nichiren Daishonin, please stride confidently through life brimming with courage like a lion king.”

The members’ passion raised the room’s temperature on this hot and humid summer night. Shin’ichi’s and everyone’s faces dripped with sweat. But they didn’t even think to wipe it away. With sparkling eyes and bright smiles, they vowed to start anew.

The gongyo session ended at 8:15 p.m.

Still more people waited outside. They quickly switched places with those leaving.

Installment 36

The fifth and final gongyo session began. It was already 8:45 p.m.

Shin’ichi planned to be brief so the members wouldn’t get home too late.

He thanked everyone and said with a hint of humor: “I had hoped for a total turnout of about 50 or 60, but look how many you are! What’s going on here?”

The room erupted in laughter.

Shin’ichi then said that the essence of faith is to believe without doubt. “Nichiren Daishonin cites the words [of T’ien-T’ai] ‘Belief means to be without doubt’ (OTT, 120). This kind of faith is unwavering, no matter what happens. It is absolute faith in the Gohonzon. When you have this kind of faith, the Daishonin teaches, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe are sure to protect you.

“On the other hand, there is ‘knowledge without faith.’ This means understanding the teachings but not believing them in your heart. In this case, no matter how fully you master the Buddhist teachings or how gifted you are, you cannot attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

“The Daishonin says ‘Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study’ (WND-1, 386). Of course, Buddhist study is important, but we study so we can gain absolute faith. We build a life state of absolute happiness through faith.

“Kosen-rufu is a struggle against devilish functions. These may take the form of persecution by the authorities, unexpected events or occasions that stir up doubt.

“Please, whatever happens, keep the word ‘faith’ deeply engraved in your hearts, steadfastly walk the great path of kosen-rufu and become happy without fail.

“No force can destroy the solid unity of Bodhisattvas of the Earth linked by faith. I hope that all Tono members will put faith first and, as proud champions of the people, lead lives of complete fulfillment.”

Shin’ichi poured his heart and soul into his guidance. As everyone applauded, a wave of dizziness washed over him. The gongyo sessions were done.

Installment 37

After waving goodbye to the members as his car departed the Tono Culture Center, Shin’ichi sank back into the seat. His wife, Mineko, looked at him with concern.

“Don’t worry,” he reassured her. “I’m fine. I still have plenty of energy. Aren’t there two members, a married couple, who run a restaurant in Nagoya’s Meito Ward? Let’s stop by. It’s a little late, but I’d like to encourage them over dinner.”

Once there, Shin’ichi’s efforts to offer inspiration continued.

“Those who uphold the Mystic Law and strive wholeheartedly for kosen-rufu are sure to be successful in their work,” he said to the couple. “No matter how busy you might be, always be earnest in your Buddhist faith and practice. That is the key. In the long run, the difference between those who just go through the motions and those who strive with utter dedication is astounding.”

Shin’ichi then made his way to the Chubu Culture Center, arriving shortly after 11 p.m.

The following day, July 29, was his last day in Nagoya. He spent the morning writing works of calligraphy for members and then revising the lyrics for the Tokyo song.

That afternoon, he did gongyo with Chubu leaders and spoke with them, offering guidance and encouragement.

“We’re at a critical juncture. Now is the time to press ahead on the noble path of Soka, the great path of mentor and disciple, in accord with the Buddha’s intent. The struggle to protect our movement is fierce. It’s demanding. It may be incredibly hard, but I will fight. I will protect my dear fellow members to the very end! I will give every ounce of my being, my whole life, to do so. That’s the role of a president. That’s what it means to be a leader.”

He truly felt this way.

He then went outside and encouraged members he met on the street.

Shortly after 6 p.m., as he was about to return to Tokyo, Shin’ichi heard that a chorus festival for North Nagoya Zone was about to take place at the culture center.

Making a quick decision, Shin’ichi stopped by for a short time, chanting daimoku with the members before the event began. He then stepped to the microphone and said: “Let’s advance with ‘pure faith’ and ‘beautiful friendship and unity’ as our mottoes!”

To fight means to give one’s life completely.

Installment 38

July, the month of youth, in which Shin’ichi had made history through his tireless, all-out efforts, gave way to August, the month of training and study.

On the evening of August 1, Shin’ichi met with US Ambassador Michael J. Mansfield and his wife, Maureen, at the Seikyo Shimbun building in Shinanomachi, Tokyo.

They discussed Shin’ichi’s proposals for nuclear disarmament and abolition, which he had submitted that May [1978] to the United Nations secretary-general and the UN General Assembly president before the UN’s First Special Session on Disarmament.

Shin’ichi’s proposals included 10 items:

1. Convene a summit of the top leaders of every nation in the world

2. Have the UN manage the safe control of nuclear energy

3. Adopt an international agreement requiring all nations to reject the use of nuclear weapons

4. Establish and then expand nuclear-free zones

5. Form a nuclear reduction summit mediated by the UN

6. Halt the development of new weapons

7. Establish a UN agency for disarmament

8. Promote research, debate, public relations, and publishing at the civilian level toward total and complete disarmament

9. Establish a peace museum at the UN

10. Establish a committee to discuss the economic transformations needed to facilitate disarmament

As a prerequisite for reinforcing the UN’s functions, Shin’ichi also recommended that the UN strengthen its financial foundation and that the secretary-general and other top UN officials establish their impartiality by publicly declaring their complete political nonalignment.

At the meeting, Shin’ichi and Ambassador Mansfield exchanged opinions on these proposals and affirmed their mutual commitment to peace.

Though utterly devoted to protecting Soka Gakkai members from attacks by Nichiren Shoshu priests, Shin’ichi never lost sight of the vision to achieve peace and happiness for all humankind. Nichiren Buddhism aims to eliminate war and misery from the world. That should be the starting point of all religion.

Installment 39

On the evening of August 2, the Arakawa Culture Center in Tokyo resounded with uplifting, powerful voices as the new Tokyo song, “Ah, Our Inspiring Members,” was sung for the first time at the Tokyo chapter leaders meeting.

Before the song, Hisaya Yamamichi, a Soka Gakkai vice president and Tokyo No. 2 Headquarters leader, took the stage as Shin’ichi looked on.

“I’m sure many of you were eagerly wondering when there’d be a new song for Tokyo. You must have been overjoyed when you saw the lyrics and music in yesterday’s Seikyo Shimbun and learned that President Yamamoto had written the words. Congratulations!

“I’ll now present the lyrics to our long-awaited song ‘Ah, Our Inspiring Members,’ written by Shin’ichi Yamamoto!”

O, praying as the sun rises in the east
the dawn of life from time without beginning
Like fragrant spring cherry blossoms
we have the power to triumph joyfully!

O, brilliant in the sky above
the sun watches over us
Glory to intrepid champions—
Your victory is certain!

Bathed in the setting sun, nobly
Bodhisattvas of the Earth dash
to far-off battles for the Law in high spirits—
Ah, our inspiring members!

Constellations fill the night sky
full hearts sing
proud as envoys of the Buddha—
Honorable Tokyo, may you shine!

The phrase “our inspiring members” captivated everyone. It felt fresh.

Inspiration is found in human interactions. It is born of courageous action. It is the driving force for progress.

Installment 40

After the lyrics were introduced, the men’s Bodhisattvas of the Earth Chorus, the women’s White Lily Chorus, the young men’s Shinano Choir, and the young women’s Fuji Chorus joined in a debut performance of the song.

Conducting was the young man who composed the music, an elementary school music teacher who played the piano for the Soka Chorus.[19]

The singers followed the tall youth’s lead, their voices—solemn, yet bright and strong—filling the room. As the audience listened, they felt it was unlike any Soka Gakkai song they’d heard. Emotions surged as they absorbed the lyrics, the chorus ending all too soon.

“Let’s sing it again, this time all together!” Shin’ichi said.

The Tokyo leader who was asked to lead the song picked up a fan to do so, but Shin’ichi called out: “A fan is so Japanese. How about conducting the audience with a baton instead? Music has no borders. A baton is more international, isn’t it?”

Everyone applauded. The leader, having never led a song with a baton, started somewhat awkwardly, but nevertheless a rousing chorus began.

O, praying as the sun rises in the east
the dawn of life from time without beginning …

Everyone renewed their determination as they sang.

Moved by the words “Your victory is certain!” one woman told herself that she could definitely change her karma and show great actual proof of happiness. And she resolved to keep the flame of her conviction burning bright.

Deeply inspired and vowing to realize victory, a man sang enthusiastically, thinking: “Tokyo is the main bastion where the three Soka Gakkai presidents rose to action to selflessly spread the Mystic Law, opening the great path of kosen-rufu. It is the highest honor to do activities here.”

Soka Gakkai songs inspire determination. Wherever they are sung, the sun of victory rises.

Installment 41

When the song ended, Shin’ichi explained the lyrics.

“I started writing this song in Shikoku and finished in Chubu. As you may see from the title, ‘inspiration’ is the theme, because it is most important for our Buddhist practice and for establishing happy lives.

“Those who find inspiration can feel gratitude for everything. They are humble and have a fresh, rich vitality. In contrast, the arrogant, who think that others are there to serve them, lack such joy.

“To live each day with inspiration is to be happy. Inspiration springs from returning to the pure life state of time without beginning. And that starts with a vibrant morning gongyo.

“The opening lines of the song, ‘O, praying as the sun rises in the east / the dawn of life from time without beginning,’ express this. Basking in the morning sunlight brimming with life force, we begin our day’s activities with a powerful and refreshed spirit. By then, the Seikyo Shimbun deliverers are already making their rounds.

“We cannot feel inspired if we practice passively, out of a sense of obligation. Inspiration comes from taking the initiative and giving our all with firm resolve.

“‘O, brilliant in the sky above’ in the second verse refers to daytime, when women’s division members, out pedaling their bicycles, engage in their activities. Incredibly hardworking and pure-hearted, they are the Soka Gakkai’s treasures.

“The third verse’s ‘Bathed in the setting sun, nobly’ portrays dedicated members hurrying with all their might to Soka Gakkai meetings or activities after work as the sun sets. You all have the mission of Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Though you may be tired, your activities turn that feeling into a sense of fulfillment and give you energy for the next day.

“And the line ‘Constellations fill the night sky’ in the last verse is about looking up at the starry sky and thinking of your friends as you make your way home with joy in your hearts. The Soka Gakkai is a realm where members wish and pray for one another’s happiness and sincerely encourage each other. There is no other place like it. That’s why I titled the song, ‘Ah, Our Inspiring Members.’”

Installment 42

Everyone listened intently, nodding as Shin’ichi explained.

They then sang the song again with fresh determination, led this time by ward leaders.

Afterward, Shin’ichi continued speaking, expressing his heartfelt thanks to all the chapter men’s and women’s leaders striving earnestly every day in the intense summer heat. He also conveyed his high hopes for the success of the first chapter general meetings coming that fall and talked about the attitude with which to engage in Soka Gakkai activities.

“First, it is essential that we consistently offer personal guidance with the deep resolve to foster each chapter member to become an outstanding capable person.

“What is the Soka Gakkai’s greatest treasure? It is people. Fostering people leads directly to advancing kosen-rufu. And personal guidance is the sure way to develop people of ability.”

On the path of kosen-rufu, there will be many challenges we need to overcome as we carry out our activities. Each of us must therefore bravely take action with deep commitment and resolve.

Some members may participate in activities because they’re inspired by the ideal of kosen-rufu dedicated to realizing world peace and the happiness of all people. Others may do so because they’re determined to make a breakthrough in changing such karma as illness or economic hardship. And some may start taking part in activities because they wish to deepen their conviction in faith.

An important aim of personal guidance is to help each person understand the purpose of their faith and activities for kosen-rufu. It is to enable them to engage in their Buddhist practice and Soka Gakkai activities with enthusiasm and hope.

Argentine writer Eduardo Mallea (1903–82) declared that when a person has a clear purpose, there is joy and action.[20]

Large meetings have time constraints and focus mainly on announcing upcoming activities. But for the activities to be carried out according to plan, it is crucial for chapter leaders to talk with their members and help them understand the importance of being involved. If we neglect such efforts, the noble endeavor of kosen-rufu will end up going nowhere.

Installment 43

“Second,” Shin’ichi continued, “giving your all to support your members is for the sake of kosen-rufu, and it brings you immeasurable benefit. Therefore, please be assured that all your efforts to foster others help you as well.

“Third, please maintain strong faith with gratitude and joy to be carrying out this most noble Buddhist practice that enables us to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

“Fourth, I hope you will be compassionate leaders who pray deeply every day for each of your members to receive the full benefits of faith.”

Shin’ichi wanted to talk about these fundamental points for chapter leaders before the upcoming chapter general meetings.

In closing, he said: “You are bound to experience pain and suffering in your daily lives and on the path of kosen-rufu. But whenever you feel stuck, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. We always have the Gohonzon!

“Strong faith and strong prayers will open the way forward and determine everything. Please attain a vast and serene state of life by putting daimoku first.

“Bodhisattvas of the Earth struggle amid the quagmire of the real world and blossom magnificently like pure lotus flowers of happiness and victory, demonstrating wonderful actual proof.

“You are the brilliant men’s and women’s chapter leaders of our proud Tokyo organization. I call on you to lead us another step forward with absolute confidence and conviction.

“I wish to close my remarks today with three cheers for great Tokyo!”

The historic Tokyo Chapter leaders meeting ended in high spirits.

With a calligraphy brush, Shin’ichi inscribed the lyrics of “Ah, Our Inspiring Members.” In the opening dedication, he wrote that he had composed the lyrics while praying fervently that the 800,000 Bodhisattvas of the Earth striving tirelessly for kosen-rufu in Tokyo would enjoy safe and secure lives. Then, with deep feeling and a profound wish that Tokyo would forever be the capital of victory, he wrote: “Now praying again for my precious, noble disciples, children of the Buddha—may your sagacious beams of wisdom shine without measure and your lives endure for countless kalpas like the Buddha (see LSOC, 272).”[21]

Installment 44

After the meeting, Shin’ichi spoke with some of the leaders.

Listening to their reports, he shared his vision for Tokyo, including plans to improve Soka Gakkai centers. Hope filled everyone’s hearts.

As their discussion ended, Shin’ichi turned to the top leaders and said: “Being home to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters, Tokyo is the power source for kosen-rufu. I want Tokyo to become many times stronger than it is today, and I know it can.

“But if things remain as they are now, Tokyo won’t be able to demonstrate its true strength. I am saying what I’m saying now so that doesn’t happen. Tokyo has many leaders. And perhaps because of this some leaders hold back from each other, and instead of taking the initiative leave things to others. There doesn’t seem to be the spirit of ‘I will take full responsibility.’

“In a strong organization, all leaders strive with a sense of personal responsibility. They stay in close communication and support the central figure.

“What I see in Tokyo, however, is that many people, rather than supporting the central figure, have the attitude ‘It’s not my problem.’ In other words, they can’t unite. Overcoming this is crucial.

“Also, since the Tokyo organization is so big, each ward and zone of course must be responsible for its own activities. At the same time, however, it’s important for everyone to see Tokyo as a united whole and when something happens, to rally together to protect, cooperate with and support one another.

“In Kansai, the organization encompasses a large area that includes seven prefectures—Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga, Fukui, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama. But all Kansai members have great pride in being noble comrades of Ever-Victorious Kansai.

For example, if I go to Shiga, members from the other prefectures will rejoice, saying, ‘President Yamamoto has come to Kansai!’ That’s what makes Kansai strong.”

Installment 45

The Tokyo leaders listened intently to Shin’ichi.

“Recently, a leader who moved from Tokyo to Kyushu shared his frank impression: ‘With every new activity, Tokyo members discuss what to do in great detail, but don’t act. By the time they get started, the period for the activity is almost over. Everyone is capable, but they don’t apply themselves fully. Most seem to give up halfway. But Kyushu members quickly reach a consensus and set off at full speed. They are much quicker to act. In addition, whether in urban, mountain or island areas, everyone has a strong sense of mission and readiness to take responsibility for kosen-rufu in their communities. That’s why they are all growing stronger and becoming outstanding leaders. I think the time will come when Kyushu far outpaces Tokyo.’

“If Tokyo unleashed its full potential, it would be unbeatable. That’s why for your song I wrote the line ‘Your victory is certain!’”

Shin’ichi also shared the words of a Tottori leader he spoke with while in Chugoku.

“The leader said: ‘Tottori is a small prefecture with a small population. People in Tokyo may give Tottori little if any thought. But we’re all steadily expanding ties of trust in the region, aiming to become a model of kosen-rufu. Soka Gakkai members already make up one-fifth of the population in some villages and communities. Just wait and see us in 10 or 20 years!’

“Isn’t that amazing? In Tokyo, one-fifth would be 2 million households!

“Small-scale efforts for kosen-rufu lead to large-scale achievements for kosen-rufu. If you become complacent because the Tokyo organization is so large and neglect to secure the foundation, that large organization will become weak and insubstantial. A mighty Tokyo rises from our success in local Tokyo neighborhoods and communities.

“Join me in creating an invincible Tokyo! Let’s build an immortal, glorious, indestructible castle of kosen-rufu that members around the world will look up to!”

The eyes of the leaders of mighty Tokyo sparkled.

Installment 46

August 6, 1978, the 33rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was a Sunday. The blue skies over Tokyo had not a cloud in sight.

Shin’ichi and his wife, Mineko, did gongyo and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo at home in memory of the bombing victims, vowing to build a peaceful world.

Already at 9 a.m., the temperature neared 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Seems like it’s going to be another hot day,” Shin’ichi thought. “I hope the young women from Tohoku are all right.”

The Tohoku young women’s division would hold a gongyo session that afternoon at the Soka Young Women’s Center in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. The center had opened at the end of December in a ceremony Shin’ichi had attended. A large plaque inscribed with the lyrics to the young women’s division song “Green Laurels” graced the lobby.

Young women representing each Tohoku prefecture were gathering at the center for the first time, no doubt excited as they made their way to Tokyo, many by overnight train.

“While many women their age spend their Sundays taking it easy or having fun,” Shin’ichi thought, “these young women are heading to the Soka Young Women’s Center, filled with seeking spirit. How noble and sincere! I want to make sure they return home with joy and inspiration that will wipe away the fatigue of their long journey.”

With that in his mind, Shin’ichi worked on the new Tohoku song he wanted to present at the meeting, the latest of his regional songs after those for Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, Chubu and Tokyo.

He had begun writing the words several days earlier, and the music was nearly finished, too. But he still wasn’t satisfied, so he poured his heart into polishing the lyrics.

Whenever he thought of Tohoku, he remembered the day he stood at the site of the ruins of Aoba Castle with his mentor, Josei Toda, during their visit to Sendai on April 25, 1954.

Looking out over the city below, Toda had declared: “The Soka Gakkai must build its castle from capable people!”

That became the eternal vow of Shin’ichi and all Tohoku members—to build an indestructible castle of capable people as a driving force for kosen-rufu.

Installment 47

Seven years after that 1954 visit, Shin’ichi, now the third Soka Gakkai president, made another trip to the castle grounds on November 21, 1961, and composed a poem.

Further strengthening my resolve
to build a castle
of capable people,
I stand at Aoba,
my mentor now departed.

At that time, Tohoku members renewed their vow to build a castle of capable people.

Shin’ichi had often said to members from Tohoku’s Aomori Prefecture that the Chinese character for ao of Aomori signifies “youth,” and that mori, meaning “forest,” refers to a forest of capable individuals.

What makes a capable person?

A respected title or position in society, skill or wealth does not make one a capable person. No matter how high one’s social status or how great one’s abilities, if those things are used to look down on others or to satisfy self-centered desires, they will not contribute to people’s happiness. Capable people are those of strong faith who devote their lives to the vow for kosen-rufu. Living for kosen-rufu means living for the happiness of oneself and others, and for the peace and prosperity of society. By making this our fundamental purpose in life, we can make the most of our knowledge and cause our talents to flourish.

Faith in the Mystic Law is the key to unlocking our true power and potential. Everything is contained in the word “faith.” Therefore, the basic requirement for a capable person is, very simply, to have strong faith.

Shin’ichi worked to infuse the song with his wish that all Tohoku members dedicate their lives to the great vow for kosen-rufu.

It was already past noon.

Shin’ichi asked the young women’s leader in charge of the gongyo session to convey a message. “Please tell everyone: ‘I’m writing a song for Tohoku now. I will finish before your meeting ends because I want you to be the first to hear it.’”

Installment 48

At 1 p.m., smiling Tohoku young women’s division members filled the Gohonzon room at the Soka Young Women’s Center.

Gongyo began, led by national young women’s leader Sachie Fujiya. Everyone’s light and lively voices resounded like the galloping of majestic horses in the heavens.

When gongyo finished, the leader said: “I have wonderful news! At this very moment, President Yamamoto is writing a song for Tohoku!”

The room burst into applause.

Next came activity reports from each prefecture. Before long, an envelope containing a sheet of lyrics arrived.

The leader announced with delight: “Everyone! President Yamamoto has completed the first verse! I’ll read it now!”

Applause erupted again.

“The song is titled ‘The Aoba Pledge.’”

Once again applause rang out.

The Tohoku youth had engraved President Toda’s words at the Aoba Castle ruins in their hearts. They had vowed together to grow into capable people, foster countless others, and build an invincible castle of capable people in Tohoku.

The youth of that time were now all men’s and women’s division members. But their vow had been passed on from one young person to another and become the spirit of Tohoku. For that reason, just hearing the title “The Aoba Pledge” brought great joy to all.

Soong Ching-ling (1893–1981), a respected Chinese leader, said that to foster the next generation into outstanding successors, our legacy to them must not be only material but, far more important, the revolutionary spirit that has become our tradition.[22]

The first verse was read out:

In the forest of Aoba Castle
we made a pledge—
our great pride—
one that we will never forget
and are determined to keep and fulfill;
the moon shines on
the castle of united disciples.
Ah, the mountains of benefit in Tohoku.

Installment 49

The young women’s cheers and applause went on and on.

The lyrics were read again so everyone could copy them to share with those back home. They all wrote in earnest.

Just then, the second verse arrived and was read:

Braving wind and snow,
we are the flag bearers
of the noble cause
of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth;
now standing solidly united
we hold high
the banner of mission.
Ah, my exuberant friends in Tohoku!

As everyone wrote down the second verse, the third arrived:

O the vast open road 
of renewal!
The valiant heartbeat
of champions
creating eternal light
as glorious as the sun
of time without beginning!
Ah, the triumphant people of Tohoku!

Soon after, the sheet music arrived.

Norie Oike, the Tohoku young women’s leader, stood and called out with deep feeling: “President Yamamoto wrote both the lyrics and music for our Tohoku song. Let’s practice and memorize it today and take it back home with us!”

They rehearsed at the Soka Young Women’s Center with a piano accompaniment and then moved to the Kosen-rufu Hall of the Soka Culture Center to continue practicing.

Their spirited voices rang out.

Shin’ichi had given his all to complete “The Aoba Pledge” in time for the meeting because he wanted the young women’s division to create a fresh groundswell for kosen-rufu.

Young women tend to stay current with fashion and adopt the latest trends. Their views influence the next generation. In other words, in the present Soka young women’s division we can see the Soka Gakkai’s future.

Shin’ichi therefore wanted to open a new era in which these young women could confidently take the lead and talk about the Soka Gakkai with pride.

Installment 50

The young women pondered Shin’ichi’s message as they sang again and again.

Braving wind and snow,
we are the flag bearers
of the noble cause
of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth …

Tohoku’s history had been fraught with difficulties, including cold-damaged crops, earthquakes and a tsunami caused by an earthquake in faraway Chile. Many struggled with poverty.

Amid these challenges, Tohoku members stood up and continued to share Nichiren Buddhism with others, even in the face of prejudice, criticism and slander. House to house, they imparted the light of courage and sowed the seeds of mission in those who suffered. As a result, in their towns and villages, young buds of hope emerged and flowers of happiness bloomed.

Those who have endured intense, painful storms and know deep suffering understand the incredible power of faith. They have unshakable conviction. They brim with joy. That’s why they are unmatched in their dedication and sincerity. That is what qualifies the Tohoku members to be “flag bearers of the noble cause of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”

Many Tohoku young women’s division members were children of Soka Gakkai members and saw firsthand their parents’ tenacious and tireless efforts, and the spirit to fight for kosen-rufu that burned brightly in their hearts.

Shin’ichi wanted these young women, too, to become flag bearers of the noble cause of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. In his heart, he called to them: “In life, hardships are inevitable. It is no exaggeration to say that to live is to struggle. Therefore, you must demonstrate the inner strength and brilliance we all possess, and make wonderful flowers of happiness bloom! In every age, you, my young friends, are flag bearers of the noble cause of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth!”

Shin’ichi composed the song with boundless hopes for the Tohoku young women’s division.

Installment 51

That afternoon, Shin’ichi spent some time writing at the Seikyo Shimbun building in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, then stepped outside with his camera. While taking photos in the courtyard, he ran into about 30 Tohoku young women’s division members who had participated in the gongyo session at the Soka Young Women’s Center. They had come to tour the building.

“Where are you from?” Shin’ichi asked.


“Ah, Akita! Thank you for traveling such a long distance.”

One young woman said: “Sensei! Thank you for writing ‘The Aoba Pledge.’”

“I was thinking of you all as I wrote it. Akita has been having a hard time with the priesthood. It must be difficult. But whatever happens, please never let anything defeat you. We practice Buddhism just as the Daishonin instructed. We mustn’t allow the flame of kosen-rufu to be extinguished.

“Women have the faith to keenly perceive the nature of evil. That gives them the power to protect the people. You are the forerunners of ‘the triumphant people of Tohoku.’[23] Be pure, be wise, hold fast to the banner of truth and please live your lives as champions of happiness.

“Let me take your picture to commemorate this moment.”

The young women cheered.

They lined up before some greenery in the building’s courtyard, and Shin’ichi clicked the shutter.

“Let’s meet again. I promise to visit you in Akita!”

That evening, Shin’ichi gave guidance at a study session for US members at the Soka Young Women’s Center. Afterward, Tohoku young women’s leader Norie Oike and other representatives came to see Shin’ichi to thank him for their new song.

“Everyone was overjoyed,” Oike said. “They memorized ‘The Aoba Pledge’ before they went home.”

“There’s a reason that I presented the song at a young women’s meeting. I want all of you young women to become the light of a new Tohoku. Our young women’s happy songs and smiles are the hope and strength of the Soka Gakkai.”

Installment 52

“I’m sure everyone will have to do their best amid trying challenges when they return home,” Shin’ichi continued. “Some may live in areas with few Soka Gakkai members. Some may have to struggle by themselves, feeling lonely and disheartened at times. When that happens, I want them to spur themselves on by singing that song.

“Mr. Makiguchi, our first president, declared: ‘Give me a single lion over a thousand sheep!’ One person with the courage to stand alone is crucial. If you muster courage, you’ll gain strength and feel the sun of hope rise in your hearts.

“Please make ‘The Aoba Pledge’ a song of your own pledge to stand alone.”

“We will, Sensei!” said Oike. “Also, today in Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture, the Okitama Hometown Festival was held.”

Shin’ichi nodded.

“I know. I also know that local priests are harassing our members in Okitama,  who are suffering greatly as a result.”

The Okitama area, in southern Yamagata Prefecture, includes such cities as Yonezawa, Nanyo and Nagai.

Shin’ichi continued: “I had Tohoku Region general leader Susumu Aota inform the members at the festival that I wrote ‘The Aoba Pledge’ as the new Tohoku song. I hope the Okitama members will treasure their communities and persevere, whatever happens. No matter how some priests may malign the Soka Gakkai, which side is right is already clear.

“Right is to work for kosen-rufu in accord with the Daishonin’s teachings. It is to carry out that challenging task in the real world.

“Talk is cheap. But in 20 or 30 years, how far will the priests attacking the Soka Gakkai have advanced kosen-rufu? Priests ‘possessed by evil demons’ (see LSOC, 233) can never achieve kosen-rufu.”

History will prove who is right. Those who create a steady flow of kosen-rufu are on the side of truth and justice.

Installment 53

A storm of slander fueled by Nichiren Shoshu priests had descended on members in the Okitama area.

At the regular monthly lecture in January 1978, the chief priest of a Nichiren Shoshu temple in Okitama began to criticize the Soka Gakkai, and his attacks intensified with each month.

The priest ranted about the Soka Gakkai committing “outrageous slander of the Law” and demanded that members leave the organization and affiliate themselves directly with the temple.

When one member could no longer stomach it and rose to leave, the priest shouted: “Who are you to stand up?! Stay and listen till the end!” and went on with his defamations, allowing no rebuttals.

The chief priest’s words shook one man so much that he said he wanted to quit the Soka Gakkai. When a concerned local leader visited him to talk, the man could only repeat: “The Soka Gakkai is wrong. The Soka Gakkai is wrong.”

“How is it wrong?”

“I don’t know, ask the chief priest.”

The man phoned the temple, and a little while later, the priest came over and said confidently, “I have the proof right here!”

With a triumphant flourish, he produced a pile of weekly tabloid magazines from his briefcase.

His criteria for judging right from wrong was not the Daishonin’s writings but articles filled with malicious falsehoods by people resentful of the Soka Gakkai. Stunned, the Soka Gakkai leader could only laugh.

The priest also told an older woman that unless she quit the Soka Gakkai, the temple would not conduct funeral or memorial services for her or her family or inter their ashes on temple grounds. Weeping, she notified the Soka Gakkai that she was leaving. Another member immediately went to encourage her, saying, “It’s the Soka Gakkai that taught us about faith!” and urged her to return.

Every day was a bitter struggle. But most of the members did not give up. They burned with a fighting spirit: “Now is the time for me to take a stand!” Without strong headwinds, we cannot soar. Difficulties temper and forge us. As Helen Keller said, “Every struggle is victory.”[24]

Installment 54

When he had learned of the situation in Okitama, Shin’ichi composed several poems for members of each division striving at the forefront of the struggle.

Thanks to you,
bravely forging ahead
even in blizzards,
the land of Yamagata
is fragrant with benefit.

•  •  •

Convinced that now
determines your
happiness in this life,
keep striving boldly,
ever with a smile on your face.

Shin’ichi wrote a total of 13 poems. Each was an appeal and a prayer that his dear fellow members in Okitama would wipe away their bitter tears and forge ahead cheerfully, heads held high, along the path of truth and justice.

Inspired, the Okitama members had stood up resolutely and united in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.”

They discussed how they could stir fresh waves of hope and decided to hold the Okitama Hometown Festival on August 6, with folk songs and other entertainment to promote local culture.

Though invited, Shin’ichi couldn’t attend because he had already committed to a study session with US members. In his place, he sent the Soka Gakkai general director and some vice presidents.

When he completed “The Aoba Pledge” earlier in the day, Shin’ichi asked that someone immediately notify Tohoku Region general leader Susumu Aota, who was attending the event in Yonezawa.

Aota got the message as soon as the daytime performances ended. He was moved to tears.

“This is the greatest possible encouragement that Sensei could send to Okitama!”

He conferred with the event staff, and they decided to perform the song during the festival’s evening session.

But how could everyone possibly learn it by then?

Kazushi Miyao, a young men’s division member and junior high school music teacher in charge of the festival’s choral performances, made his way from the festival venue to the nearby Yonezawa Culture Center. He asked someone at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters to play a tape of the song over the telephone, and he recorded it by placing the microphone of a cassette deck near the phone’s receiver. The culture center wasn’t equipped with a fax machine at that time.

The young man’s earnest determination made everything possible.

Installment 55

Miyao transcribed the melody and lyrics from the recording. He rewound and replayed the tape many times for the parts that were hard to hear.

When he finally finished, he made copies of the completed music and lyrics and had about 20 members of the young men’s and young women’s division chorus come to the culture center to practice. The festival’s evening session was fast approaching.

It was truly a race against time. The strength of the Soka Gakkai lay in its speed. It had always won by responding and acting quickly. 

Members’ hearts filled with joy at the thought “President Yamamoto composed not only the lyrics but the music, too!”

After the evening finale, Aota stood to speak, his face beaming.

“Today, President Yamamoto has completed the words and music of a song for Tohoku! It’s called ‘The Aoba Pledge.’ Let’s hear it now!”

Joyful applause shook the hall.

When the chorus finished, everyone practiced and sang the song together. The strains of “The Aoba Pledge” rang out over the land of Tohoku for the first time.

In the forest of Aoba Castle
we made a pledge—
our great pride—
one that we will never forget …

This song of renewal, celebrating the human spirit, filled the Tohoku air.

The music and lyrics ran in the August 8 Seikyo Shimbun. At noon that day, in Sendai, women’s and young women’s division chorus members gathered at the Aoba Castle ruins to practice the song. Their singing resounded with hope, echoing off the castle’s moss-covered stone walls, through the overgrown trees and up into the blue skies.

“The Aoba Pledge” would continue to resonate in all Tohoku members’ hearts, becoming a song of joy in happy times and a rousing song of courage in sad times.

Installment 56

Also on August 8, a prefecture leaders conference was held in the Kosen-rufu Hall of the Soka Culture Center in Tokyo. As he took his seat, Shin’ichi looked at the women from Hokuriku in the front row and said, “I have written a song for Hokuriku!

“The lyrics mention cosmos flowers. I wonder if you remember. I will never forget your sincerity at that time.”

Just the previous day, Shin’ichi had met with women’s division representatives at the Soka Women’s Center (present-day Shinano Culture Center). During the meeting, Toyama Prefecture women’s leader Chisa Takimura mustered the courage to ask Shin’ichi: “Sensei! Will you please write a song for Hokuriku, too?”

“Did you try writing one yourselves?”

“Yes, but we couldn’t come up with anything that satisfied everyone. We hope to inspire Hokuriku with a song written by you.”

“It’s also important that you work together to write a song.”

The discussion about a Hokuriku song ended when a women’s leader from another area began reporting on their activities. But after the meeting, Shin’ichi started writing the lyrics and soon finished.

When the Hokuriku women’s leaders now heard Shin’ichi mention cosmos flowers, their eyes lit up.

The previous summer, Hokuriku women’s division members had sent Shin’ichi, via women’s leaders visiting from Tokyo, a bouquet of cosmos flowers and pampas grass from the foothills of the Tateyama Mountains. They hoped the flowers would give him a moment’s pleasure amid his hard-fought struggles. By no means a flashy arrangement, it nevertheless evoked a sense of the Tateyama Mountains.

Shin’ichi placed the bouquet in front of the Gohonzon and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while picturing those dear Hokuriku members who had gathered the flowers. He hoped to have a chance sometime to praise their sincere and pure hearts.

In the world of Soka, where sincerity resonates with sincerity, there is a beautiful union of spirits.

Installment 57

When Shin’ichi announced that he had written a Hokuriku song, cheers came from the members of Ishikawa and Toyama, the two Hokuriku prefectures represented at the meeting.

The women’s leader who had made the request for the song the day before said with tears in her eyes: “Thank you, Sensei! We only just asked you yesterday … ”

“I will do anything if it pleases you. That is my vow,” Shin’ichi said. He then asked: “Are Kanagawa members here?”

The members from Kanagawa raised their hands and said yes.

“I also wrote lyrics for a Kanagawa song! Kanagawa will become more and more important from now on. Next year, the Kanagawa Culture Center will be completed in Yokohama. The age of Kanagawa is here.

“Members of Kanagawa’s Tsurumi Chapter were the ones who set in motion a great propagation effort to mark Mr. Toda’s inauguration as the second president. I will never forget the front-page headline of the very first issue of the Seikyo Shimbun in 1951, ‘Tsurumi’s Torch Burns Bright.’ As long as that fighting spirit burns bright in the hearts of Kanagawa members, they can break through the darkness of any adversity.

“What is the greatest requirement for happiness? A fighting spirit for kosen-rufu, a passion to spread the Daishonin’s teachings. There is no happiness if we get caught up in pretense or vanity.

“A drop of dew evaporates in an instant. But when it joins the vast ocean, it encompasses the entire planet. To dedicate ourselves to kosen-rufu is to place ourselves in that great ocean; from there, we can develop a boundless state of life.

“It was also in Kanagawa that President Toda made his Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. Kanagawa is the starting point of the Soka Gakkai’s movement for peace. Kosen-rufu means realizing the Daishonin’s ideal of ‘establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.’ Spreading the Mystic Law must bring peace and prosperity to society.

“Indeed, it was in Kanagawa as well that Nichiren Daishonin wrote his treatise ‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.’

“I hope each of you will bravely create waves of dialogue that will spread from where you are and bring Buddhism more broadly to society. Please advance proudly as pioneers of dialogue.”

Installment 58

The audience then listened to a recording of the regional songs Shin’ichi had written to date.

Then the lyrics for the new Kanagawa song, “Ah, the Sun Rises,” were introduced.

Echoing over the sea of a new age,
pure-hearted prayers soar limitlessly,
wings raining down compassion on Kanagawa,
where the joy of living pulses.
Ah, the sun rises in our hearts.

Our stage with its noble history,
our infinite light undying—
this torch the Bodhisattvas of the Earth
hold high and spread forever.
Ah, the sun rises over our castle.

Living this life without regrets,
sounding the bell of a new day,
friends in faith dedicated to kosen-rufu gather like clouds,
a rhythm praised by all without end.
Ah, the sun rises for our fellow members.

Shin’ichi said: “I’ve put a thousand emotions into ‘Ah, the Sun Rises.’ I hope all of you in Kanagawa will keep the sun of life always shining in your hearts, no matter what.

“In a sense, to live is to find our way through dark nights when destiny’s storms strike. We struggle against hardship while desperately trying to open a way forward. But when the sun rises, everything becomes clear. The frozen earth revives, flowers bloom and butterflies dance. The sun is the Buddha nature within us.

“I hope each of you will be a sunlike presence in your families, your communities and your workplaces. Please encourage others, brighten the hearts of friends in sorrow, and send the light of joy, courage and hope to those around you. The teachings of Nichiren Buddhism are like the sun. Therefore, we must be like the sun, too.”

Installment 59

After the Kanagawa song, the lyrics for the Hokuriku song “Song of Our Vow” were presented.

Ah, our proud homeland,
fragrant with cosmos and milkvetch blossoms.
Ah, Hokuriku, ever joyful—
let us sing of the fortune of kosen-rufu!

A movement for peace in the countryside,
friends shaking hands with friends.
Ah, Hokuriku, ever at ease—
how triumphantly you rise!

Marching through the snow
hearts light, leaping, soaring.
Ah, Hokuriku, one in mind—
gallant even in winter blizzards!

The footsteps of champions of the Mystic Law
rouse to action the protective deities.
Ah, Hokuriku, cherishing its vow—
resounds with the music of benefit and friendship!

Shin’ichi said to the Hokuriku members: “The song has four verses, but the third line in each is the most important. ‘Hokuriku, ever joyful’ conveys a condition brimming with vitality in which we can enjoy life to the fullest, no matter the hardships. ‘Hokuriku, ever at ease’ also expresses complete freedom and satisfaction.

“Since we practice Buddhism to become happy, applying ourselves to Soka Gakkai activities with energy and joy is essential. To do so, we must remember that faith isn’t an obligation but a right. Joy comes from being proactive, not passive, in our efforts.

“Our energy and joy differ completely depending on whether we act only at the urging of others or decide on our own, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ Those who find their daily Soka Gakkai activities enjoyable are those who take the initiative. That’s faith.”

Installment 60

“The third line of the third verse is ‘Hokuriku, one in mind.’ That is because unity is the essence of faith and the main principle for advancing kosen-rufu. If leaders can’t get along and unite with one another, they must recognize that devilish functions already control them. This is because such discord destroys the harmonious unity of practitioners and sows confusion in the Soka Gakkai.

“We need courage to unite. Without courage, you may avoid openly sharing your thoughts or communicating directly with those you find difficult. And that will result in further misunderstandings.

“If you have a problematic relationship with someone, have the courage to reach out and talk with them, regardless of age or organizational position.

“Why has the Soka Gakkai fulfilled its mission as the organization for kosen-rufu carrying out the Buddha’s intent? Because we have worked toward that goal in unity, one in mind.

“Also, when you strive to unite with others for kosen-rufu, you will progress in your human revolution and transform your state of life.”

People tend to be so attached to their own thoughts and feelings that they confine themselves to the realm of the lesser self. When they awaken to their great mission for kosen-rufu and unite with fellow members to achieve it, they break the shell of the lesser self and reveal their greater self. In doing so, their individuality shines. Uniting and working together for kosen-rufu provides the impetus to cast off the lesser self and develop a boundless life state.

Naturally, people differ in their opinions and ways of thinking. But by returning to the source, to their fundamental purpose, they can find common ground. And while striving to develop a shared commitment, they can foster mutual understanding and achieve unity. That is the principle for realizing a peaceful society.

Installment 61

Whenever Shin’ichi said the word unity, there was a strictness in his eyes. It reflected his determination to challenge anything or anyone trying to disrupt the Soka Gakkai’s unity.

Josei Toda said: “The Soka Gakkai must build its castle from capable people!” Without unity, the castle’s walls will crumble.

“The third line in the fourth verse is ‘Hokuriku, cherishing its vow.’ When we live for the great vow for kosen-rufu, we overflow with the joyous life state of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Infinite courage, wisdom and strength pulse within us, enabling us to overcome any difficulty without fear. Living for this great vow is the way to make our lives shine their brightest.

“Hokuriku is the birthplace of President Toda, who spent his life fulfilling his vow for kosen-rufu. Please become champions who carry on his great spirit.”

Shin’ichi then looked at the Hokkaido representatives.

“I will also write a song for Hokkaido. I intend to keep writing songs for each region—and not only for regions but prefectures, as I did for Chiba and Kanagawa.

“This year, we launched a new chapter system. I wish to sing of this fresh progress.

“When Mr. Toda emerged from prison and stood up to rebuild the Soka Gakkai, he began his struggle by singing a song he wrote in prison. He said: ‘No matter what happens, the Soka Gakkai must proudly sing songs as it advances kosen-rufu!’

“Let’s press ahead with dignity and confidence, our voices raised in joyous song!”

On this day of the prefecture leaders conference, the Kanagawa song “Ah, the Sun Rises” and the Hokuriku song “Song of Our Vow” were set to music—both by the elementary school music teacher who had composed the music for the Tokyo song. He worked on the music at the piano in the Kinmai Hall [lit. “Golden Dance” Hall] of the Soka Culture Center.

After the conference, Shin’ichi went there with Kanagawa and Hokuriku leaders to speak with the music teacher about ideas for the songs and offer advice.

On August 10, two days later, the Seikyo Shimbun carried the lyrics and music of the two songs. Everyone was overjoyed.

Installment 62

On August 9, the day after the prefecture leaders conference, Shin’ichi went to Miyazaki, Kyushu, to begin a nine-day guidance tour of the region.

In Kyushu, too, Nichiren Shoshu priests relentlessly attacked the Soka Gakkai, especially in Oita. Many members wiped away bitter tears as they continued to proclaim the Soka Gakkai’s integrity.

Kyushu members have an invincible spirit that enables them to surmount any adversity. The mentor-disciple spirit burns in their hearts.

During his busy schedule in Kyushu, Shin’ichi began writing a song for Hokkaido. There as well, in places such as Nayoro, malicious priests, behaving as “worms within the lion’s body,”[25] harshly criticized the Soka Gakkai in an intensifying effort to undermine the lay organization and convince members to leave and practice directly with the temple.

Soka Gakkai members gritted their teeth and fought against such outrages that threatened to destroy the kosen-rufu movement. When they heard about someone thinking of quitting the Soka Gakkai, they would visit the person first thing in the morning to encourage them. When the member resolved to stay, they would shake on it, but by afternoon, corrupt priests would mislead them into changing their mind. It was a never-ending battle, and the members couldn’t let down their guard for even a moment. Such is the struggle against corruption and evil.

Shin’ichi had received regular reports.

“Who is in the right? Everything becomes clear in the light of the Daishonin’s writings. What is the truth? History will reveal all. Holding high the banner of our mission amid the raging winds, let’s advance with bright optimism into a new age of kosen-rufu!”

With this thought in his mind and envisioning a victorious spring abloom with the cherry blossoms of Soka, Shin’ichi worked on the lyrics for the Hokkaido song.

On August 15, at the Kyushu Training Center in Kagoshima, Shin’ichi called over Kaoru Tahara, a Soka Gakkai vice president and the Hokkaido Region general leader, who had accompanied him to oversee events during his visit to Kyushu.

He said with a smile: “Hokkaido is fighting very hard. That’s wonderful. I have written a song for the Hokkaido members.”

Tahara looked at the lyrics. The song was titled “Song of Shared Struggle.”

The words “a Great Wall of the Mystic Law / as resolute as our mentors” leaped out at him.

Shin’ichi began to convey what was in his heart: “The thought that my mentor is watching and waiting for victory is the source of my strength. I have always acted with the conviction that the shared struggle of mentor and disciple means the disciple fights, wins, and reports that victory to the mentor. I continue to carry out my struggle in this spirit.”

Installment 63

A Hokkaido Music Corps member composed the music for “Song of Shared Struggle,” which the Seikyo Shimbun published along with the lyrics on August 24, the anniversary of Shin’ichi joining the Soka Gakkai.

In April 2006, the music was rewritten to suit the Hokkaido organization’s development into the 21st century. Then, in September 2008, the song’s 30th anniversary, Shin’ichi revised the lyrics and renamed it “Castle of the First Three Presidents.”

Hokkaido is where first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and second president Josei Toda grew up and set out into the world. It is also where Shin’ichi, later the third president, blazed new trails of kosen-rufu in his youth, winning victories in Otaru, Sapporo, and Yubari.[26]

Nothing was easy in the struggles to advance kosen-rufu. All were hard-fought battles won through the members’ tenacity and determination. No matter how tough the situation, they gave their all with a passionate fighting spirit until the end. And after each bitter struggle, brilliant victory awaited.

“Hokkaido must always champion the shared struggle of mentor and disciple, passing on the spirit of the mentors forever”—the lyrics to “Castle of the First Three Presidents” crystallized this wish of Shin’ichi.

Ah, in Hokkaido soars
a Great Wall of kosen-rufu,
as resolute as our mentors.
A magnificent march to the music of spring and summer.
Ah, glorious warriors in a shared struggle.

Ah, vast, open plains,
a silvery realm, great snow mountains.
We valiant champions now arise,
proudly advancing through fall and winter,
a glorious journey brimming with joy.

Ah, a mighty river flows powerfully.
Kosen-rufu is our mission.
Crossing the sea of the century,
our life in this world shines eternally,
praying and dancing amid a glorious storm of cherry blossoms.
The castle of the first three presidents
pervaded by the shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

Installment 64

On the afternoon of August 22, 1978, on a train to Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, Shin’ichi busily composed a song for Nagano members. The next day, a leaders meeting commemorating 20 years of the kosen-rufu movement in Nagano would be held at the Matsumoto Peace Center. He wanted to celebrate the local organization’s fresh start by presenting the members with a new prefecture song.

When he arrived at the center at 5 p.m., Shin’ichi immediately began encouraging the members there. He also went over to the event’s temporary first aid station and thanked the staff members individually for their efforts.

At 6:30 p.m., he met with pioneer members who had made invaluable contributions to kosen-rufu and then with representatives from Niigata who had come to the center.

He also took group photographs with many members and played the piano to encourage them.

Whenever he had a spare minute, he worked on the lyrics to the Nagano song.

When he finished late that night, he had them delivered to the elementary school music teacher who was to compose the music and also continued tweaking them himself.

Shin’ichi didn’t want to compromise. The moment we think “This is good enough” is the moment we lose our will to create something truly great.

“There’s still room for improvement! I won’t compromise! I’ll give it my all!”— only through this inner spiritual struggle is a new history created.

The next morning, August 23, Shin’ichi relayed his changes to the composer, who then completed the music.

The Shinano Mixed Chorus gathered to practice the song to sing it at the leaders meeting that evening.

In the morning, Shin’ichi went out to visit and encourage members living nearby, and in the afternoon, he met with members visiting the center. He listened intently to each person and responded with words that deepened their understanding and revitalized them, striking a profound chord in their hearts.

Installment 65

Joyous voices singing of victory echoed through Shinano’s rugged, towering mountains. At 5 p.m. on August 23, the prefecture leaders meeting celebrating 20 years of kosen-rufu in Nagano began. The Shinano Mixed Chorus sang the prefecture’s new song “Song of Shinano.”

Ah, majestically, in this castle,
we have talked day and night.
Travelers who emerged from the earth, now set forth!
Shinshu,[27] home to our struggle for the Law.
O how powerful the people!

Our homeland of blizzards and gentle breezes,
the Shinano region, our heart and soul,
we will never forget the most wonderful memories,
our benefits here in full bloom.
Ah, what passion and wisdom!

Our march for kosen-rufu advances boldly,
young and old shining beautifully,
faces gazing upon the Japanese Alps.
Our cheers, our songs
dance over the land of Shinano.

After thunderous applause, Shin’ichi explained his feelings in writing the song.

“Congratulations and thank you all on the wonderful success of this meeting as well as your great efforts and great victory. Out of appreciation for your tireless efforts day and night, I did my best to write a song that might encourage you in some small way.

“Victory is exhilarating. It fills us with joy and strengthens our conviction in faith. That is the wonderful thing about working for kosen-rufu. That’s why it’s important to always take on new challenges and win.”

Shin’ichi’s words moved them all.

Nagano’s springtime is beautiful with gentle breezes. In winter, fierce blizzards blow. Those who have grappled with and overcome cold, stormy seasons will experience the greatest joy in the warm breezes of spring. Our struggles for kosen-rufu enable us to attain a state of happiness filled with boundless joy.

Installment 66

Shin’ichi closed his speech powerfully: “Nothing is ever wasted in the realm of faith when we practice in accord with the Buddha’s intent. Please be confident that as long as you have an invincible fighting spirit and joyous faith, everything that happens will be a new opportunity to create value and a source of tremendous good fortune.

“I want to give a resounding cheer for Nagano’s fresh start!”

After the meeting, Shin’ichi said to the prefecture leaders: “Let’s hold a commemorative gongyo session tomorrow for those who couldn’t attend today. If many want to attend, we can hold as many sessions as necessary. I want to encourage everyone.”

The next day, August 24, was Shin’ichi’s 31st anniversary of joining the Soka Gakkai [in 1947]. The first gongyo session started at 2 p.m. A steady stream of members arrived, soon packing the Matsumoto Peace Center.

Recalling the day he joined the Soka Gakkai, Shin’ichi shared his thoughts.

“From that day, my life has been one of intense struggle, having decided to support Mr. Toda, who stood up alone to realize kosen-rufu, and to dedicate my life to that same great, unprecedented vow. I was sickly to begin with, so whenever August 24 came around, I was filled with gratitude to have survived another year. Now I can lead our movement for kosen-rufu in good health. That is because if we dedicate ourselves to kosen-rufu, we can bring forth from within the boundless life force of Buddhahood. Such is the power of Buddhism and the Gohonzon!”

The second session at 4 p.m. was also a full house.

After that, Shin’ichi went out to encourage members living in the neighborhood. He returned to the peace center shortly after 8 p.m. and found many members waiting for him.

At the third gongyo session, he said: “Please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones and create harmonious, happy families. I will keep striving to support and protect you all!”

That day he expressed his overflowing emotions in a poem:

This unforgettable day,
taking the lead for kosen-rufu
in Shinano.

(This concludes “Great Path,” chapter 2 of volume 28 of The New Human Revolution.)


  1. Seto Inland Sea: the body of water separating Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, three of the four main islands of Japan. ↩︎
  2. Iron Encircling Mountains of Jambudvipa: The mountain range that forms the circular periphery of the world, according to the ancient Indian worldview. ↩︎
  3. Seven kinds of treasures: Also, seven treasures or seven kinds of gems. Precious substances mentioned in the sutras. The list differs among the Buddhist scriptures. According to the Lotus Sutra, the seven are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl and carnelian (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 209). ↩︎
  4. Land of Tranquil Light: Also, Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. The Buddha land, which is free from impermanence and impurity. In many sutras, the saha world in which human beings dwell is described as an impure land filled with delusions and sufferings, while the Buddha land is described as a pure land free from these and far removed from this saha world. In contrast, the Lotus Sutra reveals the saha world to be the Buddha land, or the Land of Tranquil Light, and explains that the nature of a land is determined by the minds of its inhabitants. ↩︎
  5. Three bodies: The three bodies of the Buddha. Namely, the Dharma body, the reward body, and the manifested body. The Dharma body is the fundamental truth, or Law, to which a Buddha is enlightened. The reward body is the wisdom to perceive the Law. And the manifested body is the compassionate actions the Buddha carries out to lead people to happiness ↩︎
  6. Future Groups were training groups formed within the future division in Japan. ↩︎
  7. Seto Inland Sea: The body of water separating Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, three of the four main islands of Japan. ↩︎
  8. Until 1970, the Soka Gakkai functioned as a vertical “line” organization, whereby new members automatically joined the same district and chapter as the person who introduced them to the practice, regardless of where they lived. ↩︎
  9. Five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo: Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, meanwhile, is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin, however, often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎
  10. Shodo Island is the main producer of olives in Japan. ↩︎
  11. These two verses are the second and fourth, respectively. ↩︎
  12. In the Soka Gakkai organization, Chubu comprises Aichi, Mie and Gifu prefectures. ↩︎
  13. The Daishonin writes: “Even if ten thousand prayers were to be offered, if the people fail to heed me, it is certain that this country will experience what happened on Iki and Tsushima” (WND-1, 642). ↩︎
  14. Lyrics from the Chubu Region song “This Path,” which opens with the lines: “Ah, the path we have chosen— / I will cheerfully walk this path.” ↩︎
  15. Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Writer’s Letter, translated by Kenneth Lantz (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1994), p. 580. ↩︎
  16. Tajimi is a city in the Tono region of Gifu Prefecture. ↩︎
  17. Translated from Japanese. Sato Issai, Genshi Shiroku (Four Records of Thought), with modern Japanese translation and commentary by Masamitsu Kawakami, vol. 4 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1981), p. 58. ↩︎
  18. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 4 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1984), p. 287. ↩︎
  19. A mixed chorus group of men’s, women’s, and youth division members in Japan. ↩︎
  20. Translated from Spanish. See Eduardo Mallea, Historia de una pasión argentina (History of an Argentine Passion) (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1969), p. 91. ↩︎
  21. In the “Life Span” (16th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, there is a passage: “Such is the power of my wisdom / that its sagacious beams shine without measure. / This life span of countless kalpas / I gained as the result of lengthy practice” (LSOC, 272). ↩︎
  22. [1] Translated from Chinese. See Soong Ching-ling, Song Qingling lun ertong jiaoyu he ertong gongzuo (Soong Ching-ling on Children’s Education and Children’s Work), (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe, 1992), p. 78. ↩︎
  23. A line from the Tohoku song “The Aoba Pledge.” ↩︎
  24. Helen Keller, The Story of My Life (New York: Signet Classics, 1988), p. 75. ↩︎
  25. [1] Worms within the lion’s body: A metaphor for those who, despite being followers of Buddhism, destroy its teachings, just as worms within the body of the lion devour it. ↩︎
  26. Refers to the Otaru Debate in 1955, the Sapporo Summer Campaign in 1955, and the Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident in 1957. ↩︎
  27. Nagano Prefecture was formerly known as Shinano Province or its abbreviated name, Shinshu. ↩︎

‘Exude the Fragrance of Friendship’

Pasajes fundamentales del Registro de las enseñanzas transmitidas oralmente