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The New Human Revolution

Songs of Kosen-rufu—Volume 28, Chapter 1

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

Installment 1

“A song of victory resounds in my heart. / The power of spring rises in my soul,”[1] wrote the Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka (1871–1913).

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s heart resounded with a song of youth astride noble steeds galloping across the open plains of the 21st century.

On the afternoon of June 28, 1978, Shin’ichi began composing lyrics for a new student division song in the Mentor-Disciple Hall at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo.

Half an hour earlier, after a divisional representatives meeting at the Kosen-rufu Hall of the Soka Gakkai Culture Center, student division leaders had asked him to review the lyrics for their new song.

“We’re planning to present the song at the leaders meeting marking the student division’s 21st anniversary on June 30. We were hoping you could edit the draft for us.”

Shin’ichi accepted the lyric sheet and went to the Mentor-Disciple Hall. There, he placed it in front of the Soka Gakkai Joju Gohonzon,[2] which bore the inscription “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law.” He chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and then set to work.

The student division’s inaugural meeting had taken place on June 30, 1957, with second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda in attendance. At the time, the Soka Gakkai was facing growing harassment from established powers that feared the rise of an influential new people’s movement.

In Hokkaido, the Yubari Coal Miners’ Union had unjustly barred Soka Gakkai members from its ranks, falsely claiming they had disrupted the union’s solidarity. Shin’ichi, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, had rushed to the area to defend the members’ religious freedom against this blatant discrimination. While dealing with the union, he visited members at home to talk with and encourage them, igniting a flame of courage in their hearts.

The coal miners’ union was an intimidating force that wielded tremendous power, but Shin’ichi would not allow its abusive behavior to continue.

Then, on July 3, a few days after the student division’s founding, Osaka prefectural police arrested Shin’ichi on trumped-up charges of election law violations.[3]

Amid these intense struggles against the devilish nature of power, the student division was born, underscoring its destiny to be a gathering of wise and courageous leaders with a mission to support and protect the people.

Learning must always be used for the good of the people.

Installment 2

Looking at the proposed lyrics, Shin’ichi thought: “The student division is making a fresh start toward the 21st century with new leadership. It’s time for a new struggle of mentor and disciple and for me to pass them the baton of kosen-rufu. I should write them a song to celebrate this occasion and express my high hopes.”

Shin’ichi asked that the leaders who had given him the lyrics join him at the Mentor-Disciple Hall.

“Because the student division is so important,” he said, “I’d like to write the song for you. I want to create a student division song that will endure through the ages. Let’s produce a song now that will be sung for generations to come. I’d like to finish the music today as well.

“I’m prepared to give my all for you. The future can be entrusted only to you, my young friends. “Okay, then, I’ll dictate, so please write.”

Shin’ichi gazed into the distance, as if toward the future. He was silent for a while, and then began to compose the song line by line.

“‘We stand upon the vast open plains.’ By using both ‘vast’ and ‘open,’ I wish to convey a sense of majesty to emphasize that the student division members’ future is bright, and their stage, boundless. I want you to spread your wings and soar out into the wide world.

“Next, let’s say, ‘ready to journey ten thousand miles astride gallant steeds.’ This conveys the feeling of a spirited start and my wish that you will make your way to all corners of the globe.

“‘Now it’s time to venture forth as champions of the age.’ ‘Venture forth’ suggests embarking on a brave endeavor to triumph over hardships and accomplish one’s aims. ‘Champions of the age’ means outstanding leaders of the 21st century.”

Words flowed from Shin’ichi’s heart like a fountain.

A fervent wish to encourage others gives birth to words of courage, hope and conviction.

Installment 3

It was already past 4:30. Shin’ichi and his wife, Mineko, were scheduled to attend an informal gathering with women’s division leaders at the Shinjuku Culture Center at 5:30. He decided to work on the lyrics until the last minute.

“Now, the fourth line, which in Japanese poetry is considered the stanza’s all-important conclusion. Let’s go with ‘You and I, my friends, let’s dash onward to kosen-rufu!’ Ours is not a solitary struggle. We move forward with fellow members, acting as allies to the suffering and building strong friendships. ‘Dash onward’ conveys a sense of vigorous action. Young people must not just sit around absorbed in idle contemplation.

“To ‘dash onward to kosen-rufu,’ we first need to decide to live for the sake of kosen-rufu. Then, each moment, as best we can, we must strive for that cause. We don’t walk toward kosen-rufu. We dash at full speed. Nikko Shonin, Nichiren Daishonin’s disciple and successor, said, ‘Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life.’[4] That’s our spirit.

“In addition, it’s important that we remain true throughout our lives to the vow we made in our youth. The Daishonin writes: ‘Be diligent in developing your faith until the last moment of your life. Otherwise you will have regrets’ (“Letter to Niike,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1027). Our victory depends on continuing in faith.

“In the years ahead, you will start your working lives and possibly get married. You will face many changes. You may experience opposition to your faith from your boss or coworkers, or even your family and relatives. You may fall ill, or the company you work for may go bankrupt. When something like that happens, say to yourself, ‘My faith is being tested. I won’t be defeated!’ and grit your teeth and carry on. No matter how hard it is, I hope you will forge ahead on the great path of kosen-rufu to the very end as torchbearers with a great mission for truth and justice. To spur you on, I’m trying to create a song for the spirit, a rousing song of mentor and disciple.”

Shin’ichi continued working on the lyrics, drawing forth words from the depths of his being.

Installment 4

The energy and speed with which Shin’ichi composed the lyrics awed the student division leaders.

He continued: “Since the image in the first verse is vast open plains, let’s use the morning sun in the second. I want you to always advance toward the sun. Let’s start with ‘Eyes bright with resolve in the morning sun.’”

For the third verse, he said: “The image of a mighty river would be good here. I hope student division members will become captain and crew of the ship Soka Gakkai, protecting the people and opening an age in which the mighty river of kosen-rufu flows freely.

“All right, please take this down, ‘Now, on this mighty river surging powerfully, / let’s converse with all our hearts, across the silver waves, / this ship sure to make history … ’”

The mission of youth is not to be content with the past but to create something new.

After about 30 or 40 minutes, the lyrics were almost done. Reviewing them, Shin’ichi said: “Let’s make the fourth line in all three verses ‘You and I, my friends, let’s dash onward to kosen-rufu!’

“I want our student division members to develop themselves with the awareness that they are all capable individuals, that they are all students with a mission and that their activities serve as training to grow into leaders of the age. I would like these to be their guidelines.

“I’m going to another meeting now, but afterward I will work some more on the lyrics and music. I’ll let you know when I get back to it.”

Shin’ichi then left the Mentor-Disciple Hall.

He returned home at 9 p.m. and made some further revisions. Then he contacted the student division leaders and asked a men’s division member, a music teacher, to join them to help compose the music.

When they arrived, he said: “Let’s make the tempo upbeat, like a magnificent steed galloping ten thousand miles. If any of you have comments or suggestions, please feel free to speak up.”

Shin’ichi sang the lyrics, and the music teacher transcribed the melody. The tune came together bit by bit, Shin’ichi seeking the leaders’ input as he went.

Installment 5

Soon, the song was finished and given the title “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu.” A group of student division chorus members who were at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters immediately recorded it.

The tape was delivered to Shin’ichi, and he and his wife, Mineko, listened to it. He asked her what she thought.

“It’s a song filled with hope, with the vibrant spirit of youth. I’m sure everyone will be delighted. I think not only the students but members of the young men’s and young women’s divisions, and even the men and women will want to sing it.”

“Really? Then let’s give others the option of changing ‘our pride as students’ in the second verse to ‘our pride as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.’ Problem solved!

“Actually, I’m thinking of composing songs not just for the student division, but for the young men’s and young women’s divisions and all the other divisions, too. And not only for each division, but also for regions, prefectures and wards, and, if possible, chapters throughout Japan. New progress calls for new songs.”

“I wonder if you’ll have the time? You’re scheduled to travel nationwide this year, and you’ll be making your fourth visit to China in September.”

“I’m prepared to give this my all. Unjust attacks on the Soka Gakkai continue at Nichiren Shoshu temples, distressing many of our members. I want to encourage everyone. This is precisely the time to create fresh momentum for kosen-rufu.

“I’ll write one song after another. Now is a crucial moment. I’ll give it everything I’ve got. After all, Nichiren Daishonin says: ‘Life is limited; we must not begrudge it. What we should ultimately aspire to is the Buddha land’ (“Aspiration for the Buddha Land,” WND-1, 214).

“The important thing is to foster people of true courage who remain dedicated to the mission of kosen-rufu no matter what may happen. To do that, I wish to create stirring songs to inspire everyone. The Soka Gakkai will always advance with a bright, cheerful spirit, its members singing songs of joy and hope together.”

Voices raised in song resonate in people’s hearts.

Installment 6

June 30, the date of the student division anniversary leaders meeting, arrived. An article titled “Basic Issues Regarding Doctrinal Study” appeared on page four of that morning’s Seikyo Shimbun. It presented the Soka Gakkai’s position on the study of Nichiren Buddhism.

On June 19, the Soka Gakkai had received a list of more than 30 doctrinal-related questions from the priesthood. It had been compiled from questions raised by priests who had been accusing the Soka Gakkai of deviating from the school’s teachings.

The priests had scoured the Seikyo Shimbun, the Daibyakurenge monthly study journal, and other Soka Gakkai publications, and even regional newsletters published by volunteers. They questioned not only Shin’ichi’s speeches and lectures on the Daishonin’s writings but also statements of top Soka Gakkai leaders, youth division leaders and others.

For example, in one of his lectures on “The True Aspect of All Phenomena” [in 1977], Shin’ichi referred to the passage “At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others” (WND-1, 385). Explaining that it describes the principle by which the Mystic Law spreads, he went on to discuss it from the general and specific viewpoints[5]: “Needless to say, in specific terms, ‘only’ refers to the Daishonin himself in his lifetime. But this applies not just to his lifetime, as he indicates when he says: ‘Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well’ (WND-1, 385).

“The Soka Gakkai began when founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi stood up alone and started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Then two, three and many others joined in ‘chanting and teaching others,’ until eventually there were about three thousand members. After World War II, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda rose up amid the burned-out ruins of Tokyo and alone began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, again followed by two, three and then a hundred who also started ‘chanting and teaching others.’ This has led to the more than 10 million members we have today.”

Regarding this, the priesthood said: “Nichiren Daishonin alone was the one to start chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Isn’t it presumptuous, then, to say that the first and second presidents were the ones to start chanting it?”

Shin’ichi had simply described the undeniable history of how the Soka Gakkai had spread Nichiren Buddhism throughout Japan and the world.

Installment 7

The solitary initiative of first and second Soka Gakkai Presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda had set in motion a fresh groundswell for kosen-rufu in modern times. In light of this, Shin’ichi had stressed in his lecture on “The True Aspect of All Phenomena” the lionhearted spirit needed to realize the compassionate spread of the Mystic Law.

Yet the priesthood had nevertheless sent this question alleging, based on their distorted reasoning, that the Soka Gakkai regarded Presidents Makiguchi and Toda as equal to Nichiren Daishonin.

Another question took up Shin’ichi’s statement on how Mr. Toda, while chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his prison cell, had “read the Lotus Sutra with his life and awakened to his identity as the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” The priesthood asked: “Of course, the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is Bodhisattva Superior Practices. Did President Toda awaken to being Bodhisattva Superior Practices and engage in that bodhisattva’s practice? If that were the case, there would be no need for the Daishonin, would there?”

What Shin’ichi meant by calling Mr. Toda “the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth” was that he was “the lay leader of propagation.” It was also well-known that Mr. Toda had often referred to himself as “the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” With this self-awareness, Toda stood up alone after the war to work for kosen-rufu and took the lead in spreading Nichiren Buddhism to 750,000 households.

High Priest Nichijun Horigome (1898–1959) had praised Mr. Toda’s achievement, saying: “It seems to me that the Soka Gakkai is a gathering of these bodhisattvas called forth in the Latter Day by President Toda, their leader. In other words, I believe President Toda called them forth in the number of 750,000 member households as embodiments of the five or seven characters[6] of Myoho-renge-kyo.”[7]

“These bodhisattvas” referred back to the “great bodhisattvas as numerous as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers”—in other words, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—that High Priest Nichijun had mentioned earlier in his remarks. Shin’ichi had, therefore, called Mr. Toda “the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth” based on this and the fact that he had led the unprecedented effort to spread the Mystic Law in Japan’s turbulent postwar period, which resulted in achieving a Soka Gakkai membership of 750,000 households.

In the present age, who are the Bodhisattvas of the Earth other than those who face opposition for the sake of the Law, striving with selfless dedication to advance kosen-rufu? And who is their leader if not the person who guides them? Where else do we find the emergence of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth?

Installment 8

The priesthood also took issue with the Soka Gakkai referring to President Makiguchi as senshi, literally, “late teacher or mentor.” They pointed out that the “Twenty-Six Admonitions of Nikko” had used this term for Nichiren Daishonin and asked if the Soka Gakkai were equating Mr. Makiguchi with Nichiren Daishonin.

The Soka Gakkai used the term in its generic meaning of predecessor, merely to distinguish Mr. Makiguchi from Mr. Toda, for whom it used the term onshi, literally, “teacher or mentor.”

Behind such questions were the priesthood’s misconceptions and false suspicions that the Soka Gakkai was promoting the idea that “the president is the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.”

In response, the Soka Gakkai reaffirmed that Nichiren Daishonin alone is the Buddha of the Latter Day and that this is “a fundamental principle unchanging throughout the ten thousand years and more of the Latter Day of the Law.” The organization’s arduous struggle of the past half century, it stressed, was dedicated to “showing the world through its propagation efforts that Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddha who appeared in the Latter Day.” It further stated:

In our daily practice for ourselves and others, we have always regarded Nichiren Daishonin as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. We have made the Gohonzon, which embodies his spirit, the fundamental object of our faith, and made the widespread propagation of Nichiren Buddhism the great goal of our practice. This is the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit. Therefore, the Soka Gakkai has never taken the view that its president is the Buddha of the Latter Day.

Not understanding the importance of the “time” of the Latter Day of the Law, Japanese Buddhism contented itself solely with worshipping statues of Shakyamuni and other Buddhas. Now, however, through the efforts of Soka mentors and disciples—starting with Presidents Makiguchi and Toda—unprecedented numbers of people had come to regard Nichiren Daishonin as the Buddha of the Latter Day and were working for kosen-rufu based on faith in the Gohonzon.

This alone made it clear that the priesthood’s claim that the Soka Gakkai viewed its president as the Buddha of the Latter Day had no grounding in reality and was just a pretext manufactured to attack the lay organization.

The ancient Greek poet Hesiod wrote, “The bad man will harm the superior one, speaking with crooked discourses, and he will swear an oath upon them.”[8] The methods used by the ill-intentioned to discredit the just and good are still the same today.

Installment 9

Another question referred to an article by a young men’s division ward leader that contained the phrase “the Soka Gakkai, which is directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin.” The priesthood asked what “directly connected” meant, implying that the Soka Gakkai was rejecting the high priest’s role.

The phrase had been used in the context of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith and fusing our lives with the Gohonzon [which embodies Nichiren Daishonin’s enlightened life state]. There had been no intent to negate the role of the high priest. The priests had deliberately sought out remarks they could use as ammunition to support their claims that the organization was deviating from the school’s teachings.

Referring to Shin’ichi’s use of the term “Soka Buddhism,” they asked what that meant and whether it was something different from Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism.

Shin’ichi had used the term in relation to the Soka Gakkai’s efforts to spread the Daishonin’s teachings in society and to convey its commitment to practice-oriented Buddhist study. Moreover, soka, or value creation, essentially means the creation of happiness. He had, therefore, used the term “Soka Buddhism” in the sense of “Buddhism for creating happiness.”

The priesthood also took issue with a Soka Gakkai study department leader’s reference to “the life philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin,” insisting “the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin” was more appropriate.

Introducing Buddhist principles in terms of life philosophy enables a wider audience to gain an understanding of Nichiren Buddhism. For Buddhism to spread on a broader scale, it is essential to explain its teachings in an accessible way, staying relevant to the times and taking into account contemporary ideas and scientific insights.

Finding ways to articulate the Buddhist teachings that accord with the times is a matter of crucial importance for advancing kosen-rufu. The road to kosen-rufu will close if we neglect such responsibility and effort. That is why the Soka Gakkai has consistently devoted great energy to this endeavor. Because of this, Nichiren Buddhism has come to be recognized and appreciated by many leaders and thinkers around the world, and has developed into a global religion.

Installment 10

The Soka Gakkai considered the priesthood’s questions carefully, organizing them and formulating its response with utmost sincerity. The priesthood had said that if it was satisfied with the Soka Gakkai’s answers, it could stop the attacks on the organization at its temples.

The Soka Gakkai leadership’s main priority was to quickly end this abnormal situation and protect the members. As they answered the questions, they confirmed the organization’s basic stance, ready to accept any points made by the priesthood regarding expressions that could be misunderstood. Their sincere response reflected the Soka Gakkai’s earnest wish for harmonious relations with the priesthood.

A short time later, the organization received a message from High Priest Nittatsu saying that he accepted the answers they had submitted.

The Soka Gakkai published its response under the title “Basic Issues Regarding Doctrinal Study” on page four of the June 30 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun and in the August edition of the Daibyakurenge study journal, to ensure that the entire membership was informed.

That should have ended the unjustified criticisms of the Soka Gakkai at Nichiren Shoshu temples. But once again, false accusations circulated, inciting further attacks. Behind this were the machinations of one treacherous individual who sought to manipulate the priesthood for his personal gain.

Many priests seized on the Soka Gakkai’s sincere response as a clear admission of error, using the article to double down on their negative campaign.

Far from subsiding, the attacks intensified. Using the weight of their clerical authority, the priests busied themselves pressuring members to quit the organization and affiliate directly with their own temples as danto members. Their tactics included threats that they would be unable to attain Buddhahood if they stayed with the Soka Gakkai.

When Shin’ichi thought of the distress this was causing the members, the children of the Buddha, he vowed to himself to protect them at all costs. He keenly felt it was vital to foster genuine champions of Soka who would never be swayed by plots to destroy the movement for kosen-rufu.

Installment 11

On the evening of June 30, the day “Basic Issues Regarding Doctrinal Study” ran in the Seikyo Shimbun, the student division’s 21st anniversary leaders meeting took place at the Arakawa Culture Center in Tokyo.

Quite a few of those attending had been born in 1957, the year of the student division’s establishment. All thought it deeply significant that the group had been formed at a time when their mentor, Shin’ichi Yamamoto, was engaged in an intense struggle against the devilish nature of authority.

The path of kosen-rufu is an epic and eternal struggle against any authoritarianism that aims to oppress and subjugate human beings. The student division members burned with determination to inherit Shin’ichi’s spirit, to protect the people and to fulfill their mission as the vanguard of kosen-rufu.

The emcee’s opening remarks were met with thunderous applause.

Kazuhito Oshiyama, the student division secretary, and Yuko Machino, the young women’s student bureau leader, spoke, and then student division leader Shigeo Asada took the podium.

Asada told the audience that Shin’ichi had put his heart and soul into composing the new student division song, “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu.” He described the process leading to its completion: “After we announced the decision to compose a new student division song at the June student division leaders meeting [on May 24], ideas for the lyrics poured in from around the country. We even had a suggestion from a 66-year-old women’s division member! With such enthusiasm and warm support from everyone, the songwriting committee put their heads together and came up with a draft. But there was still much work to be done.

“When we showed it to President Yamamoto two days ago, he offered to write the song for us, saying he wanted to create a student division song that would last through the ages, and he immediately set to work. He revised it many times and, despite his busy schedule, even composed the music!”

Installment 12

Asada introduced the lyrics:

We stand upon the vast open plains
ready to journey ten thousand miles astride gallant steeds.
Now it’s time to venture forth as champions of the age.
You and I, my friends, let’s dash onward to kosen-rufu!

Eyes bright with resolve in the morning sun,
compassion and principle our pride as students.
O how our revolutionary wisdom shines!
You and I, my friends, let’s dash onward to kosen-rufu!

Now, on this mighty river surging powerfully,
let’s converse with all our hearts, across the silver waves,
this ship sure to make history.
You and I, my friends, let’s dash onward to kosen-rufu!

The venue erupted in loud, sustained applause.

Asada then share the three guidelines Shin’ichi had presented to the student division while working on the lyrics, including that they should strive with the awareness that they are all capable individuals.

“Let’s take deeply to heart our new song and the guidelines from President Yamamoto! Joyfully singing ‘Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu,’ let’s impart hope and courage to our troubled friends and strive with all our might to fulfill our mission as the forerunners of kosen-rufu!”

Everyone then joined the chorus and orchestra in a stirring rendition of the song. These students of “compassion and principle” powerfully sang of their vow “to journey ten thousand miles” for kosen-rufu.

Next came words from a Soka Gakkai vice president and an awards presentation for past student division leaders and others who had made pioneering contributions to the group. At last, it was time for Shin’ichi to speak.

He was happy to see so many outstanding young people of intellect and courage emerging in the Soka Gakkai, a gathering of ordinary people.

The most important requisite for the educated is to know the thoughts and feelings of the marginalized. They must have a philosophy and creed that prioritize safeguarding the people.

Installment 13

Congratulating the student division on its 21st anniversary, Shin’ichi began his speech recalling how his father, who had run a seaweed processing business, had stressed to him that it would be increasingly important to acquire learning from now on. Shin’ichi added that in every field, learning is indispensable to respond to and navigate the changing times, and that capable people with knowledge and wisdom will play a significant role in advancing kosen-rufu.

Looking to the Soka Gakkai’s future, he emphasized: “The most important period for us will be the 21st century. That is when you will take center stage. Please do not forget that your current studies, training and Buddhist practice are all to enable you to take your place on that grand stage. Therefore, no matter how tough it may be, please persevere, work hard and continue to improve yourself.

“How many outstanding leaders we produce in the 21st century will determine the course of the 22nd and 23rd centuries. In that sense, I wish to declare that the 21st century will be decisive for us.”

Youth are the protagonists of the future.

The German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) wrote, “If we wish to achieve it [change] quickly, / we will need you and your support.”[9]

Shin’ichi never forgot the guidance of his mentor, Josei Toda, to set his sights 200 years hence. To do that, he first focused on the coming decades and poured his heart into winning day by day, month by month and year by year.

Realizing a far-distant vision starts by winning right now. We must devote all our energies to each task, take up challenges and proudly raise a banner of victory. Today’s struggles become tomorrow’s hopes and future crowns of brilliant achievement. Now is the time to create a precious history of earnest struggle that will adorn our lives.

Installment 14

Shin’ichi’s voice grew more impassioned.

“All of you possess great qualities and talents. But you must never lose sight of one thing, faith, and never give up your Buddhist practice.

“Fundamental issues of human destiny, happiness and life and death cannot be resolved solely through science, politics or economics. Only Nichiren Buddhism, which explains the ultimate Law of the universe, enables us to resolve them and achieve lives of indestructible happiness.

“Please engrave these words of the Daishonin in your hearts and follow the great path of kosen-rufu until the very end: ‘Whether tempted by good or threatened by evil, if one casts aside the Lotus Sutra, one destines oneself for [a life-state of] hell’ (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 280).

“What does this mean in practical terms? Naturally, it’s important that you strive to become indispensable in your own fields, but you also need to take on some sort of responsibility within the Soka Gakkai, the organization for kosen-rufu and work hard to make each of your activities a success.

“The prayers of those who wish for everyone’s happiness, shoulder responsibility for kosen-rufu and do their best in organizational activities are truly powerful. Such people have abundant life force. In addition, by dedicating yourselves to the happiness of members and the people in your community, you can align your lives with the rhythm of the Mystic Law. This is Buddhist practice for accruing boundless good fortune. I want you to know that this is the way to do your human revolution and speed up the process of changing your karma.

“Once you enter society, your circumstances may sometimes prevent you from participating in Soka Gakkai activities as often as you’d like. But such times are crucial. That’s when you need to resolve that now is the decisive moment, have mutually encouraging encounters with fellow members and try to participate as much as you can. I hope you will stay closely connected to the organization and grow into fine leaders of the Soka Gakkai.”

Kosen-rufu can’t be realized without the Soka Gakkai, the organization carrying out the Buddha’s intent. If you become separated from it, you’ll stray from the correct path of faith dedicated to the happiness of oneself and others.

Installment 15

Shin’ichi wanted all the student division members to become victors in life and lead lives of supreme happiness and fulfillment.

He spoke powerfully: “Some of you may be agonizing over various problems. You may long to someday enjoy a perfect life free of suffering, utterly different from your life now.

“But life is a constant struggle with problems. They’ll always be there. What matters is whether you let them defeat you or not. Happiness rests on you becoming a person whom nothing can defeat. However painful the hardships that assail you, you just have to keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and pressing forward until you overcome them. That is the key to finding genuine fulfillment, joy and happiness. That is the real power of our faith and practice. Youth is the time to forge a strong inner core so that you can face such difficulties. The only way to do that is to actively strive to develop your capability in the Soka Gakkai and polish and strengthen your life.

“As young people with the mission to become great leaders of the 21st century, please reach out to those around you who may be struggling, thoroughly encourage them and speak with them about Buddhism. In doing so, you can cultivate the leadership and character that will inspire others while also deepening your conviction in Nichiren Buddhism.

“With the highest expectations, Mr. Toda always told the youth: ‘I entrust the Soka Gakkai’s future to you.’ I have lived up to that trust.

“Now it is your turn. With all my heart, I entrust the 21st century to you.

“As the world’s foremost gathering of students upholding the Mystic Law, as the successors in whom our warmhearted Soka family places its highest hopes, please work together harmoniously to create a new era, dedicating your lives to the happiness of the people.

“With my boundless hopes for what you will achieve with your intellect and passion, I wish to close by saying once again: ‘I entrust the 21st century to you!’”

Installment 16

The students responded to Shin’ichi’s heartfelt call with thunderous applause that went on and on.

The chorus then sang “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu” again. Their powerful, vibrant voices rang through the hall. It was an ode to these heroic champions of wisdom and intellect about to venture on a long journey for peace.

When they finished, Shin’ichi said: “Excellent! Please sing it again!”

The song echoed through the hall once more. Everyone applauded for another encore.

“All right, one more time.”

They sang again and again.

“One last time, with everyone!” Shin’ichi said.

At this, a young man in the audience called out: “Sensei! How about we sing arm in arm?”

“What do you say?” Shin’ichi asked the participants. “I think it’s a wonderful idea, very fitting for students.”

Applause signaled their approval.

“Then let’s have the person who spoke out lead us.”

We stand upon the vast open plains
ready to journey ten thousand miles astride gallant steeds . . . .

With their arms over each other’s shoulders, the passionate young people swayed side to side to the music like a great wave. It evoked the powerful rising tide of a new age. Shin’ichi clapped in time energetically and gazed at the participants as if to engrave their faces in his memory.

The students made a vow: They would boldly challenge themselves upon the vast open plains of their mission. They would eagerly take their place on the stage of a new era as champions of the age. They would be students of compassion and principle, who shone with revolutionary wisdom. And they would foster dialogue for truth and justice, creating a history of lasting peace for all humanity.

A new song can inspire a new generation and be the force to open a new era.

Installment 17

Let us sing!
Songs of the heart, burning crimson!
Let us loudly sing songs of joy!
Let us proudly sing odes to the triumph of justice!
Let us brightly sing anthems to the people!

Since the Soka Gakkai’s early days, songs had always accompanied the members’ inspiring human dramas. The development of kosen-rufu had gained momentum as the people sang with uplifting voices.

Songs are thunderbolts of courage that vanquish the dark night, fanfares of hope that make the magnificent morning sun rise in our hearts.

Soon, not only student division members but members throughout Japan were singing “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu” that Shin’ichi had written and composed.

On July 1, the day after its debut, the song was enthusiastically sung at meetings across the country, including a headquarters leaders meeting in Tokaido, a chapter leaders meeting in Tokyo, a general meeting in Oita Prefecture and a women’s division training group meeting.

After “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu,” Shin’ichi immediately started on the words and music to a new young men’s division song.

The division had adopted “Leap Forward, Courageous Champions of Kosen-rufu!” as its slogan for July, which marked the group’s 27th anniversary, and was planning prefecture general meetings and other events. Shin’ichi wanted to give the group a new song to encourage their fresh dynamic progress.

He was concerned about the growing number of young people who, amid the rapidly changing times, were unable to forge a solid sense of self and were uninterested in participating in society.

More and more, members of the younger generation sought to “drop out,” growing apathetic, indifferent and unwilling to assume adult responsibilities.

To resolve this, people must come to know the fundamental meaning of their existence. The Lotus Sutra provides a clear answer.

That is, we are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth who have voluntarily appeared in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law with the mission of spreading the Mystic Law to eliminate misery from our world and build peace and happiness for all.

Installment 18

Youth have a mission to be leaders of tomorrow’s society, tomorrow’s world, and to realize happiness and peace for all.

If young people close themselves up in their own shell, society will lose hope. If young people abandon their ideals, the future will be bleak.

With a fervent prayer that the youth of Soka be leaders of the next generation, Shin’ichi composed the new young men’s division song.

Brave young Bodhisattvas of the Earth,
like eagles, soar into the vast skies,
with wings of justice, protect the people.
Boldly, bravely, stand up, my friends!

Behold the rainbow in the distance!
Go fearlessly on the path you’ve chosen,
charging forth like lions, champions of the earth.
In the rising and setting sun, stand up, my friends!

Devoted to the grand adventure of kosen-rufu,
strike the Seven Bells and let them ring,
usher in a glorious age of victory.
Amid spring flowers or winter blizzards, stand up, my friends! 

He titled the song “Stand Up, My Friends.”

The July 3 Seikyo Shimbun carried the music and lyrics.

July 3 is the day [in 1945] that Shin’ichi’s mentor, Josei Toda, was released after two years in prison for his opposition to Japan’s militarist authorities and the day [in 1957] that Shin’ichi was arrested on baseless charges of election law violations. The day, therefore, symbolizes the Soka Gakkai’s vow to vanquish the devilish nature of authority and build an age of the people’s victory.

Shin’ichi had worked hard to complete the song so that it could be published in the July 3 issue.

Even after it was published, he asked many people for their input and made some revisions. The final lyrics and music appeared in the July 6 Seikyo Shimbun.

“Stand Up, My Friends” was a heroic and powerful song expressing the vow of young champions dedicated to “the grand adventure of kosen-rufu.”

Soka youth are those who live this adventure.

Installment 19

The July 6 issue also featured the music and lyrics of “The Stars Shine,” which Shin’ichi had composed for the young women’s division’s Byakuren Group. He wrote it to celebrate Byakuren Group Day on July 8 and the group’s new start.

Byakuren Group members served as reception and coordinating staff for meetings at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters and culture and community centers around the country. Their cheerful, uplifting, and dignified demeanor was the hope and pride of Soka Gakkai members.

Shin’ichi was resolved to protect the pure-spirited Byakuren members, treasures of the Soka Gakkai. He wrote the lyrics to praise and encourage them.

Donning the color of wisteria, eyes clear,
with beautiful hearts, you welcome fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Warm and confident, from person to person—
butterflies fluttering in a sincere dance.

White lilies in your hearts, your presence vibrant,
as you brightly greet weary friends.
The stars shine, the moon converses.
Ah, your faces glowing from effort.

White lotus [byakuren] blossoms, the fragrance of happiness,
gently perfume our castles.
Princesses who bring joy to the tearful,
who send people off refreshed.

On July 8, the Byakuren Group held a general meeting at the Arakawa Culture Center in Tokyo to commemorate their anniversary. Wearing their lilac uniforms, they sang “The Stars Shine” with beaming smiles and reflected on the noble mission of Byakuren members and Shin’ichi’s hopes for them. They vowed in their hearts to send, with their fresh voices, a revitalizing breeze to the weary and tearful.

Installment 20

The music and lyrics of “Life’s Journey,” a new song for the men’s division, also ran in the July 8 Seikyo Shimbun. Shin’ichi wrote it with high hopes for the men’s valiant efforts as they prepared for Men’s Division Day on August 24.

So many peaks, so many hills—
Ah, untold mountains and rivers crossed with partners and family,
seeking the light, through struggles and joys.
The time will surely come when we behold the dawn.

So many winds, so many snows—
Ah, how far we’ve come!
Now our lives unshakable.
Ah, the bell tolls in the bastion of happiness.

So many people, so many friends—
Ah, millions gather in the morning sun.
The flame of time without beginning still burns.
Let us celebrate in song our noble departure.

Men are traditionally the mainstays of their families, the golden pillars of society. When men with rich life experience who have won society’s trust stand up to contribute to their local communities, kosen-rufu gathers momentum.

In Nichiren Daishonin’s time, disciples such as Toki Jonin, Ota Jomyo, and Soya Kyoshin played central roles in spreading the Mystic Law in their communities.

When men set an example in advancing kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai will be able to demonstrate its full, rich potential and develop a movement firmly rooted in society. If, for example, five outstanding men’s division members appear in each block—the front line of the organization—and unite their efforts, they will serve as solid new pillars for their community. With many such pillars, we can expand a network of creativity and encouragement in our communities that will pave the way to a brighter future.

Installment 21

Shin’ichi looked to the 21st century.

Life expectancy in Japan was increasing year by year. So eventually, men in the Soka Gakkai would spend more time in the men’s division than in the young men’s division, perhaps even 40 or 50 years. In other words, a growing number would spend more than half their lives as men’s division members. For many after retirement, the local community would be the focus of their activities.

Shin’ichi believed that kosen-rufu at the local level would be realized when men’s division members became actively involved in their communities.

From the organization’s early days, women’s division members had been the main driving force behind neighborhood activities. In addition to the demands of housework and child-rearing, they gave their all to Soka Gakkai activities, showed concern for and maintained friendly relations with their neighbors and built a foundation of trust in their communities.

The 21st century, however, would be an age when men play a more active role in the local community. They would help establish a solid foundation for the Soka Gakkai, find solutions to the many challenges their communities faced, and turn their local areas into citadels of human harmony.

In the past, people saw retirement years as a time of rest, of slowing down. But now we must see this period as a time to apply the strengths one has cultivated over the years to inspire and invigorate others.

Buddhism is manifested in society, and kosen-rufu in the community is realized by contributing to the community. By thinking about what we can do for our community and for other people, and boldly doing our part, we can spread happiness and promote kosen-rufu.

Nichiren Daishonin states, “The varied sufferings that all living beings undergo—all these are Nichiren’s own sufferings” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 138). Buddhist practitioners regard the suffering of others as their own and strive to find solutions. Our communities will develop, flourish and succeed when men awaken to that mission and become the central force and impetus for bettering them.

Installment 22

On the evening of July 8, Shin’ichi Yamamoto met informally with more than a dozen people, including chapter and ward men’s and women’s division leaders and others from the Kitamachi area in Nerima Ward, Tokyo.

He gazed warmly at each of them and began to speak.

“My resolve and commitment is to sincerely praise and encourage above all those who have suffered the most. Buddhism teaches that those who have struggled the most, who have wept the bitterest tears, can attain the greatest happiness. I have always watched over our Kitamachi members in that spirit.”

Three or four years earlier, a group of leaders who had begun to doubt the Gohonzon and criticize the Soka Gakkai disrupted the unity of the Kitamachi organization. Influenced by them, several members had left the Soka Gakkai. Others had encouraged one another and overcome the ordeal together. In January 1978, with the implementation of the new chapter system for the second phase of kosen-rufu, they had made a fresh start full of great hope.

“Kitamachi members bravely weathered the storm, surmounted all obstacles and have taken a giant leap forward. I understand that you have also made unprecedented strides in propagation. This has been a wonderful case of changing poison into medicine, and I am sure the heavenly deities and Buddhas throughout the universe are singing your praises.

“To commend your success, I have composed a song for the chapters in Kitamachi titled ‘Kitamachi Kosen-rufu.’ It’s the only song I’ve written for any chapter in Japan.”

Everyone’s face lit up, and they all applauded.

A cassette deck then played the uplifting music.

This greenery, this wonderful area,
you and I walk the path,
bathed in the morning sun of good fortune.
Let’s talk in this open space together.

Shin’ichi had hoped to compose a catchy, upbeat tune so that everyone from children to the elderly would naturally want to sing or hum along.

Installment 23

“The first verse talks about the hope-filled morning,” Shin’ichi explained. “The second is about the daytime, and the third, the night.”

This person, that person,
breezes of happiness beneath blue skies,
smiling faces, dancing butterflies.
Let’s study Buddhism together.

This house, that house,
under the stars, united in song,
praising this idyllic haven.
Let’s build Kitamachi kosen-rufu together.

Everyone clapped enthusiastically when the song ended.

Shin’ichi smiled and said: “There are four chapters in Kitamachi, and they all have wonderful chapter songs, so please keep singing them. If you like this song, too, feel free to sing it as the shared song of all four Kitamachi chapters.

“If chapters in other areas want to sing it, they can just replace ‘Kitamachi’ with the name of their chapter or area.

“Kosen-rufu also means to make one’s local community and society flourish. Our mission as Buddhists is to put the principles of Nichiren Buddhism into practice in the real world and raise the victory banner of ‘establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land’ in society.

“This is probably the only chapter song in Japan or even the world I will write. What matters, therefore, is how you respond. If it inspires you to make your chapter foremost in Japan and the world, to make a fresh vow to surmount every challenge and come out victorious, then it will be profoundly meaningful. But if you just say it’s a song I composed and that’s the end of it, then no value will be created. Your determination and actions are what will give it meaning.”

Installment 24

The soka of Soka Gakkai means “value creation,” a foundation for building happiness. It means finding the deeper significance of everything that happens in our lives, deriving gratitude and joy from it, strengthening our spirit and creating happiness.

Nichiren Buddhism opens our eyes to value creation. If we view things deeply from the perspective of Buddhism, we will discover infinitely profound meaning that will propel us toward happiness and find an inexhaustible source of spiritual richness.

For example, Nichiren Daishonin describes the rice a follower offered him as “white rice grown with bone-breaking labor by the people” (“Reply to Matsuno,” WND-2, 752). In this way, he recognizes the toil and effort, and most important the sincerity, of those who grew the rice, and expresses his utmost gratitude.

In another letter, he writes, “Polished rice is not polished rice; it is life itself” (“The Gift of Rice,” WND-1, 1126). Food supports and nourishes our lives, so making an offering of life-sustaining rice is equal to offering one’s life itself, he says, greatly praising the sincerity of the giver.

Elsewhere, speaking of the persecution raining down on his followers, he declares: “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (“Great Evil and Great Good,” WND-1, 1119), pointing out that the great slander prevailing throughout the land means that “the great correct Law would spread without fail” (WND-1, 1119).

Further, regarding his own harsh persecutions, the Daishonin says, “My actions in defending the Law in this present life are calling forth retributions for the grave offenses of my past” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 282). He also declares, “Without tribulation there would be no votary of the Lotus Sutra” (“The Postscript to “On Establishing the Correct,” WND-1, 33), and shares his supreme joy that the hardships befalling him prove that he is the votary of the Lotus Sutra.

To view every problem in light of Nichiren’s teachings—drawing profound meaning from it and transforming it into the energy for growth and development—is the way of life of practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism and the path of value creation.

Installment 25

After asking for an update on each of the Kitamachi chapters, Shin’ichi talked about the ideal attitude and behavior of chapter men’s and women’s leaders, giving specific examples.

“It’s important to embrace with an open heart those who have stopped practicing and left the Soka Gakkai. Rather than severing ties with them, I hope you will have the generosity to say, ‘We’re still friends, so if you have any problems, I’m always here for you.’

“Even if others leave, focus on patiently fostering each person who remains into a capable, outstanding individual. When they develop five times or ten times the strength they have now, the chapter will grow tremendously.

“To that end, I hope you, our chapter men’s and women’s leaders, will meet each of your members and keep them firmly in your hearts. Chant with the resolve to foster each one, without exception, to be a champion for kosen-rufu and to help them become happy without fail. To the extent you do so, the heavenly deities are sure to protect you.

“As leaders, please make serving the members the purpose of your activities. That’s what I’ve always done.

“Even though you practice Nichiren Buddhism, I’m sure you all have problems and difficulties. On top of that, you’ve taken on organizational responsibilities, which means you are sharing in your members’ struggles and hardships. It may feel like you are climbing a steep hill while shouldering a burden of worries several times your weight. But by regarding the members’ sufferings as your own, you can vastly expand your state of life. It is by striving tirelessly for kosen-rufu through the most challenging circumstances that you will gather great fortune and enjoy wonderful benefits. Please never forget the Buddhist law of cause and effect.”

The Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who appear in the Latter Day of the Law, turn their thoughts and concern to helping and encouraging others out of a wish for the happiness of all people. They do this while grappling with their own karma and suffering. As a result, their lives shine with noble humanity, with the light of Buddhist humanism.

Installment 26

Encouraging the leaders to prepare for any challenges, Shin’ichi continued: “Storms always lie ahead on the Soka Gakkai’s path. That’s because it is the path of truth and justice. Some in the mass media will continue to slander and defame us. The powers that be, fearing the emergence of a new force of awakened people seeking reform, will target the Soka Gakkai and plot against us.

“But if our chapter men’s and women’s leaders have formed strong bonds of trust among the members, the Soka Gakkai will remain solid. It all comes down to our connections with one another. No malicious rumor can sever genuine human ties. If you gain the full trust of your chapter members and friends, everything will be fine. In other words, the Soka Gakkai exists in you. Live with the conviction that the circle of trust you create is itself the development of kosen-rufu.”

At the meeting, some members expressed their wish to designate July 8 Kitamachi Kosen-rufu Day.

Shin’ichi was happy that they wanted to set that day as a starting point and use it to mark a new milestone of growth each year.

“I completely agree! Please keep the vow you made today, July 8, forever in your hearts and turn each chapter in Kitamachi into one of the best in Japan. So much so that when anyone thinks of a model chapter, they think of Kitamachi.

“I ended the song with the line ‘Let’s build Kitamachi kosen-rufu together.’ It expresses my spirit to be with you always. I will never forget you. I will continue chanting for you. We are united as mentor and disciples. We are fighting together as mentor and disciples. I hope that you, too, will always move forward one in heart with me.

“‘Let’s build together’ also implies the unity of members. Please build the friendliest, most joyful and most united chapter anywhere.”

Shin’ichi gave the members of Kitamachi not just a chapter song. He imparted to them the eternal, indestructible fighting spirit of Soka.

Installment 27

That same day, July 8, Shin’ichi Yamamoto was already working on another song—a song for Kansai.

The history of kosen-rufu in Kansai was marked by raging storms and glorious triumphs.

In May 1956, Shin’ichi had led Osaka Chapter in achieving the indelible record of 11,111 households joining the Soka Gakkai.

Then in July, under his leadership, a Soka Gakkai-backed candidate in the Osaka electoral district won a seat in the national House of Councilors (Upper House) election, overturning widespread expectations that winning was impossible. In fact, a major newspaper announced the outcome with the headline “The ‘Impossible’ Has Been Achieved!”

The following April, however, a Soka Gakkai-backed candidate unfortunately failed to gain a seat in an Upper House by-election in the Osaka electoral district. Some overly eager Soka Gakkai members, not fully aware of the nation’s election laws, had violated them. On July 3, Shin’ichi, who bore overall responsibility for the campaign, voluntarily presented himself for questioning at the request of the Osaka Prefectural Police and was arrested on false charges of election law violations.

His detainment lasted 15 days. Harsh interrogations ensued, with the prosecutor even resorting to threats. Shin’ichi was told that if he didn’t plead guilty, President Toda would be arrested. July 1957 was just nine months before Toda’s death. Already extremely frail, an arrest would surely kill him. Shin’ichi decided to take the blame for the time being and then prove his innocence in court.

The authorities feared the rise of a new people’s movement and, wielding their oppressive power, they fiercely attacked the Soka Gakkai. But justice would prevail. Justice had to prevail.

Shin’ichi was released from the Osaka Detention Center shortly after noon on July 17. That evening, the Osaka Rally, with President Toda attending, took place at the city’s central public hall in Nakanoshima to protest the actions of the Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters and the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office. The building housing the prosecutors’ office was visible across the river.

As if expressing the outrage and sorrow of the heavenly deities, lightning ripped through the clouds, thunder crashed and rain poured.

Installment 28

Members also packed the area outside, where they listened, many without umbrellas in the sudden downpour, over loudspeakers set up for the occasion.

Applause erupted in the hall when Shin’ichi Yamamoto took the microphone.

“My friends, it’s been a while since I saw you last,” he began, his voice dignified and powerful.

Shin’ichi, whom Kansai members loved like a brother, now stood hale and hearty before them after more than two weeks of harsh interrogation. They couldn’t suppress tears of joy. In that moment, they became acutely aware that the path of kosen-rufu was a relentless battle against the devilish nature of authority and, filled with indignation, they vowed to triumph in every endeavor.

“Let us rise to this challenge with the conviction that final victory belongs to those who strive tenaciously in faith, to those who steadfastly embrace the Gohonzon and to the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism!”

Profoundly moved by Shin’ichi’s lion’s roar, everyone applauded vigorously.

Kansai members engraved this moment deep in their lives. They resolved to never be defeated and to win in their struggle no matter what. This marked the brilliant start of invincible Kansai.

Shin’ichi’s court battle lasted four and a half years until he was exonerated of all charges on January 25, 1962. The prosecutors did not appeal, and the acquittal was confirmed. The Kansai members, who fought alongside him throughout the emotional ordeal, rejoiced as if it were their own victory, their joy propelling them on an unstoppable, ever-victorious advance.

In 1978, 22 years after the Osaka Campaign’s immortal achievement, just 22 years remained to the start of the 21st century. At that halfway point, Shin’ichi wanted them to build an eternal, indestructible, ever-victorious bastion.

That’s why he thought the courageous successors of Kansai needed a song that would inspire them to carry on the Kansai spirit forever and make fresh strides forward.

Installment 29

It was early July when Shin’ichi had proposed writing a song for Kansai.

Delighted, the Kansai region leaders immediately started on the project, with the youth division taking the lead. Ryoji Nishibuchi, the Kansai region leader, and others revised the resulting draft and then delivered it to Shin’ichi on the morning of July 8, the day he met with the representatives from Nerima’s Kitamachi area.

The song was titled “Dancing with Friends.” Shin’ichi appreciated their efforts, but he felt it lacked originality and a Kansai flavor. Kansai leaders were not completely satisfied either.

Shin’ichi therefore decided to compose the song himself and set to work that afternoon. He dictated the feelings that surged from his heart, and his wife, Mineko, wrote them down.

“Now again forming our ranks . … ” He felt it had to start with those words.

“In Kansai, countless ordinary people united with me to write a new page of history, creating a brilliant record of achievement in our kosen-rufu movement. In Kansai, sharing my spirit, and outraged by the tyranny of authoritarianism, members wiped away bitter tears, rose to the challenge and built a great ever-victorious citadel. Kansai has a proud, golden starting point. They should always return to that starting point and stand up with fresh resolve each day. My bond with the Kansai members is not accidental or a matter of this lifetime alone. As Bodhisattvas of the Earth who leaped forth with a vow for kosen-rufu, we are linked by a mission from the distant past.”

The moment these thoughts came to Shin’ichi’s mind, the lyrics “you and I, from the distant past, / comrades sharing a vow, / a song of spring” flowed from his lips.

Mineko said with a sparkle in her eye: “‘A song of spring.’ That’s very inspiring. It captures everything: happiness, joy, dynamism, and victory.”

At about 7 p.m., after spending some time talking with the Kitamachi members, Shin’ichi took his leave. When he finished making further revisions to the song, he telephoned Koichi Towada, the Kansai region general leader.

Installment 30

“It’s done. I’ve finished a draft for the Kansai song!” Shin’ichi read out the lyrics.

Towada wrote them down. Deeply moved, he said, “Thank you very much!”

Shin’ichi sought Towada’s honest opinion.

“If there are any parts you’d like me to change, please just let me know. It’s for the Kansai members, so I want them to be happy to sing it. What do you think?”

A bit hesitant, Towada said: “Would you consider changing ‘golden castle’ [Jpn kin no shiro] to ‘Jinzhou Castle’ [Jpn Kinshu-jo] in the first line of the second verse?”

Shin’ichi had selected “golden castle” to convey a fresh and colorful image. But Kansai members had special memories of the words “Jinzhou Castle.”

In February 1956, when Shin’ichi was in charge of the Osaka Campaign, he had composed a poem expressing his determination to achieve a resounding victory. He presented it to his mentor, Josei Toda, on February 11, Toda’s birthday:

The Jinzhou Castle
now being built
in Kansai
will be eternally imperishable
subduing all devilish forces.

He had chosen “Jinzhou Castle” (Jpn Kinshu-jo) as an allusion to Kin-jo,[10] another name for Osaka-jo—Osaka Castle. Jinzhou Castle was an impenetrable fortress in Liaoning Province, China. The name expressed Shin’ichi’s hope that an indestructible golden fortress of the people would be established in Kansai.

Toda immediately responded with a poem of his own:

What joy to behold
the Jinzhou Castle
my disciple
is building
through propagation!

Shin’ichi engraved Toda’s poem in his heart and, striving alongside the Kansai members, achieved great victory. The Kansai members felt tremendous pride in their “Jinzhou Castle,” built through the shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

That is why Towada had requested these words for the song.

Installment 31

“I think ‘golden castle’ sounds fresher,” Shin’ichi replied. “But if including ‘Jinzhou Castle’ will please the Kansai members, I’ll consider it. I want to give them the best song possible, one they will sing forever. I’m still working on it, but the lyrics are basically set, so I’ll ask a good composer to write the music. Let’s officially announce the song at the leaders meeting commemorating Osaka Day, July 17. I promise to be there.”

The next day, July 9, Shin’ichi went to Kanagawa to attend their prefecture music festival. Before the event, he met with a men’s division member who had composed Soka Gakkai and other songs. Handing him the lyrics, he asked him to write the music.

Shin’ichi shared some ideas and even hummed a few bars.

“How about something like that?”

After the festival, he listened to what the composer had come up with. It was spirited and powerful, but Shin’ichi wasn’t satisfied with some parts.

“I know it’s asking a lot, but could you try again? I’ll think about it too.”

From the next day, Shin’ichi listened to the music and worked on it himself.

On July 14, between attending various events at Soka University, Shin’ichi worked with the composer, singing a few lines and offering more suggestions.

Most difficult was figuring out the music for the words “comrades sharing a vow, / a song of spring.”

The melody needed to convey the joy of singing songs of happiness together with friends from the eternal past who shared good times and bad. Every time the composer suggested a tune, Shin’ichi felt it wasn’t quite right and urged him to make it more uplifting.

New things are created only through toil and challenge. Hardship gives birth to creativity.

Installment 32

While offering suggestions about the melody, Shin’ichi also modified the lyrics.

He changed the fourth line of the first verse from “Beloved Kansai, here you stand” to “Beloved Kansai, stand courageously”; the first line of the second verse from “Our honor, our golden castle” to “Our pride, our golden castle”—but incorporating the Chinese characters for “Jinzhou Castle,” to be read here as kin no shiro (golden castle);[11] and the next line from “ever-victorious path sunny and clear” to “ever-victorious skies sunny and clear.”

Shin’ichi and the composer struggled to find the right music for the last line of each verse. But after much agonizing, they succeeded in composing a dynamic song with a strong melody.

Shin’ichi smiled. “Let’s send this to Kansai right away. The music is good. I’d give the song a score of 98. The remaining two points will come from the Kansai members’ spirit. With that, it will score a perfect 100.”

The revised song was delivered to the Kansai leaders.

They came back with the request that the lyrics and music be published in the regional page of the Seikyo Shimbun on July 17, the day of the commemorative leaders meeting in Osaka.

Shin’ichi replied, “No doubt you want to rehearse the song for the meeting, and that’s fine, but please know there may still be some revisions to both the lyrics and the music.”

On July 16, with fresh eyes, Shin’ichi spent the day seriously considering the song again. He continued working on it until his 2 p.m. flight to Osaka the next day.

Handing the music and lyrics to a leader traveling with him, he said: “The song has a good rhythm; I have nothing more to change. Let’s go with this. I’m sure the Kansai members are waiting, so please tell them it’s finished.”

Halfhearted work is as empty and fleeting as foam on the waves. Real work is when you pour every last ounce of your being into it.

Installment 33

On the evening of July 17, Osaka Day, a commemorative leaders meeting held at the Kansai Toda Memorial Auditorium became a festival of Soka Gakkai songs.

It began with Shin’ichi leading a solemn gongyo.

After three cheers and the presentation of commemorative gifts to chapter leaders, everyone sang “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu.”

Next came a lively and inspiring performance of “The Stars Shine” by the young women’s division, followed by a rousing “Stand Up, My Friends” by the young men’s division, an uplifting “Ever in High Spirits” by the women’s division, and a dignified “Life’s Journey” by the men’s division.

Everyone’s face glowed and their eyes shone with determination.

Taking the microphone, Yasutoshi Fuwajo, the Osaka Prefecture leader, said: “As I’m sure you all know, President Yamamoto has written a song for Kansai. I’m honored to present it to you now.”

Cheers and applause rocked the hall. Once it died down, Fuwajo read the lyrics.

Now again forming our ranks,
you and I, from the distant past,
comrades sharing a vow, a song of spring.
Beloved Kansai, stand courageously!

Our pride, our golden castle,
ever-victorious skies sunny and clear.
May the mighty cheers of my triumphant friends
soar to the heavens in surging waves!

Ah, the march of Kansai,
banners of the heavenly deities shining bright,
safeguarding my dear friends.
Forge on without fear!

Installment 34

Fuwajo exclaimed: “Let’s sing out, again and again, this heartfelt song by President Yamamoto and soar higher and higher into our ever-victorious skies!”

The thunderous applause went on and on.

“Let’s all sing in high spirits!” the emcee said, and an enormous screen with the lyrics came down at the back of the stage. Everyone gasped in astonishment. The lyrics were written in letters 25 centimeters (10 inches) square on the 5-meter-by-20-meter (16-foot-by-66-foot) screen. On the left side appeared a large picture of the red-brick Nakanoshima Civic Hall, where the Osaka Rally had taken place 21 years earlier. It was the work of the Kansai Tetsujin-kai (a young men’s division stage crew group).

The members clapped in time to the dynamic melody, marking a fresh beat, and a joyous chorus began.

Now again forming our ranks,
you and I, from the distant past …

Everyone sang their hearts out. Emotion overcame some as they sang “you and I, from the distant past.” “Beloved Kansai, stand courageously!” electrified others, while “Forge on without fear!” filled others with boundless courage.

On stage sat Shin’ichi, who had fought alongside them to lay the foundation for a history of successive victories. Watching him with tears in their eyes, all vowed to make a fresh start. Shin’ichi gazed warmly at these members who shared his spirit, calling out to them in his heart: “My dear, dear Kansai members! May Kansai forever be an ever-victorious realm where the banner of truth and justice flies high! May it be a place that celebrates humanity and protects the people to the end! As long as we have Kansai, the Soka Gakkai is strong!”

Installment 35

The time arrived for Shin’ichi’s speech.

He spoke in a conversational tone, expressing profound gratitude for the Kansai members, who had wept bitter tears and earnestly supported him in so many ways when he was arrested and held on false charges of election law violations 21 years earlier.

Some had thoughtfully brought him food and changes of clothes. Others repeatedly tried to visit him at the detention center, only to be turned away each time. And some went on their own to lodge complaints about his arrest.

“I will never forget your sincerity as long as I live. When I think of your dedication, my heart overflows with gratitude. I declare to you, my beloved fellow members of Kansai, that I will forever fight against the devilish nature of authority that seeks to oppress the people!”

He then spoke of his vision for the 21st century.

At the Headquarters leaders meeting in June, Shin’ichi had announced that, after completing the first series of Seven Bells[12] in 1979, a second series of Seven Bells would start in 2001 to initiate fresh development in the 21st century.

Reaffirming this, he asserted that it would be the members of the young men’s, young women’s, student and future divisions who would ring the Seven Bells of the 21st century, and he stressed that wholehearted efforts to foster capable successors would open the great path to achieving eternal victory. He also called on each member to prove the validity and power of Nichiren Buddhism and make Kansai a model for the entire world.

The Kansai members boldly set sail upon the great ocean of the 21st century, singing rousing songs of kosen-rufu’s grand adventure.

In early August, Shin’ichi titled his song for Kansai “Ever-Victorious Skies,” with the following hope and prayer: “Ever-victorious skies are sunny and clear. They are filled with the light of great joy at having broken through clouds of suffering. Kansai must win! It must win and go on winning! Being ever-victorious is the key to unshakable happiness for both oneself and others. Being ever-victorious is the key to kosen-rufu.”

“Ever-Victorious Skies” came to be sung throughout Kansai as a song of joy, progress, and unity.

Installment 36–37

Shin’ichi chanted and chanted as he wrote one song after another. While writing the Kansai song, he also worked on one for Chiba, which he completed on July 16, the day before he left for Kansai.

It was in Chiba that Nichiren Daishonin first publicly chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and proclaimed his great teaching to free all people from suffering, heralding an eternal dawn for humanity. Shin’ichi wrote the lyrics with the prayer that the members striving for kosen-rufu in Chiba would receive great benefit and show actual proof of happiness; have unwavering faith and brim with the spirit to share Buddhism with others; and be a model for the Soka family as the most harmonious organization in all Japan.

In early July, Shin’ichi spoke with Hiroaki Takeda, the Chiba Prefecture leader, and proposed writing a prefecture song that would inspire fresh momentum for Chiba’s dynamic future growth.

Shin’ichi had high hopes for the organization in Chiba, a prefecture he felt would be crucial for kosen-rufu in Japan in the 21st century.

In recent years, the prefecture had attracted more and more commuters and seen a population surge, especially in the northwest and areas adjacent to Tokyo. In addition, under new urban planning projects, land around Tokyo Bay was being reclaimed and developed at an astonishing pace. The area was also predicted to become a vibrant new center for technology and the arts. Also, that May, the New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport) had opened, making Chiba a gateway to Japan.

Chiba also boasted beautiful, majestic beaches and lush green mountains on its eastern coast, offering enormous potential as a tourist destination.

As Chiba made great strides forward, Shin’ichi wanted it to be a model for the Soka Gakkai in the new age of kosen-rufu.

Installment 38

New problems can arise when many people relocate into a community. The newcomers may not mesh well with longtime residents, which can lead to rifts that affect social cohesion.

Mutual cooperation and ties among neighbors play significant roles in holding a community together. If such solidarity is lost, people can become isolated and lonely, undermining the foundation of community prosperity.

To protect residents’ livelihoods and build a prosperous society, it is essential not only for government to implement effective measures but also for people to work together. Cooperation among residents will be even more important in the future, particularly as the number of elderly one- or two-person households rises.

Soka Gakkai members are strongly committed to achieving kosen-rufu—that is, realizing human happiness, social prosperity and peace. Taking to heart the Daishonin’s words “If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way” (“On the Three Virtues of Food,” WND-2, 1060), they have embraced a philosophy of harmony and mutual prosperity and deeply understand that contributing to the well-being of others is the Buddhist way.

Their commitment and efforts have become a powerful driving force for more neighborly relations and greater community solidarity. Increasingly important not only in Chiba but in other rapidly developing places experiencing an influx of newcomers is to ensure that a philosophy and practice of harmonious living becomes deeply and widely rooted in the community.

The great writer Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) declared: “We must ourselves become better and make the world better.”[13]

Praying for the happiness and prosperity of our neighbors and others in our communities, regarding them as family, we reach out to them to offer encouragement or a kind word. Widening the circle of warm human connections in this way offers a light of hope paving the way to a brighter future and is also the social mission of the Soka Gakkai.

Installment 39

Shin’ichi strongly wished the members of “Rising Sun Chiba” would build oases of human harmony in their communities and make their prefecture a model for kosen-rufu in the 21st century. A song to inspire them to take on this new mission and make a fresh start would be needed, he felt.

In Chiba, too, Nichiren Shoshu priests had relentlessly attacked the Soka Gakkai for some time with no sign of letting up. At a temple in the north, the chief priest constantly criticized the organization at the monthly Gosho lectures and on other occasions, saying that it slandered the Law and that its members could not attain Buddhahood. He even refused to officiate at the wakes of Soka Gakkai members. Many members reported tearfully to their leaders that, because of this, their relatives who didn’t practice were urging them to quit the Soka Gakkai.

In Awa in the south, which had no Soka Gakkai centers, members used the local temples for meetings. At one, they sang “Song of Human Revolution.” Everyone stood and faced the Gohonzon as they sang, without clapping to the music, to reaffirm their vow for kosen-rufu. Observing this, the chief priest protested to local leaders: “The song says, ‘Take your stand, and I will take mine, too.’ How dare you issue such a command to the Gohonzon! It’s wrong to sing ‘Song of Human Revolution’ facing the Gohonzon.”

Obviously, the lyrics are a call to fellow members dedicated to the mission of kosen-rufu to inspire each other to renew their determination and advance together. The priest’s accusation was nonsensical and angered the members.

This particular priest was always maligning the Soka Gakkai, saying things like “The Soka Gakkai is committing slander of the Law. Spreading such slander is not kosen-rufu!” Yet no one had ever seen him striving for kosen-rufu or sharing Nichiren Buddhism with others. That is, he failed to carry out the most basic Buddhist practice of propagating the teachings himself. Yet he disparaged Soka Gakkai members, who were selflessly devoted to sharing Nichiren Buddhism, as slanderers of the Law while denouncing as wrong their singing of a song that expressed their vow for kosen-rufu.

Installment 40

Everyone has the right to sing. Singing is a cry from the heart. No authority can prevent people from singing.

Recognizing these attacks as the workings of devilish forces seeking to destroy the kosen-rufu movement, the Chiba members vowed not to be defeated and continued to enthusiastically engage in their activities.

Hearing of their struggles, Shin’ichi thought that a prefecture song was needed to celebrate their majestic, sunrise-like spirit. After he had proposed creating a song, members in Chiba immediately set to work on one. Eventually, however, the prefecture leaders asked if Shin’ichi could write it. He agreed and wrote a song for his friends in Chiba.

A general meeting was to be held on July 19 for Chiba’s Boso Zone, an area that included the place where Nichiren Daishonin proclaimed the establishment of his teaching (in April 1253). Shin’ichi completed the lyrics in time for that meeting:

Ah, the day is dawning,
the morning sun radiant in the distance,
the forests of Awa abound with music,
the skies are clear, embracing us all.

While waves dance on the Pacific,
we dash ahead to build
a glorious stage in the new century.
Ah, the brilliant unity of Chiba.

Ah, I will never ever forget you
spreading the timeless message,
the flower of your vow blooming in this world
as the triumph of kosen-rufu in Chiba.

Shin’ichi wrote the lyrics with the thought “No matter how dark the night, the sun will rise again. No night lasts forever. The deeper the darkness, the nearer the dawn. Fellow members, Bodhisattvas of the Earth, don’t be defeated!”

A month later, Shin’ichi titled the song “Morning Sun in the Distance.”

Installment 41

Shortly before 2:00 p.m. on July 19, having completed his guidance tour in Kansai, Shin’ichi Yamamoto took the bullet train from Kyoto Station to Okayama Station to offer guidance in the Chugoku region.[14] The Headquarters leaders meeting was to be held there on July 22 in Tottori Prefecture.

On the journey, Shin’ichi wrote a song for Kyushu. He would be meeting with representatives from the Kyushu region at the Okayama Culture Center (later the Okayama South Culture Center) to discuss new leadership appointments for Kyushu Region general leader and other positions.

“Kyushu will play an extremely important role in making a breakthrough in our kosen-rufu movement! Lionhearted Kyushu will carry on my fighting spirit!”

To mark their fresh beginning, Shin’ichi wished to present the members of Kyushu with a new regional song.

It was less than 80 minutes to Okayama Station, but Shin’ichi began drawing forth words from his heart, composing the lyrics aloud as he recalled the faces of members in Kyushu—an area known from ancient times as “the land of fire.” His wife, Mineko, seated next to him, wrote down what he said.

From Shin’ichi’s past experience, even with limited time amid a busy schedule, good songs could be produced by writing with focus and a do-or-die attitude. He finished a first draft by the time they reached Okayama Station and told Mineko that he would revise it later.

He arrived at the Okayama Culture Center just after 3:30 p.m. Taking off his shoes, he declared, “Now let’s write a song for Chugoku!” and set to work immediately, while still in the lobby.

He had received a draft written by volunteers from the region, and they had asked him to review it.

He picked up a red pencil and said: “This still needs some work. I appreciate everyone’s efforts, but is it all right if I rewrite it?”

The Chugoku region leaders nearby together voiced their agreement.  

Filled with thoughts of the Chugoku members, Shin’ichi wielded his red pencil. In about 20 minutes, the lyrics were almost complete. The paper was covered in red.

“Let’s finish it later.”

It had been an intense, concentrated effort.

Installment 42

Shin’ichi next set to work revising the lyrics for the Kyushu song in the center’s Mentor Memorial Room. After careful consideration and several refinements, the song was complete.

At 5:30 p.m., he met with Okayama leaders in a Japanese-style room on the second floor, then he moved to another room for a conference with Kyushu leaders.

Shin’ichi looked at the 50 or so leaders there. The atmosphere was solemn.

“An official announcement will be made at the Headquarters leaders meeting on the 22nd, but I would like to speak with you in advance about the leadership appointments. This new lineup of core leaders is to enable Kyushu to renew itself and go on to achieve great development. Kyushu has limitless potential. If you fully demonstrate that potential, Kyushu will build a great mountain of Soka victory in the 21st century. The age of Mighty Kyushu will arrive.”

Chikara Yoshihara would be appointed the new Kyushu Region general leader, and there would also be a new region women’s leader and youth division leader, among other appointments.

“Mr. Yoshihara was born and raised in Tokyo and has served as Tokyo No. 2 (Tama Area) Headquarters vice leader and Tamagawa Zone leader. He is also the head of the Seikyo Shimbun business affairs department, respected by his colleagues as a pillar of the workplace. He chants earnestly every day—early in the morning and even during his lunch breaks—for the safe delivery of the Seikyo Shimbun. He is a serious and dedicated leader who gives his all to everything he does with unwavering commitment. Tokyo doesn’t want to let him go, but he is the only choice for Mighty Kyushu.

“What Kyushu needs at this point is someone who will make tireless, wholehearted efforts alongside the members. It doesn’t need a grandstander. Leaders must devote themselves to supporting and encouraging the members rather than seeking applause for themselves.”

Leaders are the key to unity. Unity is built on trust and fellow feeling fostered through leaders’ care for the members.

Installment 43

Shin’ichi spoke sternly to the outgoing Kyushu Region general leader Genji Samejima: “There is no room for hero complexes or narcissism in our faith and practice. If leaders are self-centered, thinking only about themselves, they will stray from the correct path of faith and do whatever they please. They will end up causing problems for the members, disrupting the organization for kosen-rufu and behaving as devilish functions.

“I don’t want that to happen to you. I hope you will take this opportunity to return to your starting point and, with the spirit of a front-line member, dedicate yourself to correct Buddhist practice. This is your chance to right the course of your faith.

“The most important thing is that leaders strive with the determination to support the members, the emissaries of the Buddha, and work for their happiness. They must be prepared to do so no matter what criticism or humiliation they face. It is not about looking good or gaining recognition.

“I hope you’ll throw yourself into the front lines of our organization with fresh resolve to rebuild your faith from scratch, work hard for the sake of the members’ happiness and do your human revolution.”

Shin’ichi then turned his gaze to Yoshihara.

“Mr. Yoshihara, always be humble and sincere in your interactions. That’s the way to win people’s trust, and trust is the key to building strong human bonds.”

Yoshihara had joined the Soka Gakkai in December 1957, when he was in his fourth year of university recuperating at home from tuberculosis. Though he had become a member, he wasn’t interested in practicing seriously, but a young men’s division group leader visited him almost every day to teach him gongyo and encourage him. This inspired him to practice. He overcame his illness and after graduation got a job selling architectural hardware. He was also appointed a young men’s division unit leader, a position on the front lines of the organization.

At that time, he vowed: “I stood up in faith because my group leader came and encouraged me almost every day. His persistence helped me learn about Buddhism and deepen my faith. Now it’s my turn to do it!”

When one encouraged person goes on to encourage another, and that person, another, surging numbers of capable individuals will be fostered. What matters is the action of the first person.

Installment 44

Yoshihara said to himself: “After work, I’ll go straight to Soka Gakkai activities. On days when there are no meetings, I’ll share Nichiren Buddhism with others or encourage members.”

At the time, the Soka Gakkai operated as a vertical “line” organization,[15] so Yoshihara’s members were scattered throughout Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures. Though he had a full-time job, his salary was low, so he cut back on living expenses to afford the train fare for his many visits to members’ homes.

Yoshihara first received personal encouragement from Shin’ichi in December 1959, two years after he had joined. By then he was a young men’s group leader, but he had begun practicing out of force of habit and wasn’t fully engaging in Soka Gakkai activities. Work also wasn’t going very well. Wishing to break out of this rut, he visited the Soka Gakkai Headquarters and met with Shin’ichi.

At the time, Shin’ichi was the Soka Gakkai’s general administrator supporting the general director. He in effect led the organization, working tirelessly to encourage members. Though hesitant to take up his precious time, Yoshihara asked Shin’ichi, “What should I do when I feel stuck in my practice?”

Shin’ichi replied confidently: “Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—that’s the only way. Those who chant win—that’s the teaching of Nichiren Buddhism. If you find yourself struggling, come back and see me.”

Though the guidance was brief, Yoshihara felt Shin’ichi’s warmth, and powerful courage surged within him. He was determined not to let these words go to waste.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The fundamental nature of enlightenment manifests itself as [the protective gods of Buddhism] Brahma and Shakra” (WND-1, 1113).

If we continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our fundamentally enlightened nature, or Buddhahood, will shine brightly within our lives, and we will develop a state of life that enables us to win in everything. And the workings of Brahma and Shakra, positive functions of the universe, will emerge to guide us and others to happiness.

Those who apply themselves to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are strong. Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda declared: “We are ordinary people. But ordinary though we are, through the benefit of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we reveal the life state of Buddhahood.”[16]

Installment 45

Yoshihara joined the Soka Gakkai Headquarters staff in 1962. From that time, Shin’ichi had watched over him and prayed for him to grow into a truly capable leader.

Shin’ichi had observed many people over the years. Unfortunately, some who became leaders, though showing great promise, ended up trying to exploit the organization for their own ambitions rather than dedicating their lives to kosen-rufu. On closer scrutiny, they seemed to share a common tendency. They did not believe in the Buddhist law of cause and effect or the principle that, though unseen, all our efforts are known by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe. Consequently, they shunned hard work behind the scenes and simply kept up appearances. Their actions didn’t match their words. They were two faced. But such behavior doesn’t work in the realm of Nichiren Buddhism. Such deception always comes to light in the end.

In contrast, those who act from a wish to contribute to kosen-rufu are honest. They gladly work for the welfare of others.

Shin’ichi selected Yoshihara as the new Kyushu Region general leader because he was impressed by his faith and sincerity.

At the conference with Kyushu leaders, Shin’ichi took out a piece of paper from a white envelope. “I’ve written a song for Kyushu to celebrate your fresh start. I wrote it on the train here while thinking of you all, and later made some revisions.”

He then read out the lyrics:

Ah, we arise for kosen-rufu,
united heroes of the Land of Fire,
burning with endless passion,
Mighty Kyushu’s banner flying high!

Ah, through toil we have built
this castle, you and I.
Adorn it with flowers of the Law, with this song!
Trailblazing Kyushu, how joyful!

Ah, as long as Kyushu is strong,
an indestructible path will unfold without bounds,
and the blessings of the century will flourish
as we write a history of truth and justice!

Everyone’s eyes shone and their faces glowed with joy.

Installment 46

Shin’ichi looked at the leaders and said: “Kyushu doesn’t need to try to impress anyone! Cast all that aside and fight!

“The fourth line of the second verse is ‘Trailblazing Kyushu, how joyful!’ This is important.

“Kosen-rufu activities fill us with the joy of living. The more we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and strive in faith, the more our joy multiplies and the happier we feel. Of course, sometimes we’ll have challenges and setbacks, but they will be no match for the joy we feel because of our faith. Soka Gakkai activities are fun and uplifting. The realm of Soka is not heavy or tragic.

“We have our network of fellow members—of “good friends”—we have our Soka family so that everyone can practice with genuine enjoyment. Since we’re a family, we can be ourselves, sharing our problems and shortcomings. No one is superior or inferior. In our Soka family, we warmly embrace, support and encourage one another while creating a safe place to talk about anything.

“We become stronger and more energetic when we encourage others. Supporting others broadens and expands our life state. The purpose of our Buddhist practice and Soka Gakkai activities is to polish and develop ourselves and to lead truly enjoyable and meaningful lives.”

Encouragement is a grassroots force for revitalizing people, forging heart-to-heart bonds, and invigorating society.

Shin’ichi returned to the lyrics.

“The phrase ‘indestructible path’ in the third verse refers to the Soka path of mentor and disciple, of carrying on the great spirit of Presidents Makiguchi and Toda and living for kosen-rufu.

“I am well aware of how much pain and suffering our Kyushu members have endured at the hands of priests who slander the Soka Gakkai. But it is the Soka Gakkai that has steadfastly upheld the correct teaching of Nichiren Daishonin. Since we are in the right, devilish functions in various forms will assail us. Therefore, no matter what happens, we must never retreat a single step. With ever greater pride and confidence, let’s work together to ‘write a history of truth and justice’ of Soka!”

Installment 47

“Song of the Land of Fire” was the title Shin’ichi chose.

A Kyushu member soon composed the melody, and the song was slated to debut on July 24 at the prefecture general meeting celebrating Kumamoto Chapter’s 20th anniversary, held at the Kumamoto Municipal Gymnasium.

“Song of the Land of Fire” stirred fresh waves of joy from Kumamoto—the origin of the name “land of fire”—that spread throughout all of Kyushu.

After the Kyushu representatives meeting at the Okayama Culture Center on July 19, Shin’ichi set to revising the lyrics of a song for Chugoku Region.[17] He finished a little before 10 p.m.

The song would be announced at the Headquarters leaders meeting on July 22 at the Yonago Culture Center in Tottori Prefecture. The music needed to be composed quickly. Shin’ichi told Chugoku Region leaders, “I may still make minor revisions, but please begin working on the music with this.”

He then started on a song for Chubu Region.[18] He was also to visit Chubu on this guidance tour and had received a request from the Chubu Region leader to introduce a new song on that occasion.

On the afternoon of July 20, Shin’ichi left Okayama and headed for Yonago, Tottori.

He had proposed holding the Headquarters leaders meeting there because, until then, none had ever been held on the western coast of Honshu, the largest of Japan’s four main islands. He believed that the second phase of kosen-rufu was the time for areas that had been out of the limelight to play a more central role.

Additionally, despite the persecution heaped on them by the priesthood, Tottori members continued in their activities with the passionate conviction that it was all just as the Daishonin’s writings said.

“I will go first to see those who are striving behind the scenes, to those who have had the hardest times!”—this was Shin’ichi’s creed.

Diving in among those experiencing the greatest hardships and encouraging them wholeheartedly is the way of life of practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism. It is also the driving force for the Soka Gakkai’s development.

Installment 48

The express train from Okayama Station to Yonago Station took a little under three hours. When it departed, Shin’ichi read over the lyrics for the Chugoku song and began revising them. He wanted it to be a powerful song brimming with passion for kosen-rufu.

In the first verse, with the line “Ah, with those dear friends, hearts ablaze in crimson,” Shin’ichi had wanted to depict the spirited Chugoku members burning with determination. After further consideration, he changed it to “Ah, dear friends, hearts burning, burning crimson.”

He also changed “of friends” in the second verse to “with friends,” and “history” in the last line of the fourth verse to “brilliant history.”

Outside the train window, green mountains soared and the clear rushing waters of the Takahashi River sent up white spray.

After revising several parts, Shin’ichi said, “I’ll continue later,” and placed the lyrics in an envelope.

His wife, Mineko, looked relieved. She worried about Shin’ichi as he wrote one song after another without a break. He had been feeling unwell for the last several days.

But in a determined voice, he said: “Now let’s compose a song for Shikoku!” After Chugoku, he would go on to Shikoku, and he wanted to give them a new song.

Shin’ichi turned to Kazumasa Morikawa, a Soka Gakkai vice president and Shikoku Region general leader, who sat nearby.

“Shikoku is now poised for tremendous development,” he said. “There are new training centers in Kagawa and Kochi, and magnificent new culture centers are being built in each prefecture. Everyone is eagerly looking to make a fresh start.

“In the past, Sakamoto Ryoma (1836–67), Itagaki Taisuke (1837–1919), and others emerged from Shikoku onto the stage of history, helping build a new, modern Japan. I am certain that leaders who will shoulder the second phase of kosen-rufu will also emerge from Shikoku.

“Shikoku members have had a hard time because of the priesthood. But if they can overcome this, they will be strong. I want them to develop the strength to change the times, undeterred by anything.

“The poet Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902), a native of Shikoku, wrote a poem to his hometown friend, Japanese naval officer Akiyama Saneyuki (1868–1918):

of even battle,
you sail on.
Let the winds blow,
let the waves roar![19]
“That’s the Shikoku spirit.”

Installment 49

Shin’ichi completed the Shikoku song lyrics by the time the train reached Yonago. He and his party arrived at the Yonago Culture Center at 4:30 p.m.

Prefecture leaders gave Shin’ichi and Mineko a tour of the grounds, and when they came to several camphor trees, Shin’ichi was asked to name each one.

Among the names he gave them were Right Guardian Camphor, Left Guardian Camphor, Makiguchi Camphor and Toda Camphor. As he stood before the last tree, he looked at the prefecture leaders and said, “This will be the Nameless Camphor, for our movement’s nameless and uncrowned champions, but also because I would like the next president to name it when they visit.”

His words were unexpected, but no one thought much about them. Everyone assumed that President Yamamoto would always be the president and they couldn’t imagine a Soka Gakkai without him.

Looking to the future of kosen-rufu, Shin’ichi had a strong wish that once a steady flow of capable individuals was established, he would step aside as Soka Gakkai president and devote all his energies freely to worldwide kosen-rufu and peace.

The words his mentor, Josei Toda, said to him while gazing out at the sea from his hometown of Atsuta Village in Hokkaido echoed in Shin’ichi’s mind: “You will pave the way for kosen-rufu throughout the world. I will create the blueprint; you will make it a reality. … You must illuminate Asia and the entire world with the light of the Mystic Law. You must do this in my place.”

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The sun rises in the east, an auspicious sign of how the Buddhism of Japan is destined to return to the Land of the Moon [India]. … [T]he light of the sun is brilliant, outshining the moon, an auspicious sign of how the Buddhism of Japan is destined to illuminate the long darkness of [the Latter Day of the Law, which begins with] the fifth five-hundred-year period” (“On Reprimanding Hachiman,” WND-2, 936).

Shin’ichi had shared his feelings with top Soka Gakkai leaders on several occasions. He hoped that even if he stepped down as Soka Gakkai president, they would share the responsibility to put the finishing touches on kosen-rufu in Japan.

Envisioning the day when he would soar freely into the great skies of worldwide kosen-rufu, he visited every region of Japan and poured his heart and soul into building a solid foundation for the organization.

Installment 50

Shin’ichi attended an informal meeting with some 200 local members at the Yonago Culture Center at 5:30 p.m. When he told them he was writing a new song for Chugoku, everyone applauded.

The song wasn’t finished, but he had a Chugoku Region leader read out the draft.

“What do you think, everyone?”

One woman replied that she thought it was very “chic.”

“Why, thank you! I haven’t heard that term in a while! I’m still planning to make some revisions. We also have a tentative melody.”

A volunteer from Chugoku had worked on the music the previous night and delivered a tape to Shin’ichi. The members listened to the recording.

“Some parts seem a little difficult to sing, don’t you think?” he asked.

Everyone nodded. Shin’ichi said to the man who had composed the music: “It’s important that Soka Gakkai songs can be sung easily and naturally by everyone, whatever their age or gender. Can you work on it a little more?”

A bespectacled woman sitting near Shin’ichi nodded and smiled. She was Yukiko Dei, a prefecture vice women’s leader. A music college graduate and music teacher for 35 years, she had just recently retired.

“Please give it some thought, too, Ms. Dei,” Shin’ichi said. “I want to create the best song possible. We must reflect the opinions and tastes of women, too. Let’s finish it today!”

His words brimmed with enthusiasm.

Shin’ichi then said to everyone: “It’s time for the San’in region,[20] led by Tottori and Shimane, to take center stage. If you can build a new model for kosen-rufu here, Japan will change! It’s the domino effect the Daishonin refers to when he writes ‘The situation is like the joints in a piece of bamboo: if one joint is ruptured, then all the joints will split’” (“Letter to Horen,” WND-1, 512).

Installment 51

How we advance kosen-rufu depends on the area. For instance, the lives and relationships of people in densely populated urban centers differ from those in remote mountain villages or islands. We have to account for such differences as we consider how to promote understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and carry out Soka Gakkai activities.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “I entrust you with the propagation of Buddhism in your province” (WND-1, 1117). Spreading Nichiren Buddhism in each area is the responsibility of Soka Gakkai members living there.

Though the way we carry out Soka Gakkai activities may differ from place to place, the fundamental principles remain the same.

First and foremost is having the determination to realize kosen-rufu in our areas no matter what. Without the resolve to stand alone and take action, committed to turning our communities into oases of happiness, nothing will change no matter how many years or decades pass.

Second is winning the trust of the community. Only by cultivating a foundation of trust can we have fruitful dialogue. Trust is the cornerstone of human relations.

Third, each person must show undeniable proof of the value of our Buddhist faith and practice. Naturally, improving our financial situation, recovering from illness or creating family harmony are important examples. And developing the resilience to be undefeated by any of life’s challenges, refining our character and becoming liked and respected also give brilliant testimony to our practice.

When we advance with these three elements—determination, trust and actual proof—we open the way for kosen-rufu in our communities.

Shin’ichi continued: “With this visit, I will open the way for a new era of kosen-rufu in Tottori. I will give it my all. Tomorrow, I would like to hold a gongyo meeting with members from across the prefecture to pray for kosen-rufu in their communities. Everyone is welcome. I would like to meet with all the members.

“Through your efforts, please make Tottori the most united and benefit-filled prefecture in all Japan.”

The meeting ended, but that was just the beginning of more heartfelt discussion.

Installment 52

When a Chugoku Region leader announced the end of the meeting, the members crowded around Shin’ichi to report to him on recent developments in their lives.

They spoke one after another.

“Sensei, 20 years ago I had a serious illness, but thanks to my Buddhist practice, I have completely regained my health.”

“We built a new house and are making it available to members for discussion meetings. Please visit us some day.”

Shin’ichi listened to each member, encouraged them and continued talking with them for a while.

After that, he moved to another room where he inscribed words of encouragement on decorative cards and inside book covers to present to representatives. There was no pause in his work.

While looking over some documents that needed his attention, Shin’ichi said to Mineko: “Once the music for the Chugoku song is completed, I’ll review the lyrics again. I want to make it the best song possible!”

The thought excited him.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Shin’ichi stepped into the center’s garden. The full moon shone brightly in the star-filled sky, and the silhouette of Mount Daisen was visible in the distance.

Shin’ichi looked up at the moon and poetry filled his heart.

At that moment, several points of light flickered in a corner of the garden. They were fireflies. Their faint lights flitted here and there, creating a beautiful, magical scene.

Looking at the dance of the fireflies, Shin’ichi said quietly to a leader nearby: “Their pure light seems to reflect the sincerity of Tottori members. Stars, a full moon, fireflies—how wonderful! It’s like being in a fairy tale.”

Installment 53

While Shin’ichi admired the fireflies, the men’s division member who composed the music for the Chugoku song and others assisting him arrived with a cassette tape and player, saying that the song was finished.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” Shin’ichi said. He listened to the tape in the garden, fireflies flickering. Then, he unfolded the sheet of paper with the lyrics. Someone standing nearby lit the page with a flashlight.

Humming along as he listened to the music, he began to revise the lyrics with a red pencil.

“I’m going to change the last line of the first verse from ‘Let’s advance, hand in hand’ to ‘Let’s leap forward, hand in hand.’ I want to convey the dynamic spirit of Chugoku members.”

After making a few more changes, he reread the lyrics and declared: “That’s it! We’re done!”

He wrote the word “Final” on the page in red.

The composer said: “Sensei, musically speaking, I think repeating a word in the third line in each verse, such as ‘burning’ in the first, would make the song flow more smoothly. Would that be all right?”

“That’s fine. I’ll leave that up to you. I know you’ve been hard at work on the music since yesterday. Thanks to you, it’s much improved and has become truly wonderful, a real masterpiece. Thank you! Your name will endure along with this song. Congratulations!”

It is crucial for Soka Gakkai leaders to be aware of members’ efforts behind the scenes. That’s where encouragement starts in the Soka Gakkai.

The next day, July 21, cars lined up in front of the Yonago Culture Center from early in the morning. The news of the gongyo meeting had reached every corner of the Tottori organization, and members from throughout the prefecture were waiting for the center to open. Not wanting to disturb or inconvenience the neighbors, Shin’ichi told leaders to allow everyone inside.

“I have come to Tottori to meet with all the members. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got!

Installment 54

In no time, members packed the large hall where the gongyo meeting was to be held. There were many elderly people and women with children. Additional rooms soon filled up, and it became clear that a single session would not accommodate all who had gathered.

“We will hold as many sessions as necessary for everyone who comes,” Shin’ichi announced resolutely.

The first session commemorating the 18th anniversary of Tottori Chapter began at 10:30 a.m. After praying for the development of kosen-rufu in Tottori and the prosperity and happiness of each member’s family, Shin’ichi spoke informally.

“As many of you may know, Nichikan Shonin[21] (1665–1726) wrote: ‘If you have faith in this Gohonzon and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo even for a short while, no prayer will go unanswered, no offense unexpiated, no good fortune unbestowed, and no righteousness unproven.’[22] All people can benefit equally from this tremendous power of the Gohonzon. The key is courageous faith. We need courage in everything we set out to do, from gongyo to talking with people about Buddhism.

“When we strive to practice correctly in accord with the Daishonin’s teachings, devilish functions will assail us. It’s only natural that we encounter ill will and opposition. That’s why the Daishonin strictly emphasizes, “Nichiren’s disciples cannot accomplish anything if they are cowardly’ (WND-1, 481).

“It’s also important to persist in your Buddhist practice and pray with the conviction that you will become happy no matter what.

“Buddhist dialogue also hinges on our conviction. When you have conviction, you’ll be more convincing when you share your experiences and explain the principles of Buddhism.

“I hope you will open the way forward in your lives and in kosen-rufu with courage and conviction and surmount every challenge.”

When the gongyo session ended, Shin’ichi went to the overflow rooms where members waited.

Continuing to encourage members to the best of our ability creates a powerful groundswell for kosen-rufu.

Installment 55

Shin’ichi stopped by each room and encouraged everyone with all his heart.

“Thank you for coming. I’m so happy to see you. Some of you must feel hurt and frustrated by the unjust criticism you get whenever you go to a Nichiren Shoshu temple. But whatever anyone might say, the Soka Gakkai alone carries out the Buddha’s intent and works for kosen-rufu just as the Daishonin teaches. Our efforts truly embody the actions of Bodhisattvas of the Earth and are the direct path to securing an unshakable state of happiness.

“Please stay with the Soka Gakkai throughout your lives, dedicate yourselves to your mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and become happy. I can’t meet with you often, but I am praying every day for your families’ prosperity and happiness.”

Most attending were meeting Shin’ichi for the first time. He spoke to them in earnest.

“Please support the members in your area on my behalf. You are the representatives of the Soka Gakkai in your communities, the people responsible for our movement; each of you is a Soka Gakkai president. The Soka Gakkai is strong because we all stand up with that resolve and are united in that spirit.

“The realm of faith is essentially without hierarchy, authoritarianism or positions of power. Everyone is equally a child of the Buddha. Everyone is a Bodhisattva of the Earth. All are comrades in faith. All are members of the Soka family. Let’s work together and build an oasis of happiness in Tottori!”

Everyone applauded. Some called out with tears in their eyes: “We’ll do our best!”

Shortly past noon, the second gongyo session began.

“I’m sure some of you usually stay at home to look after your grandchildren while their parents attend meetings,” Shin’ichi said. “Just as the different parts of a house—the pillars, the roof, the foundation—have different roles to play, so do the members of a family.

“But because you are all working together as a family for kosen-rufu, you all receive benefits equally. Each of you is a precious, vital contributor to kosen-rufu. Today, I want to express my sincere appreciation for everything you do. Please take pride in your unique mission, strive in your faith and practice, and advance along the great path of happiness together.”

Installment 56

After the gongyo sessions, Shin’ichi said to a Tottori leader: “Now I’m going out to encourage the members. Tottori will achieve great progress only if everyone rises to action together. I’ll do whatever I can to support.”

He went straight to the Yonago Community Center and encouraged all who happened to be there. He then went to the privately owned Matsuki Community Center in Yonago City.

At the previous night’s gathering, the center’s owners, Isamu and Terue Matsuki, had invited him to visit, and he had promised to do so.

The Matsukis ran a wholesale seafood business. Since Shin’ichi arrived at 2 p.m., the middle of the workday, he intended just to say hello and leave.

Opening the shop door, he saw Mr. Matsuki, a good-natured man in his mid-40s, wearing high rubber boots and hosing down the floor.

Hearing “Good afternoon!” Isamu turned to see Shin’ichi’s smiling face and was speechless. Then his wife, Terue, rushed in and said: “Sensei! Welcome! Thank you so much for coming!” and led him up to the second floor sitting room.

When Shin’ichi asked how the business was doing, they explained with grave expressions that things weren’t going well and that they were considering switching from wholesale seafood to fish processing.

Shin’ichi advised them not to be hasty but to prepare carefully and watch for the best time to make the change.

“The realities of society are like a swamp,” he continued. “You never know when you might lose your footing. Competition is fierce. It can be cruel. The important thing is to strive in your Buddhist faith and practice, fight hard, summon your wisdom and win. Then you can use that proof of the benefits of faith to advance kosen-rufu. That’s the mission of a Bodhisattva of the Earth.

“Buddhism is about winning, so we have to win in society. Please chant with that determination.”

Shin’ichi then presented the Matsukis with a poem for all the members in Sumiyoshi Chapter, to which they belonged:

The smiling faces
of Sumiyoshi
like beautiful lotus blossoms.

Installment 57

A Sumiyoshi Chapter discussion meeting was to take place at the Matsuki Community Center that evening. The Gohonzon room filled with people preparing for the gathering or who had heard about Shin’ichi’s visit. One had a koto, most likely to perform at the meeting.

When Shin’ichi entered the room and saw it, he said: “I’ll play the piano; let’s play something together.”

They played “Sakura” (Cherry Blossoms) and other songs. It was a refreshing cool breeze of encouragement.

Later that day, July 21, Shin’ichi met informally with Shimane Prefecture representatives. He listened to their activity reports and updates on their personal lives and spoke with them about the future of kosen-rufu in Shimane.

Shin’ichi hadn’t been feeling well since before his visit to Kansai. He had a fever, swollen neck glands and severe fatigue. He even had a doctor come to check on him. But he was resolved: “Now is the time to forge strong, solid bonds with my fellow members in Tottori and Shimane and build an indestructible castle of Soka that will withstand any storm.”

Staying true to one’s convictions makes a person strong. Why did Josei Toda stand up alone in desolate postwar Japan and devote his life to the great vow for kosen-rufu? Of course, on the deepest level, it was because of his powerful conviction in his identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth that he had gained through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his prison cell. But what gave him the strength to fulfill that mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth was his commitment to carry on the legacy of his mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi—who died in prison for his beliefs at the hands of the Japanese militarist authorities.

Shin’ichi, in turn, inherited Toda’s spirit, and his own deep commitment to realize his mentor’s vision for kosen-rufu fueled his dedication and inspired him each day.

By keeping our mentor in our hearts and striving to carry out our shared vow, we can forge a strong inner core of conviction.

That is why Shin’ichi gave his all to meeting one person after another, to connecting and forging bonds of shared commitment with them as treasured fellow members, as Bodhisattvas of the Earth dedicated to kosen-rufu.

Installment 58

Mount Daisen, which from its west side resembles Mount Fuji, glistened in the distance. At 12:30 p.m. on July 22, 1978, the July Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting began at the Yonago Culture Center in Tottori Prefecture.

A sunflower display at the front of the stage radiated hope and passion.

The Tottori members beamed with pride at this first Headquarters leaders meeting held on the western coast of Honshu, the largest of Japan’s four main islands. The new Chugoku song, “Ode to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth,” debuted at the meeting:

Chugoku, resounding with joy,
setting sail spiritedly toward kosen-rufu.
Ah, dear friends, hearts burning, burning crimson.
Let’s leap forward, hand in hand!

In your beloved Chugoku,
with friends abloom with happiness
and joyful smiles in beautiful, beautiful profusion,
aces aglow with the pride of taking the lead!

Chugoku, sun emerging, citadel of the people,
an ode to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth
echoing, echoing in the skies of victory.
Ah, a rainbow shines, your lives are bright!

Now, Chugoku, for long eons
nourished by life-giving sweet rains,
continue dashing, dashing along this sure path!
Here a brilliant history of kosen-rufu shines!

The members’ joyous singing echoed throughout the hall. Their hearts truly burned crimson, their faces glowed and they brimmed with determination to dash along the great path of Soka.

Shin’ichi sang with them, clapping vigorously. “I want the Chugoku members to advance dynamically with this song,” he thought. “I want them to blossom with happiness and achieve victory in life.”

The Brazilian composer and pianist Amaral Vieira, with whom Shin’ichi later developed a close friendship, once said that Soka Gakkai songs filled with hope, conviction, courage and a message of peace conveyed his own heart.[23]

Installment 59

Before the song’s debut, Shin’ichi had presented representatives from each Chugoku prefecture with their prefecture flag. Leadership appointments for Kyushu were also announced, and then appointments for Tottori, including Yukiko Dei as the Tottori Prefecture women’s leader, putting in place a new lineup for kosen-rufu.

Shin’ichi praised the members’ tireless efforts, noting that propagation was progressing steadily throughout the country and that a solid foundation for the regional development of kosen-rufu was being established.

He then stressed the importance of persevering in faith in accord with the Daishonin’s teachings, concluding: “The Daishonin’s spirit and teachings are focused on realizing kosen-rufu. More important than spouting a million words of theory is helping one person start practicing Nichiren Buddhism. What matters is taking the courageous step to actually do that.

“Please always remember this point and, with hearts as vast as the ocean, embrace everything with an open mind and keep advancing together in friendship and harmony.”

After the meeting, Shin’ichi went to another room where he had heard there was a meeting for the first classes of the Tottori and Shimane Future Groups.[24]

Some 20 Future Group members were enthusiastically singing Soka Gakkai songs. Shin’ichi smiled.

“Thank you for coming in this hot weather! I want you all to grow to be capable people who will shoulder a new era in the 21st century. That is my greatest wish. It is also the wish of your parents, who are persevering in their Buddhist practice despite at times being maligned and criticized.”

The previous day, Shin’ichi had read an essay compilation by young women high school division members in Tottori, titled “My Family’s Kosen-rufu History.” Their pieces described the noble examples of their parents, who had dedicated themselves to kosen-rufu despite such challenges as financial hardship, illness or prejudice against their Buddhist practice. In their writing, Shin’ichi sensed the parents’ deep prayers for their daughters to become outstanding successors in faith.

Shin’ichi spoke powerfully: “You are my life. Together with your parents, I am watching over your growth.”

Installment 60

After the Future Group meeting, Shin’ichi walked around the center encouraging the event staff and chorus members. When he was in the second-floor lobby, the Future Group members came over to him.

“As we just met a few minutes ago, I’m afraid I don’t have much more to say.”

But they all stood there with eager eyes waiting for him to speak.

“Since they’re here,” Shin’ichi thought, “let me tell them one more thing.”

“You are a source of hope and pride for your parents and many of our members. I heard that all of you made personal determinations when your group was formed. The most important thing is never to betray your parents who cherish the highest hopes for your growth, the Soka Gakkai members who entrust the future to you and not least yourselves. Betrayal is the worst kind of ingratitude.

“That’s why it’s important that you stay true throughout your lives to the vow of your youth. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see whether you really follow through with your determinations and fulfill your vow. Words are cheap. Actions and results are what count. I won’t encourage you, praise you or commend you until you each show wonderful actual proof. I’ll be watching closely.

“People can’t grow strong and truly develop themselves if they are spoiled and only flattered. I don’t want you to become weak, blaming others, holding grudges, or complaining and running away when you have a little hardship or problem. I want you to become strong, big-hearted leaders.”

Fearing difficulty and hardship, the weak-hearted will likely trample on and betray others’ kindness and support. Those who remain true to their commitment have strong hearts and minds.

Shin’ichi gazed at the Future Group members, as if to engrave each of their faces in his life.

“I want you all to succeed. I want you to become great leaders of the new century. That’s why I am strict. That is my compassion.”

Shin’ichi wished to foster true lionhearted successors, champions who would shoulder the future.

Installment 61

On the same day as the Headquarters leaders meeting, July 22, Shin’ichi went out to visit and encourage members again. He wasn’t feeling well, but when he thought of those waiting to see him, he couldn’t allow himself to take it easy. He first visited a private community center in Sakaiminato City in Tottori Prefecture’s northwest. That evening, he met informally with local Headquarters staff members in Yonago City and then visited another private center.

Tottori is the least populated prefecture in Japan. Shin’ichi wanted to turn it into an oasis of happiness and from there set in motion a fresh groundswell of kosen-rufu.

If one region or prefecture becomes a model treasure land, it can change the whole country. Everything starts from one.

On July 23, the day Shin’ichi was to leave, he held a gongyo meeting at 12:30 p.m. at the request of prefecture leaders, who had told him that some members still hadn’t met him.

About 1,000 members gathered at the center. His departure time came and went, but Shin’ichi continued to encourage members until the very last moment, staying for just another minute, another 30 seconds, sweat beading on his forehead, before he finally left for Okayama.

On the train, new lyrics were already forming and resounding in Shin’ichi’s heart. It was a song for the high school division.

Before leaving for Tottori, the national high school division leaders Yoshio Okuda and Miyoko Osaki had come to the Okayama Culture Center to convey their wish to create a new division song. This had prompted Shin’ichi to decide on writing a song for the high school division members, the leaders of the future.

When he arrived at the Okayama Culture Center just before 5 p.m., he was greeted by the Okayama prefecture leaders along with a dozen or so high school and junior high school division members. They said they were members of the first class of the Okayama Future Group.

Shikoku Region leader Seitaro Kumegawa and others welcomed Shin’ichi in the lobby.

“Sensei, we have music for the Shikoku song!”

Three days earlier, Shin’ichi had completed the lyrics for the new Shikoku song, “Our Land,” on the train to Yonago from Okayama and had asked Kumegawa to have someone start on the melody.

Installment 62

Kumegawa handed a cassette to Shin’ichi, who said with a smile, “Let’s listen to it now.”

Kumegawa placed the tape into a cassette deck. A chorus sang to a bright, powerful, uplifting melody:

The distant summits, our summit,
the land of Shikoku is our land.
We, Bodhisattvas of the Earth, dance joyfully
in our wonderful hometown, among these mountains and rivers.

Those mountains covered in lush green
eagerly embrace and protect us,
like the Iron Encircling Mountains [of Jambudvipa].
Ah, how noble this struggle for the Law!

My friends, don’t be defeated,
the benefits of chanting the Mystic Law
rain down from the heavens on the people of Shikoku.
Ah, let us set forward, the bells ringing!

“What a nice melody! It’s cheerful and powerful!”

Shin’ichi sang the lyrics quietly along with the voices on the tape.

When the song ended, he looked at Kumegawa and the young men’s division member who had composed the music.

“It’s a wonderful song. Thank you. Let’s take it with us to Shikoku!”

Kumegawa and the others smiled, and their eyes lit up.

Shin’ichi would visit Shikoku from the next day, July 24.

He said firmly: “It’s important for all Shikoku members to be genuinely aware that Shikoku is their land. The place where you are now is the realm where you carry out your mission of spreading the Mystic Law as Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Your purpose is to transform that place into a Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. There’s no need to compare yourselves to Osaka or Tokyo. A new era for Shikoku will come when you stand up in your own unique way with the determination to advance kosen-rufu in your cherished land.”

Installment 63

Shin’ichi set to work on the lyrics for the new high school division song at the Okayama Culture Center.

“All of our high school division members are precious successors of Soka! They are my dear disciples, my greatest treasures! They are the torchbearers of justice to whom I will pass the baton of kosen-rufu in the 21st century!”

Shin’ichi’s boundless hopes for them poured out as lyrics, which he then polished:

Now, determined to carry on the baton,
I confidently await the time.
The new century lies ahead of me,
the stage upon which I will dance, resolved now
to learn all I can about the way of truth and good.[25]

The first verse was complete. Shin’ichi thought about the road ahead for these brave young successors. There were sure to be mountains and valleys. Rain, wind, storms, scorching summers, and blizzardy winters—such is the lot of those whose lives are dedicated to the mission of fulfilling the vow for kosen-rufu.

“Run, Melos!” the famous short story by Japanese author Osamu Dazai (1909–48), came to Shin’ichi’s mind. Its youthful protagonist, Melos, outraged by his king’s cruel tyranny, sneaks into the castle to confront him but is caught. The king, who distrusts all people, orders him to be crucified. Melos asks for a reprieve so that he may go home for the wedding of his only relative, his younger sister.

Melos has one of his dearest friends, Selinuntius, stand in for him and promises to return by the third sundown. If he doesn’t, his friend will be executed instead, and Melos will go free.

Melos runs all night without sleeping to the village where his sister lives. After the hastily arranged wedding, he begins running back to the castle. Swimming across a muddy, raging river and fighting off mountain bandits, he falls to the ground exhausted. In that moment, he feels the futility of running toward his death just so that he may prove his faithfulness, trust, and love.

The path of justice is always a struggle with one’s own heart.

Installment 64

But Melos refuses to be defeated. As he recovers his strength, his commitment to repay his friend’s trust revives. He runs. He runs for the sake of his friend, for truth, for love. Even coughing up blood, still he runs.

Just as the last light of day fades and Selinuntius is about to be killed, Melos runs onto the execution ground. He calls out to his friend, now released from his bonds, “Hit me, Selinuntius!” explaining that one moment along the way he had considered abandoning him.

Selinuntius strikes Melos with all his might, and cries, “Melos, hit me!” confessing that he, too, for an instant had doubted Melos’s return. Melos strikes him, and then the two embrace.

Observing this, the king says: “You have subdued my heart. Trust between [people] is not just an empty illusion. I, too, would like to be your friend.”[26]

Trust wins out over distrust.

In the autumn of 1971, Shin’ichi had written a poem about “Run, Melos!” titled “The Truth of Melos.” It describes the source of Melos’s integrity, through which he transformed the human world rife with falsehood and delusion into the most noble, beautiful, pure, honest, and rare reality.

It was, Shin’ichi concluded in the poem, because Melos had triumphed over his inner weakness. He also pointed out that once one takes a sad step in retreat, “then comes the logic of self-justification / that leads him to retreat still further,” and that “in the idle ease of one who has cast off friends / there is a pain of remorse that will last until the end of life.”[27] In his closing lines, he wrote:

I would remember this:
‘Only the race of truly great valour
can destroy the obsessions of suspicion and scheming
and bring about the ultimate flowering of human truth.’[28]

As he composed the high school division song, Shin’ichi thought: “I want my young friends to be ever faithful like Melos, aware of their mission to realize world peace and the happiness of others.”

“Don’t let life’s temptations lead you astray! Don’t let your own laziness defeat you! Keep running admirably as long as you live on the path of the vow and mission you have chosen!”

This was his prayer as he continued to write.

Installment 65

May you, too, never be defeated! Someday
on this noble path of the vow we share,
forge on bravely through blizzard and storm!
This is the pride of Melos.
Ah, eagerly awaiting that time with a thousand emotions.

The vow for kosen-rufu we make with fellow members is also a vow to ourselves, and it begins with us standing up alone to fulfill our own mission. Even if a friend in faith should fall along the way or abandon their vow, we must continue pressing forward on the path of our convictions.

Melos would have kept running to save Selinuntius even if, at the execution ground, Selinuntius had lost faith and denounced him. And even if Melos had decided to flee for his life, Selinuntius would have stood by him, praising his loyalty and assuming he had been killed somewhere at the king’s behest.

Remaining true to our vow does not depend on what others do. We act based on our own convictions. Osamu Dazai writes of Melos: “He ran, propelled by some immense, unnameable force.”[29] That immense force is our universal faith in humanity, the unchanging principle of truth and justice. The vow we make with a friend inspires us to stand alone and live up to our beliefs. When both do so, the most beautiful drama of friendship unfolds.

Shin’ichi started on the third verse. He’d already decided on the final line, “Ah, be pillars of your age!”

The humanistic ideals of Nichiren Buddhism will steadily spread when everyone takes responsibility for kosen-rufu in their generation, becoming pillars of trust and expanding their circles of friendship.

In the third verse, Shin’ichi called out from his heart to the youth to always remember their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

With a sense of honor and mission in this lifetime,
hearts burning crimson, you, too,
are runners of the Seven Bells,
torchbearers creating beautiful circles of friendship.
Ah, be pillars of your age![30]

Installment 66

Shin’ichi changed into a light summer kimono and, with the lyrics in hand, headed to the rooftop of the Okayama Culture Center. He was to meet with the first class of the Okayama Future Group.

When he got there, he said to Yoshio Okuda and Miyoko Osaki, the high school division leaders, “It’s done! I’ve just finished the lyrics for the new high school division song,” and handed the paper to them.

“Thank you!”

Their faces beamed.

A beautiful sunset filled the sky.

The Future Group members gathered around Shin’ichi, sitting on chairs and benches placed there for them.

Fixing his gaze on each of them, he said in a serious tone: “You have all come together here as Future Group members with a vow to carry on the mission of kosen-rufu. The Soka Gakkai’s future rests on your shoulders. That’s why I am going to be strict with you today.

“Never forsake your vow as long as you live. Do not depend on others. Be people of integrity who seek out challenges and overcome them. Who can promise me this?”

They all raised their hands.

“Thank you. I have faith in all of you. I’ll be watching to see how you grow. I entrust the Soka Gakkai’s future to you! You are my treasures.”

The sky darkened by the moment, turning a deep indigo and the evening star began to shine. The eyes of the young phoenixes burned with determination, their cheeks flushed.

Afterward, Shin’ichi changed into a polo shirt and made his way to the prefecture young men’s division general meeting already in progress at the center. If only briefly, he wanted to encourage these young men who were so dear to him. When he appeared, everyone greeted him with joyous applause.

With prayers for their great development, he called on them to never forget their vow as comrades in faith and to forever walk the path of the grand adventure of kosen-rufu. When that meeting finished, he visited the home of a young men’s block leader (present-day district leader).

Wholehearted effort is what inspires others.

Installment 67

A melody was composed to accompany Shin’ichi’s lyrics, and on August 1, the song appeared in the Seikyo Shimbun under the title “Torchbearers of Justice.” On the afternoon of August 3, at the 11th High School Division General Meeting at the Tachikawa Culture Center in Tokyo, the impassioned singing of the young phoenixes setting forth into the 21st century resounded.

Shin’ichi was to meet guests at the Seikyo Shimbun building in Shinanomachi at 2 p.m., so he couldn’t attend the meeting itself. Instead, wishing to see the students and congratulate them on their fresh start, he went to the Tachikawa Culture Center and spoke to them before the meeting.

He told them that Nichiren Buddhism is the fundamental force for realizing world peace and that the times thirsted for its teachings. Then he talked about the mission of Buddhist practitioners: “Buddhism is a teaching to open your limitless potential. Those who uphold this teaching will never be deadlocked or trapped in despair. Even if society becomes shrouded in darkness and all hope seems lost, I ask that you grow up to be brave champions who create hope and impart it to others. That is your mission.

“Truly great people follow through with their convictions throughout life. Our true measure as human beings becomes evident when we face adversity. At such times, please forge ahead proudly on the great path of kosen-rufu, the great path of world peace, and the great path of people’s happiness, never wavering. Your main stage will be the 21st century. I want you to make that new century a century of victory.

“You are the ‘Meloses of the Mystic Law,’ and I entrust the future to you!”

As Shin’ichi left the center, he could hear the high school division members singing their vow.

Now, determined to carry on the baton,
I confidently await the time . . . .

Smiling, Shin’ichi nodded vigorously.

“I’m counting on you! I’m counting on all of you! I am overjoyed. I will give my all to opening the way for you. I’ll fight to the end!”

Those who foster worthy successors are true victors. Successors are the supreme treasures of Soka.

(This concludes “Songs of Kosen-rufu,” chapter 1 of volume 28 of The New Human Revolution.)


  1. Translated from Japanese. Lines from the lyrical cycle Melodiyi (Melodies). ↩︎
  2. In addition to the words “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law,” this Gohonzon also bears the inscription “To Be Permanently Enshrined in the Soka Gakkai” (Jpn Soka Gakkai Joju). As a result, it is commonly called the Soka Gakkai Joju Gohonzon. This Gohonzon, which was formerly enshrined in the Mentor-Disciple Hall, is now enshrined in the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. It is also referred to as the Soka Gakkai Kosen-rufu Gohonzon. ↩︎
  3. In what became known as the Osaka Incident, President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested and wrongfully charged with election law violations in a House of Councilors by-election in Osaka in 1957. At the end of the court case, which continued for more than four years, he was fully exonerated of all charges on January 25, 1962. ↩︎
  4. Article 13 of “The Twenty-Six Admonitions of Nikko” (Gosho zenshu, new ed., p. 2196) ↩︎
  5. General and specific viewpoints: A set of criteria for interpreting Buddhist teachings. “General” refers to an overall or surface view of a particular teaching or doctrine, and “specific,” to a more sharply delineated and profound view. ↩︎
  6. Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎
  7. Translated from Japanese. Nichijun Horigome, Nichijun Shonin zenshu (Collected Writings and Speeches of High Priest Nichijun), vol. 1 (Tokyo: Nichiren Shoshu Bussho Kanko-kai, 1982), p. 357. ↩︎
  8. Hesiod, Works and Days, in Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia, edited and translated by Glenn W. Most (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2006), p. 103. ↩︎
  9. Translated from German. Bertolt Brecht, “Solidaritätslied” (Solidarity Song), Brecht-Liederbuch (Brecht Songbook), edited by Fritz Hennenberg (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1984), p. 205. ↩︎
  10. Kin-jo (with jo meaning “castle”) can be written with either the Chinese character kin meaning “gold” or the character kin meaning “golden brocade.” The latter compound, i.e., “golden brocade castle” is used here. This same character kin (golden brocade) is used in the term “Jinzhou Castle” (Kinshu-jo). Hence the allusion in the poem. ↩︎
  11. Employing a literary device called gikun, Japanese authors often intentionally use an irregular reading for Chinese characters to add a layer of poeticism, specifying how they should be read. ↩︎
  12. Seven Bells: The first series of Seven Bells are seven consecutive seven-year periods in the Soka Gakkai’s development from its founding in 1930 through 1979. On May 3, 1958, shortly after President Toda’s death (on April 2), President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, introduced this idea and announced targets for subsequent seven-year periods. On May 3, 1966, President Ikeda spoke of a new series of Seven Bells that he envisaged unfolding in the 21st century. Also, in 1978, just before the end of the first series of Seven Bells, he elaborated further on this second series of Seven Bells, stating that it would begin from May 3, 2001, and continue through 2050. He also announced a series of four five-year goals for the organization’s development during the 20-year period from 1980 through 2000. ↩︎
  13. Lev N. Tolstoy, The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy: My Religion, On Life, Thoughts on God, On the Meaning of Life, translated and edited by Leo Wiener, vol. 16 (Boston: Dana Estes and Company, 1904), p. 475. ↩︎
  14. The Chugoku region today encompasses Hiroshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Tottori, and Shimane prefectures. ↩︎
  15. 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. ↩︎
  16. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (The Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 2 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1982), p. 199. ↩︎
  17. In the Soka Gakkai organization, Chugoku Region comprises Hiroshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Tottori and Shimane prefectures. ↩︎
  18. In the Soka Gakkai organization, Chubu Region comprises Aichi, Mie, and Gifu prefectures. ↩︎
  19. Masaoka Shiki, Masaoka Shiki Shu (Masaoka Shiki Anthology), in Nihon Kindai Bungaku Taikei (Compendium of Japanese Modern Literature), vol. 16 (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1995), p. 88. ↩︎
  20. San’in region: Area in western Honshu along the Sea of Japan encompassing Tottori and Shimane prefectures, and the northern part of Yamaguchi prefecture. ↩︎
  21. Nichikan Shonin: A scholar priest who lived during the Edo period (1603–1868) of Japan. He systematized and placed fresh emphasis on the Buddhist principles of Nichiren Daishonin as inherited and transmitted by the latter’s direct disciple and successor, Nikko Shonin. ↩︎
  22. Translated from Japanese. Nichikan, Kanjin no Honzon sho Mondan (Commentary on “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind”), in Nichikan Shonin Mondan-shu (The Commentaries of Nichikan Shonin), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1980), p. 443. ↩︎
  23. Translated from Japanese. From an article in the Seikyo Shimbun, May 4, 1996. ↩︎
  24. Future Groups were training groups formed within the future division in Japan. ↩︎
  25. In 2010, looking to the future, President Ikeda changed the line in the first verse from “The new century lies ahead of me” to “A new age lies ahead of me.” ↩︎
  26. See Osamu Dazai, “Run, Melos!” in Run, Melos! and Other Stories, translated by Ralph F. McCarthy (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1988), p. 133. ↩︎
  27. Daisaku Ikeda, “The truth of Melos,” Songs from my heart: Poems of life and nature, translated by Burton Watson (London: I. B. Tauris, 2015), p. 72. ↩︎
  28. Ibid., p. 73. ↩︎
  29. Osamu Dazai, “Run, Melos!” in Run, Melos! and Other Stories, translated by Ralph F. McCarthy (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1988), p. 131. ↩︎
  30. In 2010, looking toward the future, Ikeda Sensei changed two lines in the third verse from “hearts burning crimson, you, too, / are runners of the Seven Bells” to “hearts burning with passion, you, too, / are runners holding high the banner of victory.” ↩︎

District Discussion Meeting Material

Strengthening Our Grassroots Network of Bodhisattvas of the Earth for the Peace and Security of Humanity