Volume 30: Chapter 1, Great Mountain 51–60

Great Mountain 51

At the Headquarters leaders meeting, Shin’ichi delivered his greetings before the new president, Kiyoshi Jujo, took the floor to give his speech.

As Shin’ichi sat down at the microphone, everyone gazed at him with tense expressions.

“Please don’t give me such scary looks! This is a celebration for the new president. And since I’ve been working so hard for 19 years as president, couldn’t you at least give me a smile and say: ‘Thanks for all your efforts!’?”

Shin’ichi’s humor made them all laugh. The heavy atmosphere in the hall instantly lightened.

He continued: “The Seven Bells were an expression of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s profound and powerful determination for kosen-rufu—that is, his wish that we build the foundation for the vast, global development of kosen-rufu by the time the Seven Bells reached their culmination. Now, we have brought the Seven Bells to a successful close through the power of the Gohonzon and the dedicated efforts of our entire membership. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all our members.

“To ensure that our organization endures, it’s essential that we change the situation where one leader is at the helm for a long period of time. That’s the reason for this fresh start—to ensure a bright future for the Soka Gakkai.

“Our new president Kiyoshi Jujo is a few years my senior. Perhaps it might seem more natural to pass the baton to someone younger than me, but the Soka Gakkai is a large organization, and so I am very happy and relieved that it has chosen as its new president someone with good judgment and solid experience who has worked alongside me from the early days of our movement and contributed greatly to kosen-rufu.

“President Jujo is very meticulous and has a strong sense of responsibility. He is fair-minded and in sound health.

“General Director Kazumasa Morikawa, meanwhile, is senior in years to both myself and President Jujo, and along with us a fellow successor to the work and legacy of President Toda. While he hasn’t been much in the limelight, his faith is second to none.

“I hope that you will work with our new president and general director and make great efforts based on faith united in the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind.’”

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “If the spirit of many in body but one in mind prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals” (WND-1, 618). This passage sets forth the key to achieving kosen-rufu.

Great Mountain 52

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s words gradually grew more impassioned: “All sorts of things will occur on the journey of kosen-rufu. Changes will take place—including, of course, in leadership. The key is to keep pressing forward steadily toward our goal, without being swayed by various occurrences. That’s the Soka Gakkai spirit, after all!

“Let’s forge ahead in accord with the admonition of Nikko Shonin: ‘Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life’ (GZ, 1618)!

“In my own capacity as an individual, I will continue to advance kosen-rufu with all my being. I hope that each of you will also awaken to your unique personal mission and stand up on your own to carry it out. The important thing is being committed to dedicating one’s life to kosen-rufu, no matter what.

“The organization is a means to lead people to attaining Buddhahood, to realizing a life state of happiness. The structure of the organization and leadership positions in it do not in themselves bring benefit. Though the organization is important, it could be likened to the way the skeleton serves as the body’s framework. It is only when we exert ourselves earnestly in activities for kosen-rufu and others’ happiness that the organization comes alive with warm humanity, everyone experiences joy, and we ourselves receive great benefit.

“That’s why leaders mustn’t sit idly atop the organization or turn into bureaucrats. I hope you will always make sure that the organization is run in such a way that it exists for the members’ happiness and kosen-rufu, that it is pervaded by mutual care and support based on the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind,’ thereby serving as a source of nourishment and reassurance for everyone.

“No matter what happens, the benefit of the Gohonzon is absolute. So advance with unwavering faith. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

“More than anything, please become happy. I would like you and your families—everyone—to become happy. That is my wish and prayer. I hope each of you will advance day after day without regret, so that Nichiren Daishonin would praise you for having outstanding faith and being a good disciple.”

Shin’ichi spoke from his heart.

He wanted each member to be a person of courage with self-reliant faith, because that is the key to achieving personal happiness and realizing kosen-rufu.

Great Mountain 53

After Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke, the new president Kiyoshi Jujo took the microphone as the meeting’s final speaker and frankly shared his sentiments with the members.

“For several years now, President Yamamoto has been urging us to hone our abilities, since we’ll eventually have to take the lead and work together to propel the Soka Gakkai forward. But in my heart, I wished that he’d always be our president, and indeed hoped that he’d never resign. Now, however, with the completion of the Seven Bells, President Yamamoto has made a firm decision to step down.

“He has regularly been telling us that we mustn’t depend solely on him, because that would hinder the development of an enduring movement for kosen-rufu. And for our part, we assured him with some bluster that he had nothing to worry about, and that we would take care of the future. And now, that moment has actually arrived.

“Lacking in ability, and with no special talent, I feel completely unequal to the task ahead of me. But with your support, I promise to work my hardest for the sake of all our members.”

Jujo had witnessed firsthand the selfless efforts of Josei Toda, who had dedicated his entire life to kosen-rufu, as well as the continuing series of arduous struggles waged by Shin’ichi Yamamoto, Toda’s disciple. He recognized keenly the heavy responsibility that came with the position of president.

“Our first three presidents—Presidents Makiguchi, Toda, and Yamamoto—have embodied the Soka Gakkai spirit of dedication to Buddhism, the welfare of society, and people’s happiness, as well as an unwavering passion for kosen-rufu. I aim to carry on that great spirit and passion into the 21st century and create a steady and enduring tide of development. I am freshly determined to do my best—to reflect on and strengthen my own faith and my efforts to share this Buddhism with others—as if starting completely anew.”

Faith means making a new determination every day—for as long as we live. The Buddhist way of life is to keep challenging and improving ourselves with an ever-fresh spirit and unflagging commitment.

Great Mountain 54

Kiyoshi Jujo, speaking directly from his heart, said in closing: “While bearing deeply in mind the guidance President Yamamoto has given us thus far and striving to be an example for others in my actions, I will learn from all of you, from your faith in working tirelessly on the front lines of the organization.

“Though I am president, I would like to request that you please do not call me ‘Sensei.’ Only the first three presidents, our three mentors, in the solemn lineage of Soka are deserving of that title.

“As for me, just call me ‘Mr. Jujo’ or ‘Jujo.’ As fellow members, let us begin a fresh advance as equals, developing ourselves through mutual support and encouragement as we forge ahead in the unity of ‘many in body, one in mind’!

“I am committed to serving all our members and creating an environment in which everyone can strive in their Buddhist practice with joy and peace of mind. Here again, I ask for your support.”

His earnest and heartfelt words left a positive impression on his listeners.

Giving guidance in faith does not mean putting oneself above the members and lecturing them from on high. It involves each leader showing the way forward, as they themselves strive with determination, passion, and initiative. It is an endeavor to form genuine connections with others by inspiring and deeply touching their lives.

As Shin’ichi watched over the proceedings, the wheels of fresh progress for the Soka Gakkai began to turn.

The following day, April 26, Shin’ichi visited High Priest Nittatsu at the head temple of Nichiren Shoshu in Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and presented his resignation as the chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations. On that occasion, High Priest Nittatsu thanked Shin’ichi for his great contributions to the prosperity of Nichiren Shoshu over the years, and designated him as the honorary chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.

That evening, Shin’ichi went to the Shizuoka Training Center [located in Atami, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the head temple]. At this facility honoring the memory of first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi1, he wished to ponder what needed to be done to ensure the Soka Gakkai’s dynamic development into the 21st century.

The end of one thing is the beginning of another. To achieve great future development, a solid vision and detailed plans are essential.

Great Mountain 55

At the Shizuoka Training Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto gave deep thought to how best to pursue exchange and dialogue with leaders and thinkers of different religious and cultural backgrounds around the globe to advance the cause of world peace.

While there, he also took time to meet and speak with representatives of the student division, the women’s division, and local Shizuoka members. He reaffirmed for them the path of Soka, a life dedicated to kosen-rufu based on the bond of mentor and disciple, and strongly urged them to make fresh strides forward.

Shin’ichi already found himself in a situation where he was unable to freely attend Soka Gakkai meetings. This was due to the plotting of the attorney Tomomasa Yamawaki and some ranking Nichiren Shoshu priests, who together sought to gain control over the Soka Gakkai.

They argued that after Shin’ichi stepped down as Soka Gakkai president, it would be inappropriate for him to be present at meetings and offer guidance; likewise, there would be no need for Soka Gakkai publications to report on his words or actions.

The only news about Shin’ichi that the Seikyo Shimbun could report was his overseas travels or meetings with foreign dignitaries. The only activities permitted to him within the organization were visiting the homes of longtime members and offering personal guidance. The aim of the traitorous Yamawaki and these self-serving priests was to isolate Shin’ichi completely and drive a wedge between him and the members. They believed that would allow them to manipulate the organization as they pleased and subjugate the membership to their authority.

The lifeblood of the Soka Gakkai is the mentor-disciple spirit dedicated to kosen-rufu. Founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, having died for his beliefs in prison, left an immortal example of selfless devotion to propagating the Law. And second president Josei Toda attained a profound awakening while in prison, becoming deeply aware of his great mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. These events are the origin of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

After his release from prison, Toda made a vow to achieve a membership of 750,000 households, thereby creating a great network of fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth—a goal he realized together with his disciple Shin’ichi. In this way, the Soka Gakkai demonstrated the principle, articulated by Nichiren Daishonin, that Bodhisattvas of the Earth would steadily emerge one after another to propagate the Mystic Law (cf. WND-1, 385). Shin’ichi then went on to forge strong ties of mentor and disciple with the members and take up the challenge of achieving worldwide kosen-rufu.

Toda once said: “In this time of the Latter Day of the Law, the Soka Gakkai has spread the Mystic Law to so many people and helped them become happy. In the Buddhist scriptures of the future, the name of our organization is sure to be recorded as ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha.’”

Precisely because the Soka Gakkai is a gathering of people dedicated to the great mission of kosen-rufu, the devil king of the sixth heaven attacks it with a vengeance.

Great Mountain 56

The “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra recounts the story of a Buddha named Awesome Sound King. This name, however, does not apply to just one Buddha. After the first Awesome Sound King Buddha entered nirvana, another Buddha of the same name appeared in the world. As the Lotus Sutra puts it: “This process continued until twenty thousand million Buddhas had appeared one after the other, all bearing the same name” (LSOC20, 308). In other words, the Lotus Sutra teaches that twenty thousand million Buddhas named Awesome Sound King appeared one after another for long eons, guiding living beings to enlightenment.

Josei Toda insightfully suggested that we could view this collection of Buddhas as an organization, a harmonious community of practitioners, called Awesome Sound King Buddha.

The life of an individual is limited. But when the fundamental spirit of striving for kosen-rufu is passed on from mentor to disciples, and those disciples continue their efforts as a group or organization over time, that body of practitioners comes to possess the enduring life force of the Buddha ceaselessly guiding people to happiness.

“Soka Gakkai Buddha” is a network of members dedicated to the mission of realizing the great vow for kosen-rufu, a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth following in the footsteps of first and second presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, who were joined by the bonds of mentor and disciple.

What are the requirements for ensuring that “Soka Gakkai Buddha” lives on for all time?

The first requirement is that each member has a lifelong commitment to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu. With a profound awareness that kosen-rufu is the fundamental purpose of their life and empathizing with those who are suffering, each person must strive to put into practice the Daishonin’s words: “Teach others [about Buddhism] to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase” (WND-1, 386).

The second requirement is to persist in walking the great path of oneness of mentor and disciple. Inheriting the spirit of the mentor, who exemplifies selfless dedication to propagating the Law, the disciples must thoroughly study the mentor’s teachings and make them a guide for their actions and behavior. Each day, disciples should challenge themselves in their lives and in their efforts for kosen-rufu, always embracing and engaging in dialogue with the mentor in their hearts and reflecting on what the mentor would do in their place.

The third requirement is uniting in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “[Chanting] Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind . . . is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death” (WND-1, 217). The heritage of faith flows on vibrantly when members unite in purpose and demonstrate their full capacities for the sake of kosen-rufu.

Great Mountain 57

Since the Soka Gakkai is “Soka Gakkai Buddha,” it must continue to fulfill the great mission of kosen-rufu by creating an eternal flow of successors.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto firmly vowed to himself that he would create a mighty river of capable individuals.

He remembered how, on January 6, 1951, his mentor Josei Toda, amid the direst adversity, called him to his home and entrusted everything to him.

In the fall of 1949, when his publishing company ran aground, Toda became involved in a financial cooperative, taking on the position of executive director of the Toko Construction Credit Union. The economic turmoil of the postwar period, however, hit the credit union hard and its situation went from bad to worse. Finally, the government ordered it to suspend operations. Seeking to find another way forward, Toda embarked on a new business venture as the executive advisor of Daito Commerce, but the results were just as disappointing.

Some of the employees quit filled with anger and resentment, blaming and cursing Toda as they left. Some creditors sued, and things reached the point where he might even be arrested. Toda decided to go personally to see the authorities and try to explain the situation.

It was in the midst of all this that Toda called Shin’ichi to his home that day, in January 1951, to assist him with the dissolution of the Toko Construction Credit Union.

With his wife, Ikue, at his side, Toda began to share his thoughts frankly with Shin’ichi, while Ikue wept softly, her shoulders trembling. Reminding her sternly that the wife of a general shouldn’t weep in a crisis, he then said to Shin’ichi: “If something should happen to me, I’d like you to take over the running of the Gakkai, the credit union, and Daito Commerce—everything. Would you do this for me? And if you would, take care of my family as well?”

He continued: “My mission in this life is your mission, too. You understand that, don’t you? No matter what happens, be strong.”

Striving together for the great mission of kosen-rufu, undeterred by any challenge or obstacle, is the way of mentor and disciple.

Great Mountain 58

Josei Toda was focused on the future of kosen-rufu. He sought to entrust everything to his disciple Shin’ichi Yamamoto as his successor to ensure that the spirit of Soka would flow on forever.

Shin’ichi was acutely aware of Toda’s feelings.

As if to reconfirm his intent, Toda said: “If you and I remain true to our mission, the time will definitely come when the wish of Nichiren Daishonin is fulfilled. No matter what anyone says, let’s advance firmly and resolutely together!”

Shin’ichi lifted his tear-filled eyes to Toda’s and said: “Sensei, please don’t worry about anything. I have always been prepared to give my entire life to you without the slightest regret, and this will never change, for all eternity.”

This solemn dialogue between mentor and disciple took place at a time when Toda was engaged in a desperate struggle, his back against the wall.

At that moment, Shin’ichi recalled the final conversation between the famous samurai warrior Kusunoki Masashige and his eldest son, Masatsura, when Masashige was about to depart for the battle of Minatogawa (present-day Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture).

In 1336, Masashige was on his way to do battle at Minatogawa to prevent Ashikaga Takauji, a former loyalist general who had turned against the emperor, from invading the imperial capital of Kyoto. Masashige’s forces were greatly outnumbered by those of Takauji, however, and defeat was certain. He was prepared to give his life.

Before leaving for the battlefield, Masashige called Masatsura to his side at Sakurai (in present-day Osaka Prefecture) and instructed him to return home. But Masatsura was ready to die in battle alongside his father and refused to go back. Weeping, Masashige finally persuaded his son that if they were both killed, there would be no one left to prevent Ashikaga Takauji from conquering the realm.

The song “The Green Leaves of Sakurai”—popularly known as “Dainanko” (The Great Hero Kusunoki2)—describes this exchange. Toda loved the song and often asked young men’s division members to sing it for him. In it, Masashige says to his young son Masatsura: “Grow quickly to be a fine youth, so that you may serve the emperor for the sake of our country.” For Toda, these lyrics expressed his wish that the youth of the Soka Gakkai would quickly take full responsibility for the future and devote themselves to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu.

Great Mountain 59

Toda’s words that January 6, 1951—as he was putting his papers in order for the dissolution of the credit union after all efforts to save it had failed—reminded Shin’ichi of the feelings of Kusunoki Masashige as expressed in the song “Dainanko.”

Brushing away his tears, Masashige
called his son Masatsura to his side.
“I, your father, am departing for Hyogo
to fight to my death in a distant bay.
You have come all this way,
but quickly return home.”

Now, 28 years later, at the Shizuoka Training Center, Shin’ichi deeply understood how this courageous general Masashige, leaving his successor behind before departing for a life-or-death battle, and his own mentor, Josei Toda, must have felt. He himself was about to embark on a new journey for worldwide kosen-rufu while entrusting the Soka Gakkai to the new executive leadership team, headed by President Jujo, and to his capable successors in the youth division. This made him realize how profound the resolve in Toda’s heart must have been that January day.

Shin’ichi sat down at the white piano in the training center and began to play “Dainanko” with vigor.

“Father, no matter what you say,
how could I desert you
and return home?
I, Masatsura, may still be
young in years, but I will join you
on this journey to death.”

“Masatsura, I ask you to return
not for my own sake.
If I should die,
the realm will fall to Takauji.”

He vowed to his mentor in his heart: “Both Masashige and his son Masatsura, who carried out his father’s wishes, were ultimately defeated in battle by the Ashikaga forces and died without achieving their purpose, but I will not be defeated. I will protect all our members and open a new sphere of activity for worldwide kosen-rufu!”

Great Mountain 60

Shin’ichi Yamamoto reflected deeply: “Mr. Toda entrusted everything to me, one loyal disciple. He poured his entire being into teaching me about Buddhism and faith, instructing me in a wide range of subjects, sharing with me his wisdom about the art of leadership and human nature, and thoroughly training me in every possible way. I feel that those days of bitter adversity after my mentor’s businesses collapsed were all the design of the heavenly deities to forge me into a true lion.

“In the 19 years since my inauguration as Soka Gakkai president, I, too, have fostered one group of capable individuals after another. But the real work of doing so still lies ahead.

“I would like our present top leaders, who could be called the first team of capable individuals I fostered as successors, to take full responsibility for the Soka Gakkai. I hope they will exert themselves wholeheartedly for our movement as they make a fresh start amid a storm of challenges, thereby becoming genuine lions. An all-out struggle from which there is no turning back solidifies people’s resolve and hones their courageous, lionlike spirit.

“Also, right now, I can still watch over them, encourage them personally, and give them advice as a fellow member. I must not allow the new executive leadership and the youth who are my successors to be like Masatsura and be defeated in their struggle!”

In that respect, Shin’ichi was convinced that everything was unfolding in accord with the Buddha’s intent.

“Another crucially important task will be developing young lions to whom I can entrust the 21st century. I would like the youth to grow into outstanding successors possessing both courage and wisdom, so they can respond to any changes the times may bring, no matter how turbulent.”

To communicate this wish to the youth division, Shin’ichi decided to make a tape recording of him playing “Dainanko” on the piano and present it to representatives.

He immediately had the center’s staff set up a tape recorder for him. First, he recorded the words: “I dedicate this song to you, my dear and trusted young friend, with prayers for your great endeavors toward the 21st century.” Then, he turned to the piano once more.

He put his whole heart into his performance, playing with power, intensity, and a fervent wish for each disciple’s growth.

“Stand up! My disciples, my fellow members, press boldly forward! May each of you become a ‘Shin’ichi’!” he called out to them in his heart as he played.

  • *1President Makiguchi was arrested by the wartime militarist authorities during a visit to Shizuoka Prefecture in July 1943.
  • *2The lyrics to this song were composed by the noted poet and scholar of Japanese literature Naobumi Ochiai (1861–1903). They describe the poignant leave-taking between the brilliant 14th-century military tactician Kusunoki Masashige (d. 1336) and his son, Masatsura. As the father departs for battle, his young son declares that he will accompany him, ready to die at his side. But his father asks his son to stay behind and live to carry on his aspirations. This song is popularly sung in the Soka Gakkai as an expression of the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple.