Volume 30: Chapter 1, Great Mountain 61–68

Great Mountain 61

The previous year, on July 3, 1978, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had composed the music and lyrics to the young men’s division song “Stand Up, My Friends!” and presented it to his youthful successors.

Wholeheartedly pursuing the adventure of kosen-rufu,
ring the Seven Bells and make them resound far and wide.
Aiming for a glorious century of victory,
whether amid blossoms or blizzards, stand up, my friends!

The Seven Bells had resounded, just as these lyrics describe, and now, a year later, the Soka Gakkai was at the dawn of a new journey, aiming toward a century of victory.

On May 3, 1979, a sunny day, the 40th Soka Gakkai Headquarters General Meeting, commemorating the completion of the Seven Bells, was held in the Soka University Gymnasium in Hachioji, Tokyo. All the participants knew that the meeting was to celebrate a fresh departure for the Soka Gakkai, but they could not dispel a sense of sadness. They were also concerned about the Soka Gakkai’s future.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m., with High Priest Nittatsu and numerous other priests of Nichiren Shoshu attending. From shortly before 1:30, Shin’ichi stood in front of the Liberal Arts Building with new president Kiyoshi Jujo and other Soka Gakkai leaders to greet them. Eventually, a minibus and several cars pulled up and the priests stepped out.

Wearing a tailcoat, Shin’ichi bowed deferentially and greeted them in welcome. Most of the priests made no response and just walked past him with a haughty air, expressionless. Some glanced at him smugly or with scornful smiles.

The anguished faces of Soka Gakkai members around Japan who had been subjected to cruel treatment or harassment by ill-willed Nichiren Shoshu priests flashed through Shin’ichi’s mind. If his resignation put an end to that situation, as the priesthood promised, he would be satisfied, he thought.

Who needed to be protected? The sincere, dedicated members of the Soka Gakkai, his beloved comrades in faith, the noble practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism. Shin’ichi was resolved to shield the members and sacrifice himself to protect them, if need be.

The bright sun of courage rises in a resolute heart.

Great Mountain 62

The general meeting that day lacked the overflowing enthusiasm and joy that usually characterized Soka Gakkai meetings. In sharp contrast to the clear skies outside, the members’ hearts were shrouded in dark clouds.

The leaders conducting the meeting were on egg shells, trying not to upset or provoke the priests in any way.

Before the meeting began, a youth division leader instructed the audience to refrain from calling out or loudly cheering and applauding either when Shin’ichi entered the gymnasium or took the microphone.

Learning of this, Shin’ichi was saddened by the leadership’s willingness to be so easily intimidated by authority.

When presently he appeared on the stage, everyone suppressed their desire to applaud and just looked at him intently.

After a leader gave opening remarks, there was a speech on the completion of the Seven Bells and the Soka Gakkai’s vision for the future, as well as two short speeches by youth division and study department representatives sharing their determinations.

Each speaker carefully avoided any mention of Shin’ichi’s efforts and achievements as third president.

Recalling that general meeting, a women’s division leader later said indignantly: “President Yamamoto worked very hard for all of us for 19 years. Why didn’t anyone come out and say that the remarkable growth we have achieved in kosen-rufu today is due to his efforts?”

Shin’ichi was up to speak next as honorary president. When he took the microphone, he was greeted with hesitant, scattered applause.

The right side of the stage, as viewed from the audience, was occupied mostly by priests. The atmosphere was oppressive, as if the meeting were taking place under the surveillance of the priesthood. But the audience gazed at Shin’ichi with earnest expressions. He was acutely aware of these dedicated members’ feelings as they valiantly controlled the impulse to call out to him.

Looking at the audience, Shin’ichi smiled and bowed, and addressed them in his heart: “Don’t worry! The future lies ahead!”

He behaved just as he always did.

“The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs” (WND-1, 997), writes the Daishonin. Shin’ichi wanted each member, at this crucial juncture, to have the strength and courage of a lion.

Great Mountain 63

Shin’ichi’s calm and powerful voice rang out through the gymnasium: “I began practicing Nichiren Buddhism at the age of 19. In the roughly three decades since then, despite my weak constitution in those early days, I have never been hospitalized, and I have been able to fight continuously for kosen-rufu!”

He stressed that this was due to the magnificent power of the Gohonzon. Then, he shared a passage from the Daishonin’s writing “The Opening of the Eyes” that he had taken deeply to heart at the time of his inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960: “This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law” (WND-1, 280).

These words expressed the Daishonin’s passionate vow to selflessly devote his life to spreading the correct teaching of Buddhism. Taking this vow as their own, Shin’ichi and the members had pioneered the challenging path of kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law. Through their efforts, they had preserved the lineage of the correct teaching and made Nichiren Buddhism shine in contemporary society as a bright source of renewal and revitalization.

“I believe that we of the Soka Gakkai must uphold these words as our firm determination in faith as long as we live, don’t you agree?”

No matter what happens, our faith must be as unshakable as a great mountain.

Shin’ichi continued: “Now, in this year of the Soka Gakkai’s 49th anniversary—21 years after President Toda’s passing—we have completed the seven seven-year periods of the Seven Bells, the goal for the first phase of our organization’s history. In this way, through your incredible efforts, the wishes of our first two presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, have been realized during my presidency. Thank you!”

In the 19 years since Shin’ichi’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president, the Soka Gakkai’s membership had grown into a global network of happiness 10 million strong, and its activities for peace, culture, and education based on Buddhism had created a great current of humanism. This achievement heralded the arrival of an unprecedented, never-before-imagined age of worldwide kosen-rufu.

Great Mountain 64

During his time as president, Shin’ichi Yamamoto had built an unshakable foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan and, through sowing the seeds of Buddhism in numerous other countries and regions, also created a vibrant network of happiness throughout the world.

Within the Soka Gakkai, he established the high school division, the junior high school division, and the boys and girls division, and—with the aim of promoting wide-ranging cultural activities—the Education, International, and Writers divisions. He also implemented the construction of Soka Gakkai culture centers and other facilities where members could carry out their activities for kosen-rufu.

He established an integrated system of schools from kindergarten through university level, based on the ideals of Soka value-creating education, thereby fulfilling a cherished wish of his predecessors, Makiguchi and Toda, who had both been educators. To promote peace and culture based on the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhism, he founded the Min-On Concert Association, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, and the Fuji Art Museums. In the realm of politics in Japan, he founded the Komei Party.

In addition, he steadfastly supported and protected Nichiren Shoshu. Not only did he sponsor the construction of numerous buildings at the head temple Taiseki-ji—including the Grand Main Temple (Sho-Hondo), the Grand Reception Hall, and the Daikejo Hall—but he also built branch temples for Nichiren Shoshu throughout Japan. In this way, he contributed to the school’s unprecedented prosperity.

These brilliant achievements of the Soka Gakkai under Shin’ichi’s leadership could never be erased by any false or defamatory declarations. They were forever engraved in the lives of the members who worked with tireless energy and devotion alongside him to create this proud and indelible legacy.

In his remarks at the general meeting, Shin’ichi introduced the new president, Kiyoshi Jujo, and the new general director, Kazumasa Morikawa. He voiced his heartfelt wish that everyone would work together in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind” to ensure that the Soka Gakkai continued to grow and develop. He also expressed his determination to watch over and protect the members as long as he lived.

“I am a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism,” he declared, adding: “As I have already requested to the new leadership, I would like, if possible, to visit pioneer members who have striven with me for many long years—as well as the families of such members who have passed away. I would also like to visit members who have made outstanding contributions to our movement, and those who are suffering from illness and facing other grave challenges, to thank them for their efforts and encourage them.”

No matter how his activities might be restricted, Shin’ichi was determined to keep working for kosen-rufu. He wouldn’t let anything stop him from doing so.

Those who stay true to their mission for kosen-rufu are genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

Great Mountain 65

Shin’ichi had been allotted less than 10 minutes for his speech.

At so many previous Headquarters general meetings, Shin’ichi had given speeches filled with uplifting guidance and grand visions for kosen-rufu, and offered proposals for solving issues facing humankind. His relaxed manner of speaking, interspersed with warm humor, as if talking directly to each person present, always put everyone at ease, made them laugh, and inspired them to strengthen their resolve to challenge themselves anew.

But today’s general meeting lacked that warm interaction and felt very stiff and formal.

After Shin’ichi’s speech, High Priest Nittatsu gave a lecture, followed by speeches by the new general director, Kazumasa Morikawa, and the new president, Kiyoshi Jujo.

Jujo spoke of his determination to strive for stability and continuity as well as the steady growth of the Soka Gakkai, based on the solid foundation established by the first three presidents.

The general meeting came to a close, having proceeded in a staid and uneventful manner.

This no doubt delighted the ill-intentioned priests who had relentlessly attacked the Soka Gakkai in an effort to gain control over its members, as well as the unprincipled attorney and his cohorts who had been manipulating events from behind the scenes. They must have been congratulating themselves on how well their plan had succeeded. Shin’ichi could see the true nature of these individuals, prisoners of envy and greed, headed toward their own ruin.

When he left the gymnasium and was walking along a covered corridor to an adjacent building, several members in the university’s central plaza, including a woman carrying her child on her back, spotted him and rushed to the plaza’s railing, as they called out: “Sensei! Sensei!” They were not participants of the Headquarters general meeting, but must have been waiting outside hoping to catch sight of him. Some had tears in their eyes.

Shin’ichi waved to them, saying: “Thank you! Please take care!”

It was a momentary encounter, but it clearly reflected the deep, unchanging heart-to-heart ties he and the members shared—the true bonds of the Soka Gakkai.

“Who will protect these noble individuals, these sincere members, now?” Shin’ichi wondered. “Who will help them become happy?” In his heart, he renewed his resolve to staunchly support and protect them.

Great Mountain 66

After seeing off High Priest Nittatsu and the other priests, Shin’ichi went to another room and asked his wife, Mineko, to bring him paper, an inkstone, ink, and some writing brushes. He wanted to leave a record, in the form of calligraphy, of his vow and his hopes for his disciples on this day that was certain to have deep significance in the Soka Gakkai’s history.

He had already decided what he would write.

The large brush, laden with ink, swept across the paper as he wrote the characters for “Great Mountain.” Underneath, with a smaller brush, he added the inscription:

My friends, I pray that your faith
will remain unshaken by any storm.

—May 3, 1979, Soka University,
after the Headquarters General Meeting.

In January 1950, when his mentor Josei Toda’s businesses were in crisis, Shin’ichi had composed a poem titled, “A Prayer to Mount Fuji,” which read in part:

In the burning house of this avaricious age,
it stands unadorned, fearing no attack.
I offer my praise to distant Mount Fuji . . . .

The majestic form of Mount Fuji reminded Shin’ichi of his brave and resolute mentor, who devoted himself to kosen-rufu, undeterred by the storms of criticism and abuse that assailed him.

The calligraphy “Great Mountain” expressed a cry from Shin’ichi’s innermost being: “The Mystic Law is eternal and indestructible. We who uphold the Mystic Law and dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu have limitless hope. We must remain as unflinching as a great mountain in even the fiercest storm. What have we to fear? We, the members of the Soka Gakkai, have forged ahead, donning the armor of endurance (cf. WND-1, 392), to spread the Mystic Law with selfless dedication, just as the Daishonin teaches. The mentors and disciples of Soka have triumphed in all spheres with this unshakable spirit of faith.”

Shin’ichi picked up the large brush again, this time writing: “Great Cherry Tree.” Below these characters, he added the inscription:

With prayers that our members
will enjoy a glorious flowering of benefit.

—With palms pressed together,
May 3, 1979, Soka University.

Shin’ichi silently called out to the members: “No matter what trials beset us, the Buddhist law of cause and effect is absolute. Please advance with the Great Cherry Tree of Soka ever in your hearts!”

Great Mountain 67

Shin’ichi left Soka University with Mineko by car at 5:30 p.m. Instead of returning to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, they went straight to the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Shin’ichi had decided to begin his new struggle for worldwide kosen-rufu, his true struggle of mentor and disciple, from Yokohama—a port city that served as a gateway to the entire world.

It was 7:00 p.m. by the time they arrived in Yokohama. Night had already fallen. From a room in the Kanagawa Culture Center, Shin’ichi looked out at the harbor. He could see the ocean liner Hikawa Maru, now a museum ship, moored at the waterfront a short distance away. It was built in 1930, the same year that the Soka Gakkai was founded.

Having completed the Seven Bells—a series of seven seven-year development milestones from 1930 to the present—the Soka Gakkai was now embarking on a grand new voyage.

Shin’ichi felt as if he could finally catch his breath.

One of the leaders present said to him: “Your name was in the newspaper this morning.”

An article in the morning edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on a U.S.-Japan poll conducted by the newspaper and the U.S. Gallup Organization. Shin’ichi had ranked sixth in a list of 20 of the most respected people among the Japanese. The top five were former prime minister Shigeru Yoshida (1878–1967), the bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi (1876–1928), the agricultural technologist Sontoku Ninomiya (1787–1856), the educator and writer Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835–1901), and Emperor Hirohito (1901–1989)1. One of the leaders noted that Shin’ichi was the only living private citizen and the only religious leader on the list.

Shin’ichi found it mystic that this article should have appeared on this drama-filled day. He also felt it somehow expressed the members’ high hopes and warm support.

Shin’ichi recalled his meeting with Deng Yingchao, the respected Chinese leader and widow of the late premier Zhou Enlai, three weeks earlier. When he shared with her his intention to resign as president, she had declared that he mustn’t step down as long as he had the support of the people. It was her way of encouraging him, no doubt, to live up to the hope and trust others placed in him and to continue working hard.

He had made up his mind to keep fighting, whatever the situation might be. And he told himself that his real struggle began from now.

That night, at the Kanagawa Culture Center, Shin’ichi again picked up his brush to compose another calligraphy: “Shared Struggle.”

With the heartfelt wish that his disciples stand up alongside him, he also added the inscription:

The evening of May 3, 1979—
I am determined,
my resolve unshakable,
to advance kosen-rufu
throughout my life,
trusting that I have true comrades.

—With palms pressed together.

Great Mountain 68

The jet-black sky changed gradually to purple, and the faint outline of the peninsula became visible. Golden light filled the eastern sky and sparkled on the water as a refreshing May morning dawned.

On May 5, as the sun was rising, Shin’ichi gazed out over the sea from the Kanagawa Culture Center. The day was Children’s Day, a national holiday, as well as Soka Gakkai Successors Day.

A Kanagawa leader told Shin’ichi that a local member who owned a cabin cruiser wished to take him around Yokohama Harbor and adjacent waters. Shin’ichi agreed to a brief 30-minute ride on the boat, which was named 21st Century.

The Kanagawa Culture Center looked impressive from the water. Thinking how the harbor connected to the Pacific Ocean, Shin’ichi felt he could see the vast ocean of worldwide kosen-rufu in the 21st century, and his heart danced with excitement.

The Kanagawa Culture Center looked impressive from the water. Thinking how the harbor connected to the Pacific Ocean, Shin’ichi felt he could see the vast ocean of worldwide kosen-rufu in the 21st century, and his heart danced with excitement.

The previous day, May 4, he had met and talked with longtime Kanagawa Prefecture members, and on May 5, he met and encouraged early members of Mukojima and Joto chapters from the time of the old “line” organization. Shin’ichi’s efforts to encourage pioneer members were already under way.

Shin’ichi also wanted to attend meetings of the youth and future divisions, whose members would become the leaders of the next century, and wholeheartedly encourage them. In addition, many Soka Gakkai members had started gathering each day in Yamashita Park, in front of the Kanagawa Culture Center. If it were possible, he would have liked to hold meetings with them and commend them with every ounce of his energy, but now, he wasn’t permitted to engage in such activities.

“In that case,” he decided, “I will transmit the Soka Gakkai spirit in concrete form to my successors and disciples so that it endures into the future and lives on for all time!”

On that day, as a true disciple of Josei Toda, a great leader of kosen-rufu, Shin’ichi expressed his vow in calligraphy, writing in bold strokes the word “Justice,” and below it, the inscription: “I carry the banner of justice alone.”

“The real challenge has begun!” he thought. “Whatever my position, I will keep fighting—even if I am completely alone. I will win by striving in a spirit of oneness with my mentor. ‘Justice’ means advancing forever on the great path of kosen-rufu!”

(This concludes “Great Mountain,” chapter 1 of volume 30 of
The New Human Revolution.)

  • *1Yomiuri Shimbun, May 3, 1979.