Chapter 2, Awaiting the Time 1–10
Awaiting the Time 1
Let us engage in dialogue!
Sensing the sadness and pain
deep in people’s eyes,
listening closely to their faltering words,
let us summon courage
and begin an inspiring dialogue!
Opening our arms in empathy,
with vibrant life force,
let us speak about a philosophy of true hope and justice!
With overflowing passion
and unshakable conviction,
let us persist in
playing a melody of friendship and understanding!
Let us continue our dialogue!
The power within each person
The awakening of one individual
sparks a ripple of revitalization,
spreading from one person to another,
giving rise to ten thousand waves and more.
“One is the mother of ten thousand” (WND-1, 131).
we are sowing the seeds of happiness
in the fields of people’s hearts and
awakening each to their noble mission in this life.
we link hearts and unite the world,
building a fortress of lasting peace
Again today, let us engage in dialogue!
Shin’ichi Yamamoto had stepped down as third Soka Gakkai president and been named honorary president. After seeing the Soka Gakkai make a fresh start with a new leadership lineup under President Kiyoshi Jujo at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters General Meeting on May 3, 1979, he launched into working to realize a new phase of dynamic development in worldwide kosen-rufu. He concentrated his energies on dialogue—reaching out to members to encourage them and meeting with ambassadors and leading scholars and thinkers from various countries to open the way to world peace.
The power of dialogue is a force for peace that creates a new age.
Awaiting the Time 2
Shin’ichi Yamamoto refrained as much as possible from going to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters. He wanted President Jujo and the other top leaders to feel free in exercising leadership. Moreover, he didn’t want his presence at the Headquarters to cause everyone to gradually fall back into the habit of depending upon him.
It was Shin’ichi’s greatest wish that the new leadership, on their own, carry on the great Soka spirit of mentor and disciple; manage the organization successfully and guide the members; and fulfill their mission and responsibility for kosen-rufu. He also had high hopes for the growth and development of the youth who would shoulder the future.
Praying deeply, he thought of the legendary Chinese lion, who was said to have tossed its cub into a ravine to test its survival skills and to train it. The story represents the idea of the importance of exposing one’s children to challenges for the sake of their growth and development. Shin’ichi felt as if this was what he was doing now as he watched over the earnest struggles of his successors.
Meanwhile, week after week, the Japanese media, led by the sensationalist tabloid magazines, made a great commotion about Shin’ichi’s resignation as Soka Gakkai president. Irresponsible and wildly speculative reporting continued, with commentators and others who were critical of the Soka Gakkai asserting that the organization was about to collapse.
Amid all this, Shin’ichi kept speaking with and encouraging members wherever he met them—at the Kanagawa Culture Center, the Tachikawa Culture Center, the Shizuoka Training Center, and many other places. He also posed with them for photographs.
Quietly carrying out the tasks we have set for ourselves day after day, never straying from the path of kosen-rufu, moving forward like the sun’s unchanging course in the sky—herein lies true success in life and victory in kosen-rufu.
On May 11, as if conversing with the sun and moon, Shin’ichi composed this poem at the Tachikawa Culture Center:
In the west sets the majestic sun.
In the east, the full moon glows radiant.
Dusk freshly colors the heavens.
In the serenity of this moment—
a magnificent painting
of life without beginning.
My state of mind, too,
is free and unfettered.
Awaiting the Time 3
To bring the world closer together and open the way to enduring peace, Shin’ichi actively reached out to thinkers and diplomatic representatives of various countries. On May 19, 1979, he met at a hotel in Tokyo with China-Japan Friendship Association President Liao Chengzhi, who was visiting as the head of a goodwill delegation that had traveled to Japan on the Chinese cruise ship Minghua.
During their conversation, Shin’ichi expressed his determination to continue working for friendship and promoting exchanges for peace, culture, and education between their two countries, now and in the future, regardless of his position. He also stressed the importance of developing strong ties among ordinary citizens to ensure lasting friendly relations.
During their meeting, President Liao requested that Shin’ichi make a fifth visit to China.
Since Shin’ichi’s first visit (in 1974), the two men had met and conversed numerous times, forging a close friendship. President Liao died four years later, in June 1983. The following year, Shin’ichi visited the family to pay his condolences, sharing recollections of Mr. Liao’s life and accomplishments with his widow, Jing Puchun, and their son.
In October 2009, Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering in Guangzhou [the capital of China’s Guangdong Province] conferred honorary professorships on Shin’ichi and his wife, Mineko. “Zhongkai” was the name of President Liao Chengzhi’s father, Liao Zhongkai (1877–1925), a friend and ally of the Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925). The university’s forerunner, Zhongkai Agricultural and Industrial School, had been founded by Zhongkai’s widow, He Xiangning (1878–1972), who, as an activist alongside her husband, had played an important role in the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
A center dedicated to studying the philosophy and ideals of Liao Chengzhi and Shin’ichi Yamamoto was opened at Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering in November 2010.
The friendships that Shin’ichi cultivated continued to grow and flourish into the 21st century.
On May 22, 1979, a few days after his meeting with President Liao, Shin’ichi met and spoke with the international department head and an editorial board member of the Soviet Union’s Novosti Press Agency, as well as representatives of the Soviet Embassy, at the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama. Among the topics they discussed were the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as other issues concerning peace, culture, and education in Asia and the world. During the meeting, the Soviet representatives expressed the strong wish that Shin’ichi visit the Soviet Union.
As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, it is our responsibility to work and act earnestly for the realization of lasting peace.
Awaiting the Time 4
Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued to actively engage in dialogues for friendship and peace.
On May 25, he met with Zambian Ambassador Chief Mapanza Morris Katowa, and on May 29, with leading Chinese writer and thinker Zhou Yang and his wife, Su Lingyang. In June, he met with New Zealand Ambassador Rod Miller, Nigerian Ambassador Balarabe Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and others.
Shin’ichi made a special effort to meet and speak with representatives from Africa, because he firmly believed that the 21st century would be the century of Africa. He also keenly felt that only by bringing peace and prosperity to this vast continent, where people had endured long years of colonial rule and suffered great poverty and hunger, could humanity’s future be assured.
While meeting and speaking with foreign dignitaries, Shin’ichi also held dialogues with leading figures in Japanese society.
Making time in his busy schedule, he traveled to places such as Tsurumi and Kohoku wards in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture; and Itabashi, Chuo, and Toshima wards, as well as Koganei and Kodaira, in Tokyo. His sole purpose wherever he went was to visit members who had struggled earnestly alongside him for kosen-rufu and warmly encourage them.
As long as the mentor and disciples dedicated to kosen-rufu are strongly united in spirit, the solidarity of the Soka Gakkai will remain unshaken by even the fiercest storms. That is why frank and open dialogue is essential. It is a source of inspiration that awakens people to their mission and fosters ties of trust.
Whenever Shin’ichi met with pioneer members, his unvarying message to them was: “In life, the final chapter is the most important.”
No matter how active we have been in the past and what glorious accomplishments we have achieved, if we stop striving in our Buddhist practice in our final years, we will have given in to defeat.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “For example, the journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you travel for eleven but stop with only one day remaining, how can you admire the moon over the capital?” (WND-1, 1027).
Brilliant, everlasting victory in life is achieved through maintaining a spirit to continue seeking the way, challenging ourselves, and fighting our hardest as long as we live.
Awaiting the Time 5
Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s resignation as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and as Soka Gakkai president was supposed to have put an end to the attacks by some of the younger priests who were critical of the Soka Gakkai.
On May 1, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office issued the following directive to all priests: “In the monthly lectures and other sermons, speaking of anything beyond teachings that are based on the Daishonin’s writings is strictly prohibited. Despite numerous notices to this effect, breaches of this rule have been apparent. From now on, we ask that you strictly refrain from such conduct. . . .
“While it is permissible to accept Soka Gakkai members as direct temple members at their own request, it is otherwise strictly forbidden to approach Soka Gakkai members in any way to do so.”
High Priest Nittatsu even personally reprimanded some priests who continued to speak ill of the Soka Gakkai in defiance of this directive. Nevertheless, at many of the temples where the younger priests held sway, the Soka Gakkai continued to be maligned and attacked at the monthly lectures and other occasions. And, if anything, efforts to actively approach and persuade Soka Gakkai members to leave the organization and join the temple intensified.
The priests of these temples paid no attention to the instructions of the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office or even to the high priest, and signs of growing turmoil and confusion began to appear within Nichiren Shoshu.
It was shortly after 6:00 a.m. on July 22 that Shin’ichi received news that High Priest Nittatsu had died. The high priest had attended a memorial service at a branch temple in Fukuoka on July 17 and returned to the head temple the following day. But on the morning of July 19, feeling ill, he was admitted to a hospital in Fujinomiya City. There, he died of a heart attack at 5:05 a.m. on July 22, at age 77.
Shin’ichi immediately departed for the head temple from the Kanagawa Culture Center to pay his condolences in person. He arrived there before 9:00 a.m., and chanted daimoku, offered incense, and prayed for the high priest’s eternal happiness.
A preliminary wake began at the Grand Reception Hall that evening, during which the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office executive advisor made an important announcement. In April of the previous year (1978), he said, Nittatsu had privately designated General Administrator Shinno Abe as his successor, selecting him to become the 67th high priest. The Soka Gakkai’s response on this occasion, too, was to continue to support the priesthood, wishing for harmonious cooperation between the priesthood and laity for the sake of kosen-rufu.
Awaiting the Time 6
The official wake and funeral services for High Priest Nittatsu were conducted at the head temple from August 6 through August 8, attended by Shin’ichi Yamamoto and other Soka Gakkai top leaders and representatives.
That summer (in August 1979), 1,300 SGI members from 41countries and three territories visited Japan. As SGI President, Shin’ichi encouraged them at an international friendship gathering held at the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama on August 13, and at a gongyo session to pray for world peace held at the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Tokyo on August 15.
These sincere members, who were working so hard for kosen-rufu, had traveled to Japan from all around the world with a passionate seeking spirit. No matter what his situation, Shin’ichi could not fail to meet with and encourage them.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “If someone proclaims even a single verse or phrase of the Lotus Sutra, you must respect him as you would the Buddha. This is what the sutra means when it says, ‘You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha’ [LSOC28, 365]” (WND-1, 757). In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin identified the words “You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” as “the foremost point he [Shakyamuni] wished to convey to us” (OTT, 192).
We must always base ourselves on the Daishonin’s teachings.
Shin’ichi was all the more convinced, upon seeing these joyful SGI members filled with seeking spirit, that a new age of worldwide kosen-rufu had arrived.
At the international friendship gathering, he said: “The fact that 1,300 members have traveled to Japan from around the world to deepen their understanding of the Daishonin’s teachings is a landmark event in the history of Buddhism. Please always be aware that you are pioneers who are blazing new trails for worldwide kosen-rufu, that you are makers of history.
“When you return to your respective countries, many of you may be one of just a few members there, or perhaps the only person in a vast area practicing Nichiren Buddhism. But the important thing is to strive with a self-reliant spirit.
“Nichiren Daishonin stood up alone and created a groundswell of kosen-rufu. Similarly, the reconstruction of the Soka Gakkai after World War II began with President Josei Toda making a solitary stand. That is the spirit of a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism; it is the Soka Gakkai spirit.
“Now is the time for each one of you to stand up alone, as a lion! I will, too!”
Awaiting the Time 7
On the afternoon of August 20, after visiting the Taito Culture Center in Tokyo, Shin’ichi Yamamoto made his way to the Nagano Training Center in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.
Karuizawa was where Josei Toda had spent his last summer, in August 1957. During his stay there, he had invited Shin’ichi and Kazumasa Morikawa to join him, and together they took a drive to see the Onioshidashi lava formations, after which they had dinner at the hotel where Toda was staying. He especially wanted to encourage Shin’ichi, who had been arrested on false charges the month before in what became known as the Osaka Incident.
Toda and his young disciples enjoyed a lively conversation as they ate. Soon, the subject turned to Toda’s novel Human Revolution, which he had written under the pen name Myo Goku. The novel had been serialized in the Seikyo Shimbun—the first installment appearing in the paper’s debut issue in April 1951—and only been published in book form in July 1957, the previous month.
The novel’s hero, Gan, was an ordinary man living in a humble one-story eight-apartment row house and working at a printing company.
Introduced to the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin by Josaburo Makita (the fictional name Toda gave to Tsunesaburo Makiguchi in his novel; in later editions, Makiguchi’s actual name was used), Gan begins to practice Nichiren Buddhism. Showing proof of the power of faith, he eventually becomes the printing company president. Later, he is appointed general director of the Soka Gakkai, and supports President Makita in his efforts for kosen-rufu.
But facing oppression by Japan’s militarist government during World War II, Makita and his devoted disciple Gan are both imprisoned. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reading the Lotus Sutra in his cell, Gan undergoes a profound realization that he is one of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who assembled at the Ceremony in the Air described in the Lotus Sutra. The novel ends with him vowing to dedicate his life to propagating the Lotus Sutra.
In the first half of the novel, the character Gan is completely fictional, his life bearing little resemblance to Toda’s, but Gan’s experience in the second half of the novel is Toda’s own experience. In particular, his awakening in prison to his mission of kosen-rufu after being arrested and jailed by the authorities is a depiction of what really happened, underscoring the starting point of the Soka Gakkai spirit.
Gan’s exclamation, “I am a Bodhisattva of the Earth!” is the source of the Soka Gakkai’s conviction.
Awaiting the Time 8
Josei Toda’s novel Human Revolution, with the plot line centering around the human revolution of its protagonist Gan, depicts the selfless dedication of his mentor Josaburo Makita, who rose into action alone to spread the Mystic Law and realize kosen-rufu.
Speaking at the 11th memorial (10th anniversary) of President Makiguchi’s passing, held in November 1954, Toda described how he had felt that day in prison when he learned that his mentor, to whom he owed everything, had died: “Never in my life had I experienced such grief. At that moment, I said to myself: ‘Just wait! I will prove to the world whether my mentor was right or wrong. If I were to adopt a pseudonym, I would call myself Count of Monte Cristo. In that spirit, I will achieve something great so that I might repay my mentor.’”1
“Monte Cristo” refers to the hero of the Alexandre Dumas (1800–70) novel The Count of Monte Cristo, translated into Japanese by Ruiko Kuroiwa (1862–1920). In Kuroiwa’s translation, the title of the novel is Gankutsu-o (lit. King of the Cavern).
In the novel, a young sailor named Edmond Dantès falls victim to a treacherous plot that leads to him being arrested and imprisoned in the forbidding island fortress the Château d’If. His prison is shared by an aged cleric Abbé Faria, who becomes his instructor in a wide range of subjects and tells him where a great trove of treasure is hidden on an island called Monte Cristo. After 14 years, Dantès escapes his prison and recovers the treasure, acquiring fabulous wealth. Adopting the name Count of Monte Cristo, he presents himself in Parisian society, where he sets about exacting revenge on those who were responsible for his unjust imprisonment and rewarding the good people who helped him in his life.
Toda had fervently vowed to persevere through hardship like the novel’s hero and vindicate his mentor Makiguchi, who had died due to the oppression of Japan’s wartime militarist government. Toda’s “vengeance” took the form of proving the integrity and righteousness of his mentor. It also entailed a battle against the evils of power that caused Makiguchi’s untimely demise as well as the death and suffering of so many others through the war. And it meant realizing happiness for the people and peace for humanity.
That is why Toda chose Gan Kutsuo [a homonym of the Japanese title of The Count of Monte Cristo] as the name of his novel’s hero, and recorded the truth and greatness of Makiguchi for posterity.
It is the duty of disciples to make their mentor’s virtue known to all the world.
Awaiting the Time 9
While visiting Karuizawa at his mentor’s invitation and talking about how moved he had been on reading Toda’s novel, Human Revolution, Shin’ichi made a deep personal resolution.
Toda’s Human Revolution ends with its hero Gan, representing Toda, vowing in prison to dedicate his life to kosen-rufu.
Toda emerged alive from prison on July 3, 1945, having inherited the spirit of his mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who had died there. Shin’ichi felt that unless he chronicled Toda’s subsequent accomplishments and efforts to lay the foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan, he would be unable to communicate to future generations his mentor’s great work and the Soka spirit of mentor and disciple that defined Makiguchi and Toda’s lives.
Shin’ichi arrived at the realization: “I am the only one who can record the truth of Mr. Toda’s life. That is his expectation for me and my mission as his disciple.”
At that moment, the idea of writing a biographical novel as a sequel to Toda’s Human Revolution, something he had contemplated many times before, turned into an unshakable commitment. Nagano Prefecture became the place where he made a powerful vow to ensure the Soka spirit of mentor and disciple would live on forever.
Now, in August 1979, Shin’ichi was making his first visit to the Nagano Training Center, which had opened in August the previous year. In the first summer of a new chapter of worldwide kosen-rufu, he traveled to Karuizawa, where Toda had stayed during his very last summer. From this place of deep karmic ties, Shin’ichi decided to create a fresh momentum of home visits and personal guidance, and begin work on building a new Soka Gakkai.
Worldwide kosen-rufu ultimately starts with encouraging a single individual, with taking a single step in one’s immediate environment.
On the train on his way to the Nagano Training Center, Shin’ichi put his resolve into action.
When a young man recognized him and came over to greet him, Shin’ichi encouraged him and presented him with a poem:
Meeting by chance,
you, too, are my disciple—
a journey of happiness.
And when Shin’ichi reached his destination, he shook the young man’s hand and said to him: “Please give my best to your parents. I hope you’ll do great things!”
Resolve must be put into action.
Awaiting the Time 10
It was two and a half hours since Shin’ichi had left the lingering summer heat of Tokyo. Karuizawa was shrouded in mist and the evening air was cool.
A small group of leaders, support staff, and other local members were waiting to welcome him on his arrival at the Nagano Training Center. Though they were smiling, they looked somehow concerned, perhaps because there had been very few reports of Shin’ichi’s activities in the Seikyo Shimbun and other Soka Gakkai publications following his resignation as president.
He said energetically, dispelling their worries: “I’m just fine! Let’s make a fresh start!” His voice resounded like a lion’s roar in this place of mentor and disciple.
He shook the hand of Takashi Saida, the Nagano prefecture leader, who at 37 was still quite young. Shin’ichi said to him: “Now that I am honorary president, I could quite easily take a break from doing activities for kosen-rufu, or quit altogether. That might be far more relaxing. But if I entertained the thought of taking even the smallest step back in my activities, I would no longer be living with the Soka spirit of mentor and disciple dedicated to kosen-rufu. Mr. Toda would be very angry with me.
“When we are aware of our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, we can find a way to fight, a way to contribute, no matter what kind of constraints or restrictions limit our actions. We must fight on with wisdom and courage. The Daishonin declared: ‘Still I am not discouraged’ (WND-1, 748). In that spirit, he kept on fighting, undeterred by any persecution. I hope you, too, will never give up in your struggle for kosen-rufu, in carrying out your Buddhist practice, as long as you live, no matter what happens or what your situation. I will continue my efforts for all our members.”
Shin’ichi was scheduled to stay in Nagano for nine days.
On the morning of August 21, the day after he arrived, he encouraged youth division members working as support staff and others at the training center. He had lunch together and conversed with about a dozen pioneering members, after which he visited the home of Takashi Kibayashi, vice leader of the Komoro Headquarters. When they had met 11 years earlier, Kibayashi invited Shin’ichi to come to his home, and now Shin’ichi was fulfilling the promise he had made to do so at that time.
That evening, he met with local members and spoke with them informally.
Repeated conversation and dialogue is the way to cultivate the earth of life itself and create a flower garden of happiness.
- *1Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei Zenshu (The Collected Works of Josei Toda), vol. 4 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1984), p. 230.