Chapter 2, Awaiting the Time 21–30
Awaiting the Time 21
Among the members Shin’ichi encouraged were a couple from Saku City, Wataru and Shizu Yanagisaka. They had both been coming to the Nagano Training Center daily to take care of the grounds, during Shin’ichi’s stay there as well.
Wataru Yanagisaka, who was around 60, was a landscape gardener. Shin’ichi said to him and his wife, Shizu: “Your spirit to treasure the training center is the same as my own.
“My wish is that all who visit here will refresh themselves, deepen their faith, create wonderful memories, and return home with renewed determination to carry out kosen-rufu.
“That is why providing an uplifting, well-tended environment is so important. You have taken that weighty responsibility on yourselves. That is very admirable.
“In view of the Buddhist law of cause and effect, all of your efforts are certain to bring you immeasurable benefits and boundless good fortune. Please stay well and continue supporting the training center.”
It was close to 4:00 p.m. when the last photo session ended. Some 30 group photos had been taken, with Shin’ichi posing with more than 3,000 members.
Shin’ichi said to the young volunteer staff who had been responsible for organizing and conducting the photo sessions: “Thank you! The participants were all very happy. That’s because of you.”
He then said to the Nagano Prefecture young men’s division leader, who oversaw the logistics for the photo sessions, including arranging for members to help clear the vacant lot used for parking: “I will never forget the sight of all of you, covered in mud, cutting grass and weeds in the rain.
“To strive together with me means to work wholeheartedly for the happiness of our members.
“Over the long course of life, you may experience failures and setbacks, but you have to keep pressing forward. Most important is that, no matter what happens, you remain with the Soka Gakkai all your life and devote yourself to the members and kosen-rufu.
“Do not seek the praise and recognition of others, but instead be confident that the Buddhas and heavenly deities are aware of all your efforts, and continue dedicating yourself to kosen-rufu. That is the mark of true courage.
“When you do so, you will shine your brightest and be a supreme victor in life.
“I will continue to watch over you all.”
Awaiting the Time 22
On August 27, Shin’ichi departed from the Nagano Training Center to visit the Komoro Culture Center. There, too, he joined some 300 members for group photos, which were taken in three sessions. Then, he did gongyo and spoke informally with representatives.
Shin’ichi stressed the importance of putting daimoku first and striving with courageous and steadfast faith.
It was almost 9:00 p.m. when he returned to the training center.
On August 28, the last day of his stay in Nagano, he took part in several dozen group photo sessions with members visiting the training center, held small group discussions, and visited the home of a pioneer member. During one of his discussions, he said to Nagano Prefecture Leader Takashi Saida: “The Nagano Training Center is very conveniently located, with cool summers and beautiful scenery. It will become a venue where members from throughout Japan and the world gather, and many vibrant training courses are held. It will be a favorite spot for people everywhere.
“I hope, therefore, that the Soka Gakkai in Nagano Prefecture, where this training center is located, will aim to build an organization that is the world’s foremost model of human harmony, with the world’s foremost array of capable individuals. I want our members around the globe to say, ‘Let’s follow the example in faith set by the Nagano members!’
“The only way to accomplish that is through unity. Members throughout Nagano have to unite their hearts for the sake of kosen-rufu, while making the most of the strong points of each locality. For that to happen, it’s vital that you, as the prefecture leader, devote yourself wholeheartedly for the members’ happiness. Members will work with you in a spirit of shared purpose when they know that you are genuinely concerned about and dedicated to their welfare. That is how unity is forged.
“People are not inclined to follow or unite behind lazy and irresponsible leaders. It’s not fair to the members to have such leaders. You will gain people’s trust by being earnest and sincere. Please continue striving your hardest.”
Fostering capable individuals begins with efforts to sow seeds of encouragement and inspiration in the fields of people’s hearts day after day. During his stay in Nagano, Shin’ichi tried to demonstrate this through his own example. There is no better “textbook” for educating or fostering people than action.
Awaiting the Time 23
On August 28, Shin’ichi returned to Tokyo, concluding nine days of all-out effort in Nagano, where he had tirelessly encouraged the members.
His visit to Nagano marked a momentous new beginning in the progress of kosen-rufu in Nagano and the history of the Soka Gakkai. It was not, however, reported on at any length in the Seikyo Shimbun. Only a few lines mentioning his visits to the homes of pioneer members appeared occasionally in second-page articles and elsewhere in the paper.
Shin’ichi visited the Nagano Training Center the next year and the year after that, creating a fresh groundswell for kosen-rufu from there.
Training courses at the center grew in scale and substance with each passing year.
Many regional, divisional, and SGI training sessions were held there, as were national executive conferences.
At members’ invitation, Shin’ichi would also from time to time attend and energetically take part in training courses with them. These training courses became a new Soka Gakkai tradition and a driving force for the expansion of kosen-rufu.
The Nagano Training Center also welcomed many world thinkers and scholars, serving as a stage for dialogue and friendly exchange focusing on peace, education, and culture. Among them were Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov; Dr. David Norton, professor of philosophy at the University of Delaware; American scholar Dayle Bethel; Dr. Jim Garrison and Dr. Larry Hickman, the president and former president of the John Dewey Society in the United States; Dr. Yan Zexian, president of South China Normal University; and Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, director of the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti in India.
Karuizawa [where the training center is located] was the place where Shin’ichi had vowed as Toda’s young successor to record and transmit for posterity his mentor’s spirit and accomplishments. Now, it had become an energy source for fresh development and creativity.
It was also at the Nagano Training Center that Shin’ichi began writing his serialized novel The New Human Revolution, on August 6, 1993.
The Nagano members regarded their encounters and shared struggles with Shin’ichi at this training center as their highest and greatest pride, and boldly opened the great path of kosen-rufu in their communities. The pride of mentor and disciple striving together as one becomes an invincible fighting spirit, a beacon of courage, and a powerful force for victory.
Awaiting the Time 24
Shin’ichi Yamamoto continued to visit the homes of members who had contributed to the development of kosen-rufu in their communities over many long years. On September 15, Respect for the Aged Day in Japan, he visited the home of some pioneer members in Komae City, in the western part of Tokyo. While there, he had a friendly conversation with the couple and their family, and took a photo with them. That was his 30th home visit since May. He also visited the Komae Culture Center and encouraged the members who happened to be there that day.
In September 1974, five years earlier, the banks of the nearby Tama River overflowed during Typhoon Polly and swept away 19 homes in Komae City. As soon as he had heard the news, Shin’ichi immediately contacted the Tokyo Soka Gakkai leaders for updates and to offer instructions, and also prayed in earnest that there would be no loss of life.
Komae and neighboring Chofu City were developing as suburban residential areas, and the population was growing steadily.
As he looked out at the landscape of open fields and new homes, Shin’ichi said to one of the members accompanying him: “Tokyo No. 2 Area1 is a fresh stage for kosen-rufu. It has a bright future. I hope the members will work together and create a new history of accomplishment here.”
Kosen-rufu is a great undertaking of unprecedented scale, an arduous effort to blaze a trail through uncharted territory. To accomplish that, everyone has to be self-motivated and proactive in their faith, taking personal initiative instead of relying on others to do the work. There is tremendous joy in activities when we each set our own goals and work self-reliantly to achieve them.
It is also important to summon courage each day and break through our personal limitations as we take on fresh challenges. The spirit of challenge is the driving force for development and growth.
The author Saneatsu Mushanokoji (1885–1976), who loved the Musashino area [part of the Tokyo No. 2 Area] and spent his final years in Chofu, wrote:
I always think:
Another step forward.
Now is the crucial moment.
Another step forward.2
Another step forward—the steady accumulation of those steps will transform our lives, our communities, and our society.
Shin’ichi was delighted above all to be able to devote substantial time to offering personal guidance—something he had long wished to concentrate on more—and speak with members at length. The real pleasure of Soka Gakkai activities is found amid such steady, dedicated efforts.
Awaiting the Time 25
As the founder of Soka University, the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools, and Tokyo Soka Elementary School, Shin’ichi Yamamoto made every effort to attend their various campus events and functions. Having chosen education as the crowning endeavor of his life, he was determined now to dedicate his utmost energies to it.
In September , he joined a group of Soka University and Soka Junior and Senior High School students in picking Asian pears at an orchard in Kunitachi City.
He also took group photos with correspondence course students participating in the autumn on-campus instruction sessions at Soka University. He was fully aware of the difficulties of studying while working, because he had done the same thing in his youth.
After World War II, Shin’ichi graduated from the night school course of Toyo Commercial High School (present-day Toyo High School) and entered the night course at the college Taisei Gakuin. From January 1949, the year after he began studying there, he started working at Josei Toda’s publishing company. In the autumn of that year, the business ran aground amid the uncertain economic conditions of the postwar period. Shin’ichi’s days were consumed with winding down the company, forcing him to discontinue his evening studies. Toda compensated for this by giving him intensive private instruction in a wide range of fields, in what Shin’ichi later came to call “Toda University.”
Around six years after Shin’ichi was inaugurated as the third Soka Gakkai president, Fuji College (present-day Tokyo Fuji University), the later incarnation of Taisei Gakuin, strongly encouraged him to submit graduating papers in the subjects he had studied while enrolled. Shin’ichi decided to do so, wishing to respond to the school’s generous consideration, and partly to repay his debt of gratitude to the late Taisei Gakuin president Yumichi Takata, who had been one of his lecturers.
At that time, Shin’ichi was extremely busy traveling in Japan and also to overseas destinations, as well as writing his novel The Human Revolution. He purchased the books he needed to write the graduating papers, and studied them during his travels and in between meetings and other activities. Eventually, he completed 10 reports, including one on economic history titled “The Establishment and Special Features of Japanese Industrial Capital.”
This experience made Shin’ichi keenly aware of the difficulties that correspondence course students face. However challenging they might find their studies, he didn’t want them to give up. He wanted them to keep striving dauntlessly until they had graduated and received their degrees.
A proverb from Central Asia says: “Iron is tempered by fire, and people are tempered by adversity.”
Awaiting the Time 26
Fostering young people creates a bright and hopeful future.
During his visit to Soka University in September, Shin’ichi joined the members of the rugby, baseball, and table tennis teams for group photos.
In October, he spoke at the closing ceremony for the Soka University athletic meet. He urged the students to master the basics during their university days so that they would be able to deal with the many challenges they would face in society. To lead a life of value creation, it is important to be aware of one’s noble mission. Gaining a solid grounding in the fundamentals is indispensable to carrying out that mission.
Shin’ichi also joined the students of the Tokyo Soka Elementary School for events such as their athletic meet and Potato Digging Day.
He visited a dormitory of the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools and met and talked with resident and off-campus boarding students. He told them that he wanted each one of them to become a shining presence. By “shining presence,” he said, he meant people who warmly supported others and imparted hope and courage.
On November 2, he attended the Soka University Festival, and on November 3, the annual meeting of the Soyu-kai, the Soka University alumni association.
Shin’ichi had great hope and confidence that the graduates of Soka University and the other Soka schools would spread their wings and soar high into the skies of the 21st century, striving for the happiness of the people and world peace. He was always energized and encouraged to see them pursuing their self-development and achieving tremendous growth.
One of the participants at the Soyu-kai alumni meeting declared in a vibrant voice: “Sensei, we have confirmed our conviction that the time for simply declaring our determinations to our founder is past. It is time for us to report our results whenever we meet, to state what we have actually achieved. That is what it means to stand up as disciples.”
Shin’ichi smiled, saying: “I see. I am very happy to hear that. Please pave the way forward with the spirit that you are all the founders. That is the proud tradition of Soka education.”
Awaiting the Time 27
On November 16 , a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, commemorating the 49th anniversary of the organization’s founding, was held at the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo, in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward.
Toshima Ward had been the location of the Tokyo Detention Center, where Makiguchi and Toda were imprisoned by the wartime militarist authorities and where Makiguchi died for his beliefs.
The Toda Memorial Auditorium, standing not far from the prison’s original site, had just been completed that June—built as a lasting monument to the first two presidents’ selfless dedication to spreading the Mystic Law.
Restricted from appearing and offering guidance at meetings, Shin’ichi had not attended the opening. He had, however, visited the new auditorium the day before to commend and express his appreciation to those who had worked so hard toward that event, talking with and encouraging members who were there.
Since then, he had occasionally visited the auditorium, where he met and conversed with members of Toshima Ward and neighboring Kita Ward, as well as representatives who were visiting the auditorium from other parts of Japan.
Shin’ichi was determined to create a victorious groundswell for kosen-rufu in Tokyo from this place, Toshima Ward, where Makiguchi had laid down his life.
Once resolved to fight on, one can do so under any circumstance. There is a way to fight even when locked behind iron bars. When interrogated, Makiguchi confidently articulated the teachings and convictions upheld by the Soka Gakkai.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (WND-1, 1119). The “great evil” of Makiguchi’s death in prison opened the way for the realization of “great good” in the form of the triumphant development of kosen-rufu.
But we cannot create change by sitting passively on the sidelines. We need to be firmly determined and committed to transforming great evil into great good and take courageous action toward that end. Our resolve and actual efforts are what make the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin a reality.
Shin’ichi had begun an all-out struggle for a breakthrough, despite the plots to curtail his activities and destroy the Soka Gakkai, the organization working to realize kosen-rufu in accord with the Buddha’s intent.
Awaiting the Time 28
Because the Headquarters leaders meeting [at the Toda Memorial Auditorium] on November 16 was also a celebration of the 49th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, Shin’ichi wanted to attend it, even if only briefly, to make a fresh start for kosen-rufu together with the members.
He entered the stage halfway through the meeting. Most of those present had not seen him in quite some time, and the room burst into loud, excited applause at his appearance.
Instead of making a speech, he took off his suit jacket and stood in the center of the stage with a folding fan in his hand.
“Today, I would like to lead you in a Soka Gakkai song. Let’s make it ‘Song of Indomitable Dignity’!”
This was the first time that Shin’ichi had led members in song since stepping down as Soka Gakkai president.
There was more thunderous applause.
Speeches are not the only way to offer guidance and encouragement. Any struggle requires wisdom, ingenuity, and creativity. No matter what limits are put on our actions, if we maintain an unshakable commitment to kosen-rufu, nothing will block our way forward. Shin’ichi was determined to uplift and inspire everyone by leading them in this one song.
When the rousing melody started to play, the audience clapped along with joy and energy.
As we of the Gakkai
make our way in this troubled world . . . .
Shin’ichi led the song with the same indomitable dignity it extols, evoking the majesty of a soaring eagle.
In his heart, he called out to the members throughout Tokyo, and members everywhere, to rise into action.
In the audience, there were men clapping vigorously in time with the music and women singing with all their hearts, tears in their eyes. There were young men’s division members whose eyes blazed with a passionate fighting spirit and young women’s division members who sang with radiant joy.
They were all in perfect rhythm, their lives merging as one. Amid the harsh storms of adversity, a new momentum for victory began from Tokyo that day.
Buddhism is about winning. That is why it is our mission and destiny to achieve victory in the struggle for kosen-rufu, no matter how many obstacles we encounter along the way.
Those who are champions of kosen-rufu are champions of life and champions of happiness. With each mountain we conquer on our journey of kosen-rufu, the sun of joy and fulfillment shines brighter in our hearts.
Awaiting the Time 29
At the Kanagawa Training Center in Hakone, the Shinjuku Culture Center in Tokyo, and other Soka Gakkai facilities, Shin’ichi continued day after day to meet with divisional and regional representatives, offering them guidance and encouragement.
Certain tabloids and other news media kept up their attacks on the Soka Gakkai with false or distorted reporting. But, as serenely and steadily as the sun moving along its set course, Shin’ichi pressed on in his efforts to personally encourage and guide members.
Nothing is more inspiring than seeing people you have encouraged summon fresh determination in faith, challenge and overcome karmic obstacles blocking their way forward, and achieve resounding victory in their lives.
Shin’ichi enjoyed speaking with young people. While conversing with several young men’s division and student division leaders at the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama, he said: “It’s more than six months since the Soka Gakkai made a new start. How are all the youth doing? Are they in high spirits?”
A young men’s division leader answered: “Everyone is working hard. But they’re sad that you’re no longer giving guidance at meetings.”
Shin’ichi responded directly: “If that’s how the youth feel, then you must all take action. Otherwise, you are mere bystanders, not protagonists. Youth must resolve to take full responsibility and be the driving force for development.”
The young men’s division leader replied with a troubled expression: “We do suggest ideas for new activities, but our seniors in the men’s division usually don’t approve.”
Shin’ichi said with a smile: “To a greater or lesser extent, that’s the case in every organization and society. Young people offer new ideas and plans, and their seniors oppose them.
“Older people have rich life experience. They have formed a set of principles and approaches from that experience, and they tend to judge everything based on that.
“And being backed by the wisdom of experience, their evaluations are usually correct. But older people also tend to react negatively to things they are unfamiliar with. And when times change dramatically, their experience-based approaches become useless. If they fail to see that, they can make errors in judgment.
“Men’s division leaders need to be aware of that and make a positive effort to listen to the ideas of young people.”
Awaiting the Time 30
“As youth division leaders,” Shin’ichi continued, “you’ll have to hone your powers of persuasion to gain the men’s and women’s division leaders’ support for your ideas.
“You need to be able to explain clearly and in an organized, logical manner why your proposals should be adopted. And it’s also important to show the basis for your ideas—for instance, by citing concrete data and actual examples. If what you say is reasonable, no one can fail to accept it. Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Buddhism is reason. Reason will win over your lord” (WND-1, 839). Sharing Buddhism with others is the best means for developing your powers of persuasion.
“It’s also important to have the ardent passion of youth. When young successors make earnest, wholehearted appeals to start something new, their enthusiasm naturally inspires people to support them in their aims. When you really move people’s hearts, the situation will change dramatically.
“In addition, you need to establish a record of success. If your plans and proposals are innovative and always create fresh momentum for our movement, people will be eager to listen to your ideas. In other words, positive results build trust.
“Don’t immediately give up or become discouraged because one of your ideas isn’t accepted, either. If you think what you are proposing is truly necessary and important, examine any flaws or problems that have been pointed out, correct them, and keep presenting your idea. You need to be persistent.”
Shin’ichi’s words were backed by his own experience. In March 1954, he was appointed to the new position of youth division chief of staff, responsible for planning and overseeing the Soka Gakkai’s activities. At first, the Soka Gakkai’s board of directors expressed doubts about almost every proposal he made. Even the youth division athletic meet he proposed—the forerunner of later peace culture festivals—did not have their support initially.
But after several such events were held and widely applauded, they went on to become a hallmark of the Soka Gakkai. It was a victory of the power of youth.
- *1Tokyo No. 2 Area: An area in the Soka Gakkai organization that encompasses the towns and cities of western Tokyo (i.e., Tokyo, excluding the 23 wards).
- *2Translated from Japanese. Saneatsu Mushanokoji, Mushanokoji Saneatsu Zenshu (Collected Writings of Saneatsu Mushanokoji), vol. 11 (Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1989), p. 33.