Chapter 2, Awaiting the Time 31–40
Awaiting the Time 31
Shin’ichi added: “It is no exaggeration to say that there are as many opinions as there are people. And it’s all the more natural that people of different generations will have differing views about things.
“When organizing a discussion meeting, for example, some people may want the meeting to be held on a weeknight, while others prefer an evening on the weekend. Some may ask that it be held on a Sunday morning or afternoon, while others suggest a weekday morning or afternoon. But a decision has to be made, and that means choosing the day and time that suits the majority.
“Once a decision has been reached after discussing it among yourselves, it’s important to unite and make the greatest possible efforts to ensure the meeting’s success, even if you didn’t get your preference.
“Those organizing the discussion meeting also need to think of the members who can’t attend that day, and to come up with ways to support them—perhaps planning to hold small group meetings on some other days, or occasionally changing the day for the discussion meeting—so that everyone can equally and joyfully engage in faith and practice.
“In addition to discussion meetings, people no doubt have varying opinions on how to carry out activities or other aspects of our movement. There are no absolute rules or perfect ways of doing things as far as activities go. There will always be pros and cons of some sort. If a problem arises, everyone should put their heads together and think of ways to solve or minimize it. The key is to remain flexible, open-minded, and to work together.”
The young men listened intently. Shin’ichi looked at each of them, and emphasized: “The most important thing to remember in conducting activities is not to become disheartened, or upset and resentful when your opinions are not accepted. That will not only damage your own faith but will act to undermine our movement for kosen-rufu as well.
“Many organizations and religious groups have splintered because of conflict and resentment arising from different opinions and ideas on how they should be run. But the Soka Gakkai must never go down that path!”
Awaiting the Time 32
Shin’ichi continued: “Today, for the sake of the future, I’d like to share with you the most crucial principle for advancing kosen-rufu. And that is having the unshakable unity of ‘many in body, one in mind.’
“Nichiren Daishonin writes:
‘All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge- kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation. When you are so united, even the great desire for widespread propagation [the great vow for kosen-rufu] can be fulfilled.’ (WND-1, 217)
“Here, the Daishonin articulates the guiding principle that all of his disciples—in other words, we who dedicate ourselves to kosen-rufu—should take to heart.
“First, he says ‘transcending all differences among themselves.’ He is telling us to banish any tendency we may have to let our differences divide us or to discriminate against others.
“People differ in many ways—in nationality, ethnicity, culture, and customs; in social status, position, age, and background; and also in their viewpoints and sensitivities. We must transcend those differences and constantly return to the basic point that we are all comrades in faith and Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
“Then, the Daishonin says that we must ‘become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim.’ This means realizing that we share a close and inseparable relationship as fellow practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, and respecting and supporting one another based on that awareness.
“Letting a personal dislike for a certain leader keep you from practicing with your local organization or taking part in activities is contrary to these golden words of the Daishonin. It’s also a sign that you’re being defeated by your own selfish negativity.
“It is by no means a coincidence that we are practicing Nichiren Buddhism together at this time. Bound by deep ties from the inconceivably remote past, we have appeared in this troubled age of the Latter Day of the Law to fulfill the vow we made long ago.
“When we each awaken to the fact that we are here today because of that past karmic connection, we will forge strong bonds and create a powerful driving force for kosen-rufu.”
Awaiting the Time 33
Shin’ichi continued: “Next, the Daishonin says ‘with the spirit of many in body but one in mind’ (WND-1, 217). ‘Many in body’ [which could also be expressed as diversity] means respecting one another’s unique personalities and qualities, while ‘one in mind’ means uniting in heart and mind for the shared purpose of kosen-rufu.
“The walls of old Japanese castles, for example, are built of stones of various shapes and sizes; these differences allow the stones to interlock and support one another, making the walls strong.
“The spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind’ not only creates the strongest unity, it also enables each of us to make the most of our potential and give full play to our talents and abilities.
“The Daishonin says that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith grounded in 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). This is how the most important Law of life is passed on from the Buddha to all living beings. The Daishonin declares here that this is the heart of his own efforts to spread the Mystic Law. And exerting ourselves in Buddhist practice with this spirit is key to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu.
“Becoming upset or resenting others over differences of opinion is confusing the means with the end. Advancing with the resolve to unite and work together for the sake of kosen-rufu, no matter what—forging ahead with faith based on the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind’—that is our unchanging guideline. Indeed, it is the golden rule of the Soka Gakkai.
“The Daishonin goes on to say: ‘If any of Nichiren’s disciples disrupt the unity of many in body but one in mind, they would be like warriors who destroy their own castle from within’ (WND-1, 217).
“The greatest offense in Buddhism is to disrupt or destroy from within the unity of ‘many in body, one in mind’ directed toward realizing kosen-rufu. It would be as if, while waging an intense battle for kosen-rufu, our comrades-in-arms set fire to the castle we share and turned their swords against us. Those who undermine this unity, no matter how they may try to justify it, are doing the work of the devil king of the sixth heaven.”
A student division leader spoke: “While there are many seniors in faith who have worked hard as leaders and maintained a solid practice to the end, there are also those who have stopped practicing and turned against the organization. What is the fundamental reason for this difference?”
Shin’ichi replied: “Ultimately, it comes down to whether your deepest motivation is kosen-rufu or your own self-interest.”
Awaiting the Time 34
The young people nodded in response.
The student division leader who asked the question said: “Certainly, when I recall people I thought were bright and amazingly talented but who later stopped practicing, it seems clear they were all self-centered. They craved the limelight and were unwilling to cooperate with everyone else or to unite in spirit with their seniors in faith. Ultimately, I think they were arrogant. Some of them also caused problems arising from sexual or financial misconduct.”
Shin’ichi felt these words showed keen insight.
“What you say is true. I have also seen many such examples. It’s very regrettable.
“When people become self-centered, they no longer refer to the writings of Nichiren Daishonin or the guidance of the Soka Gakkai, nor do they make the unity of many in body, one in mind a priority. They forget the key Buddhist attitude of self-examination and self-reflection.
“Also, because they let their mind be their master,1 they lack self-control. Driven by greed and self-interest, they blindly pursue fame and wealth and do whatever suits their selfish ends. They cause trouble for others and create all sorts of serious problems. They lose everyone’s trust, and ultimately find it impossible to remain in the pure realm of the Soka Gakkai. That’s the common pattern of those who stop practicing and turn against the organization.
“During his exile on Sado, Nichiren Daishonin declared that it is not external enemies that can undermine Buddhism, but rather ‘worms born of the lion’s body’—that is, enemies found among the ranks of the Buddha’s disciples themselves.2 We must never forget this as we advance kosen-rufu. This sort of thing is certain to happen in the future as well. When it does, genuine disciples will stand up decisively and fight against it.”
As if to verify Shin’ichi’s words, a corrupt attorney and his cohorts, who were secretly maneuvering with members of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood to try to gain control over the Soka Gakkai, would soon take off their masks and reveal their true nature.
In his “Guidelines for Youth,” second president Josei Toda urges his disciples not to allow those who have turned against the Soka Gakkai to slow their progress.3
The network of Soka Gakkai members is a gathering of lions who have each vowed to realize kosen-rufu and brave the fierce winds of adversity.
Awaiting the Time 35
Shin’ichi was very happy to be able to speak freely with the young people.
Conveying his high hopes for their future, he said: “Youth have the important mission of shouldering our movement as the Soka Gakkai’s successors.
“That’s why President Toda put such serious effort into training and fostering the youth. He was especially strict with me. Sometimes, he would scold me sternly in front of a large group of people. He would often take me to task, even if it was someone else who had made a misstep. In particular, when he wanted to teach everyone the rigorous nature of the mentor-disciple path in our struggle for kosen-rufu, he would address his words to me.
“His training resembled the tough love of the lion that cast its cubs into the ravine to test them.4 Mr. Toda was trying to foster me like that, into a lion who would be his true successor.
“I have also given strict guidance to our top leaders because they have the important role of bearing full responsibility for the Soka Gakkai from now into the future.
“The top leaders of our movement must always stay razor focused. They need the strength to win in the end, no matter what. I want them to grow further and become outstanding leaders. That’s why, as their mentor in a life dedicated to kosen-rufu, I will continue to speak firmly to them. Doing so is an expression of compassion.
“A mentor is strict with those who are genuine disciples. I have reached the age where I now understand well how Mr. Toda felt.
“Many people knew Mr. Toda and many received guidance from him, but I am the only one who served him with complete dedication, inherited his vision, and opened the way of kosen-rufu just as he instructed. That’s why I dare to say that I know the Soka Gakkai and the truth about Mr. Toda better than anyone else. That is also the reason why I am writing my serialized novel The Human Revolution—so that our members around the world and those of future generations who will take up the baton of kosen-rufu can advance unerringly along the Soka path of mentor and disciple.
“I want you to always boldly take on challenges and improve and train yourselves. Please keep pressing forward together, valuing unity above all, and create the Soka Gakkai of the 21st century!”
Awaiting the Time 36
Day after day, Shin’ichi continued his tireless efforts to encourage others, reaching out to the members and into their hearts. It was an arduous spiritual struggle, waged through dialogue, aimed at opening new horizons in the Soka Gakkai’s movement for kosen-rufu.
The turbulent year of 1979 now entered its busy final month.
On the afternoon of December 26, Shin’ichi visited the Arakawa Culture Center in Tokyo. He was scheduled to attend the Third Fife and Drum Corps General Meeting at the Arakawa Civic Hall that evening. Before the event began, he wanted to meet and encourage the young women of the Fife and Drum Corps and local Arakawa members who had gathered at the culture center.
Shin’ichi had great affection and hopes for Arakawa Ward.
In August 1957, a month after the authorities in Osaka had arrested and detained him on false charges of violating the election law, he was making energetic efforts for the development of kosen-rufu in Arakawa Ward.
Having battled against the oppressive forces of authority while in jail, Shin’ichi felt deeply that the only way to stand up to such injustice was to unite and expand the power of ordinary people. As a result, he resolved to achieve a record of great progress for kosen-rufu in Arakawa Ward, a place where the old, richly human “downtown spirit” of Tokyo remained vibrantly alive.
Focusing on the individual, Shin’ichi gave his all to encouraging each person he met. Through his passionate, wholehearted efforts, one courageous person after another emerged—each a champion with the strength of a thousand.
Arakawa is a small ward, but a united victory there would serve as a breakthrough, leading the way to a great victory for all of Tokyo, and setting an inspiring example for members throughout the country and around the world.
Before embarking on this roughly weeklong campaign in Arakawa, Shin’ichi had set his mind on achieving a specific goal: to increase the number of member households in the ward by more than 10 percent.
Although it would be an unimaginably difficult challenge, if the members could succeed here, that victory would become a source of pride and confidence for them, and a badge of honor and good fortune that would adorn each person’s life forever.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Only by defeating a powerful enemy can one prove one’s real strength” (WND-1, 302). Shin’ichi wanted the Arakawa members to overcome every difficulty and build a tradition of being dauntless “champions of Tokyo.”
Awaiting the Time 37
After arriving at the Arakawa Culture Center, Shin’ichi did gongyo with the Fife and Drum Corps members and local members present, praying deeply for their growth and happiness and for the success of that evening’s general meeting.
He also talked with the Arakawa members and listened intently as they told him about their activities. When the subject turned to his leadership in the Arakawa campaign in August 1957, Shin’ichi said: “During that campaign, I set out with fellow pioneer members to accomplish a deliberately challenging goal, and together we created a record that established Arakawa as a champion. Through that struggle, everyone deeply engraved in their lives the powerful conviction that when we take on and overcome difficult challenges for kosen-rufu, we will savor the joy and exhilaration of winning and forge a state of indestructible happiness.
“More than two decades have gone by since then. I’d now like each of you to create a new record of victory based on that tradition, and pass that legacy on to the next generation.
“However, we can’t create or maintain a tradition of victory in our movement for kosen-rufu just by doing the same old thing. Both the times and society change. It’s by staying creative and innovative, continually taking on fresh challenges, and succeeding in every endeavor that a lasting tradition of victory is formed. What we need to convey to the next generation is that fighting spirit.”
The spirit to fight for kosen-rufu is a legacy that cannot be transmitted through words alone. It is passed along from senior to junior, from one person to another, through shared experience and a process of inspiration while striving together in Soka Gakkai activities.
With high hopes, Shin’ichi said: “Now is the time for each of you here in Arakawa to fight valiantly in the same spirit as me. If a tradition of undefeated victory is established in a single area, the Soka Gakkai will flourish forever, because everyone will learn from that example. I hope you’ll always remember that this is the great mission of Arakawa.
“I’m not free to give guidance at large meetings right now, but that’s all the more reason why I’d like each of you to stand up and take action. I want you to triumph in everything and show that the Soka Gakkai is rock solid.”
The members’ eyes sparkled with determination.
Awaiting the Time 38
At 6:30 p.m., Shin’ichi left the Arakawa Culture Center to make his way to the Arakawa Civic Hall, where the Fife and Drum Corps was holding its general meeting.
As he got in the car, a leader accompanying him said: “The Sumida River is about 200 meters (some 200 yards) from here, and on the other side is Adachi Ward.”
“Is that so?” said Shin’ichi. “Adachi . . . If I could, I’d love to go there, too, to encourage the members.
“The other day, I received a letter from a women’s division member in Adachi, and I’m sure the sentiments she expressed are shared by many in the area.
“She said that since I stepped down as president, she has felt so sad and pained. On top of this, the weekly tabloids kept up their barrage of irresponsible negative reporting on the Soka Gakkai, causing some of her non-member friends to believe those stories and make critical remarks to her about the organization. The injustice of it filled her with anger and frustration, she said, but she refused to be defeated and would keep doing her best to help people gain a correct understanding of the Soka Gakkai and my efforts.
“That is what she wrote. Hers is the true fighting spirit of the invincible champions of Adachi. I was deeply moved.
“Everyone is doing their utmost with great tenacity and forbearance. I really admire them. I want everyone to become happy without fail. That, after all, is the purpose of our Buddhist practice and Soka Gakkai activities.
“And that is why I’d like our members to rally themselves in such challenging times and strive to fill the garden of kosen-rufu with flowers of victory and the magnificent fruit of happiness.
“Please convey this message from me to the Adachi Ward members: ‘I am chanting for you each day. Conquer your limitations! Win out over your destiny! Triumph in the struggle for kosen-rufu! And lead lives of victory fragrant with the flowers of happiness!’”
In the car, Shin’ichi thought of the Adachi members and earnestly chanted daimoku for them in his heart.
On December 26, 1979, starting at 7:00 p.m., the final performance of the Third Fife and Drum Corps General Meeting, with the theme “Great Hope-Filled Advance toward the Year 2001,” got under way at the Arakawa Civic Hall.
The activities of these “emissaries of peace,” aiming toward the 21st century, were part of the Soka Gakkai’s wider efforts to promote culture and education.
Shin’ichi had received numerous invitations from the Fife and Drum Corps to attend the general meeting, and he had accepted out of a wish to encourage everyone.
Awaiting the Time 39
A bright and sunny atmosphere pervaded the Fife and Drum Corps General Meeting. The performances brimmed with happy, hope-filled smiles, pure-hearted radiance, and the confident vitality of youth.
It was a spectacular celebration, in which the corps members joyfully displayed the splendid results of all their practice and hard work.
The prologue opened with the color guard twirling pink and blue flags in rhythm with the cheerful melody of the Fife and Drum Corps song “Angels of Peace,” the lyrics of which were written by Shin’ichi Yamamoto. Their skillful performance drew rousing applause.
This was followed by Part One, titled “Plaza of the World.” It featured a dazzling and powerful marching drum and drill performance unfolding against a backdrop of changing scenes from around the world—the châteaux of the Loire; the Champs-Élysées; Tiananmen Square in China; the skyscrapers of New York; and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The cute little pom-pom performers also brought smiles of delight to the audience.
Part Two was titled “March of Hope” and included performances of the “Light Cavalry Overture” and “The Noisy Bird” (L’Oiseau tapageur), followed by a chorus of the symphonic poem “The People.”
Like the surging of a vast sea
stretching to the far horizon—the people5
This was sung beautifully to the solemn melody by members of the men’s division Bodhisattvas of the Earth Chorus, the women’s division White Lily Chorus, the young men’s division Shinano Choir, and the young women’s division Fuji Chorus, all joining together in a guest appearance.
Shin’ichi had composed the poem, titled “The People,” to celebrate the young women’s division leaders meeting held at the Nihon University Auditorium in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward in September 1971.
In the poem, he spoke of how the history of the people, who deserve the greatest honor and respect, was characterized by unending oppression by the powerful and written with tears of suffering and anguish. He called for the people to stop being silent, to break free of their resignation and weariness, and create a new age in which they are the protagonists.
I will spend my life exerting myself for your sake
Though at first sight I may seem to stand in isolation,
I want to make it my proud and only mission
to fight on and on for you alone,
always in your behalf.6
Awaiting the Time 40
Shin’ichi hoped the young women’s division members would not lead lives that were empty or shallow, but rather, would put down solid roots among the people, as proud daughters of the people, always living for and together with them. For that is where real life takes place, and the happiness forged there is true and genuine.
It was with that wish that he presented them with the poem “The People.”
A musical composition—a symphonic poem—based on it had first been performed at the Second Fife and Drum Corps General Meeting, held a year earlier, in October 1978, on the athletic grounds of Soka University in Hachioji, Tokyo.
That event took place in the rain. The passionate voices of the 3,000-member young women’s division chorus combined with the dynamic energy of the 3,000-member dance team and the spirited playing of the 150-member fife and drum corps ensemble.
The rain fell relentlessly throughout the performance, soaking the singers and dancers, along with the fife and drum corps members and their musical instruments. The hems of the dancers’ brand-new blue, yellow, and pink dresses were splattered with mud. But their expressions radiated joy and pride. They brimmed with the energy and resolve to build an age of the people.
Shin’ichi sat in the rain watching the performance, his suit becoming drenched. Seeing the young women performing their hearts out, unfazed by the wet conditions, he couldn’t bring himself to use an umbrella. Silently chanting daimoku that the participants wouldn’t catch cold, he watched their beautiful, powerful performance.
When the symphonic poem “The People” was finished, thunderous applause engulfed the field, rising into the sky and seeming to burst through the clouds. At that moment, the rain stopped. The sun showed its face.
Shin’ichi hoped that, through this general meeting, everyone would learn the spirit to persevere in their shared struggle for kosen-rufu, undefeated by any obstacle. He also wanted them to engrave in their lives the awareness that as long as they maintained an unwavering commitment to kosen-rufu, the sun of hope would be certain to shine upon them. This was because the solidarity of women with such strong faith would play a powerful role in raising the curtain on the victory of the people.
Now, more than a year later, Shin’ichi was listening once again to the symphonic poem “The People” at this Third Fife and Drum Corps General Meeting.
- *1Citing a passage from the Six Paramitas Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin urges his disciples: “Become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you” (WND-1, 502; “Letter to the Brothers”).
- *2The Daishonin states: “Neither non-Buddhists nor the enemies of Buddhism can destroy the correct teaching of the Thus Come One, but the Buddha’s disciples definitely can. As a sutra [Lotus-like Face Sutra] says, only worms born of the lion’s body feed on the lion” (WND-1, 302; “Letter from Sado”).
- *3Cf. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei Zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 1, (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), p. 61.
- *4See “Awaiting the Time,” installment 2.
- *5Daisaku Ikeda, “The People,” Journey of Life: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), p. 43.
- *6Ibid., p. 45.