Volume 30: Chapter 3, Launching Out 31–40

Launching Out 31

On the afternoon of May 5, Shin’ichi attended an Osaka Prefecture young men’s division chapter leaders meeting, where he offered guidance, saying: “You will open the way to success in life by making steady efforts. Youth may be a time filled with problems and worries, but I hope you will keep striving calmly, steadily, and patiently in faith and your Soka Gakkai activities, and show actual proof of victory in your life and workplace.

“You’re also bound to encounter hardships of one kind or another. But if you steadfastly persevere in your practice of Nichiren Buddhism, they will be resolved over time. If you continue to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo earnestly, you will gain good fortune and experience personal growth. No matter how hard things are for you, you must never give up hope. Have solid faith in the Gohonzon. Whatever challenges you may face, you have the Mystic Law. As long as you embrace this eternal and imperishable Law, you will not fail to become great victors in life.

“It’s important to take a long-term view of things. By the start of the 21st century, many of you will be in your 50s, at the peak of your working lives. Don’t neglect the training that you need to put down deep roots to develop a solidly grounded life where you can exercise your capabilities to the fullest when that time comes.”

After the young men’s division meeting, Shin’ichi encouraged a group of graduates of the Soka Girls Junior and Senior High Schools who had come to the center. Then, at 4:00 p.m., he attended a young women’s division chapter leaders meeting, where he emphasized to those present: “Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day like a steadily flowing stream and become the happiest people in Japan and all the world. I can assure you that, whatever the situation, those who remain steadfast in faith are absolutely certain to win in the end and lead lives brimming with good fortune.

“Also, no matter what storms of karma you face, please have the firm conviction that being able to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is itself the greatest happiness. Faith means never forsaking the Gohonzon.”

That evening, Shin’ichi joined Kansai leaders for dinner and informal discussion at a nearby restaurant, and on the way back he stopped by the Naka-Osaka Culture Center.

He gave words of encouragement at every meeting he attended and to everyone he met.

The future, after all, exists only in the present moment. It hinges not on what we plan to do tomorrow, but what we actually do right now.

Launching Out 32

After returning to the Kansai Culture Center, Shin’ichi Yamamoto heard that members of the stage crew group Tetsujin-kai were gathered there, so he decided to go meet them. He was glad to spend time talking with and encouraging them.

As a matter of fact, the stage crew members had presented Shin’ichi with a chair they had made especially for his use while in Kansai. Shin’ichi wanted to show his appreciation for their sincere gift and also express his heartfelt gratitude for their constant efforts behind the scenes to support various Soka Gakkai events.

“Thank you. I am well aware of all your hard work,” he said. “I’ve sat many times in the chair you made for me. I am touched, and very much appreciate your kind gesture. In the realm of Soka, we are all linked by the purest of heart-to-heart bonds. I deeply understand your sincere spirit.”

Some members’ eyes filled with tears at Shin’ichi’s words. They hadn’t built the chair expecting anything in return. It was simply an expression of their pure faith and their commitment as disciples eagerly desiring to do something for their mentor, who was leading the movement for kosen-rufu with all his might. That’s why their actions were so beautiful and noble. The fact that Shin’ichi understood their feelings was enough for them.

Shin’ichi wanted to offer them the highest praise and express his greatest admiration for their spirit.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1,1000). In the realm of faith, it is always our heart that matters most.

Next, Shin’ichi attended a gongyo meeting with members of a training group called the Kansai Comrades-in-Faith Group. He said to them: “Truly capable individuals are those who have awakened to their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and try to make Buddhism more broadly and deeply known. They are always striving to become a dependable source of support for as many people as they can. They are wise and reasonable, and win the understanding and trust of many others. They contribute to fostering the next generation of our movement. They have sound judgment and give everyone hope, confidence, and peace of mind. Please thoroughly polish and train yourselves so that you can develop these qualities.”

Shin’ichi spoke with his whole being.

Only by giving our all can we offer encouragement that truly moves others’ hearts.

Launching Out 33

On May 6, three gongyo meetings were held for members of the Kansai guidance division from the afternoon into the evening at the Kansai Culture Center. Shin’ichi attended all three.

Addressing the women’s division members, he cited a passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 681). He then went on to say: “Happiness is found in your immediate environment. No one’s life is without problems. But problems are the nourishment for happiness. Turn everything into a force for happiness through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!”

To the men’s division members, he said: “Our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo reverberates throughout the universe and is a source of eternal and boundless life force. Make a fresh start, basing yourself on the Gohonzon and putting daimoku first!”

Day after day, a steady stream of members gathered at the Kansai Culture Center, not only from Osaka but from every part of Kansai. And their numbers only kept growing.

Shin’ichi said to the Kansai leaders: “Let’s hold more gongyo sessions. Since members are making the effort to come here, I will meet with all of them.”

On May 7, two additional gongyo sessions not on the original schedule and open to all members were held—one during the day and one at night.

A national prefecture leaders conference was also held that evening from 7:00 p.m., and Shin’ichi put in an appearance there, too. He said to those present: “When wrong tries to defeat right, leaders need to stand up bravely and fight. No compromise is possible. Otherwise, the members will suffer. Right must win. That’s the only way to prove that it is right.

“If the Soka path of mentor and disciple is severed, the flow of kosen-rufu will be cut off. I will fight to protect the correct teaching and principles of Nichiren Buddhism and broadly open the way for kosen-rufu. I would like to begin a fresh advance of mentor and disciple, together with courageous individuals who stand ready to fight alongside me.

“The mentor-disciple relationship in the realm of kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai is different from social contracts or relationships based on self-interest. Nor is it a form of apprenticeship. It is a spiritual bond to which people have committed their lives based on their own personal vow. That makes it the purest, noblest, and strongest human bond of all.”

Launching Out 34

Shortly before noon on May 8, Shin’ichi left the Kansai Culture Center and made a brief stop at the Shin-Osaka Culture Center. He then boarded a bullet train for the Chubu region just after 1:00 p.m. to visit Nagoya.

In the seven days he had spent in Kansai since arriving from Kyushu on May 2, Shin’ichi had met with and encouraged more than 70,000 members.

He had also visited the Naka-Osaka Culture Center. Back in December 1969, during a guidance tour of Kansai, he had developed a high fever and slept that night in the center’s Gohonzon room. The floor on which that room was located later became the Kansai Women’s Center.

In 1969, Shin’ichi’s wife, Mineko, rushed to his side from Tokyo and nursed him through the night. When his fever dropped a bit, he went ahead with his visit to Wakayama, even though he wasn’t fully recovered. He attended a Wakayama prefecture leaders meeting at the city’s prefectural gymnasium and offered wholehearted guidance, after which, at the request of members, he led them in singing “Takeda Bushi.” When the meeting was over and he was leaving the stage, he felt faint and swayed on his feet. He had expended all his strength. Should he die there and then, he thought, he would have not the slightest regret.

Each day was a series of unending challenges and struggles. The great path of Soka dedicated to the realization of kosen-rufu has been opened through such continued all-out efforts. Shin’ichi hoped that his disciples, united with him in shared purpose, would inherit and carry on this selfless spirit, however the times might change.

In his “Twenty-six Admonitions,” Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin’s direct disciple and successor, exhorts practitioners: “Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life” (GZ, 1618).

If that spirit is lost, it will not be possible to fulfill the great vow for worldwide kosen-rufu.

To commemorate the opening of the Kansai Women’s Center on May 1, 1980 (the day before his arrival in Osaka), Shin’ichi composed and sent the following poem:

With the firmest resolve,
protect Kansai,
our bastion.

On this most recent trip to Kansai, Mineko had also visited the center and written a poem in the visitor’s book:

Let’s gather
at this palace dedicated to
the women of Soka
and strive for kosen-rufu
rich in spirit.

The Kansai members stood up intrepidly alongside Shin’ichi, just as the members in Kyushu had.

Solidarity in the shared struggle of mentor and disciple gives the Soka Gakkai its indomitable strength.

“Now, on to Chubu!”

Shin’ichi was filled with fighting spirit.

Launching Out 35

On the morning of May 9, a long line of people began forming outside the Chubu Culture Center in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

“Let’s hold gongyo sessions for the men’s and women’s division chapter leaders. But let’s also invite anyone else who wants to join, regardless of position. Let’s make them open gongyo sessions!” Shin’ichi suggested.

Members joyfully made their way to the Chubu Culture Center. Soon they filled not just the main hall where the gongyo sessions were to take place, but also the conference and reception rooms.

Five gongyo sessions were held that morning. Though his throat was sore, Shin’ichi did gongyo with the members and encouraged them without respite. He couldn’t think about himself when he saw their happy faces, some with tears in their eyes, as they clasped his arm or shook his hand.

A year earlier, after his resignation as president was announced, he had received many letters and telegrams from concerned members in Chubu, too. He wanted to express his heartfelt appreciation to those members and begin a fresh advance together with them.

Each time he finished offering guidance at a gongyo session, he went to see the members waiting in the conference rooms, the lobby, and outside the center, speaking with them, shaking their hands, and taking photographs with them.

There were another five or six gongyo sessions that afternoon and evening. Even after 10:00 p.m., there were still people waiting outside the building. Shin’ichi lost no time in going to encourage them.

“Sensei!” the members called out loudly when they saw him.

“Shhh, let’s keep our voices down! It’s late,” Shin’ichi said with a warm smile, reminding them to be considerate of the neighbors.

It was almost 11:00 p.m. before the day’s activities came to a close.

While in Chubu, Shin’ichi also traveled to Gifu Prefecture.

On May 11, a beautiful sunny day, Shin’ichi visited the home of a pioneer member in Gifu City, and then attended a chapter leaders meeting at the Gifu Culture Center to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Gifu Chapter.

In the center’s second-floor lobby, he chatted with a pioneer women’s division member, who was just shy of 100. She was the oldest person in Gifu City, and was attending the meeting with her daughter. She said that she had joined the organization in its early days and that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was her greatest pleasure.

“I came specially to see you,” Shin’ichi told her. “You are a treasure of Japan and a treasure of the Soka Gakkai. Please be well and live many more years!”

Since it was Mother’s Day, he presented her with a bouquet of carnations and took a photo with her.

How noble this woman was, determined to stand up with him for kosen-rufu in spite of her advanced age! Shin’ichi felt as if he were looking at a Buddha.

Launching Out 36

Shin’ichi next made his way from the Gifu Culture Center to the Kakamigahara Culture Center, also in Gifu Prefecture. Here, too, members who heard about his visit flocked to the center, filling it so that it was impossible to enter from the front door.

“Let’s hold an open gongyo meeting!” said Shin’ichi. He then climbed the spiral fire escape stairs to enter the building and made his way to the meeting room.

He said to the members gathered for the gongyo session: “I know you’ve had a very difficult time, but everything’s all right now! You’ve won. May each of you, without exception, attain happiness, crowning your life with victory. I will resolutely support and protect you!”

His dauntless tone filled the members with courage.

Shin’ichi did gongyo with everyone, and then played a number of songs for them on the piano, including “Spring Has Come.” He had an informal discussion with women’s division members and took group photos with members of each division.

During his visit to Chubu, he took part in well over 100 group photo sessions.

The next day, May 12, Shin’ichi continued to encourage members right up until boarding the train at Gifu Hashima Station. Nineteen members had come to the station in the hopes of meeting him, if only for the briefest moment. He spoke with them until it was time for him to go through the ticket gate. He also proposed that they be known henceforth as the Hashima Group.

Rather than let an encounter become just a memory, he wanted to make it the starting point for a renewed commitment and a fresh departure for the future.

Shin’ichi’s guidance tour continued on to Shizuoka Prefecture. There, he attended a young men’s division chapter leaders meeting at the Shizuoka Culture Center. With the highest hopes and expectations, he told the participants: “I’m counting on you to carry on the work of kosen-rufu!”

“Remember that now is the time to make strenuous efforts in your Buddhist practice!”

“Deeply engrave in your hearts the spirit of ‘valuing the Law more highly than your life’!”

“Be victors in society and the workplace!”

On May 13, an open gongyo session was held at the Shizuoka Culture Center, and Shin’ichi energetically spoke with members striving at the forefront of the organization. On May 14, he returned to Tokyo.

During his just over two week trip that had begun in Nagasaki on April 29, he had encouraged more than 150,000 members. Feeling a fresh surge of joy and courage, they all vowed to walk the great Soka path of mentor and disciple dedicated to kosen-rufu.

The signal fire had been lit, its brilliant flame rising skyward, marking the start of the counteroffensive against the schemes of unscrupulous priests and other treacherous individuals.

Launching Out 37

The season of spring greenery had come to Tokyo.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto had broken free from the chains of intrigue that had hindered his activities for kosen-rufu and was now soaring forth like a mighty eagle into the boundless blue skies of hope.

He had returned to Shinanomachi, having completed his fifth visit to China and his subsequent guidance tours in Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Osaka, Aichi, Gifu, and Shizuoka prefectures. With the aim of rebuilding the Soka Gakkai organization in Tokyo, the main bastion of kosen-rufu, he lost no time in visiting Soka Gakkai centers and other places in Nerima, Taito, Setagaya, and Minato wards to encourage members.

Exerting himself fully, Shin’ichi continued his earnest struggle to usher in a new age of kosen-rufu.

Soka Gakkai President Kiyoshi Jujo and other top leaders, for their part, had for some time been racking their brains trying to figure out how to deal with the situation concerning Tomomasa Yamawaki.

Driven by the desire for financial gain, five years earlier Yamawaki had become involved in some shady land deals in Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and used the large sum of money he made as a result to start a frozen food company. But his lack of experience and poor management caused the business to flounder, eventually leaving him with a huge debt of more than 4 billion yen. Desperate, with no prospects for repaying it, he came up with the idea of extorting money from the Soka Gakkai.

Throughout this time, Yamawaki had been goading young priests of Nichiren Shoshu and others to harshly criticize the Soka Gakkai while simultaneously playing the role of the Gakkai’s liaison with the priesthood. In this way, he tried to manipulate the organization for his own ends. He had secretly fanned mistrust and antagonism toward the Soka Gakkai among the priests and continued to ply them with fabricated misinformation to incite them to attack it.

He also devised strategies for undermining the Soka Gakkai, which he constantly communicated to the priesthood, while also continuing to make false accusations to High Priest Nittatsu.

Time and again, he instigated a crisis and then stepped forward to contain it, playing the role of a fixer. Like someone secretly setting a fire and then rushing to extinguish it, he purposely stirred up trouble only to claim credit for resolving it.

He also fed the media distorted information in an attempt to discredit the Soka Gakkai and oust Shin’ichi as president.

But his true colors were gradually coming to light and his plotting and double-dealing revealed. And now, his business had fallen into serious difficulty. This was the natural result of his own misdeeds. As Nichiren Daishonin writes: “[Those] who despise the votaries of the Lotus Sutra seem to be free from punishment at first, but eventually they are all doomed to fall” (WND-1, 997).

Launching Out 38

Yamawaki had been colluding behind the scenes with Takao Harayama, the Soka Gakkai’s Study Department leader. In September 1979, the previous year, Harayama had photocopied a large number of documents that were stored at the Seikyo Shimbun Building and taken the copies from the premises. Yamawaki used the documents in his scheme to drive a wedge between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai, and as a source of information that he would distort and supply to certain media outlets as ammunition for them to attack the lay organization.

In April 1980, Yamawaki finally resorted to extorting the Soka Gakkai for money.

Becoming aware of Yamawaki’s unscrupulous methods and relentless nature, Kiyoshi Jujo and the other executive leaders wrestled with how to respond. If they just ignored him, it was clear that he would engage in further base attempts to disrupt the harmonious relationship the Soka Gakkai had worked so hard to forge with the priesthood. That would lead to so many members again being harassed and tormented by domineering priests. They wanted to prevent that at all costs.

While in a quandary over what to do, the executive leadership received a demand of 300 million yen from Yamawaki, who declared: “I don’t care if it’s extortion. I don’t care if I go to prison.”

After a great deal of agonizing, Jujo made the wrenching decision to meet Yamawaki’s demand, extracting from him the promise that he would cease all of his plotting and attacks. This took place while Shin’ichi Yamamoto was in China.

But then Yamawaki demanded another 500 million yen. On June 7, the Soka Gakkai filed a complaint of extortion and attempted extortion against him with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

This prompted Yamawaki to begin a frenzy of disruptive activity. He used the weekly tabloid magazines to carry out vile attacks on the Gakkai. It was nothing but the spreading of jealous lies, just like the “groundless falsehoods” (cf. WND-1, 803) and “fabrications of those who harbor jealousy” (cf. WND-1, 807) that the Daishonin condemns in his writings.

Harayama also appeared in the weekly magazines, repeatedly slandering the Soka Gakkai. During Yamawaki’s subsequent trial, it became clear that Harayama had received a large sum of money from him.

The Soka Gakkai is an organization of purehearted faith, a gathering of sincere and honest people. It is not a place for the corrupt and ill-intentioned. In the end, both Yamawaki and Harayama completely lost the trust of everyone.

The members felt they were witnessing the inevitable self-ruin brought about by those who betray their fellow practitioners.

Launching Out 39

On June 7, the day the Soka Gakkai filed a complaint with police against Tomomasa Yamawaki, the results of the election for members of the Nichiren Shoshu Council were announced. Candidates antagonistic to the Soka Gakkai, including young priests who continued to openly attack the lay organization, won a majority of 10 out of the 16 council seats. On July 3, the first council meeting following the election was held, and a number of them obtained key posts, including that of council chairperson.

The following day, July 4, the young priests officially formed an organization called the Shoshin-kai (lit. Correct Faith Association). During the regular Gosho lectures at many Nichiren Shoshu temples that month, the priests of this group harshly attacked the Soka Gakkai in blatant disregard of the repeated directives from the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office to cease doing so.

The secret maneuverings of Yamawaki, who felt himself cornered, were behind these actions. Incited by him, these priests ignored the directives of Nichiren Shoshu and continued to act as they pleased.

Members continued to endure the concerted attacks on the Soka Gakkai by malicious priests and sensationalist elements of the media. Some had to listen to negative comments from their boss or coworkers who had read the tabloid articles. But the members encouraged one another and continued to share Nichiren Buddhism with others, recalling the Daishonin’s words: “Difficulties will arise, and these are to be looked on as ‘peaceful’ practices” (OTT, 115); and “Worthies and sages are tested by abuse” (WND-1, 303).

Though the Seikyo Shimbun was finally starting to report on Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s activities again, its coverage was still rather restrained and lacked the kind of vibrant spirit that would inspire the members to advance powerfully.

Shin’ichi, thinking of the members, was deeply pained. “I must send fresh inspiration to our members!” he resolved.

The Seikyo Shimbun around this time asked Shin’ichi to contribute an essay series about his memories of pioneer members who had passed away along the road to kosen-rufu. Shin’ichi decided to accept, motivated by his wish to tell the stories of members who had worked for kosen-rufu to the end of their lives, diligently exerting themselves in faith and supporting the Soka Gakkai from the early days. He wanted to encourage everyone through sharing how these admirable members had lived their lives. The title of the series was “Unforgettable Friends in Faith.”

Also around that time, many readers were making requests for the serialization of Shin’ichi’s novel The Human Revolution to be resumed. There had been no further installments published since volume 10 had ended in the paper in August 1978, almost two years before. Shin’ichi decided to start work again on writing The Human Revolution as well.

Bravely standing alone to face the harshest storms—this is the Soka Gakkai spirit and the path of lions.

Launching Out 40

Toward the end of July, Shin’ichi convened a meeting at the Kanagawa Training Center with the Seikyo Shimbun editors in charge of his new essay series, “Unforgettable Friends in Faith,” and the editor responsible for his serialized novel, The Human Revolution.

When Shin’ichi announced that he would be resuming the latter work, its editor looked surprised and said hesitantly: “I’m sure the readers will be thrilled. But I fear the young priests critical of the Soka Gakkai will make a big fuss, and jump on it as an excuse to attack you.”

The editor then fell silent.

Shin’ichi said in a forceful tone: “I’m aware of that. But what matters now is not me; it’s our members we need to protect. They have stoically endured cruel treatment at the hands of corrupt priests and their sympathizers and continued in spite of that to work for kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai with sincere, steadfast, and earnest devotion.

“My responsibility is to protect the children of the Buddha, our members. It is to impart the light of courage, of hope, and of conviction to them and make it possible for them to advance along the path of their mission with confidence and pride. That’s why I am here.

“And that’s why I need to start writing The Human Revolution again. That’s my battle. Do you understand?”

The editor nodded in affirmation.

With a smile, Shin’ichi added: “I’d like to start as soon as possible. Please contact Teikichi Miyoshi, the artist who has been doing the illustrations, right away. Actually, my shoulder is so sore at the moment that I can’t lift my arm. So I hope you will agree to take dictation for me if necessary.”

The summer of 1980 was very rainy and humid. Shin’ichi had been driving himself extremely hard since the previous year, and the hot weather had taken its toll. But he was eager to begin. His heart was brimming with fighting spirit.

As Mahatma Gandhi observed: “Our inspiration can come only from our faith that right must ultimately prevail.”1

  • *1Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. vol. 68 (Oct. 15, 1938–Feb. 28, 1939) (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1977), p. 169.