Volume 30: Chapter 3, Launching Out 41–50

Launching Out 41

The essay series “Unforgettable Friends in Faith” began publication on July 29, and the serialization of the 11th volume of The Human Revolution commenced on August 10, with three installments to be published each week.

Shin’ichi had titled the first chapter of the new volume “Turning Point.” It opened in September 1956, with Josei Toda making the decision to withdraw from all his business activities to dedicate the rest of his life to kosen-rufu full time, and with his charging Shin’ichi to take the lead of the Yamaguchi Campaign.1

Shin’ichi dictated the manuscript for the new installments of The Human Revolution in various places where he engaged in activities for kosen-rufu, including the Kanagawa Training Center and the Shizuoka Training Center. Before and after his dictation sessions, he would meet informally with representatives from regions throughout Japan and of different divisions, or with local members. He also used whatever time was left to visit members at home.

Shin’ichi said to the editor of The Human Revolution: “I am Mr. Toda’s disciple. Therefore, no matter what circumstance I find myself in or what my position, I cannot give up on my struggle for kosen-rufu. I will fight as long as I live. Just watch me.”

But he was very fatigued from his intense efforts. He was coughing, and some days he had a fever.

One day, having prepared for a dictation session, he lay down on the room’s tatami matting, with a wet towel on his forehead, to wait for the editor to arrive. Before long, he heard the editor say “Excuse me” and enter the room.

Still on the floor, Shin’ichi opened his eyes slightly and said: “I’m sorry, but can you please allow me to rest a while longer?”

With a look of deep concern, the editor sat down next to Shin’ichi.

Shin’ichi was coughing from time to time. His eyes were red. The editor wondered if he would be able to dictate the novel in this condition.

The clock ticked loudly as the time passed. After about 10 minutes, Shin’ichi slapped the tatami with his hand and sat up.

“All right, let’s begin! Let’s leave a chronicle for the future. Everyone is looking forward to reading these installments. Can’t you just picture their happy faces? The thought that it’s all for the sake of the members fills me with energy!”

Launching Out 42

Reduced-size bound copies of the Seikyo Shimbun from the period described in the chapter, handwritten notes, and reference books were scattered around Shin’ichi. He picked up his notes and said to the editor: “Let’s get to work, then! Are you ready?”

Shin’ichi began to dictate. As he went on, his voice grew stronger. The editor wrote frantically but couldn’t keep up with the speed of Shin’ichi’s narration, so Shin’ichi slowed his pace to match the editor’s writing.

After about 15 minutes, Shin’ichi began to cough. Even after his coughing let up, his breathing was rough and labored.

“Let me rest a while,” he said, and he lay down on the tatami again.

After about 10 minutes, when the editor had finished making a clean copy of the dictation he had taken, Shin’ichi’s breathing had become a bit easier. He slapped the tatami again forcefully and sat up.

“OK, let’s continue! Everyone is waiting. Our members are doing their best while enduring much bitterness. Just the thought of it fills me with emotion. That’s why I want to lift their spirits even a little. I want to rouse their courage.”

He began dictating again, but after 10 or 15 minutes, he was forced to take another break.

In this fashion, he composed the manuscript and revised it several times. After he made additional revisions to the galley proof, it was printed in the newspaper. Once the serialization resumed, he wouldn’t be able to stop halfway. That is the arduous nature of composing a serialized novel. For Shin’ichi, it was an all-or-nothing struggle, and he dictated each installment with every last ounce of his strength.

The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–75) remarked that words “can be forged into whistling arrows, into flaming swords.”2 Shin’ichi repeated that message to himself as he worked on polishing the manuscript, carefully pondering each word to make his writing resonate with the hearts of his fellow members.

The serialized publication of The Human Revolution and the new essay series drew an enthusiastic response. They were a source of inspiration and revitalization for the entire membership.

Launching Out 43

The turmoil within Nichiren Shoshu deepened.

After Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s resignation from his posts as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and Soka Gakkai president (in April 1979), the priesthood clearly stated that it would cease criticizing the Soka Gakkai. However, harassment and mistreatment of Soka Gakkai members by the priests who formed the Shoshin-kai only escalated, so the Soka Gakkai asked the priesthood to keep the promise it had made.

Although Nichiren Shoshu had tried to direct the Shoshin-kai priests to maintain harmonious relations with the laity in accord with the wish of the previous high priest Nittatsu, they ignored this. On August 24, they held a national rally for danto believers—Nichiren Shoshu lay believers who were critical of the Soka Gakkai—at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo.

At that meeting, there were calls for Shin’ichi to resign as honorary chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations [a position to which he had been appointed by Nittatsu the previous year, after stepping down as chief representative] and for the Soka Gakkai to relinquish its status as an independent religious corporation and come directly under Nichiren Shoshu.

Tomomasa Yamawaki did not attend the meeting, but Takao Harayama made an appearance, criticizing the Soka Gakkai and declaring that High Priest Nikken should also be denounced.

Incited by Yamawaki’s scheming, the Shoshin-kai priests ran out of control. They made clear their opposition to Nikken, sending him a letter of inquiry and a petition accusing him of abusing his authority, among other claims.

It was a situation that could easily shake the priesthood to its very foundations.

On September 24, Nichiren Shoshu convened its board of directors. Affirming that the priests of the Shoshin-kai had sown disorder in the priesthood, the board decided to take disciplinary action against 201 priests—roughly one-third of those who had the rank of teacher.

The priests in question held a meeting protesting the board’s decision, claiming that it violated their rights.

As part of the disciplinary measures, Nichiren Shoshu began expelling Shoshin-kai priests one after another. Seeing this development, some of the priests quickly changed their tone and decided to follow the directives of the high priest and the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office.

A number of chief priests who were expelled and ordered to vacate their temples during this period later took Nichiren Shoshu to court.

At 10:00 p.m. on September 30, Shin’ichi Yamamoto departed from the New Tokyo International Airport (later Narita International Airport) for Honolulu to attend events celebrating two decades of kosen-rufu in the United States and open a new page of worldwide kosen-rufu.

There was not a moment to be lost in advancing worldwide kosen-rufu.

Launching Out 44

During his stay in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first stop on his trip, Shin’ichi attended a number of events at the Hawaii Community Center. He also took time out to encourage members of two Soka Gakkai friendship delegations—one had just arrived for activities in Hawaii and the other was stopping off in Hawaii on its way back to Japan after visiting countries in South America.

On October 2, he attended a gongyo meeting commemorating World Peace Day held at the Hawaii Community Center.

The Soka Gakkai had designated October 2, the date Shin’ichi Yamamoto departed on his first overseas trip in 1960, as World Peace Day.

Shin’ichi had chosen Hawaii as his first destination on that trip two decades ago because it was where the Pacific War had begun. He had resolved deep in his heart to create a great groundswell for peace from this place that had experienced the destruction and devastation of war.

On that first visit to Hawaii, only about 30 or 40 members gathered for a discussion meeting. Many of them were desperately unhappy. Most were Japanese women who had married American servicemen and come to live in Hawaii with their husbands. Some were suffering from severe economic hardship and some even living in fear of domestic violence. They lamented over their misfortune, wishing they could return to Japan.

Shin’ichi confidently assured them that if they exerted themselves earnestly in their Buddhist practice, they would definitely become happy. He also strongly stressed that they had gathered here because of their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth so that they could transform their karma and create happiness for themselves and others.

Supporting, encouraging, and reinvigorating each suffering individual we encounter is the first sure step to realizing a society that respects the dignity of life; it is the starting point for building peace.

Shin’ichi sensed a bright new sun of conviction rising in the participants’ hearts. Full of hope for a brighter future, they went on to challenge themselves based on a clear awareness of their mission for kosen-rufu.

During that first overseas trip, Shin’ichi traveled to cities in North and South America and established a general chapter in the United States; a chapter in Los Angeles and one in Brazil; and 17 districts, including one in Hawaii.

In the two decades since then, the Soka Gakkai, a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, had spread to about 90 countries and territories. At the gongyo meeting commemorating World Peace Day in Hawaii, Shin’ichi prayed deeply. Setting his sights on the year 2000—another 20 years in the future—he vowed to bring humanity and the world together by building a strong network of ordinary people united in the cause of peace.

Launching Out 45

During this most recent visit to Hawaii, Shin’ichi engaged energetically in activities to promote peace and friendship, including meeting with Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi. He also gave his all to encouraging the members while attending the Hawaii General Meeting and other events.

From Hawaii, he traveled to San Francisco and then to Washington, D.C., before arriving in Chicago on October 10.

Shin’ichi was firmly determined to meet with and wholeheartedly encourage as many members as possible wherever he went.

He attended general meetings in each of the three cities to commemorate 20 years of kosen-rufu in the United States, visited the organization’s local centers, and participated in conferences and other meetings. If he had any spare time, he visited members at their homes.

In San Francisco, he attended a general meeting together with some 3,500 members. He also went to see the statue of Columbus on Telegraph Hill, which he had visited on his first trip. There, he took a group photo with representative members, and pledged with them to take a fresh step forward together for kosen-rufu in the U.S.

In Washington, D.C., Shin’ichi addressed around 4,000 members attending a general meeting held there. At an executive leaders meeting in the same city the following day, he offered guidance based on the parable of “a great king’s feast” (LSOC6, 146) mentioned in the Lotus Sutra.

“The parable likens the greatness of the Lotus Sutra to ‘a great king’s feast’—replete with the rarest and most delicious delicacies. We can take this to correspond to an inner state of complete fulfillment that we, as ordinary people who have struggled with suffering, can attain through encountering the Gohonzon, exerting ourselves in faith and practice, and gaining immeasurable benefit as a result.

“However, no matter how sumptuous the feast, dining while feuding with one another is ‘a feast of asuras.’ Devouring everything greedily is ‘a feast of hungry spirits.’ And eating while plotting someone’s downfall is ultimately ‘a feast of hell.’

“All of us are praying with the purest sincerity for the realization of kosen-rufu and the happiness of all people. Please be assured therefore that our ‘feast’—which can be broadly interpreted to include all our daily activities and meetings for kosen-rufu—is ‘a great king’s feast’ of rich and wonderful abundance.

“The Lotus Sutra also contains the expression ‘human flowers’ (LSOC5, 142), celebrating the beauty of those who, illuminated by the light of the Mystic Law, strive joyfully for kosen-rufu. These ‘human flowers’ radiate joy, are fragrant with benefit and virtue, impart the sweet scent of happiness to others, and come to full blossom as lives of deep fulfillment. Please keep advancing with the confidence that you are such ‘human flowers.’”

Launching Out 46

After Washington, D.C., Shin’ichi Yamamoto flew to Chicago. On October 12, some 5,000 members gathered joyfully in the Medinah Temple Auditorium for the Chicago Culture Festival and the commemorative general meeting that followed.

It was an amazing contrast to the dozen or so members who had met Shin’ichi in Chicago during his first visit there 20 years earlier. At the culture festival, he was particularly impressed by the experience of Sachie Perry and the performance by her seven children.

Sachie was 14 years old when she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In 1952, she married an American soldier and moved with him to the United States. But endless problems awaited her there, including her husband’s alcoholism and domestic violence, poverty, her sons’ involvement with gangs, the language barrier, prejudice, and discrimination. She worked incredibly hard to raise her seven children. Racial strife and conflict were rampant in their community. Her days were filled with fear and suffering.

Then one day, another Japanese war bride, who lived a short distance away, told her about Nichiren Buddhism, and Sachie began to practice. That was in 1965.

Warmly assured that she would become happy without fail, Sachie was deeply inspired. Above all, she wanted to change her unfortunate destiny. When she chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, courage surged within her. And as she studied the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, she learned that she had a mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth to share the Mystic Law with people in the United States and realize happiness for herself and others.

When people come to understand the true meaning of life, they are revitalized.

With her broken English, Sachie began to introduce those around her to Nichiren Buddhism.

Relentlessly, the waves of karma assailed her. Her youngest daughter was plagued with illness and had to have repeated surgeries. Her husband’s alcoholism and the family’s poverty continued. But by basing herself on faith, Sachie became a person who could take on challenges with the firm resolve not to let anything defeat her.

Her seven children also earnestly practiced Nichiren Buddhism. They formed a band to help support the family and began working as professional musicians.

Even while battling misfortune, Sachie felt a sense of genuine hope and joy each day.

Now at the culture festival in Chicago, she stood on the stage sharing the story of her life and Buddhist practice.

Individual experiences of inner renewal affirm the universal power of the Mystic Law.

Launching Out 47

At the Chicago Culture Festival, Sachie Perry read her experience, which she had written in the form of a letter to Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

“Dear President Yamamoto,” she began. “When I first started practicing, I had no confidence, no courage, no aspiration. Each day was just a struggle for survival. Believing that this practice was the only way to become happy, I made serious efforts to share Nichiren Buddhism with others.”

A slideshow of family photos was projected on a large screen. Her voice shaking with emotion, Sachie called out: “Sensei! I now have a harmonious family and am very happy. My children have grown into fine young people. I have always wanted you to meet them someday, and here they are!”

The spotlights on the stage illuminated her seven children. They began to play and sing along to a buoyant rhythm. Tears sparkled in their mother’s eyes. Their voices were a fanfare heralding a new day of hope, and the melody communicated the joy of happiness.

The performance was emblematic of the family’s victory, and Shin’ichi responded with enthusiastic applause.

World peace begins with one individual doing their human revolution and changing their karma, or destiny. And happy and harmonious families are the true image of peace.

Throughout the festival, Shin’ichi composed one poem after another to encourage the performers. He presented the eldest son of the Perry family with one that read:

Royal children,
sing proudly
your mother’s song.

The children inherited their mother’s commitment to Buddhism and grew into leaders in American society and in the movement for kosen-rufu. Ayumi, Sachie’s youngest daughter, who had suffered ill health throughout her childhood, was able to attend university in spite of the family’s financial difficulties. She became an educator, eventually going on to graduate school where she completed her doctorate. She later embarked on a career providing training for leaders in education, business, and non-profit organizations, and also for United Nations staff. In the SGI-USA, she went on to play an active role as national women’s leader.

On the 20th anniversary of kosen-rufu in the United States, a new American dream had come to fruition, and countless “human flowers” had begun to blossom with happiness, thanks to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism and its teaching that all people equally possess the life state of Buddhahood.

Launching Out 48

After the Chicago Culture Festival, a general meeting was held.

The American general director introduced Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s suggestion that a World Peace Culture Festival be held in Chicago the following year, and the audience expressed their approval with powerful applause.

In his remarks at the general meeting, Shin’ichi spoke of the importance of Buddhist study and stressed that they should always strive in their Buddhist practice based on the Gosho, the writings of Nichiren Daishonin.

If everyone follows their own arbitrary view of faith and practice, unity will be impossible. But if we return to the Daishonin’s writings, we can all unite together in shared purpose, or one mind. The principles of Nichiren Buddhism are the standard for our actions.

Shin’ichi had emphasized the importance of Buddhist study, and on the morning of October 13, the following day, he gave a lecture on The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings to a group of representative leaders before departing from Chicago. At the airport as well, while waiting for his flight, he gave another lecture on “The Opening of the Eyes” and spoke about the qualities of genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

Setting a personal example of initiative is a crucial requirement for leaders.

On his arrival in Los Angeles, Shin’ichi headed to Santa Monica, where he attended a gongyo meeting and an SGI representatives conference at the World Culture Center during his stay. On the evening of October 17, he attended the 1st SGI General Meeting together with some 15,000 representatives from 48 countries and territories. The meeting was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, an impressive building with a long and storied history, including as a venue for the Academy Awards ceremony and many other notable events.

Congratulatory messages for the occasion were received from the Secretary-General of the United Nations; members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; the governors of California, New York, and other states; the mayors of major cities such as Los Angeles and Detroit; and university officials, including the president of the University of Minnesota.

In his speech, Shin’ichi shared a poem that his mentor, Josei Toda, had presented to him in July 1953:

May you live
a thousand years
like the phoenix
soaring through the heavens.

Shin’ichi affirmed his determination to travel the world with that spirit and do his utmost to spread the Mystic Law.

“The time is coming, the future awaits!”—Shin’ichi’s sight was set on the new century, a shining morning of hope.

Launching Out 49

Back in Japan, meanwhile, Tomomasa Yamawaki was now attacking and maligning the Soka Gakkai in the weekly tabloids and on television programs. These were desperate attempts to justify himself following his being accused by the Soka Gakkai of extortion in June. Fabricating preposterous lies, he repeatedly claimed that the Soka Gakkai was engaged in unlawful activities. He also pressed the members of the Shoshin-kai to petition elected officials and hold rallies and demonstrations demanding that Shin’ichi be called before the Diet for questioning. The Shoshin-kai did just that, but all their efforts ultimately ended in failure.

The Shoshin-kai priests’ dispute with the high priest, Nikken, and with the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office deepened, and eventually led to a decisive rift.

While Nichiren Shoshu was in a state of turmoil and disarray, the Soka Gakkai remained unchanging in its commitment to maintaining harmony between the priesthood and the laity.

On November 18, 1980, a festive meeting was held at the Soka University Central Gymnasium to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding.

Shin’ichi appeared on the stage, looking confident and energetic. As he stood up to address the audience, thunderous applause rang out.

“I would like to begin by expressing my deepest thanks to first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who founded the Soka Gakkai, and to second president Josei Toda, who built its foundation and is responsible for today’s tremendous development.

“I also sincerely thank, with all of my heart, the dedicated pioneer members who have shared in the joys and hardships of ascending the steep path of kosen-rufu over these past five decades, and all our members.

“As long as we continue to strive with solemn devotion to faith, as long as we continue working courageously to spread Nichiren Buddhism with the aim of realizing kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai will endure forever.

“The first act of the Soka Gakkai’s great people’s movement, dedicated to promoting peace and education based on the Mystic Law, has come to a close. Now the second act begins!

“From today, as we aim for the centennial of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, let’s recommit ourselves to working even harder to promote peace and culture throughout the world and advancing our movement of kosen-rufu!”

Shin’ichi’s statement was a powerful lion’s roar. Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs” (WND-1, 997). The members’ hearts blazed with a fighting spirit.

Launching Out 50

The year 1981 arrived. It would be a decisive year for the Soka Gakkai’s newly launched counteroffensive.

The organization had designated 1981 as the “Year of Youth,” and the members vowed together to make a fresh start.

On New Year’s Day, Shin’ichi Yamamoto recalled a poem that his mentor, Josei Toda, had composed on that day in 1952, having been inaugurated as second Soka Gakkai president in May the previous year:

Now, let us set out on a journey,
our hearts emboldened
to spread the Mystic Law
to the farthest reaches
of India.

This poem had been on display along with Toda’s portrait in the Nihon University Auditorium during Shin’ichi’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960. The lines seared in his memory, Shin’ichi had gazed at the image of his mentor and vowed deeply to initiate a great, lifelong struggle to spread the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and, as a disciple whose heart was one with his mentor, to set forth on the journey of worldwide kosen-rufu.

On the morning of his inauguration, Shin’ichi had also composed a poem infused with a vow to live true to the words of his mentor:

“Don’t be defeated!”
“Resolutely take the lead!”—
my mentor’s voice
still resounds powerfully
in the depths of my being.

And now, on New Year’s Day 1981, he resolved to take full-fledged leadership for kosen-rufu, making greater efforts than ever before to go out into the world and work hand in hand with members around the globe.

The following day, January 2, he would turn 53. Life was short, and there were so many things he had to do right now for the sake of worldwide kosen-rufu. He could not afford to hesitate even for a moment.

There were signs of growing turmoil within Nichiren Shoshu. Shin’ichi was determined to pave a new way forward while he continued to shield his fellow members from attack and protect the priesthood, no matter what might happen.

On the evening of January 13, Shin’ichi departed from Narita Airport for Hawaii. He planned to spend about two months outside Japan, visiting Hawaii, Los Angeles, Miami, and other places in the U.S., before traveling to Panama and Mexico.

During his stay in Hawaii, the 1st International Study Executive Conference was held, attended by representatives from 15 countries and territories. Shin’ichi felt it was crucial to delve deeply into the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, which form the basis of genuine respect for the dignity of life, and establish a sound, universal philosophy of peace for all humanity.

  • *1Yamaguchi Campaign: A propagation campaign that unfolded over a three-month period spanning October and November 1956 and January 1957. On the instructions of President Toda, the young Daisaku Ikeda traveled to Yamaguchi Prefecture and launched an unprecedented effort to open the way for the development of the kosen-rufu movement there. At the end of September 1956, just before the campaign was launched, the Soka Gakkai had a membership of 459 households in Yamaguchi. By the end of January 1957, the number had increased almost tenfold, to 4,073 households.
  • *2Hans Christian Andersen, A Poet’s Bazaar: Pictures of Travel in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1871), p. 342.