Volume 30: Chapter 3, Launching Out 51–60

Launching Out 51

During his last visit to the U.S. in October 1980, Shin’ichi had called on the members to apply themselves in Buddhist study. And on this most recent trip, he once again led by example, quoting passages from the Daishonin’s writings and giving guidance based on them.

At the International Study Executive Conference, he read out the passage:

“Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” (WND-1, 386; “The True Aspect of All Phenomena”)

He then went on to explain: “‘Practice’ here means our actions for the happiness of ourselves and others—in other words, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and sharing it with others. ‘Study’ means learning the teachings and principles of Nichiren Buddhism. Those who exert themselves in both practice and study are genuine disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. Unless we persevere in these two ways, we are not truly practicing Buddhism, the Daishonin says.

“Only the Soka Gakkai has been acting in perfect accord with this passage and advancing kosen-rufu while being subjected to all kinds of opposition and abuse. This is a fact that no one can deny.

“The two ways of practice and study arise from faith. Neglecting practice and study means losing one’s faith. Faith means wholeheartedly embracing the Gohonzon and striving earnestly and steadfastly for kosen-rufu, undefeated by any threat, attack, or temptation.

“Practice and study are like the two wheels of a cart, while faith is like the axle. No matter how knowledgeable someone may be about Buddhist doctrine, without practice, they are like a cart with only one wheel, and will inevitably veer from the correct path of faith.

“There have been a number of individuals who became engrossed in Buddhist study while making no real effort in Buddhist practice. Thinking they were better than everyone, they behaved arrogantly, alienating their fellow members who were striving sincerely in faith, and eventually they quit the Soka Gakkai. That is extremely unfortunate.

“We are not studying the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism to become professional Buddhist scholars. I wish to reaffirm that the purpose of our Buddhist study is to deepen our faith, attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, and advance kosen-rufu.”

Buddhist study in the Soka Gakkai is practice-oriented study, delving into the principles of life for creating happiness for ourselves and others.

Launching Out 52

While in Hawaii, Shin’ichi laid a wreath and offered deep prayers for peace at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, where the Pacific War began. He also attended the 1st U.S.-Japan Friendship Culture Festival, held at the Waikiki Shell, along with representatives from 15 countries and territories.

In addition, he held a study session for leaders from throughout Hawaii, at which he discussed a passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “The Opening of the Eyes” and spoke of the noble mission of members who were striving for kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law: “The wall of conflict between East and West has divided our world and intensified the prevailing chaos and turmoil. As disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, let us continue to spread the supreme teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to enable all humanity to attain enlightenment. Let us renew our efforts to illuminate the innermost depths of people’s lives, and sound the bell of happiness and peace.

“There can be no world peace as long as darkness shrouds people’s hearts. Respect for the dignity of life starts with manifesting our inherent Buddhahood and enabling each individual to shine. Reviving people through Buddhism, bringing people together through culture, and building bridges of lasting peace for humankind—these make up our social mission as Buddhists.”

After concluding his eight-day schedule of activities in Hawaii, Shin’ichi flew on to Los Angeles shortly before 2:00 p.m. on January 20.

During his stay there, he participated in a world peace prayer meeting at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica, a meeting of editors of Soka Gakkai publications from various countries and territories, and a U.S.-Japan Friendship Culture Festival at the Shrine Auditorium celebrating Los Angeles’ bicentennial.

Held on January 24, the culture festival brought together some 15,000 people, and included performances by U.S. and Japanese members and a series of song and dance numbers celebrating the history of the city and the people who built it. Each presentation drew loud applause.

A celebrity guest at the festival later said that she had been deeply moved by the enthusiasm and passion of the performers and inspired by the ideals and spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

Culture and the arts create a resonance of shared feeling in people’s hearts and bring them together.

Launching Out 53

On the same day, January 24, back in Japan, Tomomasa Yamawaki was arrested on charges of extortion and attempted extortion. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department had officially accepted the Soka Gakkai’s complaint in October of the previous year (1980), and since then had been conducting a detailed investigation. Now, with enough evidence to charge him, Yamawaki was arrested.

To protect himself, Yamawaki had used certain tabloid weeklies to wage a smear campaign against the Soka Gakkai, but during his trial it became clear that he had been spreading vicious lies and that his allegations lacked any credibility.

After Yamawaki’s arrest, the Tokyo District Prosecutor’s Office requested an interview with Shin’ichi. The Soka Gakkai, too, wanted the real situation to be brought to light and the truth clarified. So Shin’ichi interrupted his U.S. trip and returned to Japan.

Before leaving, Shin’ichi informed the American members: “I have something that I need to return to Japan for, but I’ll be back. The United States is the cornerstone of worldwide kosen-rufu. Please unite solidly and build an organization of human harmony that is a model for the rest of the world.”

Shin’ichi returned to Japan on January 28, and was interviewed by the prosecutor’s office on four separate occasions. He also attended a number of Soka Gakkai meetings, including an informal discussion with participants of a prefectural leaders conference. On February 15, he flew back to Los Angeles.

There, he offered guidance and encouragement to members at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica and at the Malibu Training Center.

Next, he made his way to Miami before flying to Panama on February 19.

It was his first visit to Panama in seven years, and many new members had emerged. He participated in an informal meeting with representatives of seven Central and South American countries and then attended a Japan-Panama Friendship Culture Festival at the National Theater of Panama. He also met with the president of Panama and the mayor of Panama City, donated books to a local Japanese school, and visited the University of Panama, working energetically to lay the groundwork for the development of kosen-rufu in the 21st century.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68), leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, said: “There is only one thing certain about time, and that is that it waits for no one. If not used constructively, it passes you by.”1

Launching Out 54

On February 26, Shin’ichi flew from Panama to Mexico. It was his second formal visit there,2 the first in 16 years.

In Mexico, as in Panama, national television network journalists and newspaper reporters were waiting for him at the airport. This testified to the high regard in which the Soka Gakkai’s activities for peace, education, and culture were held throughout the world.

In Mexico City, Shin’ichi visited the local organization’s community center for the first time, went to see the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, and attended a Japan-Mexico Friendship Culture Festival.

On March 2, he met with the president of Mexico, visited the National Autonomous University of Mexico to donate books, and spoke with the university rector and other university officials.

On the drive back from the university, Shin’ichi took time to stop and go for a stroll around the city with his wife, Mineko.

When they arrived at a broad avenue, they saw the Angel of Independence Monument bathed in sunlight rising into the sky. Atop the central column stood a golden statue known as the Angel, wings outspread, with a laurel crown symbolizing victory in her right hand, and a broken chain symbolizing freedom in her left.

“This is it,” said Shin’ichi. “Yes, that’s right,” replied Mineko.

Their mentor, Josei Toda, had once described this scene to Shin’ichi very clearly.

It was about 10 days before his death. The bedridden Toda had sent for his young disciple. When Shin’ichi approached, Toda smiled warmly and said: “Last night I dreamed that I went to Mexico. They were all waiting, waiting . . . seeking Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. I would like to see the world, to take a journey for kosen-rufu. . . .”

Though Toda was physically weak, his mind carried him eagerly forward on a journey around the world. That is the fighting spirit and the heart of a great champion of kosen-rufu.

Toda then described the Independence Monument standing in the center of Mexico City and other local sites that he had seen in his dream.

Launching Out 55

Josei Toda had never traveled outside Japan. But he often read books about Mexico, and the image of the Independence Monument and surrounding cityscape he had seen in photographs had lodged in his mind. He also frequently asked Fumiko Haruki, the first Osaka Chapter women’s division leader, about the country. She had lived in Mexico as a child because her father’s job had taken their family there.

Toda described the scene with astonishing clarity. And then he added: “Shin’ichi, you must go out into the world. The world is your true stage.”

Looking at Shin’ichi intently, he extended his thin arm out from under the bedcovers. The disciple silently clasped his mentor’s frail hand.

“Shin’ichi, live out your life. Live long. And travel the world.”

Shin’ichi had shared that conversation in detail with his wife, Mineko.

When Shin’ichi saw the Independence Monument on his first visit to Mexico 16 years earlier, in August 1965, he recalled Toda’s words and was deeply moved.

As he stood before it again now, the monument glistened in the sunlight, and his mentor’s heartfelt words “Travel the world” echoed in his heart.

“Sensei! I am traveling around the world. I will build a firm foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu in your stead!”

Shin’ichi silently renewed his vow, and Mineko remarked: “Today, the second, is President Toda’s monthly memorial.”3

“That’s right. And on this day, we happened to come to this place.”

“No doubt he led us here.”

Nodding their agreement, they looked up at the monument.

The next day, Shin’ichi and his party visited Mexico City Hall and other places, before departing for their next destination, Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara.

There they visited a private community center for Soka Gakkai activities, where Shin’ichi met informally with and encouraged members. He also visited the University of Guadalajara, met with the university rector, and delivered a lecture.

Launching Out 56

Shin’ichi ’s lecture at the University of Guadalajara was titled “The Mexican Poetic Spirit.”

In it, he spoke of the unique warmth of the people of Mexico, a “land of sunshine and passion.” Their poetic spirit and ready smiles, he said, opened pathways between people’s hearts, and this was vitally important in building peace and promoting cultural exchange. He also expressed deep admiration for the Mexican people’s strong initiative and ongoing efforts to ensure that Latin America would remain a nuclear-free zone.

From Guadalajara, Shin’ichi returned to Los Angeles and then to Hawaii. In both places, he once again poured his heart into giving guidance at informal meetings and study sessions, before arriving back in Japan on March 12.

He had continued his earnest efforts to encourage members in Japan and around the world, and the kosen-rufu movement was now gradually gaining fresh momentum.

Events celebrating Soka Gakkai Day, May 3, were held at Soka University in Tokyo, where Shin’ichi attended a series of commemorative gongyo meetings and other events from May 2 to May 5.

Soka Gakkai members, linked by the bonds of mentor and disciple, had begun a spirited march toward the 21st century amid warm spring breezes.

With hardly a moment’s rest, Shin’ichi left Japan again on May 9 to travel to the Soviet Union, Europe, and North America, determined to continue working for world peace.

The Soviet Union, his first destination, was at the time facing a barrage of worldwide condemnation for its December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. More than 60 nations had boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics in protest, and the country found itself in an extremely difficult position internationally.

But Shin’ichi believed it was wrong to close off avenues for dialogue as a result of focusing only on political issues. It was at such challenging times, he was convinced, that we should put the greatest emphasis on culture and education and do our utmost to conduct grassroots exchanges to encourage mutual understanding.

Launching Out 57

Shin’ichi visited the Soviet Union this time at the invitation of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education and Moscow State University. He was determined to promote educational and cultural exchange between the Soviet Union and Japan as a means to open new paths for friendship.

A large delegation of some 250 members accompanied him, including the Fuji Fife and Drum Corps and the Soka University Ginrei Chorus. Plans had been made for a broad range of exchanges with Moscow State University students and with ordinary citizens.

During his eight-day stay, Shin’ichi visited the Moscow Musical Theater for Children and formed a friendship with its founder and director, Natalya Sats. He also met and spoke with a number of Soviet officials about peace and cultural exchanges.

Among those with whom he had lively conversations were Minister of Culture Peter Demichev; Minister of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education Vyacheslav Yelyutin; Chairperson Zinaida Kruglova of the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries; Chairperson Timofei Guzhenko of the Soviet-Japan Society (who also served as Marine Minister); Moscow State University Rector Anatoli Logunov; and Chairperson Aleksey Shitikov of the Soviet of the Union, the lower chamber of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.

Shin’ichi also visited and laid flowers at Lenin’s Mausoleum; the Kremlin Wall, where the remains of former Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin were interred; and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Paying his respects at the gravesite of the former premier was one of the main purposes of his visit to the Soviet Union.

Kosygin had died the previous December. Shin’ichi had met him twice at the Kremlin. Their conversation in September 1974, on Shin’ichi’s first visit, took place at a time of heightened Sino-Soviet tensions. Shin’ichi frankly asked the premier whether the Soviet Union was planning to attack China.

Kosygin clearly stated that it had no intention of doing so. With the premier’s permission, Shin’ichi conveyed those words to Chinese leaders on his second visit to China that December.

Shin’ichi did everything he possibly could in his private capacity to ensure that the Soviet Union and China would not go to war.

The road to peace begins with one steady step forward.

Launching Out 58

On May 12, Shin’ichi attended the opening of an exhibition of Japanese dolls sponsored by the Soka Gakkai, the Soviet Ministry of Culture, and the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow. That afternoon, he also visited the All-Union State Library of Foreign Literature, meeting with its director, Lyudmila Gvishiani, who was the daughter of the late premier Aleksey Kosygin.

Director Gvishiani wore a blue suit over a cream-colored top. Her kind, intelligent smile and clear eyes resembled her father’s.

Shin’ichi told her that he had visited her father’s gravesite and offered his condolences to her.

“I am very moved by your visit,” she replied, choked with emotion. “And I’m deeply touched by your warm heart.”

She then began to reminisce about the day her father first met Shin’ichi: “That day when he had finished with his work and returned home, he said to me: ‘I met an extraordinary and very interesting Japanese today. I was happy to have had a most refreshing discussion, even though we spoke about complex issues.’ He then asked me to take good care of the books you had presented to him.

“I wanted to present you with something in return, and after discussing the matter with the rest of my family, we would like to give you this.”

She then handed Shin’ichi a crystal vase that Premier Kosygin had received at age 60, when he was honored with the country’s highest civilian title, Hero of Socialist Labor.

She also presented him with two leather-bound books, the last the premier had written, which had been in his study until his death.

“These books still retain the warmth of my father’s hands. In his stead, I would like to present them to you.”

Expressing his gratitude, Shin’ichi said: “These gifts are symbols of a very deep, eternal friendship. I will communicate that friendship to the people of Japan. I pray for the happiness of all the members of your family.”

A steady current of peace is created when friendships are forged across generations from parent to child.

As Shin’ichi left, Director Gvishiani waved good-bye until he was out of sight, an image he would always remember.

Launching Out 59

On the morning of May 13, Shin’ichi and Mineko went to the Novodevichy Cemetery to offer prayers at the grave of Rem Khokhlov, the former Moscow State University rector, who had died four years earlier. Afterward, they visited the Khokhlov family home.

There they met with Professor Khokhlov’s wife, Elena, and their two sons, Aleksei and Dmitry, and reminisced about the late rector.

Aleksei, the older son, was a physicist at Moscow State University, and Dmitry was studying physics at the university’s graduate school.

Shin’ichi and Mineko’s visit genuinely delighted the family, and Aleksei expressed their gratitude: “Thank you for making a special visit to pay your respects to our father. Your visit to our country has been blessed with beautiful weather, as if the heavens are celebrating. Moscow’s long winter has ended, green shoots are sprouting, and the season when nature returns to life is here.”

“Your family is beginning the same season,” Shin’ichi responded. “You’ve weathered the winter of sorrow, and now fresh hope is sprouting as the time of new life arrives. I am sure Rector Khokhlov wishes for nothing more than his loved ones’ happiness and well-being. As his sons, please study hard and become great scholars who surpass even your father and make a positive contribution to society, while leading happy lives.”

Aleksei nodded. “My father was always talking about you. I am very pleased to be able to meet you in person.”

“I hope we’ll have many more occasions to meet and reminisce about your father. Please come to Japan sometime, and please visit Soka University.”

Elena said with emotion: “I feel like we have known you forever.”

Sharing a warm rapport, they enjoyed a lively conversation.

The Khokhlovs presented Shin’ichi with a collection of the rector’s writings and a photograph of him in a mountain setting. “My husband loved mountain climbing,” Elena said with a smile.

Shin’ichi stayed in regular touch with the Khokhlov family over the years.

Just as plants that sink their roots deep into the earth grow and flourish, forming deep-rooted friendships with people everywhere is the way to create rich, ever-expanding green fields of peace.

Launching Out 60

That afternoon, Shin’ichi visited Moscow State University and met with the rector, Anatoli Logunov, a noted theoretical physicist and member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

In April, the rector had visited Japan. At that time, he had asked Shin’ichi to join him in a dialogue about the important role that educational exchange could play in promoting Soviet-Japanese friendship and world peace. Shin’ichi had agreed, seeing it as a way to transmit the principles and philosophy of peace to future generations.

For their meeting in Moscow, he had prepared a list of questions on a variety of subjects. Rector Logunov was happy to go along with Shin’ichi’s suggestion that their dialogue cover such topics as issues facing modern science; religion and literature; war, peace, and ethnicity; and the challenges of cultural exchange.

Before the meeting, the rector was presented an honorary professorship from Soka University. In his acceptance speech, he noted that universities have a mission to safeguard peace for humanity. He then addressed the problem of nuclear weapons: “The use of nuclear weapons today would result in the complete annihilation of the human race. We must, therefore, abandon the idea of securing peace by force rather than through human wisdom, since it would mean condoning nuclear warfare.”

Interpreting for them during their discussion was Leon Strijak, a senior lecturer at the university’s Institute of Asian and African Studies.

Both Shin’ichi and Rector Logunov strongly believed that a nuclear war must be averted and that building peace through cultural exchange was the only way to ensure the survival of the human race. Their conversation flowed in an atmosphere of warm mutual accord.

They met and spoke together a total of 13 times, in the course of which two books of their dialogues were published in Japanese—the first in June 1987, titled Daisan no Niji no Hashi—Ningen to Heiwa no Tankyu (“The Third Rainbow Bridge—The Search for Humanity and Peace”); and the second in May 1994, titled Kagaku to Shukyo (“Science and Religion”).

World peace begins with joining people’s hearts. Shin’ichi wanted to show the world that when we focus on people and peace, we can rise above differences of political system and ideology and come to understand and empathize with one another, forming close friendships.

  • *1Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), p. 128.
  • *2He had also made a brief stopover at the airport in Mexico in 1974.
  • *3In addition to annual memorials for the deceased, monthly memorials are also often observed. Mr. Toda passed away on April 2, 1958. His annual memorial is observed on April 2 each year, while his monthly memorial is observed on the second of each month.