Volume 30: Chapter 5, Cheers of Victory 21–30
Cheers of Victory 21
“Ah, the crimson dawn breaks . . . .”
As he listened to the tape of the song and pondered the lyrics, Shin’ichi called out silently to the youth: “A bright red sun rises, breaking through the clouds. Moment by moment, the sky turns crimson and a brand new day arrives. ‘Crimson’ describes the sun of time without beginning glowing in our hearts, the passionate fighting spirit to create a new age, and the radiance of youthful vitality!
“Ah, like the light of the dawning sun, the dashing young heroes of Soka are leading the way to worldwide kosen-rufu! The morning bell, heralding a century of life, is now sounding loudly, and a brilliant new day has arrived. This brilliance is the light of happiness and victory emanating from a spirit of tireless and unflinching challenge. Youth, be not afraid! Vanquish the ‘arrogant crashing waves’ and surmount all obstacles as you press forward, ever forward.
“Kosen-rufu is a battle of right against wrong. But right does not always prevail. There are times when wrong triumphs. That’s why Buddhism is such a hard-fought struggle. We who dedicate our lives to fulfilling the mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and hold high the banner of Buddhist truth and goodness must not be defeated. We have a responsibility to win.
“The Bodhisattvas of the Earth are none other than the ordinary people who make up our gathering of Soka. We have chosen to appear in the Latter Day of the Law, an evil age stained with the five impurities,1 to help those suffering attain happiness. We have willingly emerged in this world so that we can show the great benefit of practicing Buddhism by developing and strengthening ourselves through our own struggles and persevering efforts and achieving lives of victory.
“We will at times face tempests of karma. No life is without suffering. But when we fight with courage to carry out our mission of kosen-rufu, a rainbow of hope appears and our sufferings turn into joy.
“People create their own unhappiness when they let themselves be ruled by fear, stop trying, abandon hope, and give up.
“But we of the Soka Gakkai, living in accord with the Mystic Law, the ultimate law of life, bring forth powerful life force to tackle one problem after another as we dedicate ourselves to kosen-rufu. This way, we can shine our brightest and create happiness for ourselves and others. This way, we can raise ‘the banner of the people’ with joy-filled hearts. This way, we can make the people’s cheers of victory ring out far and wide.”
Cheers of Victory 22
[Shin’ichi continued to call out to the youth in his heart.]
“‘Paying no heed to those swayed by praise or censure’—To follow the noble path of our beliefs, unperturbed by the unprincipled who cast aside ideals and allegiances the moment circumstances change, is the spirit of Soka mentors and disciples. It is the true way of humanity.
“Those who admired Soka Gakkai founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi as a great educational thinker swiftly changed their tune when he was arrested and imprisoned by Japan’s militarist authorities. They shamelessly claimed, ‘Makiguchi deceived us!’ and showered him with curses and abuse. And when Mr. Toda’s businesses faced a crisis after the war, people he had helped forgot all gratitude and maligned him.
“We must not be influenced by the words of the fickle-hearted. We must proceed calmly and steadily along the ‘shining regal road’ of our commitment to kosen-rufu. It is our supreme honor to walk the great path of mentor and disciple. We are writing a song of our vow as mentor and disciple.
“Your presence, my young friends, gives me the greatest reassurance. My wish is that you will use me as a stepping stone, so that you may go on to surpass me and grow to be outstanding people who tower like mighty trees. I will gaze up at you with pride, and praise you with the deepest respect.
“My young friends who are reaching high into the skies of the new century! For the sake of the future, polish and forge yourselves, work and study, and gladly take on difficult challenges. The ‘golden sweat of youth’ is a precious treasure that will adorn your lives forever. Above the luxuriant green canopy of trees growing into tomorrow, I can see it—a shining rainbow of brilliant achievement!
“Youth, spread your wings! Emerge in surging waves on the distant horizon! Soar joyfully and freely into an age of myriad songs celebrating humanity, a magnificent new era of respect for the dignity of life! Raise the curtain of great victory in the 21st century through the passion and power of Soka youth! You hold in your hands the baton of successors!”
Cheers of Victory 23
On the evening of November 14, after more than 20 revision sessions, Shin’ichi declared to the youth: “All right, this is it! ‘Song of Crimson’ is complete! It is a song of the spirit of youth!”
Ah, the crimson dawn breaks—
valiant young heroes, brilliant forerunners,
sound the morning bell for all to hear!
Arrogant crashing waves, we fear you not!
The corrupt will never know glory.
The noble truth of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth
raises high the banner of the people.
Paying no heed to those swayed by praise or censure,
we ascend this shining regal road.
Gathered around our father, here we stand.
He calls on us to grow like mighty trees—that will be his pride.
Ah, the golden sweat of youth!
May a rainbow adorn the bright indigo sky of our vow.
The castle of kosen-rufu
that our dear pioneer women have built—
let us protect it always!
Youth! Spread your wings with vibrant hope,
as you surge forth on the dazzling horizon!
Together composing myriad songs of life,
soar freely and joyfully into the new century!
Shin’ichi’s wife, Mineko, said to him: “You have managed to put into this song everything you wish to say to youth, haven’t you?”
“Yes. I want the young men’s division to advance into the 21st century singing ‘Song of Crimson’ and the young women’s division members to do the same, singing their new song, ‘This Green Path.’”
“This Green Path” debuted eight days earlier (on November 6), to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the young women’s division. At the division’s request, Shin’ichi had revised the proposed lyrics and given advice about the melody.
Green is the color of youth, the glow of vibrant young lives. Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) described youth as “the gate and path whereby we enter upon a good life.”2
Cheers of Victory 24
The November 6 Seikyo Shimbun announced the completion of “This Green Path” as a new song for the young women’s division and printed the music and lyrics.
Cherry blossoms dancing in the spring mist,
young friends dancing along with them.
In happiness wreathed,
we walk along this green path.
After the harsh light of summer
comes the autumn, with its glorious foliage.
And even in frosty winter, we are undaunted,
until our song of spring finally arrives.
Singing this song of father and daughter,
young women on this path
will spread their wings,
and soar out into the world.
They will soar like angels
into the rainbow sky beyond.
On November 16, 10 days later, “Song of Crimson” was introduced in the Seikyo Shimbun as a new young men’s division song.
Both songs were uplifting, conveying a freshness and originality befitting the new age.
“Song of Crimson” was born of the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple shared by Shin’ichi and the Shikoku young men’s division. By the time it was completed, however, almost nothing of the young men’s original version remained. The young men were nevertheless credited with the lyrics. Shin’ichi wished to praise their spirit and their efforts.
While Shin’ichi was in Shikoku, the new Tokushima Prefecture song “Beloved Tokushima” was also written. He had helped revise that song as well at the members’ request.
Let friends from around the world come!
The joy of wonderful Tokushima
surges like the Naruto whirlpools . . . .
Cheers of Victory 25
Around noon on November 15, Shin’ichi Yamamoto flew back to Osaka from Shikoku’s Takamatsu Airport. He then visited the neighboring Kansai prefectures of Wakayama and Nara, continuing his tireless efforts for kosen-rufu.
On November 22, he attended the 3rd Kansai General Meeting, held at the Kansai Toda Memorial Auditorium in Toyonaka City, Osaka. There, he led participants in the well-loved song “Ah, the Dawn Approaches.”
Then, after visiting Shiga and Fukui prefectures, he traveled to the Chubu region, and then on to Shizuoka Prefecture, devoting himself to offering guidance and encouragement throughout, before returning to Tokyo on the evening of December 2.
The young men’s division held a nationwide leaders meeting on November 22 in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. Dubbing it the “‘Crimson’ Young Men’s Leaders Meeting,” they infused the gathering with their vow to strive alongside their mentor, embarking anew toward the 21st century singing “Song of Crimson.”
“Ah, the crimson dawn breaks—
valiant young heroes, brilliant forerunners . . . .”
The young men solidified their determination as forerunners of kosen-rufu to blaze a path through thorny terrain.
They resolved in their hearts that no matter what fierce storms of adversity assailed them, as young heroes of Soka they would bravely scale the most treacherous slopes for the sake of their fellow members and society. They would not be defeated! They would resolutely protect the castle of kosen-rufu that the pioneer members had worked so hard to build!
Their singing was a victory song of youth who had so brilliantly overcome the turmoil with the priesthood, a triumphant cheer of victory in life resounding into the future.
Regarding the credit for “Song of Crimson,” the Shikoku young men’s division members strongly requested that Shin’ichi be listed as the lyricist for the sake of posterity. The reason, they insisted, was that he was the one who actually wrote the lyrics. The credit was changed accordingly.
In later years, Shin’ichi made further revisions, changing a phrase in the third verse in 2005—from “our dear pioneer women” to “our dear pioneer women and men”—and one in the second verse—from “gathered around our father” to “gathered around our mentor.” The latter was made at the request of the Shikoku youth division members on the occasion of the Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting held in Shikoku in October 2016.
Cheers of Victory 26
“I will go where members have suffered the most! I will encourage them from the depths of my being, with my heart and soul, as if firmly shaking hands with each one!” That was Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s determination as he arrived at Oita Airport in Kyushu on the afternoon of December 8. Only six days earlier, he had returned to Tokyo after an intense, all-out guidance tour of the Shikoku, Kansai, and Chubu regions.
This was his first visit to Oita in 13 and a half years.
Shin’ichi exhorted himself to seize the present moment to create a rising tide of victory for kosen-rufu.
Members in Oita, perhaps more than anywhere else in Japan, had suffered terrible harassment by Shoshin-kai (lit. Correct Faith Association) priests who brandished their clerical authority under the name of correct faith but whose actions went entirely against the Daishonin’s teachings.
In one area, when members attended the monthly Gosho lectures at their local temple, the chief priest would quote not from the Daishonin’s writings but from tabloid weeklies carrying defamatory articles about the Soka Gakkai. He asserted that the lay organization was “wrong” and committing “slander of the Law.”
Those who had quit the Soka Gakkai to practice directly with the temple would hurl abuse at their former fellow members, drawing applause from other temple members. The chief priest just looked on with a smirk. He silently incited others while pretending to remain aloof.
Some members came to their local community or culture center in tears, the chief priest having said he wouldn’t conduct funerals for them unless they quit the Soka Gakkai. Unbelievably, some priests went so far as to attack the Soka Gakkai at members’ funerals, unforgivable behavior that just rubbed salt in the grieving families’ wounds.
It pained Shin’ichi deeply whenever he received reports of such incidents. He felt so sorry for the members and their suffering.
“Don’t be defeated! The morning of victory is certain to come!” he called out in his heart as he continued to send them daimoku.
When the Kyushu Region and Oita Prefecture leaders waiting at Oita Airport saw Shin’ichi, they shouted “Sensei!” and ran up to him.
“Let’s fight!” he said. “This is the decisive battle for Oita. It’s the start of a dramatic turnaround!”
Hearing this mighty lion’s roar, the leaders nodded, eyes shining and determination on their faces.
The fighting spirit forged through holding fast to one’s beliefs amid adversity serves as an unending force for new construction.
Cheers of Victory 27
As Shin’ichi was about to get into the car at the airport, 20 or 30 Soka Gakkai members rushed up to him. Some held bouquets.
“Thank you! I’m sorry that you’ve had to endure such pain and suffering. But all of you have now won!”
With a smile, he said to teary-eyed members: “Be bright and positive!”
He went directly from the airport to the home of a dedicated member and encouraged the entire family. From there, he was supposed to go straight to the Oita Peace Center, but instead, he asked to be taken first to the Beppu Culture Center. Beppu had been a major epicenter of the conflict with the priesthood.
Many members stood along the road and waved as Shin’ichi drove past. When they had heard that he was visiting Oita, they thought he’d definitely take this route and had been waiting there for some time.
Some women leaned over the guard rail, waving as long as his car was in sight.
Shin’ichi was deeply moved by everyone’s sincerity. He thought to himself: “They have all endured so much. The hostile Shoshin-kai priests have done nothing but torment these noble children of the Buddha who dedicate themselves to kosen-rufu. It is unforgivable. The Daishonin would surely admonish such priests, and their actions would bring them negative consequences in accord with the workings of the Mystic Law. I will never forget the sight of these members today.”
Each time Shin’ichi saw members standing by the roadside, he felt like pressing his palms together in a gesture of the most profound respect and reverence.
Just before sundown, he arrived at the Beppu Culture Center. Light came from all the windows, and he could see many people inside. As he stepped out of the car, three elderly women called out: “Oh, Sensei! We’ve been longing to see you!”
“I finally made it. I’m here now, so everything will be all right!”
About 200 members had packed into the center, and a banner proclaiming “Welcome Home, Sensei!” hung over the entrance. They’d all been confident that Shin’ichi would visit the Beppu Culture Center.
Shin’ichi and the Beppu members who had continued to battle against injustice and inhumanity were firmly united in the spirit of shared struggle.
Cheers of Victory 28
Shin’ichi said to the members gathered around the entrance of the Beppu Culture Center: “Let’s take a photograph to commemorate Beppu’s fresh start!”
After the photo, Shin’ichi led everyone in gongyo in the center’s main hall.
“This gongyo is to report to the Gohonzon on your victory here in Beppu and to pray for your eternal happiness and the prosperity of your families!” he declared before he began.
The members were elated, their voices resounding as they recited the sutra and chanted with him. While persevering amid the priests’ cruel attacks, they’d been waiting for this moment.
After gongyo, Shin’ichi took his seat at the microphone and said: “I am so sorry for the long ordeal you’ve had to endure here. The true way of priests is to care for and treasure the children of the Buddha above all. These corrupt priests, however, have continually caused anguish and distress to our members, who are working tirelessly for kosen-rufu. It is outrageous.
“But Nichiren Buddhism teaches that those who have suffered the most and fought the hardest will enjoy the greatest happiness. Because you have overcome all obstacles and magnificently triumphed, you are certain to enjoy lives overflowing with benefit. Spring has finally come! Please lead the best possible lives and keep helping others who are suffering.”
Though the time was short, Shin’ichi encouraged the members with all his heart. He then headed to Oita City.
Arriving at the Oita Peace Center just after 6:00 p.m., he took a group photo with members waiting at the entrance. Everyone was smiling brightly.
About 400 members, representing their divisions, had gathered in the main hall. When Shin’ichi entered, they applauded and cheered.
A banner reading “Spring Has Come to the Oita Family” adorned the room, expressing the feelings of all.
An informal meeting began. Shin’ichi spoke in a powerful voice: “You have won. Weathering a long period of bitter struggle, you have vanquished the ‘worms within the lion’s body,’3 and justice has finally prevailed over injustice!”
Cheers of Victory 29
Shin’ichi read a passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “‘Evil friends will employ enticing words, deception and flattery and speak in a clever manner, thereby gaining control over the minds of ignorant and uninformed people and destroying the good minds that are in them’ (WND-2, 221).
“‘Evil friends’ refers to wicked priests and others who teach falsely, confusing people and obstructing Buddhist practice. With beguiling words, they try to deceive those dedicating themselves to kosen-rufu, or they flatter them and twist words to portray good as evil, thereby gaining control over their minds and destroying their faith.
“You have all suffered dreadfully because of these wicked priests. They maligned the Soka Gakkai as being guilty of ‘slander of the Law’ on the one hand, while flattering and currying favor with carefully targeted individuals and deceiving them into quitting the Soka Gakkai on the other. This is how they operate.
“The true nature of these ‘evil friends’ is arrogance and egotism. If you follow them, you will stray from the path of correct faith.
“As you dedicate your life to kosen-rufu, it is important to be keenly aware of such negative influences that seek to destroy pure faith.
“I am sure you all know someone who, though having striven earnestly in faith alongside you over the years, was led astray by cunning priests and quit the organization. And some of you may have visited such individuals many times to persuade them not to leave the Soka Gakkai, which practices in accord with the Buddha’s intent. A few of them may even have decided to recommit to the Gakkai only to change their minds after again being misled by the priests, ultimately denouncing and quitting the organization. I am fully aware of your heartbreaking experiences.”
Seeming to remember the bitterness of such times, many of those listening had tears in their eyes.
Shin’ichi continued: “Buddhism teaches the principle of ‘changing poison into medicine.’ Our Buddhist faith and practice can transform misfortune into good fortune. Just as a strong wind makes a kite soar high into the sky, experiencing suffering and adversity expands our state of life and enables us to soar freely into the vast sky of happiness.”
Such a dramatic transformation reflects the dynamism of Nichiren Buddhism.
Cheers of Victory 30
As Shin’ichi spoke, his words grew more impassioned: “Nichiren Daishonin also writes: ‘My life from the beginning has been based upon firm conviction. I have no intention now of reversing my course, nor will I ever reproach [those who persecuted me]. Evil persons too will be good friends to me’ (WND-2, 432).
“Though his own life may have been an ongoing series of persecutions, he declares, he was prepared for that from the beginning. No matter how great the difficulties he faced as a result, his determination never faltered, and he never resented his persecutors, he says.
“What is the most crucial requirement for carrying out the mission for kosen-rufu we have embraced since the eternal past? What is key to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and establishing a state of indestructible happiness? Committed faith. When you make up your mind and have the heart of a lion king, you will fear nothing.
“At that moment, even malicious individuals who have caused you terrible hardship will come to serve as ‘good friends.’ By being ready for anything, rising to face major obstacles and persecution head-on, you will develop and strengthen your faith and be able to transform your karma.
“All of you here in Oita have suffered greatly in our recent troubles with the Shoshin-kai priests, but that has enabled you to forge the strength for achieving tremendous future development.
“I am going to begin another great effort for kosen-rufu. I will build a Soka Gakkai true to its ideals. Please fight alongside me!”
“Yes!” The members’ voices rang out powerfully, filled with determination. The Oita members, who had suffered so much, firmly united in their resolve to stand up with Shin’ichi.
During the meeting, the young men’s division reported that very few of their members had quit the Soka Gakkai because of the troubles with the priesthood. Hearing this good news, Shin’ichi leaned forward and said eagerly: “Is that so? That’s wonderful. When the youth are solid, the future of Oita will be solid, too. I want to present guidelines of some kind for the youth to encourage them as they make their way forward.”
An Oita youth division leaders meeting was scheduled for the day after the next, December 10.
- *1Five impurities: Also, five defilements. Impurity of the age, of desire, of living beings, of thought (or view), and of life span. This term appears in the “Expedient Means” (2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. (1) Impurity of the age includes repeated disruptions of the social or natural environment. (2) Impurity of desire is the tendency to be ruled by the five delusive inclinations, i.e., greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance, and doubt. (3) Impurity of living beings is the physical and spiritual decline of human beings. (4) Impurity of thought, or impurity of view, is the prevalence of wrong views such as the five false views. (5) Impurity of life span is the shortening of the life spans of living beings.
- *2Dante Alighieri, The Convivio of Dante Alighieri (London: J. M. Dent and Co., 1903), p. 350.
- *3Worms within the lion’s body: A metaphor for those who, despite being followers of Buddhism, destroy its teachings, just as worms within the body of the lion devour it.