Volume 30: Chapter 5, Cheers of Victory 31–40
Cheers of Victory 31
After the meeting, Shin’ichi continued to discuss various matters with a handful of prefectural leaders and presented them with two documents he had written.
One recorded details related to the press conference on the evening of April 24, 1979, at which he announced his resignation as Soka Gakkai president. It was penned at the Seikyo Shimbun Building right after the event was held there.
The other described his state of mind on the evening of December 4, 1977, the year the priesthood issue erupted. He had written it at his lodgings during a visit to Miyazaki Prefecture.1
“An issue has arisen with the priesthood,” it said. “It pains me deeply, as if a needle were piercing my heart.”
It then continued: “Why do the priests trample on our desire to advance in kosen-rufu with priesthood and laity united as one? Why do they subject us to such unreasonable attacks? . . . Why is such persecution repeatedly directed at the exhausted children of the Buddha, who have devoted themselves wholeheartedly to sharing Buddhism with others and battling the three powerful enemies? . . . I find this impossible to comprehend. Knowing the sadness, anger, and dejection felt by the dear and noble children of the Buddha, I am every day filled with heartache. This trouble all began in Oita. . . .”
Handing these two documents to the leaders, Shin’ichi said: “These are my feelings. The members are my life. Leaders have a duty to protect them.
“If such a situation ever arises again, you must stand up immediately to challenge it for the sake of the Buddha’s children and kosen-rufu, bearing in mind what I have shared in these documents. It is the mission for all of you in Oita, where our members have suffered the most, to lead the way in refuting error and revealing the truth!
A fierce determination shone on the leaders’ faces.
On December 9, the next day, Shin’ichi visited a coffee shop owned by a member, where he spoke informally with some women’s division members and others.
He offered advice to a younger leader of the women’s division about interacting with seniors in faith.
“In families, there is sometimes friction between a wife and her mother-in-law. In the women’s division, too, it’s only natural for younger leaders and senior leaders to have different ideas and outlooks. By overcoming those differences and uniting in shared purpose, you can together progress in your human revolution and advance kosen-rufu.”
Cheers of Victory 32
Shin’ichi continued: “Younger women’s division leaders are eager to take on new challenges, while more senior leaders have a wealth of experience in faith and a long history of practice. It may sometimes be necessary for a leader who is between the two generations, who understands both, to act as a bridge and facilitate smooth communication and cooperation.
“And just as in relationships between mother and daughter or mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, it’s important for you as younger leaders not to reject your seniors’ ideas out of hand. Instead, be open and listen to what they have to say. Then you can share your thoughts as another way of looking at things.
“If you just flatly reject or curtly dismiss someone’s opinions, they aren’t going to be willing to listen to yours, either. But if you listen attentively and nod to show your understanding, you will make the speaker happy. This is especially true the older the other person is.
“A crucial quality for leaders is being sensitive to people’s feelings and responding wisely.”
As the organization entered a new phase of development, its leadership ranks had undergone a generational shift, with many younger leaders being appointed. At the same time, the requirements for leaders were changing substantially. In addition to pioneering new pathways, leaders increasingly needed to be like orchestra conductors, drawing out everyone’s strengths and achieving harmony.
The Soka Gakkai is the organization dedicated to kosen-rufu. Its leaders naturally need to be able to teach others about Nichiren Buddhism, guide members in faith, and set an example through personal initiative. But they also need qualities such as sincerity, earnestness, common sense, diligence, and consideration that express their humanity and enable them to win others’ trust.
Our faith is reflected in our humanity. Since the Soka Gakkai is a religious organization committed to human revolution, its leaders’ most important quality is character that inspires confidence and reassurance.
Cheers of Victory 33
On his way back to the Oita Peace Center from the coffee shop, Shin’ichi drove past Osu Comprehensive Sports Park. It had an excellent baseball stadium.
Shin’ichi said to a leader in the car with him: “Why don’t we hold an Oita Culture Festival at this stadium? We can show the public how many young people are rallying to our cause and how splendidly they are growing. We can show them the joy of practicing Nichiren Buddhism and the inspiring unity of ordinary people.”
When Shin’ichi returned to the Oita Peace Center, a group of men from their 30s into their early 50s waited for him at the side entrance. They were the Oita 170 Group. Shin’ichi had promised to take a photo with them.
Shin’ichi had visited Oita for the first time after becoming president 21 years earlier in December 1960. These men had then served as outdoor event staff for Oita Chapter’s inaugural meeting held at a prefectural gymnasium. After the meeting, Shin’ichi personally thanked them for their dedicated behind-the-scenes efforts, standing since morning in the cold wind.
He told them: “Please remain steadfast in faith as long as you live, and dedicate yourselves to your mission. Our path in life is mostly determined in our 20s and 30s. Therefore, please set yourselves the goal of striving in the garden of kosen-rufu for the next 10 years, polishing and improving yourselves as you forge ahead.”
Shin’ichi promised to meet with them again 10 years hence, and in October 1970, he did just that in Fukuoka. At that time, he suggested the young men form a group, which he dubbed the 170 Group—since they were 170 in number. Later, he officially named it the Oita 170 Group.
Today was the group’s third meeting with Shin’ichi, the first in 11 years. They had all become pillars of trust in society and core leaders of the Soka Gakkai in their respective regions.
People grow capable when we treasure the connections we have formed with them, watch over their development, and continue to support and encourage them.
Shin’ichi was happy. He called out to the group: “Let’s set our sights on the 21st century!”
As they posed for their picture with Shin’ichi, they all renewed their determinations.
To strengthen our vow with our mentor is to build an unerring path in life for the future.
Cheers of Victory 34
That evening, Shin’ichi attended a prefecture leaders meeting at the Oita Peace Center celebrating the third anniversary of its opening. It marked a fresh start for the Oita members, who had triumphed over the troubles with the priesthood. The meeting began with everyone joining in a chorus of “Song of Human Revolution,” the stirring anthem that had always roused the Soka Gakkai spirit.
Take your stand, and I will take mine, too,
each in our own realm of kosen-rufu, standing up alone . . . .
At Shin’ichi’s suggestion, it was decided to designate May 1982 as Oita Month and to hold a culture festival with 30,000 participants that would celebrate both May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, and May 20, Oita Day. The announcement drew especially enthusiastic applause.
An “Oita Declaration” of five articles was also adopted. It stated in part: “We will take our stand in accord with the will of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, raise the banner of a harmonious Oita, and advance in unity to refute the erroneous and reveal the true.” It also declared Oita members’ commitment to contribute to the flourishing of the correct teaching as fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth, taking pride in “a life of sharing joys and sorrows with our unsurpassed leader in efforts for kosen-rufu” and praising and supporting one another throughout.
It expressed their vow to engage in shared struggle with Shin’ichi, who had called out the previous day: “I am going to begin another great effort for kosen-rufu. I will build a Soka Gakkai that is true to its ideals. Please fight alongside me!”
The members approved the declaration with thunderous applause.
Having overcome a bitter period of spiteful priests trying to divide the mentor and disciples of kosen-rufu, the members’ hearts brimmed with joy at finally being able to make this declaration of Oita’s victory and to loudly proclaim their resolve to strive alongside their mentor.
They all felt deeply that a new day had dawned. They were filled with hope, determined to make the culture festival a great success and a fresh starting point for expanding their network for peace. With youth in the lead, they would make it an event celebrating the triumph of ordinary people, overflowing with the joy and dynamism of faith.
Cheers of Victory 35
At the leaders meeting, Shin’ichi sincerely thanked everyone for their courageous efforts.
“You have taken action for kosen-rufu in society, boldly sharing Nichiren Buddhism with others. When Mr. Toda became the second Soka Gakkai president, there were only around 3,000 members. But through everyone’s selfless commitment to spreading the Mystic Law, our movement for kosen-rufu has now spread around the world. The Soka Gakkai, each one of you, has actualized the principle of ‘emerging from the earth’ (WND-1, 385) described by the Daishonin, which refers to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth appearing in ever-growing numbers.”
Shin’ichi then shared the following passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘If there were a person who spoke only one word to curse the lay persons or monks or nuns who uphold and preach the Lotus Sutra, then his offense would be even graver than that of cursing Shakyamuni Buddha to his face for the space of a kalpa’’2 (WND-1, 756).
“The Daishonin is clear,” Shin’ichi said. “The fate of those who slander people striving to share the Mystic Law is severe. Moreover, despite your own financial hardships, you have made offerings for the development of the priesthood and devoted yourselves tirelessly to support it. According to the Buddhist law of cause and effect, anyone who slanders such children of the Buddha is sure to reap negative consequences.
“The troubles with the Shoshin-kai priests have been devilish functions seeking to obstruct kosen-rufu and are a form of persecution. The important thing to remember is that such opposition enables us to deepen our faith. If our Buddhist faith and practice were easy and gave us only benefits with no challenges, we could not transform our karma or attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. We need difficulties to develop an unwavering Buddhist practice, change our karma, and establish a state of indestructible happiness. Encountering obstacles proves that we are on the right path.
“Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month’ (WND-1, 997). You should, of course, strive to have steadfast faith, but please also remember that it is very important to develop the perseverance to keep making progress in all aspects of your life.
Buddhism is a struggle to be victorious. With strong and consistent faith, live wisely, work hard, polish your character, and lead happy lives.”
Victory or defeat only becomes clear over the course of a lifetime. Those who remain steadfast in faith are victors.
Cheers of Victory 36
The Oita Prefecture Youth Division Leaders Meeting was scheduled for the evening of December 10.
That morning, Shin’ichi met with the central prefectural leaders to discuss future activities.
Shortly after noon, he visited the caretakers’ room at the Oita Peace Center. There, he encouraged the caretakers and several women’s division members who had made invaluable contributions to pioneering the kosen-rufu movement in Oita.
Also present were youth division leaders dispatched from the Soka Gakkai Headquarters to help oversee various events. One of them voiced their shared wish to present at the leaders meeting a poem about their noble cause that would express their renewed determination as they kicked off a fresh effort toward the 21st century.
It had been three decades since Josei Toda issued his “Guidelines for Youth,” which opens with the words, “A new age will be created by the passion and power of youth.” Shin’ichi had also been thinking of presenting the youth with something containing fresh inspiration and direction.
“All right, I’ll compose a poem for you!”
He then began dictating, his heart blazing with fighting spirit and overflowing with myriad emotions:
A renowned mountaineer
when asked his reasons for climbing,
said of the mountain:
“Because it is there!”
The young men’s and women’s division leaders present quickly began taking down the words that poured forth from Shin’ichi’s life.
We are now climbing
the mountain of the twenty-first century,
the mountain of kosen-rufu!
Holding aloft the banner
of the correct teaching of the Mystic Law,
bravely scale the mountain
of the twenty-first century,
thereby establishing a truly
autonomous and satisfying
way of life.
To scale that mountain, Shin’ichi stressed, it would be important to ascend “step by step, one by one, the mountains large and small” that rose before them each day, and he urged the youth to “make today victorious in every way.”
Gongyo and daimoku would power their ascent, he said. They should “never lose hope, no matter how painful the situation” and “never be defeated in the realm of faith.”
Shin’ichi’s prayer that all the youth would grow to be immensely capable people of the 21st century infused his words.
The renowned Edo-period educator Hirose Tanso (1782–1856), a native son of Oita, said: “Educating people is a great good.”3
Cheers of Victory 37
In the poem, Shin’ichi affirmed the Soka Gakkai’s unchanging path of “never forgetting to walk alongside the people.” He declared that, by refusing to let harassment from power and authority defeat them, the youth of Soka would make “the triumphant banner of human revolution ripple forever high in the sky.” He also said that the outcome of their efforts for the second phase of kosen-rufu would be decided on May 3, 2001, the goal to which they were aiming, and called on them to continue striving hard in their Buddhist practice.
Shin’ichi and the youth leaders together engaged in the intense work of composing and recording the poem. The youth, whose hearts were one with his, frantically took notes, trying not to miss a single word.
Shin’ichi was scheduled to meet informally with representatives from throughout Oita Prefecture at 4:00 p.m.
“Let’s continue this when I return,” he said, and then he rushed to the venue.
The youth leaders set about making a clean copy.
When Shin’ichi returned at 5:30, he immediately began revising the poem and started dictating again, producing a steady flow of new verse. At one point, he even rewrote more than half a page of the clean copy. Writing crammed each sheet of paper, with revisions scribbled in the margins and sometimes on the reverse side.
As they worked, the time for the Oita Prefecture Youth Division Leaders Meeting was drawing near.
Just after 6:00, the meeting began and members joined in a chorus of “Song of Crimson.” Words followed from an Oita Prefecture youth division leader, a national young women’s division vice secretary, and a national student division leader.
The revisions were completed just as the program moved to remarks by a vice president.
“It’s done!” Shin’ichi said. “I’m leaving now. When you have a clean copy, please bring it to me.”
By this time, the vice president’s speech was over and it was almost 7:00.
Shin’ichi made his entrance to enthusiastic cheers and applause.
It was a leaders meeting celebrating the triumph of brave young men and women who, with strong, pure faith and an invincible spirit, had fought and won against the harassment of hostile priests.
The faces of these courageous young people, who had striven so hard and opened the way to victory, were happy and bright. Everyone was in high spirits.
A great wellspring of joy surges in the hearts of those who bravely exert themselves for kosen-rufu.
Cheers of Victory 38
Shin’ichi led the participants in gongyo, praying for the happiness and continued development of his young friends who had risen to the challenge of defending the truth and justice of Soka.
In a separate room, the youth division leaders were still working on a clean copy of Shin’ichi’s poem. Pen in hand, one of them said: “We’ve run out of time. We’d better deliver it now, even if some pages aren’t done, or we won’t be able to present it today.”
They dashed off to the meeting room.
In his speech, Shin’ichi spoke of how noble are the lives of those who embrace the Gohonzon, and he contrasted correct faith with false faith and fanatical faith.
Those who try to exploit the Soka Gakkai for personal gain and recognition epitomize false faith, while those who disregard reason, common sense, and social norms in carrying out their Buddhist practice characterize fanatical faith. On the other hand, devoting ourselves to kosen-rufu with good sense and wisdom based on steady efforts in faith, practice, and study, and showing actual proof of the benefit of Nichiren Buddhism in society—in our workplaces and daily lives—is how we demonstrate correct faith.
He also spoke the way to live one’s youth.
“Youth is a time filled with problems and worries. It’s only natural to experience frustration and letdowns. That’s precisely the time to sit down in front of the Gohonzon, take a hard look at your situation, and resolve to find a solution through faith, to overcome it by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. That’s the way to break through your karma and carry out your human revolution. All the efforts you make will become precious treasures of your youth.”
Without the struggles of youth and the opportunity for self-cultivation they provide, there will be no growth, no flowering of our potential, and no harvest of rich fulfillment in our closing chapter.
The German poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) wrote:
All pleasure spring from hardship.
And only in travail thrives
the dearest delight of my heart,
the beautiful warmth of humanity.4
Shin’ichi brought his speech to a close: “I fully entrust the future of the 21st century to you, today’s youth division members. Please spend the golden days of youth together with the Soka Gakkai and bring your lives to brilliant fruition. I can state unequivocally that there is no surer path to victory in life than the great path of Soka.”
Cheers of Victory 39
Shin’ichi then announced: “I have composed a poem in the hope of offering you a new source of inspiration and direction as you advance toward the 21st century. I just finished dictating it, and now I would like to share it with you.”
Koji Murata, a national vice young men’s division leader, rose to read it. Originally from Oita, he was one of the youth who only minutes before had been writing a clean copy of Shin’ichi’s poem.
It was titled “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the Twenty-First Century.”5
A renowned mountaineer
when asked his reasons for climbing,
said of the mountain:
“Because it is there!”
We are now climbing
the mountain of the twenty-first century,
the mountain of kosen-rufu!
Murata vividly recalled the sight of Shin’ichi dictating the poem, breathing life into each word for the sake of the youth, then revising it again and again. He continued reciting, his mentor’s spirit warming his heart.
Young people who are my disciples!
for the cause of the Great Law
that is eternal, absolute and indestructible!
to accomplish the noble mission
for which you were born in this world!
Putting great feeling into each word and phrase, he continued:
I know that the coming age
is eagerly waiting for
outstanding young leaders.
Those who have
neither faith nor philosophy
are like compassless ships!
The times are in motion,
steadily, inexorably shifting
from an age of material prosperity
to an age of spiritual prosperity,
from an age of spiritual prosperity
to an age of life.
Because he and the others had been unable to complete a clean copy, Murata had to read the last few pages that were heavily marked with revisions. He concentrated carefully not to make any mistakes.
My young friends,
I hope each of you
as youthful leaders of the new century
will remain engaged with the people
day in and day out,
living among them,
resonantly sharing their concerns,
in rhythm with their lives.
I have faith in you!
I cherish high expectations for you!
I love each one of you!
The young people listened intently, deep emotion showing on their faces. Gazing at them, Shin’ichi called out in his heart: “Today here in Oita, we have launched our effort toward the new century. A new chapter in the indomitable history of the Soka Gakkai has begun!”
Cheers of Victory 40
It was a long poem. Though the young leader’s voice had grown hoarse, it remained spirited.
To lead a richly fulfilling and meaningful life,
we require the true and great Buddhist teaching
and faith in it.
There is no greater pride and honor
than to embrace the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin
as you live out your youth
with passion and joy!
The mountain of the twenty-first century
rises before us!
As Shin’ichi listened, he envisioned the new century when the sun of human triumph would rise and the cheers of victory of Soka Gakkai members everywhere would ring out.
This new century belongs to you!
This is your dawn!
This is your time to shine!
This is the grand stage on which to realize
your fullest potential
and further solidify
all that you have achieved!
May 3, 2001—
That shall be the glorious day
when we together reach the summit!
Please remember that the outcome
of all our struggles
in the second phase of kosen-rufu
will be determined at that time.
The recitation ended. A massive round of applause seemed to go on forever. It expressed the young people’s vow to walk the great path of mentor and disciple as long as they lived. The youth of Soka had made a proud and confident fresh start.
When the applause subsided, Shin’ichi said: “The Seikyo Shimbun will publish the entire poem tomorrow. It will be conveyed nationwide from here in Oita. Please engrave the significance of this in your hearts. In addition, I would like to form two new groups here today: the Oita Young Men’s Twenty-first Century Group and the Oita Young Women’s Twenty-first Century Group. What do you think?”
Once again, there was joyous applause. The youth had all steadfastly championed and spoken out to defend the truth of Soka. Now they surged with fresh energy, and a bright crimson flame of passion burned in their hearts.
Victory gives rise to joy and the vitality to advance anew. One victory is the greatest cause for the next. Victory upon victory is the essence of the Soka movement.
In the words of the great writer Romain Rolland (1866–1944): “Justice means that that which is just shall triumph.”6
- *1This scene appears in the “Justice” chapter in volume 27 of The New Human Revolution. See SGI Newsletter, No. 9349.
- *2Paraphrase of a passage in “The Teacher of the Law” (10th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
- *3Translated from Japanese. Sekai Kyoiku Hoten—Nihon Kyoiku-hen: Hosoi Heishu Shu, Hirose Tanso Shu (Treasury of World Education—Japanese Education: Hosoi Heishu and Hirose Tanso), (Tokyo: Tamagawa Daigaku Shuppan-bu, 1968), p. 207.
- *4Translated from German. Friedrich Hölderlin, “Das Schicksal” (Destiny), in Friedrich Hölderlin Gedichte (Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin), Friedrich Hölderlin Sämtliche Werke und Briefe (Collected Works and Letters of Friedrich Hölderlin), edited by Jochen Schmidt, vol. 1 (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1992), p. 158.
- *5The poem was later revised by the author in 1999.
- *6Romain Rolland, “Danton,” in The Fourteenth of July and Danton: Two Plays of the French Revolution, translated by Barrett H. Clark (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1918), p. 199.