|Publisher:||World Tribune Press|
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Any historic undertaking is inevitably wrought with hardship; the road is steep and the journey long. The same may be said of the glorious and unprecedented epic drama of kosen-rufu.
The widespread propagation of the correct teaching is a journey to conquer the vast, uncharted ocean of happiness for all humanity. During this voyage, one is bound to encounter storms, to be jostled by fierce, billowing waves. The principle of achieving a momentous human revolution lies in launching yourself head first into this turbulence and struggling with all your might.
On the morning of October 26, 1960, Shin'ichi Yamamoto offered profound prayer to the Gohonzon at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters. After successfully completing his first overseas trip, he had arrived at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport some time after eleven the previous evening. He and his party had then gone to a waiting room to meet briefly with those who had come to welcome them. It was already after midnight when they finished. Shin'ichi finally arrived home shortly before one.
By nine the following morning, however, he was at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters. He sat in front of the Gohonzon, filled with deep gratitude at having successfully completed his journey for kosen-rufu. For the first time in more than twenty days, his sonorous chanting could be heard resounding through the headquarters building.
Fresh determination beat powerfully in his heart to put the finishing touches on that year's activities in the remaining months.
Some six months previous, at the general meeting on May 3, when he was inaugurated as Soka Gakkai president, Shin'ichi had launched a new beginning for the organization, pledging to accomplish a membership of three million households. He had set the seventh memorial for his mentor, Josei Toda, as a target date — only four years away.
As of May 3, however, the Soka Gakkai's membership still totaled only 1.4 million households. To achieve the goal pledged by Shin'ichi, they would have to more than double the present number. To some, this may have seemed an impossibly daunting task. But to Shin'ichi, this goal represented the last will and testament of his beloved mentor.
On February 10, 1958, two months before Josei Toda's death, Shin'ichi, on his way back from Osaka where he had been for a guidance tour, had dropped by to visit his mentor at home. Toda said to him: "We have to hurry. Shin'ichi, do you think you can accomplish a membership of three million households in the next seven years?"
Toda had settled on this target after careful deliberation based on his detailed vision for kosen-rufu and the plans he hoped to achieve for the organization in seven years' time.
Shin'ichi had replied without hesitation: "Yes, I will do it. I feel even more determined. I am your disciple; I will definitely realize this goal. Please don't worry."
He would never forget the pleasure that had lit Toda's face when he said this.
For Shin'ichi, achieving the goal of three million households constituted a struggle for the sake of Buddhism — one in which he had to succeed at all costs as the disciple who had inherited Toda's legacy. It was also his first major campaign as the newly appointed president.
When he had finished chanting, Shin'ichi stood up resolutely and joined General Director Koichi Harayama and other top Soka Gakkai leaders in one of the meeting rooms for a conference.
At the general meeting on May 3, Harayama had been appointed the new general director, while his predecessor, Takeo Konishi, became headquarters executive counselor.
Kiyoshi Jujo, meanwhile, had been appointed as the vice general director.
"Mr. Harayama, how are things going with the proposed agenda for the headquarters leaders meeting on the thirty-first?" Shin'ichi asked.
"Er, I thought I'd look into it after consulting with you...."
"Well, how about the inaugural meeting of Chiba Chapter on the first? Has it been decided yet which leaders will be dispatched to attend it and the other chapter meetings scheduled soon in Kanto, Koshin'etsu, and other regions?"
"No, not yet...."
"I see. Who at headquarters is overseeing the formation of districts in each of the new chapters?" "The general chapter chiefs are looking after that, so there isn't anyone in particular. ..." With these words, Harayama fell silent.
Shin'ichi said with a stern look: "These inaugural chapter meetings are crucial; they hold the key to our future development. We agreed to make thorough preparations for the remaining activities this year and that you, the general director, would assume a central role in such efforts. To give no thought to these matters or do nothing because you haven't received directions is an irresponsible attitude, don't you think?
"Kosen-rufu is advancing rapidly. Our members on the forefront of this struggle are all trying earnestly, with fresh resolve. If, on the other hand, the Soka Gakkai Headquarters, the heart of our movement, becomes inert and apathetic, the organization will rot at its core. That's a frightening prospect."
"Ah ..." said Harayama, gazing at Shin'ichi. All he recognized was that he had been a little tardy in taking certain necessary measures.
What Shin'ichi feared most was that the top leaders, the central figures in the organization, would fall behind. Several senior Soka Gakkai leaders had been leaders since President Makiguchi's day. They had accumulated rich experience in faith through long years of practice and took great pride in having helped build the foundation of the Soka Gakkai together with Josei Toda. But their eyes were on the past.
Shin'ichi, however, had his sights set on a new tide of kosen-rufu that went far beyond their previous experience. The movement was now entering a new phase, but these leaders failed to recognize it. They were complacent, continuing to deal with everything from the confines of their own experience just as they always had, sluggishly rousing themselves to action only when directed to do so.
Inertia is subtle; it creeps up unnoticed. Those who forget about daily renewal and improvement, snugly content with the status quo, are already in its grips.
Shin'ichi gazed around at the senior leaders assembled in the meeting room and said sternly: "I am now preparing to begin the real battle for kosen-rufu here in Japan. Yet despite this, the atmosphere at the headquarters, the main bastion of that struggle, is extremely lax. More frightening is the fact that you're not even aware of it.
"There is a vast difference in the degree of alertness and attention people must have if they are going for a casual walk down the street or if they are driving at high speed. If you drive a car with the same awareness as you would when taking a leisurely stroll, glancing nonchalantly from side to side at the scenery, you'll end up having a major accident.
"Today's Soka Gakkai, which is striving to achieve the membership goal of three million households, is like a car traveling at more than one hundred miles per hour. We can't afford to take our eyes off the road for an instant or make any errors while driving. Unless the headquarters is filled with such a sense of alertness, we cannot expect to protect all the members or achieve this unprecedented growth. That is why I'm speaking to you so strictly."
It had only been a little more than twenty days since Shin'ichi had met with Koichi Harayama and the other leaders who had been taking care of things during his absence. During that time, he had striven with every last ounce of his being to open new realms of kosen-rufu overseas. Now, a vast, invisible gap lay between Shin'ichi and the others in terms of sense of mission. They were out of step with one another.
Wanting to break through the shell of inertia enveloping the leaders who had stayed behind, Shin'ichi continued: "The inaugural meetings establishing new chapters are the most vital focus of our activities right now. If these new chapters get started on the right track, we can achieve our goal of three million households. So, from today on, I will fight with the spirit to take full leadership of the activities in Japan. Also, I intend to travel around the country and work just as hard — no, even harder than I did overseas. I would like all of you to advance with that same spirit."
To fulfill the promise he had made to his mentor, Shin'ichi first set about consolidating the organization's fighting strength by establishing new chapters throughout Japan. At the May 3 general meeting when he had been inaugurated as president, he had formed twenty-three new chapters. By boosting the number of chapters nationwide from sixty-one to eighty-four, the Gakkai's surging wave of advancement was set in motion.
Nevertheless, to establish a solid base for kosen-rufu, it was imperative that they quickly establish more chapters around the country. The presence of local organizations would accelerate the progress of faith, practice, and study. It was also vital that they function to nurture people's development, like soil nourishing the growth of majestic trees.
Shin'ichi wanted to spread roots into each prefecture and region — roots that would enable the flowers of faith and human happiness to blossom. For that reason, he put his utmost effort into forming new chapters.
The Soka Gakkai in those days was organized along vertical lines and, as a rule, each member had to belong to the same local organization as the person who introduced them to the practice, regardless of where they lived. For instance, no matter where you lived in Japan, if the person who introduced you belonged to Tokyo's Kamata Chapter, then you became a member of that chapter. Similarly, if the person who introduced you belonged to Bunkyo Chapter, in a different section of Tokyo, then you became a member of that chapter.
When propagation expanded, and the number of new members grew in each local region, units, groups, and districts were formed. It was not uncommon for longstanding chapters in Tokyo, Kansai, and other areas to have districts and groups located in each prefecture throughout Japan. This gave rise to a situation where members living in the same prefecture belonged to separate chapters from one another. This meant that, to attend the leaders meetings of their respective chapters, members from each region had to travel the long distances to Tokyo, Kansai, or other centers. The chapter, for its part, may have had members living in different prefectures, but because the numbers were too small to warrant forming local groups or districts, it often could not extend sufficient support to them in terms of guidance.
To rectify this, the block organization system was established in 1955. Several days of each month were set aside for block-oriented activities in an attempt to foster communication among members living in the same area. But these activities were optional.
Once the new chapters were established, however, the members living there would transfer their affiliation to their new local chapter, making things much more convenient and efficient for everyone concerned.
Shin'ichi made this issue a top priority. He wanted to create an organizational structure that would allow all members, wherever they lived in Japan, to have access to thorough and detailed guidance and to participate in the noble task of kosen-rufu. The membership goal of three million households could only be achieved when the strength of all members was combined.
In addition to the new chapters whose establishment had been announced at the headquarters general meeting on May 3, Shin'ichi had flown to Okinawa and there formed the Okinawa Chapter. Furthermore, at the September leaders meeting, the formation of sixteen new chapters had been announced: Chiba, Mito, Maebashi, Numazu, Kofu, Matsumoto, Nagano, Toyama, Kanazawa, Muroran, Obihiro, Yamagata, Minami-Akita, Morioka, Tokushima, and Oita. The inaugural meetings for the new chapters were scheduled to start in November.
After his inauguration as Soka Gakkai president, Shin'ichi Yamamoto immediately left on a hectic nationwide tour, giving guidance and encouragement to the members. He wanted to meet as many of them as possible and make a fresh start with them. He also wanted to celebrate the newly formed chapters around the country and ensure that the flow of activities in each was quickly established.
Osaka was the first place Shin'ichi visited after becoming president. On May 8, five days after his inauguration, he attended the Kansai General Chapter Leaders Meeting held at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
It had been on January 4, 1956, that Shin'ichi had arrived in Osaka to assume leadership for the organization's activities in the Kansai region. At that time, the members were still young in their practice and had little experience with Soka Gakkai activities. With Shin'ichi at the helm, however, the members fought with devotion. That May, as a single chapter, they succeeded in converting 11,111 households — a monumental achievement that would shine with golden light in the annals of the kosenrufu movement.
Then, in the House of Councillors election held a few months later in July 1956, a candidate sponsored by the Soka Gakkai in Osaka — where everyone said their chances of winning were virtually impossible — achieved a surprise victory. It was so unexpected that newspapers the next day were filled with headlines such as "The Impossible Has Been Achieved."
A by-election for the House of Councillors was also held in Osaka in April 1957, the following year. However, a vote-buying scandal caused by the thoughtless behavior of some members from Tokyo brought turmoil to the final hours of the election campaign. This resulted in the narrow defeat of the Soka Gakkai candidate. Because he had overall responsibility for the campaign, Shin'ichi was falsely charged as having ordered the vote-buying and door-to-door solicitation of votes — both in violation of the election law — and was unjustly arrested.
At work here was the insidious design of authorities who wanted to impede the Soka Gakkai's progress. The court battle to prove Shin'ichi's innocence was still in progress when he became Soka Gakkai president.
No one had been more grieved and angered by this sequence of events than the Kansai members; they had stood up, ready to take on the unscrupulous authorities. Thus, after his inauguration, Shin'ichi lost no time in traveling to Osaka to encourage these heroes of the common people and to begin his new journey together with them.
There was an explosion of joy as the members welcomed their new president. When Shin'ichi entered, he was greeted by thunderous applause and tumultuous cheering that went on and on as if it would never end. Some stood up to wave to him, some tossed their hats into the air. It was as though no one could restrain themselves from expressing, with every inch of their being, their joy and determination on this new beginning.
Shin'ichi loved these unpretentious yet noble people with all his heart.
As far as the Kansai members were concerned, Shin'ichi was their "beloved Sensei." Nothing stood between them and their youthful president. Transcending circumstances and position, they were linked by deep human bonds as comrades striving together to live out their missions for kosen-rufu. This was the strength of the Kansai members; it also became the strength of the Soka Gakkai.
Listening to the experiences and determinations on stage, Shin'ichi was amazed at how much the Kansai members had grown in these few short years. In particular, the leaders who had exerted themselves alongside him had expanded their capacity broadly, developing into admirable leaders with conviction and confidence. The Kansai members, however, knew only that they had been following Shin'ichi's lead with single-minded passion.
Nichiren writes, "A blue fly, if it clings to the tail of a thoroughbred horse, can travel ten thousand miles, and the green ivy that twines around the tall pine can grow to a thousand feet" (WND-1, 17). The Kansai members had exerted themselves unstintingly with the heroic young leader who, as an extension of President Toda, had taken full responsibility for the realization of kosen-rufu. As a result, unawares, they had each developed into mighty leaders themselves. The key to dramatically transforming our state of life lies in placing ourselves in the mainstream of kosen-rufu activities and advancing.
At the May 3 general meeting, ten new chapters in the Kansai area had been announced. These were: Kishiwada, Wakayama, Amagasaki, Fuse, Naniwa, Nishinari, Hanshin, Yodogawa, Miyakojima, and Nishinomiya chapters. This brought the number of chapters in the Kansai General Chapter to eighteen.
Now, at the general chapter leaders meeting, flags were formally conferred on each new chapter as well as their respective young men's and young women's divisions to mark a fresh start for the Kansai region. These flags were symbols of the advancement of kosen-rufu. In reference to his efforts to propagate the Mystic Law, the Daishonin proclaimed, "I have raised the banner of the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, the heart of the entire eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra" (WND-1, 392). Josei Toda, too, in his "Song of Comrades," cried out, "Where are you, flag-bearing youth?" using the flag as a symbol to depict youth standing up in their mission for kosen-rufu.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The New Human Revolution, Vol. 2"
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Vanguard,
Chapter 2: Training,
Chapter 3: Courageous Endeavor,
Chapter 4: Banner of the People,