January 2007 Highlights

The Human Revolution Vol I

Readings for January, 2007 (Chapter titles and page numbers are given for each excerpt)

Preface p vii – viii

“Mr. Toda’s The Human Revolution had as its protagonist a Mr. Gan, who had been imprisoned by the Japanese military authorities because of his opposition to the war, a fictional character based on Toda himself. While in prison, Mr. Gan came to the realization that he was one of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who attended the Ceremony in the Air as described in the Lotus Sutra. As a result, he resolved to devote the reminder of his life to the mission he perceived as his reason for being born, the propagation of the Lotus Sutra’s teachings, kosen-rufu. The novel ends with this resolution….

“My own The Human Revolution was therefore intended as a continuation of this novel written by my mentor; its narrative began with the day he was released from prison….

“The twenty-eight years during which I was engaged in writing The Human Revolution were very busy and active ones for me. I utilized every spare moment I could find to push forward with my narrative page by page, for I was convinced that the life of my mentor constituted a model for the manner in which an individual could carry out a splendid human revolution within his or her own life. If I could capture in writing Mr. Toda’s spirit of sincerity and truth, I was sure it would open the way for a human revolution in the lives of all persons. “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind” – this was the conviction that dominated my writing.”

* * * * *

Dawn pp 20-21

This scene occurs on Toda’s first night at home after his release from prison

Blackout curtains shrouded the windows in the upstairs room. Josei Toda knelt before the family altar, wrapped in the ominous silence that precedes an air raid. Placing a leaf of shikimi in his mouth, he slowly lifted the Gohonzon from the altar. He removed his glasses and scrutinized each character, bending so close it seemed his face would touch the scroll.

“It was just like this. No mistake. Exactly, just as I saw it….”

Murmuring silently, he satisfied himself that the solemn and mysterious Ceremony in the Air he had witnessed in his cell was indeed inscribed on the Gohonzon. Profound delight surged through him and tears streamed down his face. His hands shook. He cried out from the depths of his being: “Gohonzon! Daishonin! I, Toda, will accomplish kosen-rufu!”

He felt that this resolve was burning in his soul with an incandescent glow. It burned in spite of him, a flame nothing could extinguish, like the eternally glowing sunrise of kosen-rufu.

After a while he returned the Gohonzon to its altar and looked around the room. He knew there was no one anywhere who could share what he was feeling, and a deep loneliness swept over him. He spoke silently to himself.

“Wait. Don’t be impatient. You may have to do it slowly, but you’ll do it, whatever it takes.”

In the depths of night, a bell tolling the break of day sounded in his heart. No one else could hear it. It would take years before the waves of that sound began, even faintly, to reach the ears of the people. Yet dawn for Japan began in that moment. Tomorrow’s history will bear this out.

It was still so dark. The nation’s outlook was black, and all around him everything was black, too. Only in his heart was the day breaking.

“The darker the night, the nearer the dawn,” he thought.

* * * * *

Standing Alone pp 90-91

These are Mr. Toda’s words at Mr. Makiguchi’s first memorial service, Nov. 18, 1945

“I prayed for hours in my cold, solitary cell, ‘Gohonzon. I’m still young. My mentor is seventy-three. Please, if they’ll release him even one day sooner, let me take the blame for both of us.’ I’ll never forget last January 8. Without warning, the interrogator told me: ‘Makiguchi’s dead.’ They took me back to my cell. I wept and wept. I never dreamed there could be such grief in this world.

“My mentor left the prison gates only in death. I, his unworthy disciple, walked out alive. What I must do now is obvious.”

Toda paused. He gazed at his audience as though searching for what to say next. Some sat with heads bowed, wiping their tears. Others stared at him with naked hostility, eyes accusing, “Who do you think you are?” Still others looked off into space. What a chilly reception, he thought. For a moment, he considered cutting his speech short, but the words burst from him in a flood.

Raising his voice, he continued:

“Ever since spring 1943, our mentor told us that the organization must fundamentally alter its orientation and enter a new stage of propagation. We wondered what in the world he was talking about. What anguish our stupidity must have caused him! He used to scold us for being such weak, gutless disciples, but we bumbled along until this day without seeing what we were supposed to do. I know now that we never even came close to understanding him. I’ve regretted it bitterly since the day I left prison.

“But today, finally, I’m ready to answer Makiguchi, my mentor, and all of you. From here on, there’ll be no more regrets.”

Toda looked up sharply. His thick glasses sparkled. All eyes were riveted to his face.

“Our lives are eternal, without beginning or end. We appeared in this world with a mission to spread the seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to all humankind. I myself awakened to this reality. Seen in this light, we ourselves are the true Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”

The Daishonin writes in “On The Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice”: “Therefore, I entreat the people of this country: Do not look down upon my disciples! If you inquire into their past, you will find that they are great bodhisattvas who have given alms to Buddhas over a period of eight hundred thousand million kalpas, and who have carried out practices under Buddhas as numerous as the sands of the Hiranyavati and Ganges rivers. And if we speak of the future, they will be endowed with the benefit of the fiftieth person, surpassing that of one who gives alms to innumerable living beings for a period of eighty years. They are like an infant emperor wrapped in swaddling clothes, or a great dragon who has just been born. Do not despise them! Do not look on them with contempt!”(WND, 788–89)

“Who do you think these great Bodhisattvas are? We, ourselves! Knowing this, I now declare, even if no one lifts a finger to help me, I, Toda, will achieve kosen-rufu.

“My mentor, sleeping in the earth, forgive me. As your true follower, I’ll devote my life to our cause and then return to you. From this day, please rest peacefully, knowing I’ll carry on.”

Toda’s words shocked his listeners with the force of a lightning bolt, and they stared at him, stunned. The next instant, a commotion began. People gasped in disbelief. Some started whispering to their neighbors, and others bent down to hide their smirking grins. “Toda’s boasting again,” they seemed to say. A few glared at him insolently. The reaction died a moment later, but in that brief space, their real feelings were unmistakable.

* * * * *

Thousand-Mile Journey pp 97-101

Toda reflects on the country’s situation and determines to take the first step: lecturing on the Lotus Sutra

Monstrous heresies rooted in religious ignorance drove the nation to destruction. Yet not one person was aware of it. The government, which revolved around Shinto, patterned its political structure after the theocracy of ancient days and, “divinely” inspired, wielded absolute authority over its citizens. The nation’s fall was inevitable. How sad that in their ignorance, the people brought upon themselves the anguish of defeat.

Toda pondered: “The nation’s shattered. If the supreme Law cannot spread now, under the worst, most miserable conditions imaginable, then it’s not a real religion. But if the Buddha’s words are true, then kosen-rufu can definitely be achieved, and our homeland and the people can be saved.”

Every fiber of his being trembled with the wondrous enlightenment he’d experienced in prison. He felt that his mission compelled him to impart it to others in whatever way possible. Eventually, Toda knew, many people would follow the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and embrace the seven characters of the supreme Law, just as he did. Their practice, Toda knew, would be the perpetual fountainhead of the future.

Above all, he knew humankind must be absolutely convinced of the dignity of life, based on Buddhism. The magnificent life force of each individual must be made to gush forth through the power of the supreme Law. Individual self-awakening, human rebirth and human revolution would then follow, giving rise to a flowering of education, politics, science, culture and every other human activity. This was the true democracy people have dreamed of.

Buddhism is based on the compassion to remove suffering and provide happiness. Securing the happiness of everyone equally will, in itself, make society flourish. An ideal society based on Buddhist principles is one that puts mercy into action. Nothing is more precious than human life, but its majesty can only find expression through the practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism—the fundamental way of realizing a new society based on the utmost respect for humanity, where all can equally enjoy happiness.

The Daishonin’s Buddhism has always upheld the separation of church and state; it is not some new tenet hastily added to accommodate the times. Genuine religion clarifies the philosophy of life, points the way to human revolution and establishes the eternal happiness of individuals. One who has secured such happiness can enter the political arena with superior wisdom and courage.

Buddhism thus clearly defines the relationship of religion and government. Such a relationship is not theocracy or the merging of church and state. This concept merely adopts the supreme Law of Buddhism as the guiding principle of politics.

Fertile soil yields a rich harvest, but a barren field will bear only sparse, stunted crops. Whether in politics, economics or art, what counts is the underlying philosophy. Some philosophies are lofty, some inferior, some shallow and some profound. Materialism and spiritualism each have their own biases and are thus inadequate as a foundation for the coming century. A government without a solid ideological basis is like grass without roots.

Deep in his heart, Toda recognized that humankind’s greatest enemy today is its profound ignorance of religion. The walls of that ignorance towered thick and impenetrable. Beside them, the prison walls that had confined him five months earlier shrank to nothingness.

Knock on the heads of those famed as modern intellectuals and, as far as religion is concerned, you’ll hear only a stony echo. When it comes to whether a specific doctrine is true or false, superior or inferior, religious scholars in particular cling to their ignorance with an almost frightening obstinacy. That ignorance had destroyed Japan . The entire nation collapsed without one person seeing the light.

Toda made a fierce determination.

“I’m going to take the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin—the core of Buddhism in the Latter Day of the Law—and batter down those walls. It’s the only way.”

A thousand miles stretched between him and the attainment of kosen-rufu. He could never forget that progress would be gained slowly, step by step. Without taking that first step, he would never see the end of the road. Now the government no longer protected Shinto, and, emboldened, he took the first movement forward.

Toda had to surmount all sorts of difficulties in leveling the first of those walls. Confidently, he decided to lecture on the Lotus Sutra.

Lecture, yes, but to whom? Several people came to mind, but no one who seemed likely to listen. People were preoccupied with obtaining goods on the black market and finding enough to eat. They were always ready to listen where money was concerned, and the topics of clothing and shelter never failed to find a willing ear. But where in the world would he find people anxious to hear about the Lotus Sutra?

Must he speak to a stone wall? Though no one cared about Buddhism, he had to communicate it. Toda felt at a loss.

He then thought of the four businessmen who called on him so often. Whatever else one might say about them, they did come, at least, and they had four perfectly good pairs of ears. One evening he broached the subject.

“It’s a waste of time, just drinking here like this. Why don’t we study the Lotus Sutra?”

“Lotus what?” Yoichiro Honda stared at him with a dazed expression, eyes blurred by sake.

“The Lotus Sutra. All twenty-eight chapters. It’s been quite a while since any of you’ve read it, hasn’t it? You can keep on saying ‘kosen-rufu, kosen-rufu’ all you like, but if you do not even know the meaning of the sutra, it’s just talk. How shall I put it? It’s an astounding work, the Lotus Sutra.”

Unable to restrain himself, he told them how a volume had been sent to him in prison. He’d refused to read it and returned the book, but inexplicably, it came back to him. Not until this mysterious occurrence repeated itself several times did he finally read the sutra in earnest, trembling with a joy he had never experienced in all his life. He described it vividly, his eyes blazing behind his thick spectacles. Without realizing it, the four sat up straight and listened to him, entranced.

“Well now! We’ll have to hear about this Lotus Sutra of Toda’s, won’t we, eh, Kitagawa? What do you say?” pressed Kizo Iwamori, turning to Naosaku Kitagawa who sat beside him.

“I’m for it. I once thought I’d read the sutra through myself, but that Chinese grammar…. If Toda were going to teach us, though, I’d love to hear it. It’s perfect timing.” Kitagawa was euphoric. He rattled on and on about the difficulty of the Lotus Sutra until Honda interrupted him.

“You mean Toda here could breeze through a work of such magnitude in prison? That’s marvelous!”

Toda made an inarticulate sound and averted his face. For a moment, he said nothing. Then he spoke softly, to no one in particular. “I know I’ll suffer for it, if I make a mistake.”

“What’s this? Don’t even think of it! No one could possibly doubt your scholarship. It’s time for us to turn over a new leaf. I’m quite ready to become your student, Toda. If you’ll have me.” Yoichi Fujisaki was as smooth-tongued as ever in his attempts to get on Toda’s good side. Toda was disappointed by the reactions of his former comrades. Was flattering him all they could do? Didn’t they have even the faintest glimmer of a seeking spirit?

He felt depressed.

Hold on, he thought. Do not think of them as four old friends. Think of them as four pairs of ears, he reminded himself. They were all he had right now, and he’d have to protect them. Perseverance, he knew, must underlie any great endeavor. That knowledge was indelibly etched in his heart.

* * * * *

Thousand-Mile Journey pp 108 – 113

Toda’s first lecture on the Sutra, to three men, January 1946, and chants to the Dai-Gohonzon for the first time in over two years.

OK, let’s start from the ‘Introduction’ chapter. I cannot see too well, so why don’t you take turns.”

He set the book down, and Yoichi Fujisaki read. He stumbled through the first paragraph, gave an exasperated sigh and complained, “I don’t understand at all—it’s gibberish.”

Everyone burst out laughing.

“You did fine, but you’ll understand a little better if you read the translation at the bottom of the page,” Toda suggested, smiling.

Naosaku Kitagawa was next. He intoned: “This is what I heard: At one time the Buddha was in Rajagriha, staying on Mount Gridhrakuta. Accompanying him were a multitude of leading monks numbering twelve thousand persons. All were arhats…” (LS, 3).

“Now that makes a little more sense,” said Kizo Iwamori relieved. Fujisaki chuckled appreciatively. Kitagawa finished reading the passage. A deep stillness settled over the main hall. The midwinter cold pressed against the four gathered there under the dim electric light, but their faces glowed with excitement.

Toda cleared his throat and spoke in a low voice.

“According to Nagarjuna’s Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, Shakyamuni renounced secular life at age nineteen and attained Buddhahood at thirty. He taught for fifty years following his enlightenment. His sutras are divided into five periods, according to when he taught them, and eight teachings, according to their content.

“When you take an overall view of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism, comparing the different sutras of the five periods and the eight teachings, you’ll find that Myoho-renge-kyo, the Lotus Sutra, is the highest of his teachings, the core and the foundation of his Buddhism. Without understanding the Lotus Sutra, you’ll never grasp the essence of what he taught. Besides that, to understand the difference between the two main currents of Buddhism— Shakyamuni’s Buddhism and Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism— you have to base your studies on the Lotus Sutra.”

Everyone nodded, as though they understood.

People who can accurately distinguish the truths and errors, the depths and the superficialities of a particular Buddhist school, or religion in general, are rare indeed. In fact, they hardly exist. Many people criticize religion arbitrarily, but if asked about the basic principles for evaluating religions they don’t have a clue. They do not even know the difference between Shakyamuni and the mythical Buddha Amida. As long as public religious ignorance goes unchallenged, we can neither right the present confusion of thought nor uproot the source of misery. The person who can open others’ eyes to the truths and fallacies of religions is a great leader.

Though the sutras clearly establish its superiority, the ultimate teaching was never widely propagated. The fault lies with incompetent religious leaders and their corrupt priests, both now and in the past. Maybe they didn’t know the Lotus Sutra was supreme. Maybe they did but were bound too tightly to their own misguided schools. In any case, they displayed no seeking spirit whatsoever, saved no one from unhappiness— they merely took advantage of people. No one in society has ever carried on a more unproductive existence than these priests.

Toda continued his lecture.

“Buddhism is in chaos today because those blinded by Shakyamuni’s Buddhism confuse it with the Daishonin’s. The twenty-eight chapters of Myoho-renge-kyo are Shakyamuni’s Buddhism. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. You’ve got to understand that fully—it’s the most crucial point.”

The three men whose eyes had been glued to their books looked up simultaneously.

“So, then… ” Toda took a sip of water from the glass on his desk. “Ahh, mountain water’s good, isn’t it? Well…what is the essence of Myoho-renge- kyo? In ‘The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings,’ the Daishonin states:

“‘Myo indicates the nature of enlightenment, while ho indicates darkness or delusion. The oneness of delusion and enlightenment is indicated by myoho, the Mystic Law. Renge expresses the two principles—cause and effect. It also indicates the oneness of cause and effect. Kyo means the words and speech, sounds and voices of all living beings. Chang-an states, “The voice does the Buddha’s work and is therefore called kyo.” Kyo also signifies that life spans the three existences—past, present and future. All things are myoho, all things are renge and all things are kyo. Renge indicates the Buddha’s body surrounded by the eight honored ones on the eight-petaled lotus. You should ponder this well.’”

Toda read, bending his face close to the fine print of the Gosho.

“You may find that a bit obscure, but in essence, the Daishonin is saying: Myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate Law, or truth, of the universe; and the core of this universal Law is Myoho-renge-kyo. The phenomena of the universe, changing endlessly from moment to moment, are all Myoho-rengekyo. In contemporary language, I suppose you could call it universal life.”

At this point, Kitagawa broke in.

“If that’s the case, then, where do we human beings fit in? Are we governed by this universal Law?”

“No, that’s not it. The Daishonin explains precisely what you’re asking about in the Gosho ‘The Entity of the Mystic Law.’ I was just coming to it.”

Toda again peered at the Gosho and read:

Question: What is the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo?

Answer: All beings and their environments in any of the Ten Worlds are themselves entities of Myoho-renge-kyo.

Question: If so, then is it possible to say that all living beings, such as ourselves, are entities of the Mystic Law in its entirety?

Answer: Of course. The sutra says: “This reality [the true aspect of all phenomena] consists of the appearance, nature… and their consistency from beginning to end (WND, 417).

Toda continued explaining: “You may find this a little unclear, too, but briefly, the Ten Worlds are classifications of life: ten distinct life-conditions, from Hell through Buddhahood. All life in the universe possesses these Ten Worlds. Subject is the entity of life itself, while object refers to the environment, the realm in which life functions.”

He tried hard to make them grasp the theory of life expounded in the Gosho, translating it into modern terms. He was utterly confident that the rise of this flawless Buddhism would bring complete and everlasting fulfillment to the billions of people in the world.

Toda probed deeper into the theory of life, backing up his explanations with quotations from several Buddhist sources. He did so to make it plain that he was not merely sporting his own opinions, something he scrupulously avoided.

“The passage we just read is followed by: ‘The Great Teacher Nan-yüeh says, “Question: What does Myoho-renge-kyo represent? Answer: Myo indicates that all living beings are myo, or mystic. Ho indicates that all living beings are ho, or the Law.” T’ien-t’ai also says, “The Law of all living beings is mystic”’ (WND, 417).

“In short, we human beings are entities of Myoho-renge-kyo. We embody the wonder and mystery of life—the harmony of flesh and bones, the division of cells, nerve function, you name it. Our lives function according to the universal Law. The body produces vitamins, regulates sugars and manufactures hormones—a regular pharmaceutical factory!

“Ultimately, myoho is our fundamental life force itself. You may think that’s far-fetched, but it’s not. The Daishonin says so explicitly in ‘The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings.’ That’s what makes him so great.”

Toda picked up the Gosho. “It’s right here.” He flipped the pages, holding the book up to his face. He half rose to get nearer the light.

“Here, I’ll read it for you. Where is it?”

Fujisaki stood and took the opened book from Toda. He read, standing under the electric light.

“‘Thus Come One’ means Shakyamuni and in general indicates all Buddhas of the ten directions and three existences. Specifically it refers to the original Buddha eternally endowed with the three enlightened properties. Now, in terms of Nichiren and his followers, ‘Thus Come One’ generally refers to all living beings and specifically to the disciples and followers of Nichiren Daishonin. Thus the Buddha eternally endowed with the three enlightened properties is the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law” (GZ, 752).

“There, that’s far enough!”

Toda stopped him. His voice was intense and passionate. He had only three listeners, but he’d grown as heated as though he were lecturing to an immense crowd.

“The Daishonin states here in the ‘The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings’ that all humankind is the Buddha, or in other words, the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo. That’s the same thing he says in ‘The Entity of the Mystic Law,’ which we just read. We are Buddhas and the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo. It’s true. That’s what he teaches. We can think whatever we please, but it’s just our own arbitrary view, and as such, it’s bound to be mistaken. The Daishonin declares that all humankind is the Buddha, regardless of what you or I think. That inability to believe is the real stupidity of human beings. That’s why we get trapped in the cycle of the six lower worlds and cannot attain lasting happiness. It’s an old, old story.

“The Daishonin goes on to explain that the honorable name of the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law is Nam -myoho-renge- kyo. In terms of the Person, the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo is we common mortals of the Latter Day of the Law. Specifically, it is Nichiren Daishonin. In terms of the Law, the life of the universe itself is the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo.

“Therefore, we can say that our lives embody the supreme Law and are one with the life of the universe. Buddha is life itself!

“Well, we finished our first lecture. Tonight is New Year’s. Iwamori, how about some sake?”

Iwamori brought out the bottle he’d put away earlier and hastily tore off the wrapper. “This is not just any sake, it’s the best. Got it specially for tonight,” he said.

In a room adjoining the silent hall, they heated the sake and exchanged cups. Their laughter rang out well into the evening.

“About that lecture… is it really true that human beings are all Buddhas? It just doesn’t seem possible,” protested Iwamori, who was showing the effects of the sake.

“I must say, Iwamori would make a very strange Buddha,” Kitagawa teased.

“What about you, Kitagawa?” Fujisaki demanded. “You do not strike me as much of a Buddha, either. Maybe a decadent one.”

Everyone burst out laughing. Toda laughed, too. “What a sad group of Buddhas!”

Iwamori interrupted Toda’s joking with great earnestness. “But I cannot possibly imagine myself as a Buddha.”

At this everyone shrieked with laughter.

“Do not worry, Iwamori,” Toda said. “We’re called ordinary ignorant human beings because we cannot wholeheartedly believe what the Daishonin teaches. But if we practice for all we’re worth, we’ll become Buddhas, every last one of us. There’s no doubt about it. When you embrace the Gohonzon and dedicate yourself to faith, practice and study, you’ll no longer be an ordinary, troubled human being. That’s the power of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. Look at it this way, you couldn’t even begin to understand the achievements of Einstein without some background in scientific research and experimentation, could you? It’s the same way with Buddhism.”

The conversation drifted back to the Lotus Sutra. The fire glowed in the brazier. Though they shivered, they didn’t feel the cold. The night wore on. Lost in their discussion, they forgot the passing of time.

The next morning, January 2, they were able to meet with the sixty-third high priest, Nichiman. Then they chanted to the Dai-Gohonzon in the Treasure House, for the first time in two and a half years.

Toda never stirred throughout gongyo. He seemed to be unaware of everything around him. Two and a half years…how many times, in that foul, dark prison, had he seen it in his dreams? In his solitary cell, the radiance of the Gohonzon had enfolded him in its warmth.

He was chanting strongly and steadily. “I’ve come back!” he cried out in his heart. Toda gave thanks for having weathered that time of bitter trials, and he renewed his commitment to kosen-rufu.

In that moment, far away, he felt both past and future vanish. Nothing existed but the Gohonzon and he, Josei Toda, and the sense of life’s eternity that flowed between them. In an instant he understood. Eternity exists in an individual moment. The continuation of one moment—that is eternity, and the origin and entity of that moment is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

As the doors of the altar closed, he came to himself. His whole body overflowed with indescribable joy.

* * * * *

Prelude pp 121-122

Toda encourages his listeners as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, and teaches them about human revolution.

He based his explanations on the Gosho and the Lotus Sutra, and his spirit seemed to embody those two works. His four listeners marveled at his unique mastery of the subject.

One night, Iwamori asked him about it.

“Toda, when did you manage to learn all that? Just memorizing it would be hard enough, but you seem to grasp it thoroughly. It’s uncanny.”

The other three had the same question.

“It’s hard to explain,” Toda said, offhandedly. “All the Buddhist sutras deal with human life. During the persecution, I chanted hard and studied in prison, and I seemed to remember it. Before that time I guess I was just too busy making money.”

“You remembered it?”

The four raised their heads and stared at him.

Toda knew the Lotus Sutra thoroughly. He was confident that this teaching, the core of Buddhism, would provide the driving force that could restore the nation and give rise to cultural prosperity.

Yoichiro Honda was struck both by Toda’s conviction and his penetrating discussion of Buddhist philosophy. He and Toda had been classmates in grammar school. He thought he knew Toda better than anyone, but the Toda he was seeing now was a man beyond his imagination.

He was utterly astonished.

“It’s incredible to hear you expound the sutra like that. Professor Josei, the night school teacher! It’s almost superhuman.”

“No, it’s nothing superhuman. I’m the most ordinary of ordinary men. Whatever I have, I’ve acquired through faith; that’s all. You can do the same.”

Toda took out a cigarette and lit it in the candle flame.

“The Daishonin taught that those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are Bodhisattvas of the Earth. ‘Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the daimoku’ (WND, 385). Maybe it’s hard to see yourselves in that light, but as long as you embrace the Gohonzon and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you’re definitely following the way of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. And, by the way, to save people from unhappiness and spread the Daishonin’s teachings, you need good health—so take care of yourselves.

“What counts most is your determination to practice the Daishonin’s teachings. There is nothing vague or questionable about his words. Would the Buddha make up stories? We’re the ones who keep doubting, denying, looking for flaws. We cause ourselves a lot of needless grief, we mortals of the Latter Day of the Law!”

The fascination these lectures held for them was largely due to Toda’s personal charm. His four listeners were astounded at the radical change in him since the war, and they envied him a little. They had been with Toda for years now, but in terms of the future, he had already far surpassed them. No one can know his or her future. Tomorrow lies shrouded in darkness, where the countless problems of human existence await. What counts is a person’s life force.

Toda’s charm seemed to sparkle brighter each day. The change in the man was incomprehensible, but others could not deny it—it was right before their eyes. Toda simply said it resulted from practicing the essence of Buddhism, the Daishonin’s philosophy of the oneness of body and mind. He proceeded to teach them about human revolution, the change of destiny achieved by practicing the correct teachings of Buddhism with sincerity and courage.

The transformation of a human being—the recognition of one’s own dignity and individuality and the full flowering of his or her potential—is the shortest road to the transformation of society, education, science, government, culture and indeed, the whole of life. Toda stressed this over and over.

* * * * *

Gears pp 138-141

Toda fights to develop the organization and Pres. Ikeda discusses the role of religion and religious freedom.

The second leaders meeting was held on May 22. It, too, was very small. Compared to the huge labor demonstrations, it was like the movement of atoms in a molecule. The world as yet knew nothing about kosen-rufu. It was a secret they alone shared, a great ambition cherished deep in their hearts.

That night, Toda promptly appointed three new directors: Koichi Harayama, Takeo Konishi and Hisao Seki. The three young men from Kamata joined the four senior businessmen to form a seven-person board of directors.

Scarcely twenty days had passed since the first leaders meeting. The Soka Gakkai had taken a bold step forward.

In another landmark, Value Creation, the journal of the Soka Gakkai, had been revived, and copy was turned in that evening. It was a thin little magazine, mimeographed on half sheets of ordinary writing paper.

The first issue of the original Value Creation had been published in July 1941 and was read by three thousand members. It was published monthly up through the ninth issue, which appeared in May 1942. By then, the readership had jumped to five thousand, but controls on paper and printing forced the suspension of publication. The next year, the storms of persecution struck.

The battle of the press for kosen-rufu was underway again after a lapse of three years. The paper was cheap, the printing was atrocious, but the members’ pleasure in reviving their magazine was beyond description.

The gears turned, revolving in a joyful rhythm.

Several youth division members held a meeting on June 22. Toda attended, too, and though it was merely formality, he tentatively set up their organization.

A directors meeting and another leaders meeting were held on July 3, the anniversary of Toda’s release from prison. Other events followed in quick succession; a women’s division meeting on July 20, a youth division debate on July 24 and a youth division discussion meeting on July 27. Day by day, each chapter accelerated its campaign for discussion meetings.

Still, the motion of the gears was not plainly visible.

Toda realized that the Soka Gakkai had barely escaped destruction. Each gear would have to mesh perfectly with all the others. He had no time for gears that refused to do so. This small system of gears, which had just begun to turn, was still far from his conception of huge, interlocking wheels. Their movement was infinitesimal compared with the vast machinery revolving in his mind.

He took painstaking care of each tiny gear. He racked his brains for ways to improve their effectiveness, utterly absorbed in the task. He avoided flashy displays, restricting himself to steady, productive activities and preparing for the time to come. Even one defective gear was cause for concern. It could hamper the movement of the entire mechanism, perhaps even stop it altogether. It was frightening to think about. Toda was constantly on guard.

Soka Gakkai discussion meetings were conducted in strict, orthodox fashion, without the slightest distortion of the Daishonin’s teachings. Toda permitted no compromise with false ideas, and newcomers sometimes found it hard to commit to a decision to embrace the teaching.

Toda fought patiently. If the guests remained undecided after their first meeting, he invited them back two and three times, letting them hear many different experiences from the members. He would explain as often as necessary until they understood.

“To ride out the coming storm, you’ll need a reliable compass, don’t you think? And to accumulate fortune, you’ll need a religion that works. That’s what everyone looks and hopes for. There’s nothing worse than phony religions. What you seek is the philosophy taught by Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin. There is only one sun in the sky and only one valid religion for our age. Faith must generate proof in our own daily lives that we can change our destinies and become happy. Without that, it’s meaningless.

“No person, no family, no nation can escape the immutable Law of life known as the Mystic Law, the entity of the universe. The experiences you’ve just heard bear this out. We never realized it before, though. When someone told us, we immediately thought, ‘That’s impossible!’ just like you. Isn’t that what you’re thinking?”

Toda grinned and looked at the newcomer, who nodded and admitted in a small voice that Toda was right.

“There are no lies in this philosophy. You can become happy, no matter what. I say this with absolute confidence. If I’m wrong, you’re free to quit.”

Toda spoke assertively. The newcomer gazed searchingly at his face.

Before the war, Gakkai members began their meetings with a discussion of the theory of value and concluded by stressing that anyone who denied the Daishonin’s Buddhism would inevitably suffer loss. That was their customary propagation method. Toda seldom mentioned the theory of value these days but spoke solely of the benefits to be gained from practice. Even so, propagation was not easy. The organization grew at exactly the same rate as before the war.

Still, his efforts gradually polished both the large and small gears of the Soka Gakkai. Sometimes, he tightened screws. Other times, he oiled bearings. Unnoticed by the public, he was preparing many capable individuals.

Upon the GHQ’s order, the new Religious Incorporation Ordinance was promulgated on December 28, 1945, which made things very convenient for the many new religious organizations springing up. These new religions could commence activities just by making a simple report to the ministry in charge and complying with some procedural formalities. No government approval was necessary. For the five years until the 1951 Religious Corporation Law was enacted, anyone could start a phony religious school, engage in outrageous activities in the name of religion and enjoy full tax-exempt status.

Moreover, State Shinto had been crushed by the Occupation, and the shrines were tottering on their last legs. Under such circumstances mushroomed new religious movements lacking any systematized philosophy. Japan , defeated in war and barren religiously as well, was indeed in a pitiful condition.

Many people questioned whether God or Buddha even existed. In one sense, the postwar era grew out of the people’s disenchantment with religion. A rejection of false religions would have been a blessing, which made it all the more pathetic to see so many people scurrying after newly formed cults. They had neither the criteria nor the moral energy to distinguish the false from the genuine. Slowly, people recovered from the stunning blow of defeat and searched for a means of rebuilding their shattered lives. Misleading religions lurked for people such as these.

“Religion is the opiate of the people,” said Marx. He was referring to Christianity. He had no means of knowing the essence of Buddhism. To him, the three existences of life was a concept undreamed of; there was no way he could have understood.

The Daishonin’s critical attack on false religions was far more devastating than Marx’s. False beliefs, he asserted, drive people into hell and destroy the seeds of Buddhahood. With incisive logic, he revealed that misleading teachings bring about the ruin of individuals, families and nations.

Marx called religion an opiate because it crushed the spirit and thus obstructed political and economic revolution. The Daishonin refuted false religions but revealed the true one, demonstrating it to be the basis of prosperity in government, economics, education, culture, as well as in the lives of individuals.

Religious freedom is our native right. We must preserve that right forever. But religious freedom also involves freedom to choose, freedom to debate true versus false and freedom to propagate. Politics should be discussed freely. So it should be for religion as well. People should become wise when it comes to choosing which teaching to follow. Moreover, they should closely monitor how well politics and religion fulfill their respective roles in working for the people’s happiness. People becoming wise enough to choose a correct teaching is the first step toward democracy, and therein arises the necessity of religious reformation.

This was Josei Toda’s determination.