March 2007 Highlights

The Human Revolution Vol III
Readings for March, 2007

(Chapter titles and page numbers from the current edition are given for each excerpt)

“New Start” pp. 267 – 268

President Toda reflects on the meaning of life and existence during New Year’s Gongyo in 1948.

The chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo continued for quite some time. As it did, the rhythm picked up and the harmony seemed to grow ever sweeter. Eventually, the vigorous sounds of chanting seemed to envelop the very bodies of all present.

In the midst of chanting, Toda was struck by a strange feeling. Suddenly, his existence felt extremely small and negligible, insignificant compared to the vast universe where countless nebulae turned in their courses day after day, without stop, for billions of years.

“A great and limitless universe, nebulae revolving at tremendous speed, encompassing huge galactic systems with tens of billions of stars…”

He pondered, “There are nine planets in our galaxy, all centering on a fixed star, the Sun. Earth is merely one of these planets. There is never a lapse or cessation of motion. Everything keeps revolving in its fixed orbit, following a natural order. It has been this way since the unimaginable past, and it will be so in the endless future as well.

“Earth revolves around the Sun at a speed of eighteen-and-a-half miles per second, at a distance of ninety-three million miles, and it also rotates on its own axis—and here I am in one minute corner of a tiny island on the planet Earth, chanting the invocation of the Mystic Law. Who and what in the world am I, this man called Josei Toda?”

He became lost in meditation, pondering the meaning of existence and the secrets of the boundless universe. In this way, he seemed to confirm his own existence.

“Closest to the Sun is the planet Mercury. Traveling at thirty miles per second, it maintains an orbit thirty-six million miles from the Sun. One orbit takes a mere eighty-eight days. In contrast, Pluto is the farthest planet from the Sun. It takes Pluto 248 years to complete an orbit, at a distance of 3.6 billion miles. Because Mercury is so close to the Sun, heat would seem to preclude the existence of any life forms, and because Pluto is so far and thus so frigid, the same can be said about it. Strangely enough, only Earth is situated ideally with the proper conditions for life to sustain itself.

“Human wisdom is great enough to be able to understand the workings of the galaxy, even though humans are but the tiniest of specks in the vastness of the whole. So why is it that beings of such wisdom should still be so burdened by fetters of helpless unhappiness? Is it perhaps because the nature of unhappiness is much harder to fathom and more difficult to comprehend than even the mystic workings of the universe?”

Led by Toda, the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo continued in a manner so concentrated that no one sensed how much time had passed. Now the sound of the voices filled the entire room and seemed to reverberate into the universe through the narrow space above the poorly built doors.

His thoughts resumed. “What am I doing in this remote corner of a small island on a planet floating in such a vast universe? In this cold and shabby room, I am earnestly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but what is this life named Josei Toda engaged in right now? I am declaring war against the king of all devilish functions—this much I understand; this is my self which exists at this moment.”

From the depths of his heart, this spontaneous realization swept through him. He was now fully awakened to the solitary self of Josei Toda who was absolutely devoted to a struggle against devilish functions of false belief. He sensed a great and vital life force welling up within him; it was a force that nothing could stop. At this moment, he knew as if it were the plainest truth imaginable that the energy of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo could indeed permeate the entire universe.

* * * * *

“New Start” p. 280

As President Toda begins the year, focusing on discussion meetings, the significance of this central activity of kosen-rufu is explained.

The activities of kosen-rufu are based on the discussion meeting and lectures on Buddhism. When these two pillars are put into practice powerfully and painstakingly, society itself will be changed, the foundation for a new nation will be established, and the beginnings of a peaceful new world will have been created. An actual discussion meeting is far more effective in turning the cogwheel than a nice-sounding, million-word theory. Such was Josei Toda’s resolution for the beginning of the year. This resolution passed naturally to the hearts of his disciples. In other words, they, too, made up their minds to hold discussion meetings, one after another, realizing that this was the most effective practice of faith. They resolved to open the new year with discussion meetings and close out the year with discussion meetings.

* * * * *

“New Start” pp. 283-284

President Toda encourages a new member who was suffering in an unhappy marriage.

“What do you think is the main reason for your being so afflicted with troubles despite having taken faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism? Is it because you lack faith, as inferior religions often preach, or because your opposing husband is all wrong? No, these are not the fundamental reasons. Rather, it is because of the strict law of cause and effect. Even if you never heard of this law, you cannot escape its workings. It is the teaching of the Buddha. It is completely different from the deceitful words of vainglorious school founders and professional religionists. It is not falsehood but truth.

Even if you become conversant with the law of cause and effect, however, solutions are still not easily attained. For the sake of finding the most basic solution, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed for all posterity the true object of devotion, the Gohonzon. All you have to do is to strive for the revolution of your life by devotedly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. A sapling does not grow into a great tree in a day, nor does a baby mature in a day or two. It takes long years of faith in order to change one’s bad destiny…”

“What counts is whether you will practice this principle with confidence or be overcome by doubt and discontinue. The result will be determined accordingly, for good or for bad. Be determined that the more opposition you meet in your faith, the sooner you will be able to purify your life, which is stained with bad karma. You will no doubt come to understand this at a later date. Once you remove the cause of your evil karma, you will naturally be free of it for all time. Then the course of your life will be greatly changed for the better.

“The Universal Worthy Sutra reads, ‘The sea of all karmic obstacles arises from illusions. If you wish to make amends [for your past karma], sit upright and meditate on the true entity of life, and all your offenses will vanish like frost and dewdrops in the sunlight of enlightened wisdom.’

“Unless you carry through your faith to this extent, all will be for naught. If you continue your faith amid difficulties, whether you like it or not, and whether you feel tortured or not, you will later enjoy a refreshed feeling as if you have applied moxa to an injury. Compared with the eternity of life, a trial period of a year or even six months is a mere flash. So long as you embrace strong faith, you will find the fundamental path to family revolution. Continue your faith with courage. I guarantee you with my whole life that things will change for the better.”

* * * * *

“Whirlpool” pp. 301-302

The events surrounding first Soka Gakkai President Makiguchi’s arrest, reflecting his unswerving courage and conviction are recounted. The following scene takes place as he is being accompanied by to the police station.

Belying his age, Makiguchi walked in a stately manner, his chest thrust out. Using his umbrella as a staff, he strode along the stony road in clogs. As he stopped once in a while to look up to the sky, he seemed to enjoy the fine scenery around him. He paid no attention to Kishiko or the detectives. He was silent throughout the walk. There was not the slightest hint of fear or strain in his face.

His behavior may well have given people the impression that, as an old saying goes, “The ruin of a country is not because of the absence of a sage but because of a lack of making full use of one.” Makiguchi continued to walk in a composed manner. His scholarly figure, clad in a Japanese kimono, cast a solitary silhouette, lofty, with his mouth tightly closed, his appearance surely sublime.

Many thoughts went through Makiguchi’s mind as he walked in silence, such as the future of his many disciples in Tokyo. The face of General Director Toda came to mind…also Terakawa, Miyajima, Fujisaki, Kitagawa, Iwamori, Honda, Kanda, Mishima. A sense of emergency must have propelled the authorities to search for him in Shimoda. “They must surely be after the leaders of the Society,” he thought. He shook his head unintentionally and silently prayed that his disciples would have strong faith.

“Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone” (WND-I, 997). This passage from the Gosho must have come to mind, resting on the tip of his tongue. He may even have swallowed it and repeated it over and over in his heart. “The time has come. The time is here to challenge the situation at the risk of my own life. I must not be defeated.”

Unconsciously, he began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his heart. Hearing the birds chirp, in his minds eye he pictured the face of Yoko, his baby granddaughter. It was the parent in him that drew him to think of the safety and welfare of others before his own. He aroused himself from his meditative state, and a passage from the “Eleven Letters” of Nichiren Daishonin leapt into his mind: “Each of you should be prepared. Do not think of your wives, children or retainers, nor fear the authorities” (GZ, 177).

Beyond the nearby cliff, the sea stretched endlessly. Nature is indeed indifferent to people’s trials and tribulations.

“Yes, the time has come—I cannot avoid clashing head-on with government authorities. To be involved in this battle is to remonstrate with the state. In society, some are judged by the law of the nation, and others do the judging; but this is a mere formality by which I must not be swayed. From the standpoint of Buddhist truth, this very battle is the last chance for me, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, to remonstrate with the state. It is the best chance imaginable to attack the powers in authority and to prove my philosophy of value and the essence of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. The time has indeed come.”

Thinking thus, Makiguchi began to feel like laughing. He raised his stick and swiped at a stone in the road. The detectives looked at him in bewilderment.

* * * * *

“Whirlpool” p. 309

At a discussion meeting in a rural area on the Izu Peninsula, President Toda encourages a young man who has overcome a debilitating illness.
Nothing is greater than fact. No one can deny actual proof. Nothing is more convincing than one’s experience. The greatness of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism was apparent from the comparison of what she was now and what she had been a year before.

At that night’s meeting, Matsu Ohya’s son was also present.

He had just been released from the hospital after being cured of caries, although the doctor had given up on him as being incurable—another splendid case of changing destiny.

Looking directly at Mrs. Ohya’s twenty-year-old son, Toda naturally encouraged him: “Because your faith was so sincere and dedicated, you were cured of your illness. Don’t relax your faith. Take good care of yourself. If you make health your first consideration, you must, at the same time, make faith the most important thing in your life. Do you understand?”

* * * * *

“Whirlpool” pp. 310-311

Wherever President Toda went, a “whirlpool of effort for kosen-rufu” would emerge.

Such whirlpools were still few and far between and unnoticeable beneath the surface of society. Yet they kept expanding and coalescing into a greater force.

The French Revolution of 1789 arose similarly, beginning with an awakening in the common citizens of a desire for freedom from the authority of the sovereign powers. The movement took root in local towns and villages, fueled by free-thinking philosophers, such as Rousseau. Eventually, the movement became a raging torrent that resulted in revolution.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 was similarly borne of the power of the common people—the proletariat—who arose to overthrow a despotic government. With socialism as their ideal, they fought against the Czar and his system, which had brought Russian society into corruption and decline.

In 1867, the great upheaval in Japan known as the Meiji Restoration, or the reestablishment of the imperial regime, resulted from the demands of the farming populace opposed to the feudal Tokugawa shogunate. In the undercurrents of every revolution, there have been whirlpools rising from among the people. How could authorities have been so unaware of them? Were they merely helpless? These officials were so blind that they could not perceive the future well enough even to save themselves. Such whirlpools inevitably develop into torrents, clashing against one another, sacrificing thousands and even millions of precious human lives, finally resulting in revolution. This is the tragic bloodshed we have witnessed throughout human history.

The practice we carry out, in contrast, involves absolutely no loss of life or bloodshed. It is a totally peaceful revolution based upon Buddhist principles and upon the innate dignity of human life. Is this not the idealistic revolution humankind has been awaiting since the dawn of civilization?

No one but Toda could see that these small whirlpools developing in places like Shimoda and other small villages would develop into a gigantic tide that would engulf Japan, Asia and eventually the rest of the world as the source of world peace.

* * * * *

“Human Patterns” pp. 323-324

Katsu Kiyohara, representing Miss Kashiwabara, a pioneer member who joined during President Makiguchi’s presidency who was struggling with unhappiness, is given guidance by President Toda .

In light of the Buddhist principles she [Katsu Kiyohara] had learned, she was worried that her karma might be too deep. To others, her family appeared to be ideal, a notch above the middle class, as all her brothers and sisters had graduated from the university. Yet, as she pondered her own unhappy state of life, she convinced herself that her unhappiness was worse than anyone else’s—the future only looked gray to her, and she was miserable with her gloomy destiny.

When he heard this, Toda took on a look of unusual strictness.

“You’re just complaining,” he told her. “What do you think faith is? Are you so anxious to live in comfort? Do you just want to be flattered by others? Did you convert simply to achieve an outward appearance of happiness? The ultimate objective of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism lies in awakening to your eternal life. This is something you yourself must acquire through your own experience. This attainment is called absolute happiness, because it is indestructible and endures for all eternity. To achieve it, we must continue our faith. Your shallow objective in life makes you unhappy now, Katsu.”

She gazed at Toda with tears in her eyes. Her gaze was locked on his face. “Your complaining mind is destroying everything in you. Become the happiest woman in the country. I am sure you can.”

Kiyohara smiled through her tears.

A person who never complains would be a truly revolutionary phenomenon. There may be justification for some complaining, but nonetheless Kiyohara made up her mind to strive to stop completely. She resolved to drive away complaints from her mind. The moment she so determined, a lightness spread over her whole being and she felt very happy. She saw the glimmer of a bright, vigorous life unfolding before her. Could it be that at this moment the second stage of her faith—her second life—had started?

She changed her entire frame of mind and began to introduce this practice to her fellow teachers at school.
* * * * *

“Ripples” pp. 334 - 335

Shin’ichi Yamamoto, representing President Ikeda, ponders his future as someone thoroughly committed to kosen-rufu..

To devote his entire life to the Soka Gakkai under Toda would require boundless effort in the future because the objective was so great. There would be no choice but to succeed—or fail. He knew this instinctively. He resisted making a commitment with all his might, pondering what to do.

“If I am to escape, now is the time, because afterwards no repentance will mend matters.”

At times, his hesitation made him suffer a smoldering frustration. Yet, from what he could recall of the Daishonin’s Buddhism he had learned from Toda, he was forced to admit that there was no problem that came to mind from his reading or meditation that could not be solved. Day by day, he couldn’t help appreciating more and more deeply the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism.

Just as his illness changed, so did his world—from favorable to adverse and back, in various manifestations, from morning to afternoon to evening. The future he foresaw seemed endlessly chaotic, alternating from bright to dark. To devote his entire life to the Soka Gakkai under Toda would require infinite effort from him.

There was a great force building in the mind of twenty-year-old Shin’ichi Yamamoto. It did not attract anyone’s attention, and even in his lonely self he didn’t recognize it.

* * * * *

“Ripples” pp. 345 - 347

During the Summer Course, President Toda responds to a statement from a young member who expresses his viewpoint that violence might be the way to confront corrupt politicians.

Toda’s words gradually became more animated. “People are ignorant of this vicious cycle. Life functions according to the Ten Worlds irrespective of the time. One innately possesses these Ten Worlds in one’s life. Because people are unaware of this, they can find no effective countermeasure. Therefore, civilization progresses, but evil makes even greater progress.

“Anyone can lament and criticize bad politics and society; they are in a bad state and need criticizing. But this alone has no constructive effect. It is human beings who operate society and politics, and the ten states of life are manifest in human hearts. If you are awakened to this reality, then it is only natural to say that individual human revolution is the most fundamental way to cut the roots of evil. Without human revolution on the part of each person, no policies for social and political improvement, no matter how promising, can be more than superficial.

“Such has been the repeated history of humankind. Yet people continue to believe in political or social revolution, while never believing in the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, which enables each individual to change his destiny and attain his human revolution. This can be called the greatest source of evil in modern times.

“Our activities, based on this fact, are a battle to exterminate the source of evil. The world is still ignorant of this point, but the time will doubtless come when it will astonish people. Of course, ours will not be an easy battle, but I can still promise that it is the surest path to the glorious future.”

“I understand that very well,” persisted the youth. “However, I still think it too mild a method in the light of such incidents, Mr. Toda.” Still brooding over the matter, the young man resisted Toda’s explanation.

“I see. You feel that if you eliminate evil politicians one after another, society will become a fine place to live in, don’t you.” The young man was silent.

“You have brooded over it too much,” Toda continued. “Your sense of justice is good, but predecessors with the same idea as yours can be found throughout history. They were terrorists and anarchists. Your solution is easy to come up with if you think only of challenging social evils, but it is a childish idea. Murder, as I have often said, is the most traitorous act against Buddhist teachings, because Buddhism expounds the solemn dignity of human life throughout the three existences—past, present and future.

“Suppose you kill another human being. Even if you feel society would then become a better place in which to live, it is only your self-righteous view—you could not escape the law of cause and effect. Terrorists without exception come to a tragic end. With its infinite and immeasurable campaign, the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, however, can redeem even unscrupulous politicians. It is for this reason that I risk my life in this cause.”

Everyone looked somewhat perplexed. In their mind the problem of unscrupulous politicians and the idea of kosen-rufu may not have seemed to connect easily in concrete terms.

“Sensei, what should we do first of all?” The young man spoke with even greater doubt in his voice.

Toda was thinking, perhaps, of some way to bring out the young man’s sensitivity, power of criticism and sense of justice. “So, you don’t understand yet,” he said. “Well, I’ll tell you. In fact, you already know what you should do about such social evils.” An amiable smile returned to Toda’s face. His listeners looked at one another or tilted their heads. “Don’t you see?”

Toda continued. “Suppose you have an unmanageable, delinquent son in your family, or perhaps a delinquent brother. What will you do with him?” This was a simple question, or so the faces on the audience seemed to say.

A youth who had had such an experience himself raised his hand at once. “I would make every possible effort to persuade him to join this religion and rehabilitate himself with the power of the Gohonzon. There is no other way. I can say this based on my own experience.”

“That’s right. You have already experienced it yourself. You may think cabinet ministers are an exception, but you are mistaken. Unscrupulous politicians are no different from delinquent sons. The only difference is that they are delinquent sons of the state who make use of their authority and therefore are very difficult to handle. The basic principle of kosen-rufu, however, is exactly the same for either a family or a nation. Merely because the two are greatly different in size, we find it hard to believe that the same principle applies to both. On closer examination, however, you will see that the state is merely a more complex and larger version of the family unit. Unless our organization and activities for kosen-rufu become large enough to relate to the state, it is only natural that our purpose will not be realized.

“It is an illusion to think that the Soka Gakkai will remain just as it is now. Just wait and see the Gakkai in ten, twenty or fifty years—it will be unimaginable. Otherwise, there is no way we can save the nation, to say nothing of humanity. If we fail, the golden teachings of Nichiren Daishonin would be proved false. If the time is ripe, the Gakkai will never remain as it is.

* * * * *

“Fruition” pp. 357 – 358
Shin’Ichi Yamamoto, having been recommended for a position with President Toda’s publishing company, has a face to face meeting with his mentor.

“Sensei, this is Yamamoto,” Yamadaira said.

“I know,” Toda replied.

Without saying anything, Yamamoto handed Toda his personal history. His long eyelashes seemed almost to cast shadows, and there remained something boyish in his face.

Toda opened the résumé with care and fixed his eyes on its details. A rather long silence followed. Toda asked nothing about the details. After a little while more, he raised his head and set his eyes on Yamamoto with a smile.

“Will you strive?” This was all he said.

“Yes, I will, sir,” Yamamoto answered immediately. “Please, sir.”

It was an instantaneous reaction. The decisive moment was already at hand. The time had already ripened. That summer night one year before when he had met Toda, what he had foreseen then had now inevitably become a reality.

That summer night when he had written of the Showa Denko Incident in his diary, would he have dared to cross this Rubicon back then? He thought again of Julius Caesar, violating the law, opting to cross the Rubicon to defeat the army of Pompey and end a civil war in his motherland, saying, “The die is cast.”

“Revolution means facing death. Our revolution is the devotion of our lives to the Mystic Law.”When Yamamoto wrote this in his diary, didn’t he already sense his destiny—of devoting his life to the Mystic Law? It would be his launching on the most glorious path to follow in youth, but it also unloosened a fear of the unknown. It was a revolution that he would dare to carry out, but it meant a kind of death. To stake his total being on the Mystic Law without hesitation would be the death of an unknown common youth named Shin’ichi Yamamoto. With this death, though, the young Shin’ichi Yamamoto would be reborn as a son of the revolution of the Mystic Law. Amid all his worries, he somehow found in himself the necessary hope and courage.

His idea of devotion of life to the Mystic Law would become, in its concrete application, his devotion to a rare and gifted teacher, Josei Toda. Yamamoto realized this instantly.

Some people may say that Yamamoto’s ideal was simplistic. In the course of his inexperienced life, however, he had realized the powerful, bright, sublime objective of his life. His determination was complete.