The Human Revolution Vol IV
Readings for April, 2007
(Chapter titles and page numbers from the current edition are given for each excerpt)
“The Garden of Life” pp. 408-409
Through his painstaking prayers and study in prison, Toda comes to the profound realization that the Buddha is life itself.
The key to understanding the twelve incomprehensible lines was, to Toda, to identify body at the beginning of the verse. If the verse is regarded as outlining only the physical property of the Buddha, the meaning will be distorted. Also, if the Buddha indicates an entity mysterious beyond imagination, then it follows that the Buddha exists only beyond reality. Toda, however, was certain intuitively that the twelve lines suggested the existence of something of real substance.
He continued chanting, ceaselessly trying to come to the true meaning of body. He fell into a deep meditation, recalling each of the thirty-four negations one after the other—trying to imagine what it might be that could absolutely exist despite so many negational words. He was no longer conscious of the passing of time and completely forgot where he was.
The word life flashed through his mind.
And in that instant, he arrived at a complete awareness of the meaning of the twelve mystic lines:
Life is neither existing nor not existing,
neither caused or conditioned, neither self or other
neither square or round, neither short or long….
neither crimson or purple or any other sort of color.
“Is not ‘body’ none other than life? When we realize this, then nothing is mystic or mysterious. It is now obvious that the Buddha means life itself.”
Toda rose to his feet. He did not in the least feel the bitter cold of the cell and was completely unaware of the time. Breathing deeply, with rosy cheeks and glowing eyes, filled inside with a boundless joy, he began to walk back and forth.
It was a tiny cell. He paced up and down in a self-possessed manner, his emaciated shoulders braced upright and his fists clenched tight.
“Buddha is both life itself and an expression of life. It does not exist outside ourselves but within our lives. No, it exists outside our lives as well. It is the life of the entire universe! Everyone inherently possesses Buddhahood. And we can tap it by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon.”
He wanted to cry out—to anyone, to everyone. In that instance, his narrow cell seemed to expand infinitely. When his excitement subsided, he seated himself upright, conjuring up the image of the Gohonzon. As the twilight deepened, he commenced the serene chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
In a brief moment of enlightenment, Toda reached the threshold of a thought development that will someday revolutionize the world’s philosophies. The achievement was his, for no direct mention of human life as such is to be found in the Lotus Sutra. By uncovering the meaning of the twelve enigmatic lines, Toda grasped the true aspect of Buddhahood as life existing within cosmic life and in the lives of human beings. This universal life force pervades all things in all three stages of existence—past, present and future. By instilling in Buddhist thought a fresh interpretation, he proved two immensely significant things. First, he showed that the life philosophy of Buddhism is more than an equal for modern scientific thought. Second, he revealed the life philosophy as set forth by Nichiren Daishonin is superior to all other philosophies of the ancient and modern worlds.
“The Garden of Life” pp. 411-413
In November 1944, after chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 2 million times, Toda realizes his true identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and awakens to his true mission for kosen-rufu.
If there was anything at all [that he was thinking of], it was the fifteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, “Emerging from the Earth,” which he had been reading over and over again for several days. It had taken up residence in a corner of his mind.
The sun provided warmth, and a gentle breeze reminded him of the peace of spring as it caressed his cheeks. He felt as though an indescribable delight in living were flowing from his body. He felt enveloped in a peaceful, quiet and endless shroud of emotion, which seemed to be washing away all his worries and sufferings.
“When these bodhisattvas heard the voice of Shakyamuni Buddha speaking, they came up from below. Each one of these bodhisattvas was the leader of his own great assembly, and each brought with him a retinue equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges. To say nothing of those who brought retinues equal to the sands of fifty thousand, forty thousand, thirty thousand, twenty thousand or ten thousand Ganges” (LS, 213).
In an instant, Toda found himself in the air, in a huge crowd of people —numbering as many as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers—all worshipping the Gohonzon.
It was neither dream nor illusion. It seemed as if it lasted only a few seconds, or perhaps a few minutes, or again as long as several hours. It was to Toda a firm reality that he was experiencing for the first time. As supreme jubilation filled his body, he cried to himself that the experience was without falsity and that he had actually been part of it all. At that moment, he came to himself, seated in his narrow prison cell in the morning sunshine.
Stricken dumb with surprise at the experience, Toda shed tears of joy. He removed his glasses and pressed a towel to his face, but it was impossible to restrain his tears. An overflowing delight permeated his entire life and being.
With tears still streaming down his face, he read the passage: “The assembly on Eagle Peak has not yet been dispersed.” What had he witnessed?
He recalled the lines from the Gosho: “Nichiren was without doubt directly bequeathed these Three Great Secret Laws from the Lord Buddha as the supreme leader of all Bodhisattvas of the Earth more than two millenniums ago.”
Toda was almost delirious with joy. Each time he read Nichiren Daishonin’s writing called “The Three Great Secret Laws,” he had always been perplexed by the term directly bequeathed. He now found, however, that this was no imaginary ceremony or act.
“I myself must have been one of those people numbering as many as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, and Nichiren Daishonin must have been the supreme leader on that occasion!” he thought. “What a solemn, brilliant ceremony, held at time without beginning! So, in fact, I myself am a Bodhisattva of the Earth!”
He paced the tiny cell. He went back to his small desk, sat himself down, and resumed reading the “Emerging from the Earth” chapter.
He tapped his fingers on his desk and nodded deeply to himself, “Yes, it was exactly this way.” He went straight into the “The Life Span of the Thus Come One” chapter. Then he read through the remaining eight chapters, which described the transfer process, and reached the “Entrustment” chapter.
The ideographs from each chapter instantly became familiar and summoned him as if he were reading once again a notebook he had kept. Words that formerly had seemed so ambiguous became obvious and comprehensible. He could not believe his own eyes. But he did not marvel in the least at how he had come to fathom this great mystery.
With fierce and intense emotion, he declared in his heart: “Excellent! My life was destined for this. I will never forget this most precious day. I will complete the purpose of my life only by propagating this magnificent Buddhist teaching!”
He had been awakened to his mission. Thinking of time past and of the future to come, he realized that he was already forty-five. He remembered from the Meiji era, during which he was born, the system of dividing a man’s age into decades, a system by which Confucius, gauging his own life, expounded the harmony of a person’s age and a relevant credo.
“At forty, freed from vacillation, and at fifty, knew heaven’s decree” was the Confucian idiom.
Toda, at forty-five, belonged to neither of these, but he had acquired them both at once.
Pacing about in his cell, he declared: “Freed from vacillation five years late and knew heaven’s decree five years early!”
“The Garden of Life” pp. 414-417
Writing “The Philosophy of Life” for the inaugural issue of the DaiByakuRenge study magazine, Toda reflects on his experiences in prison and explains the meaning of life and death in very accessible terms.
“‘What is human life?’ ‘Does it exist only in this world?’ ‘Does it last for eternity?’ These are eternal riddles for all humankind. From ancient days, those respected as great sages or distinguished persons desperately sought answers to these questions, each in his own way.”
In the coming section, he had intended to introduce the opinions of others, the historical saints and sages of old. He even began by introducing the words of Jesus Christ and Confucius, but now he scratched out the words and tore up the sheet of paper. He thought:
“The profound problem of human life cannot be elucidated through a mere play of words, and it rightfully should not be so easy. People are fed up with facile wordplay. People seek the truth, and I have to let them know the truth as it really is. I believe conclusively that it was already concealed deep in my heart. To explain what this is, I have to reveal the philosophy of life to which I have been awakened. I wish to present it in a simple and brief manner. My work will be of no value, even if I approach the knotty, technical problems of philosophy, if it is couched in difficult theories and philosophical terms. The general public will not be satisfied.”
With a smile, he resumed his writing:
“In the filth of prison, lice breed prolifically. One day, as if invited by the balmy spring sunshine, several lice strolled out lightheartedly. I put two of them on the desk and watched them wriggle desperately. I crushed one of them with my fingernail, but the other one continued moving about nonchalantly. I pondered where the life of the crushed one had gone. Did it disappear from this world forever?”
An innocent smile crept across his face as he stopped to think. “Taking the example of lice might be repugnant. All right, I will write about a beautiful flower as well.” He found himself becoming somewhat merry in spite of himself.
“Suppose there is a cherry tree. If you break a twig from it and place it in a vase, after some time the buds will blossom and green leaves will emerge, even if they are a bit feeble. Is the life of the broken twig different from that of the original cherry tree, or is it the same? As we ponder this, ‘life’ becomes all the more mysterious an entity.”
It was Toda’s unique method to begin with the most immediate and familiar objects to help people understand profound problems more easily. Indeed, there can be no doubt that the deepest truths lie hidden within the most commonplace happenings. On that basis, Josei Toda was distinctly qualified to be called the day’s most eminent philosopher.
His plan was to treat the problem of human life and the issue of life and death through the use of familiar examples, such as those of lice and cherry boughs.
It was when he had faced the death of his daughter and his first wife as a young man that he had begun seriously thinking of the life and death of human beings. Moreover, his father had died shortly after his wife and daughter. He could never forget the longstanding grief and agony he felt when faced by the death of his closest family. Trying to arrive at some solution to the issue of life and death—and seized by the fear of his own death—he groped for answers in Christianity and in the Amida Sutra.
He was not in the least satisfied by what he found. He wrote about his experience:
“I experienced the distress again in my solitary cell. Innately interested in science and mathematics, I found it hard to believe something that I could not grasp theoretically.
“In the meantime, I devoted myself to reading the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. When I came across a phrase with mysterious meaning in the Lotus Sutra, with the ardent wish to read the passage with my life, I followed the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”
His pen glided over the paper.
“When the number of times I had chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo neared the two million mark, I had a mysterious experience, and there emerged a life-condition from within me that I had never before imagined. Shaking with great jubilation, I stood alone in the cell to declare to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and to all humankind:
“‘Freed from vacillation five years late, and learned heaven’s decree five years early!’
“From my own experience, I am manifesting the substance of human life, based upon the view of life revealed in the Lotus Sutra.”
He wrote nonstop to this point, then stopped and reread it.
Because he was so nearsighted, he had to read the manuscript with his nose almost to the paper. He felt satisfied that he had been able to write in an even simpler manner of expression than he had expected.
“The Garden of Life” pp. 427-428
In the concluding chapter of his essay, Toda continues his explanation of the eternity of life.
“As I mentioned before, the universe itself is life. Suppose we die. After death, life is fused into the great life of the universe and can be found nowhere, just as there is no connection between moments of grief or between moments of delight, or as there is no mind while one is asleep. For a thing called a soul to be navigating the heavens is not a valid theory. Even if life melts into the great universe, it does not always feel repose. Just as sleep is not necessarily restful. While we sleep, some find peace; others are tortured by bad dreams, and others worry about their light slumber.”
Since there is no way to prove life after death scientifically, Toda realized that his thesis might be considered mere hypothesis. Through his own experience, however, he was well aware that those who believed faithfully in the premise of his thesis and who practiced Buddhism earnestly had been able to change their destinies and achieve their proof in the attainment of Buddhahood.
Still, he was profoundly convinced that the time would doubtless come when his hypothesis would be established as truth.
The Buddhist view of the universe, established three thousand years ago, is being proven scientifically every day by modem astronomers, although they are unaware that it is proof of Buddhism as such. Similarly, the truth of Josei Toda’s philosophy of life will also be proclaimed in the future. It is a modern trend in the world that one cannot overlook the lucid intuition that derives from what is known as the wisdom of the East.
It is regrettable that the world’s intellectuals are not even aware that the core of this wisdom lies in the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. Even if they chance upon it, they refuse to believe it. It is as if humankind is staring vapidly into the air, standing upon the shore of a deep lake of unhappiness, one that extends far off into the endless future.
With a perplexed heart, Toda gazed at this visage of humankind living foolishly in the modern age. What he truly desired most of all was to share his superb, sharp and truthful intuition with all those stalemated in life. He wrote the following as the natural conclusion of his article:
“The question of how people’s lives melt into the universe after death can be grasped spontaneously once you reach the heart of Buddhism by studying the Buddhist sutras. A life in the state of death can resume its visible manifestation in this world when its rebirth is caused by some unknown circumstance or karmic relationship. But just as one continues to be who he was the previous night once he awakens in the morning, the newborn life must maintain and continue the prescribed life of its former existence as an unavoidable effect of its past acts.
“Thus, just as one sleeps and awakens, and awakens and sleeps, a person lives and dies, and dies and lives, maintaining the eternity of life.”
“Current of the Times” pp. 452-453
In responding to a problem that had erupted with the threat of violence at a discussion meeting, some leaders think it represents the appearance of the third of the Three Powerful Enemies. Toda prepares his disciples for the challenges that will inevitably befall them as the Soka Gakkai continues to develop.
Coughing, he stressed his words in a formal tone: “Kosen-rufu is the greatest, most unprecedented undertaking. It has never before even been heard of. The three powerful enemies are sure to emerge on our way toward this goal. We must be prepared for them. Now we have plunged into a period when we can put into practice the work necessary to achieve kosen-rufu. The struggle for this goal will be carried out in all spheres of society. We must therefore take into consideration the time when all society may oppose our movement. Ours will be a multi-layered movement, embracing politics, economics, culture, education and everything else. We should always be steadfast no matter what may happen. I wish that such a day could come so soon, since it would mean the dawn of kosen-rufu. Never forget the importance of embracing firm faith as your basis, whatever may happen. We can win in everything if we have strong faith. Well, at any rate let’s fight valiantly in great unity until such a time comes!”
Lighting a cigarette, Toda continued in the same tone:
“The time has not yet come, however. That which is appearing now is but the first powerful enemy, that is, ignorant lay people. Other Buddhist schools have begun to raise dust; this is but the initial appearance of the second powerful enemy, opposition by priests of other schools. Still less, the shadow of third powerful enemy, opposition by people in power, is not even apparent yet. This is regrettable, in a way. We are not yet strong enough to arouse such strong enemies, and this is unavoidable. In the future, however, the time will come when you will realize to the marrow of your bones how dreadful is the most powerful enemy. Take care not to be ridiculed by other people, finding yourself paralyzed by terror or thrown into utter confusion when such incidents actually begin to occur. To meet any difficulty at any future time requires assiduous practice in everyday life; that is what is important now. No one here should discard faith. Do you understand?”
“Current of the Times” pp. 454
Further in his response to this episode, Toda gives guidance to his disciple, warning him to not have an easygoing attitude in the face of potential danger or harm.
“It is a gross mistake to think that the trouble will be easily resolved if only Izumida is beaten up. There is no knowing how many men they may gather. Most probably, they will have guns also. Danger comes soonest when you ignore it with the easygoing attitude that you will be protected because you embrace the faith. In any fight, there is an opponent, and you must be fully prepared for the worst. This is an expression of our faith. You cannot say that merely chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will save you. When Shijo Kingo was shadowed by heretics, Nichiren Daishonin wrote letters to him, kindly urging caution along every step. We must digest his golden saying, ‘Everyone must be careful.’ I hope you will ponder this.”
“Growing Ripples” pp. 470-471
President Ikeda describes the efforts Toda made over the four years since his release from prison to build the Gakkai, and the results that began to show in 1949.
Day and night, Josei Toda challenged the nihilistic and enervating feeling that permeated all of Japan in those days. To be skeptical provides some meaning sometimes, but nihilism is a mental condition in which one denies that anything is trustworthy.
Toda had the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin to believe in; he was willing to die for it, at any time. Four years had already passed since his release from prison, when he stood with great determination at a corner of a burned-out lot in Tokyo. His unyielding spirit had raised more than one hundred district leaders since then.
The disciples he had trained were active in vigorously carrying out discussion meetings every evening of every month, in and around Tokyo. Discussion meetings already took place in almost forty places, and youth division meetings at close to twenty different sites. Due to such brisk activities, the number of new converts every month numbered around seventy.
Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. A person who advances steadily is the most promising. The coterie that had set forth toward the reconstruction of the Soka Gakkai consisted of a few vigorous members of a nucleus, all of them filled with great hope for the future, all of them solidly united.
Lectures on the Lotus Sutra, which had commenced with the participation of only four members in January 1946, continued steadily until more than one hundred pioneers at one time were present for the eighth lecture completion ceremony in July 1949.
More than one hundred participants were enrolled in the ninth course that began in September. They would hurry to the second floor of the Nihon Shogakkan every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening.
The fourth summer course was held that year, attended by more than two hundred members, the largest assembly ever achieved. Evidently, blessings were in full bloom for all the members: during the four days of the summer session, as many as sixty-two participants volunteered to relate their marvelous testimonials.
“Gust of Wind” pp. 486-487
Discussing the threat of nuclear war which was building in 1950, President Ikeda summarizes Toda’s 1957 speech calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
What, then, is the true character of this devilish function? Thus far, the abstract interpretation and explanations advanced are totally beside the point. Basically, it is nothing but the functioning, or power, of evil that deprives people of their happiness and is the source of their increasing unhappiness.
Then what enables one to uncover this evil function? Here, the importance of life philosophy becomes obvious. Only the life of the Buddha can defeat this evil. Devilish functions can never defeat the Buddha. Therefore, the potential for nuclear war, an operation of the ultimate death-force will surely subside and disappear as it is confronted by the forces of the Buddha, the ultimate life force.
The extinction of the threat of nuclear war hinges on the force of the Buddha—indeed, the appearance of this latter force in the twentieth century coincided with the appearance of nuclear power. Josei Toda made the fulfillment of this evil-destroying mission the foremost in his last will.
“Gust of Wind” p. 487
As some of Makiguchi’s businessmen disciples who had quit their faith during the war make a show of being leaders (by sitting on stage at meetings), Toda urges the youth to develop themselves through activity.
Disgusted with such leaders, Toda sometimes disclosed his feelings to his youthful followers.
“The Soka Gakkai,” he would say, “is an organization for activity. It is the supreme organization that practices the supreme good in the world. A platform for accessory leaders is therefore unnecessary. We cannot say that the Soka Gakkai is developing so long as these old-time directors continue to be seated on the platform. You should brace yourselves and develop rapidly into fine leaders. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to support the Soka Gakkai in the future.”
“Gust of Wind” p. 494
After describing the impact on Japan of the buildup of the Cold War, President Ikeda explains the importance of the middle way philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism.
So long as capitalists are merely committed to challenging communists, or so long as any ideologues exist merely to provoke their opposite, this earth will never be visited by the springtime of peace. No genuine dialogue for peace can be brought forth from amidst antagonism, conflict and perversity.
Herein lies the inevitable need for a third force with a profound philosophy, one that can stand above the two conflicting ideologies. The entire human family is, I feel, longing for the emergence of this third force. What it desires, deep down, is the middle way philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. This is, in other words, the essential principle of humanity.
Gusts of wind bearing war clouds will soon be transformed through this philosophy into a balmy springtime breeze of peace.
“Raging Waves” pp. 509-510
With all the leaders in shock at Toda’s announcement that he was resigning as general director and being replaced by Yoshizo Mishima, Shin’ichi goes to seek out Toda alone, and is deeply encouraged.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto felt like clinging to Toda’s words “I myself cherish a profound resolution deep in my heart.” He could not imagine the Soka Gakkai without Toda. The Soka Gakkai was Toda’s own life and Toda was the Soka Gakkai itself.
Shin’ichi slipped out of the group encircling Mishima and entered Toda’s room alone. Toda was by himself at his desk, smoking, with his head in his hands. Noticing the dejected and spiritless figure of Shin’ichi, he said with a smile, “What? What’s the matter with you?”
Words failed Shin’ichi. He sat upright before Toda’s desk and tried to speak of his burning thoughts.
Tears filled his eyes.
“Sensei, if Mr. Mishima becomes the general director, does he also become my mentor?”
“No, he doesn’t! I am your mentor, although I cause so much trouble for you all the time.”
An instant and obvious answer had come from Toda; these were the very words that the pure-hearted youth, Shin’ichi, desired most to hear with his entire being. An inexpressible delight shot through his whole body. He felt as if he had discerned the brightly lit beacon of a lighthouse through the darkness of the raging waves, or as if he had experienced the great relief of finding a spring of pure water in the boiling heat of the desert.
“This is enough,” he thought. “It doesn’t matter what may happen, even if the credit association may go into bankruptcy, or if Toda may resign as general director—so long as the thread connecting Toda and myself remains unbroken.”
He could not express this thought in words, however. Instead, his whole face brightened as he gazed wordlessly at Toda. The worry disappeared from Toda’s face, but tears glistened in his eyes.
“What’s the matter, Shin’ichi?”
“Nothing, Sensei. Nothing.”
Nothing, but then, what doesn’t matter? Words again failed him as delight filled his heart. “Sensei, good night.” Shin’ichi suddenly rose to his feet, bowed and went downstairs.
Putting on his worn shoes, he went outside alone. He walked with light steps and whistled his favorite tune, “Moon Over a Ruined Castle.”
“My lifelong mentor is Josei Toda—none other than Sensei,” murmured Shin’ichi in his heart time and again.
“Autumn Frost” pp. 520-522
In the midst of their overwhelming and painful struggles, Toda and Shin’ichi support each other and strengthen the bond between them.
Toda retained his self-composure, but he had become quite emaciated. Shin’ichi Yamamoto sometimes found it painful to see Toda’s face, although he himself was also emaciated. One night the two met alone in the office. Gazing firmly at the haggard face of Shin’ichi, Toda said, “What’s the matter with you, Shin’ichi? You are totally lacking in vital life force. Without vitality, you cannot win. Come here.”
With these scolding words, Toda made Shin’ichi seat himself before the Gohonzon. A serious gongyo began, followed by a long period chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Exhausted as he was, the unequalled mentor prayed to the Gohonzon in earnest for the sake of a haggard disciple he loved so much. Shin’ichi strove to hold back his tears.
The deep emotions that Shin’ichi felt that night did not fade even after he returned to his lodging. In the dead of night, the youth’s tears of gratitude crystallized into a poem:
As I serve my mentor
in the old mystic bond,
Unchanged will I myself remain,
though others may change.
He wrote a clean copy and put it into one of the inside pockets of his coat. He was anxious to present it to Toda. The next morning, Toda and Shin’ichi exchanged greetings, Toda inwardly worrying about his disciple’s health and Shin’ichi being anxious about his mentor’s condition and also recalling what had occurred the previous evening.
“Shin, did you sleep well last night? You must not become any thinner,” Toda advised.
“Yes, thank you. Sensei, will you please get more rest? Please.” Shin’ichi took the paper from his pocket and handed it to Toda.
Toda pressed his nearsighted eyes next to the paper and looked at it. “Yes, I know.”
Toda looked stern for a moment, but the next moment, he smiled and cast his eyes upon Shin’ichi.
This innocent poem seemed to cause an indescribable delight in Toda, who had been facing much criticism from all sides. As he read it over and over again, he forgot for the moment the condemnation directed at him.
“All right, I will compose a poem in response to yours. Have you any paper? Well, let me see…”
Toda picked up a pen, thought for a while and then began to write in bold strokes:
Oft I arose on fields of war
I’ll keep you as my sword
at my side always.
“This is my small gift for you.”
With gratitude Shin’ichi was about to receive the piece of paper, but Toda would not hand it to him.
“Wait. I have another poem to write for you.”
With pen in hand, Toda remained still for a moment, and then he moved suddenly and wrote another poem in fluid motions:
My glory as king is fading
And my power gone;
I will leave behind, howe’er,
You, my crown,
Even if I may die.
“Now, everything’s all right.”
Toda appeared both glad and lonely at the same time. He gave Shin’ichi the two poems in a casual manner. Shin’ichi nodded deeply as he read through them. He could not control himself as strong emotions ran through his entire being: “Am I really the sword of my mentor? Will I deserve to be called his crown?… He knows me as well as he knows himself.”
Shin’ichi lifted his eyes. At that very moment, Toda’s most profound benevolence penetrated Shin’ichi’s entire being with an eternal influence. These two entirely different individuals had been united into one in their hearts, and the true entity of life from eternal aeons was manifested as their separate lives were assimilated into a single being.
Toda, silent, smiled.
“Thank you very much.” This was all Shin’ichi could say. He clearly saw Toda’s eyes behind his spectacles; they were glistening—sharp, warm and clear.
“Autumn Frost” pp. 529-530
In late October, 1950, Toda visits the head temple. After midnight, he begins chanting in front of the building where the Dai-Gohonzon was enshrined, and reflects strictly on himself for the still weak development of the Gakkai and his avoidance of the presidency.
“The anniversary of the death of my revered mentor, Mr. Makiguchi, draws near. I myself, am in extreme distress. Following the loss of my teacher, I have tried somewhere in my heart to avoid the presidency, yet I have been aware at the same time of my great mission. What a contradiction I find in myself! I have postponed the assumption of the presidency since I foresaw its overwhelming responsibilities. Because of my cowardice, however, I have left people in the hands of erroneous schools while they are forced to confront the worst crisis in Japanese history. This sin deserves the death penalty!”
Josei Toda would from time to time stop chanting and, in the boundless depths of his self-searching,
face up to the sin he felt he had committed.
There had been, however, another, more concrete reason why Toda had evaded the presidency. From the days of President Makiguchi, Toda had borne all the expense of the Soka Gakkai by himself. Therefore, when he dedicated himself to the reconstruction of the organization after the war, he first gave consideration to the establishment of its economic foundation rather than its organizational development.
From his experience as a businessman, he feared that, in a capitalistic society, the great venture of kosen-rufu would fail halfway without a solid economic backing. Now, however, he began to realize his error—that he had been deliberating on the economic problem, something within human control, prior to tackling the religious revolution, the most basic solution to all human problems. In other words, he became aware that even economic activities depend greatly on a sense of mission to be attained through faith.
The struggle in his heart reached its climax at that moment. Finally, he made up his mind:
“Whatever hardship may befall me, I must put it aside. This I will not do for my own sake but for the cause of fulfilling my mission. I must not by any means leave even a single teaching of Nichiren Daishonin’s unfulfilled. Dai-Gohonzon, Josei Toda deserves death, yet if you qualify me for my mission, will you please forgive me?”
Facing the door of the Treasure House, he chanted with an earnest prayer, enough to exhaust his entire being. Suddenly, he heard birds begin to sing. In the solemn mountain atmosphere, the eastern sky gradually turned gray.
“Autumn Frost” pp. 536-537
President Ikeda describes his youthful struggle during the severe times in late 1950.
Toda, seeing Shin’ichi, would often utter these words:
“Shin’ichi, Buddhism is win or lose. Being brave, let’s try to fight so long as our lives shall last. Life is eternal. This will surely be proven in some form during our present existence.”
Finding a few spare moments, Toda talked seriously to Shin’ichi of the Gakkai’s future and its course, deliberately instructing him that, should some mishap occur to him, Toda, then Shin’ichi should continue his unfinished work.
Each day, they doggedly pursued their decisive battle. What embarrassed Shin’ichi most in these days of strain was that he had no spare shirts left. Plus, his shoes were worn, his clothes ragged, and he had no new socks, forcing him to mend the ones he had. With his clumsy hands, he would darn the ragged threads of his worn-out socks. Moreover, since his salary had been delayed for more than three months, he had to reconcile himself to facing the winter without an overcoat. Nonetheless, Shin’ichi did not wilt a bit. Sharing Toda’s unbearable struggles, he could never retreat even a step. What sustained Shin’ichi was nothing but the special training from his mentor and the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. He pondered everything again and again as he reached the limit of his endurance:
“So long as Buddhism is the truth, the law of causality should also be strict. Look at the Soka Gakkai ten years from now. Watch the Gakkai in twenty years. And observe my existence then, too!”
It was already late autumn in 1950.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto, chanting ten thousand times a day, endured all the hardships confronting him, sustained by his practice of Buddhism.
“Autumn Frost” pp. 539-540
At the end of this volume, President Ikeda describes how the bonds between Toda and himself were forged during this most difficult time, and the significance of this from the viewpoint of their mission and the future development of the Soka Gakkai.
It can well be said that the behind-the-scenes story of these two men during that period were the deciding factors of the Soka Gakkai’s development and existence today. The Soka Gakkai’s marvelous development after Toda’s inauguration as second president in 1951, its leaping advance after his death and many other realities can only be attributed to the fostering of that decisive seed during this trial period, as well as, of course, the supremacy of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
A seemingly nondescript seed was at that time planted deep within the earth and, in due course, began to bear fruit in anticipation of a later, surprisingly phenomenal efflorescence. About this future development, Toda instructed Shin’ichi during this gestation period. Shin’ichi ardently believed in it and, so believing, devoted himself wholly to Toda. He even resolved that he would accept imprisonment in place of his mentor should Toda be so charged.
Toda’s earnest instruction every Sunday continued without missing a beat. He gave Shin’ichi lectures both in the morning and the afternoon, forsaking time for his own recuperation. Sometimes, Shin’ichi, dead tired, would oversleep at his boarding house and keep Toda waiting. An extensively learned theorist with but few parallels, Toda gave marvelous, to-thepoint lectures. His was a lecture with a strong determination to completely pass on to Shin’ichi all that he had accumulated during his fifty-year life, as if thinking: “I will teach you with all my might, for I may die tomorrow.” The two created a perfect fusion of mentor and disciple.
The leaders of the Soka Gakkai were, naturally enough, being passed through a sieve during this period. Those who were nakedly ambitious and impure in faith left the organization, and only those with pure faith remained as members. In fact, the organization was superbly purified in a short period, leaving a purely religious body composed entirely of courageous Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
What Josei Toda experienced during these several months must have been similar to something like the Tatsunokuchi Persecution of Nichiren Daishonin. And to Shin’ichi Yamamoto, it was the period when he exerted “one-hundred million aeons of effort in a single moment of life” (gz, 790). Soon afterwards, Toda revealed his true identity as second president of the Soka Gakkai, in order to fulfill his mission in this lifetime, and Shin’ichi began to put into action the phrase from the Gosho, “The three bodies [of the Buddha] that have always existed in your life will emerge and dwell within your mind from moment to moment. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is an assiduous practice” (GZ, 790).