The Human Revolution Vol. VI
Readings for June 2007
(Chapter titles and page numbers from the current edition are given for each excerpt)
“The Seventh Centennial” pp. 668-671
While describing the events surrounding the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, President Ikeda relates the events leading up to the first chanting of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the lecture at Seicho-jo Temple and the start of the Daishonin’s propagation activities.
The Daishonin was called Zennichimaro in those early days. Advancing in his studies, one day he offered a prayer to the statue of Bodhisattva Space Treasury: “Make me the man with the most profound wisdom in all of Japan.” His small body possessed a lively and vibrant rhythm of life. With this life force, he offered his prayer, as if to send it far into the universe.
Why did Zennichimaro pray specifically to Bodhisattva Space Treasury, who signifies the life of the universe? The answer may be that he wished to reach the essence of the universe.
As Zennichimaro deepened his study of Buddhism at Seicho-ji temple, many questions about Buddhism came to his mind—“Buddhism was expounded by only one person, Shakyamuni; then why is it divided into so many schools? The truth Shakyamuni revealed must be only one. Which school actually contains this truth within its own teaching?”
Every school and every temple was praying for the peace of the country and the prosperity of the people. And yet their prayers went unanswered. For example, why was it that Emperor Antoku drowned in the sea when his forces were attacked by Minamoto Yoritomo? During the Jokyu Revolt, which took place shortly before the birth of Zennichimaro, the forces of the imperial court were defeated by those of Hojo Yoshitoki. As a result, the three former emperors were exiled—Gotoba to the islands of Oki (located in the Japan Sea, off of present-day Shimane Prefecture), Juntoku to Sado Island, and Tsuchimikado to the province of Awa (an area presently called Shikoku Island). It was incomprehensible to the people in those days that emperors could be defeated by rebels. Because emperors were believed to be direct descendants of the native gods of Japan, it was truly unthinkable for them. Yet it was actually happening. Why?
All of these seemingly simple questions actually contained great significance. These questions completely occupied Zennichimaro’s mind. Not a single priest of Seicho-ji temple could provide a clear answer to any of his questions. Zennichimaro dared to pursue all of his questions without the least hesitation. Great doubt leads eventually to great enlightenment. His great doubt led him to the very essence of Buddhism.
It was a refreshing dawn, a new dawn. Rencho was standing motionless, his eyes fixed on the eastern sky. A shimmering circle of golden light blazed around a spot on the horizon. The tip of the sun emerged from the blue of the ocean, whose waters already reflected the golden sphere. The sun’s vermilion glow was transforming into a glittering gold as it revealed its entire roundness above the horizon, a huge globe.
Facing the sun, Rencho joined his palms together with his prayer beads pressed between.
It was the first voice to chant the ultimate principle of Buddhism in the Latter Day of the Law. It was the declaration of the correct teachings of Buddhism. Not until that time had any human voice reached the great universe. Rencho chanted it a dozen times, his voice reverberating in the air. This does not mean that he worshiped the rising sun. Rencho greeted the sun, the center of our solar system, giving voice to that which he had been cherishing in his heart.
The morning sun illuminated his face—long eyelashes, dark eyes, youthful cheeks. His body, broad-chested, stout-shouldered and clothed in a gray silk robe, was shining in the reddish-gold reflection of the sunlight. There must have been a sunrise in his heart, as well as the richest life-condition that was ever realized. A man and nature—a man and the life of the universe itself—were fused into one.
“The Seventh Centennial” p. 677
In the context of Nichiren Daishonin’s sermon at Seicho-ji Temple, President Ikeda writes about the origins and true meaning of the term “shakubuku.”
From early on, religious debates and arguments based on the sutras and characterized by spirited discussion have been considered a matter of course. Our practice called shakubuku is based upon exactly the same principle. There is, however, some misunderstanding surrounding this Buddhist term.
The word was first used by Shakyamuni as he prescribed the method of propagation in the Latter Day. Nichiren Daishonin followed Shakyamuni’s usage of the term. It is rather illogical not to call the activities to introduce others in the Latter Day shakubuku. It is an act that most highly values religious dialogue and indicates the attitude to keep a great religious philosophy open to all.
“The Seventh Centennial” p. 681-683
President Ikeda writes about the fundamental spirit of Nichiren Daishonin’s sermon at Seicho-ji Temple and its timeless implications.
The statements “True Word will ruin the nation” and “Precepts is a traitor to the nation” may lead some to suspect that Nichiren Daishonin’s philosophy was formulated on nationalistic ideals. However, nation in this context does not indicate a limited, stereotypic concept. Today it might well be replaced by the expression society. When Nichiren used the word nation, he had in mind the social system and structure that most closely and directly related to the lives of the people. Buddhism’s outlook on society is permeated with humanistic undertones. In the Buddhist view, therefore, the nation is always considered in relation to each individual residing within it. In this respect, the attitude of Buddhism toward the nation differs fundamentally from a nationalism devoid of regard for humanity, or from the contemporary sociological view of a nation.
Nations in modern times trample the masses underfoot with their immense power. Without consideration for living people, the loftiest and most elaborate idea is nothing but empty theory. Never before has an entirely new outlook on social life, one oriented toward the restoration of humanity, been more needed than now. When Nichiren denounced True Word as the cause of national ruin and Precepts as traitorous, he nourished in his heart an unwavering confidence in a magnificent Buddhism open to society and capable of leading it to unprecedented prosperity and indestructible peace. Undoubtedly, he also envisioned this open-to-all religion spreading beyond the cramped confines of one nation to the dimensions of the world.
In a dignified manner, in the lucid brightness of daylight on that 28th day of April, Nichiren thundered forth this heretic-terrifying lecture, the content of which no one had ever before dared to imagine. He spoke as if to send his words into the very skies of the Latter Day of the Law. It was a bold declaration that none of the extant Buddhist schools of those days possessed correct teachings that would enable humans to attain enlightenment. It was a startling revelation that the correct Buddhism befitting the Latter Day prophesied by Shakyamuni, T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo could not be sought anywhere but in a wholehearted devotion to the seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the Great Law hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.
A great stone was thrown into the peace and quiet of Seicho-ji temple— a stone of religious revolution. As a natural consequence, it produced a huge uproar, just as if the water had risen in a towering column from a small pond. It virtually exhorted the entire assembly of the temple monks to change their thoughts, and as such it was the first invocation of the correct teaching of Buddhism in the Latter Day of the Law. The thirty-twoyear- old man, already well aware of his mission in the Latter Day, had now taken his first step toward the propagation of the correct teaching of Buddhism for the coming ten thousand years and more, throughout all eternity, his confidence and valor thus culminating in a strength as solid as a diamond.
Nothing is mightier than truth. Nichiren’s courageous declaration, springing from his heart, was directed through the medium of the Seichoji assemblage to the whole of Japan, and further, to the entire world. Few among the gathering were truly inspired by his fervent phrases. Most were simply antagonized and resented him. Even among the impressed minority, none was willing to renounce his or her faith immediately and volunteer to be a disciple. No one among the assembly truly understood his profound philosophy and his intent. This was no surprise to Nichiren, since his theory not only far surpassed the conventional concept of religion but overrode all restriction of time as well. It was not in the least meant solely for the understanding of a group of priests at a local temple. It was meant for the good of the suffering masses whose cries of grief never left his heart for a moment.
Nichiren also knew that his denunciation of the major schools prevailing in Japan at that time would inevitably invite all manner of persecutions, but he was prepared for anything. His mind was filled with infinite mercy to save the people by propagating the ultimate depths of Buddhism to which he had awakened. The demeanor of this youthful priest devoted to religious revolution was strictness itself. Every trailblazer must start alone. At all times and under any circumstances, he must take the lead for the age, following the truth imbedded in his soul. To gain his end, he is not permitted to stop for any reason, not even at ridicule and sneers from those who were once his good friends.
The young priest set sail for the salvation of all humankind alone. He was gazing into the endless future, firmly convinced that his philosophy in due course would permeate the minds of all people and its truth would illuminate all ages.
“The Seventh Centennial” p. 689-690
President Toda reflects on how the Soka Gakkai would actualize the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin’s “Four Dictums” which denounced the leading Buddhist sects of his time, in the modern world.
As he led the parade of more than four thousand members along the stone pathway toward Miedo Temple, Josei Toda imagined that 28th day of April, seven hundred years earlier, and walked absorbed in meditation.
“The long-established schools based on Shakyamuni’s provisional teachings were refuted by Nichiren Daishonin seven hundred years ago, their basis of existence denied. By now they are completely barren. Actually, those Buddhist schools were already hollow, retaining only their formality. Our contemporaries have lost interest in them. They think the schools exist merely for the administration of cemeteries and memorial services. Someone once called them dead religions. On the road to kosen-rufu, these are no longer our enemy. Who, then, is our enemy?”
He concluded that it was the ideas and ideologies of the present day. The old Buddhist schools had been completely refuted by the noted Four Dictums. There was no longer any school in Japan that needed to be refuted by those principles. In the future, Nichiren Buddhism would be led into confrontation with modern ideas and ideologies.
“No one in the history of Nichiren Buddhism, however, had expounded a new four dictums with which to refute such ideologies. Kosen-rufu remained stagnant. It’s not the old religions but rather the wide assortment of ideologies on which our present age is based. All human activities take their orientation from their underlying ideologies. The engine of time is roaring ahead on the axle of ideology, never stopping even for a moment. The influence of ideology is great—so much so that it’s terrifying. A new age requires a new philosophy. If each individual is blind to a broader view of humanity, a solution for the confusion will be next to impossible. The first and foremost thing that I must do is prove that the philosophy and ideology of Nichiren Daishonin retain their full vitality.”
“The Seventh Centennial” p. 691-693
Jimon Ogasawara, depicted as Jiko Kasahara in “The Human Revolution”, was a Nichiren Shoshu priest who propounded a theory that Buddhism was inferior to Shinto, and claimed that this distorted viewpoint was held by Nichiren Daishonin. He used this theory to gain favor with the ultranationalist government during World War II as a means of increasing his own power. His machinations had a direct impact on the imprisonment of the first two Soka Gakkai presidents. Knowing that he would be present at the Seventh Centennial commemorations, the Soka Gakkai prepared to confront this aberrant priest.
A careful search through all the lodging temples failed to locate Kasahara. A feeling of impatience began to pervade the liaison headquarters staff in the Rikyo-bo. Before the seventh centennial pilgrimage, Josei Toda had given the following instructions to the youth division leaders: “I am sure that Jiko Kasahara will come to the head temple on the 700th anniversary. Whenever and wherever you happen to meet him, without fail, you must challenge him to a debate then and there and crush this erroneous theory of his, root and branch!”
Thus the youth division members were under strict orders from their president to commence a thorough, irrefutable and just argument against this renegade priest. Toda expected more from the seventh centennial than just a formal ceremony for its own sake; for the Daishonin’s establishment of the correct teaching of Buddhism was a broad declaration directed toward the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law and longer, throughout eternity. Toda was resolved that the Soka Gakkai’s embarking upon the future, beginning as it did seven hundred years from the declaration, must also be based on the spirit of True Cause. The Daishonin’s teaching “The farther the source, the longer the stream” (WND, 940) always holds true. Toda feared that failure to build a solid foundation at the time of the 700th anniversary would prevent Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism from maintaining its flowing current.
For the eternal prosperity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, he was determined to pit himself once and for all against even the smallest stain of impurity. For several days before the pilgrimage, forty-seven leaders of the youth division worked out a methodical plan for their expected encounter with Kasahara. They vowed to accomplish their objective without any obstruction from outsiders. Now, at the critical moment, the wicked priest was nowhere to be found. Restlessness among the youthful members was turning into irritation.
From the time he left prison, not a day passed when Toda did not recall Makiguchi. The memory of his late mentor always brought to mind Jiko Kasahara. It outraged him that this base imposter, profiting from the wartime situation, had had the shameless audacity to distort the correct teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and proclaim his erroneous doctrine of “Shinto is absolute; and the Buddha, transient.” He recalled again how, in cooperation with the military, Kasahara had volunteered to take the lead in a projected consolidation of all Nichiren schools and so exerted pressure on High Priest Nikkyo, thus jeopardizing the continued survival of Nichiren Buddhism. Even after the Administration Bureau of Head Temple Taiseki-ji had barely managed to protect Nichiren Buddhism by expelling him, the man became all the more conspicuous in his collusion with the military, which eventually led to the suppression of the Soka Gakkai by the authorities.
Whenever he recalled Makiguchi’s death in prison, Toda renewed his unrelenting determination to come face to face with Kasahara some day. Buddhism can never be destroyed by force from without. The most dreadful destruction arises, without exception, from within. This is an ironclad rule that must never be forgotten by any leader at any time or under any circumstance. After his release from prison, Toda kept a sharp eye on Kasahara. On the day of his inauguration as president, he asked the Administration Bureau of the head temple:
“During the war, there was a vicious priest named Jiko Kasahara who formulated a worthless theory of ‘Shinto is absolute; the Buddha, transient,’ causing relentless suppression of the Soka Gakkai by the government. I hear that he still retains his priesthood in Nichiren Shoshu. Is this true? The Soka Gakkai has now embarked on a life-or-death propagation campaign across the nation. I sincerely hope that the head temple will properly understand and kindly protect Soka Gakkai activities and see to it that such a villain will not cause the disruption of Nichiren Buddhism any longer.”
This inquiry and request was prompted by Toda’s careful observations of Kasahara’s movements at that time, movements that indicated that the priest had resumed his vicious activities. Upon Toda’s inquiry, the Administration Bureau flatly denied any connection with Kasahara, saying: “There is definitely no such priest at the present time in Nichiren Shoshu. Kasahara has already been expelled.”
To Nichiren Shoshu during the war, Jiko Kasahara was as a parasite in the lion’s body. Because of his intrigues, the school had to devote all its efforts to defending the entire priesthood from a possible schism. For seven years after the war, Kasahara was said to be hiding in a temple in Gifu Prefecture. Then, a few years before the 700th anniversary, there was a rumor that he had held a lecture meeting in a Nichiren Shoshu temple in Hokkaido. There were also reliable reports that he was not only moving about in Kyushu but extending his evil influence to the Sendai district. As the anniversary drew closer, it was discovered that he was plotting to set up a beachhead for his activities in Tokyo, much as he had done during the war.
Toda was alarmed, since such activities could be easily used by outside forces to try and disrupt the believers’ unity. It was also certain that Kasahara was to appear at the head temple during the seventh centennial with every appearance of innocence. Failure to explode his harmful fallacies at this time would leave an everlasting source of trouble…
“The Seventh Centennial” p. 701
This passage describes President Toda’s attitude in confronting Kasahara, providing us with an example of how to confront those with a distorted view of Buddhism.
Toda tried to pacify the hysterical Kasahara.
“Calm down. There is no need to scream. We only ask you to admit the
falsity of your theory.”
“It is my own belief. Why should I apologize for that?”
“Then do you still believe that your theory is true?”
“It is not a matter of true or untrue. I say it is still correct.”
Now completely illogical, Kasahara showed no sign of repentance or apology. Toda perceived that Kasahara was still clinging vainly to his title of priest. It was the final vanity of a priest who was no longer a priest. It was this same vanity that was keeping Kasahara defiant of Toda. Realizing this, Toda began to pity Kasahara. Now he harbored no hatred toward this excommunicated priest who, during the war, had sown the immediate cause of Makiguchi’s death in prison and of his own two years of imprisonment. To Toda, the past mattered no longer. Seeing with his own eyes the miserable appearance of Kasahara, Toda felt nothing but compassion for that stubborn mind, which still clung fast to his fallacy.
The most important thing in Buddhism is reason. The validity of a Buddhist teaching should be decided through an equality-based consensus, regardless of people’s positions or stature or whether they be priests or lay believers. When people adhere to formality and neglect heart-to-heart dialogue, there can be no construction or progress in the true sense of the word.
Although Kasahara had been excommunicated from the priesthood, Toda realized that he was still as much Nichiren Daishonin’s disciple as was he himself. In this respect, Toda and Kasahara were of equal status. If he talked sincerely and frankly with Kasahara on this basis of equality, then this sinful priest would be sure to admit his error. To this end, it was necessary to excise the cause of Kasahara’s vanity, after which he might possibly change his mind. After all, it was probably his false sense of vanity that was preventing him from admitting his error. Toda felt it necessary to talk with Kasahara, as one believer to another.
“Transition” pp. 737-738
The following passages describe the marriage of Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his wife Mineko, representing President and Mrs. Ikeda.
Thus on May 3, 1952, Shin’ichi and Mineko embarked on a new life. The next day they visited the head temple to pray to the Dai-Gohonzon, then left on their honeymoon. During the journey, their conversation centered on resolutions for the future—to respect Toda as their life-long mentor, never to part from the Soka Gakkai throughout their lives, to contribute to the improvement of society, not to begrudge serving other people and so on.
On the path before them, they might run into the greatest of hardships, the severest of storms and even suppression by the authorities, but the young couple set their sights exclusively on the realization of their common dream for the future—the attainment of kosen-rufu. To them it was at once a grand dream and the sole objective of their lives. In other words, the newlyweds were prepared to devote all of their lives to practical activities for the actualization of that ideal.
Life is not a dream. The true aspect of life takes shape on the basis of steady activities without a day’s respite. At the wedding reception, Toda had called Mineko aside and seriously instructed her on how to lead a flawless daily life.
“From today you are going to play a very important role,” he said. “I want you to remember two things. First, keep your household accounts in order every day. A housewife who cannot do this is not fit for homemaking. Second, however badly you may feel, wear a smile on your face when your husband leaves for work in the morning and when he returns in the evening. I want you to obey these two rules under any circumstances.
“A man is a foolish animal, you know. When he is confident that he has a good wife and doesn’t have to worry about his home, he is only too willing to work frantically. All this depends on whether or not you can observe these two rules. Please take good care of Shin’ichi.”
This sympathetic advice from Toda established a solid foundation for Shin’ichi’s new home life. Marriage is the celebration of one’s start on a new journey. It must also be the beginning of a period of construction. By setting down these guiding principles, Toda taught Mineko to create the kind of home that forms the cornerstone of a life devoted to kosen-rufu. At first glance these guiding principles appear to be simply common sense. As one sets out to put them into practice, however, they suddenly seem more and more difficult. Toda knew all about this difficulty, and yet he urged Mineko to adhere strictly to his instructions. In this lay the rarity of his personality and the profundity of his love.
“Smoldering Fire” pp. 763-764
Exercising their unreasonable authority, the leadership of Nichiren Shoshu banned President Toda from visiting the Head Temple. During the height of the struggle, the top Youth Division leaders met and are addressed by Shin’ichi Yamamoto.
The meeting went on in a heated atmosphere rising from the youths. Before the closing of the event, Chief Secretary Yamamoto took the podium and addressed the audience.
“Through the speeches of the leaders you must now clearly realize the importance of today’s meeting. What is the objective of our Soka Gakkai? It is, from first to last, to prove the validity of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. President Toda has recently denounced a vicious priest—an enemy of the Buddha. For this the school has rewarded him with a ban on his pilgrimage. What sort of treatment is this? Something must be wrong somewhere, something must be crooked. We are confronted with a formidable crisis. Let us firmly resolve to protect President Toda against any and all wickedness and arise to commence our activities from tomorrow with renewed determination!”
Chief Secretary Yamamoto’s address was by no means a sentimental argument. He tried to imprint on the participants’ minds the fundamental principle of the propagation of Buddhism that the Buddha’s golden sayings must be employed against all obstacles, no matter how enormous. Nothing is stronger or more appealing than a just argument. The hearts of the young members became increasingly filled with a burning consciousness of their mission, their eyes sparkling with a pure resolution. The youth division had declared a war of principle on the representative conference.
““Smoldering Fire” pp. 767-768
President Toda states his determination after winning over the obstacles and injustices caused by the “Kasahara Incident”
Finally, Josei Toda took the rostrum amidst a hurricane of cheers and applause. “I believe you have grasped the whole situation. The road to kosen-rufu is long and precipitous. You must realize that we have now come to another steep incline along that road. Presently, my sole wish is that you never become skeptical about faith in Nichiren Buddhism, no matter how the situation deteriorates or what blocks our progress. In whatever predicament I may be placed or whatever crisis may befall the Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings are absolutely infallible. Never entertain even the slightest doubt about his words. This is my only wish for you now.”
The grievous tones of Toda’s voice resounded throughout the hall. The hundreds of participants listened with breathless attention to their president, all of their eyes focused upon him. From Toda’s words the audience perceived his faith as deep as an ocean, his resolution as strong as steel.
“During the war the Soka Gakkai collapsed under State oppression. Fortunately I did not doubt faith in Nichiren Buddhism even for a moment. This conviction has made me what I am today, has led tens of thousands of unhappy people along the path to regeneration through the postwar chaos and has brought all of us to the first step toward the great cause of kosen-rufu. The road to kosen-rufu is steep, very steep. Devilish forces will continue to harass us under various surprising guises. You must be ready to cope with this.
“For all that, however, the Gohonzon ensures for us a life as indestructible as a diamond. What have we to fear? There is no typhoon that does not pass away sooner or later. You must be convinced that it is our mission as Soka Gakkai members to fight against these devilish forces even at the risk of our lives. Only by engaging in this fight can we consider ourselves truly great. We have learned a precious lesson from the current dispute; that is, for the eternal prosperity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, we must clearly determine who are good priests and bad priests. To provide unsparing protection to the good priests while scathingly denouncing the bad ones—I suggest that this be made our standing policy in the future. Do you agree?”
He had hardly finished the question before the audience burst into prolonged, thunderous applause as if they had been eagerly waiting for the opportunity. Toda’s guidance always carried with it something that reached the depths of the listeners’ hearts, something that stirred their innermost thoughts, because his words invariably rose from his inflexible determination to attain kosen-rufu. We must not forget that success can turn on the strong passion burning in the heart of one person, regardless of age.
Both the Kasahara incident and the dispute involving the representative conference stemmed from one and the same root. In concluding his speech at the special leaders meeting, Toda did not fail to mention the true cause of all these troubles.
“We have experienced one unpleasant occurrence after another. The basic question underlying the whole trouble is whether this ‘Shinto is absolute; the Buddha, transient’ theory is true or false. This is not a mere doctrinal issue within our school alone. It has a vital historical bearing on the Japanese religious world as a whole. Sinister social phenomena have repeatedly occurred up to now for lack of proper understanding and adequate knowledge of Shintoism. History shows that, at times, such phenomena became sufficiently dominant to lead the entire nation on a mistaken course. We may say with the utmost certainty that the same holds true with the present dispute. You must not forget that the root lies deep, exceedingly deep.”
Josei Toda had described Jiko Kasahara’s theory as unimaginably deeprooted and strove to eradicate it completely. This indicates Toda’s sharp insight into the true nature of Shinto. In the end Shinto could not go beyond the confines of a native religion of Japan. Compared with Buddhism, the inferiority of Shinto becomes even more obvious. In other words, while faith in the Shinto deities was limited to the Japanese people alone, the Buddha enjoyed believers in at least three nations as his teachings traveled eastward from India through China to Japan. While Shinto never emerged from the status of an ethnic or native cult, Buddhism in its essence had a universally acceptable validity and contained the fundamental universal principle.
True, the revival of the ancient rights of Shinto at the time of the Meiji Restoration served as a springboard for Japan’s great leap forward into becoming a modern nation, but it could not possibly inspire the nation to play an active part in our contemporary world in the latter half of the twentieth century. In other words, Shinto exerted a powerful influence domestically but was completely powerless internationally.
Religion is philosophy, not history. A mere national tradition or a simple worship of nature cannot compare to the all-encompassing, profound philosophy of the life of the universe. The myth of the Sun Goddess’s descendants coming down to earth cannot even approach the concept of eternal life (Buddhahood), which has neither beginning nor end.
“Takeoff” pp. 786-787
President Ikeda explains that it is through heart to hear dialogue that the Soka Gakkai spirit is actualized.
On his advice, the lecture on The Philosophy of Value was deleted from the list, and the lecturers delivered the other scheduled speeches in as short a time as they could manage. As a result, there was ample time left for questions and answers after the lectures. The participants sat in small circles and listened to the Soka Gakkai members, who talked to them sincerely on a one-to-one basis. This was an appropriate measure perfectly suited to the occasion. Whatever the circumstances, Toda always concentrated on how to convince each individual person. In fact, success in saving the afflicted presupposes that the promoters of this cause can reach the innermost recesses of each person’s heart. It is the dialogue of one human mind opened to another—a heart-to-heart talk, free from all forms of vanity and pretention—that constitutes the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit.
“Takeoff” pp. 796-798
President Toda explains the significance of questions and answers in Buddhism.
He began telling the audience about the Buddhist significance of the question-and-answer meeting. Having noticed that most of the participants were recently converted members, he deemed it necessary to teach them the fundamental premises first.
“In such a large meeting as this, the questioners are divided roughly into two groups: those who eagerly seek the truth and those who want to humiliate the leader. In Buddhism, people are usually trying to find answers for their questions. However, it does not make any difference to which group you belong, because any question related to Buddhism falls into the same formula.
“All sutras begin with the phrase, ‘The Buddha was surrounded by four kinds of people.’ Everyone who attends a Buddhist meeting belongs to one or another of these four kinds without exception.”
Whenever Toda explained Buddhist terms, listeners were surprised to realize that various concepts that had previously been far beyond their comprehension began to take shape enough for them to have a clear understanding. This is the ideal pattern of education deeply rooted in practical activities and daily life.
Almost all Buddhist scriptures consist of questions asked by a listener and the Buddha’s sermons given in answer to them. Thus the sutra itself takes the form of a question-and-answer meeting. Some scriptures, such as the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, do not contain questions— these are exceptional cases in which the Buddha expounded the Law without being asked to do so. Most of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings are also written in the question-and-answer style.
According to Toda’s explanation, the people participating in the question- and-answer meetings described in the sutras include four kinds of people. First there are those who praise the Buddha’s teaching. Then there are those who hear the Buddha expound the Law and are enlightened by it. And then there are those people who are not yet able to be enlightened but who nonetheless form a relationship with the Law.
But by far the most important of the four are those who request the Buddha to expound the Law. They are the ones who ask questions not only on their own but on behalf of all those present who entertain similar queries. By explaining these types, Toda taught the audience the utmost importance of the questioner. He elaborated further on the four kinds of people, citing familiar examples.
“In reality, participants tend to ask only self-centered questions. Take, for instance, a question about disease. There is nothing wrong with such a question. In fact, some of you may be suffering from illness and naturally wish to receive guidance about it. What I want you to keep firmly in mind is this: Do not repeat the same questions over and over again. When you hear me give someone guidance that assures him he will overcome his illness, you should be convinced that you also can be cured of your disease if you follow the same guidance. Those who become so convinced are the people who hear the Buddha’s teaching and are enlightened by it.
“Even if you are not ill, you should carefully listen to the guidance and feel, ‘It must be true. I must develop my faith even further so that I may become fully convinced.’ People of this kind are those who aren’t ready to become enlightened but have a relationship with the Law. Some of you may say confidently, ‘That is true. I have had a similar experience.’ They are the people who praise the Buddha’s teaching. All of you who are gathered here this evening belong to one or another of these four kinds of people.” This principle of the four kinds of people holds true with the discussion meeting as well. Thus the leader in charge bears an extremely grave responsibility as the Buddha’s emissary.
“Takeoff” pp. 805-806
On the occasion of President Makiguchi’s Memorial Service, President Toda reflects on his actualization of the oneness of mentor and disciple.
On the evening of November 18, the ninth memorial service for the first president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, was held in Jozai-ji temple. A crowd of thirteen hundred people—an unprecedented number for this annual event—gathered at the temple, their thoughts going back to the virtues of the late president.
Toda spoke fondly of the days when his revered mentor was still alive. “I could speak for days and nights on end about Mr. Makiguchi and still not have told you everything. The reason why I know so much about him is that I was the head of a group of members whom he would often scold sternly. There was a special relationship between Mr. Makiguchi and me—a relationship difficult to describe in words; in a way we were father and son, in another we were mentor and disciple. I was aware of his true entity.
“I used to say to the members, ‘After Mr. Makiguchi passes on, the time will certainly come when people will envy you for having known him. Therefore, you must practice faith with utmost effort under our mentor.’ Today, ten years later, my prediction has come true. Those who received instruction at Mr. Makiguchi’s feet now take great pride in having been his pupils.”
Looking back to the days centering on Makiguchi’s death in prison, Toda said in an indignant tone that none of the disciples had come to the aid of their suffering mentor. He dwelt on the extreme hardships of the struggle that the two leaders had shared. Then he compared himself with his mentor.
“Mr. Makiguchi was entirely different from me. He had an unshakable faith in the Gohonzon from a theoretical viewpoint. I believe in the Gohonzon for its actual proof and benefits. He was a man of strict morals and honesty; I am lazy. He lived in Mejiro (literally, white eyes), while my home is in Meguro (literally, black eyes). He was very studious, but I am not. He did not drink, but I like my liquor. As you can see from these examples, Mr. Makiguchi and I were poles apart where our personalities were concerned, but strangely enough, his mind and mine were always one and the same. I owe a considerable portion of my ideals to him. I am thinking of issuing a revised second edition of his The Philosophy of Value sometime next year and presenting copies of it to all the universities and colleges in the world to mark the tenth memorial for him.