The excerpts below come from Volume VII, in Book II of the current edition of The Human Revolution. Suggested discussion questions follow. Please also see the “highlights” reading, also available on the SGI-USA website, with longer excerpts from Volume VII. We encourage all Men’s Division members to own and read the complete work, available through your SGI-USA bookstore.
“Flight” pp. 825 - 827
At a New Year’s dinner party in 1953, a YMD member sang “A Star Falls in the Autumn Wind
on Wuchang Plain.” Pres. Toda was visibly and profoundly moved by this song, and asked for it
to be sung over and over. In this abridged passage, he explains why it resonates so strongly with him.
“The reason Chuke K’ung-ming’s feeling appeals so strongly to the depths of my heart is not because of mere sentimentality. What strikes me most are the sense of responsibility as well as the inner struggle of a person who is aware of his own mission and who stands alone to carry out that mission. Chuke K’ung-ming had one mission that he had to accomplish by all means possible….”
“Now, with his mission still unfinished, Kung-ming’s life hangs over a precipice by the merest thread. His army is losing battle after battle. What can a person think and how would he feel if he finds himself in such a critical dilemma? Certainly, his feelings would not be at all sentimental, much less resigned. K’ung-ming is about to die in a terrible predicament. Alone, he muses in silence, his head bowed. What would you do if you were in his position?”
Toda interwove fantasy with reality in his talk. After a few seconds of silence, he resumed his explanation. “K’ung-ming’s tenacity of purpose on his deathbed is still alive in history. It was this intense tenacity that struck a responsive chord in me, moving me to tears in spite of myself. Perhaps I have not yet made myself sufficiently clear. Let me elaborate. The first stanza, I venture to say, could be applied to the sad plight of Nichiren Shoshu when the Daishonin’s Buddhism was in danger of ruin. Who was truly concerned about this? Even now there is only jealousy and criticism both within and outside of the orthodox school.
“The next stanza indicates the person who regards the Daishonin’s will, of which he is mindful even in his dreams, as his own mission and stakes his life on it. ‘Should the great tree fall at last,’ what will be the fate of Nichiren Buddhism? I am growing gradually weaker from the illness spreading through my body. What will become of kosen rufu if I succumb to my disease now? Because I am aware of the great, noble mission, and because no one else is, I cannot think of the future of Nichiren Buddhism without weeping. I cannot die yet. I am not allowed to die even if I want to….”
“In the fourth stanza, the author wonders why Chuke K’ung-ming chose to assume the regency of the kingdom of Shu even though he knew that it would mean hardships. If he had wished, he could have remained in the idyllic community of Nan Yang, in camaraderie with the farmers, exchanging jokes and playing the flute, just as he had been doing for twenty years. His mission and position, however, had now grown so supremely important that he was no longer allowed to indulge in such rural luxuries.
“I am in similar circumstances. Without realizing my mission for kosen rufu. I could have worked to my heart’s content in some suitable occupation, enjoying my liquor and leading a life full of merriment. Why did I choose to toil, sleeping or waking, for the accomplishment of this difficult mission? I wonder why as much as you do….”
“Much to my regret, there is no one who can fathom my thoughts. From this stems my solitude. I am a common mortal. I am convinced that only the Daishonin -- that is, only the Gohonzon -- knows how I feel. Because of this conviction, an enormous, unswerving courage wakes up within me. There is no other support to which I can cling.”
Toda even looked and sounded different than his usual self. The sentiment in the depths of his heart pierced the people’s minds and pointed them in one direction. At the same time, it seemed as if he was gazing intently into his own innermost being.
“Chuke K’ung-ming’s death finally comes in this last stanza, sadly enough, leaving his mission unaccomplished. True, K’ung-ming’s name remains immortal even today, nearly two millennia after his death, but his failure is an indisputable fact. Perhaps failure is admissible in K’ung-ming’s case but not in mine. If the great cause of kosen-rufu were to end in fiasco, humankind would wander in utter darkness.
“If there should be someone else who could carry out this task, I would not care what may happen to me or when. As it is, however, there is no one. This is not to say that you are unreliable; on the contrary, I have full confidence in you, but that does not get us anywhere. There is no choice but for me to devote my life to discharging my heavy responsibility, no matter what hardships I may feel and no matter what people may say. There is no alternative but for me to sacrifice myself alone where no one can see or even notice. My sole source of strength now is the conviction that only the Daishonin knows what I am doing.
“Because of this conviction, tears of joy pour from my eyes. I wept this afternoon because the poem ‘Wuchang Plain’ almost perfectly represents my feelings….”
* * * * * * *
“The Oath of Suiko” p. 924
On December 16, 1952, Toda met for the first time with the Suiko-kai, a special YMD training group formed at the request of Shin’ichi Yamamoto, and encouraged them about their future mission.
“It is certain that the spread of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism will bring peace and prosperity to humankind. This naturally presupposes a reform in every field of human society.
“True, faith is most important in our lives, but I do not want you to cling to it so narrow-mindedly that you refuse to turn your eyes to the wider spectrum of society. We need not, and must not, become peddlers of religion. Nothing is more secure and easygoing than to live exclusively in a religious world. You should not follow that path. You must grow into efficient and genuine members of society who, awakened to the supreme philosophy of the Mystic Law, will display their full capabilities and contribute to society. This is the only way to save those who are suffering in these difficult times of the Latter Day of the Law. This great path alone leads to the boundless ocean of the Gohonzon’s mercy.
“Who will lead the march along this royal road? You alone! Pioneers are nowhere but in this very room!”
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. Toda’s response to the song (first excerpt) gives us a picture of “his innermost being.” What are the main points you get from reading this passage? How is this heartfelt speech by Toda related to his human revolution, as we have been learning about it through the first several volumes of this novel? What is your response, what does it mean to you?
2. While encouraging the youth that spreading Nichiren Buddhism is most critical to peace and prosperity, Toda also encourages them to not be narrow-minded within “a religious world.” Does this seem to you to be a contradiction? How do we put this guidance into practice?