July 2007 Highlights

The Human Revolution Vol. VII
Readings for July 2007

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

“Flight” p. 819

After making significant personnel changes during the New Year, 1953, President Toda announces the a series of meetings to be held with the members to announce the new organizational structure and to make a fresh departure. The subject of scheduling these meetings was discussed.

“When can you hold your meeting?”

“We won’t be able to notify the chapter members until after our return to Tokyo,” Ishikawa answered. “I think the 10th or thereabouts would be appropriate.”

“The 10th? No, that would be too late. Every day counts in our life or death struggle. Choose the earliest possible date. Only a defunct organization would require one whole week to inform its members. How about the 5th? Yes, make it the 5th.

“Flight” pp 828-830

During the inaugural meeting of a new Chapter leader, President Toda elucidates essential points of leadership and development.

By the time the meeting began at half past five, the hall was packed to capacity. They greeted Toda with mixed feelings of anxiety and anticipation over the sudden change in leadership. The ceremony began with the returning of the chapter flag. Then, amid loud applause, Yukio Ishikawa, the new chapter leader, rose and walked to the rostrum.

“Fight strenuously so that you will not bring disgrace upon this chapter flag,” Toda said as he handed the flag to Ishikawa.

“Fight I will, sir,” replied the youthful Ishikawa in a vigorous voice. Former Chapter Leader Tomiyama addressed the members, his words full of emotion. After that, Ishikawa gave a high-spirited inaugural resolution befitting his age.

“I have assumed this important responsibility by order of the president,” Ishikawa began, speaking with the rustic accent of northeastern Japan. “From today on, I will leave all district affairs to the district leaders. I sincerely hope that they will proceed with their activities of their own free will, giving full play to their abilities.” Then he dwelt on the devilish functions lurking within the chapter in the form of adherence to earthly desires and authoritarian attitudes and expressed his determination to expel such influences.

The participants awakened to the fundamental cause of the inactivity of their chapter. They reflected upon the short-sightedness with which they had rushed about to attain only immediate objectives and renewed their resolve to advance toward a loftier goal with one mind. They were now focusing eager eyes upon their new leader.

When Toda mounted the rostrum toward the end of the meeting, he began to speak in a soft tone, as though speaking individually to each participant.

“Tomiyama has done a great job. I know it better than anyone else. In fact, he worked so frantically that it moved me to tears, but no one followed him. None of the district or group leaders would cooperate with him. The situation pained my heart. I turned the problem over and over and finally decided to take this action. I have always dearly loved Koiwa Chapter. I still do. I want you to know that I have carried out this personnel change because I love Koiwa. I have just entrusted the chapter flag to Yukio Ishikawa. I will let him do everything as he sees fit. I will not mind even if no one follows him. We two, Yukio and myself, have stood up with the chapter flag grasped in our hands.”

The listeners noticed that his mild tone suddenly became vehement. The Daishonin teaches us that “the farther the source, the longer the stream” (WND, 940). Should the appointment of the youthful chapter leader, which might be compared to the origin of a river, prove to be a mistake, it would essentially lead to Toda’s own failure. To ensure an eternal flow of water, he considered it necessary to lay the foundation deeply and firmly.

He continued to speak in a sharp tone, as if to push back the listeners.

“I will not be discouraged even if Koiwa Chapter were to desert completely, leaving no one but Yukio and myself. All the two of us would need to do is stand at the gate of Josen-ji temple, our grip firm on the chapter flag. You should keep this in mind from now on!”

The participants perceived the enormous encouragement hidden behind Toda’s strict words, and their faces began to show their tension. “

At the opposite end of the scale—on the prosperous side—is Kamata Chapter. Kamata continues to turn out people of ability in great numbers. We keep drawing them into the Headquarters, but there is simply no limit to the chapter’s resources. Consequently, that chapter is literally overflowing with benefits. Now, turn your eyes back to your own chapter. Every member seems forlorn, beaten in the struggle for existence. With this personnel shake-up as a turning point, I urge all district and group leaders to exert themselves as best they can, bring revolutionary improvement to their lives and become happy as soon as possible.

“If you have a mind to respond to my call, develop many able members and pour them into the Headquarters. Fight with the heart of a king! I say, ‘Koiwa, stand up!’ If your hearts remain insensitive to my ardent wish, to my determination and passion, I am afraid you will no longer be my disciples. Also, do not harass the chapter leader with vapid complaints, for that will halt your own growth.”

Toda ran his piercing eyes over the assembly as he spoke. The listeners’ reactions varied: some felt as if they had been struck by lightning; others looked dumbfounded, as though they had lost the faculty to think; and still others were rigid, their hands clenched. Yukio Ishikawa felt his heart glow with gratitude for Toda’s consideration toward him or toward any of the disciples for that matter. It left an impression that would remain indelible throughout Ishikawa’s life. The whole array of senior leaders felt Toda’s words beating down upon them with the tremendous force of a waterfall.

Thus, at the beginning of 1953, Toda laid the cornerstone for returning a sick chapter to a new, healthy life.

“Flight” p. 833

Writing about his inauguration a Corps Leader, President Ikeda notes the power of the Mystic Law can only be shown by those correctly inherit and transmit it..

Even the supreme Law would be as worthless as a stick or a stone without people to inherit and transmit it accurately. In Buddhism, the time is not something that will arrive some day. It is contained in a momentary existence of life, as explained by the principle of simultaneity of cause and effect. Toda’s hope and confidence in the youth division reached the hearts of his young listeners.
“Flight” pp 834-837

At a meeting of district leaders at the end of January 1953, President Toda shares guidance for leaders which helped to spur the remarkable growth that followed that year.

“From this year on, the Headquarters will shape policy along that line and will deliver all instructions directly to the district leaders insofar as activities are concerned. I ask that you district leaders give full play to your abilities under the direction of your chapter leaders. Make your sense of responsibility equal to that of major district leaders. This does not mean that you are allowed to pressure your group and unit leaders, which I know some of you actually do. Such behavior will not be tolerated. You must grow to such an extent that your members will look up to you as both efficient and reliable leaders. The chapter leaders must pay direct attention to all junior leaders, including the unit leaders. Keep yourselves well-informed of the progress or difficulties of each member’s growth in faith and whether he or she is getting along well. Otherwise, you will lose all rights to the post of chapter leader in the world of Buddhism.

“This year I will relentlessly carry out the reshuffling of leaders. I must do that for the progress of kosen-rufu. You must not be jealous or hold grudges in connection with such changes. Now is the time for us to arise! I hope you will devote all your energies to the movement of kosen-rufu.”

Brief as it was, the speech injected Toda’s ardor deeply into the hearts of the district leaders. Several expressed their determination vigorously, as if they had been eagerly awaiting this opportunity. Toda perceived that a current of enthusiasm had already begun to rise in each district. He was all smiles, but in his mind he seriously pondered the most effective means to educate and train these leaders.

The meeting shifted to a question-and-answer session—the Soka Gakkai’s traditional format for dialogue. A number of hands went up, followed by a series of lively questions.

What should a leader keep in mind?

“A leader should try to maintain as close contact with the Headquarters as possible so that he can align his activities with Headquarters policy, and so that he may come in contact with even a small part of my true intention. Insofar as I have observed, all who have received proper guidance concerning their faith, the method of propagation and the development of character have grown to become excellent members.”

What is most important for becoming an active district?

“First of all, you must wholeheartedly pray to the Gohonzon. Perform morning and evening gongyo with an earnest and sincere mind. Do not try to conceal your own defects. You must treat your members both with compassion and dignity. You should not be content to merely curry favor. “In other words, develop your lives to the extent that you will be able to maintain dignity while empathizing with your members from the bottom of your hearts. You should be able to point out their shortcomings for the sake of their growth without the least hesitation on your part. The Gakkai leaders exist for the sake of the people, for the Law and for kosenrufu. Don’t forget under any circumstances to embrace your members with broadmindedness.”

What is the first thing one can do to bring back to faith those who have stopped practicing?

This was the problem for which all of the district leaders present had been seeking a solution.
“There is always some reason a member forsakes faith,” Toda said. “No matter how frivolous or slight it may appear, it is still a reason—a perfectly good reason, as far as the member is concerned. In most cases the cause is too trifling for us to be aware of it. If the person can just begin to tell you what made him renounce faith, the rest will be no problem. All you have to do is to explain, from the viewpoint of faith, the flaws of that reason. Once so convinced, he will immediately begin to practice again.

“To sum it up, the most essential element is your patient guidance to eventually lead the person to reveal his reason. I earnestly beg you: do not begrudge the time spent in trying to understand the position of such a member and kindly explaining to him the key point on which he is mistaken.”

One question followed another. Few questions concerned personal problems—proof that the people in the room were filled with pride and the consciousness of their objectives as leaders. Where there is glowing eagerness to seek and absorb guidance, there is always rapid growth of members. Toda now felt, with his entire being, that the participants’ awareness as district leaders was rising sharply. He rejoiced within himself. At the end of the meeting he gave a proud look at the row of chapter leaders—a look that seemed to boast of the remarkable growth of the district leaders.

“I want you chapter leaders to keep a constant eye on people of capability. Be attentive to the training of capable members at the district-leader level, enabling them to take the lead at any time. Just imagine how large the Soka Gakkai will become by the end of this year. To ensure proper guidance for the rapidly increasing membership, we need to develop competent leaders at an even more rapid pace. Otherwise, our organization will collapse. That would be the most terrible thing imaginable.

“We can manage somehow or other for the time being. These district leaders constitute a sufficient and immovable support for the Soka Gakkai at the present moment. However, when I think of the future of this organization one year from now, three, five or even ten years from now, I feel an acute need for the vigorous growth of the present leaders. We must also ensure an inexhaustible supply of members who will be sufficiently qualified to succeed us. This is one thing of which we should always be mindful. Consider this as our greatest task. If you spend all of your time day in and day out trying only to convert people, I am afraid you will never become qualified to command great Buddhist armies.”

Through these words, Toda wanted the chapter leaders to become aware of his far-reaching plans for producing wave after wave of capable leaders. Toda concluded that evening’s event by addressing the entire assembly.

“I warn you against carrying out personnel changes within your chapters on your own judgment. Arbitrary decisions will eventually lead to partiality and self-righteousness. Always seek advice from the Headquarters so that proposed personnel moves may be discussed by all of the leaders concerned and appropriate decisions made. Remember that the Headquarters thinks much of appointing leaders on the basis of ability.

“I hope that, as district leaders, you will advance and fight courageously, determined that you will not fail to participate in the next district leaders’ meeting one year from now. The chapter leaders will please recommend excellent members to be appointed as district leaders; members whom everyone will respect as efficient and dependable leaders.”

With this day as a turning point, the Soka Gakkai shifted the target of its guidance one step, from the chapters to the districts. Also, monthly results of the propagation campaign, formerly announced according to chapter, were from this time on given according to district. This is one example of the wisdom of Toda’s instruction. He would always formulate his guidance so that it would not end up as a mere idea but rather could be put directly into practice exactly as he intended.

The district leaders were no longer allowed to hide behind their chapter leaders. When a person is awakened to his responsibility, he begins to climb toward further growth. Whether they liked it or not, the district leaders were required to renew their resolution to come to the forefront in the struggle for kosen-rufu.

To construct a new highway, the old road must be broken up.

“The Prime Point” pp. 870-872

The following is an excerpt of President Toda’s guidance at the first Young Men’s Division General Meeting in April 1953.

“What I wish to speak of now are the fundamental principles of our organization. First, I was greatly impressed with the presentation of your papers. This is exactly the type of plan that makes me happiest. If Mr. Makiguchi were here, his delight would exceed even our imagination. How I wish he were alive to catch even a glimpse of today’s event! The mere thought of it moves me to tears.

“Second, the positive posture of youth is always a precious asset. All human lives contain two opposing qualities—progressivism and conservatism. When people become as old as myself or your parents, they begin to incline more and more toward conservatism. You are young, and youth is synonymous with an enterprising spirit of constantly seeking something new. It is this spirit that determines the happiness or unhappiness of man. Such a progressive attitude is to be found only in youthful lives…”

As his speech continued, Toda delved deeper and deeper into the essential nature of youth. He pointed out that but for the progressiveness and energy of younger generations, neither the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha nor of Jesus Christ would have spread nor would communism have flourished. These two qualities, he emphasized, had always been prime movers that brought changes to the history of the world. Referring to the bitter fate of defeated Japan, he stressed that her destiny could not be redirected without the power of Buddhism.

Then he took up the relation between science and religion, explaining that Buddhist doctrine is perfectly able to withstand the test of scientific and intellectual scrutiny. “True religion does not contradict science. What should we do to make all humankind happy? Buddhism is the philosophy that thoroughly probes this question and provides us with the highest teachings. How should we apply such teachings to our actual life, breaking the shackles of our fate? The answer is the Gohonzon—the very essence of the fundamental force of the universe. The Gohonzon is, so to speak, a machine that produces happiness for every one of us.”

After making this bold metaphor Toda came to his conclusion, in which he challenged the two powerful streams of thought in contemporary society. “Finally, I want to speak briefly about capitalism and communism, because some of you may be wondering which of these politico-economic stands you should take. For my part I do not mind whichever you choose. These systems occupy only a small part of the entire field of human activity. In other words, the kind of happiness they can bring to humankind is limited to political and economic aspects.

“The most essential of all philosophies is the philosophy of life itself. We shall guide the world along the correct path based on a philosophy far superior to all others. Ours is not a philosophy on the same level with communism or capitalism. It is the highest philosophy—one that opens to the future and leads all branches of science now existing in the world. It follows, then, that you as such are leaders of the world.

“This four-point speech that I have made is my first statement for the entire world. I sincerely hope that you will live up fully to my expectations.”

The first general meeting of the young men’s division, like a signal flare sent soaring into the sky, heralded an accelerated growth of the Soka Gakkai youth division. On that day, Toda for all intents and purposes, commissioned the youth division members to become leaders of the world. He created in the fresh minds of young adults a feeling of dignity and pride. That feeling alone, of course, would not take them anywhere. It is the painstaking process of self-training and self-actualization accompanying such dignity and pride that makes a youth’s life truly noble. The young men recognized that this process inevitably depended upon the steadiness of their pure and persistent faith. For his own part, Toda needed the passion and energy of young people, whom he loved and trusted, in order to continue the campaign unceasingly for the decades it would take to attain kosen-rufu.

“Under The Wings” pp 879-882

Shin’ichi Yamamoto takes the first steps as a leader in Bunkyo Chapter, which until that point had been struggling with poor results. His leadership during that time led to unprecedented successes, which in turn spurred the entire organization to achieve new victories.

“Good evening. May I come in?” Cheerfully greeting the people, Shin’ichi Yamamoto entered the room.

“Oh, what a wild search I had! I thought you lived in a large residence, Mrs. Taoka, and looked only for a large house. No wonder I couldn’t find this place easily—your house is so small, hidden behind the others.”

He made no apology for being late, but he’d obviously had tremendous difficulty in locating this house. Everyone burst out laughing at his remark. Shin’ichi knelt facing the Gohonzon and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times in a sonorous voice. The group leaders followed, but their voices were not in unison. Shin’ichi rang the bell and they chanted once again, but they still lacked harmony. They tried over and over again, everyone now quite serious, and finally were able to chant in perfect unison.

Shin’ichi turned to face the people.

“All campaigns essentially depend on whether there is harmonious unity among the members. Even the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times is an important factor in deciding victory or defeat.”

Shin’ichi spoke almost casually, but his words awakened the leaders for the first time to the true strictness of faith. They felt his brief guidance pierce their hearts and now they understood why Shin’ichi had made them repeat Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—in their unharmonious chanting, he had sensed the lack of solidarity in the chapter. Shin’ichi opened the meeting by reminding the participants of the correct attitude toward faith, because he knew that it was neither theory nor policy but only such an attitude that would bring people’s minds together. He did not scold them; instead, he convinced them of their disunity through their own experience.
“When all of you begin to work in perfect harmony, the result will not be a mere mathematical total of your individual capabilities. You will display an enormous power that you never even imagined you had. So let us set a target of increasing our membership by two hundred households.”

They were stunned. The acting leader must be joking, everyone thought. The mention of two hundred households left the group leaders speechless. To them, it was a fantastic dream. Just who was going to convert that many families, they wondered, as though they had nothing to do with it. They remained mute, eyes round with disbelief.

“You will be able to fulfill the target without fail if you do as I say,” Shin’ichi said assuringly, aware of their utter amazement. “Enjoy your activities. Move ahead cheerfully and pleasantly. For that purpose, however, you must first establish a firm unity among all chapter members.”

It was not long before the group leaders saw Shin’ichi’s prediction come true. Bunkyo, the worst chapter in February, gradually began to rise in propagation results. In September, it finally reached the coveted goal of two hundred. By the end of the month, it converted seventy-five more households. Thus Bunkyo rose among the ranks of chapters. In December, the chapter achieved an incredible result of 431 families, establishing Bunkyo as one of the best medium-sized chapters.

After driving home to the leaders the importance of unity, Shin’ichi began to talk with the participants one after another, asking their names, inquiring into the situation in their groups and their families and interspersing the conversation with proper guidance. That finished, he turned his eyes to Haruko.

“Your chapter is better than I expected,” he said encouragingly. “With all these able leaders, there’s no reason Bunkyo shouldn’t achieve splendid results. You needn’t worry in the least, I assure you. Let’s together launch an earnest, full-scale campaign from now.”

He immediately worked with the members to create a schedule for the following month. They marveled at the unbelievable speed with which he planned everything. As time passed, their minds also began to function more quickly. Haruko Taoka felt as though a heavy burden was removed from her shoulders. Josei Toda had been correct in describing Shin’ichi as young but almost frighteningly sharp and efficient. Her heart overflowed with admiration for the acting leader. Then she remembered Toda’s words, “Take everything he will say or do from the standpoint of faith.” She resolved to follow Shin’ichi to the end.

Haruko’s secret resolution tacitly conveyed itself to all the chapter members, who accepted it as their own determination. They grew more confident every day, their hearts filling with joy. The higher the post they occupied within the chapter, the more attached they were to Shin’ichi Yamamoto. Shin’ichi, though younger than most of the members, treated them as if they were his own beloved chapter members. Thus Shin’ichi, a leader from another chapter, united in amicable harmony with the Bunkyo members. This was a rare phenomenon in those days when there was a strong chapter consciousness.

For the first several weeks, the acting leader frequently came to Bunkyo Chapter, sometimes two or three days a week, attending discussion meetings and district lectures. The groups were scattered over a wide area, some of them located as far as Sagamihara and Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture. He found time in his busy life to move from group to group, quickly invigorating the chapter at the lower levels. Literally throwing his entire being into full play, he focused on training people of potential and building a powerful organizational basis.

“The Oath of Suiko” pp 916-919

A core group of Young Men’s Division members was formed to receive direct training from President Toda. After initially failing to live up to President Toda’s expectations, Shin’ichi determines to create a victory out of temporary defeat by making a heartfelt vow and then sparing no effort to see it through.

Mr. Toda must be waiting for something, Shin’ichi Yamamoto thought. The president must be expecting the Suiko-kai to be recreated as a group of genuine leaders of the future after intense self-reflection on the part of its members. For what purpose did the Suiko-kai exist? The members had made a feeble start without finding a satisfactory answer to this question— without fully understanding the primary objective and mission of the group. From the very beginning, Mr. Toda had shown a determined attitude in their training. The members, however, accepted his guidance merely as a temporary yardstick for their activities. They did not realize that they were being trained to eternalize Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. This fundamental flaw manifested itself in its most conspicuous form when confronted with the single-minded resolution with which Mr. Toda gave guidance. The student’s question about apple wine was insignificant in itself. What really mattered was the shallow frivolity of the group that had led him to ask such a meaningless, self-centered question. This was the true cause of the Suiko-kai’s failure.

Shin’ichi brooded over the matter, his mind filled with pain. To leave the Suiko-kai as it was would betray his mentor’s true intention. He grew increasingly impatient. If the group was to be reorganized and make a fresh start, what was required? Shin’ichi finally reached his conclusion. What was most important was the resolution and quality of the members of a revived Suiko-kai. Again he searched his mind, questioning himself how the best quality could be ensured for the group. He finally settled on three essential pledges:

1. Pledge to the Gohonzon

2. Pledge to President Josei Toda

3. Pledge among the members themselves

Shin’ichi drafted an oath with these pledges as the three main pillars— better known as the “Oath of the Suiko-kai.” Shin’ichi showed the draft to Toda. The president took off his glasses and read the paper, his nose almost touching it.

“All right,” he said, after reading the draft. “I forgive you just this once. Remember that never again will I tolerate any of your meetings if they turn out to be like a gathering of old men, lacking enthusiasm for the truth. Only fools repeat the same mistake.”

Toda was harsh as usual, but he seemed to be pleased that Shin’ichi’s proposal had come in the form of an oath.

“When do we begin?” Toda asked impatiently, as though he had been eagerly awaiting Shin’ichi’s request. Shin’ichi rejoiced, but at the same time he was embarrassed, realizing that no preparation had been made for the new start.

“Would you give us a bit more time?” Shin’ichi said. “I promise we will select only those who will live up to the oath, no matter what happens. Please wait another week or so.”

“If you tell me to wait, I will, although I wonder if there are any boys truly worthy of membership,” Toda said, laughing.

Shin’ichi was now on the move. He and the other top leaders of the youth division began selecting the members. The principal standard was the firmness of faith of each individual youth. Potential, character and personality were also taken into account. If there was even a single dissenting vote among the leaders, the nominee was dropped from the list. Thus, from among some three thousand young men, forty-three members were finally chosen for the reorganized Suiko-kai. Akio Nakamichi copied the draft with a writing brush, devoting himself with the greatest care. These were the circumstances that led to the signing of the oath by forty-three young men on July 21.

Shin’ichi, who had drafted the oath and set the Suiko-kai on the correct track, realized with acute consciousness that the responsibility now rested on his shoulders alone. He was convinced that in the steady practice of the three-point oath lay the path that Toda expected the youth division to follow and that ultimately led to the great road to kosen-rufu. He felt as if he was standing on the summit of a mountain looking out on a distant view of kosen-rufu; the strain from the hard work in the past several weeks now completely washed away from him.

There was a reason Shin’ichi Yamamoto worked quietly and painstakingly to remake the Suiko-kai. He had been the one who had suggested to Toda that this special group be formed. Considering the circumstances surrounding the birth of this group, he held himself more responsible than anyone else for the Suiko-kai’s fiasco.

In the autumn of 1952, Toda’s health was deteriorating due to the fierce struggles and hardships he had undergone following his release from prison. Shin’ichi was sensitive enough to notice and pondered this. Now was the time, he thought, for as many members as possible to indelibly imprint on their youthful lives Toda’s vision for kosen-rufu.