The Human Revolution Vol. VIII
Readings for August 2007
(Chapter titles and page numbers from the current edition
are given for each excerpt)
”Truth” pp. 981-982
President Toda poured his heart into encouraging everyday people to experience the power of the Gohonzon and overcome the sickness and poverty that pervaded postwar Japan.
…Josei Toda continually emphasized meeting with individual members to give them guidance. He had to, because the situation at that time demanded it. He had drawn the conclusions from his personal experience of meeting thousands of members. “The majority of our members are suffering from sickness and poverty,” he would often say. “If Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism fails to improve this reality, it does not deserve to be called a correct religion. Sickness and poverty are the troubles directly connected with the daily lives of people in contemporary society and, at the same time, the sufferings most abhorred. We must first solve these problems, otherwise we cannot move any further in our ideal of kosen-rufu.” He would stress that nothing in this world could cure severe illness that was beyond the reach of physicians, other than imploring help from the Gohonzon. Sick people so convinced, he said, would begin to devote themselves single-mindedly to the Gohonzon, and therefore the solution to their problems would be accelerated.
At every discussion meeting the participants heard one testimonial after another by those who had received initial benefits from faith in the form of having serious illnesses cured. This was no mere accident. These people had severed themselves from attachments to all other methods, faced the Gohonzon with unquestioning faith and sincerely dedicated themselves to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. By so doing they had made their life force strong enough to dispel the curse of their diseases. The same principle applied to poverty. Many of the members found themselves in extreme destitution, driven into a tight corner with all doors closed against them. However, the more desperate the situation, the more earnestly they devoted themselves to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. As a result, in most cases they succeeded in finding some way out. On the other hand, there were some people who had received the Gohonzon but whose faith was so impure that they attempted to prey upon other members for their own profits. These negative elements threatened to destroy the harmonious unity of the organization. Their ugly nature was clearly exposed by the spotless mirror of Buddhism, and all of them eventually incurred severe punishments based on the Buddhist law of cause and effect—actual proof of slanderous faith.
The true purpose of faith lies in producing positive proof, subjectively within an individual’s life, and objectively in daily affairs. In other words, faith is a challenge to alter the limits of human life imposed by destiny.
”Truth” pp. 985-986
While many members were experiencing benefits in the areas of health and overcoming poverty, Pres. Toda expressed his conviction that a true religion will prove its validity to its believers in every aspect of life and society.
“If the validity of the doctrine of a religion is established by substantial evidence without a single exception, regardless of time, place, race or environment, then that doctrine may well be called a law and a truth. Such a teaching is infallible. If it promises people happiness in this life, they will be blessed with actual happiness without fail. If it predicts unhappiness for them, then they will invariably suffer from unhappiness. A religion with such an unerring doctrine is in itself a law, one that is most scientific. It is such a powerful religion that all of our contemporaries most need.”
According to Toda, substantial evidence must be that which is verified in all aspects of human life without a single exception, transcending time, space and history. It must apply to all actual proof that takes the form of happiness or unhappiness in human life. A religion devoid of such objective universality, he asserted, could not be considered scientific in the sense that it lacked a general law or principle.
Toda’s unquestioning belief in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism originated from the scientific validity of this religion established by substantial evidence. If it is to have universal validity, actual proof must manifest itself in all aspects of human life. It must not be limited to such problems as sickness, poverty or family discord but must be applicable to all human affairs and convincing enough to everyone. Otherwise the accumulated facts will fail to become truths.
”Truth” pp. 1003-1005
In 1953 and 1954, the Daishonin’s Buddhism as correctly practiced by the Soka Gakkai was beginning to create a wellspring of interest around the country as thousands of members showed actual proof in their daily lives. President Ikeda expresses how this “brilliant religion” can pierce through darkness and partial truths of other schools and philosophies to lead humanity into a “Century of Life.”
When such incidents take place in great numbers throughout a nation, that they constitute a new social phenomenon, a new discovery. What triggered Isaac Newton’s recognition of the universal law of gravitation was an ordinary physical phenomenon. This law within the world of matter has existed since the beginning of the universe, but it was not until three centuries ago that the English scientist recognized its existence.
Likewise, Buddhism, the Law of life, has existed ever since the origin of the universe, but not until three thousand years ago did humanity begin to perceive its existence. Life, unlike matter, is a subject difficult to grasp or explain. Consequently, Buddhist theories concerning life were considered more hypothetical than categorical, and they were difficult to understand. Even a step in the wrong direction could have reduced them to worthless superstitions.
Thus, seven hundred years ago, Shakyamuni’s Buddhism was on the verge of lapsing into mere illusion, no longer capable of leading humankind to happiness. It was under such circumstances that Nichiren Daishonin was born in a country in Asia. He took a bold step toward establishing the eternal principle of enlightenment by first exploring Shakyamuni’s Buddhism. He discovered on a practical plane the Law of life that has existed since the beginning of the universe and that exercises absolute control over the happiness or unhappiness of humanity.
His discovery was filled with reassuring predictions. It is a powerful light that will continue to illuminate the otherwise totally dark path of humanity for all eternity. However, because its brightness was so great, because life was such a difficult subject to grasp, and because conventional Buddhism, though stripped to the bone and devoid of actual proof, still retained such enormous authority, many of Nichiren Daishonin’s contemporaries refused to acknowledge his discovery. They found it very difficult to accept his words.
Nichiren Daishonin was not swayed. Not only did he declare the unquestionable existence of the Law of life vital in determining the happiness or unhappiness of people, he also taught and left behind the concrete method of putting this Law into practice. In other words, he bequeathed the Buddha’s practice—the practical principle by which, and only by which, all of humanity can extricate themselves from the miseries of life. The Gohonzon that the Daishonin inscribed is the embodiment of the principle of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds and three thousand realms in a single moment of life—the actual manifestation of the ultimate truth of Buddhism.
History shows that humanity succumbed either to the irresistible force of nature or to the rule of a transcendental god. Individuals lost their identity, becoming subordinate to society. The history of human progress was concurrently the discovery of our true selves and the cry for freedom and equality. This progress has brought about an over-development of science and technology. What humanity won with its own hands has turned against it and can destroy it. There is an uproar about the dehumanization of our present-day society, but this is nothing other than the painful cry of the erosion of our humanity.
True, various schools of thought derived from modern humanism were the precursors of our contemporary civilization. But now humanity finds itself in a blind alley, confronted with a gloomy future enveloping the entire earth. It is a darkness in which humanity is almost suffocated.
Irrespective of the age, human beings have always been the center of all questions. Today humankind does not know what to do with itself. Worse still, human beings are convinced that they have learned all there is to know about human affairs—a terrible illusion.
The history of the modern Western world has consisted of the search for humanity buried in the state and the struggle to liberate itself. Today humanity, though having been found and emancipated, aimlessly wanders, at a loss as to where to go, its shadow growing longer in the setting sun. The time now demands the brilliance of a philosophy powerful enough to illuminate the path of humanity. Nichiren Daishonin discovered the truth concealed within human life, and his Buddhism has already begun to cast bright rays of light upon the future.
This brilliant religion can protect human dignity for all eternity. The series of philosophies deriving from humanism are no longer effective to maintain the dignity of life. As the Daishonin teaches, the Law that holds sway over human existence must originate in life itself. Humanism has already yielded to the Buddhist philosophy its position as the axis of human dignity.
The enlightenment Josei Toda attained while in prison contained a deep respect for the sanctity of life. When he perceived that Buddha is life itself, he gave Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism a new, fresh vitality compatible with modern society. His unwavering confidence and fierce struggle finally began to bear fruit during 1953 and 1954 when experiences of actual proof started appearing on a national scale. Soka Gakkai members relatively new in faith heralded the grand march on which valiant fighters were to embark toward the Century of Life.
”Thrust” pp. 1006-1007
The guidance that President Toda gave to the leaders of the growing Soka Gakkai provides an example of true compassion. Their seeking spirit is an example of the genuine courage needed to seek the correct path of faith.
The door seemed extremely heavy to those who had come with bad news, such as the report of an accident. They still longed to see Toda, however. The greater the trouble on their minds the more eager they were to come and see their president. When they put their hands on the knob, they were seized invariably by a strange combination of joy and fear. Then, induced by what might be called a sort of magnetism, a force that drove away their emotion, they pulled the door open. They always felt that it required some extra courage to enter the president’s office.
Actually, it was not their own courage but Toda’s personality that made them enter—the magnetic force emanating from Toda who was sitting in the room waiting. It seemed to penetrate the door to where they were standing outside.
As soon as they opened the heavy door—which was heavy, of course, only in their hearts—and were inside, Toda, with his keen intuition, perceived at first glance what lay in their minds. Strangely enough, he never scolded those who had anticipated his wrath. Yet he was frigid to those who only wanted to hear his opinion without any ideas of their own; he would scarcely speak to them. Only the visitor’s genuine desire for guidance could open his mouth.
”Thrust” pp. 1011-1014
President Toda gives a district leader from an outlying area guidance on a wide range of topics – timeless guidance that transcends 1950’s Japan and speaks to district leaders struggling to help their members. President Toda starts by discussing the situation in the district where a number of new members have made the serious cause of destroying their Gohonzons.
“What’s the matter? You don’t look very happy today,” Toda said, beckoning to the man who had only been a unit leader one month earlier to come to the table. “Has some trouble occurred?”
“Yes, sir,” the district leader said, sitting up straight in front of the table. He held the opened notebook in his lap and, casting his eyes on it, hesitatingly began to speak.
“I visited some of my district members and found that there are a surprising number of people who have either burned or returned the Gohonzon or put it away somewhere in their chest of drawers. I am afraid that I will find many more households in similar condition among the rest of the members. What sort of guidance shall I give such people?”
The district leader looked downcast, his shoulders sagging. Toda could see the thinning hair on the head of this man who had apparently seen much of life.
“I didn’t know that the situation of your district was that serious,” Toda said. There was grief in his expression as he stared at the man’s face. “What is the ratio of such households to the total number of families?”
“I do not yet know for certain, sir, but as far as I can tell, there are about 20 percent like this.”
“That’s quite a high percentage, isn’t it? They must have been converted recklessly. Had they thoroughly been taught the supreme sanctity of the Gohonzon at the time of their conversion, they would not have acted this way. Some of our members believe that any type of propagation will automatically bring blessings to them. Acting with this mistaken belief, they try to force the Gohonzon on other people only because of their impatient desire to collect benefits.
“Such unreasonable action causes new believers to treat the Gohonzon lightly. In such cases, both the converter and the converted will only bring misery upon themselves. The Gohonzon is very strict about reward and punishment.
“Now, the question is what you should do as district leader. You must not become impatient. Impatience will ruin everything. You’ll fail if you seek to restore ten or twenty such households to correct faith in a short time. Discuss the problem thoroughly with your group leaders and assistant group leaders and invite their opinions. Then, with their cooperation, allow even one member to stand on his or her feet by carefully teaching the person about correct faith. In this Latter Day of the Law, such action requires more patience than anything else.”
By now the district leader had closed the notebook unknowingly, his gaze fixed upon Toda’s face.
“None of your members will treat the Gohonzon irreverently any longer once they have fully realized how filled with blessing it is and what immense power it possesses,” Toda continued. “You must not take hasty action. Be firm and resolute. The compassion of the Gohonzon is not like that of a doting mother; it is more like the love of a stern father. Only a parent noble enough to sternly reprimand a child for the child’s mistakes can truly meet the needs of the child.
“Certainly it is necessary to help these uninformed members to develop correct faith, but before that, you must teach them what they should know first. If any of them resent it, let them quit. From the Buddhist viewpoint such people are to be pitied. However, there are times when you cannot help taking a firm attitude. Speak to your members with the utmost sincerity and always praise the Gohonzon highly.”
“You are a district leader, and as such, it is only natural that you should want to solve all such difficult problems quickly. However, don’t forget that you are dealing with human beings who have emotions and opinions of their own. You will fail unless you act patiently. Be sure to recall the phrase from the Gosho, ‘Donning the armor of endurance’ (WND, 392). Remember that true Buddhist austerities consist in putting this teaching into practice. I am by nature short-tempered, but as far as matters of faith are concerned, I am almost obstinately patient. Ever since the Daishonin’s day, messengers of the Mystic Law have fought steadily and patiently, enduring unbearable hardships. Kosen-rufu is so difficult an undertaking that we cannot accomplish it unless we don the armor of endurance in our advance toward this goal.”
”Thrust” pp. 1022-1024
Realizing that he must prepare for the time when could not lead the organization himself, President Toda, considers how to give the Youth Division full opportunity to lead the way. This consideration leads Toda to create the Youth Division General Staff and entrust young Shin’ichi Yamamoto with its leadership.
Toda had no doubt that the young men’s division, with its youthful energy, would always be the driving force of the Soka Gakkai. Now that each individual chapter would have to perform a role equivalent to that which the Headquarters alone had done several years before, it was imperative that each chapter have its own young men’s division corps. Toda instructed that this change be completed by April. However, he felt some apprehension. The establishment of many new corps might disperse and weaken the concentrated power of the youth division. Toda felt that something was lacking, and he had been trying to figure out what it was ever since his announcement.
The Soka Gakkai’s accelerating progress during the previous few years was sufficient proof that its engine—the youth division—was in full operation. The top leaders, encouraged at the sight of this engine hard at work, were unreservedly optimistic about the future of the Soka Gakkai. As president, however, Toda had to use extreme caution or this energy would find an outlet where it was least expected. The important task was to lead this force on a clear course without a single error. Toda at times felt lonesome when he thought of his solitary role in this duty for these many years.
A ship cannot run only by its engine. It also needs a mighty propeller to make progress. Toda considered himself the ship’s wheel, but gradually he realized that he had been acting as the propeller as well. He was toiling painfully without anyone noticing and accomplishing an unending series of activities for no other purpose than to convert the overflowing energy of the members into propulsive force. Who had been turning the ebullient energy into the ceaseless rotation of the propeller? Who, indeed, had been the propeller itself that provided the only forward thrust of the organization? It had been he, and he alone.
Toda felt much too forlorn to take pride in this role as the prime mover. The propeller could continue to turn for the time being, but what about the future—five, ten or twenty years later? True, following his long-range plan, he had been giving the youth division members strict training to accelerate their growth. He was seized with a feeling of impatience, however, whenever his thoughts raced forward to the time when the propeller would become worn out and useless.
The coordinated functioning of engine, propeller and wheel is essential for a safe voyage. If the Soka Gakkai was to proceed steadily toward kosen-rufu, it must have three groups of capable members, each group performing one of these three roles. Although Toda had devoted himself to caring for and developing the engine and wheel, he had paid little attention to the other part that was equally indispensable. Perhaps this was because he himself had been the propeller. Now, suffering from increasing fatigue, he had become acutely conscious of this necessity.
Certainly all the chapters had grown remarkably, but now each of them needed a smaller propeller of their own to make further progress. This is why Toda had decided to establish a young men’s division and a young women’s division corps in each chapter.
These corps, when organized, would provide sufficient thrust for their respective chapters. Even so, they would still be only small motivators, each putting into play a part of the concentrated force of the youth division. Toda would still have to function as the largest and most powerful propeller for the entire Soka Gakkai. Now it was time for him to put his whole heart into developing a person who could replace him. Toda began to rack his brain, asking himself what could be done to accomplish this.
That evening after the meeting of the Suiko-kai, Josei Toda had been thinking about this when he had given the seemingly enigmatic guidance to Shin’ichi Yamamoto. Now the two of them were resting on the matted floor.
“As I said, something has been continually occupying my mind.” Toda began. “Since it hasn’t taken definite shape, I still cannot consult anyone about it. Perhaps no one could help me even if I did. Shin’ichi, I want you members of the youth division to study more diligently than anyone else. This is a crucial moment for you. How have you been feeling these days? You must be careful of your health, for you have an important mission to fulfill for kosen-rufu.”
“I want you to take good care of yourself, too, sir,” Shin’ichi said. He was concerned about Toda’s sudden illness the night before, all the more so because the president had not referred to it at all.
“Me? I won’t die so easily, not yet. One doesn’t die before accomplishing the work he or she is destined to fulfill in this life. Life is just another word for work. And, speaking of work, anyone who undertakes a great task never before challenged will invariably face mental strain that others neither notice nor imagine. This is my case. It’s almost amazing how problems continually arise. I have somehow managed to solve them, and I’ll continue to do the same, no matter how agonizing the effort. Doing so testifies to the power and the righteousness of our faith. This is all I can believe now, but for me it is sufficient. If you young people continue to study with all your might, I’ll have no worry about the future of our organization. At any rate, I’ll leave nothing undone in my life that must be done.”
That evening Toda seemed to be a different man. Shin’ichi wondered why. The president had repeatedly emphasized the importance of study. Shin’ichi tried without success to guess what was tormenting Toda. That night Toda was a mystery to him.
Toda, on the other hand, gained a clue from his conversation with Shin’ichi. He began to consider entrusting this young man with part of his own responsibility for the organization’s forward thrust. Shin’ichi must be given a definite position within the Soka Gakkai leadership. Toda decided to let him perform the role of a mighty propeller in the youth division, to see what he would do...
”Thrust” pp. 1037-1038
In the pouring rain, Pres. Toda addresses 5,500 Youth Division at the Head Temple. Soaked to their skin, Toda uses the rain as a metaphor for the torrent of obstacles that will surely attack the Soka Gakkai and encourages all the young people present to surmount every obstacle for themselves and for the sake of society.
Toda’s glasses were clouded by the rain. Even his wide forehead was drenched. Great drops of water fell from it visibly, one after another.
“I am sorry,” he said, “that we have to hold this meeting of the youth division in the rain. The Buddhist gods, Brahma and Shakra, have obviously failed to respond to our prayers for fine weather. This is entirely attributable to my past slanderous acts. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Toda’s words rent the hearts of the fifty-five hundred young people. To whom, the youths wondered, was he apologizing? He seemed in a way to be begging pardon of the young men and women themselves. Tears welled up in many eyes, only to merge instantly with the pelting rain. Both mentor and disciples were being drenched together. To realize that they were now sharing the same destiny together with their president actually made them happy.
Within his heart Toda was deeply apologizing to the Gohonzon for having caused these young people, whom he loved as so many precious jewels, to be wet at this memorable ceremony. He could feel the water flowing down the back of his neck, penetrating his clothes and streaming down all over his body. He clutched the sides of the lectern, leaned forward, and continued to speak.
“Reflecting deeper, however, I consider this rain a sign of the unspeakable difficulties that lie along the route of the Soka Gakkai’s advance. I want you always to remember this rainy ceremony, to surmount all obstacles, with unfailing courage, and to secure absolute happiness in your own lives as well as for the entire Japanese society.”
”Students” pp. 1044-1045
President Toda explains to members of a student group that the in the Latter Day of the Law, the ultimate purpose of Lotus Sutra is to describe the power and benefits of the Gohonzon.
“What it truly means is this,” Toda began his explanation. “We are living neither in Shakyamuni’s day, nor in the Former Day of the Law nor in the Middle Day of the Law. We had the good fortune to be born in the Latter Day of the Law and to meet Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the highest wisdom of humankind. Everything begins with the recognition of this one fact.
“We must clearly distinguish between the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamuni and that of the Daishonin. Otherwise, we would be unable to apply the ultimate teaching of Buddhism to the modern age. Take this phrase from ‘Simile and Parable’ for instance. We must return to the Daishonin’s standpoint to correctly understand it. This way, and only this way, will it become easy to interpret the contents of the Lotus Sutra.
“In the Latter Day of the Law, ‘persons who are without wisdom’ indicate those who are ignorant of the supreme wisdom, that is, Nam-myoho-renge- kyo. On the other hand, those who believe, or at any rate try to believe, in the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo fall within the category of those ‘of keen capacities, wise and understanding, of much learning and strong memory, who seek the Buddha way.’ Only those who know and believe in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can correctly interpret the passages of ‘this sutra,’ that is, the Lotus Sutra. So you don’t need to belittle yourselves. Since you embrace the Gohonzon, you are no longer persons without wisdom but first-rate scholars.
“This is why I always stress the importance of reading the Lotus Sutra in this way. In brief, the ultimate purpose of the Lotus Sutra is to describe the reality of the Gohonzon. To recognize this leads to a fundamental understanding of the entire sutra. Without starting from this basic point, no matter how many times you read through the sutra, you will commit the most grievous errors. This is exactly what the contemporary scholars of Buddhism are doing. They try with all their might to interpret the words of the Lotus Sutra, only to find themselves utterly in the dark.
“When read from the Daishonin’s standpoint, the meaning of every sentence of the sutra becomes extremely clear. Also, when you begin with the Lotus Sutra and read back through the other sutras, they all become easier to grasp. If, on the other hand, you start with the ‘Agama’ sutras and then proceed to the ‘Correct and Equal’ and ‘Wisdom’ sutras, it will be exactly like rowing a boat against the current. Even if you read all the Buddhist scriptures, you’ll only find yourselves unable to make heads or tails out of any of them.
“In any event, we live in the Latter Day of the Law. Like it or not, all study of Buddhism must start from this point. The Lotus Sutra for this Latter Day of the Law is Nichiren Daishonin’s Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself. This is at once the highest wisdom of the age as well as the ultimate principle to save all the suffering people who live in it…
”Students” pp. 1065-1075
Two students from Tokyo University who had been earnestly studying the Lotus Sutra on their own are able to ask President Toda a simple, yet profound question. Toda responds by sharing his mystic experience in prison.
“Sir, what is a Buddha?” asked Goro.
“A Buddha? That’s a good question. It may take a lifetime for you to truly understand it, but briefly—even though a brief explanation might not be convincing enough for you—the answer is this.”
To their surprise, Toda took a book from the shelf beside him. He leafed through it, stopped at a page, and showed it to Goro Watari. Into Goro’s eyes leaped about a dozen lines virtually strewn with the character meaning “not.” It was a verse in the first chapter of the “Immeasurable Meanings” Sutra, the introduction to the Lotus Sutra.
“Do you understand what this means?” asked Toda, indicating the lines with his finger.
“No, sir, I don’t.”
“This, my friend, explains what a Buddha actually is. It tells us that a Buddha is nothing other than life itself.”
Goro gazed at Toda vacantly.
“It took me quite a long time to reach the heart of this passage and come to the conclusion that Buddha is just another name for life. It was not until I was thrown into prison due to government oppression during the war and spent some time there that I attained this enlightenment.”
Toda, filled with deep emotion, dwelt on one line after another, explaining its profound doctrine in simple terms. Goro blinked his large eyes in sheer admiration. He was a mere student, and an immature one at that. Yet Toda was not condescending in the slightest. He talked to Goro just as if to a young friend. Here was a man who exerted all his energy to explain the supreme philosophy he had spent a lifetime to acquire.
“Any number of ceremonies are described in the Lotus Sutra, but they all depict the reality of the Gohonzon. During my agonizing days in prison I spent day after day chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. One day I actually visualized myself attending the ceremony of the Lotus Sutra as one of the Daishonin’s followers. There are times when people can remember part of their past existences, though only for fleeting moments. From that moment I could read the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho with ease. That was a truly mystic experience. Reading the Lotus Sutra in prison, I formed an image of the Gohonzon in my mind according to the descriptions in the sutra. When I was finally released and went back home, I immediately faced the Gohonzon and prayed to it. It was identical with the image I had formed in my mind. I was choked with tears of gratitude and can never forget the profound impression of that moment for the rest of my life.”
”Students” pp. 1075-1076
Tokyo University students seek guidance on choosing a career from President Toda.
“…Should I take a job even if it is not what I want?”
“A standard to choose your vocation—that’s what you want to know, isn’t it?” Toda replied clearly. “Value is the standard.”
He went on to explain about one’s occupation, which has lifelong influence on a young person.
“Mr. Makiguchi used to say, ‘It is folly to adhere to one’s likes and dislikes in disregard of gain and loss. It is evil to think only of gain and loss and ignore good and evil.’ As he aptly pointed out, everyone hopes for an ideal occupation—one that is enjoyable (beauty), which brings personal benefit (gain), and which is beneficial to society (good). In reality, however, life is not as sweet as you may think. Very few fulfill their hopes for an ideal job. In most cases people are forced to do the work that they least expected.
“The question is what to do in such a case. I would advise you young men, even then, not to become disheartened. Instead, devote all of your energy to your present job, study it and make efforts to improve it.
“Remember that you now have the Gohonzon with you—the fundamental Law that enables you to bring forth the greatest life force from within you. Stick to your work, no matter how disgusting it is, pray to the Gohonzon and exert yourself completely. The time will come when you will find an occupation you like, which benefits you and which brings a great deal of good to society. The bits and pieces of work you will have done by that time will all become living, precious experiences. Faith equals daily life, and it equals society. This is the power of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
“You might not yet realize it, but each of you was born into this world with a glorious mission to fulfill. Every one of you will be performing great tasks in your respective fields in the future. So, while you are young, it is important that you squarely face all hardships, cultivate a broad perspective and build up the great power with which to act.
“You needn’t worry. You are young. Challenge the path of faith with all your might. Success or failure in the future depends, in the final analysis, on whether you can perfectly carry out the job on hand at any given time. This is evident from the principle that faith and daily life are inseparable. A youth lacking in courage is already a loser in life…”
”Students” pp. 1092-1093
During a question and answer session at a Suiko-kai campfire meeting, President Toda provides clear guidance to the young men about how to find the perfect partner in life through faith.
“Since you are a member of the Suiko-kai, as a cub of the lion king you certainly possess the sublime emotion and supreme reason that has been bestowed upon you by the Daishonin. But you are not aware of this fact deeply enough. I tell you, stop chasing that woman with such restlessness in your eyes. When, through your faith, you have grown into a man who is praiseworthy in anyone’s eyes, a woman perfectly suited to you will appear and you can marry her with everyone around giving you their congratulations. Don’t be impatient to get married.”
”Eventful Days” pp. 1111-1112
As the Soka Gakkai gained ground in Japanese society, President Toda warned members that the time had come for the organization to attract the persecution of the second of the three powerful enemies. Rather than be fearful, Toda tells the members that they should rejoice, since the Daishonin taught that is was proof of their correct practice and that the third of the three powerful enemies would soon appear as well.
“You see,” he said, smiling confidently, “the time has at last come, just as the Gosho predicts, for the second of the three powerful enemies— monks of other schools—to appear. Until now we have faced only the slander and criticism of the first of the three powerful enemies—that is, our families, colleagues, friends and acquaintances who are opposed to our faith. All of you have admirably continued your faith in spite of such opposition. Now that monks of the other schools have begun to raise their heads, there is nothing to be surprised at. It is one thing that will inevitably be encountered on the road to kosen-rufu. Instead of being surprised, we should take pleasure in the fact that they have appeared.”
The members looked stunned. Their president had told them that they should rejoice at slander and criticism, but how could this be so? Noticing that their expression betrayed some lingering doubt, Toda picked up his Gosho and resumed his speech.
“This is not a new phenomenon in the history of Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching. In the Daishonin’s age the three powerful enemies appeared at the same time, conspiring to subject him to the persecutions we all know so well. Let’s see how his treatise ‘The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra’ describes the second powerful enemy of his time.”
Toda pointed out a Gosho passage to one of the young women’s division leaders seated near him and had her read it aloud. Then he ran his sharp eyes over the assembly.
“Even though the Daishonin was exiled to Sado, he wasn’t in the least bit worried. Instead, he carried out an enthusiastic propagation campaign there. One islander after another was converted to his Buddhism. Horrified, monks of the other schools came to hate the Daishonin. Then the Pure Land priests gathered again in council. ‘If things go on this way,’ they said, ‘we will die of starvation’ (WND, 773). This is the same fear that grips the hearts of monks of other schools today. ‘Already more than half the people in the province have gone over to his side’ (WND, 773). Therefore, they agreed, ‘Let’s rid ourselves of this priest’ (WND, 773).
“So they dispatched representatives to Kamakura. The group petitioned the Shogunate, saying, ‘If this priest remains on the island of Sado, there will soon be not a single Buddhist hall left standing or a single priest remaining. He takes the statues of Amida Buddha and throws them in the fire or casts them into the river’ (WND, 773). This, again, is exactly the same complaint the other schools have been making recently. If they leave the Soka Gakkai alone, they themselves will lose their livelihoods. Therefore, they induce the newspapers to raise a furor or entreat the Ministry of Education to do anything possible.
“Thus the agitation we are seeing now has without doubt been created by monks of the other schools. We should rejoice to know that our activity has at last entered this second phase. As the movement for kosen-rufu makes further headway, the time will certainly come when the last of the three powerful enemies will arise. This will take the form of persecutions from supposed sages, government authorities and the like. Never forget that they are the strongest of the three powerful enemies. Should you give up in the face of their oppression, what could be the purpose of your having continued your faith until then? It will be the very time when you will need to summon up your greatest courage. Remember, at that moment you will be standing at the crossroads of your lives—one way leading to glory and the other to ruin.
“Even though we have only begun, I can assure you that we are proceeding in exact accordance with the established formula for kosen-rufu. There is no need to be concerned. All you should do is to calmly advance, exactly as the Soka Gakkai teaches you.”
”Eventful Days” p. 1119
With the unprecedented growth of the Soka Gakkai, NHK (Japanese State Radio) sought out Pres. Toda for an interview. In this section of the broadcast, Toda talks about the eternity of life and the meaning of absolute happiness that is a result of the correct practice of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
Toda reflected on the hopeless, pathological state of contemporary society, a society that was even unable to imagine what absolute happiness was like. He mentioned to T. that very few people in the modern age could honestly state or feel that they were happy. Even though they might be contented with their present conditions, their future should be taken into account as well. For this reason, he considered it his duty to encourage them to profess faith in the one righteous religion.
“In our time,” said Toda, “people laugh off as mere superstition the belief that we will be born again after our death. However, if we die and are never born again, what could possibly prevent us from committing crimes such as larceny and fraud while we are alive? I state definitely that we have future existences to live. Whether they are aware of it, those who brand such a concept as illusion must realize that everyone is destined to be born again. Because we consider happiness that will continue on to our future existences to be of the greatest importance, we cannot help advising those who are merely satisfied with happiness in this world to take faith in our religion.”
Toda mentioned that there were innumerable instances in which Soka Gakkai members had either been cured of their illnesses or extricated themselves from the abyss of poverty. These experiences were certainly proof of the Gohonzon’s power, but they still represented only relative happiness. After such happiness, he reiterated, there would come a state of absolute happiness that permeates one’s present as well as future existences—a state in which living itself becomes an inexhaustible source of joy.
”Eventful Days” pp. 1129-1131
On January 4, 1955, during the return of members celebrating the New Year at the Head Temple, a young man named Toshihiko Yamanouchi was on duty helping members on and off the crowded trains at Fuji station. While reaching for a girl who had been separated from her parents on a departing train, he slipped and fell beneath the wheels and was killed. While wracked with grief, President Toda uses his memorial as an opportunity to explain the Daishonin’s view of life and death through the concept of Mr. Yamanouchi’s true self.
“Yesterday, on the train, Miss Kiyohara, your Guidance Department leader, asked me a question about life. I told her that one of the vital principles of Buddhism is that of the four virtues of the Buddha’s life. The earlier Buddhist teachings emphasize the three central principles of the Law: non-substantiality, impermanence and non-self. In marked contrast to this, Mahayana Buddhism attaches great importance to the four virtues: eternity, happiness, true self and purity. These represent the very essence of the Buddha nature. In terms of the Four Great Bodhisattvas, Superior Practices represents true self, Boundless Practices, eternity; Firmly Established Practices, happiness; and Pure Practices, purity.
“Now, then, what is true self? In our daily lives you have your own self and I have mine. The question is: What happens when this self dies? If and when you find the answer to this question, you can understand every single one of the theories concerning life. Even so, such understanding alone will never bring you happiness. In order to become happy, there is no other way but to embrace the Gohonzon.”
Those listening had been sure that Toda would deliver a tear-provoking address in memory of Toshihiko Yamanouchi. But contrary to their expectations, he was explaining the philosophy of life. They listened with a mystified look on their faces. Toda paused for a while, gazing at Yamanouchi’s photograph. Then he slowly began to talk about the heroic young man, as though reluctant to speak.
“Mr. Yamanouchi is dead. His life has blended with the life of the greater universe. We cannot tell where it is. As I have often said before, within the space surrounding us there are any number of radio waves transmitted by the nations of the world—Germany, Britain, the United States, China and so on—including, of course, Japan’s NHK. Now, these radio waves neither overlap nor get entangled with one another. Each goes its own way without disturbing the others. Likewise, all lives after death fuse into the life of the universe. They neither interrupt nor hinder each other.
“True self is eternal. Mr. Yamanouchi’s true self, now having neither body nor mind, has merged into the life of the universe, feeling the effects of his karma. This may be compared to people dreaming in their sleep. When a person dies an unhappy death, the self undergoes excruciating agony like one who, in a nightmare, frantically tries to run away from a fierce dog that is about to pounce. However, the power of Nam-myoho-renge- kyo is such that it can place even a self that may otherwise suffer from torturous karma into a peaceful state, just like a pleasant dream when you find yourselves in a beautiful garden.
“By the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo you chant for him, he will come to enjoy a joyous destiny as though strolling among flowers. I am sure that such is the reality of life after death. So let’s practice our faith untiringly so that in our next existences we will all be happy, healthy and bright from the very beginning, living as though life itself were a flower garden.”
Although Toda was deeply grieved at Toshihiko Yamanouchi’s accidental death, he did not doubt for a moment that the youth had attained Buddhahood. He did not express it in so many words, but he was convinced that in his death the young man demonstrated the truth of the passage in the Gosho “Lessening One’s Karmic Retribution”: “If one’s heavy karma from the past is not expiated within this lifetime, one must undergo the sufferings of hell in the future, but if one experiences extreme hardship in this life [because of the Lotus Sutra], the sufferings of hell will vanish instantly. When one dies, one will obtain the blessings of the human and heavenly worlds, as well as those of the three vehicles and the one vehicle” (WND, 199). Toda lamented the heavy karma that Yamanouchi must have accumulated in his past existences. However, in view of the eternity of life, he was convinced that the sufferings of hell to which Yamanouchi had been doomed had disappeared at once due to his pure-hearted practice of faith.
Toda’s speech had completely dissolved the gloomy cloud of sorrow that had hung over the audience…