The excerpts below come from Volume X in Book II of the current edition of The Human Revolution. This chapter contains the details of the famous Kansai Campaign, led by a young Daisaku Ikeda, portrayed in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto. Suggested discussion questions follow. Please also see the “highlights” reading, also available on the SGI-USA website, with longer excerpts from Volume X. We encourage all Men’s Division members to own and read the complete work, available through your SGI-USA bookstore.
“Determination” p. 1323
Shin’ichi Yamamoto explains how the seemingly impossible can be made possible through the power of faith.
“Anyone would think that victory is impossible,” Shin’ichi said, “and that’s probably how you feel right now. But don’t forget this marvelous Gohonzon we have. It has the power to transform what you’d normally think impossible into something possible. Those who give up before they try don’t really know the power of the Mystic Law.
“Nichiren Daishonin is clear on this. In the final passage of ‘On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins,’ he states, ‘I am praying that, no matter how troubled the times may become, the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon daughters will protect all of you, praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground’ (WND, 444). The Daishonin wrote this letter to Shijo Kingo from Sado Island. He himself was in exile, but he was concerned only about the safety of his disciples who were at that time suffering persecution in faraway Kamakura. This passage shows us his profound mercy to pray with all his heart that the heavenly gods would protect his disciples in any way possible.
“Their society was in chaos, but the Daishonin could not go to the aid of his disciples. Being on Sado, there was nothing he could do physically. However, as he says in this Gosho, he continued to pray strongly, as determinedly as if to get fire from water-logged wood or draw water from dry ground. Here he shows us how to pray to the Gohonzon at a time of trial.
“As long as we look at our situation with only ordinary reason, there won’t be the slightest chance for us to win. But the Daishonin tells us plainly that the Gohonzon has infinite power. The only question is whether or not we believe him. If we think that we are really disciples of the Daishonin, we first have to pray powerfully to carry out the kind of courageous practice that can make the impossible possible.”
“Heartbeat” pp. 1367-1368
President Ikeda describes the genuine spirit and meaning of the oneness of mentor and disciple.
In the 1956 campaign, Josei Toda sent to various parts of the country many of his disciples whom he had personally trained for a long time. For him this was the first opportunity to see whether they took the mentor-disciple relationship merely in the general sense of the word or considered it personally as the oneness of mentor and disciple. Is the mentor’s intention being truly realized? This one can easily judge from the way in which the disciple acts. It is vital that the mentor’s intention should pulse in the disciple’s life and that he act spontaneously, for only then is the mentor-disciple bond honed to the point where mentor and disciple are truly one. The lifeblood that flows between mentor and disciple—this is the fundamental force that binds the two. To attain this state, the disciple must first grasp the source from which the mentor’s innermost intention derives and then make it his own. This is a difficult process that can be accomplished only through strong faith. The source for the power of both mentor and disciple is, needless to say, none other than the Gohonzon.
Shin’ichi Yamamoto, for one, squarely faced the difficult task and accomplished it. For months preceding the Osaka campaign he had continuously taxed his life with incredible effort until he was finally able to manifest the oneness of mentor and disciple in his own actions. Many disciples shy away from such difficulty. They do not in any way intend to go against the mentor’s intention, but the fact is that they have only a one sided understanding of it. For this reason, when confronted with severe realities some of them panic and then content themselves by mechanically forcing their mentor’s intention upon other members without first grasping it themselves. Others, although mindful of their mentor’s intention, decide that they are faced with a special case and impatiently try to conform to it by using shallow wisdom not derived from faith. All such disciples are totally unaware that they are disrupting the flow of the lifeblood between mentor and disciple by their own actions. Only when the result of the disciple’s serious concern coincides with the mentor’s thought does the lifeblood of faith begin to flow. It is quite easy for a disciple merely to mechanically follow the mentor’s intention, but rarely does a disciple attain that state of mind in which he penetrates the source of the mentor’s intention and shares that source. But the oneness of mentor and disciple totally depends on the accomplishment of this difficult process.
Seven centuries ago Nikko Shonin continued to serve Nichiren Daishonin with single-hearted devotion. Among all the elder priests, he alone was able to manifest the oneness of mentor and disciple. This was because he dedicated himself to pursuing this difficult path. Herein lay the crucial point. The other five elders, taking the mentor-disciple relationship in an ordinary sense, eventually came to oppose their mentor, but Nikko Shonin maintained the oneness of mentor and disciple and thereby protected the lifeblood of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
There is not a shred of doubt that the oneness achieved by Josei Toda and Shin’ichi Yamamoto formed the core that allowed the Soka Gakkai to become what it is today...
Suggested Discussion Questions:
Shin’ichi Yamamoto states that the Daishonin teaches us the correct way to pray, “as though to produce fire from damp wood or to obtain water from parched ground.” Have you ever prayed this way and what was the result?. How can we make this way of praying the way we pray every day?
How can we go beyond looking at “our situation with ordinary reason,” and instead tap into Gohonzon’s “infinite power”?
Rather than merely mechanically following the mentor’s intention, how do we achieve the state of mind to penetrate and share the source of the mentor’s intention?