November 2007 Highlights

Highlights from
The Human Revolution Vol. XI
Readings for November, 2007
(Chapter titles and page numbers from the current edition are given for each excerpt)
Turning Point, pp 1499-1502
Toda resigns from Daito Commerce and Industry Company and all profit making endeavors as the Soka Gakkai faces a critical stage in its development.  The organization found itself under investigation after irregularities were suspected in a recent election.

As far as he had been able to ascertain, the authorities were persistently interrogating each member charged with house-to-house canvassing, questioning them about the organization and its leaders and preparing an extensive document on the Soka Gakkai. As autumn deepened, it seemed that they were further intensifying their efforts and narrowing their investigation down to the higher echelons of the organization.

Then what appeared to be a stroke of good fortune occurred. Japan was admitted to the United Nations on December 18 that year, and in commemoration of this event, a general pardon was issued on the following day. With this, all criminal charges related to the July election were dropped. It seemed as if the foreboding cloud, which had threatened to engulf the Soka Gakkai, had vanished once and for all. But the problem was not so simple—Josei Toda’s premonition would come true in 1957, in connection with the House of Councilors by-election in the Osaka prefectural constituency in April and the so-called coal miners union incident in June.

Toda was reflecting on the groundless slander and criticism to which the Soka Gakkai had been subjected for some time. Toda was now like a pilot at the controls, exercising utmost caution in navigating through turbulent air, clearing his mind of all trifles and concentrating on finding the correct course.

There was knocking at the door, and Shin’ichi Yamamoto entered. The white of his open-necked shirt was refreshing to the eye. He smiled broadly as he sat upright before the desk, greeted the president and commenced his report. It was a general report on closing accounts, for the first half of the year, of Daito Commerce and Industry Company, a firm to which Toda was a consultant. The figures indicated remarkable improvement in all areas. Shin’ichi headed the company’s business department.

“Well, we don’t have to worry about the firm anymore, do we?” said Toda. “At last it’s standing on its own feet. No more need for me to give a helping hand. I’ll leave everything to you and the rest of the staff.”

Shin’ichi tilted his head inquiringly at Toda’s unexpected words. Thanks to Toda’s many years of toil, the company now stood on a firm foundation, its business results soaring. Yet he was saying that he would wash his hands of it. Shin’ichi felt there must be deep meaning behind Toda’s remark.

The Daito Company had been founded in late autumn of 1950. By that time Toda’s publishing company and credit association had gone bankrupt. Toda had found himself in extreme distress, a horrible experience even to recall. Pressed by the necessity to clear the immense liabilities for which he held himself solely responsible, he created the new firm. From the outset it had been a struggle just to keep it going. Toda exerted several times the effort of the average businessman. Owing to his incredible diligence, within five years of the firm’s founding he was able to pay back most of his debt, staggering as it had been. This was a feat inconceivable from the standpoint of common business sense. Basking in more and more good fortune, the company was expected to make a showing worthy of close attention.

And now Toda was saying that he would withdraw from the firm. If ever there was indifference to material gain, this was it. What on earth had entered the mind of Josei Toda, an enterpriser for all his life? Shin’ichi had no idea.

“I’m thinking of taking this opportunity to resign not only from Daito Company but from all the other profit-making enterprises as well,” Toda said. “I cannot keep you people company forever. I think the time has come at last. I have mountains of other things to do yet—tasks I must devote myself to heart and soul. I feel I now stand at an important juncture and I must not miss my chance. I haven’t confided in anyone else yet, but I’ve already made up my mind and no one can change it.”

Toda spoke with feeling. Upon hearing what Toda had to say, Shin’ichi sensed that his determination was immovable. He straightened himself and silently fixed his gaze upon the president’s face.

Toda addressed him affectionately. “You people are still young. Young people should be willing to tackle all hardships, even to look for them if you cannot find any. The time will certainly come when all such experiences prove to be invaluable. What can a man accomplish if he doesn’t exert himself? You should be willing to challenge anything.

“A man at my age, however, can see what life has in store for him, whether he likes it or not. He can see clearly what he has to do. He also keenly realizes that his days are numbered. How should a man act when he knows he must accomplish what he has to within a severely limited period of time? He has no choice but to examine all his duties and select from among them what he alone can, and must, carry out. The more important what he has to do, the less room he has to indulge his personal feelings.

“I have dedicated my entire being to the attainment of kosen-rufu. Yet the journey toward that goal has only begun. I have not much time left, time to build a solid path—the task which I believe no one else but I can execute, no matter what others may say. If so, I must treasure to the utmost every day of my limited time. That’s why I have decided to wash my hands of everything that is not vital or that someone else could do.”  “I understand very well, sir. Please take good care of yourself, as you put the finishing touches to your mission for kosen-rufu. Please do freely what you have to do.” That was all Shin’ichi could say to Toda.

Toda then said: “If any difficulty arises, you can always come to me for advice. But I will cease to take the lead in management. My work from now on will not allow me time for that.”

His work from now on? Shin’ichi wondered what Toda meant. Did he mean the work of further developing the Soka Gakkai? If so, he had been devoting himself to just that, without begrudging his own life, ever since he had been released from prison. And he would certainly continue to pursue this task with undiminishing zeal. Then what more work did he have to do?

Seeing Shin’ichi’s mystified look, Toda seemed to consider for a while. Then he said, “A turning point.”

“A person encounters several turning points in life. So will the Soka Gakkai. People’s entire futures can hinge on how accurately they discern such junctures. If they miss the right time, they may very possibly ruin their own future. I believe I now face such a turning point, a turning point both for myself and for the Soka Gakkai.”
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Turning Point, pp 1506-1507
Toda speaks at Mrs. Makiguchi’s funeral about his late mentor and life and death

Despite a light rain, more than three thousand members had assembled well before the scheduled time. The ceremony began with the recitation of the sutra and the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, during which incense was offered. This completed, commemorative addresses were made by those who had been especially close to Mrs. Makiguchi. Each recalled memories of the deceased and expressed his or her sincere gratitude to her.

Finally, Josei Toda rose facing the microphone, both hands clenched into fists. “I, Josei Toda, respectfully address Mrs. Makiguchi,” he began. “It was thirty-six years ago that I met you for the first time. Ever since then, I looked up to Mr. Makiguchi as my parent and teacher and to you as my older sister and best friend.

“My teacher died in 1944. Only after I had been released from prison did I learn how forlorn his funeral had been. I wept, lamenting the uncertainty of life and the fickleness of people’s hearts. I vowed that, while you were still alive, I would exert myself to the limits of my strength to transmit my teacher’s true intention and his compassion for humanity in some form as a legacy to posterity. I heard that only six or seven persons had attended Mr. Makiguchi’s funeral. Today, thousands of Soka Gakkai members are here to pay you their final tribute. The number may still be small, but at least it is a record that I have staked my life on achieving.

“Will you be seeing Mr. Makiguchi, or will you not? I cannot say, for I have no knowledge of life after death. But should you have the chance to see him, please tell him that Josei is striving with all his might, following in his footsteps. This concludes my memorial address.”

Bidding Mrs. Makiguchi farewell, Toda realized that he had lost once and for all the best person with whom he could talk about his revered teacher, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. The sadness of parting rent his heart, and tears filled his eyes. As time passed, there would be fewer and fewer people who had been acquainted with Makiguchi while he was alive. It occurred to Toda, however, that as long as the Soka Gakkai existed, humankind would never forget Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. The time would certainly come when people would emerge who would truly appreciate the achievements of this great man—a time when he would stand out in dazzling glory. One era invariably passes into another. The death of his dear friend Mrs. Makiguchi, Toda thought, might also be a turning point for him.

Turning Point, pp 1511-1512
Toda encourages district leaders on how to inspire their members

…During the question and- answer session, some of you said, ‘The unit leaders I appointed just won’t do anything. Their units are not functioning.’ How can you as district leaders have the nerve to say a thing like that? You appointed those unit leaders. Why don’t you reexamine your own faith? You cannot be too grateful to the Gohonzon. Nothing other than the Gohonzon can save people from their sufferings in life. Since you’ve experienced the benefit of this faith, now it’s your turn to teach others. As long as you act with this conviction, you won’t need to go searching about for theories or techniques.”

Silence reigned over the assembly of three thousand. Not even a cough was to be heard. The district leaders each reflected on his own faith as they waited for Toda’s next words.

“There can be no other method,” he continued, “than for you to talk to your unit leaders about your own practice and teach them correct faith. Don’t employ this or that expedient trying to make them and the members of their units move. The Soka Gakkai must not resort to such artifice under any circumstance. Faith is always our one and only basis. Tell them how you yourself have practiced and how happy you have become through that practice. That’s the only way to let them learn the correct way of faith. If they won’t listen to you, keep trying until they do. No matter how much they may hate you or resent you, you must persist in teaching them the true way of faith. That is the soul and spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

“I repeat: There can be no method other than for you to tell your unit leaders of your own experiences in faith and your gratitude to the Gohonzon. I earnestly urge you to do so. Also, be aware of your responsibility as the ones who appointed them. Then what more do you need to say to them? So bearing what I’ve said in mind, exert yourselves in giving guidance to your unit leaders. Do your best.”
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Turning Point, pp 1518-1519
Shin’ichi encourages a man facing a recurring bout of illness.

“I received your letter today. I was shocked to learn of your condition. You must be in intense agony. One’s evil karma was created through his own actions in the past. It is quite natural that one should experience its effects in order to eradicate it in this lifetime. Remember that, due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law, you are suffering much less from your disease than you otherwise would. I am wholeheartedly praying that you will attain your human revolution and change your karma for the better, firmly embracing the Gohonzon without a trace of doubt in your mind.

“Life is long, very long. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in a resounding voice. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy, and wait for spring which will never fail to come. Regard everything as an addition to your experience, and fight against your illness with confidence. As the Gosho states, ‘To embrace the Lotus Sutra means to do so with the belief that one’s life is itself Buddhahood…To possess Buddhahood means to believe that there is no Buddha outside one’s own life’ (GZ, 742). You embrace the supreme Law which enables one to attain enlightenment. So how could you possibly be defeated by the devilish workings of your disease? I am looking forward to seeing you in perfect health.
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Turning Point, p. 1520
Shin’ichi expresses the importance of leaders taking responsibility for the success of a meeting in advance based on faith.

Laughing, Shin’ichi gently replied, “It all depends on how you regard your mission and responsibility and how you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo before you go to your meeting. In other words, it depends on whether your vitality as a leader is strong enough to reach and invigorate the participants. You may not be able to visit Yamaguchi Prefecture again in your life. So, while you are here, you must leave some trace of your struggle for kosen-rufu in this place. The moment you are so resolved, your vital force will naturally appear.” His remark indicated that in the Yamaguchi campaign, as in any other activity, he was making infinite painstaking efforts unseen by other people.
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Turning Point, pp 1525-1526
Concerned by the uprising in Hungary in 1956, Toda imagines a gathering of the great religious and philosophical leaders.

The tumultuous political developments, both domestic and international, plunged Josei Toda into deep thought. His mind wandered to the uprising of the Hungarian people. What suffering they must be undergoing! And, at the moment, he had no immediate means to rescue them from their agony. He had been exerting himself in the single-minded prayer that all manner of misery would vanish from the face of the earth, but a staggering distance still remained between that goal and reality. He felt impatient. Surely no philosopher of people had ever wished unhappiness on humankind. Then why wars and conflicts? Surely neither democracy nor communism had been devised to provoke confrontation. It was a sad fact, however, that these two ideologies were the source of the world’s present political and economic rivalries.

He thought about Shakyamuni Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus Christ. Certainly they would never have intended their respective groups of believers to fight one another. Suppose these sages met in a conference. Let Kant, Marx, Ricardo and the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai also attend. They would never talk about how to bring misery to human beings. They might exchange heated words about the best way to make humankind happy, but they would have one thing in common: the desire to eradicate misery from human society. But the people in the modern age, poisoned by self-centeredness, jealousy and resentment, could not lend an open ear to the wish of those great sages. Wasn’t this why they had fallen into an abyss of anguish and were blindly groping for a way out?

Toda, still in profound meditation, thought about his efforts for kosen-rufu. It was a movement to save people one after another, and it must continue without interruption for all eternity. It might seem like a hopelessly long route, but he was certain that it was the only way to realize the desire of all sages of the past who had aspired for peace. Toda reaffirmed his conviction.

Turning Point, p. 1532
Toda reminds leaders about the fundamentals of practice and the correct attitude in faith.

“I would now like to talk about one thing leaders must always bear in mind,” he said. “We often mouth the word faith, but there can be no faith without the practice of gongyo and propagation. The mouth can say what it pleases. One can pretend to be well-versed in Buddhist doctrines and to respect them. But if leaders forget the Gohonzon, which they sought and received, and cease to carry out the practice, they are no longer believers in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Such leaders will cause only confusion among the members. By and by they will become arrogant and begin to criticize their seniors and even the organization itself. They will make their words sound as if they were spoken for the sake of kosen-rufu, unaware that they have already become enemies of the Daishonin. No one could be more pitiable than leaders who have forgotten the basics of faith. By the time they realize their error, they will have drifted far from the correct path of practice.

“I have been practicing this faith for more than a quarter of a century. During this period, I have occasionally encountered such people among the multitude of my fellow members. No matter how capable people may appear to be, if they forget the fundamentals, their faith will crumble instantly. Bear this in mind and devote yourselves wholeheartedly to your activities next year.”
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Stormy Days, pp 1539-1541
Toda gives leaders strict guidance about lending and borrowing money among members.

Toda also knew that some members made loans among themselves from unwholesome motives. These transactions often led to trouble, adversely affecting the faith of those concerned. Some of them were actually suffering terribly as a result. Engaging in such practices, Toda thought indignantly, was taking advantage of faith for evil purposes. He had for some time continued to caution members against this. Even so, obscured by the rapid growth of the organization, several flagrant violations of his warning had occurred.

“Money and power are what count in this world,” Toda told his audience at the headquarters leaders meeting. “That’s why people lend or borrow money and end up resenting each other. I am not saying that it is absolutely wrong to make loans. I am only warning against borrowing money from your members by using your position as a district leader or group leader of the Soka Gakkai. ‘I am the district leader and you are my group leader. I need money, so it is your duty to lend me some.’ How can any leader have the gall to say such a thing! Under no circumstance must you take advantage of your position in the organization to borrow money from your members. Neither should you lord it over them because of your position. The members of the Soka Gakkai must base all of their actions on faith and faith alone.

“I have no power whatsoever. You respect me as president of the Soka Gakkai, but by birth I am nothing but the son of a fisherman. What greatness is there in me? A president of the Soka Gakkai is not someone special. Since the president is not illustrious, neither is a chapter leader or district leader.”

The world of faith must always be kept pure. Otherwise, it will quickly degenerate into malignant heresy and eventually perish. This is the danger latent in any religion. Secular power and money therefore must not be allowed to prevail over the domain of faith.

Toda went on to speak, now more emphatically than before. “Businessmen must have money. Statesmen must have power. The Soka Gakkai, however, must always stand and operate on the basis of faith. This is as much the spirit of the Soka Gakkai as it is my own.

“If anyone thinks he can match me and defeat me in matters of faith, I will willingly accept his challenge. I am not perturbed by anything. Neither money nor power can frighten me. The only thing I hold in awe is faith. But as far as faith is concerned, I have confidence. As unworthy of my mission as I am, today, seven centuries after Nichiren Daishonin’s passing, I am propagating his teaching as his emissary. Some people say the Soka Gakkai is a sham, a hoax. Let them say what they please. Wait and see the outcome. I won’t be defeated. Within three years, I’ll show proof of it.

“This is confidence born of faith. Neither money nor power can produce it. In concluding my speech, I repeat: if you abuse your position in the organization in borrowing money from your members or tyrannizing over them, you will incur negative effects without fail.”
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Stormy Days, pp 1555-1556
The Soka Gakkai’s candidate in the national elections in the Kansai region loses and Shin’ichi accepts full responsibility when meeting with Toda.

“How is it coming?” he asked. None of the leaders was able to give a prompt reply. They could not even bear the pain of looking at the president’s face. Toda remained standing, his gaze upon Shin’ichi. Shin’ichi sat up straight.

“We have lost, sir,” Shin’ichi managed to say. “I am sorry.”

Shin’ichi bowed his head, both hands to the floor, shoulders trembling. Sobs escaped from him. Toda rushed to his side. “Don’t cry, Shin,” he said. “You mustn’t cry.” He put his arms around Shin’ichi’s shoulders, gently pulled the younger man to his feet and keeping that posture, left the hall and entered the president’s room.

Shin’ichi wept. Toda, while telling Shin’ichi not to cry, was crying himself. They shed tears of mortification in each other’s arms. After a while, Shin’ichi straightened himself up.

“I am ashamed of myself, sir,” he said. “I request that I be dismissed from all of my positions.”

“What are you talking about, Shin? Sometimes we win, and at other times we lose. That is the nature of battle. We’ll fight again. We must fight to the end.”

Shin’ichi sensed Toda’s unbending spirit. He made up his mind.

“I retract my words, sir,” he said. “Someday I’ll win a victory that no other party can deny, a victory that will astound the world. So please sleep well tonight.”

“That’s exactly what I wanted to hear from you.” Toda smiled for the first time since they had entered his room….

… In the course of less than one year, Shin’ichi had experienced two of the most memorable events in his lifetime: the brilliant victory of last summer that had stupefied the public and the defeat this time, which he did not regret.
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Stormy Days, pp 1559-1560
At the Spring General Meeting Toda clarifies the fundamental spirit of propagation in the Soka Gakkai.

“The important thing is that we should accord with the time,” he said. “No religious practice meets this requirement other than teaching others about this Buddhism. Teaching others does indeed accord with the time. The fundamental spirit of sharing this Buddhism with others is compassion, the willingness to help others. If you are filled with that spirit when you teach this Buddhism, there is no reason why the other party should not be convinced. No matter how disobedient children may be, they cannot help yielding to their mother’s affection. That’s because a mother loves her children under any circumstance. Likewise, no one can defeat acts of compassion.

“Nichiren Buddhism is the only religion in the Latter Day of the Law that accords with the time. You believe in this supreme Buddhism and propagate it as it teaches. But, as I have heard, some of you are propagating this practice in a haphazard way. Sometimes members even lose their tempers and say to the other party foolish things such as, ‘You son of a—! You’ll die in seven days.’ That’s not the way to propagate this Buddhism. When you share this Buddhism with others, you must be filled with compassion, determined to let the other person take faith no matter what. Only then are you acting true to the Buddhism of the Latter Day.

“When you propagate correctly, benefit will come to you as a reward for your effort. Some of you may complain, ‘So far I’ve converted fifteen people, but I haven’t received the slightest benefit.’ Such greediness will never do. As long as you share Buddhism with the sincere desire to help the other person, benefit will naturally come your way even if you don’t ask for it.

“You’ve already heard so many speeches from many leaders. I think any more tedious talk on my part will only bore you to death, so I’ll close for now. In any event, from today on, teach others with the awareness that it is an act of compassion, a deed deriving from humaneness. Take this to heart and dedicate yourselves to propagation.”
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Yubari, pp 1607-1608
One week in June 1957 brings together in Toda’s heart challenging, epochal events in the growth of the Soka Gakkai.

Josei Toda, though caught in the center of activity and agitation, remained cool on the surface. His heart, however, ached with indignation at the action of the Osaka Prefectural Police against Konishi and Shin’ichi. Prompted by his deep concern, he asked Kiyoshi Ozawa, a lawyer and an old friend, to go to Osaka immediately. He had an ominous premonition. Since his collapse in the spring he had been weakening physically day after day, and the police action had come as an unexpectedly telling blow to him. At night, he would sleep only for a short time before he would wake up. Once awake, he found it impossible to fall asleep again. It seemed to him that the night lasted forever and that morning would never come. Not a moment passed without his worrying about Konishi and Shin’ichi. He meticulously followed the development of the situation.

Supposing that the history of kosen-rufu is like a woven fabric, the flow of time forms the warp and we ourselves and our actions constitute the woof. That part of the cloth that corresponds to the week of late June to early July 1957 is likened to the distinctly coarse and motley crosswise threads: the highly inspiring thread of The Human Revolution, the festive thread of the student division inaugural ceremony; the dark, ill-intended thread coming from the Osaka Prefectural Police; the outrageous thread of Takeo Konishi’s arrest; the glowing threads of the rallies in Sapporo and Yubari; and the anxiety-laden thread of Shin’ichi Yamamoto making his way to Osaka. Yarns of diverse colors cross and interlace one another, weaving that portion of the fabric that represents that eventful week.
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Yubari, pp 1610-1611
Speaking at a large rally, Shin’ichi encourages the members in the Yubari region with examples of the Daishonin’s spirit to triumph over their persecution by the local Coal Miners Union.

“Nichiren Daishonin states, ‘When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs’ (WND, 376). ‘The skies are clear’ indicates that ‘one knows the Lotus Sutra.’ ‘The ground is illuminated’ corresponds to ‘he understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.’ When people base their lives on faith, they can, for instance, come up with brilliant ideas and do the right things to improve their businesses, make it thrive and, as a result, elevate their states of life. This is how the Daishonin teaches us to behave. It is also the fundamental guideline of the Soka Gakkai. With respect to labor unions, too, the Soka Gakkai teaches its members that faith equals daily life, that it equals work and therefore equals union activities. The coal miners union, however, does not even try to understand us. Like devils or demons, the union leaders stand in our way towards kosen-rufu. For this they will certainly incur the punishment of Buddhist deities.”

Shin’ichi articulately said what was exactly on the minds of the thirteen thousand participants. Tumultuous applause reverberated against the ceiling of the sports center.

“When the three powerful enemies emerged in the Daishonin’s lifetime,” he concluded, “it was an omen of the kosen-rufu of the Law. The year before last, in the Otaru debate here in Hokkaido, we defeated the heretical priests who slandered the correct teachings of Buddhism, the second of the powerful enemies. This time, again on this same island, we are faced with, and are resolved to defeat, those with formidable social influence who persecute believers of Nichiren Buddhism, the third and most powerful of the enemies whose appearance is a favorable omen of kosen-rufu. It gives us tremendous joy.

“The Daishonin teaches us that great misfortune is always followed by great fortune. He also states that great misfortune is an omen of great fortune. Now that the three powerful enemies have emerged, let us be firmly convinced that the realization of kosen-rufu is near at hand.”
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Osaka, pp 1621-1627
Weeks before Shin’ichi’s arrest on June 30, 1957, Toda explains to Shin’ichi that the kosen-rufu movement is actually a heroic struggle against authoritarianism.

As if foreseeing that Shin’ichi would certainly face such a day as today, Toda poured his entire being into guiding his most cherished disciple, urging him on to rise and face his lifelong battle with the forces of authoritarianism.

“Shin’ichi,” Toda said, “power is like a tidal wave that swallows everything in its path. A person with shallow or half-hearted conviction can do nothing to stop it. You cannot stand up to it unless you are prepared to risk your life.” Toda spoke about the many socialists who had succumbed to oppression during the war. Then he proceeded to give details about the pressures brought to bear on Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai by the military government. His voice wavered as he recounted that particular day in June 1943 when President Makiguchi and other Gakkai leaders were summoned to the head temple. The head temple had been coerced into enshrining and paying homage to the talisman of the Shinto sun goddess.

“We hurried off to the head temple with President Makiguchi. Sensei felt that the time had finally arrived for us to take a stand. We were on the train, and his eyes were firmly shut; when he finally opened them, he spoke to me with conviction: ‘Toda, the time has come when we must take a stand. Is this not an excellent opportunity to make the national government aware of the gravity of the slander it has committed against Buddhism? We cannot idly stand by and watch Japan be destroyed!’ I replied, ‘I will take up the fight, Sensei, and though I am unworthy, I, Toda, as your disciple, am determined to risk my life.’ Sensei nodded with approval and smiled. I had thought that the head temple authorities would emphatically reject the Shinto talisman, with the relentless spirit to admonish all slander, but…”

Toda’s voice had trailed off. He lifted his head slightly, as if to gaze into the distance, then he resumed his discussion.

“In the presence of both High Priest Nikkyo and the retired high priest, Nichiko, the General Affairs Department chief of Nichiren Shoshu said to us: ‘Why doesn’t the Soka Gakkai also accept the Shinto talisman, at least for appearances’ sake?’ At first I wasn’t sure if I had heard him correctly. The head temple must have feared being persecuted by the military government. President Makiguchi listened with his head lowered. And then, with dignity and determination, he said, ‘We cannot agree to this. We cannot possibly accept the talisman.’ These words are still etched in my mind. This one statement had determined the destiny of the Soka Gakkai, leading to Mr. Makiguchi’s martyrdom. It set us in the Gakkai on a correct and praiseworthy course, as disciples of the Daishonin who propagate the Law without begrudging our lives.”

It was a solemn heart-to-heart dialogue between mentor and disciple. Toda’s tone was penetrating and there was a deep resonance in his voice. He continued speaking without pause, looking directly at Shin’ichi.

“Not long thereafter, President Makiguchi and I were arrested. Gakkai members were not permitted to go on pilgrimages to the head temple. And it was all because we upheld the mandate of Nichiren Daishonin and refused to condone the acceptance of a Shinto talisman. Based on this, you can well imagine how formidable the threats and the intimidation of the authorities can be.

“Nevertheless, my teacher boldly stood up to the authorities and died in prison. Had it not been for Mr. Makiguchi and the Soka Gakkai, the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin would have ceased to exist. This is an unalterable fact. And this is why we can say that the Soka Gakkai has inherited the will and mandate of the original Buddha.”

Josei Toda went on to explain why persecutions vie to obstruct the path toward kosen-rufu.

Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches the unsurpassed value and dignity of human life. It is a religion that exists for the people, to relieve their suffering and bring them happiness. In contrast, authority tends to subjugate and control people with its power. The devilish nature of authority lies in its insatiable desire to control others. Consequently those in power have often sought to use religion as a means to control the people and, in so doing, subdue their spirit.

“While the authorities warmly patronized cooperative religions that submitted to their will, they endeavored to manipulate those that did not conform by applying heavy pressure or by craftily offering temporary appeasement to win them over to their side. To protect their own interests, religions themselves often competed to curry favor with the authorities.

“Nevertheless, Nichiren Daishonin challenged the ruling powers head on. This he did because his was a teaching that enables the common people to realize happiness.

“From the perspective of those in power, the propagation of a religion that refuses to submit to the will of authority is tantamount to the creation of a separate and independent spiritual realm that authority is powerless to control. To those in power, nothing could be a greater threat. For this reason, exposing their malice born out of deep-seated resentment and jealousy, they set about eliminating such a religion.

 “This is the meaning of the passage from the sutra that reads, ‘Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound…’ (WND, 369). And it is for this reason that we cannot avoid bitter clashes with authority in the course of accomplishing kosen-rufu.

“Yet the Daishonin never feared the rulers of his day nor yielded to their intimidation. Instead he declared with sublime confidence, ‘If you quail before the threats of the ruler of this little island country [and abandon your faith], how will you face the even more terrible anger of Yama, the lord of hell?’ (WND, 765).

“Until this very day, Buddhism in Japan has been utterly at the mercy of those in power. This was particular apparent during the Edo period, when the Tokugawa shogunate instituted its parish system and Buddhist temples became administrative tools of the military regime, fulfilling the function of census registrars. Buddhist schools fell completely under the control of the ruling powers. In addition, the Buddhist clergy itself became authoritarian, using their political influence to manipulate believers as they pleased.

“Religions that are dependent on authority and power naturally cannot possibly serve as a force for reform and development of society for the benefit of the people. They turned into dead religions that offer no more than emotional solace or whose believers desire only to escape from reality and live a peaceful life in the next existence.

“The tendency toward conservatism and self-preservation among such religions did not change even after the Meiji era. Thus the established religions in Japan most naturally tried to gain favor with the military government during World War II.

“Despite this prevailing trend, the Soka Gakkai remained true to the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin and, as an organization embodying a living religion, struggled boldly to resist the authority of the military government. It was a foregone conclusion that this would invite the severe oppression that it eventually did.”

The principle Toda described with such eloquent logic could be termed a depiction in miniature of persecutions encountered when practicing the correct teaching of Buddhism. Shin’ichi absorbed Toda’s words, overcome with a sensation that tangled threads were being unraveled.

As the hands of the clock edged past eleven o’clock in the evening, Shin’ichi could not help growing anxious about Josei Toda’s health. It had been only a little more than a month ago, on the afternoon of April 30, that Toda had suddenly collapsed. The thought uppermost in Shin’ichi’s mind was letting Toda go to bed as early as possible. Toda, however, continued to talk as if determined to say all that he felt should be said on that one night.

“Moreover, Shin’ichi,” he continued, “the Gakkai has now set out to achieve a reformation in many fields, including culture, education and politics, with the aim of building a new society that is beneficial for human beings based upon the spirit of Buddhist compassion. We cannot expect the forces of authority to overlook the emergence of this living religion, which is spreading in the midst of the realities of society.

“You might say that authoritarian power in Japan became decentralized after the war. Even the coal miners union is exhibiting an aspect of authority in the way they organize coal workers. However, even above that is the power of the national government. That is what is most frightening. We must be alert!”

“Yes!” Shin’ichi had nodded, his expression earnest. Toda nodded gravely in return, and took a long drink from the glass of water on the table before him.

“Challenging these forces of authority is no easy task. It amounts to doing battle with the devil king of the sixth heaven.” Toda picked up the copy of the Gosho that lay at his elbow and began flipping through its pages.

“Ah, here it is. Read this, Shin’ichi.” Shin’ichi took the Gosho and began reading aloud from the place Toda had pointed to. It was a passage from “Letter to Misawa”: “When an ordinary person of the latter age is ready to attain Buddhahood,…this devil [the devil king of the sixth heaven] is greatly surprised. He says to himself, ‘This is most vexing. If I allow this person to remain in my domain, he not only will free himself from the sufferings of birth and death, but will lead others to enlightenment as well. Moreover, he will take over my realm and change it into a pure land. What shall I do?’ The devil king then summons all his underlings from the threefold world of desire, form and formlessness and tells them, ‘Each of you now go and harass that votary, according to your respective skills. If you should fail to make him abandon his Buddhist practice, then enter into the minds of his disciples, lay supporters, and the people of his land and thus try to persuade or threaten him. If these attempts are also unsuccessful, I myself will go down and possess the mind and body of his sovereign to persecute that votary. Together, how can we fail to prevent him from attaining Buddhahood?’” (WND, 894–95).

Toda stopped Shin’ichi there and proceeded to explain the passage in some detail. “So” Toda went on, “it is very difficult to predict what form devilish forces will assume in order to hinder us.” Josei Toda again lifted the glass of water to his mouth. Shin’ichi’s eyes shone as he awaited his next words.

“There is nothing false in what the Gosho teaches. Consider the Jiko Kasahara incident. Who could have guessed that such an evil priest who espoused a doctrine placing Shinto deities above the Buddha and who schemed to merge Nichiren Shoshu into a erroneous school could have emerged from among the senior priests of Nichiren Shoshu? This is actually what is meant by expressions like ‘a parasite in the lion’s bowels,’ and ‘evil demons will enter the bodies of others.’ Kasahara took both the priesthood and laity by complete surprise; therefore, the confusion he caused turned out to be all the more tremendous.

“Devilish forces aim to disrupt the noble spirit of Nichiren Daishonin and put a halt to the movement for kosen-rufu. They employ whatever means necessary to achieve their end, and there is no way of knowing in what form they will appear in the future. If you can discern the truth based on the Gosho’s teachings, then all this will be apparent to you. But if your eyes of faith become in the least bit clouded, you will find yourself at the mercy of devilish influences.”

Toda’s words seemed to contain a premonition of what was to come.

“Now, the problem is here in the latter part of this passage, where the devil king of the sixth heaven states: ‘If these attempts are also unsuccessful, I myself will go down and possess the mind and body of his sovereign to persecute that votary. Together, how can we fail to prevent him from attaining Buddhahood?’ (WND, 895).

“This entire discussion in the Gosho is led by the devil king of the sixth heaven; he even boasts that he will enter the body of the ruler to inflict persecution and obstruct people’s faith, in order to block the flow of kosen-rufu.”

Though Toda was smiling as he said this, his stern expression soon returned.

“Simply put, persecution by those in power is a function of the third of the three powerful enemies. These are arrogant priests who, though persecuting the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, are nevertheless revered, stubbornly cling to mistaken views and are attached to selfish personal desires. Their method of operation is to align themselves with those in power and persecute the practitioners of the correct teaching of Buddhism.

“You might say that the case of Jiko Kasahara was but one example of this, perhaps a minor one at that. Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji temple, a contemporary of the Daishonin, was a prime example of a priest who, while revered as a saint by the populace, joined forces with the government authorities to persecute followers of Nichiren Buddhism. When such a thing happens, it is no easy matter to tell what is just and what is evil. This is what T’ien-t’ai meant when he said, ‘The three obstacles and four devils will emerge, vying with one another to interfere.’

“The very intention of the devilish forces lies in sowing confusion, causing the believers of the correct Buddhist teaching to vacillate and become unable to clearly differentiate between right and wrong, so that they will abandon their faith. So, Shin’ichi, you see how rugged the road to kosen-rufu is?”

Shin’ichi nodded earnestly, sensing intuitively he, too, would find it difficult to avoid persecution.

“So long as I continue to devote myself to the cause of kosen-rufu as a disciple of President Toda,” Shin’ichi thought to himself, “the day will surely come when I will personally experience persecution. When that time comes, I want to move forward with a smile and the courage of a lion.” In less than a month, the persecution of which Shin’ichi had had a premonition that evening came to pass.

Now, on the plane to Osaka, Shin’ichi admonished himself: “President Toda faced persecution like a lion. If I am his disciple, then I, a lion’s cub, must also behave like a lion. The time has come at last for me to prove whether I really am a lion.”
*          *            *            *            *            *            *

Osaka, p.1638
President Ikeda  explains why the authorities used the vote buying scheme of a few errant members in Osaka to clamp down on the entire Soka Gakkai in 1956 -57.

…It is not surprising that the prosecutors would use this opportunity to enforce the law to the fullest possible extent; they wanted to deal a fatal blow to the Soka Gakkai.

But a significant part of their motivation stemmed from an irrational bias regarding the Soka Gakkai as well as an unfounded fear of what the organization might become in the future. Such prejudice may be thought of as an innate impulse that originates deep within the human psyche and transcends all reason and common sense. This is a key element underlying the condition, described in the Lotus Sutra, in which “hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound” (WND, 369). When the exercise of authority is based upon emotionalism that springs from human hatred, then that authority begins to function like a devilish force baring the fangs of oppression.
Whatever the age, acts of oppression are rationalized under the banner of a noble cause. Some kind of issue is manufactured, and persecution is carried out under the pretext of punishing offenders. This method of operation is clearly evident in the events surrounding Nichiren Daishonin’s exile to Sado Island. After the failed attempt to behead him at Tatsunokuchi, the Daishonin was held under arrest at the residence of Homma Rokurozaemon in Echi of Sagami Province. During that time the military authorities repeatedly consulted each other about what to do with the Daishonin.

The Daishonin was completely innocent, as he indicates in the Gosho “Letter from Sado,” writing, “My present exile is not because of any secular crime” (WND, 303). Consequently, as the authorities continued to argue over his fate, they came to realize they had no clear grounds for punishing him. Nevertheless, those such as Ryokan, the chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple, as well as the priests of the Pure Land school, felt they could never allow the Daishonin to be found innocent and released. So they incited their henchmen to commit acts of arson and murder in Kamakura and then spread rumors that these crimes were the work of Nichiren’s disciples. Thus, the Daishonin’s exile to Sado was guaranteed.

In other words, since the Daishonin was not guilty of any crime, his enemies had no alternative but to frame him on some trumped-up charge to ensure his exile to Sado. This is the form persecution often takes: punishment stemming from false charges.
*          *            *            *            *            *            *
Osaka, pp 1650-1651
Shin’ichi wrestles with pressure from the authorities to confess to acts he did not commit if it will spare his mentor from being arrested and protect the Soka Gakkai and Toda’s business.

[Shin’ichi thought] “…what will happen if they raid the Soka Gakkai Headquarters? The suffering and turmoil it might cause the members will be incalculable. Imagine how much trouble it would cause President Toda. If Sensei were arrested…” Toda’s image appeared vividly in Shin’ichi’s mind.

“Sensei’s health is frail. He must be overburdened and exhausted by the recent spate of problems first in Yubari and then with the general director’s and my arrest.

“In this condition, what would happen to Sensei’s health if he were arrested? It would almost certainly shorten his life. Or, while in prison he might…No! I cannot let this happen. I cannot let President Toda die in prison like President Makiguchi. I will not stand by and let him be arrested! I must absolutely prevent this from happening.

Shin’ichi’s heart blazed.

“I owe my life to President Toda,” Shin’ichi thought. “No matter what happens, I will protect him. Did that mean, though, that I should discard the truth and lie as the prosecutor wants me to? Would I not be knowingly disgracing my beloved Soka Gakkai?” Shin’ichi’s mind roiled as he agonized alone in his cell deep into the night. His heart ached with rage and he wept bitter tears of frustration. He tore at his hair and pounded his head against the cell wall over and over again.

This profound anguish tormented him throughout the night. By the time his turmoil subsided, Shin’ichi had made up his mind.

“If I take the blame, the whole matter will be settled. What does it matter if I am falsely accused if it is for the sake of President Toda and the Soka Gakkai?”

“Sensei!” Shin’ichi’s heart cried out hot tears again filling his eyes. The summer nights were short, and already a faint predawn glow could be discerned through the window.

That day, having resolved to take all blame upon himself, Shin’ichi told the chief prosecutor he would confess to all charges against him.

The chief prosecutor was suddenly all smiles. “Now this is the way to fulfill your responsibilities as the one in charge!”

Shin’ichi thought to himself: “This way I can protect President Toda. It will spare the Soka Gakkai and the Daito Company from trouble and ensure that no more members are victimized. Though it goes against my inclination, it must be done.”
*          *            *            *            *            *            *
Osaka,  pp 1657-1660
Toda addresses almost 40,000 members in a Tokyo stadium, answering their questions one by one about the arrests and prosecution of Shin’ichi and Director Konishi.

Toda believed that the only way to win this battle with the authorities was for all the members to understand the situation in the depths of their hearts and stand up together. If the slightest doubt or ill feeling remained in the minds of the members, they would be unable to summon enough courage or display their real power. The key to winning a great battle lies in detailed and convincing dialogue—nothing but dialogue.

Genuine human understanding is possible only through discussion, which, like rainwater that seeps deeply into the ground, profoundly penetrates people’s lives. This gives rise to determination and abundant courage.

What prompted Toda to conduct a question-and-answer session was that he feared that the guidance so far might have been too superficial and that it would not connect deeply with the members’ hearts, thus getting nowhere. Basically, Toda would have liked to talk personally with everyone, but the pressing nature of the current situation would not permit it. Fanning himself with a Japanese folding fan, Toda cast his eyes around the inside of the arena. Members with questions had raised their hands in various parts of the auditorium.

The first questioner selected was an elderly men’s division member.

“I think the current situation is black and white; the prosecutor’s office is clearly at fault. But I cannot help feeling that the Soka Gakkai’s attitude toward them is too soft. What do you think?” 

Looking at the man who asked the question, Toda said “Do you think so? Thank you for your question.”

He then began to speak with great compulsion: “Our opponent in this battle is the first formidable adversary we’ve faced since the end of the war. This is not as simple as the situation with the coal miners union; our opponents this time represent real authority. That’s what we’re fighting against. But the reports I received earlier today suggest that there is a chance for victory.

“According to those reports, Omura, the ringleader, and others involved in this affair have begun to express deep regret over what they did. They were persuaded by the prosecutors that the general director and the chief of the General Staff would not be arrested if they made certain statements. And that if they did so, they would be facilitating their own quick release. They therefore went ahead and made statements in compliance with the prosecutor’s request.

“But because Mr. Konishi and Mr. Yamamoto were arrested nonetheless, Omura and the others became so afflicted with guilt that they could not sleep at night. This eventually led them to relay the facts to us, and we have become aware of the real nature of the situation. In fact, today we have just launched an all-out campaign against the prosecutor’s office.”

Toda’s words became more compelling, and the participants listened intently.

“Of course, the other side will not give up so easily, either. If it becomes known that they coerced the defendants into making false statements and used those statements as a basis to incriminate the top leadership of the Soka Gakkai, it will cause quite a public scandal. It is with this recognition that we are currently waging our battle. We are certainly not being soft or easygoing.

“On July 17, I am scheduled to lecture in Osaka, and this time I have asked that the members in Osaka demonstrate their resolve to stand up to the authorities. If that’s still not enough, then let’s call on all members from around the country to meet together in protest. 

“I have done nothing wrong, and since I became president I have been fully prepared to sacrifice my life if necessary. Therefore, I am not afraid of anything.

“I will continue to adamantly denounce evil. If I have to go to prison for five or ten years as a result, I won’t mind in the least. But if this happens, please be sure to send me care packages from time to time.”

People had been listening tensely to Toda’s impassioned words, but with this last humorous comment, a burst of laughter rose from the crowd, and the atmosphere suddenly became more relaxed.
*******************************************
Toda’s question and answer session continues  p. 1660
In a voice raised almost to a shout, Josei Toda said, “Buddhism is very exact about who is to win and who is to lose. Eventually everything will become clear. Nichiren Daishonin will never forgive those who oppose the Soka Gakkai, no matter who they are. If I were not convinced of this, I could never be president of the Soka Gakkai. Anyway, just watch and observe what happens.”
*          *            *            *            *            *            *
Osaka, pp 1673-1675
At a rally in Kansai celebrating Shin’ichi’s release from prison, Toda talks about the role of the press in amplifying slander of the Soka Gakkai and why fighting for justice like a lion is the spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

“…Though this may certainly be termed a palliative measure, newspapers would no longer sell if they were to declare loudly to all that they had printed a lie and wished to be forgiven. So it’s pointless really trying to ask them for an apology. Why should we care what they write, anyway? Think of it as getting free publicity, then you won’t get angry!”

Laughter rippled through the audience. Toda know all too well how troubled the members had been by the mindlessly slanderous articles. But he wanted them to understand that if they allowed their spirits to be so easily swayed, they would be unable to fight in earnest for kosen-rufu or build a lasting foundation toward that goal.

“Does the press have any principles of its own to speak of?” Toda continued. “When the country plunges into war, they readily praise and glorify war; when peace prevails, they quickly turn into pacifists. When all is said and done, journalism that lacks principle is as tenuous as smoke.

“Nichiren Daishonin declared, ‘Though worldly troubles may arise, never let them disturb you’ (WND, 681). But a slanderous newspaper article is a problem so trivial that it doesn’t even qualify as a hardship. If you want to be swayed by such things and backslide in faith, please feel free to do so.

“The most important thing, however, is to develop great confidence and a vast state of mind so that you will stand firm no matter what happens. Based on this, we must thoroughly refute what needs to be refuted. If we keep silent, the public will assume that what is being written about us is true. Our spirit in conducting propagation should follow the Daishonin’s directions: “No matter what may happen, do not slacken in the slightest, but instead strive all the more earnestly” (GZ, 1090).

Josei Toda anticipated that the larger the Soka Gakkai became, the more intense the slander and criticism—inspired by various motives—it would have to face from certain segments of the media. He felt impelled to say what had to be said to prepare the members for that eventuality. And even though newspaper reporters had surely found their way into the meeting, Toda made no attempt to conceal anything.

“Looking at the newspapers’ coverage of the recent incident involving our organization, they have based their statements on conjecture and hearsay. But it is definitely we who have the upper hand because we know the truth about the Soka Gakkai from our own experience. A war of words after all need not be waged in print alone. People’s voices are the most powerful way of putting a message across. We cannot afford to let justice be defeated by such a pack of lies.

“Similarly, if you find yourself thinking negatively about the impression these disparaging articles might have on your friends and associates and the kind of things they may say to you when they read them, then you are allowing yourself to be defeated, surrendering without a struggle to the insidious workings of cowardice in your own heart. Such a person is neither a disciple of mine nor a genuine Buddhist. Shouldn’t we instead regard this current problem as an excellent opportunity to correct the public’s mistaken perceptions about our movement?

“It is said that justice will prevail, but this is not necessarily an inevitability. Without a fight, justice, too, will succumb. Because the Soka Gakkai is in the right, we cannot afford to lose. We must win no matter what. For this reason, we will continue our battle. 

“A lion is truly a lion by virtue of its roar. If a lion remains silent, then it is inferior even to a dog…”
*          *            *            *            *            *            *

 

 

Trial, pp 1690-1691
The long trial of the Osaka incident weighed heavily on Shin’ichi long after Toda’s death in 1958.

With the passing of time after Toda’s death, voices calling for the inauguration of a new president grew steadily louder within the Soka Gakkai. A leader who could serve as a pillar and a solid axle of unity for the organization was indispensable for the further advancement of kosen-rufu.

From around the end of March 1960, Konishi and the other directors, expressing the wishes of the entire Soka Gakkai leadership, asked Shin’ichi Yamamoto on a number of occasions to assume the presidency. Shin’ichi declined each time, however. The trial proceedings weighed heavily on his mind, and he was concerned about the repercussions that would follow if, after assuming the presidency, he were to be found guilty on the charges against him. Clearly, the Soka Gakkai’s existence would be painted as socially undesirable, damaging its reputation and causing a grave hindrance to the progress of kosen-rufu.

Wanting to avoid the eventuality of injuring the Soka Gakkai, which had been the very life of his mentor, Shin’ichi felt compelled to wait at least until after he had won an acquittal and clearly proven his innocence before taking on the presidency. Yet, at the same time, he was keenly aware that the naming of the next president was a matter of utmost urgency for the organization. The situation was a source of great torment to him, for he knew the Soka Gakkai would almost certainly collapse if the current state of affairs were allowed to persist. Finally, the strong appeals of the board of directors, coupled with his own sense of mission to protect the organization, gave him no choice but to accept the position of president. On May 3, 1960, amid the explosive joy of members from around the country, Shin’ichi Yamamoto was inaugurated as the third president of the Soka Gakkai.
*          *            *            *            *            *            *
Trial, p. 1714
In 1962 while in the Middle East, Shin’ichi is informed that he has been totally exonerated by the court in the Osaka incident.

When he read the telegram in his hotel room, Shin’ichi smiled and nodded. The rays of the setting sun pouring through the window cast a crimson glow over him.

Filled with deep emotion, Shin’ichi recalled the day—July 3, 1957—on which he had been summoned to the Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters and subsequently arrested. He pondered again how strange it was that this day should coincide with Josei Toda’s release after two years in prison, exactly twelve years earlier. Keenly sensing the mysterious bonds of destiny that linked him to his mentor, Shin’ichi felt his heart soar with exhilaration.

“Sensei!” he cried silently. Outside the window, the skies over Cairo were suffused with the brilliant hues of sunset; the sun, a huge, golden orb shimmering on the horizon.

Later, he expressed the myriad feelings that the day, July 3, evoked in him, in the form of a short verse:

In this day,
the day of imprisonment and release,
exists the way of mentor and disciple.