December 2007 Highlights - Part 1

Highlights from

The Human Revolution Vol. XII
Readings for December 2007

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

“Cool Breeze” pp 1721-1723

President Toda discusses with Shin’ichi some of his thoughts on writing “The Human Revolution”.

Shin’ichi had just spent time in jail, where Toda’s novel, The Human Revolution, had been a great source of spiritual sustenance. He thus found it difficult to sum up and express in words the emotions this book had engendered.

Nevertheless, he began to speak, drawing forth the thoughts in his heart. “Although I read The Human Revolution when it was serialized in the Seikyo Shimbun, I first read the book version during the flight to Osaka. Because of the circumstances I found myself in there, what I felt at that time was far more than mere emotion. The book gave me the courage to risk my life for my mission.”

The Human Revolution, which Shin’ichi had read on the plane to Osaka, was an immeasurable source of encouragement and inspiration to him during his two weeks in confinement. Thinking of the prison life endured by Gan—the novel’s protagonist who was patterned after the person and experiences of Mr. Toda —made him feel as though his mentor were close by.

Shin’ichi continued: “In the first half of the novel, I thought of Gan not so much as you, Sensei, but as an interesting fictitious character. The Gan in the latter half of the novel, however, strikes me more as being the real you. In particular, I was transfixed by the passages describing his intense experience in prison. The account of Gan’s unwavering devotion to his mentor made me aware of how deep the bond of mentor and disciple is that links you and President Makiguchi.”

“I see,” said Toda. Smiling, he took a sip of the whiskey he had ordered, savoring it. Seeing Toda enjoying his whiskey made Shin’ichi happy, since it was a sign that his mentor’s health was returning.

A refreshing breeze blew in through the hotel room’s open window. Toda continued affably: “I just wanted to share with everyone the truth that I myself had experienced and come to understand. I thought that a novel would allow me to more accurately portray the truth. There is a difference between mere facts and the truth, though this may be difficult to comprehend.”

Hearing this, Morikawa looked puzzled. Toda turned to him without missing a beat and said: “Morikawa, the facts as people perceive them do not necessarily represent the truth. For example, suppose there is a man who gives a great deal of money to the poor. His charitable act is an irrefutable fact, and from this some might conclude that he is a kindhearted and generous individual. Yet this may not necessarily be true. His actions may have been calculated with the expectation of receiving some sort of future gain or advantage, or he may have done it to ingratiate himself with someone.”

Looking at Kazumasa Morikawa as he spoke, Toda continued: “In other words, facts don’t always reveal the truth. If we allow our eyes to focus exclusively on the facts, we may end up losing sight of the truth entirely. “In this novel, I wanted to convey that the ultimate human truth exists within the children of the Buddha who dedicate themselves to the noble mission of kosen-rufu. Gan is a fictitious character, but the state of life he attained in prison perfectly mirrors my own experience. The reason I made Gan an average, ordinary person was because I thought that through him everyone could clearly see that they are equally children of the Buddha who share a mission for kosen-rufu.”

Shin’ichi was moved beyond measure. Many novels have been written that portray an aspect of the truth about people or society. The Human Revolution, though, was the only novel he knew that delved closely into the ultimate truth expounded by Buddhism.

Gripped by strong emotion, Toda continued: “The spirit of Nichiren Daishonin is that all people are equally the Buddha’s children and treasure towers. The Daishonin’s Buddhism can therefore be called a true world religion capable of leading all people to enlightenment. Nichiren Daishonin thus inscribed the Gohonzon out of his profound compassion to lead all humanity to enlightenment. The purpose of Buddhism is to enable all people to become happy. If we lose sight of this point, then even Nichiren Shoshu will become a religion that exists only for the sake of its own authority.

“Cool Breeze” pp. 1740-1742

Shin’ichi encourages a local leader in Yubari to summon up his determination and overcome the obstacle of finding a meeting place for their inaugural meeting.  Due to the anti-Soka Gakkai stance of the powerful local union, this was a daunting obstacle.

“Are you going to give in and seek the easiest solution simply because you couldn’t get anyone to rent you a place? You must rent the biggest place in Yubari where the members can gather most easily. Isn’t this your maiden battle as a chapter leader? You haven’t been able to secure a single venue because you lack an absolute determination to rent a place, no matter what. With such an irresolute attitude, you cannot enable your chapter to grow; you cannot defeat negative influences and lead your members to happiness. If you have a strong determination to really find a meeting place for the sake of kosen-rufu, then you will find a place right away. And ultimately you can even make that meeting place your own if you really want to. This is Buddhism.”

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s rebuke took Akitaro Mitsubayashi by surprise. At the same time, he felt that a fundamental tendency in his life had been pointed out to him. When he thought of the actions and vigor that Shin’ichi had displayed in tackling the problem with the coal miners union, he was forced to acknowledge the weakness of his own determination as the chapter leader.

“Mr. Mitsubayashi,” Shin’ichi said, “from now on, it is your responsibility to care for and protect the members of Yubari. You must become strong and overcome your weaknesses. Please go back to Yubari right away and find a place to hold your meeting!”

Shin’ichi’s words pierced Mitsubayashi’s heart.

“Yes!” cried Mitsubayashi. He then dashed from the room as if possessed and headed back to Yubari. Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s intention had been to drive home to Mitsubayashi just how important his determination was as a chapter leader.

Unfavorable winds will always blow along the way to kosen-rufu. But progress toward kosen-rufu begins when just one person stands alone to break through such adversity. The way to kosen-rufu cannot be forged if the central figure is swayed by circumstances. If this should happen, the members for whom that person is responsible will lapse into a complacent sort of faith, only following the status quo. Then not only will kosen-rufu fail to advance, but those members will be unable to develop their state of life or change their karma. Shin’ichi wanted Mitsubayashi to realize that if his determination as a leader was weak, he would ultimately make the members unhappy.

While the members in Yubari had, for the time being, surmounted their problem with the coal miners union, they still had a tortuous struggle ahead of them and Shin’ichi felt compelled to spur Mitsubayashi to action.

As soon as Mitsubayashi arrived back in Yubari, he set out for the largest movie theater in town. He and Kiyoshi Jujo had gone there that morning to inquire about renting the theater, but they had been turned down point-blank.

When Mitsubayashi entered the office of the theater manager, the man was sitting at his desk, working, his back to the safe.
 “I’ve come to ask you again,” the Yubari Chapter leader said to him. “Please rent us the theater for tomorrow morning.”

“I cannot do that. I cannot rent it to you.”

The manager’s manner was curt, just as it had been that morning. The intensity of Mitsubayashi’s resolve, however, was now quite different.

“Why can’t you rent it to the Soka Gakkai? Please give me a reason,” Mitsubayashi demanded.

“I just cannot, that’s all. You certainly are persistent, aren’t you?” the manager responded brusquely.

Mitsubayashi, however, did not give up. He suddenly knelt down on the concrete floor, placed both hands on the ground before him and bowed deeply in a formal manner.

“I beg you, please. You must rent us the theater!” he said.

Startled, the manager jumped up from his chair.

Mitsubayashi continued to keep his head bowed.

“No matter what I have to do, I’ll get him to rent me the theater,” he vowed. He was filled with an iron determination.

Tears fell from Mitsubayashi’s eyes onto the hard concrete floor where
he prostrated himself. His entire being was absorbed in his struggle.

The manager approached Mitsubayashi and said, obviously flustered: “Hey, Mr. Mitsubayashi, don’t do that. It won’t do, it really won’t. Please get up already.”

Mitsubayashi remained exactly where he was. “No, not until you rent me your theater.”

“You really make things difficult. Well ... well, all right. You win. I’ll rent it to you. You can have it, okay?”

Mitsubayashi lifted his head. More tears flowed from his eyes. However, now they were no longer tears of sorrow but tears of joy. He barely managed to restrain himself from cheering out loud. He was utterly amazed that things had turned out exactly as Shin’ichi Yamamoto had predicted.

“Cool Breeze” pp. 1756-1758

At a Monthly Headquarters Leaders Meeting, President Toda stresses the importance of caring for every member and defines the correct attitude of leaders.

…At the monthly headquarters leaders’ meeting held on August 28 at Toshima Public Hall, it was announced that the number of households that joined the Soka Gakkai that month exceeded forty-one thousand..

While Josei Toda was delighted to see such dynamic progress, he was again concerned that if this large number of new members did not receive adequate guidance in faith, their growth might be stunted.

Unless individuals carry out their own human revolution and establish a happy state of life, the realization of kosen-rufu will be no more than a castle in the air. True propagation is only achieved when efforts have been made to help new members attain unshakable faith and grow into able individuals committed to fulfilling their respective missions for kosen-rufu. Toda approached the lectern and began to speak in a quiet voice.

“This month, an extremely large number of new members have joined as a result of your propagation efforts. While on the one hand this is a cause for rejoicing, it is also a cause for extreme concern. What concerns me is whether this large number of new members can truly maintain their faith throughout their lives.

“I’m sure you are aware that some of those who join us abandon their practice or fail to strive in faith with any passion or sincerity. You also know that those who do practice faith in earnest for five, six, or perhaps only four years, will experience great improvement in their lives and see their prayers fulfilled.

“I’m sure you are aware that some of those who join us abandon their practice or fail to strive in faith with any passion or sincerity. You also know that those who do practice faith in earnest for five, six, or perhaps only four years, will experience great improvement in their lives and see their prayers fulfilled.

“Whenever I see a person who is enjoying such benefit, I cannot help pitying those who deny themselves this good fortune because they abandon their faith or fail to practice in earnest. It is just as if they had entered a mountain of treasures yet returned home empty-handed.”

Toda’s heart ached whenever he heard of someone abandoning their faith. He would have liked to raise each member personally if he could. But the rapid influx of new members did not permit this. Ultimately he had to entrust the task to leaders whom he had trained and rely on them to give day-to-day guidance on matters of faith to the members. His hope was that all leaders, from chapter leaders to unit leaders, would make his heart and spirit their own and devote themselves to raising the members in faith with the same sense of responsibility and determination that he did.

Toda’s sole desire was to ferry each single member over the sea of sufferings of birth and death to the shore of happiness. This was his fundamental objective. That is why whenever he saw a leader displaying a condescending or contemptuous attitude toward the members, he would become enraged and chastise that leader without restraint. In addition, if there was someone causing problems for the members, Toda would go to see that person himself; he was selfless in his devotion to protecting the members. He would do anything to encourage and give joy to them.

At every available opportunity, Toda would admonish the leaders around him: “The members don’t exist for the leaders. Leaders exist for the sake of the members. Don’t confuse the two!” He also often used to say: “Leaders are here to serve the members. We are servants to the children of the Buddha. This is my spirit!”

Toda felt it was important at this time to clearly define the mission of a leader of the Soka Gakkai. Josei Toda continued to speak, looking out over the leaders who had gathered for the headquarters leaders’ meeting.

 “Yesterday, a reporter from the Japan Broadcasting Corporation came to see me and asked a number of questions for what he said would be a segment on a women’s program in the Osaka region. Among the questions he asked was the following: ‘Though you claim that people will become happy through practicing this faith, there must be some among you who do not.’

“‘Absolutely not!’ was my reply. A person who drinks sake will become intoxicated. Even if you fail to get drunk after drinking one bottle—say, because of your physical make-up or tolerance to alcohol—after drinking five bottles anyone would get drunk. The same is true with eating rice— no one can fail to be full after eating five bowls of rice. Similarly, there is absolutely no one who can fail to become happy by practicing this faith. It’s just that some may take longer than others depending on their karma and the strength of their faith. It’s like people with a similar illness who take the same medicine: while some may be cured immediately, others may take a long time. Nevertheless, there can be no mistaking that you will become happy by practicing this faith.

“Therefore, I hope that you will do your best to ensure that no pitiable individuals, who would slight or degrade the Gohonzon and suffer for the rest of their lives on that account, emerge from among those who are fortunate enough to take faith in the Gohonzon. I ask that all you leaders who have gathered here this evening will take good care of your members and offer them kind-hearted instruction in faith. And I hope you will enable each of them to experience the kind of joy that will make them truly glad to have encountered this Buddhism.”

To Toda, who often compared the organization to a human body, the organizational structure could be likened to no more than a skeleton. Thoughtful guidance and encouragement by the leaders could be compared to blood vessels that carry the pulsing lifeblood of faith to the members. And the heart pumping that lifeblood was none other than Toda himself.

Toda worried that the blood vessels might become clogged, thus preventing the lifeblood of faith, which he endeavored to keep pumping, from reaching the members. The participants, seeing again Toda’s immense concern for the members, were intensely moved. The leaders present thought of each member in their organizations and vowed to exert themselves further in offering personal encouragement in faith.   

“Cool Breeze:  pp 1749-1750

President Toda warns against the errors of arrogant and misguided priests

In an editorial article published in the August 1951 issue of the organization’s study magazine, The Daibyakurenge, Toda addressed this problem and encouraged priests to reflect on themselves:

“It is only natural that we, as lay believers, treat a person who wears the robes of a priest with the utmost respect, even if that person is a young acolyte. Nonetheless, I must implore the honorable senior priests to direct their juniors not to take advantage of this tradition. I ask this so that those priests who make no effort to uphold correct faith and fail to constantly exert themselves in the ways of practice and study, only aspiring for personal fame and status and hungering after wealth, will not be able to lord it over the believers.”

Toda concluded the article by saying:

“It is indeed a shame that there are some priests who hamper the progress of kosen-rufu as a result of petty jealousies. We strongly desire that senior priests, recognizing the significance of our efforts to conduct propagation as humble lay believers, will take steps to ensure that this does not happen.”

Even in those days, there were priests who criticized the Soka Gakkai’s bold propagation efforts. Though not making any efforts to conduct propagation activities themselves, such priests had unreservedly denounced the Soka Gakkai members, who had been striving so earnestly to introduce the Daishonin’s Buddhism to others. “There is something wrong with the way the Soka Gakkai is spreading the teachings,” they would charge. “They should adopt a milder form of propagation.”

Such an attitude apparently stemmed from a mixture of jealousy toward the dynamic progress of the Soka Gakkai and fear of the social criticism such progress might evoke. Toda was concerned that an increase in priests whose faith had grown stagnant and impure, and who took to flaunting their priestly authority, could seriously undermine the members’ faith.

He had continually pondered the reason behind the deterioration of the faith of such priests. It was the fundamental spirit of the Soka Gakkai to selflessly strive in propagation to realize kosen-rufu, the intent of Nichiren Daishonin. First Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, and he himself, had manifested this spirit in their actions—a spirit that undeniably pulsed within the life of each Soka Gakkai member. The tremendous advancement of the kosen-rufu movement in the Yubari area —a region where the members had been buffeted by the bitter winds of adversity—was clearly a result of this spirit. 

The essence of the Daishonin’s spirit exists only in one’s selfless dedication to propagating the Law. Consequently, true harmony between clergy and laity can only exist when priests exert themselves in their endeavors with that same spirit. Yet, how fully did the priesthood recognize this responsibility?

When he thought about it, Toda’s mind grew somber. Unfortunately, he had not observed any of the priests earnestly devoting themselves to propagation. Moreover, he couldn’t help regarding as meager the priests’ efforts to offer guidance in faith to their temple members, to teach them gongyo and instill in them the spirit to strictly admonish slander.

The second high priest and founder of Head Temple Taiseki-ji, Nikko Shonin, wrote: “Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life.” (GZ, 1618). Once a priest forgets this fundamental spirit, he inevitably gets caught up with the pursuit of personal gain and protecting his position. He then becomes, as the Gosho states, nothing more than an “animal dressed in priestly robes,”(WND, 760) or one who has become “possessed by a demon.”(WND, 845). What is the content of one’s innermost state of life? Such inner determination is invisible. Yet whether one’s inner determination is directed toward kosen-rufu or is attached only to one’s personal interests and concerns is the crucial factor that determines everything.

Most of the Yubari members took it for granted that a priest must be someone special who possesses particularly strong faith. They firmly believed that priests were incapable of saying or doing anything wrong. Toda loved their pureness of spirit more than anyone. Yet he worried that such purity of heart might prevent them from discerning people’s evil intentions, leaving them highly vulnerable to deception and ultimately causing them to lose sight of correct faith.

“Declaration” pp 1786-1788

Shinichi explains the importance of care in personnel decisions

“Listen, it’s the hard work and determination of the people who make up the organization that decide its quality. That’s why it is vital to carefully review and discuss in detail whether the proposed candidates are actually appropriate for given positions of responsibility within the organization. Victory hinges on how well you know each person.”

Shin’ichi continued to explain carefully:

“When choosing leaders for each organizational unit, you should know where those people live—where their houses are situated, for example. How many houses from the corner? Is it a one or two-story dwelling? Also, how many family members and so forth live there? These are all things you should know.

“Why is this important? Because once they are appointed to leadership positions, their homes will become centers of activity, with members coming and going all the time. You must consider whether this will cause a problem. Also, where they work and what kind of jobs they have should be taken into consideration. If a candidate is so busy at work that he or she sometimes cannot find sufficient time to do Gakkai activities, you should think about designating someone to assist that person in carrying out organizational responsibilities. Unless you can accurately assess people’s character and personality, you will be unable to allow them to display their full potential.

“It’s essential to have a thorough knowledge of each person you are appointing, so that by just looking at the names on an organizational chart, you can readily visualize the activities of each component part. Only then can it be considered a living organizational chart. If you think you can build an organization by simply filling in positional slots and arranging people in a perfunctory way, you are gravely mistaken.

“It is impossible to wage a successful campaign with an organizational chart like this one, about which none of you can explain a thing.”

Kuniaki Nishiyama was already reflecting on Shin’ichi’s penetrating appraisal.

“I am telling you this,” Shin’ichi continued, “because President Toda has often said, ‘The Soka Gakkai is more important than my life.” This is based on his conviction that if the Soka Gakkai—the organization entrusted with fulfilling the intent and mandate of the original Buddha— is solid, then kosen-rufu can definitely be achieved. On the other hand, if the organization is put together carelessly or haphazardly, kosen-rufu will be destroyed.

“I have left the discussion and planning of the new organizational structure up to you. However, because you are building a precious unit of the Soka Gakkai, I ask that you please make an assignment of personnel that’s precise and carefully thought out.”

“Declaration” p.1790

Shin’ichi stresses the importance of the practice of gongyo, and the correct attitude while performing gongyo.

…Similarly, the basic practice of our faith for the attainment of happiness is gongyo. A person who seriously practices gongyo and chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day may seem no different in the beginning from one who is lax in these areas. However, three, five or seven years later, unmistakable differences will emerge. Our aim is to change our karma and carry out human revolution, but the only source of power for accomplishing this is gongyo and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is why Nichiren Daishonin tells us, ‘Arouse deep faith and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ (WND, 4).

“In addition, a person’s attitude in doing gongyo reveals itself in how that person lives. A person whose gongyo is weak will lack vital energy and will lapse inevitably into a feeble way of living. If you do gongyo only as if it were a chore or out of a sense of obligation, it will be hard for you to feel joy in your faith. Therefore, let’s encourage one another to do a refreshing and rhythmical gongyo, like a mythical white flying horse galloping through the sky. Together let’s aim to do a superb, powerful gongyo each day, one that will move the entire universe and is infused with our earnest prayers. I propose that we of the Katsushika general block make doing morning and evening gongyo consistently the slogan for our activities. What do you think?”

The source of the Soka Gakkai’s dynamic growth lay in its efforts to thoroughly teach each member the practice of gongyo and chanting Nammyoho- renge-kyo. This also constituted a great religious revolution. Teaching gongyo to ordinary people who had no experience of or acquaintance with Buddhist sutras was an unimaginably difficult task. But it was due to this effort that Buddhism was reclaimed by the people.

“Declaration” pp.1798-1799

Toda's unsparing effort to raise Shin’ichi is described

Toda’s responsibilities as president had increased dramatically to the point that he could no longer spare the time to lecture to Shin’ichi. Despite the fact that the intensity of his schedule had in no way lessened and in spite of an increasing loss of physical stamina, however, Toda now wanted to recommence the morning lectures.

“But your health… “said Shin’ichi.

Irked by Shin’ichi’s statement, Toda answered with unusual severity, “It’s not for you to worry about such things.”

Toda then said quietly, as if to clarify what was in his heart: “Shin’ichi, I have to raise people—true successors who can accomplish kosen-rufu. I have to do so, even if it costs me my life. Shin’ichi, you must study. Study everything!”

Toda’s words were infused with his powerful spirit.

Shin’ichi replied, “Yes, I will!” bowing his head deeply. His heart was struck by Toda’s infinite and all-encompassing love and compassion, and his eyes grew moist with tears.

The morning classes, consisting of only one student and one teacher, resumed. Toda put every last ounce of his energy into these lectures, which covered everything from history, politics and economics to literature and philosophy. He went on to explain how to view these fields from the perspective of Buddhism. Toda’s lectures were infinitely profound in both their depth and scope.

Day after day, Toda would look at Shin’ichi and sternly inquire: “What book did you read yesterday?”

Sometimes Toda would arrive early and have to wait for Shin’ichi. Whenever this happened, Shin’ichi would be filled with a painful sense of remorse.

Bathed in the morning light filtering in through the window, the mentor, Toda, poured out his knowledge and wisdom, his ideas and his soul, to this one, beloved disciple. Shin’ichi, immensely moved at being showered with his mentor’s compassion, applied himself wholeheartedly to his studies. Toda had begun the final phase of training Shin’ichi to be his successor; he dug deep within himself to fully develop his disciple who was, as it were, an extension of himself into the future. 

“Sadness” pp. 1812-1814

Toda reflects on his mission, and the stand alone spirit

Lying on the sofa, Toda looked as if he were contemplating something.

“Sensei, how are you feeling?” Shin’ichi asked.

“I’m fine. Just a little tired. People don’t die so easily when they have so much to accomplish.”

Sensing what was on Shin’ichi’s mind, Toda wanted to reassure him, but his own expression bore a trace of sadness.

Shin’ichi reported briefly that the finishing touches on the construction at the Grand Lecture Hall were going smoothly. Toda listened with his eyes closed. But when the report was finished, Toda sat up and invited Shin’ichi to sit down, too.

Josei Toda began to speak in a quiet, reflective tone, as if looking back on the latter part of his life:

“I have been fortunate to be able to dedicate my life to the noble task of kosen-rufu. Any human being can gain tremendous strength and ability by living for a lofty goal. The time I spent in prison during the war was the most severe trial of my life. The military government took the life of my dear and beloved mentor, the Soka Gakkai was driven into a state of near complete destruction and both my health and my businesses were in shambles.

“Nevertheless, I triumphed over my two years of incarceration. I was able to do so because I gave up all personal thought for myself; I won because I had resolved to offer my life for kosen-rufu. From the time I made that decision on, I experienced not the slightest doubt or fear. With this determination, I chanted some two million Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in my solitary cell. As I did so, I came to be aware my own eternal self that has existed together with the original Buddha since the infinite past. I thus came to realize my mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. In the hell of my solitary cell, I savored the most sublime feeling of joy and delight from the Law, and I acquired a truly wondrous state of life.

“Trembling with a profound sense of pure happiness that seemed to envelop me like a golden light, I wrote in a letter to my wife’s parents: ‘Because I possess untold riches, don’t be discouraged as long as I am alive.’
“I, an ordinary, insignificant person, became aware of my sublime mission and acquired a grand and steadfast conviction. Later, when I assumed the presidency, I vowed to convert 750,000 households to Nichiren’s Buddhism. At first, no one even took me seriously. But I paid no attention to them. I had decided to do it alone if necessary. This was something I had to accomplish in my lifetime—my personal mission. If you have a mind to depend on others, you cannot wage a true battle. The cause for defeat lies in the desire to rely on others or look for strength in numbers. I believe that I have done everything I was supposed to do in this lifetime. As a human being, I have not a single regret.”

Toda gave Shin’ichi a smile of intense satisfaction. Then, squinting his eyes as if looking into the distance, Toda continued:

“Each person has something to accomplish in this lifetime. I believe that I have set the stage for the future realization of kosen-rufu. In retrospect, I can now clearly see that this was the work for which I was destined.

“Shin’ichi, I wonder if you have thought about what it is that you must accomplish in the future—the task to which you will dedicate your life. It is only you and your fellow youth who will play a vital and active role on the grand stage I have set. I’m really counting on you. Now that we have begun our battle for kosen-rufu, we must win at all costs. To lose after having begun a battle is the greatest disgrace a human being can face.”

Shin’ichi listened, determined to engrave what Toda was saying in his mind. He could not speak. All Shin’ichi could do was gaze at Toda’s emaciated face.

First President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s fourteenth memorial service was held at half past six in the evening on November 18, at Jozai-ji temple in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Some five hundred people attended the service that day, including surviving members of the Makiguchi family, Toda and other disciples of Mr. Makiguchi, as well as district leaders of the Soka Gakkai. Makiguchi’s wife, Kuma, had died the year before and her absence caused a shadow of sadness to linger over the proceeding.

At the end of the service, Josei Toda, dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono, nostalgically shared his recollections of Makiguchi. Toda felt sluggish as if his body was a heavy weight, but because this memorial service was for his beloved one-and-only mentor, he refused to let it hinder him. He smiled warmly as he spoke, seated at a table, before the audience.

Though Toda’s voice seemed somewhat hoarse, his way of speaking was, as usual, frank and openhearted:

“When I speak about President Makiguchi to the world in general, I usually refer to him as the first president, but I think of him in my heart as a father. I feel I am my teacher’s foremost disciple. When I make this statement, you might think I was well praised by him, but, in fact, he never praised me even once. He only found endless fault with me.

“Sadness” pp. 1829-1832

Toda reflects on the growth of the organization and establishes the 3 Guidelines.

Around that time, Toda received a report from Koichi Harayama, the head of the Soka Gakkai’s Statistics Department. According to the latest tally, the organization had surpassed its membership target of 750,000 households and had now reached a membership of about seven hundred sixty-five thousand households. In spite of his continuing convalescence, Toda felt unbounded joy in his heart upon seeing his cherished dream fulfilled. It was truly joy derived from the Law.

At his inauguration as second Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1951, Toda had declared his pledge to achieve a membership of 750,000 households during his lifetime. At that time the membership numbered only a little more than 3,000. Now, just six years and seven months later, his great dream had been beautifully fulfilled.

Back on that day in 1951, Toda had proclaimed, “If I may state my resolve, it is to dedicate my life for the cause of kosen-rufu…. I vow to convert 750,000 households during my lifetime. If my goal should not be attained by the end of my life, please do not hold a funeral for me; just throw my ashes into the sea off Shinagawa, all right?

Just as Toda had declared, he had indeed offered his life wholeheartedly to construct a solid foundation for the first stage of kosen-rufu, accomplishing a membership of 750,000 households. Everything had originated from his inner determination, but Toda could not forget the many members who had fought beside him, sharing his difficulties and joys.

Filled with delight at having accomplished his great dream, Toda chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in appreciation and prayed for the eternal happiness of his beloved fellow believers. He sensed that the time was soon approaching when he would have to leave these cherished friends.

The winter night had not yet given way to the light of dawn when Toda awoke early that morning and lay thinking alone upon his futon in the cold, quiet darkness. Since hearing yesterday’s report of the accomplishment of the goal of 750,000 households, Toda had been pondering what he must focus on now to lead the members to their destination of happiness. The great majority of members had joined the organization and taken faith only a few years before. Had they been carrying out dauntless faith and practice for the past ten or twenty years, then he could be certain that they would all become genuine victors in life. Most, however, though earnestly exerting themselves in faith, still lacked absolute confidence. In the midst of various personal hardships and sufferings, they clung desperately to the Gohonzon, bravely withstanding the slander and ridicule of society, with Toda’s guidance serving as their sole source of encouragement and inspiration.

For these people, victory hinged upon whether they could maintain a staunch practice of faith throughout their lives. Toda reflected on what he needed to emphasize so that they might do so. It would be fine to set a new membership target, but wasn’t it essential now to give the members direction on the true meaning and purpose of faith? It then suddenly occurred to Toda what kind of guidance he must now give.

Many members were the only ones in their families to have taken faith. Enduring their families’ disapproval, they struggled alone and unsupported in their activities for kosen-rufu, praying for the happiness of their family members. The family is the mainstay of society. The essence of building a solid family lies in faith that is practiced harmoniously among family members. It could be said that nothing is more essential to the creation of a happy family and a prosperous society.

Glancing at the window, Toda noticed that the first faint light of dawn had appeared. He could hear the sound of a train passing in the distance. The purpose of an entire family practicing Buddhism together, he felt, was to enable each individual to become happy. This was his wish. Those who strive in altruistic practice as emissaries of the Buddha might appear to be expending themselves for the sake of others but are, in fact, paving the way for their own indestructible happiness.

When a family practices faith joyously together, the happiness of each family member is guaranteed. To achieve this end, however, one must win over any number of difficulties and trials. To rise serenely to the vast lifecondition of “attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime,” one must launch headlong into the fierce winds of adversity. The power to build an eternal fortress of happiness lies in faith that remains invincible in the face of all hardships. 

No obstacle exists that cannot be surmounted with faith. Toda wanted every member among the Soka Gakkai’s 750,000 families to persevere dauntlessly in their faith and practice throughout their lives. Reaching for a memo pad and a pencil that were lying near his pillow, Toda wrote the following:

1. Faith for a harmonious family.
2. Faith to enable each person to become happy.
3. Faith for surmounting obstacles.

Reading over the guidelines again, Toda nodded in satisfaction.

“Sadness” pp. 1836-1838

Toda reflects on accomplishing his mission

“Every single event in my life,” Toda reflected, “has occurred exactly so that the great objective of realizing a membership of 750,000 households for the sake of kosen-rufu could be achieved. The environment in which I was born and raised; the people I have met; my diligent efforts, the hardships I went through, and even my failures—none of this has been wasted. Everything has been ultimately linked and connected to this great achievement.”

Toda was overtaken by a sense of the unfathomable mystery of his own life. He also became aware that not only he but everyone around him— each person in his environment—also possessed a wondrous mission similar to his own.

Josei Toda sensed again how Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his other disciples, and the members of his own family, each represented a unique presence in his life, and how each was connected to him through a truly mystic bond. Recalling their faces one by one with fondness and nostalgia, Toda felt a sense of timeless familiarity. He remembered a phrase from “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” that he had studied with his entire being while in prison: “The assembly at Eagle Peak has not yet dispersed.”

“Yes,” Toda thought, “because the ceremony at Eagle Peak is still in progress, we have come to gather in this lifetime. I have realized with my life that I was definitely present at the ceremony of the Lotus Sutra. All of us were there, not just me. We are all brothers, sisters, comrades from the infinite past. Transcending life and death, this ceremony has been in progress since time immemorial and will continue into eternity. It is because of our relationship that, in this small corner of the world called Japan, the birthplace of Nichiren Daishonin, the Soka Gakkai has appeared and gone on to achieve a membership of 750,000 households. There can be no doubt that it has been my life’s mission to accomplish this great task.

“I created the Soka Gakkai organization and worked boldly for kosenrufu. This led to great expansion, thus revealing the means, or formula, for actualizing the principle of ‘Bodhisattvas emerging from the Earth.’ Now that the formula for attaining kosen-rufu has been clearly established, we can adapt it to the times and circumstances and usher in a new era of broad development. The day is not far when the rising tide of kosen-rufu will spread beyond Japan and begin to wash upon the shores of the five continents of the world.

“Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon, thus leaving behind the sublime life of the original Buddha for the people of the Latter Day of the Law. This surely accords with the passage from the Lotus Sutra that reads, ‘...I have been constantly in this saha world, preaching the Law, teaching and converting” (LS, 255). Through his inscription of the Gohonzon, the Daishonin truly demonstrated that it is the way of a Buddha to always remain in the strife-filled world, teaching and spreading the Law.

“The Soka Gakkai has now appeared as the emissary of the Buddha and is following the path of Bodhisattva practice to teach and spread this Great Law among the people of the Latter Day. This, too, is nothing other than a manifestation of ‘being constantly in this saha world, preaching the Law, teaching and converting.’ In a way, the very existence of the organization —a gathering of many Buddhas—might be given the collective name, ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha.’”

A surge of burning emotion rose in Toda’s heart. Tears flowed from his eyes and wet his pillow. Toda felt that his final task would be, for the sake of posterity, to imprint the eternal significance and mission of this wondrous organization upon the lives of the youth to whom he would entrust the future of the Soka Gakkai. Holding back his excitement, he vowed that, no matter what, he would resume his activities on New Year’s Day. Over the next few days he made an effort to get out of bed in the afternoons and sit upright or practice walking around the house. Though it seemed the worst of his illness had passed, there were times when Toda himself was shocked at how physically weak and unsteady on his feet he had become. In his heart, however, the flame of mission burned with dazzling brilliance, fueled by a determination to put the finishing touches on his life’s work.