December 2007 Highlights - Part 2.

Highlights from

The Human Revolution Vol. XII
Readings for December 2007 Part II

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

“Successors” pp 1840-1842

On New Year’s Day 1958, President Toda expresses his conviction that the common people are the Bodhisattvas of the Earth

‘Life Span’ chapter in the phrase “But in truth the time since I attained Buddhahood is extremely long” (LS, 226). Here Shakyamuni Buddha reveals that he did not attain Buddhahood by gaining enlightenment in his present life at age thirty but had actually already become a Buddha in the remote past.

“Where then does the Buddha exist? According to the teachings that predate the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha dwells in a pure land and not in this mundane and defiled world. But when we come to the ‘Life Span’ chapter, the Buddha is indeed said to exist in this strife-filled saha world. Here it is revealed that a Buddha lives in this world along with ordinary common mortals who dwell among the states of Bodhisattva, Learning and Realization, as well as such lower states as Animality and Hunger. This mystic principle of the True Land is expressed in the sutra passage that reads, ‘I have been constantly in this saha world, preaching the Law, teaching and converting’ (LS, 225). To comment on this passage from a deep and broad perspective based on the meaning hidden in the depths of the sutra, this signifies that the life of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has existed within the universe since time without beginning.”

The participants all looked perplexed. Nonetheless, Toda continued: “The important point is that the Buddha exists nowhere but in the real world. Indeed, a true Buddha dwells only in this evil realm defiled by the five impurities.

“Now, there was a fundamental cause by which Shakyamuni acquired the state of Buddhahood. This is the mystic principle of the True Cause revealed by the passage in the sutra that reads, ‘Originally I practiced the bodhisattva way, and the life span that I acquired then has yet to come to an end’ (LS, 227).

“What, then, is the ‘bodhisattva way’ that Shakyamuni Buddha practiced? It is the teaching of the Great Law hidden in the depths of the pas- sage that reveals the cause of his enlightenment as the first of the ten stages of security (the stage of non-regression) of the fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice. It is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. We of the Latter Day of the Law become Buddhas by believing directly in Nammyoho- renge-kyo, the enlightenment of the Buddha.

“Shakyamuni expounds this fundamental cause for attaining Buddhahood from the perspective of the enlightenment he had already attained in the past—in other words, from the perspective of the true effect. This is why the Shakyamuni Buddha who appears explicitly in the ‘Life Span’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra is called the Buddha of the True Effect.

“Nichiren Daishonin’s inner enlightenment, however, was that of the original Buddha. Nevertheless, he did not display any of the extraordinary characteristics attributed to the Buddha. He taught and practiced the way of the bodhisattva as the true cause for enabling ordinary people to attain Buddhahood. That is why Nichiren Daishonin is called the Buddha of the True Cause. Nowhere in the Gosho does the Daishonin say, ‘I am already a Buddha, I am going to save you all.’ If the Daishonin had from birth manifested the characteristics of a true Buddha and practiced the way as such, then he would have been unable to pursue the ‘bodhisattva way.’ Herein lies the vast difference between the Buddhism of Shakyamuni of the True Effect and Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the True Cause. With this, I would like to conclude my first lecture of the new year.”

Josei Toda’s guidance may well have been considered the conclusion to his ongoing series of lectures on the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span” chapters of the Lotus Sutra. His words, however, were extremely difficult to grasp. Most of the participants could not understand what he was trying to say.

Besides explaining that Nichiren Daishonin was the Buddha of the True Cause, Toda wanted to teach the members, who were striving to practice propagation in this trouble-ridden world, that they were the ones who were actually practicing the bodhisattva way as disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. Many members were suffering under the burden of various difficulties, including illness and financial trouble, while at the same time fighting desperately for the sake of kosen-rufu. Yet Toda saw in them the splendid radiance of precious children of the Buddha. They were practicing the way of the bodhisattva while living for the spread of the Mystic Law —this in itself was the action of a Buddha to transform the mundane world into a Buddha land. The members who carried out this practice were without exception Bodhisattvas of the Earth; in terms of their inner enlightenment, they were none other than Buddhas. This was the grand and unshakable conviction of Josei Toda, who had fulfilled his pledge to convert 750,000 households.

As Toda gazed out at the disciples seated before him, he felt that he was beholding a noble gathering of Buddhas.

After his talk on the three mystic principles, Shin’ichi Yamamoto, who was seated in the front row, recited three short poems that Toda had composed to commemorate the New Year:

With the roar of the lion king,
A life dedicated,
Over seven years,
To saving the masses —
How wondrous!

Pure hearts
Of youth!
Great rejoicing adorns
Your past seven years
Of struggle.

After seven years,
Each year with fresh resolve,
Each year advancing,
We have gathered here, ordinary people,
Two million strong.

The first and third poems were addressed to all members, while the second was dedicated to the youth division; each contained the phrase seven years.

“Successors” pp1869-71

Toda on the future dangers to the organization, especially in regarding financial dealings among members

On one occasion, Kin’ya Takimoto, a member of the youth division general staff, asked Toda:

“Sensei, as you mentioned at the completion ceremony the other day, by publishing the Gosho and completing the construction of the Grand Lecture Hall, we have surpassed the Minobu school in prominence, and it seems to me that we now have no rivals or enemies. What should the Soka Gakkai now consider as an enemy in the course of its advancement?”

Though Toda had been lying down, he arose from his futon when he heard this question. He looked directly at Takimoto and replied, “The enemy exists within.”

Actually, around that time, there had been some distressing cases in which ill feelings and recriminations had arisen between fellow members as a result of failed business ventures they had started together, or trouble over money and debts incurred between them. Such incidents had fractured relationships within certain parts of the organization. Also, there were some who were using the organization for their personal profit, soliciting the members to buy insurance or peddling their wares among them. This troubled Toda greatly.

Especially when those conducting such activities happened to be leaders, members often found it difficult to turn them down, reluctantly going along with whatever was pressed upon them. Toda was deeply concerned about the disruption that such personal profit-seeking might cause to the Soka Gakkai. He adamantly forbade such behavior, strictly admonishing it as an exploitation of faith and the organization.

The Soka Gakkai existed to fulfill the sacred mission of widely disseminating the Law. In the short space of less than seven years since Toda had become president, the Gakkai had seen tremendous growth. This dynamic progress toward kosen-rufu was achieved in large part by the strict integrity with which the organization was run, ensuring that it maintained its purity and cast off anything impure that might contaminate it. Anyone who would take advantage of the organization for personal profit or self-interest would be defiling the Soka Gakkai’s lofty objective, destroying the member’s single-minded unity and undermining the kosen-rufu movement at its foundations.

Toda could not suppress a strong sense that the words that Nichiren Daishonin had written in his “Letter from Sado” were now coming to pass: “Neither non-Buddhists nor the enemies of Buddhism can destroy the correct teaching of the Thus Come One, but the Buddha’s disciples definitely can. As the sutra says, only worms born of the lion’s body feed on the lion.” (WND, 302).

The Soka Gakkai was a realm of kindhearted people, linked together by faith and an underlying spirit of mutual trust. It was a place where people believed in and felt at ease with one another simply by virtue of their shared faith. There was also a strong desire among the members to extend a helping hand to those who were troubled.

But it was also a fact that ill-intentioned people might try to exploit this altruistic atmosphere. Such individuals were like devilish functions, adroitly taking advantage of the members’ trust and goodwill. To guard against this, Toda had inaugurated the Soka Gakkai’s ironclad rule strictly prohibiting fellow members in faith from engaging in joint business ventures, loaning money to each other, or using the organization as a market for selling their wares. Further, he resolved to remove from their positions any leaders who broke this rule and caused trouble for the members. He would not allow even the slightest opening for such destructive influences to take the advantage. Yet he foresaw that the larger the Soka Gakkal grew, the greater the number of those intent on exploiting the organization for personal profit that would emerge.

“Successors” p.1875

President Toda reflects on the proper course of action to take when leaders go astray

 

“As Buddhists, Shin’ichi, we have to be committed to putting our trust in someone until the end, to cherish and protect that person, and hope for his or her reformation and rehabilitation, no matter how many times we are let down or disappointed.”

“But once someone has maliciously attacked the Soka Gakkai and tried to disrupt the harmonious unity of the Buddha’s children,” Toda continued in a stronger tone, looking Shin’ichi straight in the eye, “we must seriously fight back and defeat him, otherwise the Soka Gakkai will be destroyed and the kosen-rufu movement disrupted. This will mean unhappiness for everyone. There is nothing compassionate about tolerating evil. As stated in the Gosho, such behavior ‘befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him’ (WND, 286). Justice lies in fighting wrong. The last enemy of kosen-rufu will appear from within the movement, just as a traitor inside the castle walls will bring down the castle. Look at the five senior priests who betrayed the Daishonin. Their story has relevance not just to the past.”

“Tranquil Light” pp 1899-1900

Utilizing a classic of Chinese literature, President Toda explains the importance of behind the scenes efforts

 

“In having you prepare pork soup for the members who came to welcome the prime minister’s wife and family, I was following Xiao He’s example. I think you can all understand how rejuvenating that hot bowl of pork soup must have been for those cold and hungry youth that morning.

“It is natural for an army to charge courageously into battle against the enemy, but this alone will not ensure victory. Along with those who can move about bravely on the field of battle, the Gakkai also needs capable individuals who can function like Xiao He. We need people who are not only courageous but who can clearly see the whole picture and carry out what needs to be done to ensure victory with thorough and painstaking coordination behind the scenes.”

As he listened to Toda, Shin’ichi recalled Chuko K’ung-ming, another prominent figure who appears in the Compendium of Eighteen Histories. Chuko K’ung-ming came to serve Liu Pei, who later founded the kingdom of Shu, as a military strategist and adviser after the latter called on him three times to ask for his support. Liu Pei, having gained K’ung-ming as his minister, eventually became emperor, ushering in an age of rivalry among the three kingdoms of Wei, Wu and Shu. Shortly thereafter, however, Liu Pei passed away, entrusting everything to K’ung-ming.

At that time, Liu Pei’s son, Liu Ch’an, was only seventeen years old. K’ung-ming formally presented the newly installed emperor Liu Ch’an with a memorial on the need to march into battle, and then set out with an expeditionary force to attack the kingdom of Wei. Due to the defeat in battle of one of his commanders, Ma Su, however, he was forced to return in failure.

Eventually K’ung-ming reorganized his troops and set out again with a force of one hundred thousand to wage a final, decisive battle. But the great Wei general, Ssuma I, ignored K’ung-ming’s challenge, making no move to engage his forces. Ssuma had learned that K’ung-ming was personally leading his troops and getting almost no sleep or proper nourishment. Judging that K’ung-ming could not survive long in battle under such circumstances, Ssuma avoided confrontation. In fact, K’ung-ming, who was indeed with his troops as rumor had implied, had fallen seriously ill. K’ung-ming finally breathed his last, still worrying deeply over the future of the Han dynasty despite his grave illness. 

Shin’ichi recalled the lyrics of the song, “A Star Falls in the Autumn Wind on Wu-chang Plain.”

Who could dispute the success of failure—
Of the loyal man who gave his life?
The Milky Way spans aloft in the shadowy skies
Countless stars glow bright.
Are they illuminating the hero’s
Solitary heart loyal yet distressed?
Moved by his bravery,
Even a demon wails in the autumn wind..

To Shin’ichi, the image of K’ung-ming, whom the song extolled, seemed to overlap with that of Toda who lay before him, and his heart was pierced with sadness. His cherished mentor had dedicated his entire life to kosen-rufu. He had forged ahead without a moment’s respite, initiating and executing a truly monumental undertaking. Embracing a powerful vow to accomplish kosen-rufu, he had known not a single day’s peace and quiet. Though the worldwide spread of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism was just getting under way in earnest, Toda’s life was now drawing to an end. When he imagined what Toda must be feeling, Shin’ichi’s eyes clouded with tears.

“Tranquil Light” pp 1901-1902

President Toda shares his great expectations of Shin’ichi when they meet together after the Kosen-rufu Ceremony

“Shin’ichi, the world is your challenge; it is your true stage. It is a vast world. There are many peoples, many races. Some nations are democratic and some socialist. And religious beliefs differ from country to country as well. Some do not permit religious propagation. We’ll have to start thinking about how to disseminate the Mystic Law in such places. After all, realizing peace and happiness for humanity is the fundamental aim of Buddhism.”

Toda gazed intently at Shin’ichi. He brought out a hand from beneath the covers, and Shin’ichi silently grasped it in his own.

“Shin’ichi, you must live! You must live as long as you can and travel the globe!”

 

The poor health of his beloved disciple—to whom he had entrusted the future of kosen-rufu—must have worried Toda deeply. Shin’ichi grasped Toda’s hand even more tightly. Biting his lip to hold back his tears, he nodded repeatedly in response to Toda’s injunctions. He keenly felt his mentor’s affectionate concern for him as well as the enormous weight of his own mission.

Tranquil Light” pp 1902-1903

President Toda again gives strict guidance about financial dealings in the organization

“The Soka Gakkai is my life. It must always remain an organization of pure faith that exists to accomplish kosen-rufu. We must never stand by and let our precious organization be polluted by impure hearts and minds!”

The leaders could not immediately understand what Toda was trying to say; they listened intently so as not to miss a single word of what was to follow.

“I think you are all aware of this, but there are some leaders who have been using their positions to solicit members to buy insurance policies or other goods and services. If this is allowed to continue, then the Gakkai will be completely ruined. This is a serious problem. Starting from now, we’ll have to do some thorough housecleaning. We have to drive out the parasites that can devour the lion from within.”

Toda then instructed that those leaders who had been using the organization for their own personal profit be dismissed from their positions. “With our organization the size it is today, some may look to it as a giant market for their wares. And no doubt in the future we will continue to see those who try to exploit the Gakkai for their own personal advantage. It is therefore vital that we take decisive measures now to nip the problem in the bud. I want each chapter to look into this matter and, where called for, carry out dismissals of those responsible for such abuses.”

“Yes. I’ll see it’s taken care,” General Director Konishi assured him.

“Just one more thing,” Toda added. “Until now, we’ve had a system of giving people so-called courtesy positions, but let’s put an end to this, too. We don’t need to keep people in positions that are not commensurate with their real effort or ability just for the sake of formality. This will only lead to authoritarianism. True leaders are those who actually fight for and contribute to kosen-rufu. That’s why the members respond to them as leaders. If we regard those who make no real effort as leaders, then the organization will suffer from hardening of the arteries and will eventually die. We don’t need people in the Gakkai who refuse to fight just because they no longer have a courtesy position. My disciples are those who will struggle for kosen-rufu even if they have no position—as rank-and-file warriors, as ordinary members. Is anyone opposed to this?”

From atop his futon, Toda looked at the faces of the assembled senior leaders. Each sensed the firmness of his resolve; not a dissenting voice was raised. 

The measures Toda undertook could be viewed as part of his strategy to ensure that the pure, untainted lifeblood of faith would pulsate and circulate eternally through the organization…

“Tranquil Light” pp 1909-1911

President Toda gives guidance on the priesthood.

“I see. So, there’ve been no problems? Are all the youth in good spirits?” Toda asked with a tender look in his eyes.

“Yes, they’re all fine and working hard. We did have one problem, though: The deplorable behavior of one priest prompted us to stage a protest to get him to reflect on his conduct....”

Toda closed his eyes lightly and listened as Shin’ichi described the incident with the chief instructor of acolytes. When Shin’ichi finished, Toda began to speak, looking deeply disappointed. His breathing was labored, every word seeming to cost him great effort.

“It’s a real shame. It may seem like a small thing, but it embodies the much larger issue of corruption and decadence within the priesthood. Why has such degeneracy begun to appear? Because priests have forgotten to live for the ultimate purpose, kosen-rufu. Once you lose sight of this one point, everything goes awry. It’s too bad. While paying lip service to the eternal prosperity of the Law, many priests are concerned only with protecting their own status and fulfilling their own greedy personal ambitions. As a result, they’ve become prisoners of desire and lapsed into a depraved state of animality. That’s why they can look upon those weaker than themselves— such as the young acolytes— merely as objects upon which to vent their wrath. They also lord it over the Gakkai members, regarding them as no more than slaves who bring donations….”  Toda paused frequently as he spoke to gasp for breath.

“During the war, too, the priesthood compromised the teachings to protect themselves, violating the Daishonin’s will and soliciting favor with the militarist government. And when President Makiguchi and I were arrested, they barred Gakkai members from visiting the head temple, afraid of being associated with us. I was so outraged, I could have wept tears of blood.”

Toda continued, his chest heaving heavily as he spoke:

“During the war, it wasn’t outside enemies that threatened to destroy the Daishonin’s Buddhism; it was the self-serving actions of cowardly, equivocating priests who were interested only in protecting themselves. This deeply pained High Priests Nichiko and Nissho as well as present High Priest Nichijun, who all tried to keep the school’s doctrines intact. But most of all, it was President Makiguchi and the Soka Gakkai who rigorously protected the Daishonin’s Buddhism, enabling it to survive. This is why we can say that the Daishonin’s spirit, and genuine faith in his Buddhism, exist only in the Soka Gakkai.

“The priesthood has been able to reestablish a pure connection with the Daishonin’s Buddhism only because, since the war, it has cooperated in forging harmonious relations with the lay believers of the Soka Gakkai. Should the priesthood ever separate itself from the Gakkai, Nichiren Shoshu would only become a sect that slanders the Law and tramples upon the true spirit of Nichiren Daishonin...

“Furthermore, through its sincere offerings based on faith, the Gakkai has supported the priesthood, which lost its financial foundation during the war and was in danger of collapse. Sincere priests appreciate our efforts. But some are jealous of the Gakkai’s remarkable growth and harbor animosity toward me personally. Because I am strict about matters of faith, they regard me as a thorn in their side. But as long as I’m alive, none of them will say this to my face. That’s because I am the only one who has risked his life to protect this Buddhism. But there is no telling what they’ll do once I’m gone and High Priest Nichijun has passed away.”

Though his words were halting, Toda spoke with extraordinary vigor.  “There may appear a high priest who will attempt to use clerical authority to enslave the Soka Gakkai and try to manipulate it according to his whims. Particularly, when the priesthood has secured its financial base and gained a degree of wealth, it will surely try to sever its ties with the Gakkai. Nor is it inconceivable that the priesthood might again take the lead in undermining the Law and become the abode of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven, just as it did during the war. But, we must never allow the true teachings of Nichiren Daishonin to be destroyed.”

Summoning his last ounce of energy, he passionately implored Shin’ichi: “For that reason, you must fight adamantly against any evil that takes root within the priesthood. Do you hear me, Shin’ichi? You must never retreat a single step. Never slacken in your struggle against such evil.” 

For a moment, Toda’s eyes blazed. It was his final injunction, his last will to his beloved disciple. Shin’ichi etched each of Toda’s words into his life.

“I will never forget what you have told me today.”

“Tranquil Light” pp 1923-1924

Shinichi gives encouragement after President Toda passes away.

 

“President Toda has passed away, but I feel it is crucial that we do not simply lose ourselves in grief and sorrow. I believe that President Toda lives on eternally in the Soka Gakkai, in the heart of each of us, his disciples. A newspaper or magazine once carried an article that said, ‘After President Toda dies, the Gakkai will definitely fall apart. The Soka Gakkai will only continue to grow as long as President Toda is alive.’

“Now that Sensei is gone, the Gakkai will certainly experience various kinds of pressure, and many devilish forces will compete to hinder its progress. But if we who succeed President Toda powerfully unite around General Director Konishi, then there will be no obstacles that we cannot vanquish! Especially if the members of the youth division—whom President Toda personally taught and trained for many years—rise to the task, then I can confidently declare that nothing whatsoever will defeat us!”

Shin’ichi’s words touched the hearts of his listeners. He burned with a fighting spirit to achieve his mentor’s dream of kosen-rufu. His awareness and commitment to his mission as a disciple and successor of Toda’s legacy had allowed him to rise above his great sadness.

“Nichiren Daishonin writes,” he continued, “‘Surely they [persons who are devoting themselves to Buddhism] should not forget the debts of gratitude they owe to their parents, their teachers and their country’ (WND, 690). We have encountered Buddhism thanks to our teacher, Josei Toda. Furthermore, nurtured by his compassion, we have grown and have come to realize the true way to live as human beings. How can we then, as his disciples, repay the debt of gratitude we owe him? This, I believe, is the question we must now ask ourselves. There is only one way to repay President Toda for all he has done for us. That is to embark upon a splendid struggle to advance the cause of kosen-rufu, to which he dedicated his entire life, so that we can report to him, ‘Sensei! See how much the Daishonin’s Buddhism has spread!’ Also, I am certain that nothing would delight President Toda more than each of us accomplishing our personal human revolution and establishing a state of indestructible happiness.

“President Toda offered his final guidance on March 29 at the head temple. There was a priest there who had been bullying the child acolytes, demeaning the Soka Gakkai, and making abusive remarks about its members. Several of our youth division members admonished this priest and lodged a protest with the head temple about his behavior. When I reported this to President Toda, he said: ‘You must not retreat a single step! Never slacken in your repudiation of evil!’

“On reflection, it seems to me that President Toda’s guidance on that occasion—to never retreat in the face of evil and to always remember that kosen-rufu is a ceaseless struggle—was his last will and testament to us. We of the youth division pledge to strictly observe this final instruction of President Toda as our guiding precept, until the day kosen-rufu is achieved.”

Summoning all of his strength and energy, Shin’ichi Yamamoto declared: “President Toda was a towering leader of kosen-rufu. As his disciples and his children, we, the members of the youth division, must also be indomitable fighters dedicated to spreading Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. If we are truly President Toda’s disciples, then let us cast aside sentimentality, surmount our sorrow and rise to the challenge that awaits us.”
“Tranquil Light”  pp. 1941-1943

Shin’ichi reflects on his responsibility and vow to his mentor.

As heir to Toda’s legacy, Shin’ichi was painfully aware of his inescapable destiny to take full responsibility for the Soka Gakkai’s future and advance along the noble path of oneness of mentor and disciple. Deeply fatigued as he was, he could not help feeling the heavy burden of responsibility now resting on his shoulders. It was an almost intolerable amount of pressure for a young man of thirty.

To encourage and energize himself, he faced the Gohonzon in the main hall and began to chant, his sonorous Nam-myoho-renge-kyo resounding in the empty room: “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo….” As he chanted, the inscriptions down both sides of the Gohonzon—“For the Fulfillment of the Great Desire for Kosen-rufu Through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law” on the right, and “To Be Eternally Enshrined at the Soka Gakkai” on the left—seemed to glow in the light of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. More keenly than ever before, Shin’ichi felt the deep significance of the Soka Gakkai’s mission, and of his own mission as Toda’s disciple.

Shin’ichi reflected to himself that President Toda’s most cherished ambition had undoubtedly been “the fulfillment of the great desire for kosen-rufu through the compassionate propagation of the great Law.” The widespread propagation of the Mystic Law is both the wish of the original Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, and the Soka Gakkai’s profound mission. The original Buddha summoned and entrusted the Soka Gakkai, under the leadership of presidents Makiguchi and Toda, with this mission. With a powerful determination welling up inside him, Shin’ichi clearly realized the path he must proceed along as Toda’s disciple.

“I will dedicate my life to kosen-rufu,” he vowed in his heart. “The torch that Sensei lit to illuminate the darkness and lead humanity toward happiness must never die out. I will fight on! I will keep advancing, moving ahead, always pressing forward!”

At that moment, he felt a surge of joy and courage. His first priority, he thought, would be to encourage and inspire his fellow members, many of whom were still forlorn and grief-stricken over Toda’s death. Shin’ichi wanted to put an arm around each person, squeeze their hand in reassurance and dry their tears. He firmly vowed to support each member, to pave the way to a peaceful world and help all establish happiness that would endure eternally.

Toda’s dignified expression in the photograph was stern, yet kindly; his gaze seemed firmly fixed on the future—on the struggles his disciples would wage for the sake of the Law.

It was around this time that all of Toda’s disciples began to focus their attention on Shin’ichi Yamamoto and follow his actions with great interest. They seemed to have found in him a source of hope and reassurance that did much to dispel their anxiety over the organization’s future 

 

“New Dawn” pp 1962-1963

Shinichi struggles with accepting the presidency.

Shin’ichi now felt as if his inescapable destiny were raging like a storm in his heart. Emotions arising from an awareness of his heavy mission surged turbulently within him. It seemed as though his life were being firmly and fiercely bound by the thick, invisible chains of his karma.

No matter how many times he refused the presidency, was it not an unavoidable eventuality? In his heart, he appealed to President Toda, wondering if he might not be allowed some sort of reprieve. Agonizing over what to do, he sensed that it was the Buddha’s will for him to become president. Yet when he thought of actually assuming that responsibility, he felt indescribable pressure. He wondered whether, in his weakened physical state, he could really mount the kind of struggle that would be required. He knew the power of the Gohonzon was infinite and unfathomable. Was there no choice, then, but to simply leave everything to the Gohonzon and earnestly devote himself to leadership so long as he might survive?

On the morning of April 14, Shin’ichi set off from home for the Soka Gakkai Headquarters, his feet heavy. There, in one of the small conference rooms, he met with General Director Takeo Konishi and directors Koichi Harayama, Hisao Seki and Katsu Kiyohara. Konishi earnestly restated how fervently everyone wished for Shin’ichi to accept the presidency. It was clear from his tone that he was unwilling to take no for an answer.

“President Toda,” Konishi said, “deeply regretted that during the period he had declined to take the presidency, erroneous teachings spread like wildfire throughout Japan. Similarly, your turning down the presidency will only delay kosen-rufu. Is that what you want?”

Shin’ichi didn’t know what to say. He could not argue with Konishi’s point.

“I’m sure you are aware that President Toda himself wanted you to become the third president, that he resolved in his heart to make this so and devoted himself to training you for that purpose. We, too, know that this was Mr. Toda’s wish. Your becoming president is something that all our leaders are seeking, out of their sincere desire to accomplish kosenrufu. Please accept the presidency.”

Shin’ichi ultimately had no choice. He had to agree.

“If this is how strongly you all feel, then.…”

The moment he uttered these words, the light came back into Konishi’s eyes.

“You’ll accept, then? Now the Gakkai can make great progress. The members will be overjoyed.” Beaming, the general director bowed deeply to Shin’ichi to convey his appreciation.

The clock indicated 10:10 in the morning.

It couldn’t be helped; there was no way to avoid it, Shin’ichi told himself. President Toda had raised him as his direct disciple; he had rigorously trained and taught him. What was there to fear? The time had come at last to repay his debt of gratitude to his mentor. There was nothing left for him to do but to move with youthful courage and dignity toward the awesome challenges that lay ahead. Shin’ichi would now officially command the helm of the movement to spread the Law. The young lion had arisen.

“New Dawn” p. 1965

The true meaning of the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

When Shin’ichi considered that he had managed to survive to the age of thirty-two and was now to lead the kosen-rufu movement as Soka Gakkai president, he could not help feeling that his late mentor had indeed given him his life. His mentor had thoroughly tutored and trained him, given him the supreme treasure of faith, and taught him to live for the highest mission—for kosen-rufu; he had even given him his very life. Shin’ichi could not hold back his tears at the thought of how fortunate he was to have had such a mentor and how deeply indebted he was to him. He made a heartfelt pledge: “My future is decided. I will repay my great debt of gratitude to President Toda and dedicate my entire life and being to accomplishing his cherished dream, kosen-rufu. I will protect the members, Sensei’s children. I will do so until the last moment of my life.”

Shin’ichi felt deep joy and pride in living as a disciple of President Toda. The way of mentor and disciple—this was the noble path he had walked in his youth. Many in contemporary Japan, however, viewed the term mentor and disciple as an anachronistic relic of feudal times. Yet a teacher or mentor is vital in mastering any field. This is all the more true when it comes to understanding the Law of life propounded in Buddhism. Indispensable to this endeavor is a teacher with a profound grasp of this Law who can inspire and encourage us in our Buddhist practice.

It takes a human being to raise and foster another human being. The mentor and disciple relationship had been a core element of Buddhism from its earliest days. Buddhist practice has its origins in those who decided on their own accord to embrace the Buddha, Shakyamuni, as their mentor, following him and listening to him preach the Law. The mentor-disciple relationship of Buddhism is different from any societal system or contract. It is always based on the free and spontaneous will of the individual, an expression of that person’s seeking spirit. It has nothing to do with personal gain or self-interest. It is a spiritual bond of the purest kind, arising from a desire to pursue a life dedicated to the highest truth. Because of this, the bond of mentor and disciple is as strong and imperishable as a diamond.

Shin’ichi had looked up to Toda as a mentor and earnestly followed him but not because Toda or anyone else had asked him to do so. It came out of a personal commitment: He had vowed to become Josei Toda’s disciple because he was convinced that there was no other leader genuinely committed to realizing kosen-rufu or who embodied Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism as Toda did.

“New Dawn” pp 1966-1967

A revisiting of PresidentToda's enlightenment in prison

“I now know what I must do,” he had thought. “I will never forget this day! I will spend the rest of my life spreading this wondrous Law!”

This was the essence of Toda’s enlightenment in prison, the driving force for his subsequent great achievements. As a result of his deep awakening, Toda personally perceived within his own life the truth of the statement in the Daishonin’s “Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” that “the assembly at Eagle Peak has not yet dispersed” (GZ, 757).

When he thought of how he had been able to reach this profound awakening as a result of following his mentor and encountering great persecution for their beliefs, he was filled with a sense of wonder. He also realized that the bond of mentor and disciple he shared with Makiguchi was an eternal one, existing since the remote past as implied by the passage from “The Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra: “those persons who had heard the Law / dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, / constantly reborn in company with their teachers” (LS, 140).

But around that same time, as the frosty chill of autumn descended on Tokyo, Toda’s mentor drew his last breath in the prison infirmary. Later, at the third memorial service for Mr. Makiguchi (commemorating the second anniversary of his death), Toda had turned to his mentor’s photograph on display before the altar and addressed him in tears as he fought back sobs of emotion:

“In your vast and boundless compassion, you let me accompany you even to prison. As a result, I could read with my entire being the passage from the Lotus Sutra, ‘those persons who had heard the Law / dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, / constantly reborn in company with their teachers.’ The benefit of this was coming to know the essential purpose of a Bodhisattva of the Earth, and to absorb with my very life even a small degree of the sutra’s meaning. Could there be any greater happiness than this?”

The mentor, Makiguchi, had died in prison, leaving as a legacy his supreme spirit to spread the Law even at the cost of his life. The disciple, Toda, had survived to inherit that spirit and, upon his release from prison, rose alone to the challenge of accomplishing kosen-rufu. The Soka Gakkai spirit was to be found in this united and inseparable struggle of mentor and disciple, a struggle transcending life and death. 

What enabled Toda and Makiguchi to attain this state of oneness? It was their powerful, deep-seated resolution in faith, their determination to offer their lives for kosen-rufu—the decree of their original mentor, Nichiren Daishonin.

Deep in his life, Shin’ichi Yamamoto felt that neither kosen-rufu, happiness for all people, nor world peace would be possible without a teacher like Josei Toda. In fact, Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit had been inherited by just one person—Josei Toda, President Makiguchi’s disciple. In the depths of his life, in his innermost resolve, had resided the vision for kosen-rufu’s future development.

A Buddha is not a fantastic other-worldly being. Buddhas cannot exist apart from the people. A person who spreads the Law is an emissary of the Buddha. And to protect and support such a person is to staunchly protect Buddhism. That is why Shin’ichi had tenaciously served and protected Toda, his mentor. And it was through this intense struggle—in which he exerted a hundred million of eons of effort in each single moment of life— that he had brought his own mission and capability to blossom. In this way, he had absorbed and embodied Toda’s spirit and was approaching the same state of life his mentor had attained.

“New Dawn” pp 1968-1969

Shinichi reflects on what he must do now that he is leading the movement of kosen-rufu

The challenge now awaiting Shin’ichi as Soka Gakkai president and heir to Mr. Toda’s legacy would be actualizing this vision of countless bodhisattvas emerging from the earth throughout the world. When individuals awaken to their innate mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, it imparts to their lives a deep and essential meaning. This awareness is the pivot on which human revolution turns—transforming people’s lives, directing them toward the creation of value and enabling them to change the most painful karma into the most wonderful mission. When individuals strive to fulfill their unique mission, they accomplish a sublime human revolution within, which can ultimately transform the destiny of an entire nation.

One after another, Shin’ichi recalled the faces of dear and familiar members. Each possessed a wondrous mission. All were children of the Buddha who had emerged from the earth, gathering from the various reaches of the universe, heroes ready to perform a grand drama of human revolution. With these comrades in faith, Shin’ichi vowed, he would open a new page in the annals of kosen-rufu. He awaited the day of their new departure together, praying that all, without a single exception, would fulfill their mission for kosen-rufu and achieve lives of great and abundant happiness.

 

“Epilogue” p 1974

On human revolution and fulfilling the mission of a Bodhisattva of the Earth

Under the pen name Myo Goku, President Toda had written and published a single-volume novel titled The Human Revolution in which he depicted himself as the main character, named Mr. Gan. That novel ended with Gan’s realization in prison that he was a Bodhisattva of the Earth who had been present at the Ceremony in the Air described in the Lotus Sutra and with his determination to embrace the noble mission of widely propagating the Law as his own personal calling and lifework. In this way, my mentor committed to writing the state of life he had attained through his awakening in prison.

To be aware of one’s mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth gives essential meaning to one’s existence, inspires an awakening to one’s genuine humanity and becomes a supreme source of value-creation for one’s life. It also serves as a motivating force to transform the lesser self, which is bound by self-concern, in the direction of altruism, allowing for the establishment of a greater self capable of embracing all humanity. Wanting to teach us that herein lies the ultimate principle known as “human revolution,” my late mentor thus set out to record his own experience in the form of a novel.

After his release from prison on July 3, 1945, he put into practice the profound determination he had arrived at, and in the process revealed the concrete means for achieving human revolution. For this reason, with the intention that my novel The Human Revolution be a continuation of President Toda’s, I decided to begin writing from the point of his release from prison.

“Epilogue” p 1975

President Ikeda discusses his ongoing dialogue with President Toda

 

In one sense, through writing The Human Revolution I have kept up a day-to-day dialogue with my mentor. Particularly in writing this twelfth volume, which chronicles President Toda’s life from August 1957 up through his death, there were many times when I, recalling those final days, found myself swept by powerful emotions. During that period, though he was growing weaker with each passing day, he summoned forth death-defying energy and mounted his final struggle for kosen-rufu. Aware of his own approaching death, he waged a sublime battle against the limitations of his own mortality.

In the midst of this struggle, on September 8, 1957, he delivered his historic “Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons” at the Mitsuzawa Athletics Stadium in Yokohama. This constituted the first of his final prescripts to his successors for the sake of the future.

Then, that November, President Toda collapsed from illness while preparing to make a trip to Hiroshima to encourage the members there. The day before, he had strictly admonished me for trying to dissuade him from going. “As an emissary of the Buddha, I cannot turn my back on something once I’ve decided to do it! I will go, even if it kills me!” This cry, which arose from his fervent fighting spirit, still echoes in my mind.

Mr. Toda’s deep, indomitable resolution even forced aside the devilish functions of illness. As if by a miracle, he regained his health and, in March the following year, took leadership of a month-long general pilgrimage to celebrate the completion at the head temple of the Grand Lecture Hall. By way of the ceremony of March 16 held during that pilgrimage, he entrusted to the youth of the Soka Gakkai, of which I was then one, full responsibility for the future of kosen-rufu. Only a short time later, he died.

During that time at the head temple, President Toda kept me continually by his side, pouring his life into training and tutoring me until the very end. Each of those days remains for me a rich and glowing golden memory. Each word my mentor uttered at that time contains his will and testament to us and serves as an eternal guide to illuminate the future.

Indeed, the record of President Toda’s life and achievements portrayed in this twelfth volume is significant in that it constitutes the period of his life that is most essential to be conveyed to posterity. It is imbued with numerous and splendid guidelines and instructions that will be applicable for countless generations to come.

Epilogue p 1976

President Ikeda’s determination

President Toda died at fifty-eight; were he alive today, he would be ninety-three as of this writing. Now I, his disciple, having myself suffered from illness and a weak constitution, have surpassed him in years. I can only feel that he has bequeathed the remaining portion of his life to me. What I feel I must do now is fight on in my mentor’s stead for the sake of world peace and the happiness of humankind, survive, and fulfill my mission in this life. This is the path I must follow as a disciple, to repay my debt of gratitude to my mentor. It is the path of human revolution that he forged for us. As I proceed along this lofty and noble path of the Soka Gakkai, President Toda continues to live on in my heart. I can only pray that he will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all our fellow members.