IN 1956, Kosei-kai was forced to survive a serious trial. On January twenty-fifth of that year, the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun published an article boldly accusing Rissho Kosei-kai of illegally cornering real estate. On February 28, police investigations were conducted at the general business and other departments of Kosei-kai with the result that our name was absolutely cleared of any implication of illegal proceedings. When they learned this, the staff of the Yomiuri Shimbun began attacking other aspects of our organization. For three months, the newspaper stubbornly persisted in printing critical articles that focused public attention on Kosei-kai. They criticized our way of living in accordance with our faith, the management of our organization, the personal lives of our members, and even the private affairs of Myoko Sensei. Throughout this distressing period, our organization resisted passively; but we all felt the need to make the facts known for the sake of the honor of Kosei-kai and of historical truth.
The Kosei-kai Young Adults' Group established a special investigating team, which made thorough research investigations of all the problem points and compiled the results of their study in the "Report of Investigations of News Published by the Yomiuri Shimbun." This report was distributed to the Standing Committee on Judicial Affairs of the lower house of the national Diet of Japan, to the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, to the Yomiuri Shimbun Company, and to other concerned parties. Its publication finally removed doubt and misgiving on the part of the general public about the probity of Rissho Kosei-kai.
Nonetheless, the incident had far-reaching repercussions among the members. In the outlying districts of the nation, the shock was so great that the membership dropped from 360,000 households in 1955 to 290,000 households after the Yomiuri incident. In the trying days of 1943 , the members who remained faithful in the face of tribulation were enlightened to the great Truth of the Lotus Sutra. Even many of those who dropped by the wayside gradually returned and learned to withstand hardship. The same kind of thing happened after the Yomiuri incident.
Pressure and attack from established powers inevitably accompany the establishment of new religious movements. But if the religious movement is good and true, its supporters will not shrink from criticism and attack. When confronted with trials, they will burn all the more brightly with the desire for Truth. Hardship and tribulation will become nourishment strengthening the individuals and the organization as a whole. The histories of religions of the past show that this is true, and our own experiences in times of trouble add further proof.
Today our relations with the Yomiuri Shimbun are perfectly amicable. For this reason, it seems a pity to have to rake up old grievances. But it must be done for the sake of the accuracy of the record.
From about 1954, after my wife and children had returned to Tokyo, I noticed something strange in the activities of the upper echelons of Kosei-kai's leaders. An odd mood had been apparent for some time, but it came more vividly to the surface after we had successfully settled the Yomiuri incident. Groups of leaders would gather daily for the devotionals in the meeting room in Myoko Sensei's house. When I would enter the house by the front door, there were people standing in the way to prevent my going into that room. Soon, I began finding the main door locked; only the side door was left open.
When I went to the training hall in the headquarters in the morning, the people in charge of maintaining the registers of posthumous names would suddenly disappear. If I entered the Second Training Hall, the leaders would leave at once. I had no idea what was happening, but I felt lonely and sometimes angry. One memorial day, when I went to perform my half day of duty at the headquarters, I found the training hall empty except for a solitary old woman tending the premises. My inquiry about people's whereabouts was met with the answer that the ceremony had been conducted before a large group on the preceding day. After my own devotionals, I drank tea and chatted with the old woman before going home alone, very sad.
But I accepted this too as part of my religious training. The general membership was unaware that anything was afoot among the senior leaders. Consequently, I was able to smile and teach the Law to them with a light heart.
None of the chapter heads came to discuss the matter with me; they had been told by their superiors that doing so would leave them open to accusations of slandering our faith. By nature, I do not like doubting or analyzing other people. I did not pursue the problem further at the time but simply admitted to myself that, for some reason, I was being ostracized.
Nonetheless, my being shut out from the group was an important matter. I did not know what to do. Reviewing the membership in my mind, I could think of no one who could teach the Law more clearly than - or as clearly as - I. I knew that I had a mission that only I could fulfill. At times, I went so far as to think about withdrawing from the organization and starting all over again. But two considerations stopped me: the humiliation of such an act and the conviction that, without me, Kosei-kai would deviate increasingly from the true path of the Buddha. Regarding the matter as something that must be left up to the Buddha, I resolved to remain calm and to wait.
In August, the intangible gloom assumed concrete form when all the senior leaders and chapter heads presented me with a written document with the following complaint. "Speaking frankly, we consider the compassionate chastisements of Myoko Sensei a contribution to general trust and to our spiritual growth. But we feel that both the words and actions of the president of the organization lack firmness and resolution. Because the things he says and does under the attractive name of broad-mindedness cast shadows on our faith, at present we are unable to trust him."
The words "compassionate chastisement" refer to Myoko Sensei's habit of speaking frankly and severely. This made her frightening to some people. But to those who were devoted to her, the fearsomeness included reliableness and strength and made her indescribably appealing. My personality is very different. I am easygoing and open. These characteristics apparently irritated some of our members.
Flexibility is a characteristic of Buddhism that originated with the founder of the religion. Though Shakyamuni Buddha eagerly sought to lead other people to the Truth, he did not insist that they abandon all previous faith. Indeed, once when a famous man who was a member of the Jain faith heard and believed the teachings of the Buddha and announced his intention of abandoning his old religion for the new one, the Buddha said, "It is not good for a famous man like you to alter his standpoint." When the man nonetheless persisted in adopting the new faith, the Buddha told him, "You must continue to make offerings to the Jain priests as you have in the past." The Buddha put virtually no controls on teachings and left the following words for his disciples: "All phenomena change. You must strive, diligently."
This attitude of flexibility remained with Buddhism, which always tends to include indigenous religions when it spreads into new regions and which alters to suit the needs of the times. Sometimes the inclusiveness of Buddhism has produced an apparent disappearance of Buddhism. But I regard this as indication of tolerance and forbearance. When I say that Buddhism has changed, I do not mean to suggest alteration of basic teachings. Buddhism has altered only its external appearance for the sake of the salvation of the people of a given place and time. The point of this somewhat theoretical digression is to illustrate something about my own personality. My broad view of humanity results from an innate trait that has been reinforced by what I have learned from Buddhism. I do not make sharp judgments of others. People who found trustworthiness in Myoko Sensei's "compassionate chastisements" were likely to look on my approach as vacillating and unreliable. And this caused them to announce lack of faith in me. I believe that this was the major cause, but two contributory factors played an important part in these developments.
First, after the Yomiuri incident, I called together an inquiry committee for the improvement of Rissho Kosei-kai. The body included people from outside our organization. Indeed, there were even some who considered Kosei-kai wicked and advocated that it be disbanded. This caused great shock among many of the senior leaders of the organization. Today I can see that, though I included the outsiders in the spirit of what I called broad-mindedness, the senior leaders of Kosei-kai found my act unforgivable.
Second, some of the members of the leadership group still considered my wife an obstacle and reacted negatively to her. I have written about this in greater detail earlier. To clear up the issue, the leaders presented me with a contract containing these points:
1. In accordance with the origins and aims of the organization, Myoko Sensei and Mr. Niwano, the president of Kosei-kai, must always act in agreement.
2. Because of the likelihood of internal disturbances, the wife of the president is not allowed to interfere with Kosei-kai affairs.
3. Members of the inquiry committee, both those from Kosei-kai and those from outside the organization, may participate in Kosei-kai activities only with the unanimous approval of all the chapter heads.
Myoko Sensei's signature and personal seal were affixed to the document, which was presented to me for signing and sealing. Turning the first page, I found the signatures and seals of Motoyuki Naganuma and the eleven Kosei-kai directors, including one of my own brothers. In addition, there were the signatures and seals of all one hundred twenty-five Kosei-kai chapter heads. I later learned that many of these people had been handed the sheet of paper and instructed to sign it, even though they did not understand what it was about. But at the time, I could think only that it represented the will of all the leaders. Since I had no reason to object to any one of the three stipulations, I signed and affixed my personal seal.
But the situation was not as straightforward as it appeared on the surface. Somewhat later, Josei Kamomiya, who was educational-research chairman at the time, came to me with the proposal that we designate Myoko Sensei as the originator of Kosei-kai teachings and me as the president. I rejected the proposal on the spot.
Since customarily I only explained to the members the divine revelations she had, Myoko Sensei might seem to have originated doctrines. Her spiritual abilities were undeniable and great; but in terms of teaching, Shakyamuni Buddha was the originator of our organization's teachings. And I was in charge of guiding our members in the way of those teachings. In fact, Myoko Sensei was my pupil in the Law. She did not like instructor's work and often said so. When it was essential for her to lead a class, she and I often worked out her lesson plan together two or three days in advance so that she would find the task easier to accomplish. Under no circumstances was she the originator of our teachings, and I could not permit a mistake on this fundamental point.
But this did not end the matter. A few of the important leaders of the organization, including one of my own brothers, attempted to convince me to go along with the idea. I refused, and perhaps for this reason a movement got under way to set up an independent organization centered on Myoko Sensei. The advocates of this step went so far as to prepare a petition to which they affixed their seals in blood. They bought a villa in Chiba Prefecture for the proposed organization. (I visited it later and found it a fine building with a beautiful view.) Before long, however, Myoko Sensei became ill and was forced to spend all her time in bed. With this, the movement seems to have lost impetus and gradually to have died entirely. I say "seems" because I lack accurate information. At the time, I was ignorant of these activities. I only recently learned who was the leader of the movement. I made no attempt to uncover all the details. I did not regard the movement as something inspired by ill will or ambition. It was pure trust and faith in Myoko Sensei that led these people to take such steps. None of the leaders in the movement were removed from their positions or in any other way punished. The important thing was for Kosei-kai to go on as it had in the past.
Teishiro Okano, a leader in that movement, later joined me on dissemination trips. Once, in Kyushu, he and I shared a room at an inn. In the evening, he told me of a fund of forty million yen that had been set aside for the independent organization and asked what should be done with it. I replied that if the money was the property of Kosei-kai it should be returned to Kosei-kai funds. I concluded by saying, "That should bring the whole matter to a close."
For a moment, Okano seemed surprised, then he vowed to devote himself entirely to dissemination work until his death. Indeed he has made astounding achievements in this field and has become a highly important member of the Kosei-kai organization.
The attempt to form an independent group was important. For the sake of the future, it is necessary to clarify the causes. I have reflected on the aspects of my own personality that contributed to the rift. Equally important is the frame of mind of the people who decided to take such a course. I do not like investigations of this kind and am not good at them. But since it is not impossible that such a situation might arise again, in preparing to write this book, I interviewed people who knew what was happening at the time and reached the following conclusions on the information I gained from them.
As I have said, Myoko Sensei was possessed of outstanding spiritual abilities and, with her combination of the kindness of Kannon and the severity of Fudo Myo-o, had a much more attractive personality than a person devoted to doctrines and rules, like me. From what I have heard, I assume that respect for her and misunderstanding of remarks she made about me led some of the senior leaders to assume erroneously that she was not in favor of my actions. Because of the deep feelings they entertained for her, these leaders took it for granted that opposing me was the right thing to do. Of course, Myoko Sensei herself was in the most embarrassing and difficult position. She could not easily tell them to stop what they were doing, since they were devoted to her and to placing her at the head of a new organization. On the other hand, she could not countenance a new organization that meant turning her back on me, because I had been her friend in the search for religious truth for many years. The dilemma caused her great mental anguish that undermined her health and sent her to bed often.
This incident was another of the flights of steps that we have had to mount. But the price we paid to overcome this obstacle was too high. The illness and death of Myoko Sensei was the greatest trial of my life. It must have been a discipline imposed on me for negligence and pride of which I was not consciously aware.
On the occasion of the completion of a monument on Myoko Sensei's grave, I presented to her memory the contract I had signed. Then I burned it, and the burden of the entire incident disappeared from my mind as the smoke rose into the sky. Nothing remains of that burden to trouble me today.
It is said that rain firms up the ground. After this incident, the high-ranking leaders of Rissho Kosei-kai achieved a unity of purpose that has enabled them to become the foundation stone of the entire organizational edifice.
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