ON JANUARY, 1958, I traveled to the Kosei-kai training hall in Yokohama. The morning was cold, and the dry wind characteristic of the Kanto district was blowing over the patches of thin ice that appeared here and there along the road. In spite of the chill, the members gathered at the training hall filled the room with the warmth of enthusiasm. The eyes of everyone present glowed with determination to carry out the vow to manifest the truth. My call to walk forward hand in hand for the sake of spreading the Law and of employing the Law to build a bright and peaceful society on earth met with overwhelming approbation. The strength of the response filled me with renewed courage and will. Nor were the vigor and eagerness to go forward limited to the Yokohama membership. In the next few weeks, I traveled to several places in the Kanto area and as far afield as Kobe. Everywhere I found such vitality and such rapid growth that even the extended traveling of my tour did not tire me.
On my first night in Kobe, I stayed in a hotel; but on the next day, I changed my plans and decided to sleep at the local training hall. When I arrived in the company of Teishiro Okano, head of the instruction department, the people in charge of the training hall were very surprised to see us. Okano and I immediately changed our Western-style clothing for the padded kimonos brought for us. My kimono was too short - I am a tall man; Okano's was unequal to his girth - he is stout. Nonetheless we were comfortable enough. The next thing we wanted to do was go to a public bath. Slipping on wooden geta at the rear entrance of the hall, we went out into the twilight. The streets were busy with evening activity; children were playing a game that is not unlike king of the mountain.
Soon I noticed a barbershop and suggested a haircut and shave before our bath. The small shop was empty. There was no need to wait. Noticing the shortness of my kimono, the young barber expressed concern that I might be cold. He at once covered my legs with a blanket. The unsolicited considerateness of a young man I had never met was very much appreciated. The conversation with the barber and the haircut and shave refreshed me greatly.
Leaving the barbershop, we headed for the bathhouse, which we found very crowded. There is a mood prevailing in the old-fashioned Japanese public bath that relaxes a person and makes it easy to hold conversations with perfect strangers. I suppose it is that abandoning clothing human beings also abandon false pride and enable themselves to speak freely with one another on a basis of humility and equality. Okano and I enjoyed that mood in the Kobe bathhouse before we returned to the training hall for the night.
When we arrived in Nagano, it had begun to snow. By the next morning - the day of the scheduled conference - the world around us was silver. The wind that sent the snowflakes dancing was very cold. Although it was chilly outside the training hall, the mutual trust and friendliness of the members, who had traveled far to come to the meeting, filled the room with a mood as warm as springtime. In Nagano, as in Kobe, I stayed at the training hall. At night, after taking a bath, I was walking to my room when the glass sliding door to the corridor suddenly opened, revealing the somewhat stern face of a young man who said that he had a favor to ask: would I come in for a few minutes?
I looked into the room where he was and found twelve or thirteen other young people preparing for the conference scheduled for the next day. Signboards and placards for the discussions were already in place.
"Is this the Young Adults' Group room?" I asked. I received an affirmative answer. At once some of the people in the room brought a large hibachi brazier. I sat on the tatami floor next to it, and the young people gathered around me in a circle. As soon as I said that I was willing to answer any questions they might put to me, one young man spoke up boldly, "It seems to me that there is a great deal of difference between attempting to progress when one knows the way and trying to go forward without knowledge of it."
"You pose fairly hard questions, don't you?" I said. "What is your name?" He told me without hesitation, and I offered to analyze his future on the basis of his name. As it turned out, the young man's fiancee was present; I offered to do the same thing for her. But since it seemed unfair to perform this service for only two people, I agreed to make name analyses for everyone. This brought glowing looks of happiness to the faces of the young people. As I proceeded with my task, I did everything I could to encourage spiritual growth in my audience. Their pure, keen receptiveness seemed to generate stimulating waves that flowed back to refresh me. So enjoyable was the experience that I did not notice the passing of time. But before long Okano came to warn me that it was getting late. Making all the analyses I had promised required another hour, and it was eleven thirty when I finally returned to my own sleeping quarters.
My experience with that group of young people, seated in happy communion around the hibachi, reinforced my conviction that the brains and strength of youth are major forces in the progress of Kosei-kai. Young people are the flag bearers in our drive to manifest the true nature of our beliefs.
During the conference on the following day, I had this say to the members of the Young Adults' Group: "Sometimes young people who have accepted a religious faith encounter contradictions and confusion in the realm of practical affairs. But it is the merit of youth to be able to overcome such difficulties and constantly to advance through study that leads to the fundamental elimination of suffering and perplexity. Many of the most famous scientists in the world have made independent discoveries and have invented things of importance between the ages of fifteen and twenty. The ability to do this reveals that, because it is pure and good, the spirit of youth can approach truth directly.
"You young people are filled with energy and with the power to absorb things. This is why I want all of you to read at least part of the Threefold Lotus Sutra daily. Even a few lines are enough if you are very busy. But try to read the entire sutra once a month. If you do this, in three or four years you will make new spiritual discoveries within yourself. These discoveries will be an inspiration to you and will bring great light and good tidings into your life. Remember that we make our own happiness. And with this in mind go forward with determination."
This statement was part of my attempt to bring to each member in all branches of our organization the vital importance of study of the Lotus Sutra to the development of an elevated outlook. Although contact with the Law through direct experience is important, study too is a major goal of our program of revealing the truth. I hoped to begin with the Young Adults' Group and strove to bring an awareness of this goal to each member of our organization. As part of this campaign, I traveled to more than forty Rissho Kosei-kai chapters throughout Japan. In cities, towns, and villages, the reaction to my call was astounding. Many new members joined the organization; and in new and old members alike enthusiasm grew for the study and education program. Gradually, the new organizational structure took shape and gained firm acceptance. In this and other ways, Kosei-kai slowly recovered from grief at the loss of Myoko Sensei and made bold strides forward.
For six months, I was on the road all the time. But I felt that my efforts were only what was to be expected of me. Moreover, I derived great satisfaction from the opportunity of coming into close contact with Kosei-kai members all over the nation. Their enthusiasm for the Buddha's Law not only made me extremely happy, but also gave me an increasing assurance that my judgments and actions were not mistaken. At about this time, I began working on Buddhism for Today.
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