BY 1941, the membership of Rissho Kosei-kai had reached one thousand. It was no longer possible for Myoko Sensei and me to run our businesses and attend to our religious duties as well. She took the establishment of a government-controlled ice-distribution system as an opportunity to close her shop. Then, one night, in a dream she received divine revelation to the effect that she was to move her residence to a place in Suginami Ward, Wada Honcho, where she would find already standing on the land a house with a statue of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World near its entrance.
She told me about this on the following day, and the two of us set out immediately to find the house. When we got off the bus at the Nakano carbarn, we happened to meet a plasterer with whom Myoko Sensei was acquainted. He asked where we were going. On learning that we were looking for a house, he said that not far away was a new one he had worked on, and he suggested that we have a look at it. The owner had built it for his son but might be willing to sell.
We found the house at once. Entering the gate, we saw a stone statue of Kannon, the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World. Before seeing the inside of the house, Myoko Sensei knew that she liked it. "There's the statue of Kannon. Why, the house might have been built especially for me!"
The house was small - three modest rooms and a small entryway - but it had a pleasing, bright mood. We visited the owner immediately. Negotiations went smoothly, and in a short while it was agreed that Myoko Sensei would buy the house for eleven thousand yen. In the largest of the rooms, she installed a shrine to her guardian deity, the Bodhisattva Kokuzo, the Bodhisattva Space Treasury. This room was to be the center of her religious life. (The building, in the old headquarters compound, is now the Myoko Memorial Hall.)
But even with this small house and the cramped room on the second floor of my milk shop, we lacked space so badly that the construction of a headquarters building became an absolute necessity. As luck would have it, the land next to Myoko Sensei's house was vacant. Explaining that we wanted it for the construction of a headquarters for Kosei-kai, we again conducted smooth and speedy negotiations with the owner, purchased the land, and held ground-breaking ceremonies on the eighth of November of that same year.
We did not have a large budget. Myoko Sensei and I donated our money, and other members contributed to a total sum of sixteen thousand yen. At roughly that time, Myoko Sensei had another spiritual revelation, in which she was instructed to obtain building materials as quickly as possible. World War II began for Japan about one month after our ground breaking. This immediately caused a severe shortage of materials. But throughout December, anyone who had the money could get what he needed. We decided to spend everything we had on construction materials; and on the twentieth of December, we held ceremonies marking the completion of the major framework. By the middle of January, controls on consumer goods became still more rigid. Building materials were virtually impossible to obtain, no matter how much money one was willing to spend. It was a very close race, but we finished our headquarters, which escaped burning in the war and served as the base for much of our dissemination activities in the postwar period. The timely acquisition of materials and the escape from war damage convince me that the building enjoyed the protection of the gods and buddhas.
Materials were not the only problem. Controls on labor made it difficult to hire even a single carpenter or plasterer. To compensate for the shortage, members did such unskilled labor as clearing the land, hauling lumber, mixing clay for the walls, and so on; but they hesitated to undertake the skill-demanding carpentry. Yet times would not permit such hesitation. Ultimately we had to do much of the carpentry work as well. The efforts of the members were a deeply touching example of the astounding things human beings can accomplish when confronted with the need to surpass the limits of their abilities.
During the construction work, the first American air raids on Tokyo caused great consternation among government officials, who immediately launched air-defense and escape-training courses. It required considerable confidence to go ahead with the construction of a new wooden building under such circumstances. We had confidence. We knew that our building would be safe. Our confidence was different from anything that is possible with limited human wisdom alone.
The building was small; but under prevailing conditions, it took one hundred and fifty days to complete. When I think about it now, I am amazed that we finished it at all. I went to the site and guided work daily. Of course, I worked too. The other members devoted their time and sweat. Using what modest supplies she could obtain, Myoko Sensei prepared food for us. The building itself, the result of united efforts on all our parts, was later moved to the Kosei Cemetery grounds.
A shortage of materials brought Kosei-kai the only member I know of who was won through anger. During the construction work, we had to have two and a half bags of cement. We had received government authorization, but the military took priority in all such matters; and the cement itself was not forthcoming. A man who delivered a load of gravel to the site told us that a certain Mr. Chiba had some cement he was not using. We could persuade him to let us have it and then return the materials when our authorized supply was delivered. We followed this advice, and Mr. Chiba did let us have the cement. Our authorized supply, however, did not arrive. Mr. Chiba complained to the gravel man, who complained to us. There was nothing we could do. Then Mr. Chiba came to us himself, demanding his cement back. All I could do was apologize, and this made Mr. Chiba boilingly angry.
Using the difficult experiences everyone was undergoing then as subject matter, I started discussing the Buddha's Law with him. Looking as if he did not have the haziest idea what I was saying, Mr. Chiba got angrier. But I remained calm and continued my teaching of the Law. Finally, Mr. Chiba yielded and asked to become a follower of Kosei-kai.
On the seventh of May, 1942 - a bright, warm day - to signify the completion of the headquarters, I hung up over the gate a sign bearing the name of the Dai-Nippon Rissho Kosei-kai, in letters lovingly written by me. Scarcity of food would have precluded our celebration party if my elder brother had not brought twenty-nine kilograms of glutinous rice from the country. It was the first time he had any contact with Rissho Kosei-kai. All he had known till then was that his younger brother had started some kind of religious group connected with the Lotus Sutra.
Although I had thought my proper path lay in managing my small business and conducting religious activities, Kosei-kai's increasing number of members made it impossible for me to pursue this double course. Consequently, feeling that it would be unnatural to run against the ordained current of events, on the occasion of the completion of the headquarters I closed my milk shop and moved into the new building.
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