TWO OR three years after Rissho Kosei-kai was formed, relations between Director General Murayama and Vice-Director General Ishihara became so strained that Murayama asked to be permitted to resign. I did not want him to leave. In 1940, after much quarreling, Ishihara was the one to quit. (Since I was indebted to him and since he had once been my employer, I have kept up friendly relations with Ishihara to the present. On the occasion of the celebration of my seventieth birthday, I invited him to attend the party held for me at the Imperial Hotel, in Tokyo. As he was unable to come, I visited him on the following day. We sat together for some time reminiscing about the past.)
We continued without further incident for three years and then, in 1943, faced a major trial. On March 13, a mustached policeman suddenly appeared at Kosei-kai's headquarters and asked Myoko Sensei and me to accompany him to the police department. Wondering what it could be about, we innocently followed the officer. I was in an ordinary kimono, and Myoko Sensei had on a short informal jacket over her kimono.
Arriving at the police department, we were immediately imprisoned because, they claimed, Myoko Sensei's spiritual guidance was confusing people's minds. In those days, what was known as the Peace Preservation Law was in effect. It had been promulgated primarily to control and repress the communist movement, but its effects were strongly felt by the Christians and other religious groups, as well. Realizing that I was the true leader of the Dai-Nippon Rissho Kosei-kai, the police had arrested me instead of the director general. The detective who interrogated me was familiar with the terminology we use. "You are Mrs. Naganuma's spiritual godparent and as such ought to reconsider the principles you use in instruction," he said.
I replied, "There is nothing wrong with my instruction principles. We have a large number of members, and it may be that some of them have emotional problems and say and do things that are not absolutely correct. But there is nothing wrong with my basic instruction principles."
That was my position, and I stuck by it. The police did not know what to do. They had probably been prepared to let me go at the first indication of compromise on my part. But since I showed no such signs, they kept me in jail for two weeks. During that time, they interrogated me daily; but I never varied from the stand that our principles are correct.
Prisons are never good places. I dare say they have improved; but in the days of World War II they were very unpleasant. My underclothes were full of lice. But I did not let my situation get me down. I regarded it as part of my religious discipline. During my stay in jail, I came to be on good terms with the police. I surprised some of them by making accurate predictions on the basis of their names. Ultimately they jokingly called me the god-man. At interrogation time, they would call: "Come on out, Mr. God-man."
In everything, however, I did not waver from the path dictated by my religious faith and refused even to pretend to compromise. The police were at a loss to know what to do; but since they were unable to find me guilty of anything, after two weeks they let me go. One week later, they released Myoko Sensei. Explained in outline this way, the incident seems simple, when in fact its internal causes were highly complicated and concerned my domestic situation.
My wife was strongly opposed to my life of religious faith. In the eyes of the world, her disappointment was only natural from the standpoint of a homemaker and the wife of a man who spent all his time helping others. Furthermore, when I gave up the milk shop and dedicated myself entirely to the Law, our way of life became poorer and more difficult. I received very little money from Kosei-kai. We were forced to make frequent trips to the pawnshop, and we all - my wife and I and our five children - lived in one small room on the first floor of the headquarters building. The room was so cramped that at night when we spread our bedding some of the mattresses curled up against the sliding doors, from which they gradually wore away the paper covering. At about that time, my wife had just had another baby and was forced to remain in bed. Before I went out on guidance missions, I would prepare a large pot of rice gruel and put it on a hibachi charcoal brazier set by her bed so that at least the family would not go hungry.
Throughout this period, I was always either out on guidance or other business with Myoko Sensei or was discussing the Law with her and other members in the headquarters. My wife must not have liked the idea that I spent so much of my time with other women. It is true that Myoko Sensei was seventeen years my senior; but after all, she was a woman, as were many of the other Kosei-kai leaders with whom I was constantly brought in contact. Frankly, there were times when I felt that some of the female members were interested in me. While I was still running the milk shop, I made deliveries to a large restaurant where two waitresses were Kosei-kai members. These two seem to have made a bet about which of them could catch the milkman first. They tried all kinds of wiles, but I never paid any attention to them. Still, my wife must have known intuitively that something might happen. Nor is it surprising that she earnestly wanted to return to the ordinary way of life of a married couple. Sometimes her longing made her very angry. Once she even ripped up the hakama of my formal kimono. The garment was very important to me.
I tried to be as resilient as a willow in the wind, while never compromising my rock-steady inner faith. I felt that I could have understood my wife's feelings completely if she had been married to an ordinary man. But as the wife of a person dedicated entirely to the Buddha's Law, her attitude was unpardonable.
The Kosei-kai leaders considered my wife an interference in my work, a kind of Devadatta - a cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha who was first his follower and then his enemy but even then was an important element in the Buddha's spiritual development. Some of them insisted that I should be separated from my wife; others sympathized with her. I later learned that Myoko Sensei had felt that the situation was hopeless until she received divine instructions to clear up my domestic affairs. This happened while I was away in the country at memorial services for my father. I knew nothing about the divine instructions. On my return to Tokyo, a delegation from Kosei-kai met me at Akabane Station and, instead of allowing me to return home, took me straight to the home of one of the members. There a group of leaders was waiting to tell me that they were going to rent a house in which they wanted me to install my wife and children. The house was in relatively distant Nerima Ward. The announcement came as a great shock. I could not take such a step without consulting my wife. The leaders passed strict judgment on me: I was still too much attached to my wife and children and was not yet sufficiently refined spiritually to fulfill the great mission entrusted to me by the gods. I was instructed to live in Myoko Sensei's house and was watched so that I did not speak to my wife, who had not moved to Nerima but remained in the headquarters. It was while we were living in this way that Myoko Sensei and I were imprisoned.
Much later I found that the following circumstances surrounded our summons by the police. My wife wanted me to return to our former way of life. In our neighborhood lived Mrs. Umeno Tsunaki, the head of the Tengu-fudo organization, who was doubtless displeased to see a former student succeeding with another religious organization. With the assistance of the principal of a neighborhood kindergarten and another influential member of the neighborhood, these two women reported to the local police that Myoko Sensei's spiritual practices were confusing people. Without proof, the police refused to act. The group of conspirators then carried a petition around the neighborhood, collected a number of names, and in this way compelled the police to do something. Of course, at the time of our arrest, I knew nothing of all this.
With the two main leaders of the organization in prison, the membership fell into confusion; and all but two of the chapter heads left the organization. The ones who remained, however, were very considerate and even brought me homemade lunches in prison.
As a further outcome of the incident, the director general of Kosei-kai, Mr. Murayama, was so frightened that he insisted on being allowed to resign. No pleading would convince him to remain. I had to take his place, becoming president. Myoko Sensei then became the vice-president.
While the two of us were in jail, some of the members said that Myoko Sensei should be reduced to the standing of an ordinary member. It was because of her spiritual revelations that the police had investigated and imprisoned us. The members who felt this way further thought that the organization would be better off if it adhered solely to my policies, which were oriented largely toward the Law - the Buddha's teachings. But I put a stop to this by saying that Myoko Sensei and I had founded the organization together and were deeply related to each other in religious ties. I could not permit such a thing. I continued, "It is because none of you carefully observed or bore in mind Myoko Sensei's divine revelations that the matter reached the police. The gods are trying to lift us up. If we debase them, we are certain to face retribution." Nonetheless, many of the leaders could not be reconciled. They thought that two leaders would only confuse the membership. People who felt this way left the group. Being caught between the secular needs of the organization and the divine requirements represented by Myoko Sensei's revelations caused me considerable suffering.
Of course, I neither denied nor undervalued the phenomenon of revelations from the gods, but I felt it was important to protect ourselves from any evil revelations that might be disclosed. Completely accepting divine revelations without question was difficult.
In the course of the midwinter austerities and prayers conducted during the early days of the organization, some members, when visited by the spirits of such animals as foxes, snakes, and badgers, performed grotesque, mad antics that were distressing to see. Even relatively advanced members were unable to do anything about it. But Myoko Sensei and I could restore such people to their senses by chanting the Daimoku and invoking the protective mantra. Although the world of shamanism involves startlingly miraculous things, it is not without danger.
Many of the leaders who left the organization gradually returned to receive my warm welcome and to become top leaders in Kosei-kai in later years. At some time and somehow, this incident came to be called the first flight of steps in the history of Rissho Kosei-kai. It greatly reinforced and strengthened the faith of the entire membership.
When I was still a milkman, we made it a policy to accept no alms or charities from members. But sometimes, families felt obliged to express gratitude in some way when illnesses were cured or family troubles settled by means of our help. In such cases, they would place small amounts of money in the Buddhist altar at the headquarters. These gifts usually amounted to no more than ten or fifteen yen a month. I always took the entire amount to the Nakano Police Station as a contribution to the army and navy. I continued this practice regularly each month until 1942. But in May of that year, when I closed the milk shop and dedicated myself to the Law, it became essential to put all money into the Kosei-kai funds. I am convinced that it was our past record for contributions and awareness of the new circumstances that convinced the Nakano police of our sincerity and prevented their taking action against me and Myoko Sensei the first time my wife and Mrs. Tsunaki made a report to them.
In passing, it was remarkable that both Myoko Sensei and I were released from jail on the memorial days of our guardian deities.
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