SINCE the beginning of the war many of our members had been drafted and sent to battle. We saw them all off and gave them each a stomach warmer bearing the words "Namu Myoho Renge-kyo," "Eternal as Heaven and Earth," and "Many in Body but One in Spirit." Thin slips of paper bearing the name of each soldier and our prayer that he would serve well and safely were pasted on the woodwork in a room in the headquarters. Soon one wall was almost covered with them. From Rissho Kosei-kai about four hundred fifty men went to war; all of them returned home safe when the fighting was done.
On the fifteenth of August, 1945, a large group of members gathered in the headquarters to hear the emperor's radio broadcast announcing surrender. When it was over, we conducted a lengthy service.
Motoyuki Naganuma had been sent to northern China in November, 1943. Many months after the end of the war, he still had not returned. Feeling certain that he must have been killed, we gave him a posthumous Buddhist name and held services in his memory. Then, in May, 1946, he suddenly turned up in perfect health. Myoko Sensei and the rest of us were so overjoyed that we thought we were dreaming.
On his return, Naganuma was pained at what he considered his loss of training in religious matters. Rissho Kosei-kai had developed greatly in his absence, and he felt that he had much catching up to do. From childhood, he had been a diligent, serious, quiet person. His aunt - Myoko Sensei - often commented on the way in which he preferred to economize by eating other people's leftovers instead of the portion set aside for him. He worked hard, sometimes taking his meals in the kitchen instead of allowing himself the time to come into the main part of the house to eat in a leisurely fashion.
In the days of his youth, there were no flush toilets in Tokyo homes. Waste accumulated in cisterns, which were emptied every month or so by the collectors of night soil to be used as agricultural fertilizer. As more and more members of Kosei-kai called on Myoko Sensei, once a month became insufficient to keep the cistern at her house usable. Motoyuki undertook the task of emptying it more frequently himself. He carried the night soil away and carefully cleaned everything for the sake of both appearance and sanitation. He said he was glad that the cistern filled quickly because it meant an increase in Kosei-kai membership. In whatever spare time he had from work and chores, he was always to be found in front of the family Buddhist altar, reading the Lotus Sutra.
After his return from the war, in spite of our urging him to assume a position of leadership, he preferred to perform humble tasks until he had made up for the time he had lost. The task he selected was emptying the headquarters toilet cisterns and carrying the night soil to places where it could be used as fertilizer.
After a while, however, we succeeded in convincing him to accept a post as a leader. From that position, he steadily rose to become a director. He was indispensable to both Myoko Sensei and me. His earnestness and selflessness contributed immensely to the development of our organization.
Some of the places to which Motoyuki Naganuma carried night soil were the gardens that Kosei-kai members cultivated on land left open and desolate as the result of bomb raids. This movement started when Myoko Sensei and I began using the vacant ground of a primary school adjacent to our headquarters. Seeing the land rank with weeds, we decided that this was wasteful and began weeding and caring for the plants originally set there by the pupils of the school. The crop we raised the first year was divided equally between the owner of the land and the authorities of the school, to whom we carried the produce on bicycles.
The success of this initial project led us to undertake a program of clearing other ravaged land of debris, stones, and broken tiles; fertilizing the ground with night soil; and planting burdock, carrots, onions, beans, potatoes, corn, wheat, millet, spinach, and Japanese radishes. We did the farm work early in the morning before the members of the organization began arriving for religious training. Many of the faithful eagerly helped with the labor, though most of them had never held a hoe before and many of them were seriously ill. All the produce was carefully divided among the owners of the land and the people who did the farming. A certain part was set aside for people in especially desperate conditions. All this food was extremely welcome in wartime, when everything was scarce.
The good relations we established with Mr. Sakuma, the owner of the land adjacent to the headquarters, ultimately led to our purchasing that land and using it for other Kosei-kai buildings.
Copyright © 2009 by Rissho Kosei-kai. All right reserved.