PRAYERS for world peace were held in Kosei-kai's Fumon Hall on October 23, 1970, only two days after the close of the peace conference in Kyoto. Ninety-four foreign representatives to the conference, joined by thirty-three Japanese representatives, attended the prayer services as guests.
At the beginning of the ceremony, the hall was darkened completely. Then a bell, like a clear note of courage and hope, sounded in the darkness. A red spotlight gradually shed warm light on the leaves of the bodhi tree in the center of the stage; and then a mystical blue light revealed the focus of devotion, a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. To the sounds of music by the Kosei Band and Chorus, a line of glowing lights formed across the stage and up the aisles of the auditorium. The lights were candles held in the hands of young girls of the Kosei-kai Young Adults' Group. Some burning strong and bright, some flickering and pale, all of them moved steadily toward the figure of Shakyamuni. Reaching the stage, they first formed a circle of light; then they became a great glowing lotus. Standing among the lights, I thought that, though the power of each individual is small, by combining strengths, we can make a garden of this world, just as the girls with their candles, each only a small flame in itself, were able to come together to form a dazzling lotus of light.
The enthusiasm with which the members of Rissho Kosei-kai joined in the prayers for world peace seemed to make a fresh and profound impression on the foreign guests. The members of our organization, for their parts, were eager to hear reports on the Kyoto conference from the foreign representatives. The first to make such a report was Archbishop Angelo Fernandes of India. In his remarks, he said that people of religious faith cannot stand by silent and do nothing about the poverty, injustice, and inequality that are already too prevalent in the world. He said that the first thing we must do is inform as many people as possible of the wretchedness that exists. Then we must provide assistance to the poor and oppressed. This aid must not be merely material: it must include spiritual support that will help the poverty-stricken and downtrodden to stand on their own. It made me very happy to hear how closely the words of Archbishop Fernandes agreed with my own thoughts and with the major aims of Kosei-kai. Our mission is the opening of the hearts of all people and the planting in them of the desire to search for religious truth by following Shakyamuni Buddha's spirit of equality and great wisdom. And I have long insisted that, by means of individual religious practices and disciplines, each of us must strive to become a moving force in bringing peace to the world.
Other speakers on the platform at the services for world peace included Dr. Dana McLean Greeley, of the United States. Dr. Greeley, who had served as one of the chairmen at the peace meeting in Kyoto, said that those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. He added the belief that, if the will of seekers of peace is strong, peace for the whole world can be achieved. He concluded by saying that all of us must strive together for the attainment of our goal. The next speaker was Metropolitan Galitsky Philaret, patriarch of Moscow, who commented on the distribution of the world's wealth as the cause of poverty. He said that the wealth of the world belongs to all peoples and that we ought to apply human wisdom to its development and more equitable distribution. But he insisted that the first thing to be done in the cause of global peace is the cessation of military preparations by all nations.
The building in which these speeches were made is called Fumon ("open gate") Hall. The spirit that built it and that it symbolizes by its very existence is the will to realize peace, equality, and justice on all levels of human society. In other words, the spirit of the open gate is the determination to guide all peoples to a way of life based on the Truth.
Kosei-kai's Great Sacred Hall is a place for discussions and hoza counseling sessions, during which the members of the organization can deepen their religious faith, come into contact with others who share that faith, and refine and develop both faith and the individual personality. In other words the Great Sacred Hall is a place primarily for the members of the organization. But as early as 1966, a proposal was made for the construction of another building, where the faith developed and strengthened within the membership can be directed outward to society in general. Agreement on the need for such a building was unanimous; and in the following year, ground-breaking ceremonies took place.
Buddhism is not for a specific group of people. It is for all humanity. We undertook the construction of this new hall in the hope of speeding up the process of bringing the true teachings to all the world and, in this way, of allowing all people to bathe in the compassion of the Buddha.
It was decided that the new building should be in the form of a double circle and that it should face the Great Sacred Hall. At first, there were people who argued that the building ought to be named Niwano Hall, but I opposed the suggestion. I felt that the use of the name of a single human being in connection with a building devoted to the development of all phases of culture and to the true Buddhist spirit would be presumptuous. I suggested that the building be known as Fumon Hall, or the Hall of the Open Gate. This name is a reference to the twenty-fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, "The All-Sidedness of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World," in which are described the ways in which this bodhisattva shows compassion for sentient beings and the myriad forms that he assumes to preach the Law.
In scale and equipment, Fumon Hall is one of the largest and most modern buildings in the Orient. It is outfitted with a revolving stage and with the latest acoustical and motion-picture equipment. The form of the building - two circles joined in one - is derived from the Three Seals of the Laws: "All things are impermanent"; "All things are devoid of self"; and "Nirvana is quiescence."
The twenty-eight columns on the exterior of the building symbolize the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. The statue of Kannon, the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World, enshrined in the lobby on the second floor was created by Shinkan Nishikido, the artist who produced the statue of Shakyamuni in the auditorium of the Great Sacred Hall. The figure in Fumon Hall symbolizes the thirty-three forms that Kannon may assume in saving sentient beings from confusion and suffering.
Ceremonies to mark the completion of Fumon Hall had taken place on April 28, 1970. On that same day, roughly seven centuries earlier, at Asahigamori on Mount Kiyosumi, in Chiba Prefecture, Nichiren had chanted the Daimoku - Namu Myoho Renge-kyo - for the first time. The day is, therefore, historic and memorable. To commemorate it and the completion of Fumon Hall, twenty thousand Kosei-kai members from all over Japan gathered to attend ceremonies intended to mark the birth of what we call a "great palace of culture."
The prayers for world peace and the reports of foreign representatives to the Kyoto conference took place in Fumon Hall and in the Great Sacred Hall six months after the new building was finished. As I listened to the tumult of applause from twenty-five thousand people on that day, I thought, "How wonderful if Nichiren and Myoko Sensei are observing this occasion now!" With the memory of Myoko Sensei warm in my heart, I delivered the final message of the day. "The Kyoto conference had great significance because it was a chance for us to come together, discuss the issues at hand, and reach mutual understanding on them. But at present, we are at the stage where the program for peace has just been drawn up. The road ahead is long and will probably be rough. Nonetheless, all people of religious faith must join hands and walk toward our goal of peace."
To bring the ceremony to a close, the chorus sang a song entitled "The Road Lies Ahead." During the music, the foreign representatives to the conference all came to the stage and shook hands with members of the Kosei-kai Young Adults' Group. The applause virtually rocked the auditorium; and the sight of many people from many lands, all wearing different kinds of clothes but all devoted to one aim, was deeply impressive. I felt life and hope glowing brightly in all faces. Everyone seemed to be experiencing a flame of friendship and trust that is impossible to describe in words.
Later we received letters of thanks for the prayer service from many of the foreign representatives who had already returned to their homelands. Mr. William P. Thompson, a Presbyterian in the United States, wrote to say that the vitality and passionate religious faith of Kosei-kai had made a deep impression on him and that he had reconfirmed his vow to work together with us for the sake of peace. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, and social worker, said that the activities of Kosei-kai youth suggest the possibility of a Buddhist renaissance and that he lacked words to express his respect for our work. I was, of course, overjoyed to see that people were understanding Kosei-kai's membership, its ideals, and its activities as they deserve to be understood.
At the executive committee meeting for the second World Conference on Religion and Peace, which took place in April, 1971, all the people who attended the prayers for world peace were unanimous in their praise for the activities of Kosei-kai. They made the following kinds of comments.
"It was wonderful to see young people, children, and old people all working together in the hope of peace. It was especially beautiful to see many women whose eyes glowed with sincerity in the hope of peace. This is something very valuable. The meeting in Fumon Hall filled me with an awareness of the power of religion. This has all come about because of your strength as a leader."
"Your fervent but quiet passion for peace has bound the members of Kosei-kai together. In the immense energy of your organization, I was able to see religion living today. None of us will forget how deeply moved we were by that day."
"Everyday activities are necessary in religion. Your activities as a leader in the everyday affairs of religion bore fruit at that meeting. Religious activities are founded on everyday affairs, and in the case of Kosei-kai the foundation is firm. This proves that your leadership is reliable and strong. I have the greatest respect for this."
I listened to these remarks in silence. Though there may have been an amount of formal courtesy in what they said, these people from other lands were speaking the truth. The spiritual exchange that had taken place in Fumon Hall had refreshed the hearts of the representatives from abroad. What they said about me was unimportant. I travel throughout Japan and in many other lands on the work of the peace conference because I find the basis for such action in the Lotus Sutra. My efforts are in consonance with the wishes of the four million members of Kosei-kai. In short, though we are distinct in body, Rissho Kosei-kai and I are one in mind. And it was the recognition of this unity by the foreign committee members of the peace conference that made me happy.
Today in Japan there are people who misunderstand Kosei-kai and who are very cold to the idea of the conference for world peace. There are others who try to throw cold water on Kosei-kai efforts to help create a brighter society. But the remarks of these visitors from other lands showed that disinterested observers understand our aims as long as we are sincere. I resolved then and there to continue working in one mind with the members of Kosei-kai.
In May, 1975, almost five thousand representatives from seventy-three nations gathered in Fumon Hall for the ninth meeting of the World Petroleum Congress. The theme of the meetings was "Petroleum for the Welfare of Mankind." Like the Olympic games, these conferences are held every four years. On this occasion, the conference began on May 11. In addition to the representatives from overseas, more than two thousand Japanese representatives attended the conference, which was of a mammoth scale and required tremendous backstage preparation. One of the main headaches of the planners was the selection of a hall. A number of buildings were considered, but for reasons of size or inadequacy of equipment, none of them proved suitable. The only choice left was Kosei-kai's Fumon Hall. One Tokyo newspaper commented on the difficulties involved in finding a hall. The article went on to say that, because the meetings were to be held in the auditorium of a religious organization, agreement would have to be obtained from the various Islamic countries. As is known, the Islamic peoples are strict about other religions; and since much of the world's petroleum is from the Middle East, Islamic representatives at the conference would inevitably be numerous. The agreement was forthcoming, and the newspaper remarked that this revealed the authority of a newly risen religious organization.
Some of the people who spoke during the congress were F. D. Rossini, of the United States, president of the World Petroleum Congress; Manoutchehr Eghbal, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Valentin Shashin, Soviet minister of the oil industry; and Rogers C. B. Morton, secretary of commerce of the United States. On opening day, I sat in the seats reserved for special guests because I was the head of the organization providing housing for the conference. The crown prince and crown princess of Japan, who attended the meeting that day, sat in the same part of the auditorium. When I greeted them, the crown prince complimented Kosei-kai on the splendid building and expressed sympathy for the labor that preparations for the conference must have entailed.
The conference covered a wide field of subjects, including procurement, refining, and transport of petroleum, as well as other technological matters. Because of the crisis in oil supply that had arisen in 1973, the whole financial world was watching the proceedings.
Secretary Morton of the United States impressed me with the need for international cooperation in fields other than religion when he said that producer and consumer nations alike must work together to safeguard the world's petroleum supply.
The World Petroleum Congress meetings proved to me and others that Fumon Hall, built to carry Shakyamuni Buddha's spirit of equality and great wisdom to society in all cultural fields, had gotten off to a good start.
Copyright © 2009 by Rissho Kosei-kai. All right reserved.