THE YEAR 1960 marked a great turning point in the history of post-war Japan, for it witnessed the rapid development of industrial productivity, the modernization of agriculture, and the liberalization of trade that were to pave the way for the high-level economic growth of the following decade. Material wealth increased. Consumption of goods came to be regarded - arrogantly, perhaps - as a virtue. And with the increasing use of machinery, many phases of life became more convenient.
At the same time, an attitude that economic growth and the pursuit of material wealth are of paramount importance swept over the Japanese islands. Because of their greedy race for affluence, the Japanese people were ridiculed by the peoples of other nations as economic animals. Instead of seeking true happiness, many people looked no farther than the gratification of immediate desires. And for the sake of their desires they used whatever means came to hand. In Japan and elsewhere the results of such behavior have been destruction of the natural environment in the name of development, pollution of many parts of our world, and, ultimately, threats to the continued existence of mankind itself. In that year of violent economic growth, I wrote an article for the magazine Kosei in which I made an appeal to the membership of our organization in connection with the establishment of a new Kosei-kai organizational structure.
Since the birth of Rissho Kosei-kai, organizationally it had been divided into chapters, district groups, and neighborhood groups. This structure and the lineage of spiritual guidance involving the relation of godparent and godchild in faith were characteristic of Kosei-kai. This basic organization had been the main artery through which we had been able to build a solid body of more than two million members. It had produced great results and had been the firm basis on which we had participated in religious disciplines and practices in a spirit of unity.
But because the vertical organization from chapter to district group had been too much emphasized, too little exchange had taken place among chapters and district groups, with the result that the organizational structure itself had almost lost its progressive nature. In consequence, even though they were members of the same Kosei-kai, some people from one chapter or district group occasionally tended to react negatively to the educational and guidance practices of other chapters and district groups.
This had an effect on the natures of the chapters themselves. Little horizontal exchange took place among different district groups and neighborhood groups. And that in turn had a negative effect on the spreading of our teachings. In the regional chapters and information centers, many staff members came originally from the Tokyo chapters. In other words, the personnel composition of the regional chapters in some cases was heterogeneous. Naturally, much of the fault in the situation was the result of lack of thoroughness on the part of the senior leaders and failure to allow the true teachings of the Law to permeate the most distant parts of the organization. Another difficulty arose from excessive responsibilities for the chapters. Although we had established a responsibility limitation of two thousand households for each chapter, in fact, many chapters had to be responsible for the guidance and training of three, four, or even five thousand households. Furthermore, the number of leaders was extremely small. Many of the people filling leadership positions were relatively inexperienced in the teachings of the Law. In addition, we needed to attempt to do something about the insufficient guidance that had sometimes been provided for individual members.
The leaders of Rissho Kosei-kai - an organization that takes as its motto "many in body but one in spirit" - devoted deep thought and consideration to the problem with the result that we proposed a reorganization on the basis of a national system of regions. The aim of this system was to build a strong, densely related, yet resilient educational network by putting the right people in the right places throughout the country in an organization that is balanced horizontally and vertically.
The idea for this reorganization of the educational system had been in my mind for a number of years. The older system called for sending teachings into the provinces and outlying districts from the central headquarters in Tokyo. Chapters to carry out the work were established all over the country. But this system had shown signs of allowing the strength of the guidance and instruction to stagnate. This and alterations in Kosei-kai made necessary by changes in the times convinced me that fundamental organizational revisions were needed.
After the announcement that the time had come for us to manifest the true nature of our organization, I traveled throughout the country visiting the training halls and information centers in order to learn how guidance was being conducted. I saw that, in spite of the self-sacrificing efforts of the leaders and chapter heads, results commensurate with their efforts were not forthcoming. This made me even more deeply convinced of the need for revisions.
Rissho Kosei-kai values a relationship between a person offering guidance and the person being guided that is comparable to the relation between parent and child. From the emotional standpoint, this is beautiful. But from the standpoint of the need to fulfill the Mahayana teaching of salvation for all beings and from that of the desire to make contributions to rural Japanese society, a wider view is required. Furthermore, the day is certain to come when Rissho Kosei-kai of Japan will become Rissho Kosei-kai of the whole world. For the sake of that day, we must have a leadership system that is based on a balanced relationship among intellect, emotion, and will.
The system that we devised to meet these needs is as follows. Japan is divided into thirty-three areas. The branches - of which there are now over two hundred in the nation - are supervised by the area directors and are divided into various units, from chapter down to hoza, or counseling groups. Each hoza group has its own leader, as well as district, neighborhood, and block leaders who are responsible for maintaining liaison.
Obviously when old patterns must be broken and an organization must be revised, there are people who find it difficult to break with the ways they have grown accustomed to. While understanding the theoretical need for a new organizational structure, people often feel insecure when alterations must be made in the practical affairs of daily religious training. In the case of our organizational revisions, I was often asked if the changes in the area structure would not weaken the old ties between godparents and godchildren in faith. I replied that, even though the organization changes, the relation between parent and child in faith is permanent. The bond between these two parties who are together in the Law of the Buddha is eternal. In the future, this relation must be further strengthened as the parent and the child work together to perform the roles of bodhisattvas by helping all sentient beings to find salvation. After a talk of this kind, members usually understood the importance of the steps we were taking. But many members lived in remote districts to which my explanations could be carried only indirectly. These people wrote many letters expressing heartfelt distress at the new organizational structure. Other signs of upset and displeasure were manifested in other parts of Kosei-kai. But I regarded all this as no more than the birth pangs of a new structure. Without the pain, the sorely needed renovations and progress would be impossible. I was convinced that the members of Kosei-kai had the strength and intellect to withstand suffering for the sake of the future of our organization.
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