The expression "The Light from the East" appeared in southern Europe about two thousand years ago. Knowledge of the phrase gradually spread, and today the world over are familiar with it. People have not understood the true meaning of this phrase, however; and it has remained a mistery throughout the centuries. I wish to let people know its real significance.
If I may begin with my conclusion, the phrase "the light from the east" is a prophecy about me. Because even people familiar with me will probably be surprised by this statement and the general public may find it impossible to accept immediately, I will explain clearly, giving irrefutable evidence. The first bit of evidence concerns the place of my birth and my subsequente homes.
Late in the nineteenth century, I was born in am impoverished Hashiba-cho neighborhood in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. This place is significant. The nation of Japan lies in the Far East, and Japan´s capital is Tokyo, literally, "eastern capital". Traditionally, Asakusa has been considered the eastern boundary of Tokyo, and Hashibacho is the easternmost district of Asakusa. Since the Sumida River flows along the eastern edge of Hashiba, Hashiba may be considered the border of the East. From a global point of view, Hashiba is the point farthest east.
I lived in Hashiba until the age of eight, when my family moved west to Senzoku-cho. Soon after I finished elementary school, we moved to Naniwa-cho in Nihonbashi Ward. Then followed moves to Tsukiji-cho in Kyobashi Ward; Oimachi and Omori, both in Ebara Ward; Hirakawa-cho in Kojimachi Ward; and Tamagawa in Setagaya Ward. site of the former headquarters (of the church). After those relocations, I made a major move to Hakone and Atami, and I have just purchased a residence in Kyoto. Altogether, I have moved over a dozen times. Except for that of Kojimachi, each of my moves was westward. My work will continue to move westward untill it reaches China and eventually Europe.
An examination of Japanese cultural development shows that many of them originated in the west and then spread toward the east. Buddhism and Christianity started in countries west of Japan and advanced eastward. And all traditional religious movements that began in Japan - such as Shinto and various Japanese Buddhist sects - started in the western part of the country and moved toward the east. The only exception is the Nichiren sect of Buddhism, which had its birth in eastern Japan. There is a profound meaning to this.
The original purpose of Buddhism was to provide salvation during the age of night, when the earth was under the protection of the lunar gods. Now the age of daylight is at hand. All things begin in the spiritual world, and the first step toward the dawn of the age of daylight was taken there seven hundred years ago.
That step was marked by the birth of the Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222-82). By the time he completed his training, he had developed a firm, unshakable determination to disseminate the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. He returned to his childhood home in the province of Awa, east of Tokyo, climbed Mount Kiyossumi, and - facing the eastern sky as the sun rose - chanted praise of the Lotus Sutra. From that time, Nichiren brandshining the Lotus Sutra, earnestly praised its virtues. He met with all manner of religious persecution but bravely persevered untill he had succeeded in establishing the firm foundations of the Buddhist sect that still bears is name today. Nichiren´s accomplishment is awe inspired.
That great achievement was in reality the first ray of light from the east. In spiritual terms, we may say it was a pale flash dimly lighting the eastern corner of the spiritual world, a harbinger of the rising sun to come. Of course, that pale flash was not visible to the human eye, but it was an important, sacred occurence in God´s plan. Well over six hundred years later, on June 15, 1931, together with twenty-nine of my followers I climbed to the top of Mount Nokogiri, in Awa, where the temple Nihon-ji stands. We chanted a prayer while facing the dawning sun in the eastern sky, and at that moment something mysterious and divine happened. It is not yet time for me to speak of it, but that event was a part of God´s plan that proved to be the turning point from the age of night to the age of daylight. It is interesting that Mount Kiyosumi stands only a short distance due east of Mount Nokigiri and can be considered a sister mountain. That the Mount Nokogiri temple is called Nihon-ji, Temple of the Rising Sun, hints at the mystery of the event that occured there.
Although the foregoing concerns Buddhism, many elements of early Japanese culture - such as Confucianism, ethics, philosophy, and herbal medicine - came from China and Korea. The elements of modern Western civilization that were brought to Japan were also part of a movement from west to east. Nothing has been born here in Japan except the teachings of the Nichiren sect. There would be no objection to a civilization born in the West if it had led to the creation of an ideal world of true peace and fulfillment, but this has not been the case. The reality is, in fact, quite the opposite.
It is true that in material terms we enjoy a remarkable world civilization, but humankind´s happiness and fulfillment, which are most important, have not yet been attained, nor is it likely that our present civilization will bring happiness and fulfillment in the future. Because people today live without hope and pass anxious without knowing why they feel insecure, they are wholeheartedly seeking the light of hope. That desire is common to a majority of people today, and the object of their search has been the light from the east.
I have described the situation to date, in which elements of civilization have been movind in a direction contrary to natural order. Simple observation of nature demonstrates this truth: the sun and the moon rise in the east and move toward the west. In keeping with this principle, that which has been born in the east is eternal Truth. I assure you that those who believe in it and act on it can attain true happiness and fulfillment. The muddied waters that have flowed from the West to the East must be purified and then returned to the West in order to create a perfectly clear, crystal world.
November 12, 1952
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