Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 15: “Faith for Overcoming Obstacles” [15.8]
15.8 “An Impasse Is a Critical Turning Point”
Reflecting on his own history of striving together with his mentor, President Ikeda explains that we can bring forth great underlying strength when we struggle through adversity.
In 1950, my mentor Josei Toda’s businesses were in crisis. The situation was so dire that Mr. Toda even stepped down from his position as Soka Gakkai general director [to protect the organization from being embroiled in his business problems]. He was unable to pay his employees, who quit one after another, until I was left as his sole support.
Mr. Toda was a great leader of kosen-rufu. Firmly convinced that protecting him was the equivalent of protecting the Soka Gakkai and the heritage of faith of Nichiren Buddhism, I did everything I possibly could to assist and support him.
One day, Mr. Toda and I were on our way to Omiya City in Saitama Prefecture, hoping to gain the financial means to break through the impasse that Mr. Toda’s businesses were facing. Unfortunately, our effort did not meet with success.
On the way back, we walked along the banks of the Arakawa River in Omiya. The night wind was cold. The stars above were beautiful, shining down upon the two of us, mentor and disciple, who had failed in our attempt that day.
The laces of my worn shoes, which had several holes, came undone. As I retied them, I began singing a popular song, hoping to cheer Mr. Toda up.
I humorously changed the lyric, “In the flow of the stars . . . , who turned me into this kind of woman” into “In the flow of the stars . . . , who turned me into this kind of man?”
With a smile, Mr. Toda swiftly rejoined: “I did!”
In the midst of a genuinely desperate situation, he retained his sense of humor.
I was relieved. In fact, I was happy. As long as Mr. Toda was alive and well, there was nothing to fear. Rather, knowing this inspired me, his disciple, to keep fighting my hardest, to carry on the struggle until we had won.
That unforgettable moment, that drama of mentor and disciple—a pivotal event unfolding under the starry skies of Saitama—remains indelibly etched in my heart to this day.
Mr. Toda would often say to me: “An impasse is a critical turning point. Do you give up and throw in the towel? Or do you stand up with indomitable resolve, determined to go on fighting? That difference in attitude is what determines victory or defeat.” Mr. Toda deeply and firmly impressed this lesson on me.
“Listen to me, Daisaku. Whatever happens along the way, triumph in the end! Resolve to win! If you win in the end, you will have won in everything.”
My days back then were a continuous, intense struggle. I had no time for self-pity. I knew in the depths of my being that an eternal, ever-victorious, indestructible bastion was being built within me as I strove tirelessly to support my mentor with the spirit of exerting millions of eons of effort (cf. OTT, 214).
From the resonance of our spirits as mentor and disciple and in the light of the uncompromising law of cause and effect taught in Buddhism—I was strongly convinced that I would experience brilliant future reward.
Eventually, we made our way through this raging storm of troubles [relating to Mr. Toda’s business problems], and on May 3 the following year , the morning of victory dawned as Mr. Toda was inaugurated as the second Soka Gakkai president.
It is only when we struggle against adversity that the tremendous power residing in the very depths of our lives begins to reveal itself. Those who can summon great strength at the most challenging time are victors. This is an unchanging rule of history.
From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, December 6, 2003.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.