Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 27: The Mentor-Disciple Relationship Is the Heart of the Soka Gakkai [27.2]

27.2 Mentor and Disciple Are Like a Needle and Thread

President Ikeda explains through an easy-to-grasp example that the mentor-disciple relationship is not authoritarian or hierarchical, but is the supreme way by which we can grow and develop our fullest human potential through the effort to realize a shared lofty ideal.

We need to be aware of the mentor-disciple relationship’s importance in terms of awakening to and carrying out our personal mission, as well as in promoting the betterment and development of society.

For many today, the words “mentor and disciple” have a feudalistic, old-fashioned ring, but that is not how it should be.

To master anything, whether academics or sports, we need an instructor or a coach. Having a good instructor speeds our improvement and mastery. Trying to learn on our own, in contrast, often leads to much wasted effort or soon finding ourselves stuck, not knowing how to progress. In the same way, to live the most meaningful and worthwhile lives, we need a good instructor or coach—a mentor in life—who can teach us basic values and attitudes.

This relationship is not a hierarchical one of superior and inferior, nor a contractual one based on profit and payment. It is the most spontaneous and purest spiritual bond, built on a foundation of mutual trust, in which two individuals share a common purpose. It is only through this person-to-person bond that human potential is truly fostered and can develop to its fullest.

In that respect, encountering a good teacher, a great mentor, is the key to leading the best possible life. In addition, a lofty ideal can be achieved only when it is shared by a mentor and disciple, the disciple carrying on and realizing the vision articulated by the mentor.

The relationship between mentor and disciple is like that between a needle and thread. The mentor opens the way and reveals the principles, while the disciple, carrying on the mentor’s work, applies, develops, and actualizes those principles. The disciple must also go on to surpass the mentor. The mentor, meanwhile, is ready to give everything, even their own life, for the sake of the disciple.

I have always pledged that it is my duty to spare no pains or efforts, to make every sacrifice, to open the way to a bright future for our young people and build the stage for their activities.

From Watakushi no ningengaku (On Historical Personalities and Society), published in Japanese in August 1988.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.