Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.12]

28.12 Opening the Way for Mr. Toda’s Presidency

When President Toda’s businesses were in serious trouble and he stepped down as Soka Gakkai general director, the highest position in the organization at that time, a young Daisaku Ikeda strove arduously to support and assist him, opening the way for him to become the second Soka Gakkai president.

In January 1951, Mr. Toda’s businesses were in serious financial trouble. In the summer of 1950, the relevant authorities had ordered him to suspend business operations.

The moment his fortunes changed for the worse, people whom Mr. Toda had helped and supported enormously over the years deserted him, one after the other. Some even hurled curses at him as they departed, revealing their total lack of gratitude.

For all practical purposes, I was the only one who remained by his side. Young as I was, I worked frantically to help rebuild his businesses, often being showered with insults and abuse from creditors and others. For months on end, I received no salary and often didn’t have enough to eat. I wished that I could at least have had better health to fulfill my task. I agonized, struggled, and worked hard to find a way forward, chanting intensely throughout. Every night, I would read the Daishonin’s writings.

After careful consideration, Mr. Toda decided to step down as Soka Gakkai general director. [The announcement of his intention to resign was made on August 24, 1950.]

Feeling at a loss, I asked him: “If you resign as general director, does that mean that the next general director will become my mentor?” He said: “No. Though I cause you nothing but hardship, I am your mentor.”

That was an unforgettable moment in my life.

[A month later, on September 21, President Ikeda expressed his determination to continue supporting his mentor in a poem that he gave to him: “Still serving / an old / and mystic bond— / though others change, / I alter not.” In reply, Mr. Toda composed these two poems on the spot and presented them to his youthful disciple: “Whenever I stand / on the field of battle, / you are the trusty sword / I always keep / at my side” and “My glory as king is fading / and my power waning; / though death may claim me, / I will leave behind you, / my crown.”]

I don’t particularly like talking about myself, but I feel it’s vital that members of the youth division, who will carry the Soka Gakkai into the future, know everything that took place.

Today, I will share just a bit about what really happened at that time.

Close to noon on January 6, 1951, I was called to Mr. Toda’s home and shown to his room. I had just turned 23.

Usually, Mr. Toda brimmed with boundless vigor and confidence, but on that day, he looked gaunt and utterly exhausted. His businesses were going from bad to worse, and the situation was truly dire. He wore a grave expression. There were just three of us in the room—Mr. Toda, his wife, and I.

“I have something very important to say to you today,” he said to me. “If something should happen to me, I’d like to completely entrust both the Soka Gakkai and my businesses to you. Would you agree to take all this on?”

In a firmer tone, he continued: “Whatever may happen, as long as you and I remain true to our mission, the time will come when we fulfill the Daishonin’s wishes. For the sake of the Soka Gakkai, I want you to press ahead strongly, no matter what anyone may say.”

I solemnly took this as Mr. Toda’s final will and testament to me.

In my diary that evening, I wrote the vow I made that day, taking inspiration from the spirit of a legendary father and son of Japan’s feudal past [the great warrior Kusunoki Masashige and his son Masatsura, who carried on his struggle]:

“Mr. Toda is like Masashige, while I am like Masatsura. Mrs. Toda wept. I will never forget throughout my life the emotion, solemnity, and tears; the sense of mission, karmic bonds, and life’s worth that I have experienced today. It has been decided that I will be his successor.

“A stormy year has dawned, and it progresses moment by moment. Overcoming all sufferings, I will strive throughout this year as a man and as a youth.”

I have striven with all my being to fulfill the vow I made to my mentor that day. All alone I stood by Mr. Toda, our great mentor in the struggle for kosen-rufu, and did everything I could to support him. This is the history of the Soka Gakkai, and a true example of mentor and disciple. Herein lies the spirit and starting point of the Soka Gakkai.

There was virtually no one, not even among the Soka Gakkai’s top leaders, who truly understood his painful predicament. Even the general director who replaced him for a time criticized and spoke ill of him. But however others might behave, I had resolved in my heart to see to it that Mr. Toda would become the Soka Gakkai’s second president and that he could freely take the lead for kosen-rufu.

I chanted for Mr. Toda and the Soka Gakkai. I chanted throughout the relentless struggles we faced. I was constantly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, awake and asleep, walking or riding in a car or train—whenever I had a spare moment, I chanted.

Placing all my faith in the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I gave my whole life to winning over the cruel onslaughts that beset us in society and to clear the way for Mr. Toda to become the Soka Gakkai’s president.

Finally, on May 3, 1951, having weathered and survived a maelstrom of bitter obstacles, Mr. Toda became the Soka Gakkai’s second president. On the day of that grand ceremony, Mr. Toda said to me quietly, with tears in his eyes: “I owe this all to you. Thank you.”

Toward the end of his life, at a gathering attended by my parents-in-law, who were pioneer members, and several top Soka Gakkai leaders, Mr. Toda reportedly said: “I have been truly fortunate in life to have a fine disciple.”

Mr. Toda, too, was the only one who, when Mr. Makiguchi was arrested for resisting the directives of the wartime militarist government, went to prison with him and fought alongside him until the very end. One such disciple makes all the difference.

I, in turn, dedicated my entire life to supporting and assisting my mentor, Mr. Toda. That is why I became the third president.

In this supremely noble struggle of the oneness of mentor and disciple, we can find the fundamental cause for the great development the Soka Gakkai has achieved to this day. I hope you will never forget this fact.

From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, January 6, 2006.

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