Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.14]

28.14 Reporting Victory to One’s Mentor

On becoming second president of the Soka Gakkai, which then had only around 3,000 members, Josei Toda boldly vowed to realize a membership of 750,000 households. This towering goal was achieved in just six and a half years thanks to the tireless efforts of President Ikeda, who made his mentor’s heart his own and strove with unwavering determination to realize his mentor’s vision.

On becoming second Soka Gakkai president, Mr. Toda declared: “I will through my own efforts reach the membership goal of 750,000 households. . . . Should I fail to do so, don’t hold a funeral for me.”

The majority of his disciples at that time, however, dismissed this important declaration—which articulated the great vow he would devote his life to—as little more than a fantasy. The Soka Gakkai’s newspaper, the Seikyo Shimbun, didn’t even report his statement.

When Mr. Toda became president in May 1951, the monthly propagation goal of even the top chapters was a mere 50 households. But I realized that the path of a disciple is to make the vision of one’s mentor a reality, no matter how challenging it might be. As Mr. Toda’s disciple, his vow became my vow, and achieving it became my personal mission.

But propagation efforts throughout the organization failed to advance. In fact, in their hearts, everyone had given up. The longtime leaders did nothing but lament and moan about the thick wall that loomed before them and blocked the way to growth. I, however, saw it as a time ripe for action, and I leapt onto the main battlefield of kosen-rufu as the chapter advisor of Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter.

This happened in the cold month of February 1952, the month of Mr. Toda’s 52nd birthday. I proclaimed Mr. Toda’s message far and wide. I urged the members to follow the path of mentor and disciple. This is because when we align our hearts with the spirit of our mentor for kosen-rufu, the wisdom and courage innate to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth1 well forth within us.

Seeking to respond to Mr. Toda, the members joined me with renewed determination and set to work courageously. Our efforts brought us joy, hope, adventure, and energy. Everyone eagerly took part. And in one dramatic sweep, Kamata achieved the previously unheard-of record of 201 new households in a single month. We realized that if we tried, we could succeed. A decisive breakthrough toward realizing Mr. Toda’s membership goal of 750,000 households had been made. Kamata had triumphed! Great progress toward victory in my hometown of Tokyo had begun.

The Lotus Sutra teaches that the Buddha has the powers to “understand the way, open up the way, and preach the way” (cf. LSOC5, 135). We who uphold the Mystic Law can also bring forth these powers.

As Mr. Toda’s direct disciple, I visited areas throughout Tokyo and the rest of Japan, including Joto [eastern Tokyo], Bunkyo, Sapporo, Osaka, Kansai, Yamaguchi, Chugoku, Arakawa, and Katsushika. Everywhere I went, I opened a bright new path for kosen-rufu and unfailingly raised a victory banner of mentor and disciple.

Each day saw incredibly difficult challenges. Nothing was ever easy. It was a struggle to achieve the seemingly impossible, to realize a feat that would astonish everyone.

What was the main cause for my success in that struggle? In short, it was that my heart was always one with my mentor. I reported on everything to Mr. Toda and received his guidance. I cannot count the times that I got off the train at Meguro, the station nearest to where he lived, and dashed to his home to report to him on the latest developments.

I also constantly asked myself, what would Mr. Toda do, what would he say if he saw me now? Was I behaving in a way that I could be proud of if he were watching? As I exerted myself wholeheartedly, I would picture in my mind Mr. Toda sometimes nodding in smiling approval and saying, “Well done!” and sometimes giving me strict encouragement, his voice thundering, “Try harder!”

Day after day, I sternly reminded myself: “Buddhism is about winning, so defeat is unacceptable. If I fail, Mr. Toda’s vision for kosen-rufu will suffer a setback. I must not be defeated. I must be able to report victory to him.” That firmly focused prayer in my heart became a source of strength and wisdom. My bold and vigorous efforts to fulfill my vow opened the way forward and set in motion the protective functions of the universe. My sole wish was to make Mr. Toda happy—that unwavering pledge kept me striving tirelessly, year after year.

Forward! Forward! Forward!

Victory! Victory! Victory!

I exerted myself fully as a true and devoted disciple and will therefore never have a single regret.

Through the shared struggle of mentor and disciple, the Soka Gakkai surmounted and triumphed over every obstacle, and finally, in December 1957, achieved the membership goal of 750,000 households. Mr. Toda’s great vow was fulfilled to the letter.

The mentor’s challenge is the disciple’s challenge. The disciple’s victory is the mentor’s victory. The brilliant achievements of mentor and disciple endure for all time.

The way of mentor and disciple—in particular, prayer based on the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple—is the heart of Nichiren Buddhism.

The Daishonin writes: “If lay believers and their teacher pray with differing minds, their prayers will be as futile as trying to kindle a fire on water” (WND-1, 795). He declares that unless our hearts are united with our mentor, our prayers will not be fulfilled.

By contrast, if the prayers of mentor and disciple are perfectly aligned, they will definitely come to be realized and even make the impossible possible.

This is the formula of Nichiren Buddhism.

From a speech at a representative conference, Tokyo, May 3, 2009.

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

  • *1Bodhisattvas of the Earth: An innumerable host of bodhisattvas who emerge from beneath the earth and to whom Shakyamuni Buddha entrusts the propagation of the Mystic Law, or the essence of the Lotus Sutra, in the Latter Day of the Law.