Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.15]

28.15 Disciples Taking Full Responsibility for Kosen-rufu

President Ikeda recounts how, as a central leader of the youth division, following the guidance and direction of President Toda and making his mentor’s spirit his own, he stood in the vanguard of every effort and opened wide the path for kosen-rufu.

In March 1954, Mr. Toda personally appointed me to a new leadership position. He said to me: “It’s time for you to take the lead, Daisaku. I want you to be the youth division chief of staff. I’ve grown a bit weary, so I’m entrusting everything to you.”

It would soon have been three years since Mr. Toda, leading some 3,000 members, had become second Soka Gakkai president and begun his great effort to expand our movement for kosen-rufu. He was the architect of all our plans and overall vision for kosen-rufu, and by that time, propagation efforts had lifted our membership to close to 100,000 households.

Still, it wasn’t the dramatic development he had hoped for.

The entire Soka Gakkai in those days rested squarely on Mr. Toda’s shoulders. He took the lead in everything, from giving personal guidance to lecturing on Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, from fostering young people to leading regional propagation campaigns.

If the Soka Gakkai were likened to a ship, he was both the propeller driving it forward and the captain at the wheel, steering its course.

The engine, the members’ faith based on the Gohonzon, was accelerating. Only when that force was transferred to the propeller, and the wheel was steered properly, could the ship advance through the waves breaking over its bow.

Seeking to build a new propeller, he appointed me to a position with full responsibility for kosen-rufu and trained me thoroughly.

On March 30, the day he appointed me to this position, I wrote in my diary: “As I take on a more and more central role in the Soka Gakkai, I must propel kosen-rufu forward. This is my personal mission. Flowers exist to bloom. That is their mission. I exist to spread the Mystic Law. That is my mission.” Then, expressing my determination to stand up and take part in the great battle between the Buddha and devilish forces, I recorded this passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “In the final analysis, unless we succeed [in our struggle], these disasters will continue unabated” (WND-1, 1114). Buddhism is about winning, and I engraved in my heart that it is my mission to be victorious.


At the beginning of that year, Mr. Toda had attended a youth division leaders meeting, where he had powerfully declared: “I entrust the future of the Soka Gakkai to the youth!”

My morning study sessions with my mentor were still taking place, and in his constant urging that I study, I sensed a special intensity, almost as if he were imparting his last wishes to me. It was against this backdrop that I was appointed youth division chief of staff—one of the most central leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai.

I resolved: “My growth will lead to the growth of the youth division—no, to the development of the Soka Gakkai as a whole.”

No matter what might happen, I was determined to persevere and press forward, even if just a step or two. I read the Daishonin’s writings every day, in any free moment I could find. I also tried to read as many books as I could. Taking full responsibility both at work and in Soka Gakkai activities, I exerted myself to the fullest. Each day was an unrelenting struggle and decisive challenge.

Because I was so incredibly busy and my physical condition was poor, I fell into a state of chronic exhaustion, constantly running a fever and on the verge of collapse. But Mr. Toda sternly exhorted me to defeat the negative functions in my life: “What you’re facing is a battle against the three obstacles and four devils.1 There’s no course but to take all your pain and suffering directly to the Gohonzon and chant with all your heart to break through.”

I vowed to become strong, standing up powerfully and living powerfully.

Determined to fundamentally transform my karma in body and mind, I intrepidly took on the pounding waves that assailed me.


After Mr. Toda appointed me youth division chief of staff, he never gave me specific instructions about what to do. He trained us youth to take full responsibility and think for ourselves.

I always focused on what was happening on the ground. Whenever there were problem areas that needed to be addressed, I always took steps to rectify them with lightning speed and a clear vision of the long-term future of kosen-rufu. I was determined to support and protect our members and allow them to engage freely and enjoyably in Soka Gakkai activities.

It’s no good just sitting behind a desk and devising strategies. Leaders need to personally take their place on the front lines of activities, working harder than anyone else and summoning all their wisdom to find positive solutions.

Mr. Toda taught me an important leadership lesson: “You cannot become a powerful driving force for our movement unless you always remember to be strict with yourself and generous and accepting of others.”

He often scolded me in those days—for being late in reporting information, for poorly handling some matter, or even, sometimes, for things that I wasn’t personally involved in.

This was all part of his strict but compassionate guidance, which I feel fortunate to have received, imparted with the wish that the youth division take full responsibility for kosen-rufu.

Standing alone—striving with this determination was the only way for us to respond to our mentor’s profound expectations.

I called on my fellow youth division members to also stand up resolutely and take responsibility for victory in their respective areas, to rush to assist members in those areas facing intense challenges for kosen-rufu and pave the way for completely transforming the situation.

I strove my hardest to be a model for others, blazing new paths forward, and set in motion a groundswell of fresh victories and expansion.


In May 1954, a little over a month after I was appointed chief of staff, a gathering of 5,000 youth division members was held. Just six months later, we could hold a meeting twice that size, attended by 10,000 youth.

The following year, we achieved a victory in the Otaru Debate,2 and set a new propagation record in the Sapporo Summer Campaign.3

In the Osaka Campaign4 of 1956, we established the indelible golden record of 11,111 new households joining in a single chapter in one month.

That was followed by the resounding success of the Yamaguchi Campaign.5 I also secured a decisive victory in the Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident,6 a struggle against forces that harassed Soka Gakkai members and threatened their religious freedom.

In 1961, the year after I became third Soka Gakkai president, we held a gathering of 100,000 young men, filling the National Stadium [in Sendagaya, Tokyo]. The public was astonished, and the media rushed to cover the event. It marked the fulfillment of the ultimate goal I had set when I was youth division chief of staff, and I proudly raised the banner of total victory for all the world to see.

None of these achievements was easy. Each entailed a fierce struggle that would daunt anyone as being too challenging or even impossible. But as the disciple of a great mentor, I would not accept defeat.

Each was a battle to break through barriers, a struggle against injustice, a fight for what was right, an effort to demonstrate the mission and greatness of our Soka movement.

Now it is time for you, members of the youth division who are my genuine disciples, to proudly make your stand!

From an essay series “The Light of the Century of Humanity,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, January 6, 2004.

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

  • *1Three obstacles and four devils: Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. The three obstacles are (1) the obstacle of earthly desires, (2) the obstacle of karma, and (3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are (1) the hindrance of the five components, (2) the hindrance of earthly desires, (3) the hindrance of death, and (4) the hindrance of the devil king.
  • *2Otaru Debate: A public debate between Soka Gakkai representatives and priests of Nichiren Shu (the Minobu school of Nichiren Buddhism), held at the Otaru Civic Hall in the city of Otaru, Hokkaido, on March 11, 1955. The debate was won by the Soka Gakkai side, with a youthful President Ikeda acting as emcee.
  • *3Sapporo Summer Campaign: Sapporo took the lead in the propagation effort that was under way in 45 places nationwide, attaining a record of 388 new member households in a period of 10 days in August 1955. This became known as the Sapporo Summer Campaign and is remembered as a milestone in the kosen-rufu movement in Japan.
  • *4Osaka Campaign: In May 1956, the Kansai members, uniting around a young Daisaku Ikeda, who had been dispatched by second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda to support them, introduced 11,111 households to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism.
  • *5Yamaguchi Campaign: A propagation campaign that unfolded over a three-month period spanning October and November 1956 and January 1957. On the instructions of President Toda, a young Daisaku Ikeda traveled to Yamaguchi Prefecture and launched an unprecedented effort to open the way for the development of the kosen-rufu movement there. At the end of September 1956, just before the campaign was launched, the Soka Gakkai had a membership of 459 households in Yamaguchi. By the end of January 1957, the number had increased almost tenfold to 4,073 households.
  • *6Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident: A case of blatant religious discrimination in which miners in Yubari, Hokkaido, were threatened with losing their jobs due to their Soka Gakkai membership.