Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.18]

28.18 March 16—An Eternal Ceremony of Mentor and Disciple

President Ikeda recalls the immortal ceremony of March 16, 1958, in which President Toda entrusted him with the future of kosen-rufu, and their shared struggle based on the oneness of mentor and disciple.

I have fulfilled my vow to my mentor.
I have fulfilled my vow to my fellow members.
I have fulfilled every goal I resolved to achieve.

From that day when we gathered at the foot of Mount Fuji, a new phase of development in our movement for kosen-rufu began.

It was a cold day. A majestic Mount Fuji watched over us.

The ceremony on March 16 was festive and filled with hope. President Toda announced that he was passing the baton of kosen-rufu to the youth. The hearts of his young disciples burned with the bright flame of mission.

On that day in 1958, some 6,000 young disciples gathered by the side of our mentor, President Toda, whose remaining time was short. We all celebrated the day with great joy and excitement. Brave young men and women dedicated to kosen-rufu had assembled from all over Japan. They shook hands, patted each other on the shoulder, and talked and laughed together. It was as if they were rejoicing at their future victories.

Many events and activities were held throughout that month of March 1958, which could be described the culmination of President Toda’s life and achievements.

When my mentor arrived at the head temple at the end of February, he was in very poor health. Several times, his physician had to be called to care for him. But ill as he was, the voice of our mentor in kosen-rufu remained as firm and penetrating as ever.

At one point, he said: “Daisaku, do not leave my side. I want you to stay with me around the clock!”

On March 1, he said to me: “Daisaku, I leave the rest to you. I’m counting on you!”

Soon afterward, he suggested that, on March 16, we hold a ceremony that would serve as a trial run or dress rehearsal for kosen-rufu.

President Toda knew that he would not recover, that he could not again lead the movement for kosen-rufu. He had lived his life in accord with the Daishonin’s words “Life is limited; we must not begrudge it. What we should ultimately aspire to is the Buddha land” (WND-1, 214).

March 16 was a ceremony to affirm for all eternity President Toda’s selfless spirit, and to pass that legacy on to the next generation. It was also a ceremony of just two individuals, a ceremony of the oneness of mentor and disciple, in which he handed me the baton of kosen-rufu.

Appreciating the profound significance of the event, I took full responsibility and dedicated myself wholeheartedly to its preparations.

Though he was growing weaker day by day, President Toda battled intrepidly against the “devil,” or hindrance, of death so that he could live to March 16 and fully entrust the future to me and the rest of the Soka Gakkai youth.

I remained constantly at his side, serving and supporting him. He regularly called me to see him and spoke to me about important future plans for kosen-rufu.

I received his every word as his final testament to me. They were all a preface to the great ceremony of entrustment to his successors that was approaching.

Even before the date of the ceremony had been decided, he took a series of steps to encourage the youth, including arranging for pork soup to be prepared and served to them when they arrived at the head temple early in the morning.

“I will lead the gathering,” he said, but he was so weak that it was difficult for him to even walk.

I instructed several trusted youth to build a litter to carry him. When he saw it, he said: “It’s too big! It would be useless in battle!” To the very end, he poured every last drop of his energy into teaching and guiding his beloved disciples. I was so moved with gratitude that I wept in my heart.

Responding to our sincere effort, however, he agreed to ride in the litter on the day, and from there serenely took the lead. The young men shouldering the litter beamed with joy, their brows glistening with beads of perspiration.

At the grand ceremony, President Toda declared: “The Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world!”

I engraved this impassioned cry, this lion’s roar, in my heart. And I vowed deeply to make it a reality for all time. Being “king of the religious world” means being king of the realms of philosophy and thought.

To us, the ceremony of March 16 seemed the very embodiment of the words the Daishonin cites in his oral teachings: “The assembly on Holy Eagle Peak . . . continues in solemn state and has not yet disbanded”1 (OTT, 135).

One day not long after the ceremony, President Toda, perceiving the signs of degeneration in the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, told me sternly: “Never let up in the battle against corruption.”

He had a clear premonition that the priesthood was growing increasingly impure and corrupt. This was one of his final messages to me.

March 16 is the eternal starting point of the “true cause,” when all disciples stand up to carry on their mentor’s legacy. I set out each day with renewed determination; for me, each day is March 16.

From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, March 8, 1998.

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

  • *1This passage from T’ien-t’ai’s Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, quoted by Nichiren Daishonin in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, asserts that the assembly on Eagle Peak where Shakyamuni preaches the Lotus Sutra is eternal and never ending.