Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.19]

28.19 April 2—Remembering My Mentor, Josei Toda

President Ikeda describes how, as President Toda’s successor, he stood up resolutely, with a stand-alone spirit, to achieve the mission of worldwide kosen-rufu entrusted to him by his mentor.

On the evening of March 16, 1958, after the grand ceremony held at the foot of Mount Fuji, President Toda said to me: “Daisaku, there are more urgent matters that need to be dealt with at the Headquarters, so I want you to return to Tokyo ahead of me and attend to them.”

I did as he asked and, after taking care of a mountain of work that had piled up in my absence, I rushed back to the head temple. President Toda had grown even weaker, but he smiled with deep relief when he saw me.

In the following days, as he lay in bed, he often called me to his side. He also instructed me to spread my bedding at the foot of his and sleep there during the night.

He sometimes asked me what I was reading.

He told me that he had read the Compendium of Eighteen Histories and spoke to me about the ancient Chinese statesman Xiao He. On conquering the realm, Liu Bang, founder of China’s Han dynasty, had praised Xiao He as his most worthy minister. This was because the latter had made arduous efforts to ensure that the soldiers on the front lines could fight their hardest by arranging a steady supply of provisions and weapons for them. In the same way, President Toda said, it was essential that the Soka Gakkai always protect, appreciate, and commend those who work hard behind the scenes. That was the way to ensure the organization would flourish forever. He repeatedly stressed this important aspect of leadership.

One morning during those final days, he said to me: “Daisaku, yesterday I dreamed I went to Mexico.”

A passage from the Daishonin’s writing “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime” states: “Life at each moment [or our mind in a single life moment] permeates the entire realm of phenomena” (WND-1, 3). President Toda’s mind was traveling the vastness of the globe, extending even to Latin America, on the other side of the world from Japan.

“They were all waiting, waiting. . . . Daisaku, the world is your true stage.”

Stretching his hand out from under his futon and grasping mine, he entrusted me with the far-reaching journey for peace, for worldwide kosen-rufu.


About a week before he died, President Toda said to a group of youth: “After I am gone, the person who will succeed me as third president will take full leadership for our movement and set forth the guiding principles and means for worldwide kosen-rufu. The third president will firmly establish the groundwork so that from the fourth president on, any fair and honest person can serve equally well as president. If you do as the third president instructs, you will most certainly achieve worldwide kosen-rufu.”

Several of the youth there had the presence of mind to realize the importance of what he was saying and wrote down his words.

Everything depends on the disciples.

As the Daishonin clearly asserts: “If a teacher has a good disciple, both will gain the fruit of Buddhahood, but if a teacher fosters a bad disciple, both will fall into hell. If teacher and disciple are of different minds, they will never accomplish anything” (WND-1, 909).


On March 30, 1958, I returned to Tokyo and, conferring with President Toda’s family, made arrangements for his hospitalization. The next day, I returned to my mentor’s side.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m. on April 1, President Toda left by car from the Rikyo-bo lodging temple. He was transported lying down in his futon. I accompanied him without sleeping a wink. He was placed on the 4:20 a.m. limited express sleeper train from Numazu Station and arrived at Tokyo Station just before 7:00. From there, he was taken to Nihon University Hospital in Surugadai. Asking that he be given the best of care, I left the hospital just after 9:00.

The next day, April 2, was cloudy and chilly.

With a great sense of urgency, I convened an emergency meeting with youth division leaders that morning. I proposed that, from the following day, representatives gather each morning for a week at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters to do gongyo and chant together for President Toda’s recovery. I wanted to do whatever I could for my mentor right now. I would have given him my life if I could. I prayed for his recovery. I prayed with all my heart.

When we learned that our mentor had shown signs of improvement during the morning, we rejoiced. I still clearly remember that we redoubled our prayers at the news.

At 5:00 p.m., a joint meeting of the board of directors and top youth division leaders convened at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters to discuss the Headquarters leaders meeting scheduled for the following day and the Study Department entrance examinations four days later [on April 6]. We were all confident of President Toda’s recovery.

When our meeting was almost finished, the building’s caretaker knocked on the door. There was a phone call from President Toda’s son, who was at the hospital.

I ran to take the call in the caretaker’s office and received the tragic and stunning news: “My father has just passed away.”

It is still impossible for me to describe even now the shock I experienced at that moment. It is something I alone must keep forever in my heart.

My mentor, Josei Toda, died of acute heart failure at 6:30 p.m., nobly bringing his life to a close, or to use the words of the Lotus Sutra, “appearing to enter nirvana as an expedient means” (cf. LSOC16, 271).1

I recalled the peaceful expression he wore when I accompanied him to the hospital the day before. That time had become our final parting in this life.

Overcome with emotion, I went to convey the news to the others. We immediately held a conference to discuss crucial matters. Then I rushed to the hospital.


That evening, I wrote in my diary: “Oh—April 2. This day will be recorded forever in the history of the Soka Gakkai, in the history of my life and the lives of his disciples. . . . The life of a great hero of the Mystic Law, a towering figure of kosen-rufu, has ended.”

But Buddhism is profound, and its principles are true. Though my mentor has passed away, he exists for all eternity in the depths of my being, in “the palace of the ninth consciousness [the Buddha nature], the unchanging reality that reigns over all of life’s functions” (WND-1, 832). There, he encourages and spurs me on to keep fighting as his disciple for kosen-rufu—for nothing but kosen-rufu.

My mentor gave unstintingly of himself.
He selflessly propagated the Mystic Law.
He strove bravely and vigorously.
He charged forward intrepidly.
He persevered through hardships to spread the correct teaching.
He refuted the erroneous and revealed the true.

These qualities comprise the heart of his ever-victorious fighting spirit, which he passed on to his true disciple.

That is why I could not let the Soka Gakkai’s momentum falter for an instant. I vowed with the blazing energy of a new day’s sun: “Arrogant disciples will eventually quit the organization. Devious, self-serving disciples will begin to speak ill of the Soka Gakkai. Fearful is the fickleness of the human heart. Fearful is ingratitude to one’s mentor. Now is the time to raise the golden curtain of never-ending victory, to open the second act in the decisive battle for kosen-rufu! I will stand up and I will win!”

From an essay series “The Light of the Century of Humanity,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, April 1 and 5, 2007.

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

  • *1In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni declares that his life as a Buddha is eternal, but as a means to help living beings arouse a seeking spirit, he appears to enter nirvana, or extinction.