Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.22]

28.22 Writing The Human Revolution

President Ikeda once explained that he had decided to chronicle President Toda’s life in the form of a novel, rather than merely a factual biography, in order to give a more faithful and nuanced depiction of his mentor, who lives on in his heart. In this selection from The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda, as the character of Shin’ichi Yamamoto, describes his mission as a disciple to write about his mentor’s life and achievements.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto first came up with the idea of writing an account of Josei Toda’s life when he was 19 years old, some three months after joining the Soka Gakkai [in 1947].

Shin’ichi was profoundly moved to have met such a brilliant leader as Toda, who had held fast to his beliefs in spite of being imprisoned for his opposition to Japan’s wartime militarist government and, once released, had stood up courageously to lead the people of Japan to happiness. He deeply resolved to communicate the truth of his mentor in life, Josei Toda, to society and future generations.

Over the years, as he gave himself completely to the noble shared struggle of mentor and disciple, that passionate resolve grew into an unwavering vow.

When, in the spring of 1951, Toda showed him the manuscript of his own novel, titled Human Revolution, which was to be serialized in the Seikyo Shimbun under the pen name Myo Goku,1 Shin’ichi instinctively felt he would one day have to write its sequel, a detailed record of his mentor’s life.

Three years later, in the summer of 1954, he traveled with Toda to visit Toda’s hometown of Atsuta Village in Hokkaido.

Standing on the breakwater in Atsuta Harbor, gazing at the shore bordered by steep cliffs rising like a folding screen, he composed the poem “Atsuta Village,” describing his mentor setting off on his journey of life. And he vowed anew that he would someday chronicle Toda’s life.

In August three years later, Shin’ichi traveled to Karuizawa with Toda, just eight months before Toda’s death. During the trip, they spoke of Toda’s Human Revolution, which had just been published in book form.

With a shy smile, Toda said: “Though I was able to write about Mr. Makiguchi, I was too embarrassed to describe my own life fully.”

Those words left a deep and powerful impression on Shin’ichi.

Toda’s Human Revolution ends with its hero, Gan—representing Toda—deciding in prison to dedicate his life to kosen-rufu. It gives no account of how he subsequently put that decision into action.

Through their conversation that day in Karuizawa, Shin’ichi confirmed his belief that Toda wished him to write a sequel to Human Revolution that would record the rest of his story—the story of how he stood up alone to take the lead for kosen-rufu.

At the seventh memorial [sixth anniversary] of Toda’s death in April 1964, Shin’ichi announced, with profound determination, his decision to begin writing a new novel titled The Human Revolution.

At the request of the editorial staff of the Seikyo Shimbun, Shin’ichi’s novel, written under the pen name Ho Goku,2 began serialization in the January 1, 1965, issue.

Shin’ichi thought carefully about the place where he should start writing his novel.

The Human Revolution would be a novel about the Soka Gakkai’s movement to realize kosen-rufu, centering on Josei Toda. At the same time, it would be a story of actualizing the most fundamental ideals of peace and happiness for all humanity. And the novel’s theme would be that a great human revolution in a single individual can transform the destiny of an entire nation and, eventually, of all humankind.

Shin’ichi, therefore, decided that he would like to begin writing his novel in a place that had been subjected to the barbarism of war and whose people had endured great suffering. And he chose Okinawa.

During World War II, the Japanese militarist government had designated Okinawa as expendable, a sacrifice to protect Japan’s main islands. It was the only place in Japan that saw actual ground combat, becoming an island of tragedy where nearly one-fourth of the population died.

After the war, Okinawa was placed under US control and became the site of US military bases. Once again it had been sacrificed, though in a different form, to the interests of the main islands.

For these reasons, Shin’ichi began to write The Human Revolution in Okinawa, wishing to spread peace and happiness from its shores.

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 9, “Hope of the People” chapter.

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

  • *1The name Myo Goku derives from Toda’s prison experience, during which he had awakened (go) to the essence of Buddhism, the mystic truth (myo) of non-substantiality (ku).
  • *2In The New Human Revolution, Ikeda reflects on his choice of Ho Goku as pen name as follows: “Mr. Toda used the pen name Myo Goku; I will use Ho Goku. Combining the first part of each name creates myoho, or Mystic Law. Goku means to awaken to the truth of non-substantiality. The myo of myoho refers to the world of Buddhahood, and ho refers to the other nine worlds. Myo is also awakening or enlightenment, while ho is fundamental darkness or delusion. Based on this principle we can say that myo corresponds to mentor and ho to disciple.”