Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.7]

28.7 The Immortal Struggles of Presidents Makiguchi and Toda

The source of the Soka Gakkai’s noble spirit can be traced to President Makiguchi’s death in prison for his beliefs and President Toda’s determination to vindicate his mentor, as well as his tireless efforts to realize kosen-rufu after his release from prison.

The heroic struggles waged by Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda in prison, standing firm against Japanese militarism, revealed them as individuals of towering character.

When the prosecutors interrogated him, Mr. Makiguchi remained dignified and resolute, as if he were there to teach them about Nichiren Buddhism. He boldly stated what no one else at the time dared to say. He spoke with confidence and directness, explaining his position with objective reasoning and moral principle. He made use of breaks in these harsh interrogation sessions to introduce his jailors to Nichiren Buddhism and explain his theory of value to the prosecutors. He spent his days citing and reading the Daishonin’s writings.

He presents us with a model of unimpeachable integrity and unyielding faith. It is the greatest pride and honor of the Soka Gakkai to have such a great founder. And I am firmly convinced that Mr. Makiguchi’s spirit of working tirelessly to spread the Mystic Law, while never compromising with any power or authority, lives on today as a firm tradition of the Soka Gakkai.


While in prison, Mr. Makiguchi remained calm and self-composed. In a letter to his family (dated January 17, 1944), he described his state of mind as follows:

“Concentrating utterly on my faith is my work at this time. As long as I do that, I have nothing to worry about. Depending upon one’s state of mind, one can be completely safe even in hell.”1 [The prison censors blacked out the word “hell.”]

Mr. Makiguchi was kept in a solitary cell of less than five square meters [53 square feet]. A couple of hard tatami mats were laid on its wooden floor. Of course, there was no heat, and in winter, conditions were frigid, the cold piercing his body. Yet amid all this, and in spite of his age, he wrote that he had not the slightest worry or care.

We can see in him a hero, a champion of invincible, indestructible faith.

In his last letter to his family (dated October 13, 1944), he wrote:

“I am avidly reading the philosophy of Kant. When I reflect on how I was able to produce my theory of value—a theory that scholars for the past one hundred years had sought in vain—and, moreover, to connect it to faith in the Lotus Sutra and enable several thousand people to realize actual proof, I am surprised in spite of myself. Therefore, it is only natural that the three obstacles and four devils2 should have assailed me; it is just as the sutra states.”3

Today, kosen-rufu is advancing dynamically, on a scale exponentially greater than in Mr. Makiguchi’s time. In light of the Daishonin’s writings and the Lotus Sutra, it is a matter of course that we will encounter obstacles and devilish functions. It’s foolish to complain about minor things that happen or to let them disturb our faith.

It is our mission to ensure that Mr. Makiguchi’s perceptive faith and unshakable resolve, his passion and overflowing sense of justice, are passed on to future generations as the eternal Soka Gakkai spirit.

Confined in the same prison, Mr. Toda worried each day about the well-being of his elderly mentor. He once said of their earlier years together: “I supported Mr. Makiguchi with such devotion that when I didn’t see him for three days, I felt like we had been apart for a year.” Mr. Toda supported and worked alongside Mr. Makiguchi from the age of 21 until he was 45. We can only imagine, therefore, the grief, anger, and sorrow he must have felt when he learned of his mentor’s death.

From the depths of indescribable despair, he stood up courageously as Mr. Makiguchi’s sole true disciple.

He shared that, after learning that his mentor had died in prison, he vowed: “Just wait! I will prove to the world whether my mentor was right or wrong. If I were to adopt a pseudonym, I would call myself Count of Monte Cristo.4 In that spirit, I will achieve something great so that I might repay my mentor.”5

At the memorial marking the 10th anniversary of Mr. Makiguchi’s death, held in November 1954, speaking of that pledge, he said: “I still have not done what I must for my mentor, but I am prepared to dedicate the rest of my life to proving the correctness of my mentor’s actions.”6

These words are the impassioned vow of a disciple forever loyal to his mentor. And, true to his promise, Mr. Toda struggled tirelessly to vindicate Mr. Makiguchi, and he succeeded brilliantly in doing so. I regard this sincere spirit and practice as the true essence of the lofty mentor-disciple relationship. That is why I have taken Mr. Toda’s lifetime aim as my own and dedicated myself wholeheartedly to its realization.


At the same ceremony, Mr. Toda said: “I regard the relationship I shared with Mr. Makiguchi as one of parent and child. By that, I mean that I am heir to his spiritual legacy. . . . I have inherited that spiritual legacy and, at the same time, have been entrusted with a great mission—to make his theory of value known throughout the world. Having inherited his legacy, I have also been given a great task.”7

And he went on to dedicate his life to fulfilling his vow.

Mr. Toda also often spoke about the fundamental theoretical framework for a movement for peace, culture, and education based on Nichiren Buddhism.

We must never allow anything to destroy the Soka Gakkai, the spiritual citadel of kosen-rufu and noble legacy built and passed on to us by Mr. Makiguchi, who gave his life to protect it. We must make even greater efforts to strengthen and secure it.

From a speech at a Tokyo general meeting, Tokyo, August 24, 1989.

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

  • *1Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu, vol. 10, p. 284.
  • *2Three 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.
  • *3Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu, vol. 10, pp. 300–301.
  • *4The protagonist of the Alexandre Dumas novel of the same name.
  • *5Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 4 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1984), p. 230.
  • *6Ibid.
  • *7Ibid., p. 229.