Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.8]

28.8 Actualizing the Vision of the First and Second Presidents

This selection from The New Human Revolution describes the solemn occasion of the 17th memorial [16th anniversary] of President Makiguchi’s death, held on November 18, 1960.

Shin’ichi had never met Mr. Makiguchi in person, but Josei Toda had thoroughly acquainted him with the founding president’s life, ideas, philosophy, and convictions. A sharp image of this late mentor, whom he had never seen, was etched vividly in his mind.

Whenever Toda spoke of the time he was told of Makiguchi’s death, his eyes would blaze and his voice would shake with rage. He once related the following story:

“Winter was approaching when Mr. Makiguchi died in prison on November 18, 1944, from malnutrition and frailty from enduring such harsh conditions at his advanced age.

“We never met again after our brief encounter at the Tokyo police headquarters in the previous autumn, before we were each placed in solitary confinement.1 Day in and day out, I prayed: ‘Mr. Makiguchi is old. Please allow me to take all the blame for both of us, and let Mr. Makiguchi go home as soon as possible.’

“But Mr. Makiguchi died. Not until January 8 the following year [1945], more than 50 days later, however, was I informed of this. I was being questioned by a preliminary examining judge when he said to me abruptly, ‘Makiguchi’s dead.’ I felt as if my heart were being torn in two. When I returned to my solitary cell, I wept bitter, heartsick tears, clawing the concrete wall and beating my head against it in anguish.

“No one can deny that Mr. Makiguchi died with imperturbable dignity and composure, a martyr for his beliefs. Nevertheless, the fact remains that he was murdered! By the militarist government, by State Shinto, and by those cowardly individuals who bowed to the militarists out of self-preservation and self-protection. And for what crime, might I ask? He was murdered for upholding the freedom of belief.

“I later heard that Mr. Makiguchi’s body was carried out of prison on the back of an employee of one of Mr. Makiguchi’s relatives. Wartime made it impossible to arrange a car. Mrs. Makiguchi received her husband’s body at their home with quiet grief. The number of people who attended his funeral could be counted on the fingers of one’s hands. No doubt everyone stayed away because they feared the ever-watchful eyes of the public and the authorities.

“Mr. Makiguchi was an outstanding educator, scholar, and philosopher, as well as a great Buddhist who fought courageously for people’s happiness. Japan repaid him by sending him to his death in prison!”

Josei Toda would end any account of Makiguchi’s death with furious intensity, saying: “I will definitely avenge my mentor. This time I will not lose! I will achieve Mr. Makiguchi’s dream of kosen-rufu without fail and create a society where peace will prevail eternally. I will prove Mr. Makiguchi’s greatness to the world. Don’t you agree, Shin’ichi, that this is the challenge of a disciple?”

Shin’ichi would never forget the way Toda had trembled with indignation as he spoke these words.

His anger toward the devilish nature of authority that had killed his mentor, and his fierce resolve to fight against it, never left him for a moment. Justice will perish if people fail to be angered by evil. Similarly, only a hypocritical kind of justice conducive to the perpetuation of evil will exist if people stop struggling actively against injustice and iniquity.

In November 1960, attending the 17th memorial [16th anniversary] of President Makiguchi’s death, Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s thoughts went to how Mr. Toda must have felt each time he attended such a service for his mentor.

After the incense burning and a speech by a member practicing since Makiguchi’s day, Shin’ichi came to the microphone and began to speak in a quiet tone: “Were we to regard Mr. Toda as our father, then Mr. Makiguchi would be our grandfather. That would make us—Mr. Toda’s disciples—second-generation disciples, grandchildren, so to speak. Though I, a second-generation disciple, never had the chance to meet Mr. Makiguchi, Mr. Toda constantly spoke to me of his mentor’s lofty character and the noble spirit with which he stood up to fight for the welfare and happiness of society.

“After Mr. Makiguchi’s death, Mr. Toda fully inherited his mentor’s great spirit to spread the Law selflessly. He built today’s Soka Gakkai, taking on one difficult struggle after another for his homeland, for the Law, and for people’s happiness

“Although I am still far too young and inexperienced, I have been appointed the third president to carry on the work of these two great men—our founder, Mr. Makiguchi, and my mentor, Mr. Toda. Nevertheless, I am filled with powerful resolve to live up to their expectations and, with utmost sincerity and devotion, simply do my very best.

“The towering spirit of the first president pulses strongly within the Soka Gakkai. Mr. Makiguchi once declared: ‘Religious reform is not difficult.’ And now, in fact, a religious revolution is unfolding before our very eyes and, just as Mr. Makiguchi stated, the flowers of kosen-rufu are beginning to blossom in profusion.

“Although I lack ability, I would like to make today’s memorial service an opportunity to renew my commitment and determination to realize Mr. Makiguchi’s ideals, and to take on any hardship or effort needed to do so.”

It was a passionate vow.

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 2, “Courageous Endeavor” chapter.

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

  • *1On July 6, 1943, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were arrested by the Japanese militarist authorities and charged with violating the notorious Peace Preservation Law and the crime of lese majesty. Their final face-to-face encounter took place as they passed one another briefly at the police headquarters on September 25, when Mr. Makiguchi was being transferred to the Tokyo Detention Center in Nishi-Sugamo, Toshima Ward.