Lessons from "Great Mountain"
The following is an excerpt from The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, “Great Mountain” chapter.
The following is an excerpt from The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, “Great Mountain” chapter in which SGI President Ikeda, who appears as Shin’ichi Yamamoto, reflects on the struggles of the first and second Soka Gakkai presidents to protect the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism during wartime Japan. The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, however, succumbed to government pressures and compromised Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings in support of the state-supported Shinto religion, which justified the nation’s war efforts.
Thinking of the future and with a prayer in his heart, Shin’ichi said to the top leaders present: “I am a lion! I’m not afraid of anything. You need to be lions too! Otherwise, the members will suffer. Walk the great path of Soka mentor and disciple with dauntless courage and a strong fighting spirit. If you have that firm commitment, nothing will ever shake the Soka Gakkai. President Toda is watching!” Shin’ichi then stood up and left the room.
From a window, he could see cherry blossoms dancing in the breeze. Stopping to gaze at them, Shin’ichi thought back to the momentous struggles waged by [first Soka Gakkai President] Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and [President] Toda as mentor and disciple.
In June 1943, fearing persecution by the militarist authorities who were seeking to unite the country around State Shinto for the war effort, Nichiren Shoshu urged the Soka Gakkai to go along, at least outwardly, with the government’s demand that they enshrine a Shinto talisman dedicated to the Sun Goddess.
Makiguchi refused and prepared to remonstrate with the authorities, ready to face the inevitable persecution that would result. At that time, his disciple, Josei Toda, also resolved firmly to continue propagating the Mystic Law even at the risk of his life. Toda was later arrested and imprisoned along with Makiguchi. He prayed fervently in his solitary prison cell that he could bear the brunt of all charges so that Makiguchi would be released as soon as possible.
While Nichiren Shoshu became submerged in the polluted current of slander of the Law, the spiritual unity of mentor and disciple shared by Makiguchi and Toda safeguarded the correct teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. Makiguchi died in prison, but Toda lived to be released. Carrying on his mentor’s earnest wish, he rebuilt the Soka Gakkai and paved the way for the eternal propagation of Nichiren Buddhism.
The mentor in the Soka Gakkai is the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear in the present age with a vow to widely propagate the Mystic Law; the mentor also serves as the main axle for the advance of kosen-rufu. When the disciples’ resolve aligns with that of the mentor, the wheels of kosen-rufu begin to move powerfully. That’s why the unity of mentor and disciples is the lifeline of the Soka Gakkai. (vol. 30, pp. 27–28)