Our History

Passing the Baton

March 16—Kosen-rufu Day

San Francisco Ever-Victorious Zone Youth General Meeting, SGI-USA San Francisco Buddhist Center, Dec. 10, 2017 (Photo Credit: Vida Ewert)

In the predawn chill of March 16, 1958, some 6,000 youth gathered at the foot of Mount Fuji for a solemn ceremony with their mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda.

Mr. Toda was fighting the limits of his own mortality as he searched for ways to empower as many youth as possible to assume the same mission and responsibility to accomplish kosen-rufu.

When he learned that the Japanese prime minister planned to visit the head temple grounds at Taiseki-ji on March 16, he suggested to his most trusted disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, that they conduct a trial run—a dress rehearsal for kosen-rufu—to prepare for the future.

President Ikeda recalled: “Mr. Toda had often told them that ‘what matters is whether, at a critical moment, you can rush to the battlefield of kosen-rufu’. The youth now sensed that moment had come” (The Human Revolution, p. 1879).

The young Daisaku had indeed “rushed to the battlefield,” overseeing every aspect of the gathering. As the youth participants arrived to the meeting in the brisk morning air, a bowl and pair of chopsticks in hand, they were greeted with a warm helping of pork soup, provided by President Toda out of his deep concern for them.

That same morning, President Toda received troubling news that the prime minister had canceled his visit, succumbing to political pressure from those who feared the Soka Gakkai’s rapidly growing people-centered movement.

He then solidified the purpose of the occasion—to charge his young disciples with the mission to achieve kosen-rufu by establishing the humanistic ideals of Nichiren Buddhism in society.

“Each day is a day of fresh commitment; each day is March 16.”

Young men carried President Toda to the lecture hall through the cheering throngs in a litter they had built for that ceremony, because Mr. Toda was too weak to stand. From his chair, he spoke powerfully: “Today, I want to bequeath this mission to you young people. I entrust the future to all of you. I’m counting on you—counting on you to accomplish kosen-rufu!” (The Human Revolution, p. 1895).

March 16 not only served as the day when President Toda entrusted the youth with the future development of kosenrufu, but also tasked his most trusted disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, with leading the way.

On April 2, having passed the baton of kosen-rufu to his youthful disciples, President Toda passed away peacefully.

In the essay “The Magnificent Ceremony on March 16,” President Ikeda writes: “It was said by some that after [President Toda’s] death, the Soka Gakkai would ‘disintegrate in midair.’ But I was determined to make certain his words, his hopes and dreams, came true. I grasped that spiritual baton of the unity of mentor and disciple and I ran with it. I ran and ran . . .

“Disciples are those who carry out the mentor’s teachings. Disciples are those who fulfill their vows. I have done these things, and that is my greatest pride.

“Nichiren Daishonin writes, ‘If you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present’ (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 279). A powerful determination and our actions in the present moment determine the future. March 16 is the eternal starting point of true cause, when all disciples stand up to be counted. For me, each day is a day of fresh commitment; each day is March 16” (March 27, 1998, World Tribune, p. 11).