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Buddhist Study

Having a Mentor in One’s Heart

This guidance is from section 25.7 of “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace” series, published in the November 2017 Living Buddhism, pp. 61–62.

At the leaders meeting, the young men’s division leader asked Shin’ichi Yamamoto:[1]“With the beginning of the second chapter of kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai will initiate a multifaceted movement that reaches out to society. What should we bear in mind as we head in that direction?”

Shin’ichi answered unhesitatingly, “Follow the path of mentor and disciple.”

Watching the young man’s reaction, he continued: “You’re wondering what mentor and disciple has to do with it, aren’t you? It’s like the relationship between centrifugal (outward) and centripetal (inward) forces in rotational motion.”

“Developing a movement that widely spreads the ideals of Buddhism into society is like a centrifugal, or outward, force. The stronger this centrifugal force becomes, the more important it is to have a powerful centripetal, or inward, force directed toward the teachings of Buddhism. And the source of that ‘centripetal force’ is the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple.

“In recent years, youth division members have brimmed with the spirit to show victorious actual proof of their Buddhist practice in society, and gradually become more aware of the importance of social contribution. That’s a wonderful thing. But if you forget the fundamental goal of kosen-rufu and become obsessed with achieving personal renown and success, you can easily end up making light of the realm of faith. And, if you start to judge people based on their social status and position and look down on ordinary people, you’ll have defeated the entire purpose.

“The way of mentor and disciple is crucial to walking the true path of humanity and Buddhism.”

The mentor-disciple relationship in Buddhism starts with the compassion of Shakyamuni Buddha to teach his disciples the path to enlightenment, and the seeking spirit of his disciples to try to understand his teaching. In short, it is a spiritual bond that depends on the self-motivated will of the disciple. This is also made clear from examining the relationship between Nichiren Daishonin and his direct disciple and successor, Nikko Shonin.

The way of mentor and disciple is strict; nowhere else can we find the great path of human revolution and attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

Shin’ichi strongly urged the young people present: “I also dedicated myself wholeheartedly to [second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda, supported him and fulfilled my mission as his disciple. I always achieved the goals he set, showing actual proof of victory. Had I allowed myself to be defeated, his plans would have come to naught, and I would, in effect, have been betraying my mentor.

“In his final years, Mr. Toda said to me: ‘Shin’ichi, you’ve achieved everything I asked. You even took seriously things I said half-jokingly and brought them to fruition. I don’t trust people who are all talk. What matters are the actions one takes. With you here, I know I have nothing to worry about.’”


  1. SGI President Ikeda appears in The New Human Revolution as Shin’ichi Yamamoto. ↩︎

Ikeda Wisdom Academy: May 2019

Commentary on Volume 5