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Gosho Study

The Profound Bond Between Mentor and Disciple

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It must be ties of karma from the distant past that have destined you to become my disciple at a time like this. Shakyamuni and Many Treasures certainly realized this truth. The sutra’s statement, “Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers,”[1] cannot be false in any way. (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Both mentor and disciple dedicate their lives eternally to bodhisattva practice—this point is crucial to understanding the Lotus Sutra’s essence. Once in a lecture open to all members, [second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda] explained: “When I said: ‘I’m going to go and be reborn in the country of Japan when it’s in a state of ruin. Why don’t you all come with me?’ you all replied, ‘OK, let’s go!’ ‘Yes, why not!’ And as a result, we all appeared in this world …

“The sutra says that wherever they may be, practitioners of the sutra are sure to be born toge-ther with their mentor in various Buddha lands. This is certainly not a lie. It means that mentor and disciple are always born together. In light of these words of Nichiren, I feel tremendous gratitude to all of you. We were born together in this world as a result of a promise we made in the past.”[2]

In another writing, Nichiren Daishonin says, “I wonder if you and I have not been pledged to each other as teacher and disciple from countless kalpas in the past” (“Reply to Sairen-bo,” WND-1, 309). Mentor and disciple share karmic ties that extend over past, present and future. When we strive with all our might for kosen-rufu, we can sense this profound connection.

It is the first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai who have revived in the present age an active and engaged mentor-disciple spirit—the essence of Nichiren Buddhism. It would be no exaggeration to say that were it not for the appearance of the Soka Gakkai, the spirit of mentor and disciple of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Buddhism would have all but disappeared. (The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 90)


  1. The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 178. ↩︎
  2. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu, vol. 7, p. 472. ↩︎

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