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Ikeda Sensei

Chanting Brings Forth Our Supreme Inner Life State (Part 2)

SGI-USA youth chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to unite in their efforts for kosen-rufu, February 2020.
SGI-USA youth chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to unite in their efforts for kosen-rufu, February 2020. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

The following is the conclusion of a two-part essay in Ikeda Sensei’s study essay series “The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin and the Mentor-Disciple Relationship.” This installment was originally published in the Dec. 25, 2008, Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, as well as the May 8, 2009, World Tribune. Part one was republished in the Sept. 11, 2020, World Tribune.

If in a single moment of life we [exert millions of kalpas[1] of effort], then instant after instant there will arise in us the three Buddha bodies with which we are eternally endowed. [Chanting] Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is just such a “diligent” practice. (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 214)

Nichiren Buddhism Comes Alive Through the Joint Struggle of Mentor and Disciple

Of Nichiren Daishonin’s many followers, Nikko Shonin stood out as a disciple of particular courage and initiative. When Nichiren moved to Mount Minobu at age 53, Nikko was 29. Making Suruga Province (part of present-day Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan) his base of activities, Nikko took leadership in the area between Suruga and Kai Province (part of present-day Yamanashi Prefecture), where Mount Minobu was located. This area was crucial in terms of protecting the Daishonin and his teachings. There, Nikko carried out propagation efforts and fostered many youth who later became central figures among Nichiren’s disciples.

The Japanese secular and religious authorities of the day were intimidated by the Daishonin’s resolute, lionlike spirit, and they tried to get to him by attacking his disciples. They thus turned their attention to Nikko and those with whom he was practicing and succeeded in driving away several of Nichiren’s disciples, both priests and laypeople, through underhanded means.

It was during this period when Nichiren was conducting his lectures at Mount Minobu that the Atsuhara Persecution began to unfold. His young disciple Nikko stood up to fight against this harsh persecution. As his teacher expounded on the profound essence of the Lotus Sutra for the sake of future generations, Nikko exerted “millions of kalpas of effort” to refute the erroneous and reveal the true toward proving the correctness of the Daishonin’s teaching.

The teacher works hard, and the disciple works even harder. It is in this joint struggle that the eternal and indestructible teachings of Nichiren Buddhism come alive, and the heritage of truth and victory flow.

While giving his all to protect the Daishonin and propagate the Mystic Law, Nikko also took the offensive against the negative forces that assailed them. He reported every detail of his progress on all fronts to Nichiren and requested instructions for the next step to take. Nikko won through earnestly seeking Nichiren’s guidance and acting swiftly in perfect accord with his mentor’s spirit. These meetings with Nikko and other disciples who came to consult with him were no doubt gatherings for strengthening their unity and resolutely continuing on with their struggle. In other words, they were conducting the equivalent of today’s Soka Gakkai conferences and leaders meetings that are aimed at enabling everyone to win in their endeavors.

While devoting himself wholeheartedly to the various struggles he was engaged in, Nikko also strove to carefully transcribe Nichiren’s lectures for posterity. He faithfully took to heart every word his teacher spoke—words that conveyed an eternal message for the sake of the happiness of all people for generations to come—and was determined to fight valiantly against the devilish nature of power. Nikko viewed his responsibilities very seriously—an attitude that was worlds apart from that of the other five senior priests. It was his commitment that enabled Nikko to set down an unerring record of the Daishonin’s true teachings. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings is the fruit of the victorious and united struggle of teacher and disciple.

History is created by human beings interacting with other human beings. The epitome of this is the interaction of teacher and student, mentor and disciple.

A life dedicated to diligent practice for the sake of kosen-rufu together with one’s mentor in faith is one of unsurpassed happiness, a succession of glorious days illuminated by indestructible brilliance.

Josei Toda’s Lectures Ignited Courage in People’s Hearts

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda awakened to the ultimate truth of Buddhism while in prison, where he had accompanied his mentor, first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, for their beliefs. He was neither a scholar nor a priest. He was a practitioner, a votary, who upheld the supreme Law with his life. His inspiring guidance and lectures—at times strict, at times generous and at times humorous—ignited the flame of courage and hope in the hearts of countless people.

Mr. Toda was always teaching and guiding me; it didn’t matter where we were or what the time. Our lessons took place in all sorts of venues, not just when we met at his home or at the old Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo’s Nishi-Kanda area. He would often discourse on Nichiren’s writings while we walked down the street or traveled by train to visit some other region of the country. He said: “There will be a fundamental difference in the capability of those who take my lectures to heart. You’ll see.”

Set Forth, My Disciples!

Back then, the Soka Gakkai was moving ahead vigorously toward realizing Mr. Toda’s cherished goal of 750,000 households [practicing Nichiren Buddhism]. In the midst of this all-out struggle, I stayed up many a night with my wife to write down his guidance. It was our fervent wish that his words would be passed on in their entirety to future generations.

After Mr. Toda’s death, I embarked on writing the novel The Human Revolution to set down the history of his life and achievements all while taking care of my numerous other responsibilities. I also assembled his collected works, issued recordings of his lectures and spoke tirelessly of his ideas to others.

Now 50 years have passed since his death (in 1958). I’ve dedicated my entire life to the mission of making my mentor’s life and thoughts known throughout the world. “Buddhism is a matter of proof,” he used to say. “Without proof, it’s just abstract theory.” Now I’d like to pass on the baton of this mission and honor shared by mentor and disciple to the members of the youth division.

This year is the Year of Youth and Victory. The only way to transmit our Soka movement into the future is for disciples to unite in spirit with their mentor, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo vigorously and exert concentrated effort. I declare that the struggle for kosen-rufu is the victorious joint effort of mentor and disciple—an endeavor extending across the globe.

Mr. Toda said, “I’ve raised Daisaku, so I know everything will be fine.” There is no greater honor for a disciple than words such as these. There is no greater happiness than to have the confidence of one’s mentor.

Mr. Toda also said: “We were born to struggle and challenge ourselves. We were born to progress in our lives and to win. This is the meaning of a life dedicated to happiness and peace. The purpose of life is being victorious.” And the key to victory is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

With the highest of aspirations, I call out to the youth division, my direct disciples: “My disciples, ‘exert millions of kalpas of effort’ in every moment of your lives! Strive your hardest! Forge and perfect yourselves in the flames of adversity, and build a self that is as solid as a mighty and indestructible citadel! Continue to fight alongside me in the coming year! Win resounding victories together with me, and write an everlasting page in the annals of our movement!”


  1. Kalpa: In ancient Indian cosmology, an extremely long period of time. ↩︎

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