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Ikeda Sensei

The Journey of Mentor and Disciple—Respecting All People

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This monthly encouragement by Ikeda Sensei was originally published in the January 2021 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Kosen-rufu is a journey of mentor and disciple continuing from the infinitely distant past into the eternal future. Year after year, we call forth and welcome to our movement many new Bodhisattvas of the Earth, unite even more strongly and advance with optimism and exuberance.

In the 28th and final chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Bodhisattva Universal Worthy arrives belatedly at the assembly with innumerable companions as myriad kinds of music play, and makes an earnest vow to his teacher, Shakyamuni (see “The Outline of the ‘Entrustment’ and Other Chapters,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 915). He pledges: “I will cause it [the Lotus Sutra] to be widely propagated throughout Jambudvipa [the entire world] and will see that it never comes to an end” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 363).

Shakyamuni rejoices at and praises this vow for worldwide kosen-rufu and leaves Bodhisattva Universal Worthy and his other disciples with this final message: “If you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (LSOC, 365).

Nichiren Daishonin identified these words, comprising an eight-character phrase in Chinese, as “the foremost point [the Buddha] wished to convey to us” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 192). He also says: “The Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra over a period of eight years, and [these] eight characters sum up the message that he has left behind for living beings in this later age, the Latter Day of the Law” (OTT, 192).

It is the pride of the mentors and disciples of Soka to faithfully carry out this foremost message—of treasuring and protecting those who uphold the Mystic Law—conveyed to us by Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin.

In the early days of our movement, the Soka Gakkai was ridiculed as “a gathering of the poor and sick.” But we took those words as a badge of honor and have continued to show the highest respect for the sincere, hardworking ordinary men and women who are spreading the Mystic Law while battling their own karma.

With the firm conviction that “all people have the Buddha nature” (“The Fourteen Slanders,” WND-1, 756), we have persevered in dialogue based on respect for each individual, transcending all differences, and brought people around the world together through our efforts to promote peace, culture and education.

By living out our lives with the Soka Gakkai, which pulses with the vital spirit of the Lotus Sutra, and devoting ourselves to worldwide kosen-rufu, we can unlock our own and others’ supreme life state and create boundless benefit—benefit that flows forth and spreads through our own actions and behavior.

On January 6, 1951, when his businesses were in the direst of straits, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, entrusted me with taking care of everything, saying: “The mission that I was born to fulfill in this life is also your mission. … Let’s advance resolutely together!”

Through my commitment to strive solidly united with my mentor, I was able to turn the situation around and pave the way for Mr. Toda to become second president of the Soka Gakkai on May 3, 1951. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of his inauguration.

My fellow Shin’ichi Yamamotos around the world! Let us work together to make the wisdom exemplified by Bodhisattva Universal Worthy, the universal wisdom of the Mystic Law, shine ever brighter!

with inspiring friends
performing melodies of spring,
let’s dispel the darkness
with the universal wisdom of Buddhism.

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