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Ikeda Sensei

The Unshakable Vow of Mentor and Disciple

A stunning, predawn view of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu on the morning of November 18, 2013. Photo by Seikyo Press.

Translated from the September 24, 2019, Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

At this time of the autumn equinox [when the deceased are traditionally remembered in Japan], I visited the Soka Gakkai Mentors Hall in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, and offered my sincere prayers in memory of the deceased (on September 21). I also chanted wholeheartedly for the safety, security, good health and longevity of our precious members as a series of typhoons continue to lash Japan.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “All the fathers and mothers of the preceding seven generations and the seven generations that followed, indeed, of countless lifetimes before and after, were able to become Buddhas” (“On Offerings for Deceased Ancestors,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 820). Families and fellow members embraced in the Mystic Law can forever continue together on the journey of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.

Among the items on display at the Soka Gakkai Mentors Hall is a poem I dedicated to second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda when I was a youth, along with the two poems he wrote for me in response.

On September 21, 1950, at a time when Mr. Toda’s businesses were in the direst of straits, I wrote a poem for him expressing my vow as his disciple:

Still serving
an old
and mystic bond—
though others change,
I alter not.

In return, he presented me with these two poems:

Whenever I stand
on the field of battle,
you are the trusty sword
I always keep
at my side.

• • •

My glory as king is fading
and my power waning;
though death may claim me,
I will leave behind you,
my crown.

The “old and mystic bond” is none other than the bond of mentor and disciple united in a shared vow for kosen-rufu from time without beginning.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “If teacher and disciple are of different minds, they will never accomplish anything” (“Flowering and Bearing Grain,” WND-1, 909).

Looking up to Presidents Makiguchi and Toda as my eternal mentors in kosen-rufu, I determined to strive to the very end no matter what. Precisely because of this unwavering commitment, I was never defeated by any obstacle or difficulty. The vow of mentor and disciple continues across time and place.

In the poems he wrote in reply to mine, Mr. Toda said he would keep me, his “trusty sword,” always at his side, and that he would leave behind me, his “crown.” Now, in the same spirit as Mr. Toda, I wish to entrust the “jeweled sword” of truth and justice to all of you, my beloved disciples, and present you each with the “crown” of victory.

This year marks 740 years since the Atsuhara Persecution.[1] Designating this year as the Year of Soka Victory, we have forged ahead triumphantly in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.”

Today, the victory song of the Buddhism of the people resounds throughout the world, including India, the birthplace of Buddhism.

September 21 is also the anniversary of the day I made my long-awaited first visit to South Korea (in 1990). This month again, with unity that is a model for all, the members there are holding discussion meetings attended by many young Bodhisattvas of the Earth, fostering new capable individuals and expanding our network of hope. Nothing makes me happier than to hear this.

In a letter to his youthful disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu, who fought valiantly to protect his fellow practitioners during the Atsuhara Persecution, the Daishonin cites the following passage from the Lotus Sutra, “We beg that the merit gained through these [offerings] may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way” [The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 168] (“The Dragon Gate,” WND-1, 1003).

The benefit of the Mystic Law is boundless and immeasurable. It is my wish that every single member of our Soka family without exception will enjoy that benefit to the fullest.

Let’s vibrantly share Nichiren Buddhism with those around us! Working together in solid unity as unshakable as Mount Fuji, let’s continue to spread the light of happiness of the Buddhism of the sun with ever greater courage and optimism!


  1. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against followers of Nichiren Daishonin in Atsuhara Village in Fuji District, Suruga Province (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture), starting in around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. In September 1279, 20 farmer disciples were arrested on false charges. They were interrogated by Hei no Saemon-no-jo, the deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs, who demanded that they renounce their faith. However, not one of them yielded. Hei no Saemon-no-jo eventually had three of them executed.   ↩︎

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