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A Disciple Emerges

Nineteen-year-old Daisaku Ikeda attends his first Soka Gakkai meeting, where he encounters Josei Toda, who would become his life mentor, Aug. 14, 1947. Courtesy of Seikyo Press.

In 1947, Daisaku Ikeda was 19. He was seeking answers to life amid the chaos of postwar Japan, reading books on literature and philosophy. On Aug. 14, 1947, he attended a Soka Gakkai discussion meeting in search of a philosophy that could give him genuine purpose. There, Josei Toda, the man who would become his mentor, was giving a lecture on Nichiren Daishonin’s treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” 

So moved by Mr. Toda’s straightforward and honest answers to his questions, the young Daisaku stood up and recited an impromptu poem:

Where do you come from? 
And where do you go? 
The moon has set, 
And the sun has not yet risen. 
In the darkness before dawn 
I advance 
In search of light. 
To dispel the dark clouds in 
my mind, 
To seek a great tree unbowed 
by the storm, 
I spring from the earth.
(May 2022 Living Buddhism, p. 59)

Ten days later, on Aug. 24, Daisaku took faith as a Soka Gakkai member. In an essay, he recalls of that time:

Mr. Toda declared: “What matters most about a person are their principles and their actions. That’s why Soka Gakkai youth, who uphold the world’s supreme philosophy and are taking action for the happiness of others, should always have the courage, self-confidence and conviction to talk to anybody about their beliefs.”

The struggle to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land that I embarked upon from that Aug. 24, when I was 19 years old, became the purpose of my youth and my entire life. (Oct. 14, 2011, World Tribune, p. 5)

This month marks 76 years since Sensei began his journey of faith based on the oneness of mentor and disciple, which has led to the worldwide expansion of our kosen-rufu movement. In recognition of that profound vow, in 1976, Aug. 24 was named Soka Gakkai Men’s Division Day. To mark Men’s Division Day this year, the men of the SGI-USA are focusing on helping one young person join in each district and having 10,000 men attend their district discussion meetings this month (see Aug. 4, 2023, World Tribune, p. 4).

August 11, 2023, World Tribune, p. 4

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