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Ikeda Sensei

Hold High the Proud Banner of Soka!

Originally published in the April 2023 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

The spiritual bond of mentor and disciple is profound and unfettered.

The final encounter between Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda was a brief moment following their arrest for their religious beliefs.[1] Passing each other in the corridor of the police headquarters as Mr. Makiguchi was being transferred to a detention center, Mr. Toda cried out, his heart filled with a thousand emotions, “Sensei, please take care!” Later, addressing his late mentor at a memorial service, Mr. Toda said, “Without a word, you nodded, and I saw in your bearing and your eyes an infinite compassion and courage.”

That was eight decades ago. Today, the spirit of the first three presidents lives on vibrantly in the efforts of the champions of kosen-rufu who follow their lead in actively engaging in dialogue to create a more humane and peaceful world. I can picture Presidents Makiguchi and Toda, their faces bright and smiling, as they praise and watch over us.

In “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” a writing that Mr. Makiguchi held in the highest regard, Nichiren Daishonin writes: “All your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith”; and “If we understand that our life at this moment is myo, then we will also understand that our life at other moments is the Mystic Law.[2] This realization is the mystic kyo, or sutra” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 4).

Nothing is ever wasted in Buddhism. Our chanting and dedicated efforts for the sake of others, our communities and our societies fill our lives with “benefits and roots of goodness,” making us shine as entities of Myoho-renge-kyo, the Mystic Law. The resulting joy spreads out in a ripple effect from one person to another and from today into tomorrow.

Mr. Toda said that the Soka Gakkai spirit is to keep working, despite all obstacles, for the betterment of Japan and the world and to bring peace and happiness to people everywhere. He urged us to stand tall, with the pride of lion kings, declaring that all who joined in our great movement would attain Buddhahood without exception.[3]

Though our days may be busy with the activities we take on for kosen-rufu, there is no greater or more profound honor than striving alongside our good friends in faith to contribute to people’s happiness in the deepest way.

Thinking people around the world find hope in the spirit of Soka humanism to believe in, awaken and unite the goodness inherent in human beings.

With the hearts of lion kings, let us again today reach out and share the inspiring philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism—just as Presidents Makiguchi and Toda did!

With fresh determination, let’s join in energetically expanding beautiful circles of friendship!

Take pride!
You embody the great spirit
of Soka mentors and disciples.
Triumphantly wave
the banner of the people’s victory.

From the May 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. On July 6, 1943, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda were arrested by the Japanese militarist authorities and charged with violating the notorious Peace Preservation Law and the crime of lèse-majesté. Their final face-to-face encounter took place as they passed one another briefly at the police headquarters on September 25, when Mr. Makiguchi was being transferred to the Tokyo Detention Center in Nishi-Sugamo, Toshima Ward. ↩︎
  2. This sentence can also be interpreted to read, “If one understands that one’s life is myo, then one also understands that others’ lives are all entities of the Mystic Law.” ↩︎
  3. Translated from Japanese. See Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 6 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1986), p. 545. ↩︎

Joyful and Triumphant With the Heart of the Lion King!

SGI-USA Hawaii Culture Center