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Buddhist Study

The Victory of Disciples Is the Victory of Soka

Photo by Rob Hendry.

The following excerpt is from part 3 of Ikeda Sensei’s three-part lecture on Nichiren Daishonin’s “Letter from Sado.” It can be found in Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, pp. 54–56.

There is very little writing paper here in the province of Sado, and to write to you individually would take too long. Nevertheless, if even one person fails to hear from me, it will cause resentment. Therefore, I want people with seeking minds to meet and read this letter together for encouragement. When great trouble occurs in the world, minor troubles become insignificant. I do not know how accurate the reports reaching me are, but there must surely be intense grieving over those killed in the recent battles. What has become of the lay priests Izawa and Sakabe? Send me news of Kawanobe, Yamashiro, Tokugyo-ji, and the others. Also, please be kind enough to send me The Essentials of Government in the Chen-kuan Era, the collection of tales from the non-Buddhist classics, and the record of the teachings transmitted within the eight schools. Without these, I cannot even write letters. (“Letter from Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 306)

This section constitutes a postscript. It shows Nichiren Daishonin’s concern and profound compassion for each of his followers. He inquires after the welfare of specific individuals and asks to be sent various texts to use as references for his writing. At his remote place of exile on Sado, Nichiren continued his tireless spiritual struggle motivated by his immense compassion for all humanity.

I have always felt that it is incredibly fortunate for a person to have a mentor. I have been committed to repaying even the smallest kindness that my mentor has shown to me by devoting myself wholeheartedly to kosen-rufu.

At the end of April 1951, immediately before my mentor, Josei Toda, was inaugurated as second Soka Gakkai president, I reread “Letter from Sado” as a testament to the victory of mentor and disciple. In my diary that month, I specifically wrote down the following passages:

April 27

When an evil ruler in consort with priests of erroneous teachings tries to destroy the correct teaching and do away with a man of wisdom, those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood. Like Nichiren, for example. (WND-1, 302)

April 28

In the same way, the renegade disciples say, “Though the priest Nichiren is our teacher, he is too forceful. We will spread the Lotus Sutra in a more peaceful way.” In so asserting, they are being as ridiculous as fireflies laughing at the sun and moon, an anthill belittling Mount Hua, wells and brooks despising the river and the ocean, or a magpie mocking a phoenix. (WND-1, 306)[1]

For me, “Letter from Sado” is a writing of the victory of mentor and disciple, which President Toda and I studied and used as inspiration in overcoming adversity. I vowed that in order to actualize his vision, I would first do my best and take full responsibility.

Toward that end, I resolved to develop my district. I started by visiting members at their homes, holding discussion meetings and stirring a great groundswell of propagation. This is because the future victory of kosen-rufu lies in expanding the unparalleled realm of mentor and disciple of Soka outward from our own districts.

To engage in one-to-one dialogue to convey the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism, to courageously share the noble path of mentor and disciple with others—this is what it means in modern terms to put into practice the spirit of “Letter from Sado.”


  1. Daisaku Ikeda, A Youthful Diary: One Man’s Journey From the Beginning of Faith to Worldwide Leadership for Peace (Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2006), p. 109. ↩︎

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