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Ikeda Sensei

April 2 and the Vow to Achieve Kosen-rufu

Photo by Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost / Getty Images.

When I think about it, Josei Toda’s every word and action was a final injunction designed to instruct and guide us, his disciples, so that we could carry on the work of kosen-rufu when he was gone; his every word and action was our training for the future. 

On March 22, [1958,] a meeting of Soka Gakkai leaders had been held at the Rikyo-bo lodging.[1] The leaders knelt in a semicircle around Mr. Toda, who sat up on his futon. His words, wrung out from the very depths of his being, flashed through the room like lightning: “The Soka Gakkai is my life. It must always remain an organization of pure faith that exists to accomplish kosen-rufu. We must never stand by and let our precious organization be polluted by impure hearts and minds!” All who heard that mighty lion’s roar can still hear it vividly to this day.

Mr. Toda was always saying that the Soka Gakkai was more important to him than his own life. During World War II, founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was persecuted and thrown in prison by the military authorities, where he eventually died. Many Soka Gakkai leaders abandoned their faith and the organization crumbled into dust. When Mr. Toda was released from prison on July 3, 1945, a few short weeks before the end of the war, he burned with the desire for revenge. He wanted revenge against the evil of authority that had killed his mentor in prison and plunged countless people into the depths of such unspeakable suffering.

He knew that if he fought in earnest to achieve kosen-rufu, the three obstacles and four devils[2] and the three powerful enemies[3] were bound to arise in great number to hinder him. But if the Soka Gakkai was weak and spiritless as it had been during the war, if it quailed and trembled before opposition, he would never be able to avenge his mentor’s death. He had to build an organization of people whose resolve and commitment would remain unshaken, irrespective of the great persecution and oppression they might face. And he was determined to foster champions of justice who would be willing to put their lives on the line to fight staunchly against evil and injustice, never flinching at the fiercest storms.

This was the magnificent vow of Mr. Toda, who had transcended the fear of death.

People simply gathering together aimlessly, without purpose, cannot summon the necessary determination and power to effect true change. Consequently, they cannot hope to triumph in the struggle between the Buddha and negative forces. Mr. Makiguchi always used to say, “Rather a single lion than a thousand sheep!”

Looking into the distant future, gazing at the unknown that lay far beyond the present, Mr. Toda personally began to raise, with painstaking care, one genuinely committed disciple after another. He went on to forge them into outstanding leaders of matchless inner strength, who would display their potential to the fullest, no matter how dire the times they may face in the Latter Day of the Law.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,
vol. 1, p. 997). He also says, “Although Nichiren and his followers are few, because they are different in body, but united in mind, they will definitely accomplish their great mission of widely propagating the Lotus Sutra” (“Many in Body, One in Mind,” WND-1, 618).

Embodying the Daishonin’s words, the SGI is an organization of individuals with lionlike courage united together in strong solidarity, an organization with a lofty mission to fight against the many unscrupulous and treacherous people that exist in this world and to never be defeated by them. That is why the SGI is the organization which has inherited the Buddha’s will and decree and is thus uniquely qualified to carry out the goal of kosen-rufu, which no one else has been able to achieve.

What is kosen-rufu? On one level, it is the strengthening of the forces of the Buddha, who act in accord with the Buddha’s intent and decree, as they fight resolutely against the evils of hatred, trickery and intrigue. It means expanding the network of people who are dedicated to good and will fight for that cause with all their might from beginning to end.

When Mr. Toda became second Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1951, he proclaimed that he would accomplish a membership of 750,000 households. At that time, the membership of the Soka Gakkai was only 3,000. When they heard this ambitious plan to increase the membership 250-fold, the members were stunned; they couldn’t believe their ears. However, achieving a valiant force of 750,000 member households was a goal that Mr. Toda had vowed in his heart to realize without fail in order to lay the eternal foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan. And in just under seven years, he reached his goal. …

I can’t help but regard the achievement of a membership of 750,000 households as the purpose for Mr. Toda’s appearance in this world. But Mr. Toda saw the accomplishment of this lifelong goal as just another step in his journey. He kept his eyes ever fixed on the future, always moving toward it, never stopping for a moment. His most profound desire was to eliminate misery from the face of the earth, because worldwide kosen-rufu—that is, happiness and peace for all humanity—was the Buddha’s command.

In December of the year before he died, just before achieving his goal of 750,000 households, he said to me: “Our next goal is two million!” Then, early the following year, on the day before his birthday [Feb. 11], his goal had grown: “Do you think you can accomplish a membership of three million households in the next seven years?” “Yes,” I replied without hesitation: “I will do it. I feel even more determined!”

One day a short time later, in March, he told me happily that he dreamed he had gone to Mexico. “Daisaku,” he said, “the world is your stage. Go out into the world.”

In accord with my mentor’s wishes, on becoming third Soka Gakkai president, I opened the door to worldwide kosen-rufu and, in November 1962, attained the membership goal of three million households. The moment that was reached, I raised my sights to an even higher achievement: “Next, six million households!” And four years later, in 1966, I achieved that goal, too.

Succeeding in one’s struggles fills one with a sense of joy. Losing leaves one feeling miserable. Therefore, if you’re going to make an effort, it’s important that you strive to succeed. Accomplishing one challenge is the departure for the next.

Mr. Toda was a great mentor dedicated to propagating the Law; he was a great leader. It was crucial therefore that his disciples also rise up as champions of kosen-rufu.

With that resolve, I have endured the unending onslaughts of the three powerful enemies, and I have won unprecedented victory for the Soka Gakkai. Nichiren Daishonin and all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout time and space are praising my efforts. Mr. Toda is smiling down on me, happy to see what I have accomplished. Nothing gives me greater joy.

Be that as it may, the stage of kosen-rufu is vast and boundless. The world is waiting for us. The people of future ages are waiting for us.

My brave comrades! Let us advance! United with fresh determination, let us further strengthen our invincible force of lions, and make the 21st century one in which truth and justice prevail!

April 5, 2024, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Rikyo-bo lodging: A lodging at Taiseki-ji, head temple of Nichiren Shoshu. First Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi reserved the lodging for the exclusive use of Soka Gakkai members during pilgrimages. The lodging continued to be used by Soka Gakkai members after World War II. ↩︎
  2. Three obstacles and four devils: Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. The three obstacles are 1) the obstacle of earthly desires, 2) the obstacle of karma and 3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are 1) the hindrance of the five components, 2) the hindrance of earthly desires, 3) the hindrance of death and 4) the hindrance of the devil king. ↩︎
  3. Three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death. Based on a description in “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Miao-lo defines them as 1) arrogant lay people, 2) arrogant priests and 3) arrogant false sages. Nichiren pointed to the fact that he has evoked persecution by the three powerful enemies as proof that he is the votary, or true practitioner, of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. ↩︎

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