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May 3—Eternal Day of Fresh Departure

Photo by Jose Martinez / Getty Images.

May 3 is both Soka Gakkai Day and Soka Gakkai Mothers Day honoring all the women of Soka, who are worthy of the utmost praise.

On May 3, 1972, during a visit to Paris, Ikeda Sensei spoke about the history of kosen-rufu and explained that May 3 is the Soka Gakkai’s New Year’s Day.

He shed light on the profound significance of this in 1980, the year after he stepped down as Soka Gakkai president. While visiting Kansai, he inscribed a callig-
raphic work with “May 3” in large Chinese characters, and, in the margin, a list in smaller characters of the dates of significant milestones for the Soka Gakkai. These include May 3, 1951 (when Mr. Toda became the second Soka Gakkai president); May 3, 1960 (when Sensei became the third Soka Gakkai president); and May 3, 1979. These are followed by the words, “This day is the starting point of the Soka Gakkai”[1]

The three founding Soka Gakkai presidents dedicated their lives to fearlessly propagating Buddhism having engraved in the depths of their beings the steadfast determination expressed by Nichiren Daishonin: “This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 280). Their resolute commitment as the Daishonin’s direct successors who have inherited his great vow and triumphed over all manner of persecution is the very starting point of the Soka Gakkai that we should all engrave in our own lives. 

It was Sensei who designated May 3 as an eternal day of fresh departure for all Soka Gakkai members. On May 3, 1958, in the immediate aftermath of President Toda’s death [on April 2], at a time when a somber mood prevailed, he presented his idea of the Seven Bells[2] as a new direction for the Soka Gakkai to shine a light of hope. Mr. Toda often said that the Soka Gakkai embarked on a phase of major new development every seven years, and Sensei translated this into his personal determination. 

Years later [in 1997], he expanded on his vision that stretched to the latter half of the 23rd century. Starting with the consolidation of the groundwork for peace in the first half of the 21st century, it progressed to the establishment of the dignity of life as the underlying spirit throughout the world and toward a brilliant flowering of humanistic culture. He entrusted this vision to his disciples.

So as we celebrate the first May 3 since the passing of Sensei, let’s brim with hope and conviction, and the determination to repay our debt of gratitude to him as disciples by making our mentor’s vision a reality.

On his inauguration day as third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960, Sensei wrote in his diary of his resolve to “embark upon the greatest challenge of this lifetime, to spread the Law, transcending the bounds of life and death.” Embracing the great vow of the first three presidents, let us sound the victory bell of mentor and disciple, transcending the bounds of life and death!

May 10, 2024, World Tribune, p. 11


  1. This calligraphic work features the Chinese characters for “May 3” in vivid strokes down the center. Ikeda Sensei also inscribed the following dates in the right-hand margin:
    • May 3, 1951-—Josei Toda’s inauguration as second Soka Gakkai president 
    • May 3, 1960-—Ikeda Sensei’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president
    • May 3, 1979—when Sensei formally stepped down as third president, following his resignation on April 24 
    • May 3, 1983—when Sensei determined to open the way for the Soka Gakkai’s fresh development within the next three years
    • May 3, 2001—the first May 3 of the 21st century

    Below the dates, he inscribed the date May 3, 1952 (the day Sensei and Mrs. Ikeda were married). This is accompanied by the words: “This date [May 3], is the starting point of the Soka Gakkai. Inscribed on May 3, 1980. My heart serene and tranquil. With palms pressed together. Daisaku.” ↩︎

  2. Seven Bells: Series of seven-year periods outlining targets for the Soka Gakkai’s development, based on second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s determination for the organization to “sound a bell every seven years to mark our progress toward kosen-rufu.” Ikeda Sensei, then-youth division chief of staff, first proposed the idea on May 3, 1958, shortly after Mr. Toda’s April 2 passing. The first series of Seven Bells started with the organization’s founding in 1930 and ended in 1979. On May 3, 1966, Sensei spoke of a new series of Seven Bells that he envisaged unfolding in the 21st century. ↩︎

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