Josei Toda

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Josei Toda (1900-58) was the second president of the Soka Gakkai, one of Japan's most influential lay Buddhist movements.

Based on the teachings of the 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren (1222-82), Toda developed a methodology of personal transformation called "Human Revolution" that has become the foundation underlying the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a worldwide organization of engaged Buddhists promoting peace and personal empowerment throughout the world.

The early years of Toda's career were spent as a teacher. At the age of 19, he encountered his mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), also an educator. Makiguchi was developing an educational theory (value-creating pedagogy) that was in stark contrast to the methods in use in Japan at the time, placing priority on the happiness of the children and inspiring in them the will to study, rather than the educational orthodoxy that sought to produce obedient subjects of the state. Toda became his enthusiastic helper and supporter in this endeavor. It was Toda who actualized many of Makiguchi's ideas, founding a school where innovative educational theories were implemented in classroom situations. Toda helped Makiguchi publish his major work, The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy.

In 1928, Makiguchi embraced Nichiren Buddhism. Its emphasis on human dignity was also consistent with Toda's own beliefs, and he too subsequently took faith. The publication in 1930 of The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy is recognized as the foundation by Makiguchi and Toda of an organization called Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value-Creating Education Society), whose original aim was to promote Makiguchi's value-creating educational theories. The organization steadily developed into a body promoting social and religious reform through the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, seeking to empower ordinary people to become self-reliant individuals.

Japan, however, had by this time embarked on a program of military expansion in Asia which culminated in its involvement in World War II. The militarist authorities viewed Soka Kyoiku Gakkai as a threat to their attempts to impose religious and thought control, and in 1943 Toda was detained along with Makiguchi and other leaders of the organization. Makiguchi died in prison while Toda was released shortly before the end of the war; both remained steadfast in their faith till the end. The experience of imprisonment was crucial in awakening Toda to his mission to encourage the widespread practice of Nichiren Buddhism in order to build the foundations for a peaceful society.

After emerging from prison, Toda set out to rebuild Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, which had been crushed during the war. The organization was now renamed Soka Gakkai (Society for the Creation of Value), a move that reflected a broad commitment to realizing global peace and the well-being of people of all walks of life and empowering individuals through Buddhist practice.

As second president, Toda developed the Soka Gakkai into one of Japan's most significant lay Buddhist associations, setting the stage for its growth into a dynamic worldwide grassroots movement. Toward the end of his life, he advocated a vision of global citizenship and, in 1957, issued a historic declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, entrusting the task of realizing his vision to young people.

Toda passed away on April 2, 1958. His major writings include the million-selling A Deductive Guide to Arithmetic and the novel Human Revolution. A man of unadorned and overflowing humanity, Toda embraced everyone he met with his passionate encouragement. His 58 years of life were dedicated to restoring and revitalizing the spirit of Buddhism in the present age. His convictions continue to inspire and inform the peace activism and social engagement of both the Soka Gakkai in Japan and the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) throughout the world.

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Comment by Philip Claude Andermann on October 26, 2010 at 5:11pm
05/03/51 and 05/03/01]
[To the Successors]

[Josei Toda was founder of the Soka Gakkai half a cenury ago, now a lay Buddhist organization of 12 million members in 192 countries and territories very actively pursuing rapid advancement of education, culture and peace based on the foundations of humanism.]
Why do I propagate Buddhism?
Only to save Japan from spiritual poverty
To save the poor and the sick
Nay, of all the World.

The Age of Materialism will crest
(In half a century)
By the end of the century,
Its excesses yielding to merciful floods of dialogue.

Let us determine that
Shaken by the earthquake
Of the newly emerging continent
Of actual true oneness,
All humankind will seek
A new philosophy
Of true mercy relieving suffering and offering comfort,
Of greatest reason
Encompassing and surpassing science
- unleashed, its nature revealed and then transmuted -
Making it merciful
Like the deepest currents of the natural universe.

The time has come, of the true Latter Day of the Buddhist Law.
Like a growing river surpassing

The Buddhist tradition of the past

To enrich the continent -

To reach the infinite ocean of ever vaster humanity,
Youthful emissaries must become TRUE patriots

Round the world -

True masters of prayer, courage, compassion, wisdom,

Of true dialogue to open the treasure

In each other which surpasses the universe's.
This is true education:

To nourish wilderness

Boldly venturing into it.

To fulfill this will of our sensei, President Makiguchi,
Of our Master, Nichiren Daishonin,
Is to make our drop of life

Equal to the ocean.

I am now truly "JoSEI Toda":
As my new name indicates,
I am now "INSIDE the Castle"

Of capable people,
A galaxy of eternal lights glittering

Over, no amid the ocean,
And I still fight for justice
Within you!
Comment by rhonda ward on October 26, 2010 at 4:36pm
great section working on 1-6 toda lecture
Comment by Terry Jones on May 30, 2010 at 7:57pm
Exhale! Much appreciation for a discussion forum dedicated to Josei Toda. I am currently reading the Human Revolution and share bits and pieces of his sincere guidance with friends and family who don't currently practice. One quote: "This teaching is neither ideology no abstract theory nor is it idol worship. It is a religion that enables you to bring out the supreme Law from within yourself by focusing on the supreme object of devotion. It is a revolution of yourself and your fortune, or in other words, a means to develop your own conviction and establish your ultimate identity by drawing out the world of enlightenment from within." ( The Human Revolution, Volume 2). This quote is so profound and helped me realize the difference between merely existing and living!
Comment by BAKO on October 16, 2009 at 12:16pm
To my Friends
from Daisaku Ikeda

To eliminate tragedy from the world :
this was President Toda's dream.
The will to realize this dream
and all the progress we have
thus far made
come from an inheritance
only human beings share :
the way of mentor and disciple.
To partake in this grand venture
with that great spirit
is our greatest glory
as members of the human race.
Comment by BAKO on October 16, 2009 at 12:04pm
Three Soka Gakkai Presidents : In the Footsteps of the Mentor

Josei Toda, ill in bed just prior to his death, told SGI President Ikeda (then youth division leader) that he had dreamt he had gone to Mexico. Mr Toda said " They were all waiting. Every one of them ! They were seeking Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. I wish I could go - to the world, on a journey for Kosen-rufu... You must live ! You must live as long as you can and travel the globe !" Though earlier Soka Gakkai presidents Makiguchi and Toda had no chance to go abroad, their hearts were filled with the spirit of global citizenship. In his book " The Geography of Human Life" published in 1903. Makiguchi emphasized the importance of exchange with all countries, regarding them as neighbors from the standpoint of global citizenship. Mr Toda often shared his idea of global citizenship with young people.
The SGI leader has since been traveling the globe and having dialogues with leading figures for the sake of the happiness and peace of humankind. His wish is to realize the ideals of his predecessors along with SGI members in 192 countries and regions.
Comment by Leaetta May Wacker on September 30, 2009 at 1:47pm
I am curious about this video "March 16 Kosen Rufu Day" Is it available on this site? Or is something to obtain for the district meetings?
Comment by Joyce J Brooks on September 30, 2009 at 9:31am
Thank you so very much! I love everything about Josei Toda's life!..he touch my heart and inspired me with his courageous spirit and certainty, giving hope, freedom and conviction makes every day of life a wonder President Ikeda was absolutely sure he was Toda's disciple and this was the correct teaching!
Below is the best memory I hold forever about Sensei, Josei Toda:

Josei Toda discovered on that March day in Tokyo, when even the four walls of a cell could not contain him. He became free at that moment, not when he was released by the authorities more than a year later. He became free when he discovered that the Buddha is, his life itself, and modern Buddhism was born!

When I first saw the video of March 16th Kosenrufu Day, and I saw both mentors as they share a look and smiled at each heart and my entire life was impacted by these two men in ways that only my heart speaks!!...the spirit of that moment is ingraved deeply within my heart! I'm indeed a very fortunate woman!
Comment by Danny Hiew on August 13, 2009 at 7:07pm
Hi, I came across this passage as follows; He never strayed a single step from the hope, the dream of his youth (of the salvation of all humankind).when we look at the entirety of his life,it is like gazing upon a magnificent palace.As true followers of the Daishonin, let us, too, dedicate our lives to that wonderful aspiration,kosenrufu,and build the magnificent palaces of our own lives.Th happy person is the one who can declare, no matter what anyone else might say, this much i have achieved,i can be proud of this before the entire world.
Comment by shalini on August 5, 2009 at 4:50am
Hi everyone and esp Julien for inviting me to this.
Just like the rest of us, I am a great admirer of Toda Sensei; of what he achieved, in times of abject misery that we probably can't even fathom. esp since we live in today's times, amidst all these comforts, luxuries, one wonders what it must have been to be Toda Sensei fighting for the Lotus Sutra.

thank you all for your insightful comments. thanks Kenneth. your experience was incredible!

Comment by Aiko on August 3, 2009 at 9:55pm
Thank you for inviting me this group! 
My parents and aunties attended his funeral。
Sensei said that Toda Sensei made him who he is today。
We are So fortunate to be their disciples!!

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