Many SGI members view Daisaku Ikeda as their mentor due to the depth of his understanding of Buddhism and his exceptional scholarship. His continuous efforts to encourage others to deepen their understanding and become empowered through the philosophy and practice of Buddhism also awaken a response. Ikeda often stresses how he owes everything to his own teacher or mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda (1900-58), who in turn regarded Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), the founder of the Soka Gakkai, as his mentor. The tradition of passing down teachings from mentor to disciple, or teacher to student, has a long history in Buddhism. The commitment of the mentor, or teacher, is solely to passing on what he or she has learned and encouraging the development of the disciple, or pupil, so that eventually the disciple surpasses the mentor. In this way the continual development of Buddhism is assured. SGI members speak of the shared commitment of mentor and disciple to spreading the peaceful principles of Buddhism throughout the world. More than any theoretical explanation, it is through the life-to-life connection of the mentor-disciple relationship that people can gain encouragement and develop their ability to overcome the challenges they face.

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