President Ikeda's estrangement from the official world of the Soka Gakkai became less over the years. He was determined not to let the high-handed decisions of the priesthood stand in the way of the people's triumph. And it became increasingly obvious that the priests cared only about their own status.

In 1990, the situation deteriorated into official excommunication by NST. This time, SGI was determined not to succumb to pressure.

Lessons that SGI learned from April 24th and its aftermath were nothing that was not already throughout the Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin. President Ikeda wrote about this in his essay "The True Purpose of Religion":

"The Daishonin asserts with absolute certainty: 'Great events do not have small omens. When great evil occurs, great good will follow. Since the worst slander already prevails throughout the country, the supreme True Law will spread without fail.' (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 5, p. 161)

"I decided that, no matter what others might say, I would triumph by holding fast to my convictions. And so I began my struggle, all alone, cherishing an even grander vision for our movement than I had before. Mr. Toda often used to say to me, 'The lion seeks no companion.'

"I firmly believed that, though I was alone, true companions would one day naturally join me again, without my saying a word. We would unite in the oneness of mentor and disciple to strive, to soar, to advance, to triumph together, without limit. I was waiting for the new companions of a new era to appear."

As the period of his "exile" wore on, President Ikeda continued to establish warm bonds with members, however he could. Those human connections are not the result of one's leadership position (or lack of one), nor are they a result of any inequality of position -- those precious bonds are the result of one human being caring and encouraging another, heart to heart.

And "the new companions of a new era" that President Ikeda sought are the Youth Division members, whose pure, uncorrupted faith allows them to always advance, no matter what. President Ikeda's spirit was to always put the members first. His concern was not about his position in the organization or about status, but only about establishing true bonds of friendship with others, no matter what. This is the lesson that we cherish today.