Our History

October 2, 1960

Celebrating the origins of SGI World Peace Day.

PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO / FRANCKREPORTER


Daisaku Ikeda had been the third Soka Gakkai president for just five months when, on Oct. 2, 1960, he boarded Japan Airlines Flight 800, the country’s first large-scale passenger jet, to Honolulu.

Traveler for peace-On Oct. 2, 1960, Daisaku Ikeda, the newly appointed president of the Soka Gakkai, embarks on a journey to spread Nichiren Buddhism worldwide. Photo: Seikyo Press.
Traveler for peace—On Oct. 2, 1960, Daisaku Ikeda, the newly appointed president of the Soka Gakkai, embarks on a journey to spread Nichiren Buddhism worldwide. Photo: Seikyo Press.

As the plane roared over the Pacific Ocean, President Ikeda placed his hand on his heart. Inside his jacket’s inner-breast pocket, he carried a photograph of his beloved mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda.

He recalled the time when Mr. Toda, just before his death, said that he had dreamed he had gone to Mexico: “They were all waiting. Everyone was waiting. They were all seeking Nichiren Buddhism. I want to go—to travel the world on a journey for kosen-rufu.”

Pressing the limits of his own mortality, Mr. Toda urged his young disciple to carry on in his stead. “[Daisaku], the world is your challenge; it is your true stage. It is a vast world” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, p. 2). President Ikeda had viewed his mentor’s words as an urgent plea for the happiness of humanity. Armed with this injunction and a life philosophy that illuminates the inherent dignity, equality and potential in human beings, he traveled to the United States, Canada and Brazil on his first overseas journey to sow the seeds of Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world.

In the U.S., President Ikeda visited seven cities—Honolulu, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. There, he met the pioneering Soka Gakkai members, many of whom were Japanese women married to American servicemen and struggling with isolation in a foreign land.

Be the Model for Worldwide Kosen-rufu!

President Ikeda awakened them to their profound mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth—people who are charged with spreading broadly this humanistic philosophy that enables all people to attain enlightenment. Armed with this sense of mission and together with their mentor, they introduced Nichiren Buddhism to the U.S.

President Ikeda wrote that the SGI was born from this first visit in 1960: “These events were like tiny pebbles tossed into the vast ocean and went unnoticed by the world. But the first small ripples they created were the starting point for the countless waves now taking shape as a mighty groundswell for world peace based on Nichiren Buddhism” (Jan. 1, 2010, World Tribune, p. 3).

The Soka Gakkai International has since grown to encompass more than 12 million practitioners in 192 countries and territories, making it the largest and most diverse lay Buddhist movement in the world.

Honoring the 55th anniversary of his first steps for worldwide kosen-rufu, President Ikeda last year presented the “Four Mottoes for the New Departure of American Kosen-rufu,” serving as the prime point of mentor and disciple for the United States. They are: 1. America of Courage; 2. America of Capable People; 3. America of Unity; and 4. Be the Model for Worldwide Kosen-rufu!

In his commemorative 55th anniversary message, President Ikeda reiterated the purpose of Buddhism—to actualize peace and happiness for humanity—and called on the American members to play the leading role in “this magnificent movement of the people.”

“The SGI-USA’s progress serves as a model for and gives hope to the entire world,” he said. “The greater the development of the SGI-USA, the greater the momentum will be for the progress and expansion of worldwide kosen-rufu” (Oct. 2, 2015, World Tribune, p. 2).

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