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Ikeda Sensei

Action Is the True Proof of Faith


The following are excerpts from SGI President Ikeda’s speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting in May 2005. These excerpts were featured in a video of the speech, which was shown during the 41st Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting on May 3, 2019. The excerpted text appears in the May 14, 2019, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, often said: “Good must prevail. If good is defeated, it will be obliterated. The Soka Gakkai is an organization of the highest good. We must therefore win without fail. I’d like you to be victorious. I’d like you to lead lives of eternal victory and triumph.” These solemn words are right on the mark.

In accord with Mr. Toda’s call, our members in every region strove wholeheartedly for kosen-rufu; they endured through all and won. They boldly advanced with perseverance and hope. That is why for the past 45 years [since my inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president in 1960], we have achieved victory after victory.

The youth were Mr. Toda’s hope. He once commented: “Anything can be accomplished in the future, whether in Japan or in the world, if it has the passionate, all-out support and approval of the youth. Indeed, this is the only way that great things will be achieved from now on.” This was his powerful conviction.

Today, I am also creating an age of youth, because our only course for the future is to entrust the youth with the mission of actualizing our grand undertaking of worldwide kosen-rufu. The ranks of our dependable youth have increased not only in Japan but also around the globe. This makes me very happy.

“People with weak life force lose out to those with strong life force,” Mr. Toda observed. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo enables us to increase our life force; we can become healthy in both body and mind. Sharing Nichiren Buddhism with others and advancing our movement for kosen-rufu form the orbit for strengthening our own life force. People whose lives are in sync with this rhythm are strong.

In contrast, those who stray from the organization for kosen-rufu often grow weak. Some may give an outward impression of strength or strut around puffed up with self-importance, but they are in fact weak.

Mr. Toda also said, “A new undertaking begins by breaking out of the bounds of what we have done before.” These are words of profound meaning. I hope you will ponder them well. I would like you to accomplish great work, valuable work.

Mr. Toda declared: “The great endeavor of kosen-rufu is a struggle against devilish functions. We cannot afford to cower at their onslaughts. If we allow them to defeat us, humanity will be forever enveloped in darkness.” Kosen-rufu is a struggle against devilish functions. That’s why we must triumph over them. Doing so leads to the creation of a beautiful realm of peace and happiness.

There is no such thing as a struggle for kosen-rufu that is free of attack by devilish functions. Nichiren Daishonin expressly states, “This world is the domain of the devil king of the sixth heaven” (“Letter to the Brothers,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 495). What is the sharp sword, the decisive means, that enables us to defeat these devilish functions? It is the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Defeating devilish functions and winning countless allies for our movement—this is truly a colossal achievement. It is shakubuku [sharing Buddhism with others]. We must refute error and thoroughly defeat it.

We battle devilish functions to become happy and attain Buddhahood. This struggle is the most powerful driving force and shortest route to realizing a state of life shining with eternal benefit. Mr. Toda called out to us: “Fight fearlessly against devilish functions! Nip their evil in the bud! Never compromise with them!”

If justice and truth are vanquished, humanity will be shrouded in darkness. The only way to save our planet is to forge an ever-widening solidarity of those who champion the cause of good.

Fifty years ago (in March 1955) [now 64 years ago], the Otaru Debate was held in the city of Otaru in Hokkaido. It was a historic religious debate through which we proved unequivocally the legitimacy of the Soka Gakkai’s cause. This face-to-face confrontation arose in response to a request from the Minobu Nichiren school to debate with Nichiren Shoshu. When the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood ran away from this challenge, however, the Soka Gakkai took it up in their stead. News of the impending debate drew wide interest in society.

President Toda gave me and the youth division members carte blanche in conducting the debate, saying: “Daisaku, let’s take on their challenge! Go win us a victory!”

[As youth division chief of staff at the time, Daisaku Ikeda oversaw the Soka Gakkai’s debate strategy. His opening remarks as the emcee for the Soka Gakkai team contained a blistering refutation that effectively demolished the arguments of the opposition from the outset.]

What was the key point for securing victory in that debate? It wasn’t related to the specific content of our argument; rather, Mr. Toda urged us to boldly take the offensive, holding nothing back. It was vital that we actively confront error, he stressed. Let us of the Soka Gakkai always advance with this spirit of taking the offensive.

Mr. Toda said, “True victory belongs to those who win in the end.” He also stated: “Without a fight, justice will be defeated. The Soka Gakkai is in the right, so we cannot afford to lose; we must win at all costs. That’s why it’s so important that we fight. Lions are distinguished by their roar.”

No matter how good or right a cause may be, if it is defeated, then it won’t have any actual impact on society. Justice can only be achieved by winning. Therefore, let us win!
Mr. Toda said insightfully: “Don’t be deterred by insults and criticisms that resound like the din of yapping dogs. Don’t let yourselves be swayed by anything so trivial. Walk the path of heroes. Walk the path of the great. What we’re undergoing now is but a tiny fraction of the obstacles encountered by Nichiren, whose teachings we uphold.” Let us also make our way with the same dauntless state of mind as Mr. Toda!

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), father of Indian independence, once said, “What is faith if it is not translated into action?” Faith is not an abstraction. Action is the true proof of faith.

Many years ago (in November 1973), I met with René Dubos (1901–82), a world-renowned microbiologist, who made important contributions to medicine.

In one of his writings, Dr. Dubos stated, “History teaches that man without effort is sure to deteriorate; man cannot progress without effort, and man cannot be happy without effort.”[1] Without effort, we deteriorate. This is indisputable. No one can become happy without effort.

You may be experiencing various hardships now, but because you continue to make efforts in the midst of those challenges, no matter how painful they are, you will definitely become happy. Effort and happiness are indivisible. With that firm conviction, I hope you will make courageous efforts for kosen-rufu and advance along the supreme path to happiness.


  1. René Dubos, The Torch of Life: Continuity in Living Experience (New York: Pocket Books, 1963), p. 121. ↩︎

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