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Buddhist Study

“An Indescribable Joy”


This guidance is from section 26.2 of “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace” series, published in the December 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 54.

[First Soka Gakkai President] Tsunesaburo Makiguchi began practicing Nichiren Buddhism at the age of 57, in 1928, the year I was born. He was by no means a young man. In terms of the average life expectancy at that time, he would have been considered elderly. In other words, he started practicing Nichiren Buddhism in the concluding chapter of his life, and yet he created an indelible record of achievement in the history of kosen-rufu.

In his final years, he engaged in an unremitting struggle against Japan’s militarist authorities and died a noble death in prison for his beliefs. Describing how he felt when he embarked on the path of Buddhist practice, Mr. Makiguchi wrote:

When I made that great decision and finally committed myself to practicing Nichiren Buddhism, I came to fully comprehend and appreciate in my daily life Nichiren Daishonin’s words: “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs” (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376). With an indescribable joy, I completely changed the way I had lived for almost 60 years.[1]

Mr. Makiguchi uses the phrase an indescribable joy. Through adopting the fundamental way of life of Nichiren Buddhism, he completely transformed how he had lived up until then, and found himself able to freely and energetically take action in society. His words convey to us his exuberance in asserting that nothing could compare to the joy of this experience.

This is none other than the benefit of practicing Nichiren Buddhism, and it is important that we continue to live with such joy day after day, just as a river flows unceasingly. And it is through deep, strong faith that we are able to elevate and expand the joy in our hearts. That is why Mr. Makiguchi taught that we must let nothing destroy our joy, and also never let anyone or anything destroy our Buddhist faith and practice, the source of our joyful spirit and way of life.

Mr. Makiguchi continued: “The anxiety that came from searching in the dark for life’s answers completely evaporated [once I started practicing Nichiren Buddhism], and my inborn reserve and diffidence disappeared. My goals in life became increasingly grander and loftier, and my fears dwindled.”[2]

So long as you live, do so with confidence and courage, dedicated to a grand purpose!—this was the spirit of the Soka Gakkai’s founder, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.

I hope each of you will take his spirit deeply to heart and proudly live true to your mission while striving to realize our lofty shared goal.


  1. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Works of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1984), vol. 8, p. 406. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎

Ikeda Wisdom Academy: June 2019

Commentary on Volume 6