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Ikeda Sensei

Being Good to Our Parents Is the Path of Human Revolution

Nanjo Tokimitsu


This guidance from SGI President Ikeda originally appeared in the June 1, 2018, issue of the Mirai [Future] Journal, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the junior high and high school divisions.

June 6 is the birthday of first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. The following day, June 7, marks the anniversary of the high school division’s founding in Japan in 1964.

On that day, inaugural meetings were held in various places throughout Tokyo, and I enthusiastically attended one of them. I said to the new high school division members there, “I hope that all of you will exert yourselves in faith, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in earnest and make the wonderful life philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism the foundation of your lives.” I stand by those words to this day.

Later that same year, I embarked on another endeavor for the future of our young successors—my novel, The Human Revolution. On Dec. 2, six months after I established the high school division, I began writing it in Okinawa, a place I was resolved to make a fresh starting point for peace.

More than half a century has passed since I took up this “battle of the pen.” I am now in the process of completing “Vow,” the last chapter of volume 30, the final volume of The New Human Revolution [the sequel to The Human Revolution].[1] My wish is to leave a written record of our movement for you, my dear friends.

The common theme of both novels is: “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”

Peace starts with transforming our own life. From there, while cherishing the person in front of us, we can change our environment, the future and the world.

As a concrete first step in doing this, I have always encouraged future division members to be good to their parents and caretakers, treating them with kindness and appreciation.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, often urged the youth to view Nichiren Daishonin’s young disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu as a role model, especially in their behavior and attitude toward their parents.

After the death of his father while he was still a child, Tokimitsu cared for and supported his mother. The Daishonin wrote to him: “A person who upholds the Lotus Sutra [the Gohonzon] is repaying the debt of gratitude owed to father and mother. Even if one does not feel in one’s own heart that one can do so, one can repay it through the power of this sutra” (“Four Virtues and Four Debts of Gratitude,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 638).

Tokimitsu was around 16 when he received this letter from the Daishonin. Because his older brother had also passed away, Tokimitsu was the young pillar of his family. Nichiren encourages him, saying that steadfastly upholding faith in the Mystic Law will illuminate his family with the light of good fortune and victory.

The Daishonin also gives a specific example of how to be kind to one’s parents, writing: “Being filial toward one’s father and mother means that … one … is always mindful of providing a parent with all manner of good things, and if this happens to be impossible, in the course of a day one at least smiles twice or thrice in their direction” (“Four Virtues and Four Debts of Gratitude,” WND-2, 636).

Some of you may find it embarrassing to smile at your parents. And some may at times feel annoyed when they nag or tell you what to do. But remember that their sole concern is your growth and happiness. That’s why they can’t help but get on your case sometimes.

A smile from you would make them incredibly happy. A smile can fill your family with joy and enable you and your parents to move along the path of hope.

There may be circumstances in which some of you find it difficult to show kindness and appreciation to your parents. But please don’t worry. It can be a lifelong, or even eternal, process. Your feelings of gratitude will communicate to your parents without fail.

Moreover, you are all able to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Always remember that your chanting reaches the lives of your deceased family members as well.

Human revolution is not something that happens outside of our everyday lives. It can be as simple as being able to say “thank you” to your parents when you weren’t able to before, or helping out with household chores that you used to dislike. These types of changes are all examples of human revolution, and they will surely make your parents happy. I am certain that your parents will be deeply moved by such efforts on your part.

Many of your parents are striving hard to contribute to their communities and society. Your acts of kindness and appreciation will invigorate them, which will in turn invigorate their communities and society even more. This is the profound principle of human revolution.

On the subject of being good to one’s parents, I am reminded of the beautiful relationship between former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his only daughter, Irina.

When I reunited with Mr. Gorbachev during his trip to Japan in November 2001, Irina accompanied him. Two years earlier, Mr. Gorbachev’s wife, Raisa, had passed away of acute leukemia. I said to Irina, who had overcome her profound grief at her mother’s passing and was serving as Gorbachev Foundation vice president: “Our memories of your mother will always be with us, in our hearts; they will never fade. Please continue to take care of your father, in your mother’s place! Caring for your father is caring for the world because your father is a great world leader.”

Mr. Gorbachev gazed at Irina happily as she nodded and smiled in response.

In hopes that they would continue to move forward together, I also shared with them an anecdote about the eminent Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) and his beloved daughter Alexandra. He told his daughter that those who know that true happiness is found in spiritual growth are free, and no one can ever take that happiness away from them.

Spiritual growth is none other than human revolution. When you make a firm determination to grow and develop, no matter how challenging your circumstances, wherever you are becomes the stage for your human revolution.

One cold winter day, Mr. Toda served warm noodle soup to a group of young women’s division members and encouraged them: “I hope that you will have warm hearts, just like this noodle soup. Young people, especially, should have kind, generous hearts so that they can be good to their parents.” A warm, generous heart is indeed the key to helping many people.

Being good to one’s parents is the path of human revolution and the path to becoming an outstanding person.

Today, again, let’s carry out our human revolution with optimism, wisdom and good cheer, while always having a smile for our parents and family members!


  1. On Aug. 6, 2018, SGI President Ikeda completed the final installment of The New Human Revolution, which was published in the Seikyo Shimbun on Sept. 8, 2018. ↩︎

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