Skip to main content

Feature

Founding A Global Peace

Guam two lovers point
SEGAWA7 / GETTY IMAGES

On Jan. 26, 1975, 158 representatives from 51 countries and territories gathered for the First World Peace Conference on the Pacific Island of Guam, the site of intense fighting during the Pacific War. Here, the group established the Soka Gakkai International, naming Daisaku Ikeda its president.

Having bore witness to the horrors of war in the 20th century, the founding members vowed to make the forthcoming century a “Century of Life.” Their charge: to instill in ordinary people a spirit of compassion for all living beings in accord with the Buddhist principle of the sanctity of life.

Symbolizing this resolve, SGI President Ikeda designated “The World” as his nationality in the event guest book. This Jan. 26 marks the 45th anniversary of the SGI’s founding.

Under President Ikeda’s leadership, the SGI has grown into a broad-
ranging Buddhist movement centered on peace, culture and education. With more than 12 million Buddhist practitioners in 192 countries and territories, the SGI is the largest and most diverse lay Buddhist movement in the world.

In the following excerpt from volume 21 of The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda recalls addressing the 158 representatives at the meeting, following the SGI’s establishment. President Ikeda appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Showing his deep appreciation for the sincere efforts of the participants who had gathered from 51 countries and territories, Shin’ichi Yamamoto spoke of the significance of the First World Peace Conference: “It could be said that this is a small conference, a gathering of nameless people from various countries and territories. But I believe that today’s gathering will shine brilliantly in history for centuries to come, and your names will no doubt be engraved not only in the saga of the worldwide spread of Buddhism but in human history, as well.”

Shin’ichi spoke with conviction. His feelings were perfectly reflected in the words of Victor Hugo (1802–85): “We who believe, what can we fear? There is no backward flow of ideas more than of rivers.”

Continuing on, Shin’ichi pointed out that the precedence of the logic of profit and of military, political and economic power in contemporary society was a hindrance to peace and a source of the constant state of tension in the world. He stressed that a higher religious philosophy would have the power to overcome the impediments to peace, bring humanity together and open an enduring path to peace.

Shin’ichi cited a passage from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin: “If the spirit of many in body but one in mind prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals” (“Many in Body, One in Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 618). He then emphasized that if the peoples of all nations worked together in unity, based on the principle of the sanctity of life, lasting peace would be achieved without fail . . .

Shin’ichi’s words grew more impassioned: “The sun of Nichiren Buddhism has begun to rise above the distant horizon. Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same. At times I will lead in the forefront, at other times I shall stand by your side, and at still other times, I will watch over you from behind the scenes. I will always be supporting you with all my heart.”

Shin’ichi closed by ardently calling out to the participants, “As courageous, compassionate and dedicated disciples of Nichiren Daishonin who are fully committed to truth and justice, please live out your whole lives in a positive and uplifting way, striving for the prosperity of your countries, the happiness of the people and the precious existence of humankind itself.”

As soon as Shin’ichi’s words were translated into the various languages, the room burst into applause. They clapped till their hands were red.

On that day, at that time, on the island of Guam, the members from around the globe rose up for the sake of peace together with Shin’ichi Yamamoto, the president of the SGI, burning with pride as his disciples.

vol. 21, pp. 31–34

Connecting With the Person in Front of Me

Propagation Means Ensuring New Members Are Happy and Victorious