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Peace, Culture and Education: Conclusion: Toward the Future—Part 2

Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace—Conclusion: Toward the Future

“The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace” is a three-part series that features key selections from SGI President Ikeda’s collected works, which thus far have been compiled into 150 volumes in Japanese. These selections introduce core concepts expressing the wisdom and universal message of Nichiren Buddhism. Through this series, SGI members throughout the world are able to simultaneously study the SGI president’s thought and philosophy.

Standing Always on the Side of the People

Discussing their vision for the future, SGI President Ikeda and British historian Arnold J. Toynbee agreed that the Middle Way is the path that humanity must follow. Here, President Ikeda elaborates on the significance of the Middle Way and articulates the eternal mission of the Soka Gakkai. From the study lecture series Learning From the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin: The Teachings for Victory, published in Japanese in March 2015.

I met and talked with the great British historian Arnold Toynbee at his London home in 1972 and 1973.

At the start of our conversation, Dr. Toynbee’s kind gaze suddenly sparkled with keen anticipation as he said: “Mr. Ikeda, I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time … I’m much concerned, as you are, about what’s going to happen long after even you and, certainly, I are no longer in this world.”[1]

When we met, Dr. Toynbee was 84 and I was 45. We engaged in an earnest discussion about overcoming self-centeredness, transcending the limitations of nationalism and numerous other important issues confronting humankind.

Toward the end of our dialogue in 1973, I asked him if he had any personal advice for me. Prefacing his reply with the words, “I think it rather impertinent for me to give personal advice to you, because I am an academic person and you are a man of action,” he went on: “I think we agree about what a human being should do with his life. The Middle Way—as you yourself have said—is the way to follow.”[2]

The Middle Way is the way of humanism based on the Buddhist principle of respect for the dignity of life. It is to take a gradualist approach, always advancing with and for the people.

Dr. Toynbee continued: “I’m sure that the Soka Gakkai is looking very far ahead. This is what we should all do.”[3]

It is now more than a decade since we entered the 21st century, and Dr. Toynbee’s words have acquired ever greater weight. As the times grow more confused, the need for the Middle Way, in which we never lose sight of what is most fundamental and important, is increasingly urgent.

Buddhist humanism means always standing on the side of the people. This is the true path of Nichiren Buddhism.

Working for the happiness of others and sincerely valuing the person right in front of us require having limitless faith in the highest positive potential inherent within each individual. That faith and conviction are the driving force for building a network of hope and opening the way to a brighter future.

Forever Connected by Our Great Vow for Kosen-rufu

In a message to a gongyo meeting commemorating Soka Gakkai Foundation Day in November 2013, the same month in which the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu opened, President Ikeda discusses the nature of the Buddha and eternal life. He declares that the mentor-disciple bond endures eternally through the shared vow for kosen-rufu. This is also the fundamental key to the ongoing development of the Soka Gakkai. From a message to a gongyo meeting commemorating Soka Gakkai Foundation Day, Tokyo, November 18, 2013.

The essential teaching (the latter 14 chapters) of the Lotus Sutra reveals that the life of the Buddha is eternal and imperishable from time without beginning (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 267). “Life Span,” the sutra’s 16th chapter, which is the heart of the essential teaching, concludes with these lines:

At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha? (LSOC, 273)

In other words, the Buddha is constantly thinking about how to guide all living beings to the supreme path and enable them to quickly attain enlightenment.

The life state of Buddhahood is characterized by one’s mind and one’s life being filled with a fervent wish for people’s happiness and an unwavering commitment to keep striving in this suffering-filled saha world[4] to help everyone attain Buddhahood. Because the Buddha is eternally dedicated to this vow, the life of the Buddha is eternal. Nichiren Daishonin refers to this constant thought that occupies the Buddha’s mind as “the compassionate vow of the Buddha” (see “Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 62), without which the eternal Buddha cannot exist.

In the midst of the Atsuhara Persecution,[5] Nichiren wrote to his youthful follower Nanjo Tokimitsu, “My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (“The Dragon Gate,” WND-1, 1003). He further assured Tokimitsu that if he strove to realize the vow for kosen-rufu until the last moment of his life, he would attain the vast and expansive life state of Buddhahood, eternal and indestructible—his life merging with the life of the universe like “a drop of dew rejoining the ocean, or a speck of dust returning to the earth” (WND-1, 1003).

We of the Soka Gakkai, connected by the bonds of mentor and disciple, are a gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Like first and second Soka Gakkai Presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda before us, we have made a great vow to realize kosen-rufu through the compassionate propagation of the Mystic Law, in complete accord with the Daishonin’s wish. We have exerted ourselves tirelessly to fulfill this vow, while battling the onslaughts of the three powerful enemies[6] in this corrupt and degenerate age of the Latter Day of the Law.

Our steadfast members have resolutely triumphed over slander and abuse, overcome the storms of their personal karma, and transformed the four sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death into the boundless joy of a life imbued with the four noble virtues of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.

Based on the Buddhist principle of the oneness of life and death, I am firmly convinced that all the members of our Soka family who have passed away in the course of our struggle for kosen-rufu are also present at today’s assembly in the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu.

We have the Gohonzon, the path of mentor and disciple and our fellow members—all of which are dedicated to the realization of the great vow for kosen-rufu. And we are forever connected as mentor and disciple by this great vow.

Solidly united in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind,” sharing both joys and sufferings together, let us continue on this fulfilling and victorious journey of life in high spirits, harmony and good cheer.

Donning “the armor of perseverance” (LSOC, 233), speaking out with courage and wisely uniting the hearts of people all around the world, let us build on this Earth a realm of peace and happiness embodying Nichiren’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”

Make Your Life a Beacon

On April 2, 2000, a convocation in tribute to the spiritual legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi was held at Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, which was Dr. King’s alma mater. In his message to the event, referencing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, President Ikeda speaks of his vision of entrusting the principle of respect for the dignity of life to future generations. From a message[7] sent to Millennium Sunday, A Gathering of Spiritual Awareness, held at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, April 2, 2000.

The Soka Gakkai’s first and second presidents were imprisoned for resisting Japan’s fascist government during World War II. Supporting this oppression were corrupt priests who betrayed the spirit of Buddhism. Our first president died in prison as a result of such persecution. Our second president emerged from his two-year struggle as a prisoner and initiated a movement to bring spiritual awareness to the people of postwar Japan.

Today, April 2, marks the anniversary of the passing of my mentor, our second president.

My mentor had a dream. His dream, he stated, was to “rid the world of misery.”

Throughout his life, my mentor acted as the greatest ally of the sick and the poor. Amid the bitter divisions of the Cold War, he advocated the ideal of global citizenship and the abolition of nuclear weapons. For 42 years since my mentor’s passing, I have dedicated my life to bringing his dream closer to reality.

The ultimate and most wonderful of human relationships is that shared by successors to a lofty spiritual legacy. Even animals have relationships similar to those we have between parent and child, siblings, spouses, partners and friends. However, the relationship of mentor and disciple, of spiritual successors, exists only among human beings.

With this in mind, I ask that you join me in transmitting a message to our successors, our children: “Have a dream! If you have a dream you will someday approach that dream!”

Let us tell our children: “Overcome your obstacles and advance! You have the energy and mission to make the world a better place. When you awaken to this fact, your talents will fully blossom. You will be surprised at how strong you have become.”

Let us tell our children: “Resist and oppose evil. Say ‘No’ to drugs, to violence and to destructive temptations. Only when you respect and cherish yourselves will you gain the respect of others. Only when you care for yourselves can you care for others.”

Children are envoys from the future. To speak with children is to speak with the future. Their problems will be different from those of our generation—they may face problems we can’t even begin to imagine. Therefore, let us support them and lend them a helping hand, so that they may stand up and move forward with courage.

Let us tell our children: “To witness evil and yet stand silently by is to be an ally to evil. Failure to do good yields the same result as doing bad. Each time you overlook evil, you allow another malicious weed to take root. To exclude others is violence. To ignore, disregard or be apathetic toward injustice is also violence.”

And let us tell our children: “Don’t let your spirit rest! Give expression to the empathy and humanity you possess. Act! Break loose from the restraints of laziness and cowardice, and begin something new. Only in action is there growth of the spirit. Only in growth of the spirit does one find happiness. Happiness can never be bought.”

Let us tell our children: “You must never forget! Never forget those who came before you, those who held high the torch of hope during the long, dark night and fell on the way. Never forget that previous generations have struggled on behalf of those who had suffered before them and also for the sake of you, their children, grandchildren and all those who will follow in the future.”

Let us tell our children: “What would make your predecessors happiest is for you to carry on their struggle, to fight for the happiness of future generations as they have, and to care and work for those who are suffering. When you do this, you will come to understand why those before you were able to hold their heads high and live with pride despite being surrounded by cruelty and lies. You will come to understand why they never gave up on their dreams, no matter how often they were betrayed. You will begin to know why they stood tall and kept marching ahead, despite rocks being thrown and guns being aimed at them. It was all to provide you with a wonderful future!”

And lastly, let us tell our children: “Love the people! Live splendid lives! Make your life a beacon that will illuminate the darkness ahead. Be a guidepost to point the way for future generations. Work together to create the world of the 21st century, a world where there is no murder, a society where no one is neglected or left behind. Build a monument of achievement that glows with the light of human fellowship!”

This concludes the series “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace.”

Translated from the December 2017 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

With President Ikeda’s permission, some minor edits and revisions have been made to the original Japanese, and excerpts of remarks originally in dialogue format have been recast as monologues for ease of reading.

—Selected Excerpts Editorial Committee


  1. From a transcript of their dialogue. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. Ibid. ↩︎
  4. Saha world: This world, which is full of suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. In Sanskrit, saha means the “earth”; it derives from a root meaning “to bear” or “to endure.” For this reason, in the Chinese versions of Buddhist scriptures, saha is rendered as endurance. In this context, the saha world indicates a world in which people must endure suffering. ↩︎
  5. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against followers of Nichiren Daishonin in Atsuhara Village in Suruga Province (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture), starting in around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. In 1279, 20 farmer disciples were arrested on false charges. They were interrogated by Hei no Saemon-no-jo, the deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs, who demanded that they renounce their faith. However, not one of them yielded. Hei no Saemon-no-jo eventually had three of them executed. ↩︎
  6. Three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in the concluding verse section of “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. ↩︎
  7. Original translation with minor edits and revisions. ↩︎

Faith in Revolution

Repeatedly Strengthening Our Resolve