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Peace, Culture and Education: The Flowering of a New Humanism—Part 8

Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace—The Flowering of a New Humanism

“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.

A Beautiful Realm of Security and Peace

SGI President Ikeda introduces words of praise for the Soka Gakkai’s activities from Dr. Lokesh Chandra, an eminent Indian scholar and authority on the Lotus Sutra, and affirms that the Soka Gakkai’s humanistic network is a beacon of hope for humankind. A message sent to a nationwide prefecture leaders conference, November 13, 2001.

I have been engaged in a dialogue on the philo-sophies of the world with the Indian thinker Dr. Lokesh Chandra.

India is the birthplace of Buddhism and, likewise, the origin of the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, making this exchange of ideas with one of India’s leading intellectuals especially significant for me. The serialization of our dialogue [in the Soka Gakkai study journal, Daibyakurenge] will soon come to a close.[1]

Toward the end of our dialogue, Dr. Chandra generously praised our Soka movement, saying that our contributions to humanity embody a passage from the verse section of the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He then recited the following lines, which are also part of our daily gongyo: “This, my land, remains safe and tranquil, / constantly filled with heavenly and human beings” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 272).

It appears as part of this longer portion of the verse section that reads:

When living beings witness the end of a kalpa[2] and all is consumed in a great fire, this, my land, remains safe and tranquil, constantly filled with heavenly and human beings. The halls and pavilions in its gardens and groves are adorned with various kinds of gems. Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit where living beings enjoy themselves at ease. The gods strike heavenly drums, constantly making many kinds of music. Mandarava blossoms[3] rain down, scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly. (LSOC, 272)

The eminent Indian philosopher concluded that our Soka movement proclaims the joy of human existence, promotes a spiritual flowering and strives to expand cooperation for peace, in perfect accord with these lines from the verse section of the “Life Span” chapter, which is the heart of the Lotus Sutra. He also stated that the Soka Gakkai is “unique in the world of today in making values central to life.”[4]

Transcending national borders and ethnic differences, the Soka Gakkai is helping one person after another reveal the highest life state of Buddhahood and shine as a “treasure tower” brimming with the “greatest of all joys” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212). Our community centers and training centers are like “the halls and pavilions in [the] gardens and groves” described in the sutra, serving as great bastions of security and prosperity in each community where they stand.

At the same time, the Soka Gakkai overflows with the power of humanistic education. The flowers of youth bloom fragrantly, and the fruit of victory adorns the lives of those in their golden years.

The Fife and Drum Corps, Music Corps and our many choral groups constantly treat us to wonderful music performances. Our organization abounds with the creative power of culture, led by the vibrant activities of our arts division members.

Just as beautiful “Mandarava blossoms rain down” from the heavens in the sutra, the Soka Gakkai is showered with trust, praise and support from people all around the world.

Our united gathering of Soka is the epitome of human harmony. It is a model of creative coexistence and embodies the ideal of a culture of peace.

As members of the Soka Gakkai, which is faithfully carrying on Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, let us continue expanding, deepening and fortifying our humanistic network—a beacon of hope for the new century—for the sake of world peace and the security of all humankind.

Nothing Is More Barbarous Than War

In a message to young people, President Ikeda relates his personal experience of living through wartime, the starting point of his activities for peace. A message sent to the entrance ceremony of the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools in Tokyo and Kansai, April 8, 2005.

On this occasion, I am reminded of my own youth. Sixty years ago, on August 15, 1945, World War II ended for Japan. I was 17 at the time, the same age as many of you, the high school students gathered today. My family lived in what is now Ota Ward, Tokyo. I was the fifth born among eight children. One after another, my four older brothers had been drafted into the military and sent to battlegrounds in China and other regions.

My father, who ran a seaweed processing business, suffered from rheumatism, and this made it difficult for him to work. How painful it was for him to see his four sons, who were in the prime of their youth and a major support to him, taken off to war in rapid succession. It was also incredibly hard for my mother.

My two younger brothers, my younger sister and I were still at home. To contribute to the family finances in some small way, I delivered newspapers from the time I was in elementary school.

After graduating from the national people’s school (equivalent to elementary and junior high school), I got a job at the nearby Niigata Steelworks (in 1942), where one of my older brothers had been employed. It wasn’t possible for me to continue my schooling because I had to help support my family.

We had all lived happily together in a spacious, two-story house up to the time I was in fifth grade (in 1938). But as the clouds of war grew ever darker, we were forced to sell the house, and the property was later turned into a munitions factory. We moved to another house nearby, but were later ordered to evacuate [so that the area could be turned into a firebreak amid the intensifying bombing raids over Tokyo].

We then decided to move to the home of my mother’s younger sister, into a separate wing that would be added to the house. Once it was completed, we used a pull cart to haul our possessions there. It was the night of May 24, 1945, and we were all looking forward to living together in our new home the next day. In an air raid that night, however, it sustained a direct hit from an incendiary bomb and burned to the ground.

We somehow managed to save a single storage chest and bring it with us. When we opened it, however, it only contained my younger sister’s traditional Girls’ Day dolls. Overnight, we had lost literally everything. But despite this, my dauntless mother comforted and reassured us, saying, “I’m sure we’ll live in a fine house again one day where we can display these dolls.”

Even after the war ended, it was quite a while before my brothers returned home. We would look on with envy when we saw other demobilized soldiers coming home alive and well. It wasn’t until May 1947 that we received the news of the death of my eldest brother, with whom I had been very close. I will never forget seeing my mother trying to hold back her tears when she finally received the tragic news.

In those days, I had tuberculosis, and I suffered from drenching night sweats and painful coughing that was often accompanied by bloody phlegm. I was thin as a rail, and the doctor advised that I be sent to a sanatorium in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, but it wasn’t possible.

The war caused terrible suffering for my family and made my youth one of great hardship. We were by no means alone in this regard. Families across Japan endured untold misery—and not just in Japan, but across Asia and around the world, countless people through no fault of their own were tragically sacrificed in the war.

Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing more cruel. That’s why I hate war, and am forever opposed to the devilish nature of authority that causes it. My absolute commitment to pacifism, to fight for peace throughout my life, was engraved in my being when I was a youth.

Essay Excerpt: A Piece of Mirror

President Ikeda knows from personal experience that mothers and children are the ones who suffer the most in war. This excerpt from an essay titled “A Piece of Mirror” conveys his wish that all people can lead happy, secure lives—the essential spirit of the Soka Gakkai’s movement for peace. Adapted from the essay “A Piece of Mirror,” first published in Japanese in November 1968.

I have in my possession a mirror. Actually, it’s nothing more than a piece of broken glass about the size of my palm. It has fine scratches on both sides, but still functions perfectly as a looking glass. It is one of those bits of broken mirror, somewhat on the thick side, the kind that you might find in any trash heap. But to me it is a precious keepsake.

My parents married in 1915, and as part of her trousseau my mother brought along a dressing table fitted with a very nice mirror. No doubt that same mirror reflected the young bride in her wedding finery, casting back an image clear and undistorted.

Twenty years or so later, however, the mirror somehow or other was broken. My eldest brother, Kiichi, and I happened to be home at the time, and we sorted out the fragments and picked out two of the larger ones to keep for ourselves.

Not long after that, the war broke out. My four older brothers went off to the front one by one—some to fight in China, others in Southeast Asia. My mother, her four oldest sons taken away from her, tried not to show her grief; but she suddenly grew visibly older.

Then, the daily air raids on Tokyo began. It pained me to see my mother suffering. Thinking it might somehow protect her, I kept the piece of mirror always with me, carefully tucked inside my shirt, as I dodged my way through the fire bombs that fell all around us.

After the war, when we finally received official notification that my eldest brother had been killed in the fighting in Burma (Myanmar), I couldn’t help thinking of the piece of mirror I knew he must have been carrying in the breast pocket of his uniform. I could imagine him, during lulls in the fighting, taking it out and looking at his unshaven face, thinking longingly of his mother back home. I knew how he must have felt, because I had a piece of my mother’s mirror, too. Learning he had died, I took out my piece of mirror and thought of him.

In the troubled times after Japan’s defeat, I decided to leave home and moved into a small one-room apartment. It was spartan and bare, without so much as a mirror, but I had brought my piece of broken mirror with me and kept it in my desk drawer. My mirror served me well: Every morning before I went to work, I would take it out and look at my gaunt face, shave, comb my hair and apply pomade to keep it in place. That one time each day, when I held the mirror in my hand, I would think of my mother, and almost unconsciously would find myself whispering in my heart, “Good morning, Mother.”

• • •

In 1952, when I married, my wife brought along with her a brand-new dressing table, and from that time on I looked at my face in that new mirror.

One day, I found my wife examining my piece of broken mirror with a puzzled expression. She must have thought it was a worthless piece of junk that wouldn’t even interest a child. When I saw that the mirror was likely to end up in the trash basket, I told my wife about the history attached to it, of the link it formed with my mother and with the brother who had been killed in the war.

She managed to find a small box made of paulownia wood and stored the piece of mirror away in it. It’s still safe in its box today.

Even an old fountain pen, if it happened to have belonged to some great writer, is a source of fascination for people, seeming to speak of the secrets behind the masterpieces written with it.

My piece of broken mirror will forever tell the story of those hard-to-describe days of my youth, my mother’s prayers and the sad fate of my eldest brother.

To be continued in an upcoming issue.

Translated from the November 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. The dialogue was published in English under the title Buddhism: A Way of Values in 2009. ↩︎
  2. Kalpa: An extremely long period of time. ↩︎
  3. Mandarava blossoms: A flower said to bloom in heaven. It is fragrant, and its beauty delights those who see it. In Buddhist sutras, mandaravas and other heavenly flowers rain down from the heavens when a Buddha preaches or when other wonderful events occur. ↩︎
  4. Lokesh Chandra and Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhism: A Way of Values (New Delhi: Eternal Ganges Press, 2009), p. 226. ↩︎

Further Expanding and Strengthening Our Movement for the Sake of Humanity

Building Humanity’s Future—The Noble Endeavor of Fostering the Next Generation