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Peace, Culture and Education: The Future Division—Part 3

Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace—The Future Division: The Key to the Ongoing Development of Kosen-rufu

“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.

With the conclusion of this series, readers strongly requested that two key themes vital to advancing kosen-rufu be further explored: raising the future division and the importance of Buddhist study. Additional guidance from SGI President Ikeda on these themes will be covered in this and upcoming issues of Living Buddhism.

Children Are Our Treasures

Touching upon his experience as the editor-in-chief of a children’s magazine when he was young, SGI President Ikeda expresses his limitless hopes and expectations for future generations. Adapted from the essay series “The Light of the Century of Humanity,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, on April 1, 2006.

When I was 21, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda appointed me editor-in-chief of a magazine called Boys’ Adventure, which was later renamed Boys’ Japan. I resolved to make the magazine the best in Japan, putting all my youthful energy into the task. I adored kids and wanted to impart courage and hope to them.

Envisaging the vibrant potential of young people, I wrote in my diary at that time, “We must consider them the treasures of our nation, for they are builders of the society to come.”[1]I fervently believe this to this day.

Praising the son of his disciples Abutsu-bo and the lay nun Sennichi, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “There is no treasure greater than a child!” (“The Treasure of a Filial Child,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1045). Their son, Tokuro Moritsuna, had grown into a fine successor and, like his father, traveled long distances [from Sado Island to Mount Minobu] to visit Nichiren. He decided to follow the path of highest good alongside his great mentor, just as his parents had taught him.

The realization of kosen-rufu will be nothing but an empty dream unless we create a great river of transmission, unceasingly passing on the correct teaching of Buddhism from one generation to the next, from parents to children and on to grandchildren. Each child is the treasure of their family, of society and of the world. Indeed, children are treasures of the future, of humanity, and irreplaceable treasures of Soka. That’s why it is so important to transmit the true spirit of faith, of the Soka Gakkai, to our children. That is our responsibility to the future.

How do we nurture people of promise? How do we help them develop their fresh and vibrant potential? The fate of the 21st century hinges on these questions.

Fostering Successors Who Will Surpass Us

Since his own youth, President Ikeda has dedicated himself to encouraging and supporting younger members. Likewise, he has always sought to treat children as his equals and as full-fledged individuals in their own right. Adapted from the essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, on July 22, 1998.

“One should regard the young with awe”[2] goes a famous Confucian saying.

Striving sincerely and earnestly to inspire and foster young people to be even more capable than ourselves is the tradition of the Soka Gakkai.

From the time of my youth, I have always made a point of talking with children, including those of families who opened their homes for meetings. I would treat them as my young friends in faith and give them whatever encouragement I could.

I’m reminded of one episode that took place around 1950. I was visiting a family in Tsurumi, Yokohama, when the mother showed me a letter she had received from her son. He was in his mid-teens and had found work in another prefecture to help out with the family finances. He wrote that he was living in a room he shared with several others, making it difficult to do gongyo. He would therefore take his towel and soap and say he was going to the public bath, but actually climb the hill behind the house and do gongyo there.

When I finished reading the letter, I immediately took up my pen. Wishing to convey to him the message “You have a mission only you can fulfill! Don’t give up!” I wrote the following:

Friend, be strong,
and stand up with courage!
I have faith in you,
in your sincere devotion.
Your arduous efforts at work
and your late-night studies—
they, too, are training for your life.
Embrace struggles with joy!
Your conviction, your passion,
are definitely known to the Buddha.

I was delighted to hear afterward that the young man was inspired and energized by these words.

Later, that poem was set to music, becoming the opening verse in the Soka Gakkai song “Friend, Be Strong,” which many of our young members have sung.

The greatest treasure we can leave for the future is capable successors. And it is those who discover and nurture individuals of promise who are themselves truly capable. Through this process of fostering others, we polish and develop ourselves.

The Growth of Future Division Members Holds the Key to Victory

President Ikeda reflects on how he poured his energy into fostering the future division members during a period when the Soka Gakkai was facing harsh criticism, always keeping his sights set firmly on the future. Adapted from the essay series “The Light of the Century of Humanity,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, on February 16 and 17, 2008.

Looking back at the history of Buddhism, Nichiren Daishonin notes: “Even when … [Buddhist] priests set out from Japan to take some sutras [back] to China, no one was found there who could embrace these sutras and teach them to others. It was as though there were only wooden or stone statues garbed in priests’ robes and carrying begging bowls” (“On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” WND-1, 401).

The only way to perpetuate the correct teachings and principles of Buddhism into the future is to continually foster those who will embrace, practice and pass them on to others.

In 1966, I held a series of lectures for high school division members on Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. I gave my absolute all to the task, and together we studied the following passages from “Letter from Sado”:

Only by defeating a powerful enemy can one prove one’s real strength. When an evil ruler in consort with priests of erroneous teachings tries to destroy the correct teaching and do away with a man of wisdom, those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood. (WND-1, 302)

Iron, when heated in the flames and pounded, becomes a fine sword. Worthies and sages are tested by abuse. (WND-1, 303)

It has been, and always will be, the tradition of Soka mentors and disciples to engrave these golden words in their hearts. It has been so ever since the time of founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who laid down his life for his beliefs.

I was determined that our movement would come into its own in the 21st century.

In 1970, shortly after our May 3 Soka Gakkai Headquarters general meeting, held amid criticism resulting from the so-called Freedom of Speech incident,[3] I gave a press conference at which several journalists asked deliberately provocative and disparaging questions about the Soka Gakkai’s future.

I replied: “Please wait and see how the Soka Gakkai develops in the 21st century! We’ll have a steady stream of outstanding individuals who are making great contributions to society. That will be the proof of my victory!”

The growth of our future division and youth division members would guarantee the Soka Gakkai’s successful development. Firm in that belief, I withstood every attack and opened the great path for truth and justice.

• • •

There are now [in 2008] some 35,000 noble Bodhisattvas of the Earth striving for kosen-rufu in India, the birthplace of Buddhism. Some 40 percent of them are youth division members, and of those, an impressive 30 percent belong to the future division. [As of 2019, the membership of Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai exceeds 200,000, over half of which are members of the youth division and future division.] One can always find future division members, brimming with the mentor-disciple spirit, actively taking part in discussion meetings by performing skits and contributing in other ways. I have heard that many older members, moved by the inspiring examples of these young people, are applying themselves to Buddhist study with ever greater joy and enthusiasm.

Teaching the “courage of a lion king” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997) to our precious lion cubs of the future division is the way to ensure the ongoing development of kosen-rufu.

Behold! The time has now come when my youthful disciples are vibrantly active on the grand stage of the 21st century. I have won! The Soka Gakkai, too, has triumphed and will continue to do so forever, thanks to the lionlike spirit of courageous young disciples.

To be continued in an upcoming issue.

Translated from the January 2018 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. Daisaku Ikeda, A Youthful Diary: One Man’s Journey from the Beginning of Faith to Worldwide Leadership for Peace (Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2000), p. 11. ↩︎
  2. The Analects of Confucius, translated by Simon Leys (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1997), p. 42. ↩︎
  3. This refers to the Freedom of Speech Incident, the name given to a controversy that arose in 1970 when the Soka Gakkai tried to defend itself from libel. For further details, see the “Fierce Winds” chapter of The New Human Revolution, vol. 14. ↩︎

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