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Spreading the Great Light of Human Revolution

Youth take in the North America and Oceania Study Conference, held Feb. 1–4 at the Florida Nature and Culture Center, Weston, Fla. PHOTO BY VICTOR GOLDEN

“As long as suffering and misery exist anywhere on our planet, we must continue to weave with rich color and bold creativity the magnificent tapestry of human victory that is kosen-rufu. That is why our mentor-disciple journey to realize the great vow for kosen-rufu will continue forever.”[1]

—SGI President Ikeda, from the afterword to The New Human Revolution

This year, members around the world began studying The New Human Revolution in earnest with the determination to both embody and eternally transmit the history of kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai spirit.

And SGI-USA members have made this the focus of their monthly district study meeting, with the aid of a monthly study guide titled “The Brilliant Path of Worldwide Kosen-rufu: Learning From The New Human Revolution” being serialized in Living Buddhism.

At the North America and Oceania Study Conference, SGI Vice Study Leader Nobuo Fukase dedicated a lecture to studying President Ikeda’s 30-volume lifetime work as the means to learn about the vow for kosen-rufu and process of building peace through the philosophy and actions of Shin’ichi Yamamoto, the pseudonym for President Ikeda in the novel.

While President Ikeda’s 12-volume work, The Human Revolution, begins with Josei Toda’s release from prison and continues to Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president after Mr. Toda’s passing, The New Human Revolution starts with Shin’ichi’s first overseas guidance trip to the U.S. five months after his inauguration.

In the afterword to NHR, Sensei shares that writing both novels represented his struggle as a disciple to declare the greatness of his mentor, Josei Toda, to the world.

The true greatness of the mentor is demonstrated by the lives and achievements of the disciples. In addition, to communicate Mr. Toda’s spirit to future generations, I knew I would have to chronicle the path taken by the disciples who carried on his legacy.[2]

No matter what the age, the unchanging and fundamental principle for kosen-rufu is for one person to stand up alone, Mr. Fukase told the audience. “Kosen-rufu progresses when a disciple stands alone and fights,” he said. “The New Human Revolution leaves for us a path as disciples and successors.”

From An Age of War To An Age of Peace

In the afterword, President Ikeda explains that in contrast to the opening lines of his earlier novel, The Human Revolution, which reads: “Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is more cruel,” The New Human Revolution begins with the words: “Nothing is more precious than peace. Nothing brings more happiness. Peace is the most basic starting point for the advancement of humankind.”[3]

President Ikeda elaborates:

The aim of worldwide kosen-rufu is the realization of peace and happiness for all humanity. In these opening lines of my two novels, I wanted to leave an eternal record of my vow as a disciple to carry on the spirit and ideals of the first two Soka Gakkai presidents and change the direction of history from an age of war to an age of peace.[4]

Through an unremitting struggle to write The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda engaged in a battle to build a more peaceful world, Mr. Fukase said. For that reason, members around the world have come to read the serialized novel as if carrying out a dialogue with their mentor.

A Religion for Changing Our Destiny

In the afterword, President Ikeda describes the main theme of his two novels as the following:

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.[5]

Regarding the question of how we actually go about in changing our destiny or karma, President Ikeda indicates that the profound awakening that President Toda experienced in prison holds the answer to this question.

As President Toda carefully read and re-read the Lotus Sutra in prison, wishing to grasp its truth, he awakened to the fact that he had been present, along with Nichiren Daishonin, at the Ceremony in the Air depicted in the Lotus Sutra, and that he was a Bodhisattva of the Earth entrusted with propagating the Mystic Law in the Latter Day of the Law.

In the afterword, President Ikeda describes the mission of disciples in the Latter Day of the Law, who “voluntarily assume the appropriate karma” to lead others to Buddhahood:

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth.” As this indicates, we, who devote ourselves to kosen-rufu just as the Nichiren teaches, are irrefutably Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Why is it, then, that we—noble bodhisattvas tasked with the solemn undertaking of kosen-rufu—have been born with karma that causes us various kinds of suffering?

“Teacher of the Law,” the 10th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, states: “These people voluntarily relinquish the reward due them for their pure deeds and, in the time after I have passed into extinction, because they pity living beings, they are born in this evil world so they may broadly expound this sutra.” The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China identifies this passage as articulating the principle of “voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma.”

Just as this principle explains, we have chosen, in accord with our vow as bodhisattvas, to be born into the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law with all sorts of destinies, or karma—illness, financial hardship, family discord, loneliness, low self-esteem and the list goes on—to help guide others to enlightenment. But by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, striving in our Buddhist practice for ourselves and others, and dedicating our lives to kosen-rufu, our vibrant life force as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and the expansive life state of Buddhahood well forth within us. Our lives will brim with the wisdom, courage, strength, hope and joy to overcome every hardship and daunting obstacle that arises. As we bravely triumph over the onslaughts of karma, we demonstrate the validity of the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and the tremendous benefit of our Buddhist practice, and further advance kosen-rufu. In fact, we have willingly taken on these hardships and sufferings in order to do just that.[6]

“I think that President Ikeda’s words reveal the utterly important mission that each of us possesses,” Mr. Fukase said. “The indomitable spirit with which SGI members respond to hardship and suffering is a testament to the power and truth of our faith.”

Creating Victory with The New Human Revolution

The New Human Revolution features many dramatic experiences of friends who transformed their karma into mission through their Buddhist practice. In the same vein, many members have opened the way to victory for themselves through studying the novelized series.

Mr. Fukase relayed several experiences, including that of a men’s division in Tokyo who challenged himself, amid his busy work schedule, to read one volume per month. He introduced a work colleague to the practice, inspired by the following passage:

What is the key to enabling others to practice? It is determination.[7]

“In this way, many members have made the novel a source of encouragement for their faith and are advancing kosen-rufu around the world in their respective countries,” Mr. Fukase said. “Through studying The New Human Revolution, let’s fight mightily as disciples!”

Standing up as “Shin’ichi Yamamotos”

In the afterword, President Ikeda concludes with the following statement:

It is my sincere hope that Soka Gakkai members will make the completion of The New Human Revolution a fresh starting point and stand up as “Shin’ichi Yamamotos” to work for the happiness of others. I pray that, through their tireless, tenacious efforts, they will create their own brilliant history of human revolution.[8]

Mr. Fukase shared that there is no end to the fierce battle of the oneness of mentor and disciple for the great vow for kosen-rufu. “To advance ‘day after day and month after month’[9] is the spirit of Nichiren Buddhism.

“The minute we think, I’ve fought so hard up to this point, I’m going to take it easy from now on, we begin regressing in faith,” he said. Throughout his writings, the Daishonin stresses the importance of continuing faith, including the following passages:

Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage.[10]

Carry through with your faith in the Lotus Sutra. You cannot strike fire from flint if you stop halfway.[11]

It has been twenty or more years now since I found myself in that situation and began the great battle. Not once have I thought of retreat.[12]

The Soka Gakkai spirit is embodied in the above passage: “Not once have I thought of retreat.” “We must rouse ourselves with courage and embark on new challenges,” Mr. Fukase said. “This is also the way that we can do our human revolution.”

However, to continue fighting is no easy feat. Because of this, it’s important to always hold fast to our vow with our mentor and for kosen-rufu, he said.

In his essay “The Great Light of Human Revolution,” which President Ikeda wrote immediately after completing the novel, he shared the following:

My motivation for writing The New Human Revolution was—mirroring the one-to-one training I received from my mentor at what I call “Toda University”—to engage in a life-to-life dialogue with young people throughout Japan and across the globe.

Now, youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth worldwide are studying the spirit of “human revolution” and making Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s heart their own. I am delighted to see that they are boldly and vigorously achieving proof of brilliant success in both their lives and kosen-rufu, just as I hoped. …

Our friends are to be found in every country and region. The world’s people are waiting for us.

With fresh determination, let us embark anew toward achieving worldwide kosen-rufu, the goal of world peace that humankind so earnestly longs for.

I will advance. Please advance, too.
I will fight. Please fight, too.
I will win. Please win, too.

Let us join together to spread the great light of human revolution and compose a new and magnificent epic of Soka mentor and disciples! Our journey to fulfill our vow will go on forever![13]

Mr. Fukase concluded the lecture by asking the participants to engrave President Ikeda’s words in their hearts: “Open a history of victory for yourselves whereby you issue a cry of victory, declaring: I was able to do my human revolution by studying The New Human Revolution based on a renewed spirit!”


  1. March 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 17. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 13. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., p. 14. ↩︎
  4. Ibid. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., p. 16. ↩︎
  6. Ibid. ↩︎
  7. The New Human Revolution, vol. 13, p. 165 ↩︎
  8. March 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 17. ↩︎
  9. The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 402. ↩︎
  10. WND-1, 997. ↩︎
  11. WND-1, 319. ↩︎
  12. WND-2, 465. ↩︎
  13. Dec. 7, 2018, World Tribune, p. 3. ↩︎

Learning from The New Human Revolution

SGI President Ikeda’s 2019 Peace Proposal Available