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Ikeda Sensei

Successors Are a Source of Boundless Hope for the Future

Nanjo Tokimitsu

In central Colombia’s Sierra de La Macarena National Park, you’ll find one of the most spectacular natural wonders: Caño Cristales, a 62 mile-long series of crystal-clear waterfalls, rivers and streams, which explode in a rainbow of colors for several months each year. A rare, endemic plant called Macarenia Clavigera lines the Caño Cristales’ rocky riverbed, creating this kaleidoscopic sight. Different parts of the rivers and streams reveal dynamic hues, depending on the mineral deposits and water level. One of the wonders of this fragile and finicky ecosystem is that with each new season the river appears different than it did the year before. Photo by JOSE CARLOS ZAPATA FLORES / GETTY IMAGES.

This guidance from SGI President Ikeda originally appeared in the May 1, 2018, issue of the Mirai [Future] Journal, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the junior high school and senior high school divisions.

The month of May brims with fresh greenery and the energy of dynamic growth.

May 3 is Soka Gakkai Day and Soka Gakkai Mothers Day. May 5, Children’s Day in Japan, is also Soka Gakkai Successors Day, which was inaugurated 42 years ago (in 1976), at a future division meeting in Kansai.

In Japan, carp streamers are traditionally flown to celebrate Children’s Day. These streamers waving serenely in the bright blue sky symbolize all of you, our dear successors, soaring toward the future.

This custom of flying carp streamers is said to have originated from an ancient Chinese legend of fish turning into dragons by climbing a powerful waterfall known as Dragon Gate.

Nichiren Daishonin used this story of the Dragon Gate to encourage his beloved young disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu.

I believe nothing brought Nichiren more happiness and joy than the growth of young people.

Tokimitsu lost his father while still a young boy, but, together with his mother, he carried on his father’s conviction in faith and grew into a fine young man.

Later, the Daishonin expressed his joy at Tokimitsu’s inspiring growth, writing:

It is said that Ueno, your deceased father, was a man of feeling. Since you are his son, perhaps you have inherited the outstanding qualities of his character. Blue dye is bluer even than indigo itself, and ice is colder than water. How wonderful it is, how wonderful! (“Offerings in the Snow,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 809)

In traditional indigo dyeing, cloth is dipped repeatedly in a blue dye made from the indigo plant until it becomes a deeper, brighter blue than the plant itself.

The expression bluer than the indigo is also used to describe how disciples grow to become capable people, surpassing even their parents, seniors and mentors. The Daishonin likens Tokimitsu’s growth as a successor to becoming “bluer than the indigo.”

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, used to say: “The Japanese word sensei (teacher) is written with a Chinese compound meaning ‘first born.’ Confucius, however, when he said, ‘One should regard the young with awe,’[1] used characters for ‘youth’ that mean ‘later born.’ Confucius is saying that you, ‘later-born’ young people, are destined to surpass your ‘first-born’ teachers.”

It was Mr. Toda’s profound hope that a great current for worldwide kosen-rufu that would endure throughout the eternal future of the Latter Day of the Law would grow year by year, developing from a small stream into a mighty river. And he knew it would be up to the youth of future generations to make it happen. That’s why he told us that our mission and potential are even greater than his own.

I have devoted my life to fulfilling his expectations. I have spread Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world and shared our philosophy of peace with countless people. And it is none other than you, my precious friends of the future division, to whom I pass this baton of mentor and disciple.

Soka University of America (SUA) opened in Aliso Viejo, California, on the first May 3 of the 21st century (2001).

SUA’s main administration building is named Founders Hall. Embracing the spirit of the founder, the students, staff and faculty are all working together to make the university thrive.

Among them is a capable individual who graduated from the future division and who served as SGI-USA’s first high school division leader, as well as young men’s division leader and youth division leader.

He was a kindhearted youth who cared for his disabled younger brother while his parents were away at work. Because they were poor, his parents couldn’t afford to buy him toys, but his mother gave him the most valuable gift of all—faith in Nichiren Buddhism. Seeing his mother dedicate herself to SGI activities, he learned about working for what is right, and the importance of striving for the sake of others and contributing to society.

In response to his mother’s hopes for him, he challenged himself to do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and he studied very hard. He eventually received a full scholarship to a prestigious university, from which he graduated at the top of his class. He also went on to earn a doctorate in economics.

Today, as one of SUA’s administrative officers, he is devoting himself to the most important undertaking of education in the same spirit as me, and working tirelessly to foster the university’s students. He is a true embodiment of the victory of becoming “bluer than the indigo.”

Those who always keep in mind the inspiring examples of their parents, grandparents and seniors in faith striving for kosen-rufu are themselves able to move forward along the most positive path in life.

Your parents and family members who give their all day and night in striving for the happiness of others through Soka Gakkai activities are truly admirable champions of the people. No authority figure, no celebrity, no billionaire can match them.

I hope that you, my dear friends of the future division, will think about why members of the Soka family strive so hard for the sake of others and society. Perhaps you can even try asking some of them directly.

Cloth becomes a deeper blue by being dipped in the indigo dye again and again. In his letter to Tokimitsu’s mother, Nichiren Daishonin talks about “from the indigo, an even deeper blue” to stress the importance of continuously putting faith into action in the spirit of “now, more than ever.”

You are adding the “color” of your own faith to the fabric of faith already “dyed” by your parents. That is why your families, and you as their successors, are certain to triumph.

As young people upholding the Mystic Law, you can make this precious time of youth brim with hope, courage and shining victory, whatever difficulties you may encounter. Indeed, successors are a source of boundless hope for the future.

My dear young friends who will become “bluer than the indigo”—today again chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the determination to fulfill your vow! Believe in your potential, no matter what, and continue making great efforts!


  1. The Analects of Confucius, translated by Simon Leys (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1997), p. 42. ↩︎

Forging Our Lives on the Path of Mentor and Disciple (Part 1)

Striving as Champions of Humanity