Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei

The Infinite Power of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth

The Eternal Citadel of Soka

Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt holds a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Photo by UN.ORG.

This essay by SGI President Ikeda originally appeared in the Dec. 27, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

We of the Soka Gakkai have faith!” This great declaration of my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, still reverberates in my heart. It was his powerful explanation as to why the Soka Gakkai was advancing so dynamically.

He delivered these words at the Soka Gakkai general meeting held in November 1957, as we approached the achievement of his cherishedwish of a membership of 750,000 households.

Journalists from more than 20 media outlets were present. At the time, the Soka Gakkai was facing a maelstrom of uninformed and malicious criticism.

Mr. Toda’s declaration was a rebuttal of such dishonest journalism.

His message was: “The Soka Gakkai stood up amid the devastation of postwar Japan and revived, through the power of faith, the lives of ordinary people who were deeply suffering. Look at the great human revolution we are carrying out by awakening to faith in the great teaching of Nichiren Buddhism! Basing all our actions on this faith, we are determined to bring happiness to the people of Japan and the world and improve society!”

More than six decades have passed since then. This victorious drama of achieving human revolution through faith is now unfolding around the globe.

This year (2018), in particular, many new members, fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth, have emerged in every corner of the world, resulting in a magnificent expansion of our movement for kosen-rufu.

The members of the women’s and men’s divisions have been making tremendous efforts. And the members of the young men’s, young women’s, student and future divisions are also demonstrating astonishing growth.

The age has come when Soka Gakkai members, linked by the bonds of mentor and disciple, are winning the trust of people everywhere and being lauded as beacons of hope.

I am certain that Mr. Toda is smiling at the resounding victories we have achieved through faith.

• • •

What is faith? Mr. Toda taught me the profound meaning of faith, which is engraved in my life as a precious lesson imparted to me by my mentor.

In a letter to a sincere female disciple, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “This Gohonzon also is found only in the two characters for faith”[1] (“The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 832).

Discussing this passage, Mr. Toda explained that neither social status, power, fame or wealth are important. People with faith are the most admirable, he declared, adding emphatically that this perfectly describes the members of the women’s division.

It was his firm conviction that faith is the ultimate Law of the universe; a storehouse of wisdom; a sun of seeking spirit; the correct path of the wise; the “sharp sword” of wisdom; and a towering, eternal philosophy.

In accord with the principle of “substituting faith for wisdom,”[2] deep faith in the Mystic Law is the wellspring from which wisdom as vast as the universe flows. As Nichiren states, “If the mind of faith is perfect, then the water of wisdom, the great impartial wisdom, will never dry up” (“Letter to Akimoto,” WND-1, 1015).

Life and society are filled with hardships. Sometimes we hit seemingly impenetrable barriers. But by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for ourselves and others as we face our problems, we can freely tap inexhaustible wisdom. There is no obstacle or difficulty we cannot surmount.

This year, Japan was buffeted by torrential rains, typhoons, earthquakes and other natural disasters. I am praying wholeheartedly for the speedy recovery of the affected regions and for safe living conditions to be restored as quickly as possible.

In every disaster area, our noble Soka Gakkai members have put their wisdom and ingenuity to work in their selfless efforts to help others.

Confronting the aftermath of destructive rains (in July), a women’s division leader in Hiroshima reached out to people in her community to offer support and a friendly ear. Working together with youth, she came up with creative ways to lift people’s spirits, such as holding women’s gatherings and health seminars in temporary shelters.

In addition, as Japan becomes more international, there has been a rapid increase in the number of foreign residents joining our communities. Our Soka family is responding to such developments by reaching out to their diverse neighbors with warmth and sensitivity in an effort to promote understanding.

This month (December 2018) marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), who played a major role in the drafting and adoption of the declaration, wrote: “Surely it is a small thing to do, to acknowledge and respect the customs and habits of another. And it brings with it a rich harvest of mutual esteem and liking.”[3]

Through the wisdom of Soka humanism, we are striving to create a world of compassion, where people respect one another as fellow human beings and the inherent dignity of each person’s life shines brightly.

• • •

Nichiren writes, “The wonderful means of truly putting an end to the physical and spiritual obstacles of all living beings is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (“The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles,” WND-1, 842).

Faith in the Mystic Law is the essential means for creating value so that we can realize absolute happiness and lasting peace, aligning us with the fundamental rhythm of life and the universe.

Faith is indeed a treasure of life, an eternally youthful spirit, a life of joy and inspiration, a source of harmony, a path to peace, a way to understand humanity and an unsurpassed guide to happiness.

The drama of kosen-rufu that we enact, while encouraging one another as fellow members and eternal friends at discussion meetings and other activities, is filled with joy and boundless hope.

At the beginning of this month, young people brimming with seeking spirit from SGI-Europe visited the Tohoku region in northern Japan. There, they attended a wonderful and truly inspiring youth exchange general meeting, celebrating the solidarity of youth.

The visiting members also participated in exchange meetings in the six prefectures of Tohoku,[4] a bastion of capable people. These gatherings shone with everyone’s determination to further open wide a new era of kosen-rufu simultaneously around the world.

In accord with the Daishonin’s words “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 385), people awakened to their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth are emerging one after another across the globe. We have entered a new and exciting phase of worldwide kosen-rufu.

Nichiren also declares: “Even embracing the Lotus Sutra would be useless without the heritage of faith” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 218). The heritage of faith carried on by the first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai, dedicated to the vow for kosen-rufu, has spread far and wide, transcending all differences of nationality, ethnicity, language and culture, to flow vibrantly in the lives of one person after another in perfect accord with the principle of “emerging from the earth”[5] (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 385).

One person encouraged through the shared struggle of mentor and disciple stands up and passes the baton of inspiration to another, who then does the same to the next person. This relay of faith spurs each person to make great strides in their human revolution.

Incidentally, at the annual All-Japan High School Ekiden Championship relay race this month (on Dec. 23, 2018), the team from Kansai Soka High School, representing Osaka for the first time, completed the course through the streets of Kyoto. They gave it their all. My wife, Kaneko, and I applauded their invincible spirit.

• • •

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda and I together confirmed the meaning of “the strategy of the Lotus Sutra” through the Daishonin’s words “Have profound faith. A coward cannot have any of his prayers answered” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1001). In other words, we confirmed that faith in the Mystic Law is the highest truth. It is indestructible courage and an unassailable bastion of the heart. It is a struggle for the greatest good. It is the spirit of combating evil. It contains the essence of the art of leadership and principles for attaining victory.

What is the nature of the struggle to realize kosen-rufu and the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land”?

Nichiren described human society as a battleground where devilish functions are “at war with the votary of the Lotus Sutra to stop him from taking possession of and to wrest away from him this impure land where both ordinary people and sages dwell” (“The Great Battle,” WND-2, 465).

The courageous faith we practice in the Soka Gakkai is directly connected to the Daishonin’s great struggle for kosen-rufu, in which he “never once thought of retreat” (see WND-2, 465).

Faith is our eternal starting point. We unite with each other and engage in our struggle based on faith.

That is why we of the Soka Gakkai brim with the unlimited power of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and enjoy vast and boundless benefits. That is why we shine with clear actual proof assuring our attainment of Buddhahood in this lifetime.

• • •

Five years have passed since the completion of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu (in November 2013). In that time, with wondrous significance, we have seen a joyous and solid expansion of our movement for human revolution.

The historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), who was admired by Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975), described the development of civilization as follows: “When there is a general change of conditions, it is as if the entire creation had changed and the whole world been altered, as if it were a new and repeated creation, a world brought into existence anew.”[6]

A great tide of fresh creativity is flowing beneath the rough waves of turbulent change impacting the world today. It is a tide of a new humanism, revealing and illuminating the inherent dignity of all people.

Based on the human revolution of each individual, we are carrying out a revolution of the people and a revolution for peace that will gradually lead to a revolution—a fundamental change—of our communities and societies at large.

With ever greater energy, let us fulfill this enormous endeavor to transform the destiny of humankind that is called kosen-rufu.

• • •

Brazilian Academy of Letters president Austregésilo de Athayde (1898–1993), one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a great champion of human rights himself, once said to me that the 21st century would be an age in which the strength of the spirit would prevail, and that faith-based inquiry would promote peace, order and justice.

The “strength of the spirit” he refers to is what we call faith. It is the firm belief in the limitless potential inherent in life. It is the tremendous conviction that through faith, we and our families can surmount any challenge we face.

We therefore have nothing to fear. There is no hardship we cannot overcome. By persevering in our Buddhist practice with earnestness, sincerity and courage, we are guaranteed to triumph in the end.

With this as our spirit, let us continue to strengthen our faith and press ahead even more vigorously and dynamically.

Please welcome the new year in safety and good health. And let’s continue striving and winning together in the coming year!


  1. The Japanese word for faith consists of two Chinese characters. ↩︎
  2. Substituting faith for wisdom: The principle that faith is the true cause for gaining supreme wisdom, or attaining enlightenment. ↩︎
  3. Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), p. 145. ↩︎
  4. The six prefectures of the Tohoku region are Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata. ↩︎
  5. Nichiren Daishonin writes: “At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others. Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well. Does this not signify ‘emerging from the earth’?” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 385). ↩︎
  6. Ibn Khaldûn, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, translated by Franz Rosenthal (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 30. ↩︎

The Art of Writing

Youth Are the Future