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Our History

Young Phoenixes, Soar Into the Future

Installment 4


Deeply committed to the education and development of children and youth, SGI President Ikeda, as the third Soka Gakkai president, established the high school division in June 1964, the junior high school division in January 1965, and the boys and girls division in September 1965—which together comprise the Future Division.

The present generation of future division members will be the key protagonists of the kosen-rufu movement when the Soka Gakkai celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2030. With this recognition, the Soka Gakkai monthly study journal Daibyakurenge (starting from its November 2010 issue) has launched a series chronicling President Ikeda’s efforts to foster the future division members, along with graduates’ personal accounts and recollections of meetings and interactions with President Ikeda in their youth.

On December 27, 1965, high school division meetings were held simultaneously in every region throughout Japan. A joint meeting of the Tokyo No. 6, No. 17 and No. 18 headquarters was held at the Tokyo No. 6 headquarters building in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

Just as a Q&A session led by the high school division leader was starting, the doors to the room opened quietly. “I’m sorry for disturbing your high-spirited meeting,” Soka Gakkai President Ikeda said, walking into the room.

The participants were overjoyed by this surprise. Thunderous applause erupted.

Kimiyo Muto (Soka Gakkai women’s division vice ward leader): As [Masaichi] Ueda, the high school division leader, was talking, President Ikeda suddenly appeared. Explosive joy filled the room.

At President Ikeda’s suggestion, we all did gongyo together with him. Because so many of us were very nervous, our chanting wasn’t coordinated.

President Ikeda stopped us and said, “Let’s try again.” He then had us continue chanting over and over until we were finally all united.

It was a wonderful feeling when we were all in perfect rhythm with his chanting.

Masaichi Ueda: President Ikeda popped in completely unexpectedly. As I recall, it was the last meeting with members that he attended that year. He had chosen a high school division meeting to bring the year to a close.

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President Ikeda said, “You, the members of the high school division, are my true disciples.” He then spoke to the gathering for 15 minutes. “I intend to take every step necessary so that you can inherit the Soka Gakkai and put the finishing touches on establishing the foundation of kosen-rufu.” His words growing with intensity, he continued: “I am establishing Soka University for you as well, and my lifework is to foster you into great leaders.

“I will do everything possible to enable you to soar freely into the world. Please don’t be anxious or try to rush things in your Buddhist practice; just carry out your practice with a pure heart throughout your life.”

In closing, he said: “Never abandon your faith. Never quit the Soka Gakkai. A wonderful stage on which you can act with complete freedom awaits you.”

Noboru Tomatsu (Soka Gakkai assistant general administrator; writers division vice leader; vice ward executive leader): President Ikeda’s words “A life dedicated to kosen-rufu is the best life there is” are still etched in my life.

I decided at that moment to advance straight ahead on a path that would enable me to respond to his expectations.

Shigeru Asami (Soka Gakkai vice president; former national youth division leader): When President Ikeda suddenly appeared, the room overflowed with our joy. He was giving his all to encouraging us as we headed toward 1966, a year that would focus on the high school division.

At the time, he was already working on establishing the Soka schools and Soka University. Though the finances of the Soka Gakkai during that period were quite constrained, President Ikeda was taking every step possible and striving tirelessly for the sake of the high school division.

His most unforgettable words for me were, “You are my true disciples.”

It was such important encouragement for us. Everyone sat up straight and intently listened to him speak.

Masayoshi Kanzaki (Soka Gakkai vice headquarters leader): President Ikeda was visiting various Soka Gakkai facilities before the New Year’s holiday. In spite of his busy schedule, however, he still found time to attend a meeting of the high school division.

At the end of his guidance to us, he said: “Do you have any problems that are worrying you? Is there anything you want to ask me? Is there anything you want me to do? Please ask whatever you want.” His wish to do whatever he possibly could for us was vividly communicated.

•   •   •

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says, “Both the ‘teacher’ and those who are ‘learning’ from him are the teacher and disciples of the three thousand worlds of the Dharma-realm” (p. 87).

Citing this passage, President Ikeda explained the significance of successors to the high school division members: “Both Nichiren Daishonin, the teacher, and the disciples who accept and practice his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are teachers and scholars of all the phenomena of the universe.

“Disciples who know the truth of three thousand realms in a single moment of life are, through the principle of the oneness of mentor and disciple, and the fusion of reality and wisdom, the most learned scholars in the world. You possess qualifications that place you on par, at all social levels and in every field, with the world’s greatest leaders.” The curtain was about to rise on what President Ikeda was also calling the Year of the High School Division.

Translated from the December 2010 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

The following is SGI President Ikeda’s editorial “Young Phoenixes Soar into the Future,” from the November 1965 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal. This became the eternal guidance of the high school division.

To my young friends in the high school division who are aiming for the future, who will shoulder the future! You are the young phoenixes who will accomplish kosen-rufu. Your growth is the hope of the Soka Gakkai; it is the harbinger of a fresh dawn for Japan and the world.

Our high school division is the first division established since we entered the essential phase of our movement. Its swift and remarkable development has been astounding, like a stream suddenly pouring into the waters of a mighty river. Your role as the driving current of society for the next generation is a historic inevitability.

As long as the Soka Gakkai brims with the youthful, strong and pure energy of life, its foundation will forever be solid, and we will absolutely be able to accomplish the noble endeavor of establishing a peaceful society based on the correct teaching. This is the proof that the Soka Gakkai is actualizing “the eternal perpetuation of the Law.”

There was an age gap of 24 years between Nichiren Daishonin and his direct disciple and successor, Nikko Shonin. Similarly, in the Soka Gakkai, there was an age gap of 28 years and eight months between first President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and second President Josei Toda, and an age gap of 28 years and 1 month between President Toda and myself.

The Daishonin writes: “T’ien-t’ai states, ‘From the indigo, an even deeper blue.’[1] This passage means that, if one dyes something repeatedly in indigo, it becomes even bluer than the indigo leaves. The Lotus Sutra is like the indigo, and the strength of one’s practice is like the deepening blue” (“Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 457).

I am thoroughly convinced that you, the members of the high school division, are true young phoenixes, and that you have a great mission to lead the Soka Gakkai forward in the future and develop our movement even further.

Needless to say, the time of youth is an extremely important period in terms of education and character development. It is no exaggeration to say that the effort and diligence you put forth in your teens and 20s determine your future.

When we look at the lives of many of the world’s most famous leaders, scholars, writers and entrepreneurs past and present, we see that they overcame great hardship and adversity in their youth and went on to accomplish amazing things no one had ever achieved before. In most cases, too, it is the lofty ideals and innovative ideas of their youth that were later brought to brilliant fruition in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

The trailblazing Japanese educator and writer Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835–1901) also built the foundation for his later achievements in his teens. William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806)—who is regarded as one of Britain’s most capable prime ministers—first came to office at the age of 24 and left a shining legacy in British constitutional government. The great Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) and the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) made their famous discoveries before the age of 20, and the German author and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) began writing his magnum opus Faust at the age of 24.

I hope that, as youth who uphold the supreme Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, you will be profoundly aware that each of your actions at this time is at once a valuable experience in its own right and a crucial part of solidifying the foundation of your life.

As such, it is my dearest wish that you will always base yourselves on faith, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly and cultivating wisdom, and that you will enjoy vigorous good health. Particularly at this time of youth, I sincerely hope that you will make study your first priority and strive to acquire broad-ranging knowledge toward the realization of wonderful accomplishments in the future.

I know that many of you are completely buried in preparations for college entrance exams, while others are working hard during the day and attending school at night, applying yourselves diligently under difficult circumstances. I also imagine that some of you will enter the workforce immediately after high school graduation, while others will go on to college and devote yourselves to your studies for years to come. Everyone has their own path in life.

If you live out your lives with strong faith, based on the Mystic Law, you will without a doubt enjoy true happiness, true victory in life, and be able to fulfill your true mission for kosen-rufu. This is absolutely clear if you look at the example of your seniors in faith.

Several decades have now passed since the end of World War II. Conflict and discord continue to rack our planet. The first glimmer of genuine peace is not yet visible, and even within Japan, despite a superficial appearance of prosperity, there is absolutely no guarantee of peace or happiness in our society.

The absence of a guiding philosophy has left people with nothing to believe in and no hope for the future. The rise in juvenile delinquency, in particular, reflects these present confused times. Causing suffering to their parents and trouble to society, these wayward youth are ultimately the ones who will lose out and end up having lasting regrets. Now is the time for us to advance, fully exerting ourselves toward the realization of world peace; in other words, worldwide kosen-rufu. I have given myself completely to opening the way for you, and I am determined to keep doing so. Continuously upholding your pure faith, I hope that all of you will inherit the true Soka Gakkai spirit, and come to fulfill your respective roles freely and joyfully on the foundation that your predecessors have worked so hard to construct.

Please live each day with bright hope, confident that the time when you have all grown splendidly and stand up together as one will signal the time of the realization of the great vow for kosen-rufu.

I am praying for your splendid growth as young Bodhisattvas of the Earth who will take action for the sake of society, the Law and yourselves.


  1. Great Concentration and Insight.This appears in Chang-an’s preface. This allegory of the indigo plant is often used to indicate the disciple growing to surpass the mentor or to describe how deepening one’s practice leads to strengthening one’s faith. ↩︎

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