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Ikeda Sensei

Soar Into the Vast Skies of Freedom! Into the New Century!

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The Bodhisattvas of the Earth
have emerged!
They have arisen!
They have started to stir, to move!

Here, on the American
the winds of a new era
have begun to blow.
Raising ruby goblets,
we toast the further completion
of this wondrous new path
glittering with happiness
and peace.

Lifting our voices
high in joyous song,
we watch the stars and stripes
stream and ripple above
our fifty American states,
illuminating the future.

These fifty states—
pioneering a new history,
resounding with the peal
of liberty’s bell,
here our cherished
Bodhisattvas of the Earth
have made their stand!
Gathering speed and momentum
they commence their struggle!
In this great land of America
—the world in miniature—
new waves, a new movement,
has arisen and begun!

Wings unfurling, we take flight—
toward a vast new century,
toward a world of certain good.

Charged with new energy,
the wings of life itself
carry us confident
and composed
into a majestic future.
Embraced by winds
pure and vigorous,
we fly into a new era,
resolutely transcending
the borders and limitations
of old, past life.

Our lives renewed,
we begin a grand movement,
spreading the spirit of true
throughout society.

We have awakened to the truth
that within this state of life
is to be found limitless
strength, joy, reality
—our true selves—
brilliant with lasting
and glorious light.

“No wind or tempest,
will rend or break these wings.
For in the depths of my life
I have found the
very philosophy,
the rich completeness
long sought by scholars and

“Whatever waves crash over me
I will know no fear!
Even if the lure of lethargy
lies ahead,
my spirit, like the dawn,
will continue to shine radiantly.”

“I have risen up,
with a sun-filled soul.
I have no time to waste
on those decrepitly fixed
on power and fame.”

“My spirit propels me to a life
of fierce and ceaseless
for the cause of justice!”
“I will plunge into the midst
of maddened, hellish flames.
I will build there
a path of order and right!”

There are those attached to power
who walk toward destruction.
There are those who wander
through dark lives of vengeance.

But my heart progresses
toward the attainment
of clear, enduring value.
So also do the hearts of my

So many friends
are parting with the past,
entering a new era;
they are moving from
old ways of living and being
into a new century of life!

Take steady steps on
this firm, indestructible earth.
Lift your eyes to an endless sky
glittering with stars!

Burning with cheerful resolve,
forge on, radiantly embracing all
with the boundless expanse of
your own inner sky.

We know what the times require.
We know people’s hopes and

So many have lost hope
in this world of ceaseless conflict,
of mutual abuse and contempt.

Yet we are filled
with vigorous resolve,
upholding the principle
for living fully,
with unabated joy
in harmony with the cosmos.

We will never lose hope.
For we possess the pride
of living to the fullest,
a crown adorned
with precious jewels.

We also know the end of living;
we have confident faith
in the eternal path of life
beyond the horizon of death.

Fully active and engaged,
we seek to reach
those whose spirits wander
in darkened night,
to teach them of the moment-
by-moment struggle
to transform life
in its very depths.

This land of freedom
in which I live.

In the early years of the twentieth
the founding president of our
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi,
saw in America
the land where future civilizations
would encounter and unite.

Josei Toda, our second president,
often recalled that it was
America that brought
freedom of religion to post-war
opening the way
for a peace movement based
on this Buddhism to unfold.
“Daisaku!” he would say,
“I want to go to the U.S.
to repay our debt of gratitude!”

And thus, as their direct disciple,
I determined to take the first step
in my travels for peace
here in my beloved America.
And I am determined to work with my American friends to assure that the United States
always enjoys
trust, prosperity and security.

As we greet the night,
together let us offer
prayers of appreciation.
Together let us offer
vows of construction.
And let us, with clear voices,
sing the future’s songs.

Each day a vibrant, energetic
Each morning and evening
we delight in the
limitless company
of nature’s benevolent forces.

How noble are your prayers
as you encourage your friends:
“The breezes of happiness
will blow through your life as well!
May the clouds disperse
and the blue skies shine!”

How inspiring you are
as you appeal to your friends
with a beautiful, natural
human sincerity:
“Please know, in your suffering,
that for you, too, the times of wind and rain will give way to clear and
balmy days.
You without doubt will experience days of harmony and victory!”
We know
there is no greater power
than that of a pure and noble spirit.

And we know
a path of mission
that infinitely transcends
a life without meaning,
clamorous disputations
or charitable efforts
whose real purpose is fame.

We grieve
for those who are drifting into old age ignorant of life’s true meaning; for those who are carried along
by days of pretense
never knowing true youthfulness,
the lushness of fresh green growth.

More effectively than
countless doctoral theses,
you are sharing with others
the profound and subtle
teachings of Buddhism.
You are indeed the most
people of knowledge and

Beyond the politicians
and their eloquent discussions
of political programs;
beyond the sociologists
proud of their in-depth
their grasp of world events
and their statistics…
Your wisdom and your actions
resonate precisely in the depths
of the lives of those you address.
You bring to so many weary people
the joy and strength to live on.

As philosophers and people of
you brilliantly inspire millions
in a dynamically expanding
process of dialogue.

And all around
the broad and flowered
lawns we tread,
are the earnest words and acts
of a sincere humanism.

Our conversations and exchanges
give rise to joy.
New doors swing open
like the masterful turn
of a graceful dancer.

“I have embraced the source
of energy and power
to ponder deeply
the significance of my own life and
to review the days that have passed
while living fully into the future.
From now on I will no longer
be pushed and tossed by
the fickle winds,
for I can now look into the
precious depths of my own life.”

“I will no longer be defeated
by the most powerful forces of fate.
For I now possess the secret means
by which to confront and triumph
over the demonic tyranny of

Ahead of us
the Buddhist deities
gather for a festive
banquet of welcome,
awaiting our arrival.

Today, once more,
accumulate the treasure of
transcend and triumph
in life’s gales and storms.
Direct your steps
on this grand and golden path,
which others, inspired by your
will also yearn to tread.

Walk again today
this pleasant path of courage and
good will,
creating the harmonious unity of
singing the songs you love
in a clear and resonant voice.
Today again set out
on this broad avenue of happiness,
occasionally pausing to take
always savoring the joyous company
of true friends.

From this path can be seen
unmistakable vistas
of victory and flourishing.

From this path
have been driven
all confrontation, all conflict,
all evil and destruction.

For we know
that this is a way
embodying a law, a principle
eternal and universal.

We have bid farewell
to a shallow, cruel, purgatorial
We have declared the victory
of our lives,
our hearts resounding
with a brightly burning passion.

Awake! Arise!
That you also may know
life’s deep and genuine joy.
Turn away from a life of sadness,
from passive drifting,
from tragic weeping at death and

Unbowed by stubborn, arrogant
beating out the sustained rhythms
of unsurpassed joy in life—
walk this path toward the fruition
of your
eternal and profoundly
compassionate self.

We know the hollow whistled tunes
of pitiful lusting after fame.
We know the faded hues
of a weak and jealous life,
the malicious pillaging
of one’s own being.

The questions for each and all of
How will we spend our final hour?
How will we pass our last days?

What could be the meaning
of a life squandered in pursuit
of superficial recognition and praise?
Mere emptiness and vanity,
a shred of winter wind.

So many people…
trapped in feverish torment,
their most strenuous exertions
coming to naught,
constantly lacerated
by a suffocating absurdity.

Shallow and empty hearts
are swallowed into darkness…
Forgetful that none are assured
of even tomorrow’s life,
unaware that twilight comes to all,
mindless that they walk a path
of imprisoned confinement,
still they desire their golden goods,
and frantically crave their fame.

For us, this proud and brightly lit
We advance with confident smiles.
Embracing the law of cause and
—this governing principle
infinitely extending—
we enjoy eternal protection.

Off in the distance,
there may be those who criticize us
with wan, foolish, sarcastic smiles.
Concealing the pain of their own
they watch with longing and envy—
our lives, shining with
commitment and courage.
Bowed with secret despair,
their grieving hearts
continue their bitter steps.

Those whose only desire is fame.
We whose names are utterly
Yet who, in the dawning of eternity,
will perform the songs and melodies
of life that has been lived true and
with joy?

They are people of hapless misery;
ours is a life of boundless fortune.
They have destroyed their own
we have full confidence
in a future that continues eternally.

Laughing off
the corrupt and degenerate,
we know that a life free from
all doubt and regret awaits us.

The malicious acts
directed against us
—ludicrous invented incidents
petty empty criticism—
only bring suffering
upon their authors.

In our spirits and our souls
we have developed and distilled
the inner strength to win
however intense the challenge.

In our lives is engraved
a massive badge of “victory.”

We know that this spirit—
never fearing,
never collapsing before hardship—
is itself the spirit of a Buddha.

“All insult and abuse
rebound from my soul.
I have surmounted
innumerable trials.
And now about me wave
countless banners of glory.
Misery has no claim or territory
within my heart!”

We treasure human society.
We respect the ways of the world.
Because Buddhism comes to life
only in the midst of social realities.

No one can survive in isolation.
Our lives are grounded in
empathy and solidarity
with others, with people
and with society as a whole.

The sutras provide
this penetrating insight:
“All secular phenomena
are manifestations of the Buddha’s

From the perspective of faith,
for people who live
with lofty and utter conviction,
to be swayed by appearances
is foolishness and error.
“I do not choose
or discriminate among them
whoever they may be—
this wise and clever friend;
this person wracked by
poverty’s pain;
the person plagued
by the deepest sleeplessness;
this person isolated
in the remote regions of being
I share life with them all,
live in profound meaning,
live as a good friend to each.”

Unfathomable mystery
of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth…
Charged with the solemn
early morning task of prayer,
you have emerged,
you are pushing up
the shoots and buds of new growth
here in America.
Your voices, resounding to the
are earnest, devoted and sincere.

That bell
is not an evening bell,
but the bell of dawn.
Your face is brightly lit
by the light of the Mystic Law.

Your gaze is focused on the Buddha.
As you fuse with this magnificent
state of being,
there arises within you
a life vibrantly filled
with the ultimate joy
of the universe
—your Buddha nature—
eternal, unceasing and boundless.

the rewards and punishments
of the world,
beyond apathy,
beyond calumny and abuse…

Advancing step by step,
the bodhisattva’s heart,
the bodhisattva’s life,
feels not the slightest pain or tremor
however fierce the raging rains
of insult and slur.

Those who libel us,
flaming with envy,
are unconscious of the
dark shadows enveloping
their ashen, aging spirits.

Where people leave behind
old authorities and conventions
as they seek to create
a new, ideal nation.
This great America!
Struggling for freedom
and for human rights.
As one poet noted:
The twentieth century
has been a century of humans
murdering their fellows,
a truly hellish century.

Before us lies
the ominous quaking
of life’s tortured pulse.

People whose eyes are filled with
People with sad, abandoned eyes.
Eyes that gleam sharp and bestial…

And yet we advance unhesitating
into the very midst of humanity.
We advance with proudly beating
among our fellow human beings.

Hot tears of compassion
borne secretly in our breasts,
we take no notice of the sad,
ignorant, barbarian songs.
Forging characters
of true strength and great depth,
our eyes burn with hope.
Our blood also burns
with the determination
to ease the pain
of the troubled and suffering.

Speaking at the University of
with which I have a strong bond,
the future president, John F.
uttered these words:

—It is said that civilization
is a race between education
and catastrophe.
It is you who will decide
which of these will win!—
Toward the civilization
of the twenty-first century;
for the sake of the young leaders
and scholars;
for the sake of the
peace, prosperity and joy
that come from humanistic
Soka University of America
has been constructed…
Gazing out upon the waves
of a monarch Pacific Ocean,
carrying the burden
of the hopes and expectations
of the centuries,
its construction has been matched
by innumerable voices
raised brightly in song,
by an unending array
of young people ascending
that vibrant hill in Orange County.

For the sake of
these free, young spirits,
I have determined to spend
the culminating years of my life
in this America I love,
together creating infinite memories,
sounding the reverberant trumpet
of the dawn.

We advance with this cry:
We praise, salute and call for peace!
We praise and salute daily life!
And above all we praise, salute
and call forth happiness!

There is no paradise;
it does not exist.
Therefore walk forward
into this world of suffering!
And there you will see
the reality of the dream,
of this eternally bright,
eternally joyful and serene,
this eternally noble dream.

July 21, 2000

Awakening to My Mission for Soka

The Unwavering Commitment of Bodhisattvas of the Earth