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The Light of Hope for Humanity

The following is the commencement message to Soka University of America’s undergraduate and graduate Class of 2020 written by Founder Daisaku Ikeda. This message is also available at

To the Soka University of America Undergraduate Class of 2020 and the Graduate Class of 2020, both of whom represent the light of hope for humanity, I offer my heartfelt felicitations on this joyous day of your graduation.

As the founder of this university, I wish to also thank and congratulate the families, friends, the SUA faculty and staff and all those concerned who have been so warm and generous with the encouragement and support you have rendered over the years to these students whom I hold dear.

As we send off our beloved graduates into a world stricken and staggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it pains me deeply to think of the immense ordeals that surely await each of you. Yet, all the while, my heart surges with pride and anticipation knowing that you, in taking wing into such a world, are destined to dispel its pall of chaos and confusion by ushering in the dawn of a new era.

I say this because the philosophy of Soka—that which gives life to and inspires our Aliso Viejo campus—should empower you in creating value no matter how dire or adverse the circumstances and forge new ways toward their resolution. And in embracing its spirit, you can draw forth the wisdom to create value for the advancement of peace, weaving tightly together bonds of solidarity to transcend every division and difference.

From the earliest of times, human history can be characterized as a struggle against disaster and disease—along with the triumph over this challenge as people crafted response after response by working together and exchanging insights to achieve further progress.

Celebrated as one of the “Five Good Emperors” of ancient Rome, Marcus Aurelius engaged in numerous battles, including those he fought against the plague and other calamities. He left a series of hard-won personal reflections and perspectives in his work Meditations, which readers continue to enjoy to this day.

The philosopher-king calls out to us, stirring our hearts even after the passage of 1,900 years:

Look within. Within is the fountain of Good, ready always to well forth if thou wilt always delve….Vested in the soul is the power of always living the noblest of lives.

In coming together to confront the specter of an unseen pathogen, humanity today may be entering a truly transformative time, one in which we return to and redraw sustenance from the great earth of life that lies within us all. By drawing from the veritable “fountain of Good” innate in every human being on the planet, the time has come to unleash that limitless potential for good in each of our lives so that we may overcome any ordeal and secure the path to happiness and peace for both ourselves and for others. And it is you, the young founders of Soka University of America, who must persist in awakening people as leaders of global citizenry who toll the bell of this truth.

I recall Dr. Arnold Toynbee, the renowned British historian with whom I feel privileged to have shared numerous discussions, telling me that he felt a lifelong indebtedness to Marcus Aurelius. In the acknowledgement of his magnum opus, A Study of History, Dr. Toynbee cited his appreciation to the contributions of 200 individuals and works, with the Roman emperor first and foremost on that list.

The finest mind sparkles with the finest character, advancing in life as one repays the debt of gratitude owed to others.

Dr. Toynbee declared that “after many vicissitudes, the sufferer triumphant serves as the pioneer” and, as such, “serves his fellow men by pointing the way for others to follow.”

You are all pioneers striving to ensure the survival of humanity, ushering in a sublime future in which all may coexist in harmony. Having studied here at this university, which abounds with the profound yearning for peace held by individuals from every corner of the globe, you are the vanguard in leading lives to advance the wellbeing and welfare of ordinary people.

May the days of your youth be spent in the service of humankind, living up to the immense hopes and expectations of your cherished parents or guardians, of people worldwide. A life led with singular purpose is a life of glory. A life laboring for the greater good is a life of victory.

Dr. Wangari Maathai birthed a grassroots environmental movement in Africa and the joy she felt over the progress of SUA was heartfelt. This is what she firmly believed: “Each of us can make a difference, and together accomplish what might seem impossible.”

All of you have come together at SUA as you share bonds that are mystic and inextricably linked. And so, I call on you: Advance ever onward in good cheer with your friends on campus and fellow alumni, rising up again and again as you continue to encourage and support one another, come what may. Do so while exhorting yourselves on with this resolve in your hearts: I will not be defeated! We will win no matter what!

My beloved graduates of the Classes of 2020, you are the hope and jewel of inestimable value for all humankind. I will always be watching over you, praying for your health and success, that your lives resound with songs of triumph.

Stay healthy in high spirits!

Go on to expand our solidarity of smiling faces across the breadth of the global community, doing so with prudence, in good camaraderie and magnanimity.

Daisaku Ikeda
Soka University of America
May 2020

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