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Ikeda Sensei

The Power of Our Inspiring Soka Movement

SGI members at an exchange meeting in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, Nov. 17. Photo by SEIKYO PRESS.

That day, that morning, in my beloved Okinawa, ever mindful of the mission entrusted to me by my mentor, I took the first step on what would be a marathon undertaking: I began writing my serialized novel The Human Revolution.

That was on Dec. 2, 1964. I had chosen the second specifically because it was the monthly memorial[1] of [second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda’s death. That was also the reason I had embarked on my journey for worldwide kosen-rufu on Oct. 2 in 1960, the year I was inaugurated as third Soka Gakkai president.

My novel would continue on from where Mr. Toda’s own novel The Human Revolution—written under the pen name Myo Goku—had left off, so I decided to make my pen name Ho Goku.[2] The novel in itself is the story of the disciple carrying on the mentor’s legacy in faith.

Always sensing my mentor’s stern yet warm gaze, always asking myself what he would do, I waged a struggle of the pen.

The first chapter “Dawn,” which I began writing 55 years ago in a small Japanese-style room at the Soka Gakkai Okinawa headquarters (in Naha), is an inseparable part of my shared struggle with my beloved Okinawa members.

At a district leaders meeting on the eve of my new endeavor, I stressed to those present that the key to transforming our environment is human revolution, and assured them that they could transform Okinawa into a model society of peace and prosperity without fail.

I also copied out a poem composed by my mentor and presented it to an Okinawa youth division member, who had lost both parents in World War II:

No matter how painful,
Do not lament, my friends!
Tomorrow we will see
A realm of true happiness
Of kosen-rufu.

The afternoon that I completed the first installments of my novel, I exchanged firm handshakes with student division members, who were at the Okinawa headquarters for a meeting. Many of those bright young students would play a central role 10 years later in the compilation of the first volume of the Soka Gakkai Youth Division Antiwar Publication series, War-torn Urumajima.[3]

Over the course of these 55 years of shared struggle, the members of my sincere, warmhearted Okinawa Soka family have challenged themselves in their human revolution. They have striven “with all their might and unswerving dedication”[4] to build a realm of happiness and peace in Okinawa that will shine as a beacon of hope for all humanity.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of Okinawa Chapter. I am praying with all my heart that a brilliant new dawn—a dawn of kosen-rufu and lasting peace and happiness for all—will once again spread from Okinawa to the rest of the world.

Our members everywhere are advancing proudly toward the Soka Gakkai’s 90th anniversary (in 2020).

Trailblazing Kyushu and Ever-Victorious Kansai both recently held general meetings brimming with energy and joy.

Throughout Japan, many enthusiastic new leaders are emerging. They are striving hard together with dedicated veteran leaders and seniors in faith to carry out “the propagation of Buddhism in their province” (see “The Properties of Rice,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1117), the place entrusted to them by Nichiren Daishonin. Nothing is more reassuring.

How happy Mr. Toda would surely be to see this, having declared in his last years: “I don’t need anything else—all I hope for are capable people!”

There is a famous passage that Mr. Toda marked heavily in his copy of Nichiren’s writings:

Now, at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, I, Nichiren, am the first to embark on propagating, throughout Jambudvipa [the entire world], the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo[5] … My disciples, form your ranks and follow me, and surpass even [such outstanding disciples of the Buddha as] Mahakashyapa or Ananda, [and such great Buddhist teachers as] T’ien-t’ai or Dengyo! (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 764–65)

In accord with these words, Mr. Toda stood up alone amid the devastation of postwar Japan, carrying on the spirit of his mentor, [founding Soka Gakkai President] Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who died in prison for his beliefs. He called forth young Bodhisattvas of the Earth one after another and trained them thoroughly. This is because without successors and the shared struggle of mentor and disciple to carry on the spiritual flame of our movement, we cannot achieve worldwide kosen-rufu.

Shared struggle and successors will indeed be our central focus next year (2020), which has been designated the Year of Advancement and Capable People.

In a letter to his disciple Shijo Kingo, the Daishonin writes, “I have been ceaselessly praying for your sake to the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha, and the god of the sun, for I am convinced that you are a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” (“The Hero of the World,” WND-1, 839).

Here, we see the boundless compassion of the Daishonin, who steadfastly encouraged and prayed for his disciple’s success, regarding him as more precious than his own life, saying, “You are a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” (“The Hero of the World,” WND-1, 839).

Capable individuals are fostered through deep prayer and encouragement imbued with the determination to raise them to surpass us and to open the way widely for successors to follow in ever-growing numbers.

This means leaders and seniors in faith first working hard themselves. We need to set an example ourselves of what it means to be a capable person who works for people’s happiness and spreads courage and hope. We need to challenge our own human revolution with a totally fresh commitment and resolve.

Nichiren writes, “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997). Let’s banish inertia and advance energetically each day, defeating devilish functions and negativity with the powerful lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

“By creative work one gives one’s self new life”[6]—these are the words of the renowned pianist and Polish Prime Minister Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941), who fought to free his homeland from the tyranny of Nazi control.

The Soka Gakkai is an organization dedicated to value creation. United as mentor and disciple, we have appeared together in this corrupt, strife-filled age with the mission to create value limitlessly in the form of peace and happiness, come what may.

The recent Soka Gakkai headquarters leaders meeting on Nov. 18, Soka Gakkai Foundation Day, was held in conjunction with the SGI General Meeting, and in that sense was a true peace conference of global citizens.

Two hundred and eighty leaders, Bodhisattvas of the Earth from 65 countries and territories, gathered in Tokyo, their hearts buoyed by a passionate seeking spirit that carried them here over long distances.

“The great distances these persons traveled [to seek Buddhism] are indicative of their devotion” (“Letter to the Mother of Oto,” WND-2, 1030), commends the Daishonin. There is not the slightest doubt that all the visiting SGI leaders will enjoy visible reward from the unseen virtue of their noble devotion.

On Nov. 17, they attended exchange meetings in 32 venues in five prefectures throughout the Kanto region, where members have been recovering from damage caused by recent destructive typhoons and heavy rains. Many guests also attended these discussion meetings of the global Soka family. They were deeply moved to see firsthand how members around the world are chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and were inspired by their positive spirit and the experiences in faith they shared on that occasion.

The energy and exuberance of faith pervaded the meetings, giving rise to a wonderful chain reaction of joy in accord with the principle of “rejoicing in hearing someone rejoicing” (see “‘Expedient Means’ and ‘Life Span’ Chapters,” WND-1, 68). Such vibrant heart-to-heart connections and mutual inspiration are a vital driving force for kosen-rufu. This is the unchanging power of the ties of mentor and disciple, and the unity of fellow members.

On Nov. 18, 1957, the last Soka Gakkai Foundation Day I celebrated with my mentor, I wrote in my diary:

Through President Toda’s efforts, we have grown this much. Through his efforts, we have opened the life state of the Mystic Law. Through his efforts, we have been able to bring forth our potential. The debt of gratitude we owe him as our mentor is higher than a mountain, deeper than the ocean. I will never forget this. Will tell the world about the life and achievements of my great mentor. This, I firmly vow.

The noble path of worldwide kosen-rufu will continue to open wide through the efforts of successors united by this shared bond of mentor and disciple.

With a series of natural disasters striking Japan this year, I can’t help but think of the many hardships being faced especially by our members in farming and fishing communities. I am chanting for them each day, praying that they will be able to turn poison into medicine.

Behind every rich harvest are the laborious efforts of those who have tilled the soil and sowed the seeds. One of my dear friends, the Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov (1928–2008), was very fond of an old regional folk song “Sowers of Seeds.”

In fact, he once shared some lines from it when he was warmly encouraging a group of Soka school students: “I will give the seeds I have sown plenty of water . . . / praying that each seed will produce a thousand-fold harvest.” Through this song celebrating the nobility of toiling in the fields undaunted by the hot summer sun, he highlighted the prayers of those who sow seeds.

Mr. Aitmatov also offered this important advice for living a life free of regret: “Never forget who you are or where you came from. Never forget to be grateful to those who have raised you and loved you unconditionally, without calculation or reason.”

The members of our Many Treasures Group have always chanted earnestly before going to meet and encourage their fellow members. Deeply inspired by their sincere care and concern, many people have stood up in faith and developed into champions of kosen-rufu.

There is no shortcut to fostering capable people. Though it may take time, if we continue to believe in others’ potential and share with them our great conviction in faith, they are sure to respond and show splendid growth.

The Future Division English Skit Contest, which has now become a wonderful annual tradition in Japan, is also made possible through the prayers and sincere support of many people in our organization. Members of this year’s winning team expressed their appreciation for everyone who had helped and prayed for them along the way.

Many future division members and also nonmembers participated in the contest this year. How inspiring it is to see them all growing into such fine, rich-hearted and wise global citizens!

Let us continue to nourish the earth of precious young hearts with hope-filled encouragement.

To my joy, Soka youth around the world are studying The New Human Revolution, engaging in a spiritual dialogue of mentor and disciple.

Youth division members in Europe are also expanding their network with the rallying cry: “New Human Revolution generation, be the light!”

This November, incidentally, marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (in 1989). Ten years ago, in December 2009, I met with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who played a pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

In our discussion, we both expressed our wish to impart once again to the world’s youth the courage to tear down any walls that may confront them.

Surmounting walls, overcoming obstacles, is the perennial struggle of life and society. Overcoming each wall that blocks the way forward is the true challenge and purpose of youth. I hope you will calmly surmount the walls that divide our world, holding firm to the vision of humankind as one global family.

The human revolution of a single individual will help change the destiny of all humankind. My dear friends—global citizens of Soka and successors who share the great vow for kosen-rufu! Proudly championing this great theme of our movement, let us forge ahead with the flame of our mission as the Bodhisattvas of the Earth burning brightly in our hearts!


  1. In addition to annual memorials for the deceased, monthly memorials are also often observed in Japan. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda passed away on April 2, 1958. His annual memorial is observed on April 2 each year, while his monthly memorial is observed on the second of each month. ↩︎
  2. In The New Human Revolution, SGI President Ikeda writes: “Mr. Toda used the pen name Myo Goku; I will use Ho Goku. Combining the first part of each name creates myoho, or Mystic Law. Goku means to awaken to the truth of non-substantiality. The myo of myoho refers to the world of Buddhahood, and ho refers to the other nine worlds. Myo is also awakening or enlightenment, while ho is fundamental darkness or delusion. Based on this principle we can say that myo corresponds to mentor and ho to disciple” (vol. 9, p. 13). ↩︎
  3. Urumajima: Ancient name of the Okinawa Islands. ↩︎
  4. Lyrics from the Soka Gakkai song “Heroes of Okinawa.” ↩︎
  5. Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being composed of two characters). Nichiren Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎
  6. Ignace Jan Paderewski and Mary Lawton, The Paderewski Memoirs (London: Collins, 1939), p. 326. ↩︎

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