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Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

The Youth Division—Break Through Limitations as the Flag Bearers of Fresh Development!

To My Friends of Each Division Engaged in Our Shared Struggle [51]

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, always had the highest hopes for young people, constantly encouraging them: “Young people’s strength lies in their burning passion.” “Youth, advance boldly into the north wind!” “Youth, make it your responsibility to create an ideal Soka Gakkai!”

He knew that the noblest task in building a bright future was fostering youth, because they are an inexhaustible source of value that will bring hope to humanity.

July—Month of Youth, Month of Mentor and Disciple

July is the Soka Gakkai’s month of youth—the month in which the young men’s division and young women’s division were founded (on July 11 and 19, 1951, respectively).

It is also the month in which Nichiren Daishonin, at the risk of his life, submitted his treatise of remonstration, “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,”[1] to the ruling authorities.

For the Soka Gakkai, which is carrying on the great selfless struggle of Nichiren, it is the month in which our first and second presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, were arrested due to the persecution of the Japanese militarist authorities (on July 6, 1943). It is also the month of mentor and disciple, commemorating the month when Mr. Toda was released from prison and I was jailed by the authorities.[2]

Striving Once Again With the Resolve Not to Be Defeated

On this day of release
and of imprisonment are found
the bonds of mentor and disciple.

At 7 p.m. on July 3, 1945, Josei Toda was set free after enduring two years in prison for his beliefs. Then, on the same date and time 12 years later (1957), I was arrested on trumped-up charges through an unscrupulous abuse of power.

I will never forget the tears of outrage wept at that time by the pioneer Kansai members who fought alongside me. Sharing my commitment, they stood up with an indomitable fighting spirit, resolved not to be defeated.

Up to this day, they have continued to share my struggle, always ready to take on a fresh challenge, and built a record of unending victory. Their fearless advance and dauntless unity—based on the oneness of mentor and disciple and the spirit of “many in body, one in mind”—are a model of kosen-rufu that is an inspiration for members around the world.

Carrying On the Invincible Kansai Spirit

Today, countless young people are carrying on the invincible Kansai spirit that members there have passed on to their children and grandchildren, transmitting it across generations and throughout the world.

In this installment, I would like to study with all of you—young Bodhisattvas of the Earth who are the flag bearers of fresh development—the great stand-alone spirit of kosen-rufu and the compassionate practice of treasuring each person. This is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism and the bedrock of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Teaching the Stand-Alone Spirit

In this entire country of Japan, I am the only one who has been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I am like the single speck of dust that marks the beginning of Mount Sumeru[3] or the single drop of dew that spells the start of the great ocean. Probably two people, three people, ten people, a hundred people will join in chanting it, until it spreads to one province, two provinces, and all the sixty-six provinces of Japan, and reaches even to the two islands of Iki and Tsushima. Those persons who have spoken slanderously of me will in time chant in the same way; and everyone from the ruler on down to the multitude of common people will, as described in the “Supernatural Powers” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with a single voice. Though the trees may desire to be still, the wind will not cease to blow; though we may wish for spring to linger, it must give way to summer. (“The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 672)[4]

The first passage we will examine is from “The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra,” in which Nichiren Daishonin illustrates through his own example the spirit of standing alone.

Here, he clarifies that he is the one and only person who has initiated a great struggle to propagate the Mystic Law in the Latter Day, the time for spreading the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is the “highly effective medicine” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 269) for relieving the sufferings of all living beings. In other words, he alone stood up to open the great path leading to the enlightenment of all humanity into the eternal future.

This passage expresses Nichiren’s powerful conviction that the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which he had initiated, was beginning to spread, and that the time would come when people throughout the land would chant it together (see WND-1, 672).

The Flow of Kosen-rufu Starts From One Person

The Law is the eternal truth without beginning or end. But unless someone who has awakened to the Law stands up and begins communicating it to others, humanity will never enjoy its benefits.

After Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree in India, he hesitated as to whether to share with others the Law he had awakened to, because it was such an unprecedented teaching. Eventually, however, he made up his mind and stood up alone to teach the Law for the sake of people’s happiness. This stand-alone spirit is the unchanging foundation of Buddhism that has existed since its very beginning.

When Nichiren first established his teaching, he also stood up alone to propagate it, fully aware of the great difficulties he would face. He observes, “In this entire country of Japan, I am the only one who has been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 672).

Inheriting his great vow, the first three Soka Gakkai presidents stood up to carry out the subs-tantive realization of kosen-rufu.[5] And today we have entered a magnificent age of global kosen-rufu.

We see here an eternal formula. In all struggles for kosen-rufu, there will be no progress without efforts grounded in the stand-alone spirit.

Though we may feel that our life is as small and insignificant as a speck of dust or a drop of dew, when we stand up with firm resolve and shine, we are no longer a hidden speck of dust or a fleeting drop of dew, but rather the “single speck of dust that marks the beginning of Mount Sumeru” and “the single drop of dew that spells the start of the great ocean.” A speck of dust and a drop of dew create the grandness of Mount Sumeru and the vast ocean. This accords with the principle of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.”[6] This is the dynamic transformative power taught in Buddhism.

Nichiren Daishonin’s Selfless Struggle to Propagate the Law

Next, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Those persons who have spoken slanderously of me will in time chant in the same way [as I do]” (WND-1, 672). As he predicted, people who had slandered him in the past had begun to open their eyes to the truth of his words. His selfless, unremitting struggle in the face of harsh persecution, as well as his behavior and the actual proof he demonstrated, led many people to become his followers or transformed them into allies.

Nichiren further voices his great conviction that all people—“everyone from the ruler on down to the multitude of common people” (WND-1, 672)—will come to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

All people inherently possess the Buddha nature. It is therefore important that we continue to confidently and sincerely tell others about the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai. Even if some lack understanding and criticize us, their Buddha nature will eventually become active.

The Purpose of Youth Is to Stand Up Resolutely

Josei Toda said, “Kosen-rufu will definitely be achieved if even one young person is willing to dedicate their entire life to it.”

In accord with these words, I fought whole-heartedly as “one young person” to lead the way toward the expansion of kosen-rufu.

The true purpose of Soka youth is to stand up resolutely, without waiting for someone else to act first. The important thing is to become such an individual of dedicated commitment.

I hope that all of you will rouse your courage, break through your inner limitations and initiate dialogue aimed at spreading our movement, without worrying about what others do or say. The foundation for today’s remarkable development of kosen-rufu has been built through such earnest all-out efforts by our pioneering members who broke through all limitations to set new records of achievement. When you challenge yourselves based on strong prayer to engage in dialogue out of a wish for the happiness of others, you will definitely pave the way for fresh breakthroughs in expanding our movement for kosen-rufu.

The Unstoppable Tide of Worldwide Kosen-rufu

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Though the trees may desire to be still, the wind will not cease to blow; though we may wish for spring to linger, it must give way to summer” (WND-1, 672). Just as no one can halt the changing of the seasons in the natural world, once the tide of kosen-rufu begins to rise substantially in the Latter Day of the Law, it will be unstoppable. In fact, now in the 21st century, worldwide kosen-rufu has already become a huge, irrepressible tide.

As long as an ever-growing number of young successors carries on the tradition of stand-alone faith, our movement for kosen-rufu is guaranteed to keep developing forever. This is the eternal perpetuation of the Law. It all depends on each one of you.

As young people today, you may find your environment very complex and demanding. I know some of you are struggling with difficult circumstances and others battling storms of karma.

But in every age, young people are the drivers of change. This is especially true of you who practice the wonderful Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. Young people who embrace the Mystic Law have the inner strength and resilience to forge their way through waves of adversity and suffering, without being swept away by them. Your stand-alone faith enables you to bring forth that ultimate strength.

Josei Toda encouraged young people: “As youth, please live with joy in the place where you are now, whatever your circumstances. It’s important that you strive to fulfill your mission. Even if you face difficulties in life, stay positive! On the stage of the mission entrusted to you, aim to be the best in Japan and the world!”

Parable Highlighting the Buddha’s Compassion

Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are setting aside differentiation. The twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra represent differentiation [in terms of capacity to understand the teaching], but the five characters[7] of the Wonderful Law [Mystic Law] are without differentiation. …

[The] “same rain” or “single rain” [in the passage “Though all these plants and trees grow in the same earth and are moistened by the same rain, each has its differences and particulars” (LSOC, 135)] is the daimoku unmixed with any other religious practice.

The “Introduction” chapter of the Lotus Sutra speaks of how the Buddha wishes “to rain down the rain of the great Law” [LSOC, 46]. Now this chapter, “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” speaks of the plants and trees that “are moistened by the same rain.” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 64–65)[8]

In addition to stand-alone faith, it is just as important for young people to carry on the Buddhist practice of compassion, of valuing and caring for each individual.

Now, let us examine the “parable of the three kinds of medicinal herbs and two kinds of trees” from “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” the fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This parable teaches the humanistic principle of treasuring each person as infinitely precious.

You, our young men’s and young women’s members, are courageous individuals committed to battling obstacles and safeguarding the people. You are leaders of peace who warmly embrace and accept all people. I hope you will always strive to embody the Buddhist philosophy of compassion, wholeheartedly supporting and fostering the potential of each individual.

The “parable of the three kinds of medicinal herbs and two kinds of trees” illustrates the impartial compassion of the Buddha.

The mountains and rivers, valleys and plains throughout the universe are home to a lush abundance of grasses, trees and medicinal herbs of many different types, names and forms. The expression “three kinds of medicinal herbs” and “two kinds of trees” refers to the categorizing of medicinal herbs into inferior, intermediate and superior, and the trees into small and large.

In the parable, a dense cloud envelops the world and sends down life-giving rain equally upon everything, including all the trees and medicinal herbs, without discrimination. This symbolizes how the Buddha appears in the world and impartially expounds the one Law for all living beings.

The Flowering of Individuality Based on Equality

The rain falls equally on all the plants and trees, despite their differences. Yet, receiving the rain, they all grow, flower and produce fruit according to their unique qualities and characteristics.

The Buddha’s teaching of the Law is the same. The Buddha shows the same compassion to all living beings, without distinction.

In “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” chapter, Shakyamuni says:

I look upon all things
as being universally equal,
I have no mind to favor this or that,
to love one or hate another.
I am without greed or attachment
and without limitation or hindrance.
At all times, for all things
I preach the Law equally;
as I would for a single person,
that same way I do for numerous persons.
(LSOC, 140)

The Buddha sees all living beings as equals, wishing to elevate them to the same state of Buddhahood that he has attained.

The parable teaches respect for the individuality of each person based on a spirit of equality that does not reject or exclude anyone. The deeply insightful Buddhist view of humanity is that we all possess a unique and precious mission, just like the “cherry, plum, peach, and damson” (OTT, 200).

The Impartial “Rain” of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

This passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings we are studying is part of Nichiren Daishonin’s commentary on the passage in “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” chapter of the Lotus Sutra: “Though all these plants and trees grow in the same earth and are moistened by the same rain, each has its differences and particulars” (LSOC, 135). In other words, the plants and trees, though different and unique, all grow from the same Mother Earth, which does not reject their seeds.

“Moistened by the same rain,” meanwhile, means that the Buddha’s teaching (the rain) richly nourishes all people, without distinction. The rain falls equally on all.

Nichiren therefore states that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the fundamental teaching at the heart of the Buddha’s vow to revitalize and bring hope to all people, each with their unique capacities. He teaches that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the source of compassion to embrace and nurture all life and the wisdom to invigorate and revitalize everything.

Thus, for us, being “moistened by the same rain” means chanting the “same rain” of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and causing a vibrant life force to well up from within.

The “same” of “same rain” can also be translated as “one” or “single,” and in that sense indicates the one pure practice of single-mindedly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Though we may be facing such sufferings as illness, financial troubles or family discord, if we maintain a strong Buddhist practice based on faith in the Gohonzon, we can establish the life state of Buddhahood, demonstrate the power of the Buddha and realize a victorious life.

We Are All Infinitely Precious

Everyone is equal in front of the Gohonzon.

President Toda once said: “The fundamental spirit of Nichiren Daishonin is that everyone is a child of the Buddha, everyone is a treasure tower. That’s why Nichiren Buddhism can be called a true world religion capable of leading all people to enlightenment.”

While there may be members who have stopped participating in Soka Gakkai activities or whose conviction in faith has waned, the time is certain to come when they will reawaken to their mission and stand up again.

Since my youth, I have wholeheartedly encouraged members based on my firm belief that all are capable individuals and my determination to help everyone become happy.

Encourage Even One More Person

During the Osaka Campaign[9] of 1956, I chanted to the Gohonzon for as many people as possible in Osaka to join our movement and become our allies. I personally took the lead, reaching out to one person after another and visiting one home after another.

I used every spare moment to talk with those who came to the Soka Gakkai Kansai Headquarters. Together with local members, I traveled by bicycle far and wide. Telling myself “There’s still time, there’s still one more person to encourage,” I once visited more than 20 meeting places in a single day.

After returning to the Kansai Headquarters at the end of a long day of strenuous activity, I would pray earnestly and then write letters or postcards to members I had encouraged or was concerned about. In this way, in six months I was able to personally encourage some 8,000 individuals.

I was extremely gratified that all our Kansai members responded to the earnest prayers and struggle of this “one young person” by standing up to strive alongside me. Together we accomplished the golden record of 11,111 new member households for Osaka Chapter in May, while also winning an astonishing victory for the people with a result that everyone had declared was impossible.

As I embarked on the Osaka Campaign, I was firmly resolved to fight for my mentor, to give my all for the sake of my fellow members and to win through faith in the Gohonzon. Based on faith infused with my vow, I strove wholeheartedly, encouraged my fellow members and realized victory through sincere and dedicated commitment. That is the spirit I hope to pass on to my beloved youth division members.

Hopes for the Youth of Today

Today, Soka youth are launching fresh initiatives for peace all around the world. Leading thinkers everywhere have expressed high hopes for their efforts.

The American futurist Hazel Henderson affirmed that she shares with us the spirit of standing alone and taking a courageous first step, followed by another and then another. That, she said, is the way to blaze a trail.[10]

Argentine human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel voiced his conviction that youth, who are the protagonists of this time, represent the budding of a new age of peaceful coexistence and respect for human dignity.[11]

Last year (2018), Dr. Esquivel and I issued a joint appeal titled “To the Youth of the World: An Appeal for Resilience and Hope.” Youth have the inherent strength to overcome every obstacle and hardship.[12]

Building a Humanistic Society

There will always be hope as long as young people work together to create a new age.

Now, as a new era is dawning, we have a brilliant opportunity to set in motion a groundswell for peace and build a humanistic society.

Let us continue to forge ahead in the great struggle to realize Nichiren’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” together with Soka youth across the globe who share the mission of Bodhisattvas of the Earth!

Translated from the July 2019 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.


  1. “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”: A treatise of remonstration that Nichiren Daishonin submitted on July 16, 1260, to Hojo Tokiyori, the retired regent but still the most powerful figure in Japan’s ruling clan. In it, he predicts that, unless the correct teaching of the Lotus Sutra was followed, the country would in the near future suffer the calamities of internal strife and foreign invasion—the only two calamities among the “three calamities and seven disasters” that had not yet assailed Japan. ↩︎
  2. On July 3, 1945, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who had been imprisoned for his beliefs by the Japanese militarist authorities during World War II, was released from prison. By strange coincidence, on the same day in 1957, his disciple and later successor, SGI President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested by the Osaka Prefectural Police on trumpedup charges of election law violations in a House of Councillors by-election in Osaka in 1957. This incident later came to be known as the Osaka Incident. July 3 has thus become a day on which tribute is paid to the mystic bonds of mentor and disciple. ↩︎
  3. Mount Sumeru: In ancient Indian cosmology, the mountain that stands at the center of the world. ↩︎
  4. This letter was written on Mount Minobu in 1276 and addressed to a disciple known as Myomitsu, about whom there is little detailed information. Since Nichiren refers to him as “the Honorable Myomitsu” (WND-1, 673), it would appear that he was a practitioner who had strong faith. Myomitsu and his wife also seem to have made frequent offerings to the Daishonin at his small dwelling in the wilderness of Mount Minobu. ↩︎
  5. The substantive realization of kosen-rufu: This refers to propagating Nichiren’s teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws in society. In other words, it is establishing happiness, peace and security in the real world based on the Mystic Law, through each individual carrying out their personal mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. ↩︎
  6. Three thousand realms in a single moment of life: A philosophical system established by T’ien-t’ai of China based on the Lotus Sutra. The “three thousand realms” indicates the varying aspects and phases that life assumes at each moment. At each moment, life manifests one of the Ten Worlds—from hell through Buddhahood. Each of these worlds possesses the potential for all ten within itself, thus making one hundred possible worlds. Each of these hundred worlds possesses the ten factors and operates within each of the three realms of existence, thus making three thousand realms. In other words, all phenomena are contained within a single moment of life, and a single moment of life permeates the three thousand realms of existence, or the entire phenomenal world. ↩︎
  7. 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 often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎
  8. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings: Nichiren Daishonin’s oral teachings on the Lotus Sutra, recorded and compiled by his disciple and successor Nikko Shonin. ↩︎
  9. Osaka Campaign: In May 1956, the Kansai members, uniting around a young Daisaku Ikeda, who had been dispatched by President Josei Toda to support them, introduced 11,111 households to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. In elections held two months later, the Soka Gakkai-backed candidate in Kansai won a seat in the Upper House, an accomplishment that was thought all but impossible at the time. ↩︎
  10. Translated from Japanese. From an interview article in Seikyo Shimbun, February 26, 2012. ↩︎
  11. Translated from Japanese. From a feature article in Seikyo Shimbun, November 17, 2012. ↩︎
  12. See the July 6, 2018, World Tribune, pp. 6–7. ↩︎

The Beginning of All Things