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Usher in a Renaissance for a New Global Civilization

The School of Athens. Detail of a mural by Raphael painted for Pope Julius II - In the center Plato (Leonardo da Vinci) discourses with Aristotle. 1509. Raphaël. Room of the Segnatura. Vatican Museum. Photo by Pascal Deloche/GettyImages

The following is a message from Ikeda Sensei to the students of Soka University and Soka Women’s College at the start of the academic year. Sensei is the founder of both institutions.

To the 50th entering class of Soka University, the 36th entering class of Soka Women’s College, students entering the Graduate Schools and the Division of Distance Learning as well as the international students from the world over—those of you of lofty aspirations who have braved this time of great trial to so readily enroll in our “fortress of peace”—many congratulations on your admission to our institutions!

I would also like to express my heartfelt felicitations to your families, along with my profound appreciation to them for sending you off when society is undergoing unprecedented turmoil.

As for all of you who are already enrolled here, I wish to salute you for starting the new academic year under unfavorable and inconvenient circumstances.

One year after Soka University first opened its doors, I began to engage professor Arnold J. Toynbee, one of the premier historians of the 20th century, in a dialogue. A core belief that we consistently shared over the course of our discussions was this: People are able to create inestimable value when they successfully respond to every challenge and ordeal that befall them, either as a civilization or as individuals.

Let us be ever cognizant of the fact that the Italian Renaissance, which will always shine as an epochal moment in human history, represented a veritable revival and restoration of humankind—a period that resulted only after communities overcame the plague pandemic that swept across Europe and the globe in the 14th century.

I firmly believe that all of you are entrusted with an exalted purpose in life, as you boldly tackle your studies while the world battles the COVID-19 outbreak—to usher in another renaissance from which a new global civilization shall emerge in the years to come.
Boundless creativity lies in a youthful life dedicated to learning.

Boundless creativity lies in a youthful life dedicated to learning.

During my discourse with professor Toynbee, I had the opportunity to visit the illustrious University of Cambridge, the alma mater of his beloved wife, Mrs. Veronica M. Boulter Toynbee.

Incidentally, young Isaac Newton discovered the three laws of motion, including his famous law of universal gravitation, while studying at Cambridge in the 17th century. We should recall that Newton made these discoveries as he worked at home while the university had been closed due to another outbreak of the plague that gripped London at the time.

A Newtonian maxim states that “genius is patience.”

I therefore ask each of you to develop your scholastic aptitude in your time of youth, enabling it to shine to the fullest. Do so with patience, wisdom and in good cheer as you exercise the indomitable spirit of Soka, the spirit of value creation, to maximum effect.

My hope is that you, together with my trusted faculty members, will all earnestly apply yourselves to scholarship, cultivating your lives while imparting hope and courage to people everywhere—and by doing so, please go on to forge a youth of genuine triumph.

I will continue to offer prayers that each one of you, without exception, will lead a life of purpose and glory, spent in good health and free of untoward incident.

Daisaku Ikeda, Founder
April 10, 2020

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