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Ikeda Sensei

Brim With the Great Joy of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth

Ikeda Sensei sent the following message to the First Youth Division Leaders Meeting.

Storm on the sea with dramatic clouds at sunset
Anton Petrus / Getty Images

Ikeda Sensei sent the following message to the First Youth Division Leaders Meeting at the start of the crucial decade leading to the Soka Gakkai’s 100th anniversary in 2030. The meeting was held on Jan. 31 with limited participation in the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Tokyo. The message was translated from Feb. 1 issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, the Seikyo Shimbun.

Congratulations on celebrating February, the auspicious month of the 800th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s birth,[1] with this spirited First Youth Division Meeting, creating a new page in the annals of kosen-rufu. The Daishonin is surely praising you most highly.

Thank you for all your incredible efforts, particularly in this cold season and amid the various restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, I would like to call upon you to forge ahead dynamically in your youth, brimming with “the great joy of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”[2]

“Know yourself!” is an important philosophical theme explored since the times of ancient Greece. Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching that illuminates the true meaning of who we are from the fundamental perspective of life and its eternity throughout past, present and future.

The Daishonin states: “Great joy [is what] one experiences when one understands for the first time that one’s mind [or life] from the very beginning has been a Buddha. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys” (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 211–12).

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo awakens us to the truth that our life itself is that of a Buddha and that we embody the Mystic Law. Through chanting, we come to realize that we are by no means powerless, weak or in significant but rather that our life is incredibly noble and respectworthy, capable of harnessing the unsurpassed power of the Buddha that is one with the universe.

Encouraging members struggling with problems such as financial difficulties and illness, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, said: “We are merely playing roles in the drama of life. We are in fact bona fide Bodhisattvas of the Earth! Since life is a grand drama, we should thoroughly enjoy playing the role we have undertaken and win victory after victory, demonstrating the greatness of the Mystic Law.”

The shared bond of mentor and disciple in the Soka Gakkai has inspired countless Bodhisattvas of the Earth to stand up and boldly go out into a world mired in problems and difficulties, where they brilliantly enact the drama of fulfilling the vow to achieve a peaceful and humanistic world for all through human revolution.

I am reminded of the words of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975), who expressed high hopes for the Soka Gakkai’s grassroots movement of human revolution guided by the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism. He said, “The present threat to mankind’s survival can be removed only by a revolutionary change of heart in individual human beings.”[3]

The young people of the 21st century are facing truly daunting challenges. And those who are dedicated to a profound mission in their youth are certain to face no end of hardships and problems. They may also encounter obstacles, blocks and slumps.

But by continuing to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, “regarding both suffering and joy as facts of life” (see “Happiness in This World,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 681), you can definitely transform your situation, changing all poison into medicine.

Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, many young people the world over are anxious for the future, filled with despair or gripped by feelings of helplessness and apathy. At such a time, you, our young Bodhisattvas of the Earth, brimming with “the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 212), are leading positive, upbeat lives as you seek to deepen your wisdom and take action for the cause of good. You are a source of boundless hope illuminating the future of humanity.

The Daishonin teaches that true joy is not something we savor alone, closed off from others. He says, “‘Joy’ means that oneself and others together experience joy” (OTT, 146). And he further goes on to state, “Both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion” (OTT, 146).

No matter what challenges you may face, please continue to tap your brilliant inner wisdom for creating value and to deepen your compassion for treasuring and respecting each person. Please continue to forge bonds of trust and friendship in your communities and societies, joining with your fellow young global citizens around the world to create a network in which all people can shine in their own unique way.

Proudly upholding the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism, and with the firm conviction that “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (“Great Evil and Great Good,” WND-1, 1119), please build a far-reaching solidarity for peace and human dignity among all people on our planet.

I am sincerely praying that all of you, my dear and trusted young friends, will live your youth brimming with “the great joy of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth” and savor brilliant victory.


  1. Nichiren Daishonin was born on Feb. 16, 1222. According to Japanese tradition, a person is counted as 1 year old on the day of their birth. ↩︎
  2. These words were inscribed in a calligraphy by Ikeda Sensei at the Mie Training Center, Mie Prefecture, Japan, in May 1982. ↩︎
  3. Arnold Toynbee and Daisaku Ikeda, Choose Life: A Dialogue, edited by Richard L. Gage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 63. ↩︎

Toward A New Renaissance of Life

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