Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei

Scaling a New Summit of Kosen-rufu Toward Our Centennial

Ama Dablam (6856m) peak near the village of Dingboche in the Khumbu area of Nepal, on the hiking trail leading to the Everest base camp.
Photo by Dmytro Kosmenko / Getty Images

This essay was written by Ikeda Sensei as part of his series “Our Brilliant Human Revolution.” It was originally published in the Oct. 14, 2021, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

We who dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu are always together with Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

While residing on Mount Minobu in Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture), Nichiren sent a letter to the elderly lay nun of Ko, a dedicated follower who lived on Sado Island—“a thousand [miles away] over mountains and seas” (see “The Treasure of a Filial Child,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1045). He tells her: “If you find that you miss me, always look at the sun that rises [in the morning] and the moon that rises in the evening. Whatever the time, I will be reflected in the sun and the moon” (“Letter to the Lay Nun of Ko,” WND-1, 596).

We are members of the Soka family, joined by the Mystic Law. The wondrous bonds we share in the grand adventure of kosen-rufu are reflected in those bright mirrors of the heavens, the sun and the moon. United in prayer with members around the world to realize our vow for kosen-rufu, let’s continue to warmly encourage one another and expand our unsurpassed movement that exemplifies unity in diversity.

Oct. 7 was the Soka Gakkai’s Victory Isles Division Day [formerly, Outlying Islands Division Day] in Japan. In that connection, I have received a host of updates from members from more than 230 islands.

Many pioneer members on those islands have striven tirelessly since our organization’s earliest days. Persevering amid criticism from those who did not understand our aims and ideals, they patiently put down roots and worked hard to contribute to the development of their communities. Today, they enjoy the solid trust of their neighbors and fellow residents.

Our members living on these remote islands have also risen to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic with their invincible spirit and are showing inspiring actual proof of human revolution. And our vibrant youth division and future division members are shining as treasures of hope in each community.

I press my palms together in deep respect and reverence for these Soka Bodhisattvas Never Disparaging.[1] Undefeated by the fierce winds of adversity, they are stellar exemplars of friendship and service to their communities. I chant with the wish that my daimoku will reach each island. And I pray every day that each of our members there will enjoy good fortune and security, honor and success.

Even while in exile on Sado, a far-flung island surrounded by rough seas, the Daishonin showed warm concern for his disciples and for the local residents he came into contact with. It was also there that he made his proud prediction that the Mystic Law would spread widely throughout the world in the future.[2]

“One’s body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena”[3] (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” WND-1, 366). Our determination to fulfill our great vow as Bodhisattvas of the Earth can overcome all limitations.

Advancing kosen-rufu on a single island, making steady progress in realizing the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” in a single community—such efforts are a model for achieving those goals on a global scale.

Nichiren encourages his disciples, saying, “I entrust you with the propagation of Buddhism in your province” (“The Properties of Rice,” WND-1, 1117). Wherever you may dwell, therefore, I hope you will take pride in being entrusted with the mission of realizing kosen-rufu, of working for people’s happiness, in that very place.

In a letter to the lay nun Sennichi on Sado, the Daishonin writes, “In order to repay my debt to my mother, I have vowed to enable all women to chant the daimoku of this sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]” (“The Sutra of True Requital,” WND-1, 931). Since the time of first and second Soka Gakkai Presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, taking to heart this wish of the Daishonin and showing utmost respect for women has been the spirit of Soka mentors and disciples.

A half century has already passed since I composed the poem “Mother.”[4] It was announced and read at a Kansai women’s division leaders meeting at the Higashiyodogawa Gymnasium in Osaka in October 1971. That year marked the 15th anniversary of the Osaka Campaign,[5] and I wanted to present this poem first of all to the women of Ever-Victorious Kansai who had striven so sincerely alongside me at that time. My wife, Kaneko, attended the meeting on my behalf, bringing with her the final draft of the poem, still marked with last-minute revisions.

“Mother! Ah, mother! / What a richly mysterious / power you possess!”

The emotion and respectful affection I expressed in that poem remains unchanged today. I am also confident that the “richly mysterious power” of women will shine ever brighter into the future.

By the way, my wife always smiles in delight when we drive past the Soka International Women’s Center (near the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo), a beautiful building that opened in celebration of women in the last year of the 20th century (2000).

In a letter to Nichigen-nyo, the wife of Shijo Kingo, Nichiren praises the great beneficial power of the Mystic Law, saying: “Can anything exceed the sun and moon in brightness? Can anything surpass the lotus flower in purity? The Lotus Sutra is the sun and moon and the lotus flower” (“Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child,” WND-1, 186).

Today, the women of Soka, bright as the sun and the moon and pure as a lotus flower, are imparting happiness and wisdom to all around them and opening the way for a triumphant age of women that cherishes the worth and preciousness of life.

On Nov. 18, Soka Gakkai Founding Day, our community of Soka women in Japan will make a fresh start with the young women’s division officially merging with the women’s division.[6] I hope you will set forth joyfully together to make even greater efforts for happiness and peace, as you spearhead an age of growing diversity, respecting and valuing one another and appreciating one another’s unique qualities in accord with the principle of “cherry, plum, peach, and damson” (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 200).

The world is waiting for the radiant light of Soka women to illuminate the darkness of our troubled times.

It is the autumn of active youth, the autumn of hope and the autumn of victory!

The great German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) declared: “Youth is most powerful upon youth,” adding that it is youth’s influences “which enliven the world, and allow it neither morally nor physically to perish.”[7]

In October 1951, seven decades ago, we, the youth division members, vigorously rose to action, embracing the “Guidelines for Youth” that our mentor Josei Toda had presented to us. In it, he wrote: “A new age will be created by the passion and power of youth”[8] and “Youth, rise up with courage! Youth, join me in the struggle!”[9]

His every word thrilled and inspired us, young men and young women alike.

With the highest expectations, he urged us: “Lift the spirits of your fellow members and strive with the awareness that you are a central figure in realizing the great vow for kosen-rufu.”[10]

At a Soka Gakkai general meeting the following month (in November 1951), I shared my determination as a representative of the young men’s division in a speech titled “The Conviction of Youth.” At the time, I was still just a young men’s division group leader.

I vowed that we would live true to our mentor’s “Guidelines for Youth,” declaring before Mr. Toda: “We youth will never allow your words to be in vain. … The conviction of Soka Gakkai youth is that we are youth brimming with fighting spirit and courage.”

As if in response to his disciples’ pledge, at that general meeting, Mr. Toda gave a speech titled “The Great Vow of the Soka Gakkai.” Quoting passages from “Letter to Hojo Tokimune,” in which the Daishonin remonstrated with the Japanese regent, he stressed: “The heart of the Soka Gakkai is to make the heart of Nichiren Daishonin its own. The Soka Gakkai spirit is to enable all people to attain enlightenment through the power of the single vehicle of the Mystic Law.”[11]

On Nov. 5 a decade later (in 1961), a day that is now commemorated as Young Men’s Division Day,[12] 100,000 members attended a young men’s division general meeting, and on Nov. 12, a day that is now commemorated as Young Women’s Division Day,[13] 85,000 gathered for a young women’s division general meeting. Both of these meetings were a triumphant milestone for our youth, and came just 18 months after I took leadership as the third Soka Gakkai president. It was a victory achieved by the youth, rising as noble treasure towers, based on the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple. And I reported this achievement to Mr. Toda as the fulfillment of one of the vows I had made to him.

Two decades after that—in 1981, which had been designated the Year of Youth—I not only traveled throughout Japan, but to the United States, including Hawaii, as well as to Canada, Mexico, the Soviet Union and several countries in Europe. When one youth stands up with genuine commitment, our movement for kosen-rufu will grow, with “two, three, and a hundred following” (see “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 385).

When one youth makes their mentor’s spirit their own, the future of their community and country is bright. This is the path I have blazed through following the guidance of my mentor. That is why I always tried to find a way to wholeheartedly encourage young people, even if I could not meet with them in person.

In November 1981, I joined with youth in Shikoku in ringing in the dawn of a new era with “Song of Crimson.” And my poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century!” which I presented in Oita, Kyushu, marked the culmination of that Year of Youth.[14]

The counteroffensive our courageous members and I launched [in response to the priesthood’s oppression] from that time—a “shared struggle of champions”[15]—opened the way for the development of worldwide kosen-rufu that we see today. Nichiren assures us: “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (“Great Evil and Great Good,” WND-1, 1119). He describes the positive, challenging spirit we should have, saying: “You should all perform a dance. … [Y]ou should leap up and dance. When Bodhisattva Superior Practices emerged from the earth, did he not emerge dancing?” (WND-1, 1119).

Standing up courageously at a time of great evil—a time of trouble and daunting challenges—with the conviction that we can move our lives and societies in the direction of great good—this is our spirit as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

Such a life is free of pessimism, self-pity or resignation. It is filled with joy—the great joy of practicing the unsurpassed Mystic Law—and the honor of carrying out one’s mission. There is no nobler or more rewarding victory in youth than this.

Our valiant young men’s and women’s division members of that time four decades ago scaled the summit of kosen-rufu alongside me and have fostered many wonderful successors. They are always with me deep in my heart.

Now, another great summit of kosen-rufu lies before us.

As we make our way toward 2030, the Soka Gakkai’s centennial, we must scale this summit to ensure victory for our movement of human happiness and peace in the 22nd century. And so I call out once again to you, my dear and trusted young friends, my true disciples:

When you reach the summit,
all the world
that unfolds before you
will be yours.
There is no higher path in life
than this—of a youth devoted
to joyous and
infinitely satisfying struggle
on behalf of the Buddhist Law.
Knowing this,
I entrust everything to you![16]


  1. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging is described in “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging,” the 20th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This bodhisattva—Shakyamuni in a previous lifetime—would bow respectfully to everyone he met, acknowledging their innate Buddha nature. However, he was attacked by arrogant people, who beat him with sticks and staves and threw stones at him. The sutra explains that this practice became the cause for Bodhisattva Never Disparaging to attain Buddhahood. ↩︎
  2. See “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 398. ↩︎
  3. The words of the Great Teacher Miao-lo in The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight.” ↩︎
  4. The poem “Mother” later formed the basis for the well-loved Soka Gakkai song of the same title, which was composed in 1976. ↩︎
  5. Osaka Campaign: In May 1956, the Kansai members, uniting around a young Daisaku Ikeda, who had been dispatched by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda to support them, increased their chapter’s membership by 11,111 households in a single month. ↩︎
  6. This organizational change applies only to Japan. ↩︎
  7. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Autobiography of Goethe: Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life, vol. 1, translated by John Oxenford (London: George Bell and Sons, 1897), p. 386. ↩︎
  8. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 1 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1992), p. 58. ↩︎
  9. Ibid., p. 59. ↩︎
  10. Ibid., p. 61. ↩︎
  11. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 3 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1991), p. 450. ↩︎
  12. Young Men’s Division Day commemorates the young men’s division general meeting held at the National Sports Stadium in Tokyo, on Nov. 5, 1961, just 18 months after Ikeda Sensei was inaugurated as the Soka Gakkai’s third president, achieving a gathering of more than 100,000 members for the first time. ↩︎
  13. Young Women’s Division Day commemorates the young women’s division general meeting, a gathering of 85,000 members, held on Nov. 12, 1961. That meeting took place at the Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama—the same venue where second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda delivered his Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in September 1957. ↩︎
  14. This year marks both the 40th anniversary of “Song of Crimson” and the poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century!” ↩︎
  15. Citing words that he inscribed in a calligraphy the following year, in 1982. ↩︎
  16. Sensei presented the poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century!” on Dec. 10, 1981. The translation used in this essay is from: Daisaku Ikeda, Journey of Life: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), p. 76. ↩︎

Our Founding Month and the Soka Gakkai Spirit

‘Expanding Our Circle to Embrace Many New Friends’