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Ikeda Sensei

Striving to Create a World of Peace and Tranquility for All Humankind

Aerial View over Manhattan with Chrysler Building at sunrise, New York City, New York, United States
Harald Nachtmann / Getty Images

This essay by Ikeda Sensei was originally published in the Feb. 25, 2021, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, the Seikyo Shimbun.

Allow me once again to express my sincere sympathy to those affected by the Feb. 13, 2021, earthquake, which caused considerable damage in Tohoku’s Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures and neighboring areas.

The strong tremors in the middle of the night must have been alarming and unsettling. I am filled with deep admiration and respect for the indestructible unity of our Tohoku Soka family, who responded immediately by contacting and encouraging one another and working together to overcome this latest challenge.

I am also praying for the safety and well-being of everyone in Hokkaido, which has been experiencing heavy snowfalls.

In his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” and many other writings, Nichiren Daishonin speaks of his wish for the peace and tranquility of the land and of society. He lived in a troubled age plagued by endless natural disasters and epidemics. Empathizing deeply with the suffering of the people, he continued to wage a great, unremitting struggle to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land. “From the time that I was born until today,” he writes, “I have never known a moment’s ease; I have thought only of propagating the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]” (“Persecution by Sword and Staff,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 965).

As we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Nichiren’s birth,[1] let us, as heirs to his spirit, strengthen our prayers and actions to bring peace and tranquility to our lands and to all people throughout the world based on the life-affirming principles of Buddhism.

Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was a near contemporary of our founding Soka Gakkai president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944), who was 10 years his junior.

Tagore wrote:

The brilliance of the sun shines
in human courage—
its rays dispelling all darkness from the earth.[2]

The sun burns without pause. Its energy is generated in its core, from where it moves unceasingly over a vast period of time to the sun’s surface before finally reaching the earth. The sun nurtures life and illuminates all things on our planet.

Nichiren, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, adopted the character for “sun” (Jpn nichi) as part of his name.

He always showed utmost care and support for each person and encouraged them with words that were like the sun’s life-giving rays. And he helped one person after another bring the eternal sun of their inner Buddhahood to shine forth and dispel the darkness of all forms of misery from their lives.

Today, scholars and thinkers around the world are turning their attention to the Daishonin’s actions and behavior.

Dr. Dennis Gira, the supervising editor of the French translation of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, said he was impressed by Nichiren’s warm encouragement and caring consideration for others, which present a model for authentic dialogue that connects people.[3]

Dr. Carlos Rubio, the supervising editor of the Spanish translation of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, pointed to the Daishonin’s thoughts and actions concerning social reform and his human warmth as offering inspiration for our times, when we are facing so many urgent global problems.[4]

Encouragement that changes despair into hope! Prayer that transforms destiny into mission! A supportive network that turns sorrow into joy!

Through our courageous efforts, united by the bonds of mentor and disciple, the brilliant light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun continues to spread widely and unceasingly throughout the world. Now, let us set out on a journey, our hearts emboldened to spread the Mystic Law to the farthest reaches of India.

Now, let us set out on a journey,
our hearts emboldened
to spread the Mystic Law
to the farthest reaches
of India.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, composed this memorable poem in January 1952, the year marking the 700th anniversary of the establishment of the Daishonin’s teaching.[5]

He often spoke to us of his dream of bringing the sun of Nichiren Buddhism to people throughout Asia. The peace and tranquility of the countries and peoples of Asia were his cherished wish.

Quoting from “On Reprimanding Hachiman,” which contains the teaching of the westward transmission of Buddhism, Mr. Toda called on us to realize worldwide kosen-rufu. On the subject of spreading the Mystic Law in the Latter Day, the Daishonin says: “Now … it is even more appropriate that such teachings [the teachings of the Lotus Sutra] be propagated. … How can one fail to propagate them?” (WND-2, 931).

Now is the time! This is the moment to take powerful action for kosen-rufu! My heart filled with my mentor’s impassioned call for us to set out on a journey throughout Asia and the world, I launched boldly into action. I took the lead in what became known as the February Campaign.[6] My first concrete step in advancing kosen-rufu was made from my local organization, Kamata Chapter [centered in Tokyo’s Ota Ward]. In a major breakthrough, we doubled the previous monthly record by welcoming a total of 201 new member households to our chapter that February.

I had personally decided on a goal of 200 member households from the outset, but as a chapter, we made it our goal to achieve two new member households per unit [present-day group], the smallest organizational level within the Soka Gakkai. That gave us all an immediate, personal target that we vowed to fulfill, as opposed to some far-off, unreachable goal. We each stood up to take initiative, with the spirit of repaying our debt of gratitude to our mentor. We prayed and took action with courage, meeting and talking with people and reaching out to encourage those around us.

With Ota Ward as our base, we traveled to neighboring areas such as Meguro and Shinagawa wards and Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture. There were even trailblazers who ventured further afield to distant regional areas such as Akita Prefecture [in northern Japan] to courageously share Nichiren Buddhism with people there.

At times when our sincere goodwill was rejected or scorned, we encouraged and cheered one another on: “You did great!” “All hardships for kosen-rufu turn into benefit!” “Let’s try again!”

The barrier we broke through in the campaign was actually a barrier in our own hearts, our own self-imposed limits, the temptation to give up, feeling that our goal was too difficult and we could never achieve it.

At the end of February, after a month of all-out effort, just as each unit and district were finishing up their reports on their results, a women’s division member dashed joyously into the room to announce that she had introduced Nichiren Buddhism to one more household.

With that, the total number of new member households came to 201—a result made possible by the earnestness and determination of one of our sunny women’s division members, their spirit unchanging to this day.

That momentum, in perfect step with the vibrant rhythm of the seasons changing from winter to spring, created the groundswell for our continued success in propagation in March as well.

Embodying the spirit and commitment of my mentor, I made my first trip to neighboring countries in Asia 60 years ago, in 1961—close to a decade after the February Campaign.

At that time, there were no Soka Gakkai members in India, the birthplace of Buddhism. With the wish that my daimoku [chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] would deeply permeate that eternal land, I sowed the seeds of the Mystic Law and made the cause for creating the right time for the development of our movement. And eventually, a surging tide of capable people dedicated to kosen-rufu emerged. Today, we have a magnificent network of more than 250,000 Bodhisattvas of the Earth in India.

I recently received the inspiring report that last year, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, some 25,000 new members joined the organization in India, many of them young people. What is the driving force behind this development? Leaders in India are unanimous in declaring that it is due to caring about the growth of each member.

One individual stands up, and then helps another to do the same. Kosen-rufu is always a steady, gradual process.

The spirit of the February Campaign lives on today. Person-to-person bonds—that is what counts above all else. Behind each person we interact with is a whole host of family members and friends. This web of human relationships is infinite. Sincerely encouraging and imparting hope to one person is an incredible cause for encouraging countless unknown others.

My mentor declared: “The Soka Gakkai will keep getting bigger, but as long as we never forget the spirit to treasure each person, it will stay solid and united.”

The great river of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land is created through our persevering efforts to forge connections with one person after another with that spirit firmly in our hearts.

The Daishonin writes, “When the spring [or source] dries up, the river will cease to flow” (“Doryu of Kencho-ji Temple,” WND-2, 763). This is a stern warning to never forget the source or origin.

In the Soka Gakkai, our source, our wellspring, is the path of mentor and disciple. It is coming to know and understand the heart and spirit of our mentor and standing up in that same spirit. It is taking a step toward the future with the constant thought of finding the best ways to make our mentor’s vision a reality.

Mr. Toda said: “Kosen-rufu is a great cultural movement. It is establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”

I inherited this vision of my mentor. And during my first trip to countries in Asia six decades ago, I came up with the idea of establishing the Min-On Concert Association and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy. As I traveled to Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, it occurred to me that it would be wonderful to learn from the culture and thought of other countries and regions and foster friendship through cultural exchange that brings people’s hearts closer together. The vision of such a cultural movement unfolding became a source of inspiration creating boundless hope for peace.

The Institute of Oriental Philosophy’s “Lotus Sutra—A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence” exhibition has been seen by about 900,000 people in 17 countries and territories.

The Min-On Concert Association has forged deep ties of trust with musicians and musical organizations in 110 countries. The original source of these various ideas I formulated can be traced back to my decade of study and training under Mr. Toda at what I call “Toda University.”

The unparalleled lessons I learned in a spirit of oneness with my mentor at that time are now being passed on, through my novel The New Human Revolution, a record of my innermost soul, to all the Shin’ichi Yamamotos of the 21st century.

When our hearts are united with our mentor, infinite courage, wisdom and strength well forth in our lives.

As long as we live in dialogue with our mentor, always asking ourselves what our mentor would do in our place, we will not be shaken or confused.

The vast river of peace, culture and education created by the Soka Gakkai is now nourishing the spirit of humanity and promoting global unity, flowing out into the wide ocean of value creation.

I am praying more deeply and powerfully than ever, convinced that we are embarking on a crucial decade for securing this great current of Buddhist humanism.

It was from February to March that Nichiren, after enduring the trials of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution and the Sado Exile for almost two and a half years, was pardoned and returned victoriously to Kamakura.

Referring to the indescribable, life-threatening hardships he had undergone, he writes: “During this period I have suffered difficulties day after day and month after month. … The chances are one in ten thousand that I will survive the year or even the month” (“On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” WND-1, 402). Yet he triumphed over all, his invincible spirit enduring as an inspiration for future generations.

Nichiren praised a sincere female disciple who remained steadfast in faith amid such hardships [and even traveled to visit him on Sado Island]. He said that he was deeply impressed by her devotion, and that his exile must have been designed specifically so that she could demonstrate such admirable faith (see “Letter to the Mother of Oto,” WND-2, 1030).

We, as the Daishonin’s true disciples, have also remained undefeated in the face of all manner of hardship and difficulty.

Let’s win in every sphere and proclaim to all the world the arrival of a triumphant spring of the Buddhism of the Sun that illuminates the lives of people everywhere.

May the happy springtime
of my precious friends
be fragrant with plum blossoms


  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. Translated from Japanese. Rabindranath Tagore, “Mattaki sugata” (Full Vision), translated by Tatsuo Morimoto, in Tagoru chosaku-shu VII (Writings by Tagore, Volume VII) (Tokyo: Aporon-sha, 1960), p. 254. The original poem was written in Bengali. ↩︎
  3. Translated from an article in Seikyo Shimbun, April 28, 2012. ↩︎
  4. Translated from an article in Seikyo Shimbun, Jan. 1, 2019. ↩︎
  5. According to the traditional Japanese way of counting. Nichiren publicly proclaimed his teaching on April 28, 1253. ↩︎
  6. February Campaign: In February 1952, Ikeda Sensei, then an advisor to Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter, initiated a dynamic propagation campaign. Together with the Kamata members, he broke through the previous monthly record of some 100 new member households by introducing Nichiren Buddhism to 201 new member households. ↩︎

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