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Ikeda Sensei

Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century

A joyful exchange of youth, Tempe, Ariz., July 2019.
Emerging—A joyful exchange of youth, Tempe, Ariz., July 2019. Photo by George Nakamura.

Ikeda Sensei composed this poem in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, on Dec. 10, 1981, and presented it to the members of the Soka Gakkai youth division. This English translation is based on his revised version introduced in 1999. It can also be found in Sun of Youth, pp. 77–100.

A renowned mountaineer
when asked his reasons for climbing,
said of the mountain:
“Because it is there!”

We are now climbing
the mountain of the 21st century,
the mountain of kosen-rufu!

Beloved youth!
Holding aloft the banner
of the correct teaching of the Mystic Law,
bravely scale the mountain
of the 21st century,
in this way establishing a truly
autonomous and satisfying
way of life.

To this end,
continue to ascend
step by step, one by one,
the mountains large and small
that rise before us each day.
For the value of a deeply fulfilling youth
can only be found within those
who strive to surmount
the harsh realities
of their own lives and of society!
Only when you dedicate yourself
to pursuing this path
of your own profound choosing
can you develop,
with quiet strength,
a sense of self
inexpressibly expansive
like vast, unbounded plains.
Only then can you live out
the entirety of your life
with unshakable confidence!

Young people who are my disciples!
Live on—
for the cause of the Great Law
that is eternal, absolute and indestructible!
Live on—
to accomplish the noble mission
for which you were born!
Live on—
to ring the bell of peace in the world
and raise the flag of justice in society,
the goals which are our creed!

Again today, the sun rises.
It rises majestically—
in the morning of spring cherry blossoms,
in the burning heat of summer days,
in the autumn of red-gold leaves,
despite brooding skies and blowing snows.

Together with the sun,
let us be bold!
My friends, heirs to the future,
live your youth so that the sun,
refulgent with the Great Law,
rises ceaselessly, steadily,
in your hearts!

My young friends!
Youth is another name for the sun.
Embracing the sun of infinite possibilities,
may you make today
victorious in every way!

It is more than 700 years
since the Buddhism of the Sun arose.
And now, in accordance with the teaching
“The farther the source, the longer the
a great, exuberant tide has flowed and
throughout the world.

A half century has passed
since the founding, in 1951,
of the Soka Gakkai youth division,
committed to kosen-rufu—
people of courage and conviction
holding high the banner of
the Buddhism of the Sun.
At that time, some 260 youth
—gallant young men
and pure-hearted young women—
gathered with indomitable determination.

Over the course of five decades,
the flow to which they gave rise
has continued to gather strength.
At times its waters
have piled up on
massive rocks;
at times they have risen
in response to storms and downpours;
at times they have receded
beneath the scorching heat.
Yet today this flow has grown
into a grand and vibrant current
of 5 million young people,
a sustaining force for Japanese society.
Please remember—
the authentic successors to the
Soka Gakkai founding presidents
have all been members
of the youth division.

No one has the power to stop
this majestic and mighty flow!
It will continue to surge on
toward the ocean
growing ever deeper,
ever wider along the way.
It rushes to the forefront of the era,
unimpeded by whatever forces
of authority or sinister obstruction
are mustered against it.

Thanks to the brave and vigorous
efforts of youth,
Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun
has come to shine beyond Japan
to illuminate the entire world.
This mighty current
of people practicing the Mystic Law
now flows in
128 countries.[2]
As an unparalleled global expression
of the Buddha’s Dharma,
it flows jubilantly and eternally
for peace, for the dignity of life,
imparting compassion
in every imaginable form.

It has always been young people
who have led the way in these efforts!
The Daishonin declares:

If Nichiren’s compassion
is truly great and encompassing,
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread
for ten thousand years and more,
for all eternity.[3]

Our well-ordered procession
of compassion and philosophy,
committed to protecting religious freedom,
has no class distinctions,
or national borders.
We advance so that
each individual may realize
the mission, rights and happiness
that are inalienably theirs.

We absolutely oppose violence!
We absolutely oppose war!
Grounded in these great Buddhist
gaining the support of advocates
of culture and peace,
we cause expanding circles
of empathy to flower—
beyond borders
across ideological differences.
Because everyone
has the right to become happy.

I eagerly await your growth.
I pray for it with all my heart.
For I know that this
is the only way that
kosen-rufu will advance.

Therefore I say to you:
Never forget that our daily practice
—reciting gongyo and chanting
is the force to propel your ascent
of the challenging mountain of
the 21st century
as it rises before you.

“If a person cannot manage
to cross a moat ten feet wide,
how can he cross one that is
a hundred or two hundred feet?”[4]
True to this teaching
you must win, no matter what,
in the place where you find yourself
at this moment!
No one can fail to respect
and be moved by a person
who chants daimoku with all their might.
For daimoku is the very essence
of the Daishonin’s Buddhism!
My young friends!
Always bear in mind
the spirit of this passage!
Put it into action,
courageously and wholeheartedly!

Never lose hope
no matter how painful your situation!
Hope is the source of
infinite strength.
To have hope is to have faith!

Human beings possess
unique dignity and value.
They alone have the ability
to generate hope from within.
Over the course of life,
you may at times
appear beaten down.
But never be defeated
in the realm of faith.
So long as your faith
remains unyielding,
convincing proof of victory
invariably awaits!
That proof will be made evident
to all in society.
For the Buddhism you uphold
embodies the principle that
the three thousand realms
of the phenomenal world
are encompassed in a single life moment.

Young friends
who will live on in the new century!
Grow as leaders
of insight and understanding,
never forgetting to walk
alongside the people.
For the people are sovereign,
and the history of the world
has always borne out their wisdom.

As long as our efforts
enjoy the support of the people
and we maintain faith,
we will continue to advance
limitlessly, enduringly
into history.

Therefore, my young friends,
have pride in the many difficult labors
you have taken on,
become guides and examples
for a life as good citizens.
Consider it your highest honor
to be youthful philosophers of action!

We know that the new century
will require the emergence
of outstanding young leaders.
Those who have
neither faith nor philosophy
are like compassless ships!
The times are in motion,
steadily, inexorably shifting
from an era of materialism
to an age of abstract ideas,
from an age of ideas
to an era focused
on the inner reality of life.
People have begun to see
that the values that bring
authentic happiness
are only to be found within life itself.
Today what matters
is neither popularity, fame nor wealth.
In their wisdom,
the people extend their respect
and seek expectantly for leaders
of genuine human greatness.

In this age of the common people,
the real leaders are those
who have won the people’s trust.
We are all equal,
no one is superior or inferior.

My young friends,
I hope each of you
as leaders for the new century
will remain engaged with the people
day in and day out,
living among them,
communicating warmly,
resonantly sharing their concerns,
always breathing
in rhythm with their lives.

I have faith in you!
I cherish high expectations for you!
Without you
kosen-rufu will not be realized!

Enduring every manner
of persecution,
I, too, as a disciple of Josei Toda,
whom I chose as my mentor in life,
have striven to advance
the cause of the people,
the cause of the Mystic Law.
This is the goal I pledged
with my mentor and fellow members
to achieve!
And I declare here
my utter confidence
that all baseless calumnies
will meet with the strict, just
judgment of history.

Where a single, determined individual
has stood up to all the harassment
that power and authority
can bring to bear,
there the triumphant banner
of human revolution
will ripple forever
high in the sky!

My friends,
I urge you—
Never give in to base instincts!
Never be cowardly!
Never betray the trust of others!
For the hearts of such people
are sordid and degenerate.
However high-sounding their rhetoric
they in fact dwell in the realms
of all-consuming desire
and blind animal instinct.

Young leaders!
Direct penetrating insight
to perceive the essential nature
of every issue and incident!
Clearly expose the vicious intent
at the root of the challenges
confronted as we strive
to spread the Mystic Law!

Young champions of the future!
Be people of wisdom!
Be a revolutionizing force!
Do not be foolish!
Never allow yourself to be deceived!
Develop discernment!
These are the requisites of faith—
as the Daishonin states:
“When the skies are clear,
the ground is illuminated.”[5]

At its essence
Buddhism is a struggle
between the forces of happiness and
between justice and iniquity,
between the Buddha
and the demonic forces of destruction!
Please recognize this
deeply and firmly
as the reality of your own life.

My young friends,
pass victoriously
over those sad comrades
who abandoned our once-shared faith.
Associate with people who seek the
who actively embody the Treasure Tower in their lives.
Time and again
turn the wheels,
revolve the spheres
of our great movement
grounded in Buddhism.

To lead a life richly meaningful
we require a profound philosophy
in which to place faith.
There is no greater glory
than to embrace this magnificent
Buddhism of the Sun
as you live out your youth
with passion and joy!
Here is found
the very essence of youth!

The mountain of the 21st century
looms before us!
It is already within sight!
This new century belongs to you!
This is your dawn!
This is your time to shine!
This is the grand stage on which to
your fullest potential
and further solidify
all that you have achieved!

May 3, 2001[6]

Let us aim for that glorious day
when we together reach the summit!
Remember that our struggles
up to that moment
will determine the outcome
of the current phase of kosen-rufu.
My young friends
possessing profound mission!
Aiming for that day,
continue to exert yourselves
in your Buddhist practice
with light and cheerful step!
Give your all each day
in health and high spirits!

All of your exertions
are for your own benefit.
They are for the sake of the people,
for friends who struggle and suffer.
Know that this is the voyage of youth
dedicated to all that is good and just.

Write the magnificent history
of your own life
inscribing it in eternity!
Bold, sustained and energetic efforts
are the only way to do this!
When you confront suffering,
when the way forward seems blocked,
muster courage, dauntless courage!
Remember the many comrades
who believe in you
and in whom you can believe!
Seniors in faith everywhere
await your success!
Fellow members
eagerly follow your efforts!
These comrades are to be found
throughout the entire world!
More than anything, chant daimoku
in order to master
and triumph over yourself!
Do not spare your voice!
Speak out clearly
with the force of a lion’s roar!

Remember also
that all of your actions and endeavors
are unmistakably witnessed
by the original Buddha
who surveys the three existences of
past, present and future,
the original Buddha who assures us
that all the benevolent forces
of nature and life
will extend their protection
to the heroes of kosen-rufu.
To have this confidence
is to have faith!

Never fear the slights, insults
or scornful criticism of others!
Such travails are nothing
compared to those of Shakyamuni,
much less the great persecutions
that beset Nichiren Daishonin!
It is only natural
that we should encounter
buffeting winds of opposition,
as proof that we are living
in full accord with the
Daishonin’s teachings.
We should consider this
our defining honor.

Noble young successors!
Cherish your venerable parents,
treasure human society.
And realize with pride
that the Buddhist principle
of the white lotus blooming
in muddy waters
applies to the
demanding, swamplike
realities of human society.
Life in the real world is complicated,
full of contradictions.
But I urge you, young successors,
to confidently fight your way
into the magnificent inner palace
of your life!
Know that limitless happiness and peace
are to be found within
your own heart!

Sometimes you may have to wait,
patiently enduring!
At times, strike out boldly
to secure a stunning victory!
This day will never come again.
Therefore advance undeterred
today and every day.
This is the life of a bodhisattva
emerging from the earth.

Faith means to fear nothing,
to make yourself an eternal victor!
It is found in actions that give rise
to persons of outstanding humanity
who manifest the underlying unity of
people, society and the Buddhist Law.
Society is harsh—
do not be complacent,
do not let yourself be swept away
by the world’s ever-changing tides!
Remember that you are the
proud authors of your own history!
Do not be misled by superficial
If you allow yourself to be swayed
by the “eight winds”
of others’ praise or censure,
you will have led yourself to sad defeat.
My dear young friends!
You must be victorious in life!

Young disciples
whose growth is my incessant prayer!
Now once more
come together in united striving
as you press forward
on this great unending path!
Advance cheerfully and spiritedly
singing well-loved Gakkai songs—
“The Song of Crimson Dawn,”
“The Song of Indomitable Dignity”!
Countless young successors
follow in your footsteps.
Let us share the struggle
of ascending the adamantine peak
of the 21st century!

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!


  1. “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 736. ↩︎
  2. Currently, the SGI is in 192 countries. ↩︎
  3. “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, 736. ↩︎
  4. “The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 766. ↩︎
  5. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” WND-1, 376. ↩︎
  6. May 3: Soka Gakkai Day; The anniversary of the inauguration of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda in 1951, and its third president, Daisaku Ikeda, in 1960. It is a significant annual milestone for gauging the advancement of kosen-rufu. ↩︎

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