Skip to main content


Bridging Generations

beautiful painting of people in a city park at sunset
Photo by Grandfailure / Getty Images

It’s not news that different generations struggle to see eye-to-eye. Young people are known for seeking to pave new paths in society that reflect the youthful ideals of justice, freedom and equality, while older generations, though sympathetic to those ideals, often prefer to protect established traditions for the security they promise. This age-old, perhaps natural, trend seems to motivate intergenerational conflict. In the following excerpts adapted from the dialogue Choose Life, Ikeda Sensei and historian Arnold J. Toynbee explore this cycle of generational tension and propose a solution. The unabridged book is available on

Daisaku Ikeda: In the life of each individual lurk karma and greed. … The important premise for bridging the generation gap is for all concerned to understand themselves and others as human beings burdened with the same kinds of karma-created faults and weaknesses.

Arnold J. Toynbee: History shows that this is a difficult enterprise.

Ikeda: The important thing in this connection, of course, is knowing how to abolish the karmic, or destined, evil that exists within [people]. … The teachings of Nichiren Daishonin hold that by coming directly to terms with karma and with human nature, it becomes possible to change both. The dignity of human life lies in the possibility of developing and changing karma. If the older and the younger generations adopt as a starting point the recognition of the dignity of humanity in this sense, I am confident a way would open for reunion. This in turn would lead to reconstruction of the establishment and the educational system, and the creation of a whole new order.

Toynbee: This most desirable change of motivation can be brought about only by a change of heart, and this most desirable change of heart can be brought about only by an inward spiritual change. … And it has to be made by every human being individually. (See Choose Life, pp. 132–34)

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Encouragement That Plants the Seeds of Buddhahood in Others’ Hearts

Q: I already feel burdened by my own problems. Won’t helping others just make me feel more burned out?