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Ikeda Sensei

Carry On the Invincible Spirit of Soka!

Peter Zelei Images / Getty Images.

The following essay by Ikeda Sensei was originally published in the June 30, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Today, June 30, is the 65th anniversary of the student division, a proud gathering of young Bodhisattvas Universal Worthy—people of broad-ranging wisdom. This year is also the 60th anniversary of the start of a series of lectures on The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings I gave to student division representatives [from Aug. 31, 1962]. 

What an unsurpassed joy it has been to strive for kosen-rufu united as mentor and disciple with those earnest student division members across the decades, until we now “share the gray-haired years” (“On the Offering of a Mud Pie,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 500). They are all my comrades in lifetime after lifetime.

At one of these lectures six decades ago, someone asked if leaders needed to be optimists. It was just the kind of question our bright and inquiring student division members would ask.

I responded to the effect: “Leaders must exercise caution and resolve to win in every struggle. Optimism without that spirit is the mark of a leader who doesn’t really give serious thought to people’s feelings. True optimism is to keep on smiling and pressing forward courageously for kosen-rufu, for people’s happiness and victory, even when you’re maligned or encounter obstacles.”

Today, our student division members—embodying the principle of “from the indigo, an even deeper blue” (“Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” WND-1, 457)—are applying themselves earnestly to their studies. Ready to work their hardest, they go among the people and strive tirelessly for peace and a better future for all. They are brilliant beacons of hope for humanity, and sure to become outstanding leaders of intellect and wisdom, a prospect that fills me with excitement. 

Our courageous progress is always accompanied by the prayers of our precious fellow members around the world, united in faith in the Mystic Law. 

Recently, as a gesture of warm support for their counterparts in Japan, SGI-Italy women’s division members sent a video featuring their inspiring song “Messaggere di Pace” (Messengers of Peace) with the chorus:

Let’s join hearts,

let’s join voices,

creating waves,

waves of peace and happiness.

I am reminded of my visit to Florence, the capital of the Renaissance, three decades ago (in June 1992). At that time, I was presented with a compilation of vibrant determinations by Italian women’s division members. In deep appreciation, I wrote inside it the following message:

Those who remain undefeated are victors.

Those who chant sincerely will know lasting happiness.

Those who dedicate their lives to kosen-rufu will shine with eternal virtue and fortune. 

The singing and the smiling faces of our Italian members in this video are truly sublime. I know these inspiring women of Soka are striving dynamically in Italy, staying positive and undefeated by the challenges of the times. 

In a letter dated July 3, 1278, Nichiren Daishonin writes to the lay nun Myoho: 

Since the Lotus Sutra defines our body as the Dharma body of a Thus Come One, our mind as the reward body of a Thus Come One, and our actions as the manifested body of a Thus Come One, all who uphold and believe in even a single phrase or verse of this sutra will be endowed with the benefits of these three [Buddha] bodies.[1](“The One Essential Phrase,” WND-1, 922)

Today, Soka women—their bodies and minds brimming with the boundless life force of Buddhahood—are creating waves of peace and happiness by showing respect for the dignity and worth of all people through their behavior and actions.

My wife, Kaneko, and I chant each day that you, our precious fellow members—especially, our radiant, seasoned veterans of the Many Treasures Group—will enjoy safety and security, long, healthy lives, boundless good fortune and benefit, and the fulfillment of all their prayers. Please take special care of your health during the intense heat of summer.

Tomorrow marks the start of July—the month in which Nichiren Daishonin submitted his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” to the ruling authorities [on July 16, 1260]. July is also the Month of Mentor and Disciple, the Month of Youth and the Month of Kansai. 

On July 3, 1945, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, was released after enduring the harsh ordeal of two years’ imprisonment by Japan’s militarist government. I first encountered him two years later [in August 1947]. He was giving a lecture on “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” at a discussion meeting, during which he declared: “I wish to rid the earth of all suffering and misery. This is what kosen-rufu is all about. Won’t you join me?” 

It will be 75 years this August[2] since I vowed to take part in this shared struggle of mentor and disciple and dedicate my life to our movement for peace—a movement based on carrying out our individual human revolution and spreading the life-affirming principles of Nichiren Buddhism to realize a secure and prosperous world for all.

On July 3, 1957, a decade after my first meeting with Mr. Toda, I was arrested and jailed on false charges in Osaka—in what became known as the Osaka Incident.[3] I fought with the resolve to prevent the authorities from extending their persecution to my mentor, embracing the spirit the Daishonin sought in genuine disciples, “If they were people who understood their obligations or who were capable of reason, then out of two blows that fall on me, they would receive one in my stead” (“Reply to Yasaburo,” WND-1, 828). Through faith based on the oneness of mentor and disciple, I succeeded in positively transforming that adversity, changing all poison into medicine. 

Ten years after the Osaka Incident, I had the opportunity to look back on this history of shared struggle with my friends in Kansai—comrades from the distant past—at a Kansai headquarters leaders general meeting in June 1967. 

I spoke with our members from Osaka, Hyogo and the rest of Kansai who eagerly assembled for that gathering at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

 I recalled to them how deeply Mr. Toda loved Kansai, regarding it as vital to our movement as Tokyo, with the two centers functioning together “like a pair of eyes or set of lungs.” 

Next, I noted how during the Osaka Campaign[4] of 1956, the Kansai members achieved a record-breaking propagation result, followed by a great victory that astonished all of Japan,[5] through uniting with “many in body, one in mind” as their byword. 

Then, I turned to the Osaka Incident that occurred the following year, and how during two weeks’ detention on false charges, I remained determined to shield Mr. Toda from any harm at the hands of the authorities. I recalled the Osaka Rally[6] held on the day of my release, July 17, at Nakanoshima Civic Hall, where I declared that the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism would ultimately prevail.

Finally, I touched on how, in January 1962, after a four-and-a-half-year court battle connected to the Osaka Incident, I won and proved my innocence.

It was a speech passing on the torch of Kansai’s dauntless, invincible spirit, with the wish that Ever-Victorious Kansai’s grit, fight and proud tradition would live on forever.

Sharing Mr. Toda’s desire to make Kansai a place where no one suffered from illness or poverty, I declared: “Whatever others may say, those who remain steadfast in faith are guaranteed to savor true happiness and true victory, and lead lives in which all their prayers are fulfilled!”

And the Kansai members and I vowed together to never let up in our struggle against injustice and to keep moving forward decisively, embodying Nichiren Daishonin’s stirring cry “Not once have I thought of retreat” (“The Great Battle,” WND-2, 465). 

At this meeting, we also reaffirmed the motto “Ever-Victorious Kansai!”

After visiting Hyogo and Osaka at the beginning of that year [1967], I threw myself energetically into encouraging members around the country. I also presented mottos to every region, where today our members, making the most of their unique qualities, are striving together for the victory of Soka with a unity of purpose “as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 217).

Speaking of mottos, during my dialogue with British historian Arnold J. Toynbee a half-century ago, I asked him what his motto was. The 83-year-old scholar replied without hesitation: “Laboremus,” Latin for “Let’s get to work!” 

When I returned to Japan, the very first people I shared that inspiring motto with were my fellow men’s division members at a spirited summer training course. I said: “Let’s strive again today! Let’s continue with our work of the Buddha!”

I fondly remember us pledging together to live our lives as people of wisdom, brimming with vibrant energy and an eternally youthful spirit while taking good care of our health. 

Professor Toynbee once offered the following advice to young colleagues: “The right moment for starting on your next job is not tomorrow or next week; it is … ‘right now.’”[7] This is the spirit of our golden pillars, the men’s division members—the Shijo Kingos of Soka!

The dialogue presented in “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” the treatise Nichiren Daishonin submitted in remonstration to the authorities on July 16, 1260, begins with the host saying, “Let us discuss the question at length” (WND-1, 7), and ends with the guest pledging to engage in dialogue to spread the correct teaching.

“For the sake of the nation, for the sake of the Law, for the sake of others” (“The Rationale for ‘On Establishing the Correct,’” WND-1, 164)—we feel bound to share the life-affirming principles of Nichiren Buddhism. We wish to teach as many people as possible about the wisdom and compassionate spirit of the Middle Way in Buddhism. We seek to send capable individuals of genuine commitment, dedicated to serving the people, into society. This great, compelling passion is the driving force of our efforts.

July is the proud Month of Youth, marking the anniversaries of the young men’s and young women’s divisions,[8] whose members today—each cherishing their vow as a Bodhisattva of the Earth—are engaged in a courageous dance of bold and joyful action. 

They are earnestly discussing the challenges their generation faces and society’s many problems; they are listening with empathy to their friends’ cares and worries; and they are standing up to take action with members and nonmembers who share their aims and values. There is no nobler way to spend one’s youth.

In the same letter to the lay nun Myoho that I mentioned earlier, Nichiren also writes: “A lantern [can light] up a place that has been dark for a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand years” (see “The One Essential Phrase,” WND-1, 923). 

Our world shrouded in dark clouds is thirsting for the radiant wisdom of the Buddhism of the Sun. 

With our dependable young successors in the lead, let us brighten the hearts of everyone around us with the warm friendship and trust, empathy and inspiration, and innovation and solidarity of our Soka family!

In accord with the Daishonin’s words “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated” (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” WND-1, 376), let’s illuminate our lands with the wisdom of the Buddhism of the Sun and open the way to creating a bright, hopeful future for our world!


  1. The Dharma body is the fundamental truth, or Law, to which the Buddha is enlightened. The reward body is the wisdom to perceive the Law. And the manifested body is the compassionate actions the Buddha carries out to lead people to happiness. ↩︎
  2. Ikeda Sensei met Josei Toda for the first time on Aug. 14, 1947, and 10 days later, on Aug. 24, joined the Soka Gakkai and embarked on the path of faith. ↩︎
  3. Osaka Incident: When Sensei, then-Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested and wrongfully charged with election law violations in a House of Councillors by-election in Osaka in 1957. At the end of the court case, which continued for more than four years, he was fully exonerated on Jan. 25, 1962. ↩︎
  4. 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. ↩︎
  5.  In a national House of Councillors (Upper House) election held in July 1956, a Soka Gakkai–backed candidate in the Kansai district won a seat for the first time, an accomplishment that public opinion had deemed impossible. ↩︎
  6. Osaka Rally: A Soka Gakkai rally held to protest the unjust detention of a young Daisaku Ikeda by the Osaka District Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the Osaka Incident. It was convened at the Nakanoshima Civic Hall in Osaka on July 17, 1957, the day of Sensei’s release after two weeks of interrogation by authorities. ↩︎
  7. Arnold J. Toynbee, Experiences (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 103. ↩︎
  8. The young men’s division and young women’s division were established on July 11 and July 19, 1951, respectively. ↩︎

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