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Ikeda Sensei

Faith Is the Source of Boundless Hope

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli / Pexels.

The following are excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at the 20th SGI General Meeting, held jointly with the 21st Century Hyogo Hope General Meeting, at the Hyogo Ikeda Culture Center in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, on Oct. 17, 1995, nine months after the devastating Kobe earthquake of Jan. 17. They were translated from the Feb. 16, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. Video footage of the speech was broadcast during the Soka Gakkai headquarters leaders meeting on Feb. 6, 2022, also held at the same venue.

Thank you all for attending today’s 20th SGI General Meeting and 21st Century Hyogo Hope General Meeting. I would especially like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the close to 1,000 SGI representatives attending from 57 countries and territories around the world.

I cannot emphasize too strongly my hope that you will all take good care of your health. Please make good health a top priority in your daily lives, including your work and your activities for kosen-rufu. Please direct your prayers, wisdom, care and efforts toward staying healthy so that you may live long. I also wish all of you secure and comfortable lives.

Allow me once again to express my deepest condolences to all those who suffered injury or tragic loss in last winter’s Kobe earthquake. I have also been offering prayers daily for the eternal happiness of all who lost their lives in the disaster, and I will continue to do so.

The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is a philosophy of boundless hope.

No matter how he was persecuted, no matter how he was slandered and abused, Nichiren always endured persecution with a calm and dignified spirit. A Buddha is also called “One Who Can Endure.” True to this name, the Daishonin dauntlessly weathered all persecution.

He did not have the least concern for himself. He was solely preoccupied with how he could help those who were suffering, how he could better the lot of humankind and ensure a bright future for the people of the Latter Day of the Law. He tirelessly pondered and tried to find solutions to problems ranging from the most immediate to the most far reaching. Undeterred by harsh persecution, he continued to send people the great light of hope like a brilliant shining sun.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the “wonderful means” for breaking through all obstacles and forging ahead freely in life with courage and composure.

Nichiren declares: “The wonderful means of truly putting an end to the physical and spiritual obstacles of all living beings is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (“The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 842). There are no obstacles that cannot be overcome by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. There are no deadlocks in Nichiren Buddhism. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the “wonderful means” for breaking through all obstacles and forging ahead freely in life with courage and composure. That is why the Daishonin urges: “Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1001). When we base our lives on the “strategy of the Lotus Sutra”—that is, faith in the Mystic Law—we will overcome all problems without fail. 

The Mystic Law is eternal. Therefore, the benefit and good fortune of those who believe in and practice the Mystic Law are also eternal. No matter what might happen, the Soka Gakkai will forever endure. The Mystic Law is the “wonderful means” for creating happiness, peace and hope. This I wish to declare.

Arnold J. Toynbee, one of the great historians of this century, passed away 20 years ago this month, on Oct. 22. 

Professor Toynbee had a profound interest in Mahayana Buddhism. He wrote to me expressing his wish for us to meet. Out of consideration for his health, given his advanced age, I traveled to London to visit him, and it was there that we held our discussions. [Editors’ Note: In September 1969, Professor Toynbee wrote that he would like to hold a dialogue with Sensei on a number of fundamental problems facing humankind. The two met in May 1972 and again in May 1973, spending a total of approximately 40 hours in discussion. Their conversations were later published in a book titled Choose Life, which has since been translated into 31 languages.]

We continued our earnest discourse over several days. Some days, we talked for as long as eight hours.

One of the subjects we discussed was that the way people respond to difficulties in their environment forms the groundwork for the development of their particular civilization. One of the conclusions Professor Toynbee had reached based on his monumental understanding of history was the theory of “challenge and response.” He keenly perceived that new civilizations emerged from tenacious societies whose people, when faced with some test by the environment, including nature, responded to the challenge and refused to be defeated by it.  

Here in Hyogo, you have overcome the calamitous ordeal of a major earthquake, determined to rise back to your feet. I am convinced that the dauntless spirit you have shown will eventually become a powerful driving force in Japan and a core trait for 21st century civilization. Hyogo, I believe, will become a model and inspiration for the rest of Japan.

Professor Toynbee stressed that “a civilization is decided by the quality of the religion on which it is based.”[1] He also said: “A future religion that is to bring into being, and to keep in being, a new civilization will have to be one that will enable [humankind] to contend with, and to overcome, the evils that are serious present threats to human survival.”[2]

Professor Toynbee understood the immense significance of religion in terms of his grand theory of civilization. For precisely this reason, he had great faith in and keen expectations for our movement of peace, culture and education based on Buddhist humanism.

Guided by his theory of civilization and perspective on history, Professor Toynbee turned his attention to the Soka Gakkai and placed high hopes on our development.

Toward the end of our dialogue in 1973, I asked Professor Toynbee if he had any personal advice for me. Prefacing his reply with the words “I think it rather impertinent for me to give personal advice to you, because I am an academic person and you are a man of action,” he said: “I think we agree about what a human being should do with their life. The Middle Way—as you yourself have said—is the way to follow. I’m sure that the Soka Gakkai is looking very far ahead. This is what we should all do.”[3]

He didn’t put on any airs of self-importance. He was truly a humble man.

Hope is strength. Hope is born of courage and wisdom; it is not born of knowledge alone. And faith is wisdom that gives rise to boundless and eternal hope.

Professor Toynbee believed that even in instances where knowledge hesitates and shrinks back, hope courageously steps forward, advancing intrepidly and infusing life with eternal brilliance.

Hope is strength. Hope is born of courage and wisdom; it is not born of knowledge alone. And faith is wisdom that gives rise to boundless and eternal hope.

Let us of the SGI forever illuminate humankind with the light of hope, and let us construct a value-creating civilization shimmering with infinite hope.

I am praying with all my heart for the prosperity of the lands in which you live, and for your happiness, health and wonderful endeavors.  

Thank you very much.


  1. Arnold Toynbee and Daisaku Ikeda, Choose Life: A Dialogue (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007), p. 287. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 293. ↩︎
  3. From a transcript of their dialogue. ↩︎

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