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Ikeda Sensei

For the Sake of the Future, for the Sake of Peace

Brilliant stars—Emerging stellar nurseries and individual stars in the Carina Nebula that were previously obscured captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, July 2022. Photo Courtesy of NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The following essay by Ikeda Sensei was translated from the Aug. 4, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

A statue depicting the French author Victor Hugo (1802–85) striding forward as he holds a book stands in the lobby of the main auditorium of Soka University, “a fortress for the peace of humankind.”[1]

The base of the statue is inscribed with these profound words from Hugo’s masterwork Les Misérables: “There is a spectacle greater than the sea, and that is the sky; there is a spectacle greater than the sky, and that is the human soul.”[2]  

Currently, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is observing the great spectacle of the sky, peering further and with much more clarity into the universe than ever before.  

The images captured by this space telescope, the largest in history, include the formation of brilliant stars from a giant nebula, ancient galaxies believed to be from over 13.5 billion years ago and other astonishing discoveries. 

We can only hope that the hearts and minds of humanity will keep pace with these rapidly accelerating developments in the science of astronomy, growing bigger and wiser to protect our precious living planet and enable peace to flourish. 

The wisdom of Nichiren Buddhism, which illuminates the inner universe of the human being, is needed more than ever.

Toward that end, the wisdom of Nichiren Buddhism, which illuminates the inner universe of the human being, is needed more than ever. 

Victor Hugo found immense hope in the spirit of children. “What is their true name?” he asked. “The future.”[3] And he said that we must plant the seeds of justice and joy in their hearts, adding that by nurturing children, we nurture the future.[4]

When we were studying another of Hugo’s works together, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, said to me that children are the treasures of the future and that we should think of them as emissaries from the future and take the best care of them.  

Every summer, when our Future Division Dynamic Growth Month[5] comes around, I am reminded of my mentor’s compassionate words. Summer is the time to sow the seeds of courage in the hearts of our future division members, our most precious treasures. It is the time to nurture a hope-filled future. 

Through the summer English speech contests, as well as essay writing, drawing and book review contests, our young people are challenging themselves and achieving remarkable growth.

The Soka family gatherings being held all around the country are also building positive, supportive connections in local communities and throughout society.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Those who associate with people of good character will consequently become upright in heart, deed, and word” (“The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1128). 

I would like to once again express my gratitude to our future division leaders, the members of the education department and all those supporting our young successors. 

In this month of August, training courses for members of our junior high and high school divisions, our torchbearers of justice, will be held on the Soka University campus in Hachioji, Tokyo (on Aug. 4 and 6, respectively, the latter broadcast in Japan).

I am certain that our first president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the founder of Soka education, would be delighted by this.

I was 13 years old when the Pacific War [World War II] began [in 1941], and 17 when it ended [in 1945]. In other words, I was around the same age as today’s junior high and high school students when it was taking place.

In these turbulent times marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and so many other challenges, all of you, my young friends of the future division, are upholding the Buddhist philosophy of the dignity of life and living out your youth with an invincible spirit, making study and friendship your priorities. Nothing brings me more joy and reassurance than to see you growing together and encouraging one another as fellow members.

In my speech at Harvard University [in 1993],[6] I said that Mahayana Buddhism, and Nichiren Buddhism in particular, can make a great contribution to 21st century civilization. I also posed three questions we must ask of religion: Does it make people stronger or weaker? Does it encourage what is good or what is evil in them? Does it make people wiser or less so?

I’d like you to take pride in the fact that by embracing faith in the Mystic Law at a young age, you, my friends of the future division, are without doubt on an ascending course to making your lives stronger, better and wiser.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches that the infinitely noble life state of Buddhahood exists in all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, profession, social position or age. 

In one of his letters, Nichiren congratulates a couple on the birth of their daughter, saying she will “act as a filial child, carrying on your line in this present existence, and in your next existence guiding you to the attainment of Buddhahood” (“Regarding the Birth of Kyo’o,” WND-2, 457). 

It is the Buddhist way to respect, cherish and trust each child as a precious entity of life. 

The Lotus Sutra also conveys the message of the dignity and nobility of children through the story of the 8-year-old dragon girl. By attaining Buddhahood in her present form, she demonstrates that all people can attain enlightenment, thereby awakening faith in the Mystic Law in the hearts of adults who doubted this possibility. 

I fondly recall talking about children’s rights with former U.N. Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who was closely involved in the adoption and promotion of the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

He highlighted two points about children’s rights. The first was “the basic philosophy that children have rights that the adult world must recognize,” and the second was “the vital importance of consulting children about adult actions that may have an immediate or future impact on them.”[7]

This means treating children with utmost respect as individuals, drawing out their opinions in a way that accords with their stage of development, taking their thoughts into account, trying to understand them and responding appropriately. In other words, it means engaging children in dialogue.

Carrying out such conversations with children in the home and the community fosters the ability of both parties to communicate with others and form positive human relationships. I am confident this will lead to the building of peaceful communities and societies. 

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), who believed wholeheartedly in the potential of young people, declared: “If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.”[8]

In “Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddhas of the ten directions assemble before Shakyamuni and the Thus Come One Many Treasures. Why? 

The Daishonin explains in “The Opening of the Eyes”: “Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the other Buddhas intend to insure the future propagation of the Lotus Sutra so that it can be made available to all the children of the Buddha in times to come” (WND-1, 286). 

He continues, “We may surmise from this that their concern and compassion are even greater than those of a father and mother who see their only child inflicted with great suffering” (WND-1, 286–87).

The focus is on the future. The compassionate, dedicated efforts of the Soka family to open the way for the children and young people who will shoulder the future epitomize the Buddha’s “concern and compassion.” 

The Soka Gakkai is a realm of true human education that encourages and nurtures people.

Precisely because fostering individuals is one of the most challenging endeavors, the benefits of doing so are immeasurable. 

In the closing passage of “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” Nichiren says, “The flower will return to the root and the essence of the plant will remain in the earth” (WND-1, 737).   

With a sincere wish to bring wonderful flowers of capable individuals into bloom, our dedicated members strive tirelessly to nurture the earth of our young people’s hearts with the water of encouragement and the sunlight of warm prayers. I am certain that they and their loved ones will all be rewarded with magnificent flowers of happiness and the fruits of good fortune and benefit. 

My mentor solemnly declared: “The struggle we are waging now is for the sake of 100 years, 200 years hence. Two centuries from now, history will show that we of the Soka Gakkai have been on the right path. Future generations will attest to it beyond doubt.” 

Seventy-five years ago, in August 1947, I met Mr. Toda for the first time. I was 19 years old. On that occasion, I asked him: “What is the correct way to live?” Since then, through striving alongside him, living out my life with his spirit and fostering our successors with all my heart, I have come to deeply and powerfully understand the answer to that question.

Today, there are members throughout Japan and around the world who, making my spirit their own, are dedicated to supporting and fostering the youth who will go on to become “bluer than the indigo” (see “Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” WND-1, 457).

Our future division members are the torchbearers of justice who will “make certain the Law will long endure” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 216) and determine the course of worldwide kosen-rufu from the Soka Gakkai’s centennial in 2030 on into the 22nd century and beyond.

There is no better education than adversity, as the saying goes. The great difficulties confronting today’s youth are matched only by their great mission to usher in an age of peace and humanity. 

Therefore, brimming with the immense life force of time without beginning, let us embark anew, our sights set on the eternal future of the Latter Day of the Law. Let us enable countless brilliant stars of capable people to emerge joyfully from our great nebula of Bodhisattvas of the Earth and shine their brightest!


  1. As the founder of Soka University, Ikeda Sensei presented the school with three founding principles: 1) Be the highest seat of learning for humanistic education, 2) Be the cradle of a new culture, 3) Be a fortress for the peace of humankind. ↩︎
  2. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, translated by Julie Rose (London:Vintage, 2008), p. 184. ↩︎
  3. Translated from French. Victor Hugo, Pendant l’exil: 1852–1870 (During the Exile: 1852–70), in Actes et Paroles (Acts and Words) (Paris: Albin Michel, 1938), vol. 2, p. 305. ↩︎
  4. Ibid. ↩︎
  5. In Japan, Future Division Dynamic Growth Month runs from mid-July through the end of August, coinciding with the summer school holiday period. ↩︎
  6. Sensei delivered his speech “Mahayana Buddhism and Twenty-First-Century Civilization” at Harvard University on Sept. 24, 1993. ↩︎
  7. Anwarul K. Chowdhury and Daisaku Ikeda, Creating the Culture of Peace: A Clarion Call for Individual and Collective Transformation (London: I. B. Tauris, 2020), p. 86. ↩︎
  8. Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: The Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1971), vol. 48, p. 240. ↩︎

This Month in Soka Gakkai History (September)