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Ikeda Sensei

Ikeda Sensei’s Foreword to the Nichiren Daishonin Gosho zenshu, New Edition

Photo by Dawid Zawiła / Unsplash

We of the Soka Gakkai will forever walk the great path of basing ourselves on the Gosho,[1] the writings of Nichiren Daishonin.

Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, left these timeless, precious texts for humanity. Reading them, we will faithfully uphold and work to fulfill “the great vow for kosen-rufu through compassionate propagation.”[2]

Because we base ourselves on the Daishonin’s writings, onslaughts by the three obstacles and four devils[3] and the three powerful enemies[4] will never daunt us. Our hearts brimming with the spirit of “the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat” (“The Three Obstacles and Four Devils,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,
vol. 1, p. 637), we will never stop moving forward.

Because we base ourselves on Nichiren’s writings, we value diversity in accord with the principle of “cherry, plum, peach, and damson” (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 200). Respecting one another as Buddhas and with the unity of “many in body, one in mind,” we will achieve all of our goals (see “Many in Body, One in Mind,” WND-1, 618).

Because we base ourselves on the Daishonin’s writings, we cause the great light of value creation to shine forth without limit, aiming for a society that respects life, human dignity and equality, a world in which happiness, security and global peace and harmony prevail.

· · ·

The original Japanese Soka Gakkai edition of the Nichiren Daishonin Gosho zenshu (The Complete Works of Nichiren Daishonin) was published on April 28, 1952, commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Daishonin’s establishment of his teaching.[5] My mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, began his foreword to that edition with the closing passage of “The True Aspect of All Phenomena”: “Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase” (WND-1, 386).

Mr. Toda was affirming that Soka Gakkai members, taking these words to heart, were committed not just to studying Nichiren’s writings, but also to practicing and sharing these teachings with others.

Actually, Soka Gakkai founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi had underlined this passage in his copy of the Daishonin’s writings (known as the Ryogonkaku edition)[6] and put it into practice in his own life. Though persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs by Japan’s militarist government during World War II, Mr. Makiguchi wrote in a letter to family members: “The hardships we are undergoing now are small and inconsequential compared to those encountered by the Daishonin.”[7] He remained calm and steadfast during harsh interrogations, clearly proclaiming that Nichiren Buddhism is the best and most valuable teaching for living.[8]

During this persecution because of his Buddhist beliefs, Mr. Makiguchi, with the heart of a lion king, set the example for selfless dedication to propagating the Law. At the same time, he established the standard for the Soka Gakkai tradition of putting faith into practice in daily life and Buddhism into action in society.

His disciple and successor, Josei Toda, was also imprisoned during the war. In his solitary cell, he experienced a profound awakening to his identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. With that conviction, he stood up alone amid a war-devastated Japan to raise high the banner of the great vow for the widespread propagation of the Mystic Law.

Having overcome numerous difficulties in working to rebuild the Soka Gakkai after the war, Mr. Toda became its second president in 1951. The first project he took on in his new role was publishing the Gosho zenshu.

Holding these writings close to our hearts, we of the Soka Gakkai, mentor and disciple united as one, have energetically pursued the “two ways of practice and study.” In suffering hearts, we have lit flames of boundless hope and courage by showing them the way to accomplish human revolution and change their karma. In addition, to realize the peaceful world Nichiren Daishonin envisaged, we have fostered ever-growing numbers of capable people committed to working for others’ happiness, benefiting society and building peace. Today, they are active in every sphere of society.

The eminent British historian Arnold J. Toynbee offered this laudatory appraisal of our efforts: “Soka Gakkai has achieved [an] astonishing postwar resurrection—a spiritual achievement that matches the Japanese people’s material achievement in the economic field.”[9]

The priceless writings of Nichiren Daishonin have been the impetus behind that spiritual achievement.

· · ·

We of the Soka Gakkai take great pride in making the westward transmission of Buddhism[10] and worldwide kosen-rufu, which are described in the Daishonin’s writings, a reality.

His writings have to date been translated into more than 10 languages. Today, members of all ages throughout Japan and around the world joyfully study those texts and encourage one another. Individuals of diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages are reading and vibrantly putting his teachings into practice in their homes, communities and societies, creating a strong and growing network of outstanding global citizens. This, I am convinced, is indisputable proof of the universality and validity of Nichiren Buddhism.

A feature shared by every world religion is having a scripture it proudly makes the cornerstone of its faith.

In his foreword to the 1952 Japanese edition of the Gosho zenshu, Mr. Toda wrote, “It is my undying wish and prayer that this great scripture of such immense value will spread throughout Asia and the entire world.” We have now realized my mentor’s wish. I can picture Mr. Toda and Mr. Makiguchi smiling happily at one another.

· · ·

The writings of Nichiren Daishonin constitute a scripture of hope and justice, a sacred text for the happiness of all people. They are a scripture embodying the vow of mentor and disciple, a sacred text for the victory of youth. They are a scripture of wisdom and courage, a sacred text for peace for the global family of humankind.

When we open Nichiren’s writings, we connect with the Daishonin’s resounding lion’s roar, which vanquishes the devilish functions causing distress and torment. When we turn their pages, we hear the heartbeat of the Daishonin’s deep compassion to embrace and guide young people who seek the correct way to live. When we read them, we awaken to and gain trust in the colossal potential within each human being that is as vast as the universe itself.

We realize how strong, profound and great each person can become. We experience how warm and beautiful true life-to-life connections can be. We discover how vibrantly we can enlighten and enrich our societies and countries so that they truly thrive.

In his writings, the Daishonin provides us with an inexhaustible source of inspiration. He sheds light on such profound principles as the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, the three thousand realms in a single moment of life, earthly desires are enlightenment, changing poison into medicine, the oneness of self and others and the oneness of life and its environment. At the same time, he shares the example of his own unsurpassed “behavior as a human being” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 852) and describes the victories his disciples achieved through their Buddhist faith and practice.

However harsh the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death we encounter, if we seek strength and encouragement from the Daishonin’s writings, the brilliant sun of our innate Buddhahood from time without beginning will rise “within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people” (see “The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” WND-1, 832). We will open the way to revitalizing our lives, imbuing them with the virtues of eternity, happiness, true self and purity, in exact accord with the Daishonin’s hope-filled assurance that “winter always turns to spring” (“Winter Always Turns to Spring,” WND-1, 536).

· · ·

Seven decades have passed since Mr. Toda committed to publishing the Gosho zenshu. In his foreword to that volume, he promised to do his best to undertake future revisions, if necessary.

Now, I am delighted to announce that the time has come to fulfill my mentor’s promise with the publication of a new revised edition of that original volume in this milestone year that marks the 800th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s birth[11] and the 750th anniversary of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution,[12] when the Daishonin cast off his transient status to reveal his true identity as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.[13]

I asked the highly accomplished members of the committee for publishing this new edition to focus their attention on accuracy, readability and staying faithful to Soka Gakkai tradition. Through their considerate, painstaking efforts, the size of the type has been increased, pronunciation notations added, long passages broken into shorter paragraphs, additional punctuation marks inserted and character and syllabary use modernized—all with the aim of making the text more accessible.

The new edition also reflects advances in scholarly research on original handwritten manuscripts and transcribed copies of the Daishonin’s writings. Additionally, 32 new writings,[14] made public or discovered in the seven decades since the original edition, have also been included.

Textual research by discerning scholars may very well lead to fresh insights and discoveries in the future, including perhaps previously unknown texts, a pleasant and exciting prospect. Evaluating their incorporation can only be entrusted to the excellent successors who are sure to carry forward this noble work.

· · ·

Nichiren Daishonin’s writings proclaim the equality of all human beings and articulate a philosophy of coexistence and harmony, compassion and tolerance. They are a limitless treasure trove from which we can draw the “wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances” (OTT, 10). Such wisdom is necessary to unite and elevate humanity as a whole, deal with the endemic challenges of war, disease and poverty, as well as global problems such as natural disasters and climate change. It is my sincere wish that “for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity” (“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, 736) Soka Gakkai members—noble Bodhisattvas of the Earth—will continue advancing joyously with Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, together on their journey to fulfill the vow of mentor and disciple to realize peace in the lands where they dwell and throughout the world.

In closing, I would like to express my deep appreciation to all who have contributed to the publication of this new edition.

Daisaku Ikeda
May 3, 2021
70th anniversary of my mentor Josei Toda becoming Soka Gakkai President

Originally published in the November 20, 2021, Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.


  1. Gosho: The individual and collected writings of Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282). The Japanese word gosho literally means honorable writings; go is an honorific prefix, and sho means writings, thus, literally, honorable writings. ↩︎
  2. From one of the margin inscriptions of the Soka Gakkai Joju Gohonzon enshrined in the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu. The two inscriptions read in full: “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law” and “To Be Permanently Enshrined in the Soka Gakkai.” ↩︎
  3. Three obstacles and four devils: Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. The three obstacles are 1) the obstacle of earthly desires, 2) the obstacle of karma and 3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are 1) the hindrance of the five components, 2) the hindrance of earthly desires, 3) the hindrance of death and 4) the hindrance of the devil king. ↩︎
  4. The three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in the concluding verse section of “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. ↩︎
  5. According to the traditional Japanese way of counting. Nichiren Daishonin established his teaching on April 28, 1253. ↩︎
  6. The Ryogonkaku edition refers to a volume titled Nichiren Shonin go-ibun (Writings of the Sage Nichiren), compiled by a small group of scholar priests who were followers of the Daishonin’s teachings and published in 1904. ↩︎
  7. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 10 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), p. 278. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., p. 194. ↩︎
  9. Daisaku Ikeda, The Human Revolution, vol. 1 (Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1972), p. x (Foreword by Arnold Toynbee). ↩︎
  10. Westward transmission of Buddhism: Nichiren Daishonin predicted that his Buddhism of the Sun would flow from Japan toward the west, returning to the countries through which Buddhism had originally been transmitted and spreading throughout the entire world. ↩︎
  11. According to the traditional Japanese way of counting. Nichiren Daishonin was born on February 16, 1222. ↩︎
  12. Tatsunokuchi Persecution: The failed attempt, instigated by powerful government figures, to behead Nichiren under cover of darkness on the beach at Tatsunokuchi, on the outskirts of Kamakura, on September 12, 1271. ↩︎
  13. Nichiren Daishonin cast off his transient status as an ordinary, unenlightened person burdened with karma and suffering and, while remaining an ordinary human being, revealed his original, true identity as a Buddha possessing infinite wisdom and compassion (the Buddha of beginningless time or eternal Buddha). This is called “casting off the transient and revealing the true.” ↩︎
  14. Some of the new writings are fragments, the shortest of which are only one or two lines. ↩︎

Song of the Heart

Making Nichiren Daishonin’s Teachings Available to Humanity