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Ikeda Sensei

Now Is the Time to Fulfill the True Purpose of the Buddhism of the People

Detroit. Photo by Miyoko Cassetta.

Originally published in the October 2022 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Eight hundred years have passed since the birth of Nichiren Daishonin,[1] who described himself as “the son of a commoner”[2] and “the son of commoner parents.”[3] The time has come for Nichiren Daishonin’s sunlike Buddhism of the people to dispel the darkness of chaos and brightly illuminate the global family of humankind with the great light of peace and hope.

Toward the end of his life, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, and I discussed how, during the rule of the Kamakura military government of Nichiren’s day, many ordinary people—exemplified by the three martyrs of Atsuhara[4]—stood up with the invincible courage of a lion king. This, Mr. Toda said, represented the fulfillment of the Daishonin’s true purpose for appearing in the world, noting that the Soka Gakkai had directly inherited that purpose. That’s why, he declared, the Soka Gakkai was more precious to him than his own life.

It would be impossible to create another such network of people sincerely dedicated to good, joined together by a solid philosophy of respect for the dignity of life and trust in the fundamental goodness of human beings.

The Daishonin writes: “If one will only cast aside such [deluded] thinking, correct one’s outlook, and return to a state of enlightenment, then one will realize that the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form is to be found nowhere outside one’s own body” (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” WND-2, 853).

In perfect accord with these words, our realm of Soka—where members study Buddhism together and encourage one another—has inspired countless people to strive with the conviction that they are entities of the Mystic Law and revitalize their lives through human revolution.

It is our source of pride that great multitudes of Bodhisattvas of the Earth—all undisputedly Buddhas in their ultimate inner identity—are now emerging vibrantly around the world.

Six decades ago [in 1962], I responded to a question by a bright young man who was concerned that intensifying criticism would assail our organization the harder we worked for the betterment of society. I said: “We are people of action. We have a great philosophy that we put into practice to make a positive contribution to people’s welfare. That’s what makes us strong. When confronted with the negative comments of irresponsible bystanders, just set the record straight by speaking with conviction and compelling logic.”

The wisdom of the Middle Way has the power to bring an end to the tragic cycle of suffering that has long been humanity’s destiny, and to unite and empower the people so they remain impervious to evil and divisive influences.

In a letter composed during the Atsuhara Persecution,[5] the Daishonin writes, “So long as you remain firm in heart, I am sure that the whole truth of the matter will become clear in the end” (“Reply to the Sages,” WND-2, 831).

Without pretense or arrogance, as uncrowned champions of humanity, let us courageously and enjoyably fulfill the true purpose of kosen-rufu and our lives.

Like the stars of the ten directions,
may you, our successors,
Bodhisattvas of the Earth,
impart courage to the people
with shining dignity!


  1. Nichiren Daishonin was born on February 16, 1222. ↩︎
  2. “Letter to the Lay Priest Nakaoki,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1006. ↩︎
  3. “Condolences on a Deceased Husband,” WND-2, 766. ↩︎
  4. The three martyrs of Atsuhara: Three farmer disciples of Nichiren Daishonin—Jinshiro, Yagoro and Yarokuro—who were arrested and beheaded during the Atsuhara Persecution. ↩︎
  5. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against Nichiren’s followers in Atsuhara Village (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture), from around 1275 to 1283. ↩︎

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