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Ikeda Sensei

Spreading the Supreme Philosophy of Respect for the Dignity of Life

Photo by Ezra Bailey / Getty Images.

Ikeda Sensei sent the following message to the 10th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial, held on Aug. 27, 2022, at the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo, Tokyo. This message was originally published in the Aug. 28, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Twenty-five years ago, before an audience of leading thinkers in India, the birthplace of Buddhism, I delivered a lecture titled “A New Humanism for the Coming Century,” describing my vision for the 21st century. [The lecture was delivered on Oct. 21, 1997, at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies in New Delhi.]

In it, I said that the influence of education fostering both intellect and universality is indispensable to prevent religion from succumbing to the pitfall of dogmatism. I suggested that a religion genuinely dedicated to people’s welfare guides children’s unfettered development and lifelong happiness, fosters wisdom in youth and brings people together in peace.

I am delighted that today youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth in India and all over the world are vibrantly active and creating wave upon wave of fresh wisdom and hope.

The founder of our Soka movement, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, often said that if you hit a dead end, go back to your starting point. What is the starting point to which humanity must now return? It is life itself. 

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, which elucidates the heart of the Lotus Sutra and the essence of Nichiren Buddhism, is a compilation of teachings that illuminates life with the light of the most fundamental wisdom.

United as mentor and disciple, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda and I deeply took to heart and put into practice each phrase and passage of that work in the spirit of directly receiving oral instruction from Nichiren Daishonin himself.

This August marks 60 years since I began my lectures on The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings for members of the student division.[1] It is truly heartening to see today’s student and youth division members carrying on the spirit of those eager, bright-eyed student division members of six decades ago as they strive earnestly in the “two ways of practice and study” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,  vol. 1, p. 386).

Being aware of my profound debt of gratitude and being determined to repay it—together with my solidly united fellow members—fills me with courage for surmounting every obstacle and boundless strength for opening the way forward for all who will follow in the future.

The view of existence, life and death, and society and the universe presented in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings is incredibly profound and vast.

For example, Nichiren says, “If we examine the nature of Myoho-renge-kyo, we see that the treasure towers are none other than all living beings, and all living beings are none other than the complete entities of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 230).

In other words, when we as followers of Nichiren Daishonin chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we are filled with “the greatest of all joys,” realizing that our mind [or life] from the very beginning has been a Buddha (see OTT, 212). And through engaging in dialogue with respect for all people, let us help “two, three, and a hundred” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 385) and countless more shine as precious treasure towers embodying the supreme dignity of life.

Another passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings states that “of all the thousand plants and ten thousand trees in the world, there are none that are not in essence bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth” (OTT, 119).

Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can strengthen the wondrous life-nurturing workings of bodhisattva compassion that pervade the universe. Let us continue to create value by turning everything in the most positive direction for peace and happiness for all humanity.

Today, more than ever, the world is seeking sound spiritual guidelines. As members of the Soka Gakkai, united by the bonds of mentor and disciple, we are “champions of the philosophical world.” With that pride and conviction, let’s make even greater efforts to reach out and spread the supreme philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun. For it is a true religion of the people that allows anyone to achieve their human revolution; a true world religion that has the power to change the destiny of all humankind.

This autumn, the Study Department Introductory Exam, focusing on the basics of Buddhism, will be held [on Nov. 6 in Japan].

Also, in response to requests from many of our earnestly seeking members, I will begin a series of lectures on important passages from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, to be published in the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal, from the November 2022 issue.

As an expression of my appreciation for all your good wishes on my 75th anniversary of embracing faith in Nichiren Buddhism [Aug. 24], I would like to share a calligraphic work that I inscribed some years ago.It features the two phrases “Gratitude to the Law” and “Gratitude to My Mentor.”

Gratitude—As an expression of his appreciation for all the good wishes he received on his 75th anniversary of embracing faith, Ikeda Sensei shared the following calligraphy, which features the phrases “Gratitude to the Law” and “Gratitude to My Mentor.” Photo by Seikyo Press.

My gratitude for encountering this precious Mystic Law is higher than the heavens, and my gratitude for a life dedicated to the path of mentor and disciple in the compassionate propagation of the Mystic Law is deeper than the ocean. Being aware of my profound debt of gratitude and being determined to repay it—together with my solidly united fellow members—fills me with courage for surmounting every obstacle and boundless strength for opening the way forward for all who will follow in the future. This has been my conviction throughout my 75 years of unwavering Buddhist practice.

In closing, allow me to share another passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings: “‘With no fear in his mind’[2] describes the manner in which Nichiren and his followers now call out Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as they perform their shakubuku [propagation] practice” (see OTT, 156).

Burning with this fearless spirit to share the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism and with the proud, indomitable Soka Gakkai spirit, let us pledge together as Bodhisattvas of the Earth to carry out our human revolution and usher in a renaissance of life—with our youthful Shin’ichi Yamamotos of the new era in the lead as our flag bearers!

Please take care of your health above all!


  1. Beginning on Aug. 31, 1962, Ikeda Sensei’s lectures to student division representatives continued for almost five years.  ↩︎
  2. From the Lotus Sutra passage “Among the four kinds of believers, he [Bodhisattva Never Disparaging] preached the Law with no fear in his mind” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 310). ↩︎

Introductory Exam to be Held Oct. 29–30