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Ikeda Sensei

The Time Is Now! Let’s Create a Whirlwind of Dialogue!

Justice—The Central Public Hall in Nakanoshima, Osaka, Japan where the Osaka Rally was held on July 17, 1957. Photo by Seikyo Press.

The following new essay by Ikeda Sensei was published in the May 24, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Time is nothing other than the mystic rhythm of cosmic life. Hence, when we chant and spread the Mystic Law, our lives will accord with the time, and time will be on our side. We will be adorned with happiness and victory throughout the four seasons.

Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, declared with powerful resolve: “I, Nichiren, conscious of the age we live in, now wish to give wide propagation to this doctrine [of the Three Great Secret Laws]” (“Receiving of the Three Great Secret Laws,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 988).

In 1952, seven decades ago, the year we celebrated the 700th anniversary[1] of the establishment of the Daishonin’s teaching, we reaffirmed this lion’s roar. Under the leadership of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, we embarked on a momentous drive for kosen-rufu with the shared conviction “Now is the time for propagating the great Law!”

This was the year of the February Campaign[2] of Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter. As disciples united in spirit with Mr. Toda and in our vow to repay our debt of gratitude to him and Nichiren, we made a breakthrough in the Soka Gakkai’s efforts to compassionately spread the Mystic Law. Our organization in Kansai also launched into action around the same time.[3]

The Soka Gakkai edition of the Nichiren Daishonin gosho zenshu (The Complete Works of Nichiren Daishonin) was published that year in April—the anniversary month of the Daishonin proclaiming his teaching—establishing our eternal path of basing ourselves on his writings.

Out of our mentor’s deep consideration and kindness, my wife, Kaneko, and I were married in a simple ceremony on May 3, 1952, [the first anniversary of Mr. Toda becoming Soka Gakkai president] and began our life’s journey as a couple. 

At that time, Mr. Toda said, “I pray that the two of you will work hand in hand for kosen-rufu throughout the long lives ahead of you.” And he requested that “Dainanko” (The Great Hero Kusunoki)[4] be sung. 

The song depicts the farewell between the warrior father Kusunoki Masashige and his young son Masatsura, who makes a vow under the “green leaves of Sakurai[5][to carry on his father’s aspirations]. This is thought to have taken place in May in the lunar calendar.

“I, your father, am departing for Hyogo,” says Masashige, ready to meet his death there. His son declares: “I will join you.”[6] But the father forbids this, urging his son to quickly grow into a fine youth and work to protect the people. He entrusts Masatsura with the future and sends him back to his mother in their hometown. 

From the time he became a disciple of founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi at the age of 19, Mr. Toda supported him in the spirit of Masatsura as depicted in this song. After Mr. Makiguchi died in prison for his beliefs, Mr. Toda resolved to take action as an indomitable champion of justice and humanity to vindicate him. And he rose up alone amid the devastation of postwar Japan to fulfill the great vow to spread the Mystic Law. 

When his businesses were in crisis, Mr. Toda and I strove together like Masashige and Masatsura, surmounting every obstacle with the determination of charging lions. With those trials behind him, Mr. Toda finally became second Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1951.

Fully aware of my unwavering dedication and resolve, Mr. Toda later chose May 3 [the first anniversary of his presidency] as my wedding day, the start of a new phase in my life. And on the day, he asked for a chorus of “Dainanko” to be sung.

Seventy years have passed since then, during which I have pressed on with unending gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Toda in my journey as a son walking the same path of his father—the path of mentor and disciple—to realize the great vow for kosen-rufu. Along the way, I have expanded our membership and fostered many successors. 

A decade after that landmark 700th anniversary, the Soka Gakkai designated 1962 as the Year of Victory.

In January that year, I won a not guilty verdict in the trial relating to the Osaka Incident, [7] in which I was arrested on false charges of election law violations. Over the course of 84 court sessions, I battled against the authorities’ attempts to discredit the Soka Gakkai, a growing people’s movement, and finally proved the truth for all to see. 

On May 3, 1962, I inscribed these words on a decorative placard: 

Osaka Incident. 

First court session—Oct. 18, 1957.

Closing arguments—Dec. 16, 1961.

Verdict: Not Guilty—Jan. 25, 1962.

Underneath them, I also wrote: “With my heartfelt gratitude to all our noble members for their sincere support and efforts. … I will never forget them.”

Countless members had faith in my victory—not least our women’s division members in Kansai—and chanted daimoku for me tirelessly. Every single one of them, united in heart and mind, will stay with my wife and me forever.

The night before the verdict, I told the young men of Kansai gathered in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture: “Having pledged to carry on the work of Presidents Makiguchi and Toda, I do not hold my own life dear.” And I said, “Let’s set forth anew with confidence and dignity as allies of the suffering, committed first and always to people’s happiness.”

It is my greatest pride and honor that from that time on, our courageous Bodhisattvas of the Earth of Mighty Kansai and every other region have magnificently inherited the spirit of Masatsura and created a triumphant history of the shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

The year 1962 was a time of intensifying conflict between East and West. The previous year, the Berlin Wall had been built, dividing Germany’s capital city, and in October, the Cuban Missile Crisis, a nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, took place. The threat of nuclear weapons being fired struck fear in the hearts of people around the world. In this state of anxious uncertainty, many Japanese media outlets issued predictions and commentaries on the likelihood of a nuclear war or a third world war.

I was not interested in such speculations. My determination as a disciple of my mentor, who had denounced nuclear weapons as an absolute evil, remained unshaken: “We must never allow a third world war to break out!” Chanting fiercely with that resolve in those tense times, we of the Soka Gakkai vowed to one another to open the way to world peace.

I began 1962 by visiting Hokkaido still in the depths of winter. Then, following a trip to the Middle East, I traveled extensively throughout Japan—to Chugoku, Shikoku, Tohoku, Kanto, Kyushu, Tokaido, Chubu, Kansai, Shin’etsu and Okinawa. Though I wasn’t able to make it to Hokuriku, the birth region of my mentor,I stayed in close contact with our members there. During my travels, I chanted daimoku intensely every spare moment, with the spirit of sending it to each member. 

I called out to our members with all my might.

In Tokyo, I said, “Strive your hardest in your Buddhist practice based on the great objective of kosen-rufu!”

In Saitama, I said, “Advance with the great conviction that we can absolutely achieve kosen-rufu!”

In Fukuoka, I said, “With strong unity, demonstrate proof of pioneering efforts that will astonish people around the world!”

In Kanagawa, I said, “Let’s become the pillars of Japan and make Japan a truly wonderful, happy place to live!”

In Aichi, I said, “Whatever others might say, let’s win without fail and keep working for peace and security!”

In Kansai, I said, “Let’s fight to create a society where everyone can live with a sense of security and peace of mind!”

During my travels, whenever possible I gave lectures on the Daishonin’s writings and held question-and-answer sessions, studying Nichiren Buddhism together with members of eager seeking spirit.

On one occasion, I discussed the passage “Become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you”[8] (“Letter to the Brothers,” WND-1, 502), confirming the importance of basing ourselves on the Gohonzon and the Daishonin’s writings.

On another, we studied the passage “Even though such an admirable Lotus Sutra and Shakyamuni Buddha exist, ordinary people are unaware of [their existence]” (“The Izu Exile,” WND-1, 36), deepening our awareness that we were the ones who must speak out and share this great Buddhism with those who hadn’t yet heard of it. 

Another time, a district women’s leader asked the meaning of the passage “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212) as it applies to our daily lives. I responded to this earnest question: “Whatever problems you may face, if you continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of ‘regarding both suffering and joy as facts of life’ (see “Happiness in This World,” WND-1, 681), joy will well forth within you. When you are filled with joy, you will ignite the same joy in all those who see you. Not only will you yourself savor a joyous life state and daily existence, but you will help others do the same. This is surely ‘the greatest of all joys,’ don’t you think?”

Members throughout Japan stood up with vibrant energy and dynamism, making my spirit their own. That year, the Soka Gakkai achieved a membership of 3 million households, a goal entrusted to me by my mentor, opening a new triumphant page in the annals of our Soka movement.

Another 10 years later, in January 1972, the Soka Gakkai’s Year of the Community, I flew to my beloved Okinawa. It was also the year of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan (on May 15), and the members and I renewed our determination together to make each island of Okinawa one of genuine happiness for all. Based on the Buddhist principle of the oneness of life and its environment, I assured them, “If our members, who uphold Nichiren Buddhism, are active and energetic, society will flourish and enjoy peace and security.”

In the ensuing half century, our noble and precious Okinawa members have overcome every challenge with the gentle and forbearing spirit taught in the Lotus Sutra (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 205). Striving “with all their might and unswerving dedication,”[9] they have created an ideal realm of kosen-rufu through the radiant Buddhist wisdom of the Middle Way.

The Daishonin writes: “The sincerity you have shown … is firmer than the earth and broader than the sky” (“One Horseload of Salt,” WND-2, 783) and “I wonder if Bodhisattva Superior Practices has taken possession of your body in order to assist me along the way. Or could it be the design of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings?” (“A Warning against Begrudging One’s Fief,” WND-1, 823–24). I can’t help reading these and other similar passages as words of praise and recognition for our wonderful Soka family in Okinawa. 

Think globally, act locally”—the microbiologist René Dubos (1901–82) advocated this important guideline for action. This spirit has never been needed more than now. 

Even if the road is long and challenging, the committed actions each one of us takes in our immediate environment are a source of hope for changing the world as a whole. 

Dr. Dubos was one of the many intellectuals introduced to me by British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. 

After concluding my dialogue with Professor Toynbee, which also took place in the month of May when lush green leaves covered the trees, I vowed to respond to his hope that I would create a whirlwind of dialogue throughout the world to pave the way to lasting peace.

Treasuring each human connection and fostering trust on the individual level is how we create the right time for spreading our movement.

Today, our members, like Bodhisattva Never Disparaging who treated everyone with respect, are courageously reaching out to people in their communities and fostering friendships. I firmly believe that connections forged through sincere dialogue are a force for change. 

Dr. Dubos said, “Crises are practically always a source of enrichment and of renewal because they encourage the search for new solutions.”[10]

We can transform our karma and change poison into medicine by courageously standing up in times of crisis. This is the “heart of a lion king” (“Letter from Sado,” WND-1, 302) that overflows in Soka mentors and disciples.

In this milestone year of the 800th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s birth[11] and the 770th anniversary of the establishment of his teaching, [12] let us confidently work to realize our hope-filled vision of creating a peaceful and flourishing society based on the humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism! And let us boldly create a whirlwind of dialogue so that the brilliant banners of happiness and victory for all people can flutter high in the skies of tomorrow!


  1. According to the traditional Japanese way of counting. Nichiren Daishonin established his teaching on April 28, 1253. ↩︎
  2. February Campaign: In February 1952, Ikeda Sensei, then an advisor to Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter, initiated a dynamic propagation campaign. Together with the Kamata members, he broke through the previous monthly record of some 100 new member households by introducing Nichiren Buddhism to 201 new member households. ↩︎
  3. Osaka Chapter, the first in Kansai, was established on
    Jan. 15, 1952. ↩︎
  4. “Dainanko” (The Great Hero Kusunoki): The song describes the poignant leave-taking between the brilliant 14th-century military tactician Kusunoki Masashige (d. 1336) and his son Masatsura. As the father departs for battle, his young son declares that he will accompany him, ready to die at his side. But his father asks his son to stay behind and live to carry on his aspirations. “Dainanko” is often sung in the Soka Gakkai as an expression of the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple. ↩︎
  5. From a line in the song. ↩︎
  6. This dialogue is from lines in the song.  ↩︎
  7. Osaka Incident: The occasion when Sensei, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested and wrongfully charged with election law violations in a House of Councilors by-election in Osaka in 1957. At the end of the court case, which continued for more than four years, he was fully exonerated on Jan. 25, 1962. ↩︎
  8. A quote from the Six Paramitas Sutra. ↩︎
  9. Lyrics from the Soka Gakkai song “Heroes of Okinawa.” ↩︎
  10. René Dubos, Beast or Angel?: Choices That Make Us Human (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974), p. 209. ↩︎
  11. Nichiren was born on Feb. 16, 1222. ↩︎
  12. According to the traditional Japanese way of counting. Nichiren established his teaching on April 28, 1253. ↩︎

Opening Up