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Ikeda Sensei

A Bright and Beautiful Future Awaits the Valiant

Photo by Chinaface/ Getty Images.

The following are excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at the 68th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting held at the Shibukawa Peace Center in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, on July 7, 1993. Video footage of the speech was broadcast on Nov. 1, 2023, during the most recent Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial. These excerpts are translated from the Nov. 11, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Hajime Nakamura, a professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, is a world-acclaimed and leading Japanese authority on Buddhism.

In his recently published Hikaku shiso no kiseki (The Record of Comparative Thought), he had high praise for our founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.[1]

It is indeed a cause for joy that this appreciation from a distinguished Japanese scholar has been published at this time, exactly 50 years since Mr. Makiguchi was arrested and detained by the Japanese militarist authorities [on July 6, 1943, along with his disciple Josei Toda].

In his book, Professor Nakamura criticizes past Japanese scholarship as having consisted of little more than making annotations and commentaries on the works of non-Japanese scholars, and he rebukes Japanese academics for failing to think for themselves. In this sense, he says, they lacked spiritual autonomy and conviction in their own beliefs.

“But that doesn’t mean,” he continued, “that all Japanese lacked such conviction. … Those who lived their lives firmly rooted in the people, those who stood up to persecution displayed tremendous conviction.”

Those who, undefeated by persecution and criticism, continue to make common cause with and work tirelessly for the people have true character and greatness.

Professor Nakamura states: “From my student days [the early 1930s], philosophy in Japan was dominated by Neo-Kantianism, which articulated a value system of truth, good, beauty and sometimes the sacred. This was the position of all philosophers [in Japan] and no one raised a dissenting voice. … Only Tsunesaburo Makiguchi dared to challenge this view. … Makiguchi removed truth and the sacred from this formula and substituted benefit in their place.”

Mr. Makiguchi’s proposed values were beauty, benefit[2] and good.

Professor Nakamura notes: “Benefit might initially suggest material benefits, but actually it expresses a core concept of Eastern philosophy. Buddhism places the highest value on benefit in the form of serving and contributing to the welfare of others.”

Many people might see benefit as financial gain or commercial profit. But in Buddhism, the true meaning of benefit is to contribute to the welfare of others, the people and humanity as a whole.

And Mr. Makiguchi did not merely discourse on the subject of benefit but actually lived a life of benefitting others and ultimately died in prison for his beliefs.

Fifty years ago, Japan imprisoned and caused the death of this great man. But now at last, Japan is gradually coming to discover the worth of this outstanding pioneer. As an illustration of this, I have today taken the liberty of introducing Professor Nakamura’s observations.

Why has the Soka Gakkai triumphed? It is because we have advanced just as Nichiren Daishonin teaches.

In his writings, Nichiren is always sincerely praising his followers.

It is crucial to value our members and to bring them happiness and joy. Soka Gakkai members striving for kosen-rufu are the emissaries of the Daishonin and the children of the Buddha. When we praise them, we receive benefit in our lives.

Buddhism teaches the oneness of self and others—the principle that our own and others’ lives are deeply connected.

In “On the Treasure Tower,” addressed to Abutsu-bo, Nichiren writes: “You may think you offered gifts to the treasure tower of the Thus Come One Many Treasures, but that is not so. You offered them to yourself” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 299). In other words, he asserts that to make offerings to the treasure tower—the Gohonzon—is to make offerings to ourselves.

To treasure the Gohonzon is actually to treasure the Gohonzon that exists within our own lives. This is the ultimate heart of faith and the essence of Nichiren Buddhism.

To treasure the children of the Buddha working for kosen-rufu is to treasure and strengthen our inner Buddhahood. The more we praise and commend those striving their hardest, the greater good fortune and vitality both we and our organization will gain.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren explains the principle of the oneness of self and others with an easily understood analogy: “It is like the situation when one faces a mirror and makes a bow of obeisance: the image in the mirror likewise makes a bow of obeisance to oneself” (p. 165).

A strong wish to praise the children of the Buddha is the sign of a strong life state of Buddhahood. Those who praise the Gohonzon and our heroic members striving for kosen-rufu are people whose life state of Buddhahood is strong.

Because of the oneness of self and others, any compromise we make with the evil represented by the “enemies of kosen-rufu” is condoning the evil in our own lives, which will lead us only in the direction of misfortune. The struggle to cut out the root of evil is a struggle to cut the root of evil and misfortune in our own lives.

In closing, I’d like to share with you an insight from the great French writer Victor Hugo (1802–85).[3]

There are all kinds of challenges in life. Everyone experiences hardships to some degree.

Hugo lists three ways we can react to challenges—we can just give up and succumb to them, we can hide or distance ourselves from them, or we can tackle them head-on. Our future will be dramatically different depending on the approach we take.

When a difficulty arises, some immediately give up, saying it’s too much for them. Hugo calls these people “the weak” and says that for them the future is “impossible.”

There are also those who hide from problems, trying to ignore or deny them. Hugo calls these people “the timid,” and for them the future is “unknown.” Ultimately, misfortune will await them.

And then there are others who courageously grapple with reality, refusing to be defeated. These Hugo identifies as “the thinkers” and “the valiant,” and for them, he says, the future is “ideal.” Theirs will be a bright and beautiful future.

Three approaches to life and three different futures. Hugo’s observation shares much in common with the way of life taught by Nichiren Buddhism.

In that spirit, let us press onward, strive our hardest, and win. That is the way to bring our lives to glorious completion, savoring ultimate victory and happiness.

December 15, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Hajime Nakamura, Hikaku shiso no kiseki (The Record of Comparative Thought),
    (Tokyo: Tokyo Shoseki, 1993), pp. 499–500. ↩︎
  2. Jpn toku, also translated as “gain.” ↩︎
  3. See Victor Hugo, Pendant l’exil: 1852–1870 (During the Exile: 1852–1870), in Actes et Paroles (Acts and Words), vol. 2 (Paris: Albin Michel, 1938), p. 84. ↩︎

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