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Ikeda Sensei

Advancing Together as World Citizens, Spreading Hope and Encouragement to Create a Future of Peace

Eric Mischke/ Getty Images.

The following essay by Ikeda Sensei was translated from the June 27, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Nothing is stronger than young people’s wings of challenge and creativity. Their youthful energy, intelligence and passion allow them to soar to new heights, undaunted by the fiercest winds of the times. 

The great founder of our Soka movement, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, was just 32 when he published his groundbreaking work Jinsei chirigaku (The Geography of Human Life) in 1903, the year before the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War. In it, he eloquently advocated for peace, harmonious coexistence and humanity. This year marks the 120th anniversary of its publication.

Whenever I read that work, I am impressed by the grandeur of its scale. 

The youthful Makiguchi urged us to be aware that we are local citizens of our communities and countries and also world citizens who should not allow ourselves to be defined by the narrow constraints of nationalism.

He also highlighted how deeply our lives are connected to the workings of the universe—the sun, the moon and the stars—insightfully characterizing the activities of society and all human enterprise as the “phenomena of humanity’s life activities with Earth as their stage.”[1]

Today, Soka global citizens—Bodhisattvas of the Earth and heirs to Mr. Makiguchi’s spirit—are active on the world stage, upholding Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun and dispelling the suffering shrouding our times.

This month and last [May and June 2023], our youthful members in South Korea, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and many other countries and territories have been holding an array of exciting events and activities, vibrant with hope and joy. They are ringing in a new age of worldwide kosen-rufu. 

Each one of these events and activities is an inspiring drama of the triumph of ordinary people “with Earth as their stage,” achieved through putting Buddhism into action in society and faith into practice in daily life. 

How overjoyed Mr. Makiguchi would surely be to see the remarkable expansion in our ranks of youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth! 

Behind the growth of young members in every country and territory are the sincere prayers and support of noble seniors in faith. They open the way forward with the same heart and spirit as second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who declared: “Foster capable people! That is the surest path to future victory.” 

This surge in efforts to foster youth is also evident in Japan. The women of Soka, with the younger generations in the lead, are striving harmoniously together. Also, the members of the Young Men’s Division Academy are brimming with the spirit of working and developing together. And the future division members are forging beautiful bonds of trust with their leaders and other supporting members as they participate together in joyful, creative activities. 

My wife, Kaneko, and I are chanting with deep gratitude each day for everyone’s wonderful efforts.

I was invited to visit the University of Glasgow almost 30 years ago in June 1994. During the solemn ceremony conferring an honorary doctorate on me, Professor J. Forbes Munro, the then-university Clerk of Senate, delivered a speech in which my mentor’s name rang out time and again in the splendor of Bute Hall.

Professor Munro concluded his remarks by reading a short poem I composed about the Oirase Gorge in Aomori Prefecture in Tohoku: 

Like the waterfall, fierce, 
like the waterfall, unflagging, 
like the waterfall, unfearing, 
like the waterfall, merrily, 
like the waterfall, proudly— 
a man should have the bearing of a king.[2]

His sonorous voice still echoes in my mind. 

Professor Munro is not only a noted scholar in the field of African economic history but also a model humanistic educator with a deep love for his students. He and his wife, Sylvia, treated Soka University students studying at the University of Glasgow with great kindness and warmth. 

In his remarks, Professor Munro also mentioned that the University of Glasgow was proud of its connection with Adam Smith (1723–90), a former professor at the university widely regarded as the founder of modern economics. This year marks the 300th anniversary of his birth. 

Even when busy writing and publishing his landmark work The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith still made time for his students. In a letter addressed to a colleague, he wrote: “[I have] no engagements which I look upon as so sacred as those by which I am bound as a member of this University to do every[thing] in my Power to serve the young people who are sent here to study.”[3]

A friend observed that Smith had “nothing of that formal stiffness and Pedantry which is too often found in Professors” and was extremely fond of having his students with him.[4] Another remarked that the professor always took “great pains to discover and cherish the seeds of genius” in his students.[5]

At Soka University in Japan and Soka University of America (SUA), faculty and staff constantly reaffirm their commitment to prioritizing students above all else and expanding programs for student and academic exchange. A network of intellect and trust bringing universities around the world together is a beacon of hope for a peaceful future for the global family of humankind.

Wherever youth gather, where they grow and develop, there are always songs. 

Today, our members around the world are advancing proudly with lively voices raised in song. 

Recently, SGI Europe—making a fresh start with a new leadership lineup—has unveiled a new song, “Sun Rises in My Heart.” 

Bharat [India] Soka Gakkai—continuing its inspiring dynamic growth—has many beloved songs. One of them is “I Am That One Disciple!” The title echoes my own response and vow to my mentor when he declared that kosen-rufu would be achieved as long as there is even a single true disciple.[6]

Today, a great multitude of capable people radiant with joy—mirroring the assembly of the Lotus Sutra—is striving dynamically. 

Soka Gakkai songs and the songs of kosen-rufu created by our members around the world pulse with the spirit of mentor and disciple and express a wish for peace and human happiness.

To my delight, the cheerful voices of our precious future division choruses, whose members continue to take wise precautions [following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions], are once again resounding brightly throughout Japan. 

I recall welcoming guests from around the world together with future division chorus members on many occasions. The young singers would work hard to learn and practice beloved songs of the visitors’ countries and perform them beautifully in the original language. This always brought smiles to the guests, and sometimes they even sang along. 

A youth leader supporting the future division, once a member of the division’s chorus himself and now active in nongovernmental diplomacy, shared his experience of attending an international peace conference in Mongolia. 

On the final day of the conference, an impromptu song session broke out on a charter bus carrying a group of participants. When his turn came, he sang folk songs from Mongolia, India and other countries in their respective native languages. They were all songs he had performed as a future division chorus member when welcoming guests with me. The other passengers on the bus were delighted and sang along enthusiastically.

Everyone on the bus united as one, he said, transcending differences of nationality, position or outlook. This drove home to him anew the truth that music is a powerful medium for peace. 

It will soon be June 30, the anniversary of the student division’s founding. 

Our distant journey toward realizing worldwide kosen-rufu, the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” and the eternal transmission of the Mystic Law continues forever, into the infinite future.

The road to kosen-rufu is by no means easy, entailing an unending battle against the three powerful enemies[7] and the three obstacles and four devils.[8]

The student division was born amid the fierce struggles of the Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident[9] and the Osaka Incident[10] in the summer of 1957. As such, its members share profound karmic ties and have an incredibly important mission. 

I presented the song “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu” to our bright young students on June 30, 1978, the division’s 21st anniversary.[11] It is a song that brings back many memories.[12]

Its debut at the student division leaders meeting held at the Arakawa Culture Center [in Tokyo] was greeted with an explosion of joy, and I will never forget all of us singing it together 12 times on that day. 

Over the years, countless members have dashed ahead at full speed, living their youth in the most valuable and meaningful way with the commitment “Kosen-rufu is my life,” accompanied by this song.

We stand upon the vast open plains 
ready to journey ten thousand miles astride gallant steeds . …

Today, rousing their spirits by singing this song, student division members are reaching out sincerely in courageous dialogue. How inspiring their efforts are! 

To our shining intellects of the student division, I would now like to say once again what I said to your predecessors back in 1978: “Now it is your turn. I entrust the 21st century to you.”

In 1978, the year that “Dash Onward to Kosen-rufu” debuted, I wrote many songs for regions and prefectures throughout Japan,[13] wishing to encourage my noble fellow members who were striving valiantly amid the raging tempests of the first
priesthood issue. 

Among the region songs I wrote, filled with my love and boundless hopes for our members, were “Ever-Victorious Skies” for Kansai; “Ode to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth” for Chugoku; “Our Land” for Shikoku; “Song of the Land of Fire” for Kyushu; “This Path” for Chubu; “Ah, Our Inspiring Members” for Tokyo; “The Aoba Pledge” for Tohoku; “Song of Our Vow” for Hokuriku; and “Song of Shared Struggle” for Hokkaido (later revised and retitled “Castle of the First Three Presidents”).

I also composed prefecture songs for Yamanashi and each prefecture in the Kanto, Tokaido and Shin’etsu regions. 

Okinawa has the beloved song “Heroes of Okinawa,”[14] which I have sung with members there many times. 

I also composed a chapter song. The chapter is a key frontline unit of our organization. Titled “Kitamachi Kosen-rufu,” the song was dedicated to chapters in the Kitamachi area of Tokyo’s Nerima Ward.[15] One of the lyrics is “you and I walk the path.” The path we walk for kosen-rufu in our community is the golden path of mentor and disciple. The song closes with the line, “Let’s build Kitamachi kosen-rufu together,” expressing my wish that members would strive alongside me with a dauntless, invincible spirit to achieve kosen-rufu in the local community. 

Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, declared: “Wherever we practice the single vehicle of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, that place is [the pure land of] Eagle Peak, the capital of Eternally Tranquil Light” (Gosho zenshu, new edition,p. 1127).[16]

The pure land of Eagle Peak is not somewhere far away. The places we are now, the places of our mission, are the pure land of Eagle Peak and the capital of Eternally Tranquil Light. Our local communities are the driving force for worldwide kosen-rufu. Having this unshakable conviction is the heart of faith. 

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with a vow to expand our movement for kosen-rufu and reach out to others in courageous and hope-filled dialogue, our lives embody the life state of Buddhahood. Therefore, no matter what obstacles or devilish functions may assail us, we can definitely transform any karma. We will never be defeated. We will attain an unshakable life state that nothing can undermine or destroy. 

Our proud chapters and districts are the grand stage upon which we forge such a state of absolute happiness.

July, the Month of Youth, will soon be here. 

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Mr. Makiguchi’s and Mr. Toda’s arrests by Japan’s militarist authorities on July 6, 1943. 

In The Geography of Human Life, Mr. Makiguchi envisioned a great transformation for humanity, a future in which military, political and economic competition would be replaced by what he called “humanitarian competition.” Soka youth are the torchbearers of justice and humanity in the vanguard of that transformation. 

In a letter to the lay nun Myoshin, a practitioner of pure and steadfast faith, the Daishonin writes: “This character myo [of myoho, the Mystic Law] is the moon, it is the sun, it is the stars, it is a mirror, it is garments, it is food, it is flowers, it is the great earth, it is the great sea. All benefits clustered together make up the character myo. Also, it is the wish-granting jewel”[17] (“Reply to the Lay Nun Myoshin,” WND-2, 879–80). 

All of you are world citizens and Bodhisattvas of the Earth who uphold and practice the supreme principle of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.” By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—the Mystic Law pervading life and the universe—let us strive to transform our own and others’ life states and work together to lead global society to peace! Let us advance, together making our voices resound with warm encouragement and songs of unending victory in our communities and into the future! 

August 18, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–4


  1. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Jinsei chirigaku (The Geography of Human Life), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 2 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1996), p. 193. ↩︎
  2. Daisaku Ikeda, “The Waterfall,” in Songs from My Heart, translated by Burton Watson (New York: Weatherhill, 1997), p. 110. ↩︎
  3. Adam Smith, Correspondence of Adam Smith, edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner and Ian Simpson Ross (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1987), p. 45. ↩︎
  4. Correspondence of James Boswell and John Johnston of Grange, edited by Ralph S. Walker (London: William Heinemann, 1966), p. 7. ↩︎
  5. John Ramsay, Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Alexander Allardyce, vol. 1 (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1888), p. 463. ↩︎
  6. See The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, p. 825. ↩︎
  7. 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. ↩︎
  8. 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. ↩︎
  9. Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident: A case of religious discrimination that took place in 1957, in which miners in Yubari, Hokkaido, were threatened with losing their jobs due to their Soka Gakkai membership. ↩︎
  10. Osaka Incident: The occasion when Ikeda 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. ↩︎

  11. See The New Human Revolution, vol. 28, “Songs of Kosen-rufu.” ↩︎
  12. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the song’s debut. ↩︎
  13. See The New Human Revolution, vol. 28, “Songs of Kosen-rufu” and “Great Path” chapters. ↩︎
  14. The lyrics and music were composed by members in Okinawa. ↩︎
  15. See The New Human Revolution, vol. 28, “Songs of Kosen-rufu” chapter. ↩︎
  16. “Oko kikigaki” (The Recorded Lectures); not included in WND, vols. 1 or 2. ↩︎
  17. Wish-granting jewel: A jewel said to have the power to produce whatever one desires. It symbolizes the virtue and power of the Mystic Law of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. ↩︎

Parting the Clouds