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Ikeda Sensei

Be Champions of Kosen-rufu!

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The following are excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at the 75th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting, which was held at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Tokyo, on March 5, 1994. Video footage of the speech was broadcast during the 15th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial on Sept. 2, 2023. These excerpts are translated from the Sept. 18, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

What kind of person is a happy person? In the final analysis, a happy person is a strong person. 

Strong people can find enjoyment in everything. The greater their challenges, the stronger they become. 

In his “Letter to the Brothers,” Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Put into flames, a rock simply turns to ashes, but gold becomes pure gold” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 497). Flames reduce a rock to ashes, but they make gold into something stronger, purer and more brilliant. 

This accords with reason. It applies to people as well. 

A strong “person of gold” becomes pure gold through winning. Winning over difficulties, winning in struggles, winning over all sorts of persecution, they grow stronger and stronger. They can use all of their sufferings and difficulties as nourishment for their lives. 

Nichiren teaches that earthly desires lead to enlightenment.[1] That’s why we must willingly take on hardships to become happy. We must stand up bravely and confront persecution head-on. Then, by the principle that earthly desires lead to enlightenment, we will forge and cement truly solid happiness. This is a way of life that embodies the very essence of Nichiren Buddhism. 

Strong people brimming with life force can turn even pain and sadness into ingredients for creating happiness. Moreover, all the hardships we undergo for the sake of Buddhism engrave eternal happiness in our eternal lives. 

Life is, in a certain sense, a series of problems. This is also true in Soka Gakkai activities and one’s work or career. The Mystic Law is the wonderful Law for transforming all those problems into ingredients and causes for happiness. 

The Mystic Law is the eternal and everlasting Law of the universe and life. It is the secret to happiness. 

That’s why we should actively take on difficult challenges. 

We cannot avoid sadness, pain or struggle. 

You, too, my young friends, will undoubtedly encounter all kinds of hardships. Indeed, it’s better that you do. Everything that happens is for your own sake.

Everything in life is an opportunity to make yourself stronger.

“Everything is for my development!” “I’m ready to take on even greater challenges!” “Bring them on!”—I hope you will all be young people who live with that energetic and exuberant spirit!

William Clark (1826–86), a teacher at Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University), is famous for his words “Boys, be ambitious!” He fostered many people [at this institution for men] although he was only in Japan for 10 months and his term as a teacher was very brief.

I don’t want to spoon-feed you, the youth division members, by giving you detailed instructions on every little thing. I have already taught you all the fundamental principles and guidelines. The rest is up to you and what you decide to do.

How did Clark foster his students? There is a telling episode. One day, officials of Sapporo Agricultural College gathered to compile a set of school rules. Someone presented their draft, reading aloud one article after another in a seemingly endless list. After they had finished, Clark voiced his objection, declaring that such a list of rules was not the way to build people of character. 

“I have only one golden rule for you,” he said. “Be gentlemen!” 

He also added, “In all your actions, let your conscience be your guide.”[2]

For us, this means, letting faith be our guide in our actions. 

In this way, Clark’s students developed a strong sense of personal responsibility and self-discipline.  

The single rule, “Be gentlemen!” was a boundless source of inspiration that fostered many fine people of character and integrity. 

Now I would like to offer my own single rule for you: “Be champions of kosen-rufu!”

The Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world!”—this is the immortal lion’s roar of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda that will forever be associated with March 16. We must never lose this kingly pride.

What does “king” mean here? 

In the ancient Chinese work Records of the Historian, it says, “To a king the people are ‘heaven.’”[3] A true king, in other words, regards the people as being of vital and greatest importance.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “A king sees his people as his parents” (“Offerings in the Snow,” WND-2, 809). 

Rather than the people revering the king, the king respects and treasures the people to the utmost. This is how it should be, and it is the view of Nichiren Buddhism as well. 

The Soka Gakkai makes the people its foundation. It regards the people as the most precious and important of all. It advances together with the people. This is the correct way of a king, of a true champion.

We follow our chosen path, regardless of what others may say. The Soka Gakkai has always resided among the people, the ally of the suffering, the sad and the unfortunate. That is what makes the Soka Gakkai a king. I wish to strongly emphasize this point. 

You are all youthful kings—you are princes and princesses. Please walk this noble road of champions throughout your lives. 

I hope you will advance forever with the spirit that the members and the people are everything, that they are precious and important above all. That is the road of champions and the road to happiness and victory.

October 20, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Earthly desires lead to enlightenment is a principle that explains that our sufferings can be transformed into causes for our happiness. ↩︎
  2. Translated from Japanese. Masatake Oshima, Kuraaku sensei to sono deshi-tachi (Mr. Clark and His Students) (Tokyo: Kyobunkan, 1993), pp. 92–93. ↩︎
  3. Sima Qian, Records of the Historian: Chapters from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch’ien, translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), p. 203. ↩︎

The Pride of Studying Buddhism Directly Connected to Nichiren Daishonin