Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei

“Faith for Overcoming Obstacles”

Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement to members suffering from natural disasters from The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 2, chapter 15.

Daisaku Ikeda photo_Diamond Head Hawaii Jan 1995

Natural disasters have been occurring with increasing frequency and intensity around the world. In recent decades, Japan experienced two particularly catastrophic events—the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake affecting the Kansai region and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

After the former, President Ikeda, who was scheduled to deliver an important lecture overseas, postponed his departure to remain in Japan to support those affected by the disaster. Even after departing, he continued to write messages for those members during his flight. After his lecture, he returned immediately to Japan and went straight to the Kansai area, where he took the lead in offering support and encouragement. Similarly, after the Tohoku disaster, he sent countless messages to members throughout the affected regions.

The following selected messages also offer encouragement for all those affected by the tragedy of natural disasters around the world.

[After the Great Hanshin Earthquake:]

Since the earthquake that devastated Kobe and surrounding areas last month [on January 17, 1995], I have been praying daily for all who lost their lives. I have been chanting not only for Soka Gakkai members but also for everyone in the region.

Nichiren Daishonin says of a disciple who had died: “When he was alive, he was a Buddha in life, and now he is a Buddha in death. He is a Buddha in both life and death” (WND-1, 456).

Please rest assured that your deceased loved ones are watching over you and your families, and they are sure to be reborn speedily.

What’s important is that those of us who are alive remain hopeful and become happy. Because of the oneness of life and death, our happiness imparts joy to our deceased loved ones and, at the same time, serves as proof that they dwell in a life state of Buddhahood. On the other hand, when we allow grief to defeat us, it saddens our departed loved ones. Always remember, we are all Buddhas in both life and death. We are always together and one.

Buddhism teaches the principle of changing poison into medicine.

Our faith is anchored in the conviction that “when great evil occurs, great good follows” (WND-1, 1119).

The Lotus Sutra guarantees that “winter always turns to spring” (WND-1, 536).

The teaching of the Mystic Law is for the present and the future.

Treasuring each day of our lives, aware how precious it is, is a way of living that accords with the true spirit of Buddhism.

Nichiren Daishonin teaches, “Life is the foremost of all treasures” (WND-1, 1125). I hope that as long as you live, you will always be able to feel in your hearts what a precious treasure life is—more wondrous than all the treasures in the universe. And, please remember, it is the power of faith in the Mystic Law that makes that treasure shine with bound-less brilliance.

The Daishonin also asserts, “A hundred years of practice in the Land of Perfect Bliss cannot compare to the benefit gained from one day’s practice in the impure world” (WND-1, 736). Practicing Buddhism just a single day in this “impure world” filled with suffering, he says, brings greater benefit than doing so for a whole century in the Land of Perfect Bliss, a realm free of pain and sorrows.

The Daishonin is speaking of the immense benefit of Buddhist practice in the Latter Day of the Law, and his words underscore how noble it is to strive in a place that is so challenging and demanding.

Life is about challenge and effort. Each day of our lives as Soka Gakkai members brings tremendous fulfillment and immeasurable benefit.

From a discussion with Kansai region representatives, published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, February 6, 1995.

[In 2000, five years after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, President Ikeda visited the Nagata Culture Center in Kobe’s Nagata Ward, one of the areas most seriously damaged in that disaster. He led a memorial service, offering prayers for those who died in the earthquake, and warmly encouraged members. He also played the piano, performing the tune “The Great Hero Kusunoki,”[1] which has deep ties to the area.]

I am amazed by the extent to which Nagata has recovered! Though I’m sure there are still many trying challenges ahead of you.

I will continue to support you. I will chant daimoku for you as long as I live.

Please be confident that all your fellow members and loved ones who died in the disaster will rejoin the movement for kosen-rufu without fail.

Life is a struggle. It is a struggle to become happy. But happiness is not simply the absence of hardships. Buddhism teaches that the sufferings we experience as human beings lead us to enlightenment. The Daishonin writes, “There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 681).

Everyone has problems and worries. Everyone meets with misfortune. And the greatest of life’s sufferings is death. Death is the inescapable destiny—the karma if you will—of humankind. Remember, however, that when we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and strive for kosen-rufu, our lives embody the Mystic Law. Our practice of Nichiren Buddhism enables us to forge a solid, invincible self and develop the ability and strength to overcome any difficulty or misfortune with serenity. When we die, our lives merge back into the life of the universe and, in rhythm with the Mystic Law, continue to advance on the path of happiness.

The Mystic Law gives us the energy to live our lives to the fullest. The Daishonin assures us that those who embrace the Mystic Law “will grow younger” (WND-1, 464). May the final chapter of your lives, therefore, be bright and vibrant, just like the rich colors of harvest or a glorious sunset.

The Daishonin states, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 212). Please be cheerful! None are stronger than those who are cheerful. Please live with a spirit of fortitude to make it through all things.

Let’s live out our lives together!

I am always chanting daimoku for you. See you again!

From a speech at a memorial service at the Nagata Culture Center, Hyogo, Japan, February 29, 2000.

[After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami:]

I offer my sincerest condolences to everyone affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Tohoku five days ago [on March 11, 2011], leaving many people still missing and unaccounted for. I can only imagine your exhaustion. My wife, Kaneko, and I, along with the members throughout Japan and the world, are chanting daimoku for you with all our hearts. We are earnestly praying for your health and well-being and that all Buddhas and bodhisattvas thoroughly protect you.

I also wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to those of you who are devoting yourselves selflessly to rescue and relief efforts or in other ways are acting as pillars of support for your communities during this difficult time. Takuboku Ishikawa, a renowned youthful poet who hailed from Tohoku declared, “Helping one person is a far greater achievement than becoming the ruler of a country.”[2] You all have my deepest respect and gratitude.

Nichiren Daishonin writes that even if we meet with disasters and calamities, they cannot destroy our heart or mind, the inner essence of life (see WND-2, 135). Nothing can destroy the treasures of the heart. Every adversity is but a trial to overcome so that we can attain eternal happiness. Our practice of Nichiren Buddhism, our faith in the Mystic Law, enables us to change all poison into medicine without fail.

I am offering solemn prayers for all your loved ones—family members and friends—who have lost their lives. It is truly heartbreaking. Life, however, is eternal, and through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can transcend the bounds of life and death to connect with those who have passed away. Your deceased loved ones and friends, who through you share a profound connection with the Mystic Law, will definitely be embraced by the heavenly deities, attain Buddhahood, and be reborn quickly somewhere close to you. That is an essential teaching of Nichiren Buddhism.

During the Daishonin’s lifetime, the great earthquake of the Shoka era (August 1257) caused unprecedented damage. Grieved by the people’s pain and suffering, and amid ongoing great calamities, the Daishonin began to write his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” thereby raising the banner of peace and justice for all humankind. He assures us, “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (WND-1, 1119).

Today, March 16, is the day that my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, entrusted his youthful successors with carrying on the work of kosen-rufu in order to eradicate misery from the face of the earth. Now, let us triumphantly overcome this great disaster by further strengthening our vow for kosen-rufu while wholeheartedly supporting and encouraging one another.

I am fervently praying and calling out to each of you: “Never be defeated! Have courage! Have hope!”

From a message sent to Tohoku members  after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, March 16, 2011.

[On the second anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, President Ikeda paid tribute to the members who were striving valiantly to rebuild their lives in the disaster’s aftermath.]

What the unprecedented disaster of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami destroyed was as precious as all the treasures of the universe.

Unimaginable numbers of lives were lost. Everyone wishes that their beloved family members, close friends, and fellow members could be returned to them and their dear hometowns restored.

Immediately after the disaster, my heart torn with sorrow, I assured our members in the affected areas that, based on the unerring principles of Buddhism, nothing can destroy the treasures of the heart.

I am deeply moved by how you, my friends in Tohoku, have managed to survive and go on living with such perseverance and fortitude. That you have done so itself attests to your incredibly noble and wondrous mission.

As you continue to live bravely, your departed loved ones will live on with you in your hearts, transcending life and death.

Nichiren Daishonin solemnly writes, “I do not know how long I or anyone else may live, but without fail, I will be with you at the time of your death and guide you from this life to the next” (WND-1, 965).

With his compassionate gaze, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren Daishonin, is watching over all of you who have so admirably managed to go on with life and over your deceased fellow members and loved ones. He is resolutely protecting every one of you, without exception.

As practitioners who uphold the eternal Mystic Law, ours is a wondrous journey of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity—always together with the Daishonin in both life and death!

From an essay series “Our Brilliant Path to Victory,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, March 11, 2013.


  1. “Great Hero Kusunoki” [Dainanko]: Popular name of a song originally titled “Aoba shigereru sakurai no” [The green leaves of Sakurai]. It describes the poignant leave-taking between the brilliant fourteenth century military tactician Kusunoki Masashige (d. 1336) and his son Masatsura. ↩︎
  2. Translated from Japanese. Takuboku Ishikawa, Takuboku zenshu [The collected works of Takuboku], vol. 7 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1970), 118. ↩︎

Read more