Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei

Let’s Build Shining Castles of Happiness in Our Communities

Photos by Jonathan Petersson / Pexels.

The following essay from Ikeda Sensei’s series “Our Brilliant Human Revolution” was translated from the Oct. 5, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

I am delighted to see the wonderful fresh start of our Housing Complex Division,[1] renamed the Castles of Happiness Division on its 50th anniversary last month. Its members are forging ahead powerfully with renewed hope and vigor.

One late autumn (in 1989), I recall, members of the Housing Complex Division in Kansai presented me with an album of photos that conveyed their cheerful, energetic spirit. I pressed my palms together in deep respect and reverence for these dear friends, whose smiling faces greeted me from the pages of the album. I then penned this poem for them:

Castles of happiness—
big and open.

It is truly the case that “One’s body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena [i.e., the entire universe]”[2] (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 366). The big, open hearts of our noble members have created “castles of happiness” in the apartment blocks and communities where they have chosen to fulfill their vow for kosen-rufu. 

Over the years, our Housing Complex Division members have made incredible efforts. How sincerely they have promoted friendship and trust, starting with friendly greetings! How wisely they have continued to assist and support their fellow residents! How tenaciously they have worked in their residents’ organizations and made positive contributions to their communities! That is why  the housing complexes in which they share such deep and wondrous ties have come to shine as sparkling “republics of human harmony.”

Today, many of these housing complexes are facing numerous challenges, brought on by a declining birth rate and rapidly aging population. The number of single-person households is also rising. In addition, housing features are changing, with an increase in high-rise towers and security entrances [which contribute to growing isolation and an erosion of community ties]. 

Our members have a truly great mission. My wife, Kaneko, and I are praying wholeheartedly for each of you, our precious friends, to lead long, healthy lives.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The name will invariably invoke all the blessings of the thing itself” (“On the Ten Chapters,” WND-2, 379). It is my dearest hope that, with the Soka Gakkai’s Community Department in the lead, you will all work together to create communities that respect the dignity of life and all human beings, and build “castles of happiness” where peace thrives!

It has been three decades since I delivered my second lecture at Harvard University under sunny autumn skies [on Sept. 24, 1993]. The Soka Gakkai–affiliated Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue, located in Boston, not far from that great intellectual center, has sponsored numerous programs and events to exchange ideas and promote peace, culture and education. 

I have also published dialogues on a diverse array of subjects for the sake of the world and the future with many of the academic leaders who have been associated with the Boston center. These include John Kenneth Galbraith (economics), Nur Yalman (social anthropology), Harvey Cox (religious studies), Elise Boulding (peace studies), Tu Weiming (Chinese history and philosophy) and Sarah Wider (literature). 

On a slightly different tangent, Harvard University has conducted a scientific study on what constitutes a good life, by tracking a number of families over two generations for a period of more than 80 years, beginning in 1938. The most important conclusion to be drawn from this extensive research is that good relationships keep us happy and healthy.[3] This is a valuable and richly meaningful insight.

Since its inception, the Soka Gakkai has taken to heart the Daishonin’s message that having “good friends,” or positive influences, in our lives is important (see “Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” WND-1, 598). We have focused on building strong interpersonal relations and shown endless examples of actual proof in leading healthy, happy lives and helping others do the same. 

I remember my mentor, Josei Toda, once proposing that a 5- or 10-year scientific study be conducted to track the actual situations of practitioners of different Buddhist schools in Japan. 

As Nichiren asserts, “Even more valuable than reason and documentary proof is the proof of actual fact” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” WND-1, 599). 

In these times of growing isolation and division, let us make even greater efforts to create and develop in our communities safe havens of heart-to-heart connections, resonating with—as I called for in my Harvard lecture—“the chorus tones of open dialogue” (A New Way Forward, p. 51).

The Soka network of encouragement we have forged around the world is a precious treasure to be passed on to future generations.

Last month, a beautiful, golden full moon coincided with the midautumn festival [Sept. 29], an event celebrating the moon that rises on Aug. 15 in the old lunar calendar.[4] That same evening, the newly appointed future division leaders in Japan made a powerful fresh start, their sights set on the Soka Gakkai’s centennial [in 2030] 7 years hence, when this rare phenomenon will next occur.

Japanese statesman and naval engineer Katsu Kaishu (1823–99), born exactly 200 years ago, believed in the concept of a 7-year cycle of change [which he learned from Dutch thinkers]. From personal experience, he perceived that societal trends and people’s hearts and minds undergo a major change every 7, 8 or 10 years.[5]

Though slightly different, the mentors and disciples of Soka have also advanced in 7-year cycles—which we have termed the Seven Bells—ringing a new bell every 7 years to mark resounding victories for kosen-rufu.

Nichiren Daishonin describes the assembly of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth as being as vast in number as “the grasses of Musashino Plain[6] or the trees covering Mount Fuji” (“The ‘Entrustment’ and Other Chapters,” WND-1, 911). I am praying for and looking forward to the magnificent development of our great Soka gathering of capable people at the time of our centennial, as if seeing it reflected in the bright mirror of the moon.

Through his skilled diplomacy based on integrity and sincerity, Katsu Kaishu helped avoid a bloody conflict in Edo (present-day Tokyo) [opening the way for the Meiji Restoration and Japan’s modernization].[7]

He established a solid direction and proceeded toward it with absolute self-confidence. This, he knew, was the way to turn even former opponents into the closest of allies with whom one could talk heart to heart.[8]

Communication is the way to open a new age. Always communicating with utter sincerity is the way to change others’ hearts and minds.

Katsu Kaishu left frank assessments of various historical figures in his dictated memoirs, citing Nichiren Daishonin as an example of tenacious, strong-minded individuals of the past. With admiration, he said that Nichiren was never disheartened and surmounted every difficulty.[9]

We have the important mission of realizing worldwide kosen-rufu, the wish of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. We have “the strategy of the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 1001), which he taught us to employ. Overcoming every adversity, let us continue creating allies and expanding our friendships as we achieve the impossible and transform all poison into medicine! 

Allow me to take this opportunity to again thank and commend all those who, brimming with seeking spirit, took the recent Soka Gakkai elementary-level study exam held throughout Japan [on Oct. 1], as well as those who supported everyone in their studies or served as event staff on the day.

I am certain that, whether you pass the exam or not, your efforts to study Nichiren Buddhism will deepen your lives immeasurably and bring you boundless good fortune and benefit.

The Daishonin’s treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” was one of the writings the exam covered.

The Soka Gakkai’s great vow for kosen-rufu is also the vow to realize the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Our mission of spreading the Mystic Law around the world is one and inseparable with the mission of actualizing peace and security for all people.

The many recent natural disasters, epidemics and violent conflicts drive home to us that humanity stands at a major crossroads.

When the guest in this writing laments the disastrous state of society, the host responds, “I have been brooding … upon this matter, indignant in my heart.” He then suggests they join in a dialogue, saying, “Let us discuss the question at length” (WND-1, 7).

Simply lamenting the tragedies afflicting our world won’t change anything. The question is how to actually transform the situation. We must think about this as protagonists, chant earnestly and take a step forward together toward finding a solution. This is the spirit of Nichiren Buddhism.

The belief system or philosophy one upholds shapes one’s awareness and actions, as well as one’s present reality and even the future.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches the dignity and preciousness of all people’s lives and that each individual possesses infinite potential.

Human beings have the strength to withstand the threats of nature. They have the courage and hope to surmount any disaster and also the wisdom and compassion to stand up and rebuild with those around them. Nurturing these qualities in each individual and rallying residents of local communities to work together will definitely create a foundation for building disaster-resistant societies. The ties we form and solidify in this way reveal their power in times of crisis.

I am reminded of the destructive Ise Bay typhoon of September 1959 (also called Super Typhoon Vera). As Soka Gakkai general administrator, with full responsibility for the organization [after President Toda’s death], I took charge of coordinating the Soka Gakkai’s overall rescue and relief efforts for Aichi and Mie prefectures [in the Chubu region], where the damage was especially severe.

Members immediately rushed to the afflicted areas—with local youth division members and those from neighboring prefectures in the forefront—to offer support. Responding to onsite reports of the damage, I arranged for medical supplies, clothing and other essential items to be dispatched. I also traveled to the disaster areas myself. I gave my whole heart and being to encouraging each storm victim I encountered, whether they were members or not.

Our members strove tirelessly with the determination to personally play an active role in protecting lives and to work together for the sake of one another’s communities. Some members cooked rice and prepared rice balls until their hands were red from handling the hot rice. Others loaded the rice balls onto boats, from which they were distributed to people stranded in flooded homes. The Soka Gakkai was the first to come to the aid of those in need.

The dedicated efforts of our members, shining brightly amid adversity, truly embodied the noblest possible “behavior as a human being” that the Daishonin went so far as to describe as the “purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 852). This is the unshakable foundation of our “strong fortress of Chubu.” 

Recently, young leaders from 44 countries and territories gathered in Japan for an SGI Youth Training Course [held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4]. They shared not only how they are dealing with their own personal struggles but also how they are courageously making efforts to tackle the challenges facing their communities and countries. One of them proudly declared that she has been spreading the message to those around her that anyone can achieve a happy life, just as she had been able to.  

Turning despair into hope!

Transforming karma into mission!

Creating a network of people who share a vow to take personal initiative for kosen-rufu!

Whatever happens, with this unwavering commitment, let us put down roots where we are now and raise high the banner of victory. Let us deepen the bonds of trust and friendship we share with others, build solidarity and unity among people, and bring forth all our wisdom and strength for the welfare of our communities and societies.

Nichiren Daishonin quotes the Great Teacher Dengyo: “When in the family honor is paid diligently to the teachings, the seven disasters will most certainly be banished” (“On the Nation’s Slander of the Law,” WND-2, 1026). How wonderful it is that the sound of the Mystic Law—of our voices chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—reverberates in our homes, our communities and our lands! 

With a fresh resolve to treasure the most essential basics of gongyo and daimoku, let’s each engage cheerfully in our human revolution and make our ever-victorious castles of health, happiness and peace shine gloriously in our communities and our lives!

November 10, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. The Soka Gakkai’s Housing Complex Division was established on Oct. 24, 1973. The new name was announced ahead of its 50th anniversary at the Sept. 2, 2023 headquarters leaders meeting. ↩︎
  2. From Miao-lo’s The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight. ↩︎
  3. See Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study on Happiness (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2023). ↩︎
  4. The midautumn moon is not always a full moon, but this year it was. ↩︎
  5. Translated from Japanese. See Katsu Kaishu, Kaishu zadan (Conversations with Kaishu), edited by Yoshiharu Iwamoto and annotated by Mitake Katsube (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1983), p. 158. ↩︎
  6. Musashino Plain: A wide plain encompassing present-day Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture. ↩︎
  7. Translated from Japanese. See Katsu Kaishu, “Hikawa seiwa” (Quiet Talks at Hikawa), in Nihon no meicho (Great Books of Japan), edited by Jun Eto, vol. 32 (Tokyo: Chuokoron-sha, 1978), p. 105. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., p. 162. ↩︎
  9. Ibid., p. 165. ↩︎

Sign Me Up