Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei

Let’s Create an Ever-Growing River of Capable People!

Photo by Peetatham Kongkapech / Getty Images.

The following excerpts are from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at a ceremony where representatives of Paraguay’s National University of Itapúa presented him with an honorary doctorate. It was held in conjunction with the Student Division and Future Division Joint General Meeting at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Tokyo, on April 29, 2005. Video footage of the speech was broadcast during the most recent Soka Gakkai headquarters leaders meeting, on July 9, 2023. The excerpts were translated from the July 24, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

There is an old saying of Paraguay, which is known as the heart of South America: “The brave grow through their struggle.”[1]

This is the truth. The time of youth, too, is one of struggle. Without spiritual struggle, young people cannot grow or triumph.

Nothing is more beautiful than young people with a solid philosophy striving courageously and earnestly for truth and to lead a meaningful life.

My congratulations and thanks to all student division members at 130 universities and colleges throughout Japan, including Soka University, and to all our future division members, on the occasion of today’s Student Division and Future Division Joint General Meeting!

The celebrated Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos (1917–2005) was a great champion of the spirit who, together with your esteemed National University of Itapúa, blazed the trail to an age of humanism. 

As a courageous writer and journalist, he wielded his pen fiercely in the resistance against the former military dictatorship that ruled Paraguay. Persecution by the authorities forced him into exile for over 40 years (1947–89). One can only imagine the hardships he must have endured. But he remained true to his convictions, leading an exceptional life. 

It is important to know of great individuals like Roa Bastos.

The most good and just are often resented and undermined. This is a sad truth of human nature and a cruel reality of the world. But for the sake of victory in life and the victory of our beliefs, we must never compromise our commitment to truth and justice.

Roa Bastos declared with the resolve of an indomitable champion: “Humans need the resistance of adversity in order to soar, just as birds need the resistance of the air in order to fly.”[2]

These are wise words. They express a grasp of life’s true meaning, a fundamental philosophy that applies to all things.

While enduring persecution by the authorities, Roa Bastos left behind an immortal legacy of human triumph in the history of world literature.

I was 19 years old when I first met my mentor, Josei Toda [on Aug. 14, 1947]—around the same age as many of you here today.

How many are 19 years old? [Several members raised their hands.]

It is 58 years since that encounter and 45 years since I became the third Soka Gakkai president in 1960. 

Though I fully experienced the “slander and abuse” and “hatred and jealousy” predicted to befall practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, I overcame it all and built a humanistic global network dedicated to peace, culture and education. This is completely thanks to all of you, my fellow members everywhere, and is my greatest pride. 

Today, I declare for all to hear that the members of the student division and future division are the successors to whom I entrust this proud path of mission and conviction!

It is only natural that you have various problems bothering you right now. No one is without problems. As long as you’re alive, you’ll have problems of one kind or another. Problems are an important source for growth and a driving force for victory.

The greater the person, the greater their problems or concerns. How can I make the world a better place? How can I enable humanity to become happy? Great problems or concerns such as these are the hallmark of great people.

Problems make us stronger. Problems expand our capacity as human beings. Grappling in earnest with problems also stimulates our brains and promotes our spiritual growth.

In your daily Soka Gakkai activities, you show concern for others, pray for them and take action for their welfare. This is incredibly admirable.

The world-renowned American microbiologist René Dubos (1901–82), with whom I engaged in dialogue, observed that “the brain develops with use and wastes away with disuse.”[3]

More than anything, your tireless efforts for the sake of Buddhism, the welfare of society and the happiness of others, as you struggle and challenge yourselves to find the best way forward, are destined to become tremendous sources of strength for you. In the end, they will benefit you as well as others.

Buddhism teaches, “If you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 279). To know your future, look at your life and your way of being right now.

Are there any here today who have lost their mother? [Several members raised their hands.]

I am chanting daimoku for all of you.

Sad as you may feel, try to be cheerful. It’s important for you, your siblings and all your family members to be positive and optimistic. That is the truly wise way to live, the way of life taught by Nichiren Buddhism.

Don’t let sadness take over your life. Demonstrate the stand-alone spirit and win!

Nothing is more powerful than sincerity. Nothing can beat it. Even if at times it seems like no one notices your efforts, the sincerity of your dedication will win out in the end. Those who strive sincerely with steadfast perseverance always savor ultimate victory. Having observed the lives of many people and spoken with many renowned world leaders, I can attest to that from experience. 

The name Paraguay derives from a word meaning “from a great river.” I would like to create an ever-growing river of capable people, like the mighty river of Paraguay.

Capable individuals are the key. They are the only way to build a brighter future.

I hope that each of you will forge ahead ceaselessly in a way that is true to yourself. Keep striving, learning and talking with others. Give your all so that each of you, without fail, becomes an expert in happiness and victory—a “doctor of philosophy” in the art of leading lives of great triumph! 

Let’s make this a promise.

Thank you!

September 1, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Translated from Spanish. Miguel Ángel Pangrazio, Arriéro pórte (Asunción: Criterio Ediciones, 2007), p. 89. ↩︎
  2. Translated from Spanish. Augusto Roa Bastos, Metaforismos (Barcelona: Edhasa, 1996), p. 119. ↩︎
  3. René Dubos, So Human an Animal: How We Are Shaped by Surroundings and Events (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1998), p. 124. ↩︎

Eternally Together on Our Journey of Kosen-rufu