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Ikeda Sensei

My Young Friends, Perform a Joyous Dance of Youth on the Stage of Your Mission!

14th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting

Photo by Molly Leebove.

Ikeda Sensei sent the following message to the 14th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial, which was held in conjunction with the student division and future division general meetings at the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo, Tokyo, on July 9, 2023. Twenty-three representatives from Soka Gakkai Ivory Coast also attended the meeting.

The songs of our future division members are dawn bells of hope, their smiles, rainbows of peace. 

My sincerest congratulations on this uplifting and inspiring headquarters leaders meeting, “engines at full power,”[1] accompanied by our young friends’ bright songs and smiles! 

Eighty years ago, on July 1, 1943, during World War II, our first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi met and engaged in a friendly discussion with three students at his home in Mejiro, not far from the Toda Memorial Auditorium, where you are assembled today.

One of them, a young man originally from Kyushu who was studying at Tokyo University of Commerce (present-day Hitotsubashi University), was so moved by Mr. Makiguchi’s clear, compassionate and confident encouragement that he joined the Soka Gakkai that day.

Mr. Makiguchi spoke to him about the importance of living a life of great good by being kind to his parents, exerting himself in his studies and choosing a path that would allow him to create the most value. Taking that concrete guidance to heart, the student went on to develop a wonderful, solid Buddhist practice and maintained unwavering faith to the end of his life. 

Five days after that meeting, Mr. Makiguchi, champion of peace and humanity, was unjustly arrested by Japan’s militarist government authorities.

Even amid great persecution, Mr. Makiguchi continued to show warm care and concern for students and young people, sowing the seeds of the Mystic Law in their young hearts and praying for their future success and victory. 

When second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda founded the student division on June 30, 1957, he and I were right in the middle of a fierce struggle against the devilish workings of authority, which had manifested in the form of the Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident[2] and the Osaka Incident.[3] At that time, both of us burned with the same invincible spirit as Mr. Makiguchi. 

How overjoyed our two founding presidents would surely be to see today’s student division and future division general meetings, heralding a shining future for our movement for worldwide kosen-rufu.

Remembering the spirit of Presidents Makiguchi and Toda, I would like to present you with four calligraphic works to celebrate today’s meeting. 

The first is “Castle of Princes and Princesses.” 

The happiness of all children was the profound wish of Presidents Makiguchi and Toda, both great educators. The Soka Gakkai is a castle dedicated to realizing this cherished wish, and our future division members are all irreplaceably precious princes and princesses of this castle of mentor and disciple. 

Nichiren Daishonin assures Nanjo Tokimitsu—a predecessor of our future division members and a shining example of steadfast commitment to Buddhism—that though we may experience suffering for a while, we will ultimately attain a life state of great delight like that of a king (see “Protecting the Atsuhara Believers,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 882).

You, my young friends of the future division, are advancing in rhythm with the Mystic Law, together with the Soka Gakkai and fellow members around the world. I hope—and indeed have absolute confidence—that you will become champions of happiness, great triumphant champions of good fortune and wisdom who work for everyone’s happiness. 

I became Mr. Toda’s disciple and embarked on the path of faith in my late teens, and my wife, Kaneko, started practicing Nichiren Buddhism along with her family when she was an elementary school student. In fact, at that young age, she once personally escorted Mr. Makiguchi from the train station to a discussion meeting at her home. Please know that we will continue chanting daimoku for each one of you who is following in our footsteps on this great path of absolute happiness.

The next calligraphy is “Joyous Dance of Youth.”

I present this to the members of the future division, student division, young men’s and young women’s divisions, and our entire ever-youthful Soka family.

Speaking of “joyous dance,” I am reminded of citing a passage from Nichiren’s writing “Great Evil and Great Good” in my lecture at the Institut de France [in June 1989]: “Even if you are not the Venerable Mahakashyapa, you should all perform a dance. Even if you are not Shariputra, you should leap up and dance. When Bodhisattva Superior Practices emerged from the earth, did he not emerge dancing?”[4] (WND-1, 1119).

Noting that the dancing of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth symbolizes supreme joy, I suggested to the audience filled with some of Europe’s leading thinkers and scholars that a movement for human revolution, characterized by the vibrant dynamism of creative life, will open the way to a solidarity of the human spirit and revitalize all human activities and endeavors. 

Because of the unprecedented challenges of the times, the Buddhist wisdom of the Middle Way—as embodied in respect for life and human dignity and the importance of creating value—shines brighter than ever. I hope that you, our Soka youth, brimming with energy and exuberance, will invite many new friends to join you as you perform the “joyous dance of youth” as Bodhisattvas of the Earth on the stage where you have chosen to fulfill your vow for kosen-rufu.

The next calligraphy is “The People.”  

Nichiren Buddhism teaches that all people on our planet inherently possess the life state of Buddhahood. It is the Buddhism of the people, all-illuminating like the sun, that enables each individual to shine their brightest. The Soka Gakkai is a truly miraculous community of ordinary people worldwide who stand up on their own and support and inspire one another to become stronger, better and wiser, just as Nichiren wished. 

Today, we are joined by representatives from the Ivory Coast, noble champions of the people. In the face of many hardships and challenges, they have spoken out with a powerful lion’s roar of truth for kosen-rufu in Africa. They are a true gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth embodying the Daishonin’s words: “You should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. … Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997).

Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, is surely aware of all your efforts. Let us show our praise and appreciation with our resounding applause!

As Soka Gakkai members, united by the bonds of mentor and disciple—striving forever with the heart of a lion king, together with the people and for the people—let us harmoniously and cheerfully continue to expand our great movement for the eternal victory of the people!

In closing, I would like to present you with a calligraphic work featuring a poem that I originally composed for the student division general meeting held in the turbulent times of July 1970:[5]

Go forth, my friends,
steering bravely 
through the storm, 
firm in your commitment 
as champions of peace!

August 4, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. A reference to a line from the elementary school division song “Be Brave! With a Lion’s Heart!” ↩︎
  2. Yubari Coal Miners Union Incident: A case of religious discrimination that took place in 1957, in which miners in Yubari, Hokkaido, were threatened by the Coal Miners Union with losing their jobs due to their Soka Gakkai membership. ↩︎
  3. Osaka Incident: 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. ↩︎
  4. Mahakashyapa and Shariputra are two of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples. Bodhisattva Superior Practices is the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, entrusted in the Lotus Sutra with the mission to propagate the Mystic Law in the Latter Day of the Law. ↩︎
  5. This refers to the Freedom of Speech Incident, the name given to a controversy that arose in 1970, when the Soka Gakkai defended itself against libelous claims. For further details, see the “Fierce Winds” chapter of The New Human Revolution, vol. 14. ↩︎

This Month in Soka Gakkai History (August)