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Ikeda Sensei

Spreading the Hope-Inspiring Breezes of Eternity, Happiness, True Self and Purity

Photo by Dustin Humes / Unsplash

In 1981, which the Soka Gakkai designated as the Year of Youth, I traveled throughout Japan and the world, presenting many poems to our youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth. I fondly recall writing these lines for my young friends in America:

Faith is the engine that propels us
in the thrilling voyage of life,
a life victorious and transcendent.[1]

I am very proud that, over these more than four decades, our youth have forged ahead on the voyage of life with unwavering faith, bravely navigating their way through storm-tossed seas of challenge and adversity.

We are all engaged in an intense and noble struggle to fulfill our mission of kosen-rufu. As time passes, daunting challenges present themselves in our lives, including illness—whether our own or that of loved ones—and having to care for infirm or elderly family members. Even Nichiren Daishonin reflected in the year before his death: “My body is worn out and my spirit suffers from the daily debates, monthly persecutions, and two exiles” (“The Reconstruction of Hachiman Shrine,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 949).

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, warmly encouraged members who were battling illness, sharing passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, such as: “Could not this illness … be the Buddha’s design, because [the sutras] teach that sick people will surely attain Buddhahood? Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way” (“The Good Medicine for All Ills,” WND-1, 937). He reassured them that their struggle with illness was part of the mission they had undertaken for Buddhism and an opportunity for lessening their karmic retribution.[2] It was a sign, he said, that the moment had come for them to radically transform their karma through their Buddhist faith and practice.

The Mystic Law is the underlying and eternal Law of the universe. When we embrace faith in this Law, we can return each day to our original life from time without beginning, tap limitless revitalizing power and solidify the great, indestructible life state of Buddhahood within us. All of the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death are challenges we must face to successfully climb the summit of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime. There is no obstacle we cannot overcome.

As our society continues to age at an unprecedented rate, the members of our Soka family are warmly supporting and encouraging one another as they together confront “the sufferings that all living beings undergo” (“On Reprimanding Hachiman,” WND-2, 934). Their example spreads the fragrant, hope-inspiring “breezes of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity”[3] (“The Fourteen Slanders,” WND-1, 761).

Nichiren fiercely rebuked the devilish functions causing suffering to his dear young disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu: “Should you not cure this man’s illness immediately, act rather as his protectors, and escape from the grievous sufferings that are the lot of demons?” (“The Proof of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1109).

Emulating the Daishonin’s spirit, let us chant the powerful lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that enables us to triumph over any illness. Let us put our health first, advancing with wisdom and good sense.

Creating a wonderful symphony of hope and revitalization, let us continue our “thrilling voyage of life” together!

Let’s share with our friends
the great beneficial medicine of life,
accompanied by the beautiful music
of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.

Originally published in the June 2023 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

From the July 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. The Sun of Youth: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda, p. 72. ↩︎
  2. Lessening karmic retribution: This term, which literally means, “transforming the heavy and receiving it lightly,” appears in the Nirvana Sutra. “Heavy” indicates negative karma accumulated over countless lifetimes in the past. As a benefit of protecting the correct teaching of Buddhism, we can experience relatively light karmic retribution in this lifetime, thereby expiating heavy karma that ordinarily would adversely affect us not only in this lifetime, but over many lifetimes to come. ↩︎
  3. Eternity, happiness, true self and purity are known as the four virtues. Describing the noble qualities of the Buddha’s life, the four are explained as follows: “eternity” means unchanging and eternal; “happiness” means tranquillity that transcends all suffering; “true self” means true and intrinsic nature; and “purity” means free of illusion or mistaken conduct. ↩︎

‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land’

SGI-USA Phoenix Buddhist Center