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Ikeda Sensei

Spreading the Light of Respect for the Dignity of Life Through Dialogue (Part 1)

Photo by Troy Harrison / Getty Images.

This essay by Ikeda Sensei was published in the March 27, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. 

The power to create history is born of deep life-to-life connections. In particular, the courageous efforts of successors who respond to the trust placed in them by their predecessors open a new age. 

In the year 223, as Liu Bei, the founder of the Shu Han kingdom of China, was nearing the end of his life, he entrusted the realm’s future to his prime minister Zhuge Liang, a great hero of the Three Kingdoms period (220–80). Liu Bei had made three personal visits [in 207] to Zhuge Liang, 20 years his junior, to ask for his support. The two men went on to accomplish great things together. Zhuge Liang vowed to the dying ruler to devote himself with utmost energy and loyalty to protecting the kingdom. 

The relationship of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang is extolled as being like that of fish and the water in which they swim. The drama of Zhuge Liang carrying on the baton entrusted to him by Liu Bei shines with a devotion undimmed to this day, 18 centuries later. 

In “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” Nichiren Daishonin alludes to this relationship to stress the importance of unity, stating that his disciples should “transcend all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim” (see The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217). Today, we of the Soka Gakkai, united by the bonds of mentor and disciple, are advancing together in one heart and mind to fulfill the great vow for kosen-rufu, just as the Daishonin instructs.  

Sixty-five years ago, on March 16, 1958, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda held a ceremony[1] that proclaimed his victory in this lifetime. He wanted to show the country’s leaders and the public the admirable young people of Soka he had personally fostered. “The Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world!” he declared that day. It was in this ceremony that he passed the baton of kosen-rufu to the youth.

That baton has continued to be handed down from one generation to the next. Now, our youth, who are destined to grow “bluer than the indigo,”[2] are leading the way in expanding our movement to put the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism into action in society, filled with pride as champions of humanity. Our youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth are striding ahead from March 16 (Kosen-rufu Day) to the next milestones of April 2 (the anniversary of Mr. Toda’s death) and May 3 (Soka Gakkai Day), powerfully gathering momentum for victory. Striving on the front lines of our movement, the young men and women of Soka are a dynamic force creating an ever-growing network committed to the people’s triumph.

Our men’s division members, who celebrate the anniversary of their division’s founding this month [on March 5], also refuse to be outdone, exerting themselves to the fullest! When these golden pillars of kosen-rufu rise to action, they impart tremendous reassurance and courage to everyone. This is because the courageous efforts of our men’s division members—Heroes of the World with the bearing of monarchs—are decisive to the success of our activities in our local communities. 

After the March 16 ceremony, Mr. Toda spent many days resting on the second floor of the building that served as the control center for various ongoing events. During that time, members of the youth division event staff and I would frequently gather on the first floor and sing the “First Higher School Dormitory Song”[3] over and over again. Mr. Toda was fond of this song. It had a melody that would be gentle on our ailing mentor’s ear, sure to delight and reassure him. 

“Ah, a flower petal floats in my cup … / Once I stand, I will accomplish something, / a great achievement in life.” The lyrics resounded deeply in our hearts and our spirits soared. As we sang, we vowed to our mentor: “Sensei, the youth division is filled with lofty aspiration. We will achieve kosen-rufu without fail!”

When Mr. Toda discussed the Chinese classic Records of the Three Kingdoms, he would sometimes remark regretfully that for all Zhuge Liang’s extraordinary talents, he didn’t have the time or good fortune to raise sufficient successors.

In contrast, we the Soka Gakkai youth of that time had the fortune of being trained by Mr. Toda, his warm compassion nurturing us like the sun, and working alongside him to build an indestructible castle of capable people. The debt we owe him is truly profound. 

I made a deep vow and commitment that I had been born in this world to ensure that the youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth Mr. Toda had called forth would all grow splendidly and become happy, and to create an unending stream of outstanding capable people who would contribute to kosen-rufu and society.

Youth are trained through actually working for kosen-rufu. The key is to dive among the people and actively take on challenges—for the sake of Buddhism, people’s happiness and the welfare of society as a whole. This is how young people can make great strides in their human revolution. 

Nichiren Daishonin highly praises his youthful disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu, who offered support and protection to many fellow practitioners while himself facing hardship and harassment during the Atsuhara Persecution.[4] He writes: “You so earnestly protected my followers in Atsuhara. … This is solely because you have devoted your life to the Lotus Sutra” (“The Wealthy Man Sudatta,” WND-1, 1087). He also assured Tokimitsu that he was certain to receive great blessings in this lifetime (see “Good Fortune in This Life,” WND-1, 655). And just as the Daishonin asserted, Tokimitsu lived a victorious life dedicated to kosen-rufu. 

 The Daishonin is sure to wholeheartedly applaud our Soka youth, who are today courageously encouraging and supporting their fellow members while striving selflessly for the security and prosperity of the people. Without a doubt, these precious, noble disciples, who are accumulating great unseen virtue in their youth, will reap boundless visible reward and go on to enjoy the great benefit of being hailed as a beacon of hope by people throughout Japan and the entire world. 


May 3, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. On March 16, 1958, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda gathered 6,000 young men and women for a ceremony in which he passed the baton of kosen-rufu to the youth division, led by a young Daisaku Ikeda. March 16 has since come to be known as Kosen-rufu Day. ↩︎
  2. See “Offerings in the Snow,” WND-2, 809. ↩︎
  3. The song expresses the vibrant spirit of students resolving to stand up and take responsibility for their country and the world. ↩︎
  4. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against followers of Nichiren Daishonin in Atsuhara Village in Fuji District, Suruga Province (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture), starting in around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. ↩︎

A Society That Shines With Respect for the Dignity of Life