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Ikeda Sensei

Those Who Spread the Mystic Law Are the Noblest of All

Photo by CaraMaria / Getty Images.

The following excerpts are from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at the 33rd Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting held at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji, Tokyo, on May 1, 1999. Video footage of the speech was broadcast during the 13th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial held on May 3, 2023. The excerpts were translated from the May 23, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. 

On this date, May 1, in 1278, Nichiren Daishonin wrote to one of his disciples [the lay nun Myoho]: 

Although the sun and moon should fall to the ground and Mount Sumeru crumble, there can be no doubt that this woman will attain Buddhahood. It is certain, absolutely certain! (“Reply to Matsuno,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 752)

This is Nichiren’s promise that women who embrace faith in the Mystic Law will definitely attain Buddhahood.

In a letter to the lay nun of Kubo, Nichiren writes: 

Where strong winds cause the grasses to bend and flashes of lightning fill people with alarm—in a world such as ours, how wonderful it is that to this day you remain unshaken in your faith!

They say that when roots are deep, the leaves will not wither; when there is a jewel in the heart of the fountain, its waters will never cease to flow. And how deep are the roots of your faith, how pure the jewel in your heart. How admirable, how admirable! (“Reply to the Lay Nun of Kubo,” WND-2, 755)

The Daishonin frequently praises such women  for their courageous faith. Today, they correspond to you, the women of Soka—the mothers of kosen-rufu. 

Happy Soka Gakkai Mothers Day to you all!   

The exhibition “Napoleon Bonaparte: The Man” is currently being shown (in 1999), to great acclaim, at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum in Hachioji. As we approach the start of a new century, I believe that this exhibition will give a glimpse of what a single individual can achieve when they stand up with unyielding commitment to an ideal, how they can shape and change the direction of the times.  

What can we learn from Napoleon’s life? The great American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked, “The lesson he [Napoleon] teaches is that which vigor always teaches, —that there is always room for it.”[1]

As we celebrate another glorious May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, all of you have striven with vigor and courage to open wide the path to the 21st century for our movement. Congratulations! Our success is widely applauded and could be achieved only by an organization of practitioners directly connected to Nichiren. It is a miraculous achievement. I am confident that the Daishonin is praising you all most highly. 

Emerson also made the following observation about Napoleon: “His victories were only so many doors, and he never for a moment lost sight of his way onward, in the dazzle and uproar of the present circumstance.”[2] When Napoleon achieved one victory, he immediately looked to the next. He wasn’t satisfied with the present triumph; he didn’t allow himself to relax, he didn’t give up the larger struggle. That is the secret to winning. It is important to make one victory the cause for the next. That is the smart course of action and the way that leads to successive victories. 

Those who just bask in the glow of victory can grow complacent and lose out in the future. The moment of triumph is the very moment to start working toward a new and larger goal. That is how the next victory is assured. 

This spirit of moving ever forward is the essence of “brave and vigorous exertion” (Jpn yumyo shojin) [a phrase that appears in the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which we recite during gongyo].[3] If we look at each of the Chinese characters of this term individually, yu (brave) means acting with courage and myo (vigorous) means applying all one’s wisdom, while in the compound shojin (exertion), sho means pure and unsullied and jin means ceaseless advance. “Brave and vigorous exertion” produces a person who always triumphs. It forges and strengthens us so that our lives are ever victorious. 

Napoleon once said, “March ahead of the ideas of your times and those ideas will follow and support you.”[4]

Those who practice the Mystic Law just as the Buddha teaches can freely make allies of anyone in any state of life, even asura and animality, to advance the great undertaking of kosen-rufu. 

A fierce struggle is now underway to determine what philosophy, what force will lead the 21st century. What will determine its outcome? Capable people, talented individuals. 

Crucial are well-rounded people who have both character and strength. The Soka Gakkai’s goal is to foster just such people. 

Being a well-rounded person is the defining quality of a genuine practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism. That’s because Myoho-renge-kyo, the Mystic Law, encompasses everything: virtue, life force, passion, intelligence, good fortune and philosophy.

Napoleon’s philosophy was to give opportunities to talented individuals. 

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda called on us to educate and train our juniors so that they would surpass us. Capable people will determine victory, will create our future. That is why the Soka Gakkai will always foster capable people and always win with capable people. 

In an editorial Mr. Toda wrote for the May 1, 1954, issue of our study journal Daibyakurenge, 45 years ago, he said that those who strive for kosen-rufu are emissaries of the Buddha and are doing the Buddha’s work. They are infinitely superior to such heroes as Napoleon and Alexander the Great, he said. 

Those who spread the Mystic Law and actively engage in Soka Gakkai activities are the true heroes, the noblest people of all.

In “The Selection of the Time,” Nichiren writes: 

A person who upholds the Lotus Sutra just as it teaches must [surely] be superior to the king Brahma and more worthy than the lord Shakra. If you have asuras to help you, you can lift and carry even Mount Sumeru. If you have dragons in your employ, you can drain all the water in the ocean until it runs dry. (WND-1, 583)

While there may be various ways of interpreting this passage, I think it can be read to mean that those who practice the Mystic Law just as the Buddha teaches can freely make allies of anyone in any state of life, even asura and animality, to advance the great undertaking of kosen-rufu. 

In a general sense, the Soka Gakkai is a gathering of such great leaders of humanity. The more our movement grows, the more the 21st century will become one of hope and peace. With this conviction, let’s make fresh strides forward with pride and courage from May 3!  

I am praying earnestly for all of you to enjoy long, healthy lives filled with boundless good fortune, and I will continue doing so as long as I live.

Thank you for listening so patiently today.

June 9, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Napoleon; or, the Man of the World,” in Representative Men (New York: The Library of America, 1983), p. 739. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 732. ↩︎
  3. “They [the Buddhas] have exerted themselves bravely and vigorously, and their names are universally known” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 56). In Japanese, the passage reads: “Yumyo shojin myosho fumon.” ↩︎
  4. Translated from French. Les pages immortelles de Napoléon (The Immortal Pages of Napoleon), compiled by Octave Aubry (Paris: Éditions Corrêa, 1941), p. 239. ↩︎

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