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Guidance for Leadership

Warm Encouragement Rejuvenates Our Lives

Let’s always treasure our youth.

Wildflowers in meadow at sunrise

Minoru Harada
Soka Gakkai President

The following excerpts are from Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada’s speech at the 14th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial, which was held at the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo, Tokyo, on July 9, 2023. The speech was originally printed in the July 18, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Congratulations on holding this 14th Headquarters Leaders Meeting and the joint general meeting of the student and future divisions! 

Today, we also welcome 23 members representing Soka Gakkai Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)! Thank you indeed for traveling a great distance to be here. I welcome you with all my heart!

One of the issues drawing attention in Japan today are children and youth suffering from poor self-esteem who fear that they won’t be accepted for who they are.

Contrasted with this trend are the numerous stories of rejuvenation that we see in the Seikyo Shimbun of youth who are developing a strong sense of self-worth. They say that their fellow members’ praise, understanding and acceptance of them help them lighten their hearts and feel true joy. Such sentiments have also been shared by many of the young people joining the Soka Gakkai and student and future division members who are reengaging with their Buddhist practice.

Such support isn’t momentary or superficial. The genuine acceptance and acknowledgement they feel from their Soka family comes from our fundamental respect for and belief in each person and our prayers for their happiness and success.

We can wholeheartedly encourage others because of our conviction in each person’s boundless potential and because of our own experiences of revitalizing our lives through Buddhist practice.

In Ikeda Sensei’s discussions with American futurist Hazel Henderson, she asked why the Soka Gakkai movement has spread around the world. To this, Sensei succinctly replied that it is because we have always treasured and respected each individual.[1]

More than anyone, Sensei has put every ounce of his being into valuing each person and to expanding the circle of one-to-one care to every corner of our world.

When I was a college student in Japan back in the 1960s, young people were vigorously protesting the U.S.-Japan security treaty. I was one of those passionate protesters, even joining some student demonstrations. For the students here today, it probably sounds like something you might read in a history textbook.

Yet, once we lost our fervor, we were forced to realize that our futile protests lacked any transformative views and were left feeling like our efforts had been in vain. The low self-esteem we experienced at that time might be similar to what many youth feel today.

Around that time, as a university sophomore, I met Sensei for the first time. He shared guidance with us, saying that great individuals of all eras and places draw on religion to achieve their greatness. He urged us all to uphold our unsurpassed religion and to set out toward a life of greatness by giving it our all!

When I heard this, I thought: Sensei isn’t simply speaking based on his religious beliefs but as someone who truly is thinking about me. And rather than focusing on my life now, he has faith in who I will become in the future. 

And I felt welling forth an exhilarating sense of being alive.

The following year, I joined the first class of Sensei’s lecture series on The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings. At every session, Sensei prepared meals or snacks for us and warmly embraced and encouraged each of us. I remember him at the entrance of the venue, standing in front of the shoe rack and checking our shoes. When he saw someone with worn-out soles, he bought them a brand-new pair of shoes. 

Through his lectures and his behavior, he taught us the Soka Gakkai’s underlying spirit and basis of Buddhist humanism: to value the person in front of us.

A young women’s division member was amazed when, after reading our newspaper, she realized that when it comes to people who are struggling, Sensei would be the first person to embrace and accept them just as they are and help them find the hope and enthusiasm to achieve whatever they want to accomplish.

Her honest impression captures how many of today’s youth see Sensei.

On July 3, 1975, during an event that marked the 30th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s release from prison, a youth who had never met Mr. Toda asked Sensei what his mentor was like. He responded, saying: 

Almost all of Mr. Toda’s guidance is already published, and I’ve spoken to you about him many times before. I think a better idea would be for all of you to think about Mr. Toda’s teachings yourselves and come up with your own ideas about him and the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple of the Soka Gakkai.[2]

Most of our youth members, especially those living around the world, have never met Sensei in person. However, each of us can learn about him by reading The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution and studying the thoughts and actions of Shin’ichi Yamamoto (the character representing Ikeda Sensei in the novel). And by taking what you learn and putting it into practice, I believe you can, in a sense, carry out conversations with Sensei in your heart and confidently embrace him as your mentor.

I especially would like to ask every student and future division member to thoroughly read these two novels that Sensei poured his entire being into writing. Discover the one passage that you know he wrote just for you and engrave it in your heart. 

Through such efforts, my hope is that you will become a person about whom others will say: “That person makes me feel at ease. I feel energized speaking to that person.” 

This is Sensei’s wish, and, when we grow in this way, we can say that we are making concrete progress in our kosen-rufu movement.

Lastly, for those of us who are older, the most important thing we can impart to younger generations is the example we set in leading our own lives. Sensei says:

Nichiren realized that, after his passing, for there to be a solidly united gathering of followers in which his spirit lived on would mean that people of future generations who had never personally met him could still embrace faith and practice as his disciples. They would share the same commitment for kosen-rufu and thus permit the heritage of faith for attaining Buddhahood to flow on indefinitely.[3]

Sensei has entrusted us with the advancement of kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai. And it is up to each of us to ensure the eternal development of capable disciples and the creation of a harmoniously united organization directly aligned with his heart. 

Let us set out anew toward the Soka Gakkai’s centennial in 2030 by repaying our debt of gratitude to Sensei and supporting our beloved youth who will lead the way to our glorious victory!

September 1, 2023, World Tribune, p. 8


  1. See For Our Wonderful New Members, p. 33. ↩︎
  2. The New Human Revolution, vol. 22, p. 20. ↩︎
  3. The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, pp. 74–75. ↩︎

‘The Wise Will Rejoice’

Introductory Exam