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A New Dawn, a Fresh Departure

Taking the “Next Great Step Forward” with our mentor’s guidance.

Theodor Vasile / Unsplash

Whether it’s a focus on youth, victory or advancement, the SGI’s annual themes have brought a united sense of purpose and direction to its members worldwide.

This tradition began 65 years ago, in 1959, at Ikeda Sensei’s suggestion.[1] It was the first new year after second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s passing and a time of great change for the organization. While the public speculated about the collapse of the Soka Gakkai without President Toda, Sensei proposed that the year be named the Year of Dawn, resolved to bring about the dawn of a new age.

On Dec. 2, 1958, he infused his determination in “Song of Dawn,” a new young men’s division song, adding the lyrics: Now, the time of dawn has come / in direct step with the mentor’s teachings.[2]

And he titled the first chapter of The Human Revolution—which he began writing on Dec. 2, 1964—“Dawn.” As serialization of the first volume concluded, he encouraged future division members, saying: “After Mr. Toda, there is a new dawn with me in the lead, and then after me, you … will create another new dawn.”[3]

This year—the first after Sensei’s passing—is the Year of Fresh Departure for a Youthful Soka Gakkai Worldwide. It is indeed a new dawn for the entire world, when youthful disciples will carry forth the baton for kosen-rufu.

We can stay in “direct step” with our mentor through the vast collection of his guidance and encouragement that always lights the way forward.

Within this collection is the newly published My Dear Friends in America, fourth edition. Regarding his speeches delivered in America, he wrote:

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than if this book could become a compass for the accomplishment of kosen-rufu in America as a leading example for the rest of the world, a guide that inspires courage and hope in our excellent friends who will be emerging in steady succession from here on.[4]

As we kick off this year, let’s turn to excerpts, on right, from his Feb. 21, 1990, address, “Take the Next Great Step Forward,” on making a fresh departure.

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

The Source of New Vitality

Where will the energy for this [next] step come from? The new vitality of American society is produced by returning to the starting point—to the ideals on which your country was founded. Similarly, you should also reconfirm the fundamental path of faith, practice and study and make a fresh departure based on the unity of “many in body, one in mind”—the starting point of our movement.[5]

Find and Raise Capable People

When you put all your energy into developing the rich potential of youth, both you and the organization are rejuvenated. I hope that you will find and raise people with great potential, allowing them to steadily grow and fully engage themselves. If you create such a flow, the future will open up boundlessly before you.[6]

Make a Fresh Departure Each Day

Change, unceasing change, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of America. Change occurs more rapidly here than it does elsewhere. This could be said to be an indication of the vitality that this country possesses.

The late U.S. statesman Adlai Stevenson (1900–65) once said: “There is a New America every morning when we wake up. It is upon us whether we will it or not.” Similarly, Buddhism holds that everything is in a constant state of flux. Thus the question is whether we are to accept change passively and be swept away by it or whether we are to take the lead and create positive changes on our own initiative. While conservatism and self-protection might be likened to winter, night and death, the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize ideals evokes images of spring, morning and birth.

Furthermore, Buddhism expounds the principle of true cause. In terms of our attitude in faith, this can be understood as our spirit to always make a fresh departure. In other words, we advance with hope and youthful vitality—the vital energy of spring, morning and life—throughout our entire existence. It is in enabling us to realize this limitless improvement in our lives that the greatness and brilliance of Nichiren Buddhism lie.[7]

January 19, 2024, World Tribune, p. 8


  1. See Oct. 4, 2019, World Tribune, p. 8. ↩︎
  2. Tentative translation. ↩︎
  3. June 2019, Living Buddhism, p. 42. ↩︎
  4. My Dear Friends in America, fourth edition, p. xv. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., p. 57. ↩︎
  6. Ibid., p. 59. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., p. 60. ↩︎

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