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Shine as Youthful Successors and Bodhisattvas of the Earth

Photo by Nattachai Sesaud / Getty Images.

On March 1, 1954, the young Daisaku Ikeda wrote in his diary: “Spring has arrived at long last. The gentle breezes, the budding greenery, the mist—all seem to be drawing in our life force.”

At the time he wrote this, he was exerting himself to the fullest, acting on behalf of his mentor wherever he went. Even though he was plagued by a persistent low fever, as a youthful 26-year-old Buddhist revolutionary, he looked to the future optimistically with a poetic spirit, ever engaged in a dialogue with the natural world. He was a true champion of the human spirit, a majestic flower that blossomed with the unwavering determination embodied in the Lotus Sutra: “We care nothing for our bodies or lives but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 233).

It was also around this time that second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda said to him: “Daisaku, you must remember this. Everything will rest on the third president. The third president is crucial!” Shortly after, Mr. Toda appointed him to the position of youth division chief of staff, saying, “I entrust everything to you.” This month marks the 70th anniversary of that appointment.

Ikeda Sensei, deeply understanding his mentor’s feelings, stood up with the determination to become the driving force for the development of the whole Soka Gakkai, beyond the scope of his role as youth division leader. Such a sense of responsibility is the original spirit that all youthful successors, Bodhisattvas of the Earth, should engrave in the depths of their hearts.

When encouraging members, Sensei dedicated himself to reaching out to them with empathy, trying to understand each person’s circumstances, and respecting their unique individuality. He also had a strong seeking spirit, always deepening his own thinking through his interactions with young people.

In March 1974, he traveled to North and Central America to meet with and offer guidance to members there. At a question-and-answer session held in Florida, a young member asked him what makes Buddhism unique. Sensei stressed that religion exists for the sake of people, not the other way around, and that Nichiren Buddhism embodies that truth. From that time on, he consistently emphasized the perspective of “religion for the sake of people” as the ultimate essence of Nichiren Buddhism.

After the meeting, he said to those of us traveling with him that the question-and-answer session had been very important and that we should make sure to remember it. Through his exchange with the youth that day, Sensei clarified his thinking. A half-century later, I can still recall the powerful impression that moment had on me.

In an essay published on March 16, [2000], Sensei encouraged members to have the awareness of being a key player in achieving kosen-rufu, in other words, to regard the Soka Gakkai as an integral part of themselves. Let’s warmly illuminate our communities and the world, with the awareness that each one of us is a Shin’ichi Yamamoto[1] who will establish a youthful Soka Gakkai worldwide! Having overcome the harsh winter cold, let us blossom like the shining flowers of spring!


  1. Ikeda Sensei appears in the novels The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution as Shin’ichi Yamamoto. ↩︎

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