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Ikeda Sensei

To You, My Youthful Friends, Who Share a Noble Vow

Young friends—Youth throughout Southern California gather at the University of California, Los Angeles for an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ikeda Sensei’s lecture titled “The Enduring Self,” Los Angeles, April 27, 2024. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

Looking back, I was a young man of 28 when I led the Osaka Campaign of 1956.[1] In my diary at the time, I wrote: “Young revolutionary of the Mystic Law! Astride your white horse, advance ahead at full speed! Transcending mountains, rivers and valleys. Like Melos, who ran [to keep his promise]![2] Your mentor is certainly watching over you!”[3]

Today, we are seeing a steady stream of young successors emerging. They are running powerfully, like Melos, to fulfill the vow of mentor and disciple. 

In a scene from a historical novel by the Japanese writer Eiji Yoshikawa (1892–1962), the great 14th-century general Kusunoki Masashige says to his son Masatsura: “You can achieve many things in a lifetime. Any dream can be yours if you commit to it.”[4]

A youth dedicated to the vow of kosen-rufu can spread boundless and eternal hope.

I presented a new song, “Youth With a Noble Vow,” to all our members, especially the youth, at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting in April [2014].

As my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, said, the sight of our members singing songs resonating with fresh vigor is a sign of the Soka Gakkai’s triumphant future development.

In the song, I indicated that the Chinese characters for youth (normally read as seinen in Japanese) should be read as kimi (a familiar expression for “you”) so as to refer to all of you, my dear friends and fellow members. I did this because the vow to strive together for kosen-rufu that connects you and me in a one-to-one bond is the essence of the path of mentor and disciple. Another reason is that I would like all of you to continue striving and challenging yourselves in the vibrant spirit of youth as long as you live. 

Please allow me now to reconfirm three points that I incorporated in
the song. 

The first is to stand up courageously with the spirit that now is the time.

In his treatise “The Opening of the Eyes,” Nichiren Daishonin cited the profound sutra passage: “If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present”[5] (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 279).

The present, this moment, is incredibly important. As SGI members, we have engraved this truth deeply in our lives. This is because Nichiren Buddhism teaches the mystic principle of true cause.[6] The determination to not dwell pointlessly on the past but, instead, to constantly make a fresh vow here and now is a source of courage and the cause for all future victory.

The great champion of nonviolence Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) wrote that making a vow means “constant and honest effort … with a view to its fulfillment.”[7]

We of the SGI are Bodhisattvas of the Earth who have vowed together to realize kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law. We are courageous people of mission who have chosen to be born at this time and challenge ourselves in the places where we are now. 

Young people who have awakened to their noble mission and devote themselves to realizing the great vow for kosen-rufu will brim with energy and strength. They will overflow with a wisdom and creativity that can change the world. 

The second point is to speak out for truth and justice, viewing difficulties as badges of honor. 

Where there is progress, there is resistance. When we challenge ourselves, waves of difficulties arise. Let us regard encountering obstacles as a source of pride and stand up resolutely to injustices that cause people suffering. This is the spirit of a true revolutionary, the spirit of Soka.

It was in July, 60 years ago [in 1954], that President Toda selected Ninety-Three, a novel by the French writer Victor Hugo (1802–85), as one of the books to be studied by the young men’s division training group Suiko-kai (Water Margin Group). In this novel that called for the victory of humanity, Hugo writes, “Man was not made to drag chains, but to soar on wings.”[8]

Encouraging people individually is the key to empowering them to break free from the chains of karma and suffering and soar on their own wings into the skies of their mission. Let us, therefore, continue to engage with others and share with them our philosophy of hope and justice, which has the power to illuminate all humankind. Let us always cherish in our hearts the great dream of a future where the song of humanity’s victory resounds far and wide. 

The third point is to open the future through the triumph of successors united in spirit with their mentor. 

Kosen-rufu is a challenge to establish lasting peace into the eternal future, so there must be successors to whom we can pass on the spiritual baton of our movement. As I wrote in the lyrics of “Youth With a Noble Vow,” the mentors and disciples of Soka will continue to triumph endlessly as long as we have you, dependable youthful successors. 

The Daishonin encouraged Shijo Kingo, who was bravely battling various hardships, telling him that Buddhism is a struggle to be victorious (see “The Hero of the World,” WND-1, 835). With the wish that his disciple would achieve a breakthrough in his life, he praised him, saying, “You are a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 839).

Today, you, the youth of the SGI, are striving with bright hope for kosen-rufu and for victory—determined, as disciples who share my heart, to surmount every obstacle and open the future just as I have. Each one of you is truly “a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” and a successor carrying on our shared struggle.

In the course of life’s challenges, I hope you will leave a chronicle of victories day after day, while sharing your joy with others in your communities and also passing it on to those who will follow in your footsteps.

The Argentine human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel expressed the highest hopes for the youth of the SGI, urging them to carry on the great struggle for peace and build a bright future for humanity, undeterred by obstacles.[9]

Joining hands with friends around the globe, let’s continue to expand our network of courageous individuals dedicated to creating a better future and cheerfully work together to build a peaceful world. 

The music for the song “Youth With a Noble Vow” was composed by a group of members from our Music Corps, which this year [2014] celebrates its 60th anniversary. The fresh and uplifting melody was born from the spirit of shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

Incidentally, the new Soka Youth Music Center will open soon [on July 12, 2014], along with the adjacent new Higashiyamato Culture Center [both of which are located in the city of Higashiyamato, in western Tokyo]. The new music center will provide rehearsal space for the Music Corps and the Fife and Drum Corps [of Tokyo and nearby prefectures]. I would like to thank everyone supporting the new center.

I will continue to watch over the members of our musical groups, confident that the performances of those whose lives have been polished through dedicated music practice and rehearsal will resound across the globe as exhilarating odes of joy. 

I firmly believe that as long as we have you—our vibrantly growing young champions of Soka, who refuse to be defeated by life’s challenges—the world will become a more beautiful place.

You, my youthful friends, who share a noble vow! All my beloved disciples! Create a personal history of victory after victory! 

How inspiring the sight
of your efforts as successors
to fulfill your vow!
All Buddhas will praise you
and all heavenly deities protect you.

May 10, 2024, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Osaka Campaign: In May 1956, the Kansai members, uniting around a young Daisaku Ikeda, who had been dispatched by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda to support them, introduced 11,111 households to Nichiren Buddhism. In elections held two months later, the Soka Gakkai–backed candidate in Kansai won a seat in the Upper House, an accomplishment that was thought all but impossible at the time. ↩︎
  2. A reference to the protagonist of Osamu Dazai’s short novel Hashire, Melos! (Run, Melos!) ↩︎
  3. A Youthful Diary, p. 293. ↩︎
  4. Translated from Japanese. Eiji Yoshikawa, Shihon taiheiki (A Personal Chronicle of the Great Peace), (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1990), vol. 7, p. 328. ↩︎
  5. The Contemplation on the Mind-Ground Sutra. ↩︎
  6. Mystic principle of the true cause: Also, true cause. Nichiren Buddhism directly expounds the true cause for enlightenment as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is the Law of life and the universe. It teaches a way of Buddhist practice of always moving forward from this moment on based on this fundamental Law. ↩︎
  7. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Vows and Observances, edited by John Strobmeier (Berkeley, California: Berkeley Hills Books, 1999), p. 129. ↩︎
  8. Victor Hugo, Ninety-Three, translated by Frank Lee Benedict (New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc., 1988), p. 382. ↩︎
  9. Article in Seikyo Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2011. ↩︎

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