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Daily Life

Toward a Youthful Soka Gakkai

Joyful—Members attend the Many Treasures Group Conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center, Weston, Fla., December 2023. Photo by Rob Hendry.

Beginning this Year of Fresh Departure for a Youthful Soka Gakkai Worldwide, let’s study excerpts of Ikeda Sensei’s guidance from The Third Stage of Life on remaining ever-youthful throughout our life.

True Victory Is Winning in the End

My beloved mentor, Josei Toda, the second Soka Gakkai president, used to say that the last years of our life are the most important. If those last few years are happy ones, we have had a happy life. The victories and achievements up to that time are all illusory; the person who wins in the end is a victor in the truest sense of the word. (p. 1)

Working for Others’ Happiness

Though our bodies may age, by participating in SGI activities our hearts and minds remain as bright and shining as the sun. We are youthful as long as we live. Those who work for others’ happiness and for Buddhism remain vigorous and full of energy. (pp. 2–3) 

Always Looking to the Future 

It is important to always look to the future, to have plans and aspirations, and it is a particularly crucial factor in making the last years of one’s life rewarding and fulfilling ones. (p. 3)

Moving Forward With a Mission

[I’ve held dialogues with] Zhou Enlai, Arnold J. Toynbee, Mikhail Sholokhov, Henry Kissinger, Aurelio Peccei, Norman Cousins  and Nelson Mandela, among others. I found one thing that was true of all of these individuals: the older they got, the more energetically they devoted themselves to their chosen work. Age made them only more impressive. All of them are or were wonderful human beings who dedicated their lives to their missions. The lives of those who move forward with such a sense of mission have a true majesty and beauty. (p. 4)

A Burning Passion for Knowledge

At the start of our dialogue [Arnold Toynbee] said to me: “Let’s get to work! Let us engage in this dialogue for the sake of humanity in the 21st century!” When I asked him—and he was 84 at the time—what was the most fulfilling and happy time for him, he answered with a smile, “When I am writing and reading.”

He rose each day at a quarter to seven in the morning. He and his wife prepared breakfast together. Then he made his bed and was sitting at his desk in his study by
9 a.m., starting to write. He still burned with a passion for knowledge, though he was well over 80. (p. 7)

The Importance of One’s Attitude

All of the leading figures I have met seemed to grow younger as they aged, and they were able to throw themselves more energetically into their work in their later years. This is the mark of genuine greatness. It is important to maintain a vibrant, progressive spirit. 

All too often people lose the drive to move ahead as they grow older. But the decision to draw back or to take a step forward hinges on only a slight difference in one’s attitude or resolve. (p. 19)

With Faith, It’s Just the Beginning

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was 57 when he encountered and embraced faith in Nichiren Buddhism. He later wrote of his tremendous emotion when he took that first great step: “With indescribable joy, I transformed the way I had lived my life for almost 60 years. The anxiety of searching in the dark for life’s answers completely evaporated, and my inborn reserve and diffidence disappeared. My goals in life became increasingly grander and loftier, and my fears dwindled.”

Mr. Makiguchi was 59 when he founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value-Creating Education Society), the forerunner of the present Soka Gakkai, in November 1930. Today, someone that age would be on the verge of retirement. But what makes Mr. Makiguchi great is that at 59, he was just beginning! (pp. 25–26)

Developing an Ever More Expansive Life

As the lives of Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda so eloquently illustrate, what matters is that we continue to develop an ever more expansive state of life and greater human brilliance with each passing year. That is the model for the third stage of life that they have left for us to follow. (p. 29)

January 12, 2024, World Tribune, p. 10

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