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With a Youthful Spirit!

by Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada

Around the world, our fellow members are brimming with enthusiasm to share Nichiren Buddhism with their friends. Of course, the origins of this enthusiastic spirit can be found in the historic February Campaign[1] led by a youthful Daisaku Ikeda. This was the 1952 campaign in which he initiated a crucial breakthrough that would lead to the achievement of the goal of a membership of 750,000 households set by his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda.

He called on the members, “Let us mark February, the month of President Toda’s birth, with a significant increase in membership!” The passion of a single youth spread to every corner of the organization and made history.

The young Daisaku Ikeda visited one home after another, listening intently to people’s problems, forging personal relationships and awakening each individual to their mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. This is a formula for victory that we, as disciples of Ikeda Sensei, should resolutely determine to carry on implementing into the future.

On February 11, 1993, the anniversary of Mr. Toda’s birth, Sensei composed the epilogue to The Human Revolution during a visit to Brazil. In it he wrote, “My mission as his disciple was to declare my teacher’s magnificent accomplishments to the world.”[2]

The same day, at a conferral ceremony for an honorary doctorate [from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro], in a speech in front of leading thinkers from various fields, he expressed his wish to dedicate the honor to Mr. Toda. This was undoubtedly a declaration of the victory of mentor and disciple; I was deeply moved to hear this.

While carrying out activities alongside Sensei, I always felt his spirit was that of a youth whose life was always one with his mentor. He once wrote: “To this day, I am constantly engaged in dialogue with my mentor. In my mind, I stand before him as the youth I was.”[3]

Similarly, when we look to the mentor in our hearts and renew our vow for kosen-rufu, a fresh and powerful life force will come rushing forth. This is itself the spirit of youth, the spirit of repaying our debt of gratitude. Let us embrace and share this spirit throughout our communities.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Three things are required—a good teacher, a good believer, and a good teaching—before prayers can be effective and disasters banished from the land” (“Those Initially Aspiring to the Way,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 880).

We must never forget that it is because we encountered a good teacher that we have been able to encounter a good teaching. It is because we are striving to actualize our mentor’s ideals that we can break through the shell of our own limitations and manifest our inherent life force.

Now is the time for us all to stand up as good disciples in solidarity with the youth, with the goal of greatly expanding our youthful membership, confident that victory is the true path of disciples as taught by Sensei!

From the March 2024 Living Buddhism


  1. February Campaign: In February 1952, Ikeda Sensei, then an advisor  to Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter, initiated a dynamic propagation campaign. Together with the Kamata members, he broke through the previous monthly record of some 100 new member households by introducing Nichiren Buddhism to 201 new member households. ↩︎
  2. December 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 15. ↩︎
  3. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, revised edition, p. 338. ↩︎

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