Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 20: Encouragement for Youth [20.21]
20.21 Ushering in a New Dawn of Human Rights
On the anniversary of March 16—Kosen-rufu Day—in 1991, President Ikeda sent a message to the youth division. He spoke of Nichiren Daishonin’s powerful declaration for human rights and called on the youth to continue that noble struggle.
I have here with me a book published by UNESCO to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [in 1968]. Titled Birthright of Man, it is a compilation of quotes on human rights from individuals around the world, past and present. The words of Nichiren Daishonin are included, a passage that appears in “The Selection of the Time.” It is his defiant declaration to the de facto ruler of the time, Hei no Saemon-no-jo, after returning to Kamakura from exile on Sado Island: “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (WND-1, 579).1
The Daishonin is saying: “You are the ruling authority. You have the power to send me into exile and then grant me my freedom. But you do not have the power to control my heart. I will never be a slave to you or anyone else in power.”
His declaration encapsulates a core tenet of his life.
The Daishonin spent his entire life fighting against despotism, armed solely with the power of the spirit and the power of reason. His words from “The Selection of the Time” keenly convey his self-confidence and conviction: “You may be a king in the political realm, but I am king in the spiritual realm.”
As I contemplate these words, the lion’s roar of my mentor, Josei Toda, also echoes in my heart—his proud declaration at the ceremony of March 16, 1958, that “the Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world.”
That declaration inspired his disciples to action. We strove day and night, until the Daishonin’s words, after 700 years, began to illuminate the entire world.
Under the brilliant sunlight of this reality, all insinuations and intrigues against our organization are as fleeting as dew.
In the UNESCO publication, the Daishonin’s words appear in a chapter titled “Limitations on Power.”
Even the greatest worldly power cannot enslave the human spirit, stifle cries of freedom, or destroy justice. And above all, it cannot hide the truth for long.
This book is just one example of how people around the world see Nichiren Daishonin’s life as a struggle for human rights, recognizing and praising him as a great pioneer in advocating that cause.
We of the Soka Gakkai are carrying on the Daishonin’s struggle in modern times and are advancing it around the world as a great people’s movement.
In Japan, there has never before been such a substantial grassroots struggle for human rights. Perhaps for that reason, the Japanese are only dimly aware of the importance of human rights. That makes it hard for them to grasp our movement’s noble significance.
Those insensitive to human rights find it easy to violate them. In the end, they may discover that their own human rights have been taken away. We must not allow the arrival of such a terrible age; we must usher in a new dawn of human rights. That is the mission of youth. That is your mission.
From a message commemorating March 16, Kosen-rufu Day, published in the Seikyo Shimbun, March 16, 1991.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Cf. Birthright of Man: A Selection of Texts, edited by Jeanne Hersch (Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1969), p. 127. This book featured an earlier translation of the passage that read: “Having the honour to be born in your kingdom, I find my body obeying your Excellency, but my soul will never.”