Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 28: The Three Founding Presidents and the Path of Mentor and Disciple [28.5]

28.5 President Makiguchi’s Lifelong Struggle

President Ikeda delves into the ultimate purpose and aim to which Tsunesaburo Makiguchi dedicated his life as both an educator and practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.

What was Mr. Makiguchi’s lifelong aim, his purpose? What did he strive to accomplish? To enlighten the people, to make them wise. He sought to help them cultivate their own wisdom so that they could use it to become happy.

At first, he advocated an educational revolution for that purpose, but he soon came to realize that what was fundamentally needed was a religious revolution. He tirelessly pursued and ultimately died for that cause.

Throughout his life, he wanted to change the timid submissiveness of the people, their readiness to yield meekly to authority. At the same time, he abhorred and denounced the self-interest of leaders who, far from helping the people become stronger and wiser, instead encouraged, exploited, and manipulated their timidity and ignorance. He was also a constant critic of abstract theories and arguments that were not grounded in real life.

In his Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Education), President Makiguchi observed: “Most average non-academics conclude complex theories and arguments are too difficult to comprehend, so they unconditionally accept and follow the ideas of respected thinkers and scholars, believing this to be the safest route, and give up thinking for themselves.”1

He noted that the people had a long-ingrained tendency to leave things to others rather than think for themselves, and to quietly follow those in power. Society’s leaders, for their part, take advantage of this submissiveness. They look down on the people and tell them to do as they are told, thus becoming ever more authoritarian.

The history of Japan until now has been characterized by leaders forcing the populace to follow them blindly—an authoritarianism based on keeping the people ignorant and dependent.

When life is not informed by learning, and when learning does not apply to living, then both become poorer as a result. This has been the cause of many problems in Japanese society. Mr. Makiguchi tried to change this state of affairs, insisting that it was hopelessly outdated.

He declared that the people are far more important than power, position, celebrity, or academic credentials. What matters, he argued, is learning the truth, creating value, and working for the people’s happiness and well-being. This should be the aim of leaders and the purpose of all learning, of education, and of religion. Once we realize this, he said, should we not immediately set to work remedying the unfortunate situation that has prevailed until now?

Mr. Makiguchi’s powerful message continues to offer keen insights for our world today.

From a speech at a divisional representatives conference, Tokyo, December 6, 1993.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Cf. Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu, vol. 5, p. 77.