Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 29: A Religion That Exists for People’s Happiness [29.3]

29.3 The Dawn of a Religious Revolution

In 1998, seven years after the Soka Gakkai achieved its spiritual independence from Nichiren Shoshu, President Ikeda proudly declared the complete victory of the Soka Renaissance, the Soka Gakkai’s fresh start toward worldwide kosen-rufu free from the authoritarian dogmatism of a corrupt priesthood.

The Ninth Symphony is the thunderous cry from the heart of the great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, calling on us to break through suffering and attain a state of joy. It is a lofty and enduring composition, a rousing song of people’s triumph that brings humanity together.

On October 3, 1990, the Ninth Symphony was performed as a victory song celebrating the reunification of East and West Germany, finally achieved after long years of suffering.


In mid-December of the year the two Germanys were reunified, a document from the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office titled “Inquiry” arrived at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters. It asserted that to sing the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in German was to perform a Christian hymn, and that this constituted “praise for a non-Buddhist teaching.” The priesthood strongly objected to the proposal I had made at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting the previous month [on November 16, 1990] that members organize a large-scale choral performance of “Ode to Joy.”

The “Inquiry” made false claims about what I had said and sought to portray me as slandering the Law and the high priest.

The Soka Gakkai requested an opportunity for dialogue on the matter, but the leaders of the priesthood refused. Shrinking away from any discussion, they remained hidden from view.

Then, at the end of the year, on the pretext of revising the Nichiren Shoshu Rules and Regulations, they dismissed me from my post as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.

Their true motive was crystal clear. They wished to oust me, destroy the Soka Gakkai, and subjugate our members to the authority of the priesthood. They were intent on creating a fixed hierarchy in which the priesthood, with the high priest at the top, completely dominated and controlled the lay followers.

This was nothing short of the destruction of the true teachings and principles of Nichiren Daishonin, who affirmed the dignity and equality of all people, referring to people as treasure towers and children of the Buddha—namely, as individuals who inherently possess the potential for Buddhahood.

In addition, in its irrational labeling of and discrimination against art and culture, which are expressions of the human spirit, the priesthood was in essence no different from inhumane tyrants and repressive clerics of times past.

If these actions were left unchallenged, Nichiren Buddhism would be reduced to a strange occult religion whose aim was to oppress people.

On top of this, many other serious problems concerning the priesthood came to light one after another. There were actions that blatantly transgressed the Daishonin’s teachings, including Nichiren Shoshu’s high priest Nikken Abe erecting a new ancestral tombstone in a Zen temple cemetery. There were money-hungry priests who demanded high fees for their funeral services and preparation of toba offerings for the deceased. And there were unending accounts of priests’ licentious and corrupt behavior.

For the sake of kosen-rufu, we could not allow the integrity of Nichiren Buddhism, a humanistic teaching that exists for the happiness of all people, to be trampled underfoot in this manner. We had to protect the Daishonin’s lofty spirit at all costs. Our resolute stand to do just that marked the dawn of a religious revolution.


A year later, on November 28, 1991, Nichiren Shoshu excommunicated the Soka Gakkai, which had consistently striven in exact accord with the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism.

When this happened, our members were not shaken in the slightest. They clearly saw that Nikken’s preposterous behavior expressed what the Daishonin described in his writings as the workings of the devil king of the sixth heaven1 exerting his influence to destroy Buddhism.

The Soka Gakkai has actively advanced kosen-rufu, fulfilling its mission as an organization that has inherited the Buddha’s intent. In excommunicating the Soka Gakkai, the priesthood, through its own actions, has cut itself off from the heritage of faith. It has returned to its corrupt ways during World War II, when it disrespected and betrayed the Daishonin and became steeped in slander of the Law.

The excommunication also signaled the spiritual independence of the Soka Gakkai, liberating us from the stifling fetters of a jealous, mean-spirited priesthood that sought to keep lay believers firmly under its thumb.


Seven years have passed since then.

The outcome of the struggle between good and evil in Buddhism and the workings of the law of cause and effect have been clear and uncompromising.

The decline of the priesthood, which under Nikken became disordered and destructive, is indisputable. None are more unfortunate than its followers, who remain deceived and are still unaware of the priesthood’s errors.

In contrast, look at our joyous, ever-growing global network of members working for kosen-rufu! Listen to their hope-filled voices raised in song, emanating from lives overflowing with vitality and benefit!

The new humanism of Soka emerging from Nichiren Buddhism is connecting people across national and ethnic boundaries. It is being praised by people everywhere as a beacon of hope for a new age.

The many leaders from around the world who, seeking a philosophy of humanism and peace, visit Soka Gakkai facilities today offer testimony to the integrity of our movement, just as Many Treasures Buddha attested to the truth of Shakyamuni’s teachings in the Lotus Sutra.


A genuine commitment to humanism means to fight staunchly against evil and cut it off at the root.

The voices of members singing “Ode to Joy” resound far and wide as the Soka Gakkai’s tricolor flag of victory flutters in the sky of a new age.

A powerful forward momentum for kosen-rufu—for the new year and a new age of Soka—has begun.

From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, December 23, 1998.

  • *1Devil king of the sixth heaven: Also, devil king or heavenly devil. The king of devils, who dwells in the highest or the sixth heaven of the world of desire. He is also named Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, the king who makes free use of the fruits of others’ efforts for his own pleasure. Served by innumerable minions, he obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings, the manifestation of the fundamental ignorance inherent in life. The devil king is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost.

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