Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 30: The Future Division—The Treasure of the Soka Gakkai [30.9]

30.9 Fostering Successors Who Will Surpass Us

Since his own youth, President Ikeda has dedicated himself to encouraging and supporting younger members. Likewise, he has always sought to treat children as his equals and as full-fledged individuals in their own right.

“One should regard the young with awe”1 goes a famous Confucian saying.

Striving sincerely and earnestly to inspire and foster young people to be even more capable than ourselves is the tradition of the Soka Gakkai.

From the time of my youth, I have always made a point of talking with children, including those of families who opened their homes for meetings. I would treat them as my young friends in faith and give them whatever encouragement I could.

I’m reminded of one episode that took place around 1950. I was visiting a family in Tsurumi, Yokohama, when the mother showed me a letter she had received from her son. He was in his mid-teens and had found work in another prefecture to help out with the family finances. He wrote that he was living in a room he shared with several others, making it difficult to do gongyo. He would therefore take his towel and soap and say he was going to the public bath, but would actually climb the hill behind the house and do gongyo there.

When I finished reading the letter, I immediately took up my pen. Wishing to convey to him the message “You have a mission only you can fulfill! Don’t give up!” I wrote the following:

Friend, be strong,
and stand up with courage!
I have faith in you,
in your sincere devotion.
Your arduous efforts at work
and your late-night studies—
they, too, are training for your life.
Embrace struggles with joy!
Your conviction, your passion,
are definitely known to the Buddha.

I was delighted to hear afterward that the young man was inspired and energized by these words.

Later, that poem was set to music, becoming the opening verse in the Soka Gakkai song “Friend, Be Strong,” which many of our young members have sung.

The greatest treasure we can leave for the future is capable successors. And it is those who discover and nurture individuals of promise who are themselves truly capable. Through this process of fostering others, we polish and develop ourselves.

From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, July 22, 1998.

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

  • *1The Analects of Confucius, translated by Simon Leys (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1997), p. 42.