Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.1]

31.1 Pioneers in a Grand Experiment

“Buddhism is universal; it belongs to all people,” President Ikeda says. “Promoting peace, culture, and education should not be seen as just a means for achieving kosen-rufu: it is the aim of kosen-rufu itself. Awakening people, fostering them, bringing them together, and creating peace and happiness in the world—that is the eternal mission of the Soka Gakkai.”

President Ikeda has held high the banner of a new humanism, which sees the noble life state of Buddhahood in all people and makes the inner transformation of the individual its starting point. He has taken the lead in promoting a movement for peace, culture, and education based on Nichiren Buddhism around the world.

This final chapter of selected excerpts features President Ikeda’s thoughts on Buddhist humanism, a guiding vision for the Soka Gakkai’s movement.

In this first selection, he recalls his dialogue with historian Arnold J. Toynbee and discusses the profound mission of the Soka Gakkai to create a new current of human history based on the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhism.

The British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, with whom I held a dialogue in the early 1970s, said that with the decline of Christianity three new “religions” were born: faith in progress through science; nationalism; and communism.1 But, he asserted, none of them had proven satisfactory: they had all failed, and they couldn’t bring true happiness to humanity. He said he hoped that a new higher religion would emerge, providing humanity with the strength “to contend with, and to overcome, the evils that are serious present threats to human survival.”2 Such was the conclusion of one of the great scholars of our time.

The religion that Professor Toynbee looked to and held out hopes for was Mahayana Buddhism, which was why he had expressed an interest in meeting me. We met and shared ideas for a total of 10 days [in 1972 and 1973], talking from morning until night. How fondly I remember those times!

Professor Toynbee had immense faith in what the Soka Gakkai was trying to achieve. Our dialogue, Choose Life, has now been published in 21 languages [31 languages as of 2023], and has been widely read by influential thinkers around the world.

The 21st century is the time when people across the globe will test and prove the power of Nichiren Buddhism—the essence of Mahayana Buddhism. The aim of Nichiren Buddhism is human revolution—the inner transformation of each individual. And activities for peace, culture, and education, based on human revolution, are the greatest way to contribute to global society. I have followed this path opened by Presidents Makiguchi and Toda and have made practical, concrete efforts to promote it throughout the world. And all over the globe, you our dedicated members are the pioneers carrying out this grand experiment in the history of humankind.

Even if your efforts don’t stand out or attract media attention, what you are doing is thousands of times more significant than the deeds of any celebrity or warmongering political leader. You are shaping the currents that will change the course of human history. I am certain that Presidents Makiguchi and Toda have only the highest praise for you and your efforts.

From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, July 3, 1999.

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

  • *1Cf. Arnold Toynbee and Daisaku Ikeda, Choose Life: A Dialogue, edited by Richard L. Gage (London: I.B. Tauris and Co., Ltd., 2007), pp. 289–90.
  • *2Ibid., p. 293.