Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.27]

31.27 Choosing Dialogue

President Ikeda has had exchanges and discussions with numerous thinkers and leaders around the world. In this selection, he explains how he has opened a path to world peace and kosen-rufu through sincere dialogue.

May is the month of my dialogue with Arnold J. Toynbee, one of the 20th century’s most eminent historians. We spoke for more than 40 hours during two visits I made to London—both in May. The first session took place on May 5, 1972, and the last on May 19, the following year.

On the final day of our dialogue, the 84-year-old Professor Toynbee looked at me, then just 45, with a keen glow in his gentle eyes and voiced the hope that I, with many years ahead of me, would continue to engage the world’s leading thinkers in dialogue. Dialogue, he stressed, is the key to humanity’s future.

Thirty years have passed since then. Responding to the trust Professor Toynbee placed in me, I have engaged in more than 1,500 dialogue sessions with a wide range of individuals, including Henry Kissinger, Bryan Wilson, Aurelio Peccei, René Huyghe, Anatoli Logunov, Josef Derbolav, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Chang Shuhong, and Hazel Henderson.1

Conversing freely with such people on the subjects of philosophy, peace, culture, and education and working together with them toward publishing those dialogues are among my greatest memories.

Dialogue is my very life.


It is because each of us is different that dialogue enables us to create fresh value and make new discoveries. Dialogue serves as a mirror, enabling us to see others as well as ourselves. It enables us to break through the shell of our ego and expand our state of life.


Of course, in today’s troubled and complex world, dialogue does not automatically lead to understanding. It’s not that simple. What is clear, however, is that there can be no understanding without dialogue. To base one’s positions on assumptions and preconceptions, without even attempting to meet and talk, needlessly furthers misunderstanding and hostility. What untold suffering this kind of arrogance has inflicted on humanity!

Whether in our personal relationships, our interactions with our neighbors and those around us, or in relations between nations, everything starts from meeting, talking, and getting to know one another. It’s a matter of having the courage to meet and talk with others.

To choose dialogue is itself a victory for peace and a triumph of our humanity. That is why I have met, as one human being to another, with all kinds of people, transcending differences of nationality, ethnicity, religion, ideology, age, gender, and social position. I have also carried out interfaith dialogue for the sake of peace with practitioners of various religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.

My partners in dialogue are incredibly diverse. Among them are leaders of nations, politicians, educators, academics, scientists, economists, peace activists, journalists, writers, poets, artists, and astronauts. They also include people who have been imprisoned for their beliefs.

In each of these encounters, I make it a point to find out what the person has dedicated their life to—their life’s purpose or mission, if you like—and to learn from it. Hearing the precious experiences and wisdom of first-rate people can provide an opportunity more valuable than reading mountains of books.

Dialogues are like plays with many acts. There are moments when sparks fly, and moments of sheer delight when beautiful chords of harmony are struck between the participants. Lively dialogue is fulfilling, overflowing with dynamism. That is why I give my all to each encounter.


“Words are seeds.” As this proverb from our neighbor South Korea suggests, the seeds sowed through dialogue will, over time, grow and blossom.

When we talk with someone, we aren’t speaking solely to the person before us. That person has a family, friends, and many young successors who will carry on their work. A beautiful dialogue in which there is a meeting of hearts is always the starting point for fresh future conversations, the first step to creating an ever-growing network of friendship.

The path from conflict to cooperation lies in dialogue. Dialogue is the way to build a bridge leading to peace. I am determined to devote each day of my life to dialogue, confident that future generations will follow in my footsteps along this great path.

From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, May 31, 2003.

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

  • *1Henry Kissinger (American political scientist and former Secretary of State); Bryan Wilson (British sociologist of religion); Aurelio Peccei (cofounder of the global think tank The Club of Rome); René Huyghe (French art historian); Anatoli Logunov (Russian physicist and former Moscow State University rector); Josef Derbolav (German authority on pedagogy and Greek philosophy); Chandra Wickramasinghe (Sri Lankan-born British astronomer); Chang Shuhong (Chinese painter known as the custodian of the treasures of Dunhuang); Hazel Henderson (British-born American futurist).