Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.6]

31.6 Placing the Focus on Human Beings

In an interview to mark the publication of the Bulgarian-language edition of his dialogue with Bulgarian art historian and Sofia University professor Axinia Djourova, President Ikeda stresses that the goal of the 21st century must be to realize peace and happiness for all humankind.

The 20th century was a century of war. War is nothing but slaughter and destruction. It inflicts misery, casting people into a living hell. It is the most barbaric of human activities. Yet, humankind in the 20th century repeated this on an unprecedented scale.

The second half of the century saw a step forward, becoming a period where the focus shifted to economic development. Whereas war results from the logic of power, economic activity is guided by the logic of profit and loss. While economic growth can lead some people to great prosperity, it can, at the same time, force others into poverty. Some who fail in business may even be driven to suicide. Economic growth has the potential to widen the gap between the rich and poor; it can undermine equality and freedom. These are aspects we must consider. But that doesn’t mean we should abandon economic pursuits, as they remain indispensable human activities.

The important point to remember is that the original aim of politics and economics is people’s happiness and welfare. For that reason, philosophy, politics, and economics should all be directed toward that essential, fundamental aim. Over time, however, these realms gradually became divorced from their true purpose and estranged from the human being.

I therefore believe we have entered an age in which humankind must once again shine a light on the human being. People must be the focus. Without seriously pondering this matter, we will find ourselves repeating the tragedies of the past.

The new century must be an age of humanism. How should we, as human beings, live our lives? How do we become truly happy? How can we live in peace? All of us—including scholars, educators, and leaders in every field—need to make this our prime focus and pool our wisdom in support of this quest. We must adopt a philosophy that puts people first. This is the greatest challenge we face in the 21st century.

Human rights must be connected to people’s actual happiness. We must create an age in which all people can equally enjoy peace, happiness, and fulfillment. To that end, let us strive for a restoration of humanity, for a renewed focus on the human being.


Buddhism is a humanistic teaching.

For many people, religion calls to mind churches, temples, and donations. But Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, eschewed formality and the trappings of power. He exemplified an ordinary human being to the end of his days. Nichiren, whose teachings the Soka Gakkai upholds, was the same. For Nichiren, one’s behavior as a human being was all important. In that sense, Buddhism is a teaching that doesn’t fit in the same category as other religions.

Shakyamuni was an ordinary human being. So was Nichiren. They were no different from their followers. They didn’t discriminate against women. Everyone was equal in their eyes.

Buddhism is a teaching for people. Its excellence lies in teaching us the importance of cherishing all life and living in harmony with nature and the universe.

From an interview commemorating the publication of the Bulgarian edition of Utsukushiki shishi no tamashii (The Beauty of a Lion’s Heart), published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, August 10, 2000.

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