Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.7]

31.7 Respecting the Dignity of All People

The Soka Gakkai is dedicated to fostering people of true humanity who live in accord with the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhism, respecting the dignity of all people. In this selection, President Ikeda discusses the Soka Gakkai’s core mission.

In a well-known passage, Nichiren Daishonin writes:

“The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s1 profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being. . . . The wise may be called human, but the thoughtless are no more than animals” (WND-1, 852).

He is saying that those who are wise in their behavior and way of living are truly human. Just being born in human form doesn’t make us so. It requires wise, conscious efforts to be genuinely human. Foolish, thoughtless actions that denigrate and disrespect others makes us no more than animals.


Buddhism elucidates what it means to respect the dignity of all people from the most fundamental dimension of life itself. It is not merely a contemplative philosophy, but a practical life philosophy for living our lives in the real world.

Buddhism enables us to concretely express our true dignity and recognize the dignity of others, making both a reality in daily life. It teaches the supreme practice of affirming the dignity of both oneself and others.

The Soka Gakkai is a realm in which members strive to live by this fundamental spirit of Buddhism and always respect one another. It is an organization dedicated to promoting a way of life that respects the dignity of all people. It is a realm committed to fostering individuals of genuine humanity through such efforts.

Society has various different spheres—those devoted to creating things, those that produce economic or artistic value, and even those that prepare for war. Among all these, the Soka Gakkai is a precious realm that, grounded in the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism, is dedicated to the happiness, development, and growth of people, who are the foundation of all social activity. The mission of spreading Nichiren Buddhism is profound, sublime, and on a completely different level from all other realms of human endeavor.

Our aim is to lead lives that are rich and fulfilling, characterized by respect for the noble dignity of human life. At the same time, we stand resolutely opposed to any action that denigrates people and violates their dignity.

From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, June 21, 1988.

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

  • *1Bodhisattva Never Disparaging: Described in the “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This bodhisattva—Shakyamuni in a previous lifetime—lived at the end of the Middle Day of the Law, after the death of the Buddha Awesome Sound King. He would bow to everyone he met and say: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you will all practice the bodhisattva way and will then be able to attain Buddhahood” (LSOC20, 308). However, he was attacked by arrogant people, who beat him with sticks and staves and threw stones at him. The sutra explains that this practice became the cause for Bodhisattva Never Disparaging to attain Buddhahood.