Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Conclusion: Toward the Future [7]

7 Make Your Life a Beacon

On April 2, 2000, a convocation in tribute to the spiritual legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi was held at Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, which was King’s alma mater. In his message to the event, referencing King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, President Ikeda speaks of his vision of entrusting the principle of respect for the dignity of life to future generations.

The Soka Gakkai’s first and second presidents [Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda] were imprisoned for resisting Japan’s fascist government during World War II. Supporting this oppression were corrupt priests who betrayed the spirit of Buddhism. Our first president died in prison as a result of such persecution. Our second president emerged from his two-year struggle as a prisoner and initiated a movement to bring spiritual awareness to the people of postwar Japan.

Today, April 2, marks the anniversary of the passing of my mentor, our second president. Like Dr. King, my mentor had a dream. His dream, he stated, was to “rid the world of misery.”

Throughout his life, my mentor acted as the greatest ally of the sick and the poor. Amid the bitter divisions of the Cold War, he advocated the ideal of global citizenship and the abolition of nuclear weapons. For 42 years since my mentor’s passing, I have dedicated my life to bringing his dream closer to reality.

The ultimate and most wonderful of human relationships is that shared by successors to a lofty spiritual legacy. Even animals have relationships similar to those we have between parent and child, siblings, spouses, partners, and friends. However, the relationship of mentor and disciple, of spiritual successors, exists only among human beings.

With this in mind, I ask that you join me in transmitting a message to our successors, our children: “Have a dream! If you have a dream, you will someday approach that dream!”

Let us tell our children: “Overcome your obstacles and advance! You have the energy and mission to make the world a better place. When you awaken to this fact, your talents will fully blossom. You will be surprised at how strong you have become.”

Let us tell our children: “Resist and oppose evil. Say ‘No’ to drugs, to violence, and to destructive temptations. Only when you respect and cherish yourselves will you gain the respect of others. Only when you care for yourselves can you care for others.”

Children are envoys from the future. To speak with children is to speak with the future. Their problems will be different from those of our generation—they may face problems we can’t even begin to imagine. Therefore, let us support them and lend them a helping hand, so that they may stand up and move forward with courage.

Let us tell our children: “To witness evil and yet stand silently by is to be an ally to evil. Failure to do good yields the same result as doing bad. Each time you overlook evil, you allow another malicious weed to take root. To exclude others is violence. To ignore, disregard, or be apathetic toward injustice is also violence.”

And let us tell our children: “Don’t let your spirit rest! Give expression to the empathy and humanity you possess. Act! Break loose from the restraints of laziness and cowardice, and begin something new. Only in action is there growth of the spirit. Only in growth of the spirit does one find happiness. Happiness can never be bought.”

Let us tell our children: “You must never forget! Never forget those who came before you, those who held high the torch of hope during the long, dark night and fell on the way. Never forget that previous generations have struggled on behalf of those who had suffered before them and also for the sake of you, their children, grandchildren, and all those who will follow in the future.”

Let us tell our children: “What would make your predecessors happiest is for you to carry on their struggle, to fight for the happiness of future generations as they have, and to care and work for those who are suffering. When you do this, you will come to understand why those before you were able to hold their heads high and live with pride despite being surrounded by cruelty and lies. You will come to understand why they never gave up on their dreams, no matter how often they were betrayed. You will begin to know why they stood tall and kept marching ahead, despite rocks being thrown and guns being aimed at them. It was all to provide you with a wonderful future!”

And lastly, let us tell our children: “Love the people! Live splendid lives! Make your life a beacon that will illuminate the darkness ahead. Be a guidepost to point the way for future generations. Work together to create the world of the 21st century, a world where there is no murder, a society where no one is neglected or left behind. Build a monument of achievement that glows with the light of human fellowship!”

From a message sent to Millennium Sunday, A Gathering of Spiritual Awareness, held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College, USA, April 2, 2000.

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