The following is President Ikeda’s preface to the new edition of The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, a three-volume collection of selected excerpts from his works, the first volume of which was published in book form in Japanese on November 18, 2020. Based on the collection of selected excerpts that was first serialized in the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai monthly study journal, from April 2014 through February 2018, the new edition contains numerous additional selections as well as a partial rearrangement of chapters.
“Let Us Encourage Each Other and Advance Together”
The conversation I had with my mentor, Josei Toda, on the day we first met is still vivid in my mind today:
“Sensei, I would like to ask you a question.”
“What would you like to know? Go ahead, ask whatever you wish.”
“What is the correct way to live?”
It was the summer of 1947, two years after the end of World War II. In response to this earnest question from a 19-year-old youth seeking direction in life in the troubled postwar period, Mr. Toda was warm and embracing, like a compassionate father. He was a mentor who prized above all young people’s desire to learn.
With powerful conviction, he introduced me to the life philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin and encouraged me to study and practice it with youthful energy and idealism. From that moment on, I steadfastly pursued the path of mentor and disciple, eagerly seeking instruction from Mr. Toda, whom I had taken as my mentor in life and in the eternal endeavor for kosen-rufu.
Ninety-eight percent of what I am today I learned from my mentor, at what I refer to as “Toda University.” I once shared this point in a lecture I delivered at Columbia University Teachers College.
For Mr. Toda, a peerless humanistic educator and a leader of the people, the essence of both education and guidance in faith was encouragement. He inherited this spirit, which has today become a proud tradition of Soka, from his own mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the Soka Gakkai’s founder who died in prison for his beliefs.
Nichiren Daishonin affirms that “The Lotus Sutra is the teaching that enables all living beings to attain the Buddha way” (WND-1, 59). The Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun, revealing the essence of the Lotus Sutra, is a source of compassion and wisdom that can illuminate the hearts of all people. In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, he states: “Great joy [is what] one experiences when one understands for the first time that one’s mind [or life] from the very beginning has been a Buddha. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 211–12).
Encouragement in the realm of Soka means shining the light of the Mystic Law on each person, awakening their inherent Buddhahood, and revitalizing their lives at the most fundamental level.
As members of the Soka family, we have always reached out to support those around us, no matter how deep their sorrow, how great their despair, or how challenging their karma. We have stood together with them, encouraging them to be confident that they can surmount any hardship, find a way forward, and become happy without fail.
This great grassroots movement, undaunted by any manner of oppression, has spread throughout the world, unleashing life’s innate power, fostering diverse individuals, each as unique as “the cherry, the plum, the peach, and the damson” (OTT, 200), and enabling people everywhere to triumph in their own human revolution.
It is no exaggeration to say that this movement of, by, and for the people—built upon unshakable principles and beautiful unity that seeks to empower all—is the hope of global society.
Natural disasters, pandemics, and other ongoing trials afflict people in every corner of the world, and words of encouragement play a crucial role in strengthening community ties and fortifying the resilience to rise to the challenge of various crises.
In Buddhism, the ideal of leadership is symbolized by the wheel-turning sage king, a monarch who governs with what is called a wheel treasure. Nichiren Daishonin offers the following observation:
“To go round and round unendingly in the cycle of birth and death, birth and death, throughout the three existences of past, present, and future, is what is called being a wheel-turning sage king. The wheels that the wheel-turning sage kings possess when they make their appearance in the world, their ‘wheel treasures’ are the words and sounds that we ourselves utter. And these sounds, our ‘wheel treasures,’ are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what is called ‘the great wisdom of equality’” [LSOC11, 209–10]. (OTT, 76)
While steadfastly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and grappling with our own and others’ sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death, our words of conviction and earnest encouragement that triumph over all malicious slurs and lies are like our very own “wheel treasures” that we are turning across the globe. Inheriting this great humanistic spirit, our youthful global citizens of Soka are currently dynamically engaged in the shared endeavor to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are based on the fundamental wish that no one be left behind.
My mentor has been a constant presence in the depths of my heart in my ongoing efforts to speak and write about kosen-rufu and the meaning of life, Buddhism and society, peace and the dignity of life, youth and the future, and many other topics.
The writings, speeches, lectures, dialogues, and poetry from my lifelong struggle of words, one in spirit with my mentor, have been compiled into 150 volumes of collected works. As the compilation process was nearing completion, some of our enterprising members, brimming with youthful spirit, proposed the idea of compiling a selection of excerpts from that collection for the new era of worldwide kosen-rufu.
Motivating this project was their enthusiasm to produce a common study resource for our members around the world. Adopting the title “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace,” they set about choosing excerpts covering a range of themes and coordinating the translation of these selections.
I am delighted by their noble spirit of voluntarily taking on this time-consuming and challenging task. They have exerted themselves tirelessly to respond to the ardent seeking spirit of their fellow members, to promote the united progress of worldwide kosen-rufu, and to support the efforts of future generations of members to study Nichiren Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai spirit.
The results of their dedicated work were published in monthly installments in the Soka Gakkai’s study magazine, Daibyakurenge. As I reviewed the page proofs, I felt as if I were engaging in a fresh dialogue with my beloved disciples.
Over the four years during which those installments were published in Japanese, painstaking efforts were made to translate them and ensure that readers around the world could access them. I am pleased they, along with additional excerpts, are now being published in book form, and I would like to express my boundless gratitude to all those involved in this task.
I would like to dedicate this book, a collection of words of encouragement that embody the oneness of mentor and disciple, to Presidents Makiguchi and Toda and entrust it to our precious successors.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
“When teacher and disciples have fully responded to one another and the disciples have received the teaching, so that they gain the awakening referred to where the sutra says, ‘I took a vow, hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us’ [LSOC2, 70], this is what the sutra calls ‘causing living beings to awaken to the Buddha wisdom’” [cf. LSOC2, 64]. (OTT, 30)
As mentors and disciples committed to fulfilling the vow of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, let us demonstrate at all times and in all places the “wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances” (OTT, 10). President Toda calls to us in one of his poems that I treasure:
The journey to propagate
the Mystic Law
let us encourage each other
and advance together.
Let us, therefore, “encourage each another and advance together” as we continue on our journey to propagate the Mystic Law into the eternal future of the Latter Day of the Law!
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than if this book provides encouragement and sustenance to Soka Gakkai members everywhere as they proceed along that path.
—On August 14, 2020, the 73rd anniversary of the start of my journey of kosen-rufu alongside my mentor.