What is Daisaku Ikeda's role as president of the SGI?

Daisaku Ikeda writes essays, articles and books on the Buddhist philosophy of Nichiren and the Lotus Sutra to inspire and encourage the members of SGI around the world. His focus is on making profound Buddhist truths applicable to daily life. Several times a month he meets with SGI and Soka Gakkai members to share his perspectives and encourage them in their efforts to put Buddhism into practice. His focus is often on youth, as he is always concerned with passing on what he has learned. He also meets and corresponds with leading figures to discuss global issues and ways of building a more peaceful world.

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What are his core beliefs?

Daisaku Ikeda believes in the positive potential of human beings and that it is possible for us to coexist in peace as well as in harmony with our environment. He holds that sustained dialogue can bridge the gaps which divide us. He believes that vast possibility for creating a better world can be sparked by the inner change or "human revolution" of even a single person. Ikeda's beliefs are based on the core principles of Nichiren Buddhism and the Mahayana tradition as expressed in the Lotus Sutra. These principles include:

  • The oneness of life and its environment
  • The oneness of body and mind
  • The interconnectedness of all life
  • The eternity of life
  • That each individual is responsible for their own destiny
  • The value of diversity and preciousness of each unique individual
  • That the greatest happiness is found in working for the happiness of others

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How has Daisaku Ikeda contributed to peace?

Born in Tokyo in 1928, Daisaku Ikeda experienced firsthand the horror of war. He determined to devote himself to building peace, and particularly to healing relations between Japan and China. For over 50 years, he has also consistently taken action toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, organizing petition drives, issuing proposals and writing articles to that end. Ikeda's efforts to build peace range from citizen diplomacy during the Cold War, particularly helping to lessen tensions between China and the USSR, to ongoing dialogues aimed at increasing mutual understanding with a wide range of people from around the world--over 50 of his dialogues have been published in book form. As president of SGI, Ikeda has also issued annual peace proposals since 1983 containing ideas grounded in Buddhist humanism for viable responses to global issues. Ikeda has also established several institutions promoting peace, humanistic education and cultural exchange. 

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Why do SGI members regard him as their mentor?

Many SGI members view Daisaku Ikeda as their mentor due to the depth of his understanding of Buddhism and his exceptional scholarship. His continuous efforts to encourage others to deepen their understanding and become empowered through the philosophy and practice of Buddhism also awaken a response. Ikeda often stresses how he owes everything to his own teacher or mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda (1900-58), who in turn regarded Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), the founder of the Soka Gakkai, as his mentor. The tradition of passing down teachings from mentor to disciple, or teacher to student, has a long history in Buddhism. The commitment of the mentor, or teacher, is solely to passing on what he or she has learned and encouraging the development of the disciple, or pupil, so that eventually the disciple surpasses the mentor. In this way the continual development of Buddhism is assured. SGI members speak of the shared commitment of mentor and disciple to spreading the peaceful principles of Buddhism throughout the world. More than any theoretical explanation, it is through the life-to-life connection of the mentor-disciple relationship that people can gain encouragement and develop their ability to overcome the challenges they face.

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Where can I find a list of books he has written?

Daisaku Ikeda has written over 1,000 books on themes from Buddhism to health, peacework and youth. Over 50 are dialogues with experts in different fields. Many books have now been translated into other languages. Choose Life, his seminal dialogue with British historian Arnold Toynbee, has been translated into 28 languages. Ikeda's major works available in English are listed here:

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