Pioneering Buddhist philosopher, educator, author and peace activist Daisaku Ikeda, who served as the third president of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist movement from 1960 to 1979 and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), has died at his home. on November 15. He was 95 years old.
Ikeda was instrumental in spreading Buddhist thought across the world through the Soka Gakkai and was an influential leader of the socially engaged Buddhist movement. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
A public statement posted on Ikeda's website and the Soka Gakkai website shared:
Daisaku Ikeda, honorary president of Soka Gakkai and president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), died of natural causes at his residence in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on the evening of November 15. He was ninety-five years old. A funeral was held with members of his immediate family; the time and date of memorial services will be announced shortly. (Soka Gakkai)
Born in Tokyo in 1928, Ikeda was the fifth of eight children. His experiences in Japan during World War II would play a central role in Ikeda's view of violence and conflict and his lifelong commitment to peace. In 1947, at the age of 19, Ikeda met Josei Toda (1900-1958), educator and leader of the Soka Gakkai. He was inspired by Toda's conviction and gift for explaining profound Buddhist concepts in order to embrace Nichiren Buddhism, taking Toda as his mentor.
At the age of 32, Ikeda succeeded Toda as Soka Gakkai's third president in 1960, heralding a period of innovation and dynamic growth, including overseas expansion. Ikeda dedicated himself to developing initiatives in the areas of peace, culture and education based on Buddhist ideals. Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was founded in 1975 as the umbrella organization for the growing network of Soka Gakkai member organizations around the world, and Ikeda became its president.
Over the next few years, Ikeda traveled extensively, visiting more than 50 countries and meeting with world leaders such as former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.
“The central tenet of Ikeda's thought and Buddhism is the fundamental dignity of life, a value he considers the key to lasting peace and human happiness,” Soka Gakkai noted on its website . “World peace, he believes, ultimately rests on a self-directed transformation of the individual's life, rather than on societal or structural reforms alone. This idea is expressed very succinctly in a passage from his work Human revolutionIkeda's fictionalized account of the history and ideals of the Soka Gakkai: "A great human revolution led by a single individual will contribute to a change in the destiny of a nation and, furthermore, enable a change in the destiny of all humanity. » (Soka Gakkai)
Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada and Senior Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda released a video message following Ikeda's passing. The video was recorded in the conference room of the three founding presidents of the Great Vow Hall for Kosen-rufu on November 18 and includes a message from SGI Women's Honorary Leader Kaneko Ikeda:
Founded in 1930, Soka Gakkai (the Value Creation Society) is a Japanese Buddhist movement based on the teachings of the 1222th century Buddhist priest Nichiren (1282-XNUMX). Nichiren taught devotion to Lotus Sutra, believed to contain the teachings of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, near the end of his life, as the exclusive means of achieving enlightenment. The Soka Gakkai centers its teachings on Lotus Sutrawith recitation of the mantraNam-myoho-renge-kyo» (“Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra”) as his main devotional practice.
Soka Gakkai International, founded by Daisaku Ikeda in 1975, is an NGO with consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC. As a global community Buddhist organization that promotes peace, culture and education based on respect for the dignity of life, Soka Gakkai is involved in activism, education and policy for peace, with members in 192 countries and territories around the world.
Among Soka Gakkai's most prominent members are actor Orlando Bloom, jazz musician Herbie Hancock and singer Tina Turner.
Peace is not simply about living a calm, detached, or carefree life. Peace exists in action – fighting courageously and non-violently against the injustice that causes people to suffer. It is only in such action that we find peace. When the majority of people lose the will to resist injustice and become indifferent and apathetic, society can be said to begin to lean towards war. —Daisaku Ikeda