Brim with the Great Joy of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth
SGI President Ikeda sent the following message to the 1st Youth Division Leaders Meeting at the start of the crucial decade leading to the Soka Gakkai’s 100th anniversary in 2030. The meeting was held with limited participation in the Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo, Tokyo, on January 31, 2021, and viewed online by small audiences at facilities throughout Japan. Its recording will be broadcast nationwide in Japan in February.
Congratulations on celebrating February, the auspicious month of the 800th anniversary (according to the traditional Japanese way of counting) of Nichiren Daishonin’s birth, with this spirited 1st Youth Division Leaders Meeting, creating a new page in the annals of kosen-rufu. The Daishonin is surely praising you most highly.
Today, I would like to call upon you to forge ahead dynamically in your youth, brimming with “the great joy of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”
“Know yourself!” is an important philosophical theme explored since the times of ancient Greece. Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching that illuminates the true meaning of who we are from the fundamental perspective of life and its eternity throughout past, present, and future.
The Daishonin 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” (cf. OTT, 211–12).
Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo awakens us to the truth that our life itself is that of a Buddha and that we embody the Mystic Law. Through chanting, we come to realize that we are by no means powerless, weak, or insignificant, but rather that our life is incredibly noble and respectworthy, capable of harnessing the unsurpassed power of the Buddha that is one with the universe.
Encouraging members struggling with problems such as financial difficulties and illness, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, said: “We are merely playing roles in the drama of life. We are in fact bona fide Bodhisattvas of the Earth! Since life is a grand drama, we should thoroughly enjoy playing the role we have undertaken and win victory after victory, demonstrating the greatness of the Mystic Law.”
I am reminded of the words of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975), who expressed high hopes for the Soka Gakkai’s grassroots movement of human revolution guided by the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism. He said: “The present threat to mankind’s survival can be removed only by a revolutionary change of heart in individual human beings.”
The young people of the 21st century are facing truly daunting challenges. And those who are dedicated to a profound mission in their youth are certain to face no end of hardships and problems. They may also encounter obstacles, blocks and slumps.
But by continuing to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, “regarding both suffering and joy as facts of life” (cf. WND-1, 681), you can definitely transform your situation, changing all poison into medicine.
Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, many young people the world over are anxious for the future, filled with despair, or gripped by feelings of helplessness and apathy. At such a time, you, our young Bodhisattvas of the Earth, brimming with “the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 212), are leading positive, upbeat lives as you seek to deepen your wisdom and take action for the cause of good. You are a source of boundless hope illuminating the future of humanity.
The Daishonin teaches that true joy is not something we savor alone, closed off from others. He says: “‘Joy’ means that oneself and others together experience joy” (OTT, 146). And he further goes on to state: “Both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion” (OTT, 146).
No matter what challenges you may face, please continue to tap your brilliant inner wisdom for creating value and to deepen your compassion for treasuring and respecting each person. Please continue to forge bonds of trust and friendship in your communities and societies, joining with your fellow young global citizens around the world to create a network where each person can shine in their own unique way.
I am sincerely praying that all of you, my dear and trusted young friends, will live your youth brimming with “the great joy of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth” and savour brilliant victory.
Translated from the February 1, 2021, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily newspaper
 These words were inscribed in a calligraphy by President Ikeda at the Mie Training Center in May 1982.
 Arnold Toynbee and Daisaku Ikeda, Choose Life: A Dialogue, edited by Richard L. Gage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 63.