Notable Living Contemporary Teachers

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Buddhism, Love, Compassion, Presence

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Humanity’s collective mission in the cosmos lies in the practice of compassion.

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Daisaku Ikeda
SGI President
Soka Gakkai International Headquarters
Josei Toda International Center
15-3 Samon-cho, Shinjuku-ku
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Daisaku Ikeda

Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet. He is the third president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which is today one of the world’s largest and most diverse lay Buddhist organizations, promoting a philosophy of character development and social engagement for peace.

Ikeda was born in Tokyo, Japan, on January 2, 1928, the fifth of eight children, to a family of seaweed farmers. The devastation and senseless horror he witnessed as a teenager during World War II gave birth to a lifelong passion to work for peace, rooting out the fundamental causes of human conflict.

For much of his early life Ikeda struggled against ill health, nearly succumbing, in his teens, to the ravages of tuberculosis, one of the leading killer diseases at the time. In 1947, at the age of 19, he met Josei Toda (1900-58), educator and leader of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist society whose activities were based on the philosophy of the thirteenth-century Buddhist teacher and reformer Nichiren. Ikeda found in Toda an open and unaffected person, a man of unshakable conviction with a gift for explaining profound Buddhist concepts in logical, accessible terms. He soon found employment at one of Toda’s companies and later completed his education under the tutelage of Toda, who became his mentor in life.

In May 1960, two years after Toda’s death, Ikeda, then 32, succeeded him as president of the Soka Gakkai. Under his leadership, the movement began an era of innovation and expansion, becoming actively engaged in cultural and educational endeavors worldwide. Ikeda has dedicated himself to fulfilling Toda’s dreams by developing initiatives in the areas of peace, culture and education.

The central tenet of Ikeda’s thought, and of Buddhism, is the fundamental sanctity of life, a value which Ikeda sees as the key to lasting peace and human happiness. In his view, global peace relies ultimately on a self-directed transformation within the life of the individual, rather than on societal or structural reforms alone. This idea is expressed most succinctly in a passage in his best-known work, “The Human Revolution,” Ikeda’s novelization of the Soka Gakkai’s history and ideals: “A great inner revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”



  1. “A person fully awakened to the jewel-like dignity of their own life is capable of truly respecting that same treasure in others.”
  2. “Nonviolence is the highest form of humility; it is supreme courage.”
  3. “The efforts we make will always pay off.”
  4. “Friendship is the most beautiful, most powerful and most valuable treasure in life. It is your true wealth.”
  5. “The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success.”
  6. “When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds.”
  7. “Sincerity is the key to transforming distrust into trust, hostility into understanding, and hatred into compassion.”
  8. “One who never uses violence is strong, and a person of true courage.”
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