A LIFE DEVOTED TO EDUCATION, CULTURE AND PEACE
On October 7, 2006, Beijing Normal University awarded an
Honorary Professorship to the Buddhist humanist philosopher and
educator, Daisaku Ikeda. It was the 200th such academic honor that
he had received - more than any other person in history. What was
the background for this unique achievement?
Daisaku Ikeda was born in Tokyo in 1928, the fifth son in a family that made its living by harvesting and processing edible seaweed. At that time, Japan had a militaristic government that initiated a war against China. Daisaku Ikeda's older brothers were called up for military service, and because of his father's poor health, he was left as the sole support for his family. Besides harvesting and processing seaweed, he also started a newspaper route, but the strain was too much, and he contracted tuberculosis. News of the death of his oldest brother made him decide to devote his life to the cause of peace.
After the end of the war, despite his poor health, Daisaku Ikeda began studying at a night school. He worked during the day, and studied at night, and in this way completed his high-school education. He then enrolled in a junior college.
In August, 1947, Ikeda met Josei Toda, the leader of a Buddhist educational organization called Soka Gakkai (a Japanese expression meaning ``Value-Creating Education"). Soka Gakki had been founded in 1930 by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda. When the war came, both of the founders of Saka Gakkai were imprisoned for their pacifist beliefs and their defense of religious freedom. Makkiguchi died in prison, but Toda survived. After the war, while running a publishing business, Toda also worked to reconstruct the Soka Gakkai organization.
Daisaku Ikeda took a job in Josei Toda's publishing firm, and worked extremely hard to overcome the financial difficulties that the firm was encountering in the unstable financial climate of postwar Japan. He also became very active in Soka Gakkai's educational activities. Meanwhile he received personal instruction from Toda in politics, economics, philosophy and literature.
In 1957, Josei Toda issued a call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. The abolition of nuclear weapons and the establishment of global peace and cooperation became central goals of Soka Gakkai's educational policies.
In 1958, after Josei Toda's death, Daisaku Ikeda became the leader of Soka Gakkai. Under his leadership, the organization grew. Today, Soka Gakkai International, of which Daisaku Ikeda is the President, has 12 million members throughout the world. In addition to leading this very large educational organization, Daisaku Ikeda became a prolific author of books on humanist and pacifist philosophy as well as books of poetry and photography. A total of 298 editions of his books have now been published, in 30 languages.
A particular specialty of Dr. Ikeda's literary works are dialogs with world leaders. He strongly believes in dialog as a means of working for peace. Among the leaders and academics with whom he has published dialogs are Arnold Toynbee, Aurelio Peccei, Johan Galtung, Linus Pauling, Sir Joseph Rotblat and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Finally, Dr. Ikeda has founded educational and cultural institutions throughout the world. These include the Soka University in Tokyo, the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, the Institute for the Natural Environment in Sao Paolo, the Soka University of America, the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, and many others. An extraordinary life in the service of education, culture and peace!