By Howard Hunter
It is an honor to add my tribute to the Ikeda Center on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary. Much will be written and spoken about the Center, its past, present, and future, but I wish to emphasize its core values and convictions with specific reference to the leader whose name the Center bears: Daisaku Ikeda. A brief examination of these values and convictions makes clear that the Ikeda Center is a vibrant expression of the goals to which Mr. Ikeda has been dedicated throughout his career.
A review of the many schools and programs initiated and supported by Mr. Ikeda gives abundant evidence of his commitment to humanistic values. Perhaps one example is especially revealing. Let me put it to you as a question you may find worth pondering. If you had the opportunity to establish a new university in Japan, which three persons would you choose to memorialize with giant statues gracing the portals of this new University? In the case of Soka University, founded by Mr. Ikeda in 1969, one might expect statues of Soka leaders like Josei Toda, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, or even Mr. Ikeda himself, but the ones Mr. Ikeda chose may surprise you: Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, and Walt Whitman! It would be difficult to think of a more vivid and enduring witness to the centrality of humanistic values which are at the heart of the Ikeda Center. The choice of French, Russian, and American writers whose common characteristic was a profound humanitarian compassion for all mankind reflects as well the centrality of artistic and imaginative expression in Mr. Ikeda's philosophy and in the Ikeda Center itself, which he founded in 1993.
Exemplifying the 750-year old tradition of Nichiren Buddhism, the movement led by Mr. Ikeda has consistently emphasized its conviction that all progress in peace, culture and education is ultimately based on the development of the individual. The inviolable nature of human autonomy is at the heart of Mr. Ikeda's philosophy.
I join with all those who congratulate the Ikeda Center for its remarkable achievements for the past twenty years. With them I hope and expect the next decades will continue to be richly fulfilling ones.
Dr. Howard Hunter is Emeritus Professor of Religion at Tufts University. At Tufts, Dr. Hunter taught courses ranging from Introduction to Religion to Religious Motives in Contemporary Arts and Culture to various courses exploring aspects of Asian religions.