2020 Ikeda Forum: Value Creation Resources

In preparation for the 2020 Ikeda Forum Webinar, "Value Creation: Our Unlimited Power to Face Overwhelming Challenges," the panelists are studying the following key excerpts from Center Founder Daisaku Ikeda's writings on value creation. 

Excerpt from Mr. Ikeda’s 2020 Message to Soka Gakkai World Youth General Meeting:

"The word soka indicates a life of value creation. It means striving for justice by working with those dedicated to doing good and, together, cultivating the values of peace, culture and education in constructing an even greater community and global society."

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Excerpts from Mr. Ikeda's 2014 Peace Proposal: Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies

"If we are to realize the rich possibilities inherent in the concept of resilience, we will need to expand and recast our understanding of what it means. Resilience, in other words, should not be thought of as simply our capacity to prepare for and respond to threats. Rather, we should think of it in terms of realizing a hopeful future, rooted in people's natural desire to work together toward common goals and to sense progress toward those goals in a tangible way. It should be seen as an integral aspect of humankind's shared project to create the future--a project in which anyone anywhere can participate and which lays the solid foundations for a sustainable global society. When I think about this challenge, the words of the great twentieth-century historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) come to mind: 'But we are not doomed to make history repeat itself; it is open to us, through our own efforts, to give history, in our own case, some new and unprecedented turn.' To me, this is the challenge of creating value--the process by which each of us, in our respective roles and capacities, strives to create that value which is ours alone to realize in order to benefit our fellow citizens, society as a whole and the future."

"…the full significance of human revolution is not realized while it remains confined to a change in the inner life. Rather, the courage and hope that arise from this inner change must enable people to face and break through even the most intractable realities, a process of value creation that ultimately transforms society. The steady accumulation of changes on the individual and community levels paves the path for humanity to surmount the global challenges we face."

Value creation that always takes hope as its starting point

"…if one can rise to the challenge of enduring the most terrible afflictions and situations, maintaining the faith that life has meaning, one can transform personal tragedy into a triumph for humanity. This is the work of creating value."

"I would say that the qualities President Mandela manifested represent hope that is rooted in character value--a capacity that is not limited to extraordinary individuals but can be realized by any person. For his part, Frankl manifested the hope of attitudinal value--our ability to choose and experience meaning in even the most severe circumstances until the last moment of life. The challenge of value creation is imbued with and arises from both these aspects of hope."

The power of hope

"The willingness to challenge hardships taps the power within human beings to transform even a place of tragedy into a stage for fulfilling one's mission."

"The second way of thinking that Nichiren criticized was one that encouraged people to deny reality. This produced an attitude of disengagement, with people becoming closed within their private world and insulated from the grievous tragedies of the day." 

"To banish thoughts of present problems as if they do not exist only postpones the inevitable task of tackling them to some time in the future, allowing them to fester and grow worse. In contrast, Nichiren advocated a way of life in which people confront painful realities, identify root causes and seek means of resolution. He believed that through this process people can create a society that enjoys even greater peace and happiness than it did before tragedy struck. The third way of thinking that Nichiren harshly critiqued was one that encouraged people to passively submit to reality, causing them to accept even an intolerable status quo as immutable. Condemning this approach, he maintained that human beings are capable of bringing forth inner strength in direct proportion to the depth of the confusion and predicament they face."

"The power of hope that is available to any person, under any circumstance, and which can inspire future generations--this is the foundation of the effort to create value."

Value creation of people working together to resolve issues

"…However tenuous our connections may appear on the surface, this does not change the fact that the world is woven of the profound bonds and connections of one life to another. It is this that makes it at all times possible for us to take the kind of action that will generate ripples of positive impact across the full spectrum of our connections."

"…The key question then becomes, how do we enable and encourage people to bring forth these capacities, which typically remain dormant except in times of crisis, from within the processes of normal daily life?"

"…even in tackling the problems confronting the UN or humankind as a whole, the longest journey starts with a single step, which is to engage in frank conversation with the people in our immediate environment-- the place where we have set down the anchor of our lives--and to take concerted action with them. This points to the invaluable role that dialogue plays in enabling each individual to feel that they are part of a community."

"…dialogue has the power to help people reach across barriers, enabling them to come together around common concerns. The joy of discovering, through dialogue, that there are those who embrace the same aspiration naturally fosters solidarity toward the resolution of such issues. The truly limitless possibilities of each individual can only fully manifest themselves through our connectedness and our collaborative efforts. It is this solidarity, developed through dialogue, that makes possible the kind of open exchange by which we can find the means to break through the impasses we inevitably confront."

"Human dignity does not shine in isolation. It comes to full brilliance through our efforts to cast a bridge connecting the opposing banks of self and other."

"The foundation for making a truly meaningful difference in efforts to resolve the issues facing our communities and humankind as a whole is to be found in solidarity based on the sharing of joy with others. The challenge ahead of us is to find ways to create value based on that solidarity."

Value creation that calls forth the best in each of us

"The true significance of a culture of human rights is not exhausted in the act of warning against those attitudes that have the effect of promoting social evils. It resides in creating a society in which each of us is empowered to bring forth our inner goodness and to strive proactively to protect the rights of all. Together, we can work to promote and strengthen the enjoyment of human rights throughout society."

Education for global citizenship

"Education holds the key to the future not only of a nation but of all humanity. President Mandela was able to endure over twenty-seven years of imprisonment because he continued to educate himself, nurturing the great dream of healing conflict to create a society of peace and coexistence for all."

"The world today needs the kind of education that can develop the capacity to create value, underpinned by indomitable hope and the spirit of learning from the collective wisdom of humankind. This is especially true for those who are suffering in the face of various threats, those who are committed to making the world a better place and members of the younger generation upon whom the future depends."

Strategies for nuclear prohibition

"...When the young people who will bear the hopes and burdens of the coming era unite in the determination that humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist, and that the horrors of nuclear weapons must never be visited upon anyone again, there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome."

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Excerpts from "Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship"

"[Makiguchi] further believed that true happiness is to be found in a life of value-creation. Put simply, value-creation is the capacity to find meaning, to enhance one's own existence and contribute to the well-being of others, under any circumstance."

"I have many friends who could be considered quite ordinary citizens, but who possess an inner nobility; who have never traveled beyond their native place, yet who are genuinely concerned for the peace and prosperity of the world. I think I can state with confidence that the following are essential elements of global citizenship.

  • The wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and living.
  • The courage not to fear or deny difference; but to respect and strive to understand people of different cultures, and to grow from encounters with them.
  • The compassion to maintain an imaginative empathy that reaches beyond one's immediate surroundings and extends to those suffering in distant places."

"Our daily lives are filled with opportunities to develop ourselves and those around us. Each of our interactions with others--dialogue, exchange and participation--is an invaluable chance to create value."

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Excerpts from Mr. Ikeda's 2010 Peace Proposal: Toward A New Era of Value Creation

An interregnum of values 

"Growing income disparities are an undeniable fact, and we cannot turn a blind eye to the kinds of tragedy, including crime and suicide, to which they give rise. I have long stressed that there is a clear political responsibility to ameliorate this. Legal and systemic measures to create and maintain a social safety net are a necessary expression of the ethical values, such as justice and fairness, on which any successful social order rests. But my deeper concern is that efforts to secure improvements to physical and tangible conditions respond only to the symptoms, when more fundamental, curative measures are required. To ensure the genuine and lasting effectiveness of our response, a spiritual undergirding--a fundamental reevaluation of our priorities--is necessary."

"We need to develop the awareness that the standard of values that judges human worth solely on the basis of economic capacity is what Todd  [French political scientist Emmanuel Todd] calls the value system of mediocrities; or rather, that it represents the effective absence of values. We need to ask ourselves why there is such pervasive pessimism and nihilism in advanced industrial societies where the standard of living, judged on a strictly material basis, surpasses that of the monarchs and aristocrats of the past."

The language and values of good 

"'Soka' literally means 'value creation,' and the members of the Soka Gakkai International are determined to respond on the deepest level to the challenge of nihilism--the interregnum of values that presently prevails--and to restore those functions that would guide and restrain a runaway civilization. We consider this undertaking to be one of significance even within the greater context of human history. Ours is a movement that seeks to dispel the clouds of nihilism in order to reveal the language and values of good that languish on the verge of extinction. It is a movement that works quietly to revive the human spirit and reawaken ordinary citizens, exhorting people to choose the good that is the fruit of self-mastery and resist the destructive pitfalls of evil. It is an attempt to realize a fundamental transformation in human priorities based on the idea that a change in the destiny of a single individual can change the destiny of all humankind, the key theme of my novel The Human Revolution."

A focus on the here and now

"I was struck by the following words from a recent interview with the Japanese literary critic Shozo Kajima: 'Only the here and now is the true reality… We only need to be passionate about the here and now. If a person has aged in their feelings, they are old whatever their physical age.' Regarding the tendency of modern civilization to seek abundance and happiness outside ourselves, Kajima urges us to 'awaken to the richness of the unrealized capacities we already possess within.' The phrase 'here and now' is reminiscent of the proverb 'Dig beneath your feet, there you will find a spring,' and also of a statement by Einstein: 'My eternity is now. I have only one interest: to fulfill my purpose here where I am.'"

"But in this present instant is a genuine reality that comprises the infinite past and the limitless future. That reality is the font of life’s deepest and most essential strength, and it is this strength that, while being constrained by the past, brings forth new hope for the future. In this sense, now is the starting point for everything."

"Just as there is no easy path to learning, there is no easy path to the realization of good. We have no choice but to root ourselves firmly in reality, deliberately taking on difficult challenges, ceaselessly training and forging ourselves in the smelting furnace of the soul. This is the direct path to the attainment of good. As Marcel noted, there is always a tension between 'the individuality of the circumstances and the universality of the law.' He considered this tension 'the crux, the spring' of value."

"To pass through this tension, this smelting furnace, without error requires the willingness to seek the depths, to strengthen and brace oneself, day by day, month after month. Here we find the tautness of heart that enables us to turn away from the natural human tendency to seek the easy way out, and instead, day by day, to pursue the ideal, training and elevating oneself. Ultimately all things are impermanent; reality is an endless succession of transformations. There is an expression to the effect that if you have not seen someone for three days, await your next encounter with a sense of anticipation. In other words, a person who is growing and developing will show some sign of change in the course of just three days. Those who possess the spirit to seek out the depths will not overlook these changes, but will respond to them with acuity, never ceasing the advance toward value creation. Such words as hope, courage, effort, friendship and kindness naturally describe the qualities required of those who seek to break through present difficulties toward a better future. This is why, in my lecture at Harvard University in 1991, I emphasized the importance of a process of contemplation, self-questioning and soul-searching to ensure that one's decisions are an expression of the inner stirrings and motivations of the conscience."

The smelting furnace of spiritual struggle

"It is imperative that we always resist the temptation to abandon dialogue and adopt violence in its place. We must remain committed to the process of philosophical hesitation, enduring tension and the smelting furnace of ceaseless spiritual struggle; for this is the one place where our humanity can be truly forged."

"I earlier defined nihilism as a refusal to feel the moral sense of value that compels us to engage with people as unique and irreplaceable individuals. And it is for this reason that I believe that a revitalized sense of others and otherness holds the key to transforming an era characterized by the enfeeblement of the sense of value, and to restoring the language and values of good. The injunction to strengthen oneself, day by day, month after month, is thus an incomparable and unsurpassed encouragement to the work of overcoming nihilism and creating value."

A contributive way of life

"We must remember that there is always a way, a path to the peak of even the most towering and forbidding mountain. Even when a sheer rock face looms before us, we should refuse to be disheartened, but instead continue the patient search for a way forward. In this sense, what is most strongly required of us is the imagination that can appreciate the present crises as an opportunity to fundamentally transform the direction of history. By mustering the force of inner will and determination we can convert challenges into the fuel for positive change. 

"...the founder of the organization, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), called for a transition from a dependent or even an independent way of life to what he called a contributive way of life. He rejected a passive, dependent way of life in which one is swayed by and at the mercy of one's surroundings and the conditions of the times. He likewise rejected a way of life in which we are capable of looking out for our own needs but remain indifferent to the sufferings of others. He urged, instead, a contributive way of life as described by the Buddhist maxim that when we light a lantern for others, our own way forward is lit. The source of illumination needed to dispel the chaos and darkness of the age is to be found in actions that bring forth our own inner light through committed action on behalf of others."

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Excerpts From A New Humanism: The University Addresses of Daisaku Ikeda

"The third aspect of Gautama Buddha’s wisdom relates to the question of value creation, for it is wisdom that enables us to make the fullest use of knowledge." p. 180

"... in the Buddha’s teachings we find the admonition that one should ‘become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you.' This means neither being controlled by the negative impulses of greed and violence, nor attempting unreasonably to extinguish one’s natural desires. Rather, it means, as master of one’s mind, to guide and redirect these potentially destructive tendencies toward the creation of value. To be master of one’s mind means to cultivate the wisdom that resides in the inner recesses of our lives, and which wells forth in inexhaustible profusion only when we are moved by a compassionate determination to serve humankind; to serve people." p. 181

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