Daisaku Ikeda



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Fast Facts
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Function: 
Spiritual Thinker
Traditions: 
Nichiren Buddhism, Soka Gakkai, Lotus Sutra
Main Countries of Activity: 
Japan, China, Russia
Date of Birth: 
02/01/1928
Place of Birth: 
Tokyo, Japan
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Yes
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Predecessors: Josei Toda, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Nichiren Daishonin

Biography

Daisaku Ikeda was born of seaweed farmers at Ōta, Tokyo. He was the fifth son. He had four elder brothers who fought in World War II and also had two younger brothers, and a sister.

As a child, he suffered from poor health and later tuberculosis, and doctors predicted that he wouldn't survive beyond the age of 30.

Ikeda's family endured the hardships of the war. In his youth, he lost his eldest brother Kiichi Ikeda (1916–1945) to World War II, which developed in him a strong opposition to war.

In his late teens, in August 1947, he learned of Nichiren Buddhism through Josei Toda, a Nichiren Buddhist, educator and peace activist, and then president of the Soka Gakkai.

In 1948, he quit night school, in order to help and work for Toda's publishing business. In return, Toda taught Ikeda literature, history, chemistry, physics, political science, economics, law, mathematics, and Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhist philosophy.

In his writings, Ikeda talks about these years from 1948 till Toda's death in 1958 as Golden Years and says that in those days he attended Toda University.

As a disciple of Toda, Ikeda took on Toda's dream and mission to spread the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and its principles of developing a peaceful world through the spread of the True Teachings of the Lotus Sutra.

Following Toda's death in 1958, Ikeda became president of the Soka Gakkai, currently serving since 1960.

Teachings

Nichiren Buddhism is a form of Buddhism based on the final teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, in what is called the Lotus Sutra.

The basic premise of this teaching is that Buddhahood and enlightenment are states of being that are as innate to each and every human being, as are the more commonly experienced states of, say, anger, hunger (as in greed, thirst, or insatiable desire), or tranquility (as in calm, complacent, or satisfied).

According to the Lotus Sutra, not only are all living beings equally endowed with the potential for enlightenment, but so are they potentially capable of attaining this state, within the current lifetime.

According to Nichiren Buddhists' interpretation of the Lotus Sutra, one may awaken one's Buddha Nature through a practice of chanting the phrase Nam myoho renge kyo to develop one's sense of compassion, wisdom, and clarity of mind, and through the development of a sense of the interconnectedness of all life—the "oneness of life and environment," or esho funi—and the ways in which one's thoughts, actions, and deeds—karma—affect one and one's environment throughout the past, present, and future.

Ikeda and his predecessors in Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, and the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, a 13th-century priest called Nichiren Daishonin, all strove to live according to these and other Buddhist principles and to encourage others to do the same. Through the study of their teachings, the practice of chanting, and the practice of active involvement in the world at large, one is thought to be able to develop the innate Buddha Nature within, leading to a happier, more fulfilling life for oneself and others.

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