In 1993, Daisaku Ikeda delivered an address at Harvard University called “Mahayana Buddhism and 21st Century Civilization.” Soon after, he founded our Center as an institute devoted to the spirit of that lecture. Since then, he has sent special messages to the Center that mark significant occasions and provide inspiration and guidance for our work. Along with the founding lecture, these are the sources for our seven core convictions.
1. Dialogue & Mutual Understanding Are Inseparable, and Needed Now More Than Ever
Dialogue is among the most powerful tools for nonviolent personal and social change. More than a technique, dialogue is a stance or orientation, evidence of “a humble willingness to learn from others.”
2. Humanistic Education Is Vital to Global Progress
There is wide agreement on the centrality of education to any efforts at personal and social progress in the decades to come. The difference of opinion is about the nature of the teaching and learning that is needed.
3. It is Critical to Maintain Faith in People’s Potential for Good
Faced with so much cruel and thoughtless human behavior, it is tempting to succumb to cynicism and despair about the ability of individuals to make a positive difference in our world.
4. Respect for Human Dignity & Reverence for the Sanctity of Life Provide a Baseline Ethical Standard
This fundamental standard has far reaching implications. How much damaging behavior depends on a denial of the inviolable integrity of persons and our planet?
5. The Reform of Self Is Essential to the Reform of Society
This concept resides at the heart of the philosophy of value creation that guides the Center’s work. First of all, this philosophy maintains that it is mistaken to wait for difficult external forces to improve before we ourselves take positive steps for the betterment of self and society.
6. The Poetic Power of the Imagination Calls Forth Our Highest Potential
A key aspect of Daisaku Ikeda’s philosophy is his insistence that there is an aesthetic dimension to ethical behavior.
7. Awareness of Interdependence Forms the Crux of the 21st Century Worldview
Pressed to name the one concept that, if widely internalized, would have the greatest positive impact on our world, a strong case can be made for the interdependence of all life, also characterized as interconnection.
The objectives of the Center go beyond the simple pursuit of knowledge. It was established within the context of a vaster human project; to find out the ideas that can bring hope and happiness to people, to seek routes to a world of peace and coexistence.
Daisaku Ikeda, message to the opening ceremony, 1995