Daisaku Ikeda, Founder

Official headshot of Daisaku Ikeda

Daisaku Ikeda (1928 - 2023), founder of the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue, was a Buddhist thinker and leader, peace builder, prolific writer and poet, educator, and proponent and practitioner of wide-ranging dialogue. Ikeda’s dialogue partners have included Arnold Toynbee, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Herbie Hancock, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and other influential figures in the worldwide shift to a culture of peace and mutual understanding. 

Born in Tokyo in 1928, Ikeda experienced firsthand the tragic reality of war and militarism. In the chaos of post-war Japan, he came to embrace Buddhism through an encounter with the educator and pacifist Josei Toda, who had been imprisoned by Japan’s Imperial government during World War II for his anti-war and anti-authoritarian beliefs, and who later became the second president of the Buddhist lay organization Soka Gakkai.

As third president of the Soka Gakkai and founder of the Soka Gakkai International, Mr. Ikeda developed and inspired the largest, most diverse international lay Buddhist association in the world. Based on the 700-year-old tradition of Nichiren Buddhism, a form of Mahayana Buddhism, the movement is characterized by its emphasis on value creation (soka): each individual finding value in their unique path while contributing value to humanity.

In September 1993, Daisaku Ikeda delivered a lecture at Harvard University titled “Mahayana Buddhism and Twenty-first Century Civilization” in which he highlighted the contributions Mahayana Buddhism can make to the peaceful evolution of humanity. Soon after, he founded the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century (renamed the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in 2009) to provide a space for dialogic encounters that would carry the spirit of that lecture forward, exploring themes and concepts that contribute to the creation and expansion of cultures of peace.

In addition to the Ikeda Center, Mr. Ikeda founded a number of cultural, educational, and peace research institutions around the world, including the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research in 1996, and Soka University of America in 2001. All of these institutions share a commitment to soka-inspired values of peace and humanism, but function as independent organizations.

For more on Daisaku Ikeda, please see daisakuikeda.org.

The conquest of our own prejudicial thinking, our own attachment to difference, is the guiding principle for open dialogue, the essential condition for the establishment of peace and universal respect for human rights.

Daisaku Ikeda, Founding Lecture