Before my visit to Japan, I saw the Soka University of America in California, prior to its opening. I was particularly impressed at SUA by the many methods, both intellectual and physical, employed to ensure that dialogue would take place among the students. Mr. Ikeda’s admonition to the school, as stated in its mission, “to foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life,” is being admirably carried out. The student body is genuinely multicultural; and it is my firm belief that the students will learn more by interacting with people from other cultures and establishing and maintaining a dialogue with them than they would if they merely joined groups of people just like themselves.
When I visited Soka University outside of Tokyo, I was impressed by its guiding principles; as set forth by President Ikeda in 1971, these are:
“For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom?”
“May you always ask yourself this question.”
“Only labor and devotion to one’s mission give life its worth.”
What these three directives share is a belief that the individual continues to develop and that education is something that is ongoing and never ends, because, just as we can always approach but never reach infinity, we should always be able to improve ourselves as human beings and not cease our striving, thinking we have reached perfection. At the same time, these goals urge us, once we have attained a sense of who we are and what we can accomplish, to use these skills to better the world around us and to work for world peace. In many ways, all of this was summed up by the question I was asked by a student at the Soka school: “How may I be a better person?”
All of these fine principles are on display at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue, and I feel honored to have been a participant in some of the panels held here. My congratulations to the Ikeda Center on its 20th anniversary, and my best wishes for its continued success.
From Lou Marinoff, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at The City College of New York, founding president of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, and author of the bestseller Plato Not Prozac!
It has long been my view that external conflicts are manifestations of internal ones, and on every scale, from interpersonal disputes to international wars. Thus, the only way to bring about lasting peace is to uproot conflict at its source: the human psyche. The transformation of human society depends ineluctably upon the transformation of individuals. It cannot be imposed from above; it must spring from the grassroots of every human heart and mind.