Education & Philosophy

What Do We Mean By Human Revolution?

ICYC members in dialogue at the Ikeda Center

Discussion at a meeting of the Ikeda Center Youth Steering Committee

The concept of human revolution, or inner transformation, is so central to the teachings of Daisaku Ikeda that it serves as the opening line of his serial novel, New Human Revolution: “A great human revolution in just a single individual,” it reads, “will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”

What human revolution means is that instead of employing the methods of “traditional” revolutions, which pit group against group and employ anti-human means such as violence to achieve their ends, if we want lasting peace in the world we do well to start with the inner life and convictions of the individual and build out from there. Mr. Ikeda frequently cites the American Renaissance when explaining the power of human revolution. “Emerson stressed that reform must begin from humans themselves,” wrote Ikeda in his 2004 message to the Ikeda Center, “from the inner realm of the human heart. Efforts to improve systems or surroundings will be meaningless unless there is an inner change within people themselves.” Ikeda’s belief in the truth of this proposition is grounded in his own Buddhist worldview, expressed like this in his 1991 Harvard Address, “The Age of Soft Power”: “The subjective world of the self and the objective world of the environment are not seen as in opposition, or as a duality.” Rather, the environment “cannot exist except in dynamic relation with the internally-generated activity of life itself.”