Value creation is the activity and pursuit that undergirds all of the work of the Ikeda Center. “Put simply,” states Daisaku Ikeda, “value creation is the capacity to find meaning, to enhance one’s existence, and contribute to the well-being of others, under any circumstance.”
Perhaps the most fundamental expression of value creation is found in the Buddhist concept, first articulated by Nagarjuna in the first or second century BCE, of transforming “poison into medicine.” It is not the circumstances we find ourselves in, nor the nature or force of the events we contend with, that makes the value difference in the end. Indeed, by making something good of a bad situation, you often create value that is uniquely powerful, demonstrating modes of resiliency and creativity that can be instructive for all. Of course, value isn’t only created in such dramatic circumstances; even the most normal or minor of situations is relevant to the cause of creating value. As Ikeda states, “our daily lives are filled with opportunities to develop ourselves and others.” The early-twentieth-century roots of value creation as a specific philosophy go back to the teachings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, whose value-creating (soka) philosophy and pedagogy, writes Jason Goulah, “endeavors to foster an ever-expanding capacity to create value in terms of individual ‘gain,’ social ‘good,’ and aesthetic ‘beauty.’” What we have then, is a way of acting and being for the betterment of the world that is non-moralistic, non-dogmatic, and flexible – all qualities that are essential if we want to make common cause across all of the many differences of culture or religion or nationality. After all, people in every time and place have discovered ways to create value, ways that we all can learn from.