Message from Daisaku Ikeda
Founder of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy and President of the Soka Gakkai International
The idea of establishing the Institute of Oriental Philosophy came to me in February 1961 during a visit to India, the birthplace of Buddhism. The Buddha’s teachings, making a great leap forward in the spiritual history of mankind, have fueled the blossoming of the culture not only in India, but throughout Central Asia, Southeast Asia, China and Japan.
Still, it is undeniable that Buddhism, over the course of millennia, has gradually become formalized and ceremonial, losing sight of its fundamental mission of liberating people from suffering. While standing at the veritable fountainhead of Buddhism, I felt an urgent desire to prevent the spiritual legacy of Buddhism from becoming a thing of the past. It is not enough, I thought, simply to view Buddhism as a system of beliefs; rather, we must expose it to the light of scholarly inquiry so as to clarify the essentials of Buddhism and its universal values.
Determined to act on these ambitions, I began preparing for the foundation of an institute for research into the philosophies of the Orient. A year later, the Institute was inaugurated in January 1962.
Whenever possible over the fifty intervening years, I have tried to make what contributions I could to the Institute’s further development. It pleases me to say that the Institute has fulfilled my hopes by establishing a solid reputation for itself, not only in research into Eastern Philosophy, but also as a comprehensive institution and house of exchange that encompasses the reals of Western philosophy and the natural and social sciences. For this I am deeply indebted to many people for their cooperation and support.
Our ultimate goal, I believe, should be to make Asia’s rich spiritual Buddhist heritage a common resource for people throughout the world. We should help people to find in Oriental tradition a rich reservoir of wisdom that will contribute to the value of their lives and provide a source for the creation of richer culture. More than ever, this cause necessitates dialogue and discussion among intellectuals. It is my dream that eminent scholars and researchers of Asia and Africa, as well as those of Western countries, will utilize this institute as a forum for intellectual cooperation and exchange.
Through abundant exchange of this kind, Buddhism will, as foreseen by Nichiren, become a sun that dispels the gloom of human ignorance, and will surely form the foundation for the establishment of a truly global culture and the onset of a brilliant century of humanity.
I will continue to do whatever I can to promote the growth of the Institute. I look forward to the continued support and cooperation of friends and associates who share our devotion to this endeavor.
Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet. He is the honorary president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI).
Ikeda is a staunch proponent of dialogue as the foundation of peace. Since the 1970s he has pursued dialogue with a wide range of individuals around the world in political, cultural, educational and academic fields. Over 50 of his dialogues have been published in book form, with individuals such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Elise Boulding, Joseph Rotblat and André Malraux. He is also a prolific writer who has published more than 100 works, ranging from Buddhist philosophy to biographical essays, poetry, children's stories and photographic collections.