"SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda s Message at the Entrance"
SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda’s Message at the 2004 Entrance Ceremony Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo My most heartfelt congratulations on the holding of this entrance ceremony, bright with hope and glory! I wish to welcome and offer my sincere gratitude and respect to the talented young people who have chosen to study here at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, becoming members of the fourth incoming class. As founder, I wish to salute you, the treasure of the twenty-first century; in my heart, I am exchanging firm, strong handshakes with each and every one of you. To the current student body, members of the Classes of 2005, 2006 and 2007: thanks to your courageous, pioneering efforts, to your determined pursuit of learning and high-minded endeavors, the founding traditions of Soka University of America have been firmly established. As we welcome, from throughout the United States and the entire world, these new comrades in the challenge of creating a new university, SUA now boasts a full four-year student body. Together, you represent the solidarity of youthful world citizens from thirty-two countries and territories. I would also like to offer my deepest gratitude to Prof. Jack W. Peltason, President Emeritus of the University of California, and all our distinguished friends who join us today despite their busy schedules and who, over the years, have been so consistently generous in their support for SUA. To the faculty, staff and administration of SUA, I wish to voice my sincere gratitude for all your invaluable work. To the family and friends of the incoming class, I wish to share in your great joy today. When he was twenty years old, Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher of American Renaissance, visited the newly-established Amherst College. The institution was a liberal arts college where, like at SUA today, a small group of gifted students were earnestly engaged in learning. The young Emerson was deeply moved by what he witnessed, describing his impressions as follows: “… they write, speak, and study in a sort of fury, which, I think, promises a harvest of attainments.” In the more than 180 years since he made that prediction, Amherst has indeed developed into a renowned center of higher learning, a leading university in the United States that has sent a stream of capable and contributing individuals into the world, including Nobel Laureates and heads of state. It is truly gratifying to hear the comments of the many scholars and representatives of the world of learning who have visited SUA and have expressed, like Emerson, their admiration for the passion with which our students pursue their studies, motivated by the dream of building this new university. For me, the students who have gathered to realize the founding principles of Soka University of America, burning with an undefeatable spirit and resolve, are a source of inexpressible joy and pride. As a small gift celebrating your entrance and welcoming you to SUA, I wish to present you with a photograph of the Himalayas that I took in Nepal. Even as they are whipped by the fiercest winds and storms, the Himalayas continue to buckle upward and to grow, reaching toward the heavens. Just like these dignified monarchs, I hope you will lead the most supreme and noble lives. Soka University of America is a sanctuary of humanistic education whose purpose is to enable you to grow into people of towering intellect, character and principles. On the topic of mountains, it is Petrarch, poet laureate of the Italian Renaissance, born seven centuries ago this year, who is regarded as a pioneer of modern mountaineering. Petrarch successfully took on the challenge of scaling Mount Ventoux which, at nearly 2,000 meters elevation, was the highest peak in the Provence region of France. As he stood overlooking the Pyrenees, the bay of Marseilles and the beautiful Rhone River in the distant, Petrarch addressed himself thus: “At the top is at once the end of our struggles and the goal for -2- which we are bound. All wish to reach this goal, … What, then, doth hold thee back?” Even as he scaled Mount Ventoux, Petrarch kept with him a copy of a classic text that had been the gift of Dionisio da Borgo San Sepolcro, his revered mentor. In constant, inner communion with his mentor and with the intellectual heritage of humankind, Petrarch continued his endless advance to ascend the highest peaks of the human spirit. As he put it, “How earnestly should we strive, not to stand on mountain-tops, but to trample beneath us those appetites which spring from earthly impulses.” These same steps took him forward along the path of courageously standing up to and resisting the arrogant authority of those who wield power. His was the path of resolutely protecting the freedom of the people. Several months before his death, Petrarch presented one of his students, Luigi Marsili, with a book. This was the same precious tome that his own mentor had given him, and which he carried as he climbed Mount Ventoux. Marsili, as heir to the will and resolve of his mentor, earnestly committed himself to his studies, eventually became a key figure in the new cultural movement then arising in Florence, sharing his mentor’s philosophy with the common people of his day and with the young people in whose hearts it would live vibrantly on into the future. To advance along the path of truth and justice together with one’s mentor—this is the most certain path enabling youth to scale life’s most elevated peaks. Today, August 14, is the day, fifty-seven years ago, when I first encountered my mentor in life, Josei Toda. I was nineteen years old at the time. As I write this I am picturing in my mind, like a grand masterpiece, the future of you, my beloved friends, fifty years hence. I am moved by the vision of your noble aspects as you, without exception, strive as great leaders of the world, actively fulfilling your respective missions in life. -3- Soka University of America is like the sun that will dispel the darkness now enshrouding humanity, creating a new era in education. Each and every one of you who studies here is a shining sun of hope. Please continue always to make those efforts that will polish and bring forth the bright light of wisdom, the warm sun of friendship, from within your life. Looking up to the high summits of victory, I hope you will continue to scale these peaks together with me, with your teachers and your fellow students. Whatever difficulties we may confront, let us continue to advance and ascend with joy! I am wholeheartedly looking forward to the day when I may meet all the students of SUA—leaders for the twenty-first century and treasures of my heart. Until then, please stay well and healthy! August 14, 2004 Daisaku Ikeda Founder Soka University of America -4-