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
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
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
which we are bound. All wish to reach this goal, … What, then, doth hold
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
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
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.
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
Soka University of America