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Be Creative Individuals

This is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Daisaku Ikeda at the third entrance ceremony, the first he attended, held in the university's Central Gymnasium on April 9, 1973.

Increased Spiritual Freedom

Having shared with you my views on the original purpose of the university, I wish to make the following request: that you always strive to be creative individuals.

The name of this institution--Soka University--means a university for the creation of value. This in turn means that the basic aim of our university must be to create the kind of value needed by society for it to become a more healthful and wholesome place. This is the kind of value that must be offered-or returned-to society. Consequently, all students here should cultivate their creative abilities in the effort to provide a rich vision for the future and contribute in a meaningful way to society.

Creativity is much more than simply having the occasional good idea. Of course even to come up with such ideas requires a firm foundation of basic knowledge. And creative work in the fields of scholarship and learning is incomparably more demanding. It is like a mountain pinnacle: It cannot exist without a broad base of knowledge and a solid foundation of deep thinking and reflection.

The university is the most suitable place to establish such a foundation. Unfortunately, although most universities in Japan today are blessed with the necessary conditions to do this, there is a distressing lack of will to direct learning toward the ultimate goal of creative activity. They fail to serve as venues for the development of genuinely creative personalities. I want Soka University to be different. I want it to become an institution brimming with creative vitality, and I want it to introduce fresh currents into society.

The cultivation of creativity must be rooted in the soil of a rich spirituality. This in turn points to the vital importance of maintaining spiritual freedom. Independent thought and creative work are impossible when the human spirit is subjected to restraining or distorting pressures. Inexhaustible fonts of creative thinking can only be tapped where mind and spirit can roam freely exploring all perspectives and possibilities. The various historical examples I have mentioned were universities in which the spirit was given just such free rein.

But spiritual freedom does not mean spiritual license. It does not mean thinking and acting in a willful, arbitrary manner. True development can take place only in the presence of both expansive liberty and a high degree of self-discipline. In my view this means the opportunity to grow by sharing ideas through dialogue, provoking and catalyzing each other toward an expanded field of vision and ultimately to profound and encompassing insight into the nature of things.

Both in Plato's Academy and in the ancient Buddhist university at Nalanda there was freedom; but there was also stern confrontation with truth. Thus there was creative, original thinking. And it was precisely for this reason that the Academy and Nalanda were able to bequeath such rich spiritual heritages to their respective spheres of civilization.

Evidence of the fact that strict training is integral to any effort to expand spiritual freedom can also be seen in the less ancient examples of Oxford and Cambridge. In both universities, where many seminal scholars have been trained and much enduring research produced, an educational system is followed whose rigors reflect the universities' medieval roots. At the same time, students are afforded the high degree of freedom required to grow spiritually and to prepare themselves to make their contributions to society.

What is the source of the energy that enables individuals to extend the scope of their spiritual freedom and expand the scale of their being? To answer this question, we must inevitably return to the more fundamental issue of the nature of the human being. We must engage in a quest for the kind of philosophy that brings forth, develops and elevates latent human talents, resolving the myriad contradictions of the human condition and bringing these to a higher, more creative synthesis.

All the educational institutions I have mentioned have been built on this kind of philosophical bedrock. The untrammeled development of learning and rich cultural flowerings have always arisen from the earnest effort to apprehend the nature of life and humanity, and to unleash people's inherent potentialities. Here, I am convinced, is found the key to creativity.

I hope Soka University will always seek to bring the study and understanding of humanity to completion and perfection. Based on this, I hope the university will produce an authentic flowering of scholarly achievement. I want all of you to advance in your studies and in the search for truth, always rooted in this consistent effort to build and develop your humanity, so that you can become the driving force for the transformation of society. I urge you to be creative individuals worthy of the name of Soka University: Please take this as your motto, your distinction, your character. If such habits of the heart and mind can become firmly established as the university's noble tradition, I am convinced that Soka University can play an important, invigorating role in the world of Japanese university education, which now seeks desperately for a sense of direction.