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"Eternally Correct Path to Victory--Joyous Dance of Humanity's Triumph"

This poem was first published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun newspaper on March 4, 2003, and is dedicated to the students and alumni of Soka University.

To my young scholar friends of Soka

I wish to place
in your eternal hands
the bound pages
of a book of vast knowledge,
that your mind may enfold
an inexhaustible repository
of the world's learning.


Your erudite deeds
resound magnificently
like the luxuriant tones
of a flawless instrument.


When we intone together
the clear bright chords
of advancement's song
we feel the pull
of magnetic hope--
colossal joy wells forth.


Savor the book of wisdom
you hold in your timeless hands,
as a supremely brilliant jewel.
Cause it to resound
like the drum signaling
the dash and charge
to victory.


Ah, the dark and dismal sight
of jaded intellectuals,
of scholarship discordant and grasping!
The eternal farce of lectures
pompously delivered
with deluded assurance of brilliance.


Plato, great philosopher
of ancient Greece,
admonishes us:
It is in ignorance of the
greatest good--
in failure to seek out
knowledge of good--
that evil lies.


We live our lives
carefully cherishing
each day,
each passing moment.


Never forget
the vow made that day
to your mentor,
the vows shared
with your friends in learning,
your comrades in
a common aspiring.


We are fortunate to have
vast objectives,
magnificent, glistening goals.
Remain serene and uncomplaining
as you steadily progress
like the Ganges River,
winding a shining band
across the earth's expanse.
Embracing the abundant jewel
of your mission,
enable people to experience
the crystalline realization
of glory.


Those who use people,
treating them as tools to an end,
are not worthy to be called leaders.
And politicians who treat people
as mere pawns
are doubly criminal.


We need but recall
the odious experience of
wartime Japan
when the militarists,
bloated with pride,
wrought unspeakable misery
on ordinary citizens.
People's homes were burned;
precious family members
were torn from them.
The caring ties
of parent and child
were ripped and rent,
the devoted bonds of lovers
smashed and scattered
in the mad rush to battle.


The demonic insanity
of those drunk on power
exacted servile submission
from countless young people
just starting to live,
just beginning to learn.


The goals of scholarship
must be humanitarian:
human happiness
and the renunciation of war.
Learning must aim
for fulfillment and improvement
of both the individual
and all humankind.
It must aim to secure peace
for the people,
offering them a clear
and palpable sense
of satisfaction
in the process of living
life each day.


As you know too well,
in any age
in any country
there are deceitful people,
people who are slickly crafty,
whose motives
are bestial and base.


This is why justice must prevail,
why the correct and true
cannot be allowed
to go down in defeat.
This is what it means
to wage a genuine
struggle for justice.


Never compromise
with villains who grind
the people's rights
into the dirt.
Expose and rebuke
the language of insidious lies,
words that plunge society
into smothering darkness.
This is what it means
to wield the power and freedom
of speech
in the cause of justice.


We will not be defeated.
We will never give up!
However we may be assailed
by those of evil and ugly intent,
our convictions remain
lofty and unperturbed.


Because we know
that the despicable actions
of those who seek to ensnare us
will eventually bring
a pitiful crumbling in flames;
that the pathetic path
they have chosen
leads only to torment.


The ultimate outcome
of a life of base cowardice
--one spent plotting
others' downfall
with sly fabrications
and outrageous lies--
is always searing anguish,
hellish pain unbroken
over the three existences
of past, present and future.
These are the words of Shakyamuni.
This is the guiding principle
of humanity,
the inner law
of the universe.


Whatever pressure or harassment
we encounter in the world
--even if we appear at times
headed for defeat--
in the end
we raise ourselves up and
--infused with new strength
and confidence--
go on to victory.
This we do ever and always,
always and ever again.


We must never give up!
We must never succumb
to the craven and malignantly jealous.
For it is in genuine victory
that the ultimate essence
of Buddhism is found.


You, my dear friends!
Until a jaunty bugle blast
adorns the final moment
of this life,
live to the utmost,
win without cease;
lift voices
sonorous with joy,
ample with ease and grace!
And let us take
our serene places
on the tall thrones
reserved for
the true monarchs of humanity.


Who cares for emperors--
a mere human contrivance!
Who cares for decorations,
for medals and honors--
human conceits, one and all!
Is not the falsehood
that lurks so often in their depths
plain for all to see?


One cannot know
if a person has lived
a life of victory or defeat
of success or failure,
without viewing that person's life
in its entirety.
These can only be determined
from the perspective
of the eternal flow of history.


You must therefore fear nothing!
It is because you have
justice with you
that you must fight on
without flinching!


Dear friends
thoroughly committed
to this shared struggle,
each determined to fulfill
a noble mission!
Never forget
that history will be the judge
of all we do.
Never forget
that future generations will decide,
strictly yet fairly,
who deserves praise
and who censure.
The court of right and wrong
will ultimately pronounce
its final verdict.


My treasured, invaluable friends!
Without exception crown
the struggle that is life
with honorable victory!


You must never cause
your mother sadness.
You must never cause her
to shed sad and lonely tears.


Let her declare
through glistening
silver tears of joy:
"I am happy.
My child has earned
a grand, outstanding victory.
My child has created
a truly wonderful history."


I wish you to become
--No! I demand you become! --
such a person.
Become the person
awaited and anticipated
by your mother's brilliant smile.


You whom I trust so deeply!
In the midst
of trials and struggles whose
severity outstrips imagination,
stay brimming with confidence
and savor victory's delight!


Because in victory is to be found
the summation of
your awakening, your arising
as a person of unmatched learning,
unbounded talent,
enduring contribution.


Today is a day
quivering with hope.
Make this day
one of an undisturbed succession
directed toward victory!
Any laziness
is your loss.
All effort is your gain;
it is the path to triumph.


You have no need
for dreary voices
offering precepts or didactic instruction.
For you are confidently convinced
of your own success, your own final triumph!


We are in solid, certain possession
of the wisdom and power
needed to emerge as winners
from the battles that lie in wait.


Beyond all the tempests
on the path proceeding
to your distant future,
the light of a solemn moon
is watching, waiting.
A proud and brilliantly shining sun
enfolds and guards you.


All is change.
In your soul
an eternally valid,
new and certain world
awaits, sparkling.


As the literary master Goethe called out:
"I always extol humanity's joy.
So long as human beings do not veer
from the correct path,
they are indeed beautiful
and eternally great!"


In my own life,
I have won.
I have won
because the unbroken ranks
of brilliant young scholars,
my genuine disciples,
the students and graduates
of Soka University,
Soka Women's College,
and Soka University of America,
are living on
into a magnificent future.
Because I know
your majestic arts,
dazzlingly bright and eternally triumphant.
Because I know
your boisterous, glorious
victory dance.


February 27, 2003
World Poet Laureate