"While we share different values, how far can we expand a common ground for all humanity through true dialogue? The important thing is how we can use the power of dialogue to bring the world closer together and raise humanity to a new eminence. In the present highly complex world of overlapping hatreds, contradictory interests, and conflict, even attempting to do such things may seem like an idealism that will only take us in circles. But . . . I am someone who believes that a magnificent and very real challenge as we seek world peace is to allow the civilization of dialogue to flower in the twenty-first century."
Ikeda with French author and statesman André Malraux in Paris, 1975. Ikeda has met and held dialogues with some 1,600 individuals in diverse fields of endeavor.
While, from Ikeda's perspective, a primary and basic function of religion should be to help foster and ensure harmony between people, today religious and cultural differences are perhaps the most profound source of division among people.
For Ikeda, the primary means for overcoming this problem and bringing people together on the basis of their shared humanity are dialogue and education. This is why he has devoted the bulk of his energy to these pursuits.
Many of Ikeda's dialogues with prominent thinkers and leaders in various fields have been published. These cover an extensive range of topics and issues--from peace studies, disarmament, ethics and the environment to art, history, literature and astronomy.
Dialogue, he asserts, reaffirms and reinvigorates the shared humanity of those who engage in it. It is in commitment to dialogue that we find the essence and practice of humanism.
Ikeda's efforts to engage in and promote dialogue are aimed at clarifying shared values that can serve as the basis of mutual understanding and cooperation between people, a basis on which other differences between people can be successfully resolved or negotiated.
With Dr. Brian Wilson of Oxford University, a world authority on the sociology of religion. (Tokyo, November 1997)
"How can twenty-first-century humankind overcome the crises that face us?" he asks. "There is, of course, no simple solution, no 'magic wand' we can wave to make it all better. The core of such efforts must be to bring forth the full potential of dialogue. So long as human history continues, we will face the perennial challenge of realizing, maintaining and strengthening peace through dialogue." 2 Through dialogue the energies of dogmatism and fanaticism can be redirected toward a more humanistic outlook.
"As ripples of dialogue multiply and spread, they have the potential to generate the kind of sea change that will redirect the forces of fanaticism and dogmatism. The cumulative effect of such seemingly small efforts is, I believe, sufficient to redirect the current of the times. What is crucial is the hard and patient work of challenging, through the spiritual struggle of intense encounter and dialogue, the assumptions and attachments that bind and drive people." 3
For Ikeda, faith in human beings is the foundation of dialogue. It is such faith that is the hallmark of Ikeda's philosophy, and the source of his energetic commitment to peace.