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The Art of True Relations: Conversations on the Poetic Heart of Human Possibility
with Sarah Wider

The Art of True Relations
Pub. Year



Dialogue Path Press



The Art of True Relations: Conversations on the Poetic Heart of Human Possibility, a heartwarming dialogue between Sarah Wider and Daisaku Ikeda, illuminates the power of dialogue and the revival of the poetic spirit while exploring such diverse subjects as women, friendship, art, literature and education.

Both authors firmly believe in the importance of nurturing human potential and possibility through the art of dialogue, eloquently exemplified throughout their far-reaching conversations touching on the personal to the philosophical. As Dr. Sarah Wider, professor of English and Women’s Studies at Colgate University, notes: “True exchanges of opinion are impossible unless the parties involved know something about each other. . . . Only then does dialogue have the power to cultivate peace and promote a philosophy of compassionate understanding throughout the world.”

Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist leader and philosopher, further points out that a vital and yet often undervalued component of meaningful dialogue is the ability to listen. “Listening and lending an ear—these open the heart and show respect for the other person,” Ikeda notes, “in turn generating mutual inspiration and spurring creativity.”

Throughout their conversations Wider and Ikeda especially reflect on the philosophy and words of Ralph Waldo Emerson as they discuss their shared dedication to humanistic education, the fostering of human potential and the art of building true relations. On several occasions, Wider notes the power of encouragement in nurturing genuine relationships and introduces Emerson’s perspective on “true relations,” in which he describes how the creative work of nurturing relationships does not require exorbitant costs-rather it takes creativity, time and energy-and the best resource is wise and honest encouragement from family and friends.

Wider also relates how words of encouragement touched her own life in the form of a book of photographs and poems by Ikeda she received from him shortly before her mother’s death: “‘Become strong! Become strong! Become strong without fail! We need strength to be happy, to be victorious.’ I read this passage many times. The words in no way minimized my difficulties, rather they showed me that strength resides within every struggle, waiting to be born.”

Ikeda highlights the need for the emergence of true humanism and the restoration of the power of language to effect good in our troubled times. As he further explains, “[A] single word of encouragement from parents, siblings, teachers, seniors, or friends can dramatically alter a person’s life. It can impart hope to live and strength to overcome hardships. Encouraging others can be described as enabling the inner strength, the inner power, of others to shine.” Ikeda firmly believes that it is only by tapping into this resource-“the inner light of humanity,”-that we can create a brighter future filled with hope and possibility.

Sarah Wider and Daisaku Ikeda first met in Tokyo, Japan, in July 2006. The idea of publishing a dialogue together grew out of their discussions at that time and was continued through written correspondence. Their ongoing dialogue was initially serialized in Pumpkin, a Japanese women’s magazine, from November 2009 to February 2011. The Japanese edition of The Art of True Relations was published as a book in September 2013 and the English edition was published by Dialogue Path Press in February 2014.


Preface by Daisaku Ikeda
Preface by Sarah Wider
  1. New Adventures
  2. University of All Knowledges
  3. The Encouraging Voice
  4. All Things Connected
  5. Sublime Motivations
  6. A Return to Self-Reliance
  7. The Rhythms of Nature
  8. Sympathy and Likeness
  9. The Creative Life
  10. Renaissance Women
  11. Strength Through Connection
  12. To Open All Doors
  13. Rooted in Dialogue
  14. Learning Journeys
  15. The Solidest Thing
  16. Infinite Power Inside

About the Authors


The Art of True Relations is a carefully crafted, beautifully organized, and deeply hospitable book. . . .
   I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in living more humanely.”
– Megan Laverty, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University

“Following the gentle flow of Ikeda and Wider’s conversations, we enter a heart-warming intimacy with them and with their mentors, Josei Toda and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The authors’ unabashed expressions of appreciation for mothers everywhere, for circles of support, and for the natural world evoke radical gratitude.
– Ann Diller, Professor Emerita, Philosophy of Education, University of New Hampshire

“This wonderful book both enacts and recalls dialogue as the most fundamental means of human growth. Sarah Wider and Daisaku Ikeda celebrate the self-reliance of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with special attention to the women of Transcendentalism who were mentors, friends, and teachers of new spiritual awareness. . . . The Art of True Relations is a delight to read.”
– Phyllis Cole, Professor of English, Women's Studies, and American Studies, Penn State Brandywine

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