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Gyeongju University, North Gyeongsang Province, Republic of Korea
December 8, 2001--Honorary Professor

Dr. Kim Il Yun, Founding President (message)

North Gyeongsang Province, where Gyeongju University is located, is steeped in the millennium-long legacy of the Silla dynasty. Over the years, the province's small, time-honored cities have been sustained by Buddhism and its culture.

Pulguksa Temple and Sokkuram Temple, as well as the oldest observatory in East Asia, Cheomseongdae, head the pantheon of pagodas and Buddhist statues that express this culture of the Silla era to the present day.

In short, North Gyeongsang has been able to develop and flourish because it was established on the bedrock of Buddhist culture.

We have traveled from a land enriched by such ancient history to meet a man whom we consider to be a champion of humanity, a towering sequoia of world peace, a poet of and for the people.

That man is Dr. [Daisaku] Ikeda. We have waited for this day to arrive for two years and are moved beyond words.

So it is with the utmost admiration and appreciation that we may present to Dr. Ikeda, the founder of Soka University, world poet laureate and renowned champion of humanistic education, an honorary professorship from Gyeongju University today. My joy is profound, for this occasion will stand among the most crowning moments of my life.

A jewel cannot sparkle on its own. Its radiance comes only after being struck by the rays of the sun. Similarly, our university's distinction will surely be enhanced by the light bestowed upon it by Dr. Ikeda.

Allow me, then, to offer my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Ikeda for agreeing to join our faculty . . .

One of the founding principles of Soka University is "Be a fortress for the peace of humankind." From this, I can sense the spirit of its founder, who seeks happiness for all human beings.

When we look back on the thousand-year history of Silla, which had unified the three kingdoms of Korea, we must ask how Silla was usurped and ultimately absorbed by the Goryeo dynasty. While there are numerous views on this matter, I believe the cause lay with the loss of its original founding spirit.

Any organization or group sets upon a path of decline and ultimate doom from the moment it loses sight of its pioneering spirit.

I hope that all of you will go on to carry forward Dr. Ikeda's profound spiritual legacy and build the foundations for peace that will endure for many millennia, even tens of millennia.

Regrettably, the history of the twentieth century was repeatedly marred by war and tragedy, the result of people consumed by the pursuit of their own selfish interests. And as far as the twenty-first century becoming an era of hope, ominous clouds still darken our vistas . . .

As we all know, peace is not something that will be bestowed upon us, no matter how long we may stand idly by.

That is why Gyeongju University and Soka University have jointly pledged to strive for the greater good, not for ourselves, but for humankind, as well as to promote friendship between the Republic of Korea and Japan.

As the founder of Gyeongju University, I can empathize in my own modest way the difficulties and expectations of Dr. Ikeda, who established Soka University. Unless one is willing to dedicate oneself to the fullest, one cannot achieve anything truly meaningful . . .

In Parallel Lives, Plutarch declares that while our fathers may have imbued us with life, it is our mentor who inspires our lives with meaning. The Greek thinker makes it clear that behind every great person is a great mentor, and our appreciation for our mentor should be as profound as the debt we owe to our parents.

Our lives are forever influenced by the people we meet. Dr. Ikeda underwent a decisive transformation through his encounter with a great mentor, Josei Toda, while Professor [Arnold] Toynbee came to laud philosophers who are engaged in social action through his meeting with Dr. Ikeda . . .

I became a statesman because I believe that political actions are indispensable for advancing education. I wholeheartedly concur with Dr. Ikeda's belief that education is the only path that will lead humanity to peace, and it is my hope to broaden this path and build lasting, adamantine friendships.

I remain convinced that every step we take, no matter how modest they may be, reinforces the foundations upon which Korea-Japan friendship is built, and will surely lead to global peace.

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