To promote Human Values through Education & Culture

A Piece of Mirror

Dr. Ikeda lives by the unshakeable conviction that true peace is the only solid foundation of a harmonious society and the idea of peace can be engraved in the hearts and minds of ordinary people as a way of life. He firmly believes in the potential of individuals to build bridges of friendship and trust across the apparent differences and that the cumulative energy of such endeavours will tip the global balances towards peace. He has engaged in dialogue with representatives from various spheres of society and has for more than 30 years met with thinkers and activists pursuing dialogues for peace.

The following excerpt from Dr. Ikeda’s essay, ‘A Piece of Mirror’, expresses his views on peace based on his war-time sufferings and experience.

I have a mirror. I always keep it with me. A piece of broken mirror, the kind you could probably find on any trash heap. But to me, it’s anything but trash.

When my mother was married, she brought, as part of her trousseau, a mirror stand fitted with a very nice mirror. How many time it must have clearly reflected her face as a young bride. Twenty years later, however, the mirror somehow got broken. My eldest brother Kiichi and I sorted over the fragments and picked our two of the larger ones to keep.

Not long after that, the war broke out. My four elder brothers one by one went off to the front, some to fight in China, others to Southeast Asia. I felt very strong feelings of revulsion against the war. My four brothers, who were in the prime of life, ready to work and contribute to our family, were taken from us, each by a single piece of paper – the conscription notice.

My mother, her four eldest sons taken away from her, tried not to show her grief, but she seemed to age suddenly. Then the air raids on Tokyo began, and soon they were a daily occurrence. I kept my piece of mirror always with me, tucking it carefully inside my shirt as I dodged my way through the fire bombs that fell all around us....

When peace finally came, one by one my brothers returned home. But there was still no word of Kiichi. Eventually, nearly two years after the war ended, we received notification that he had been killed in Burma. I thought at once of the piece of mirror I knew he carried in the breast pocket of his uniform. I could imagine him, during the lull in the fighting, taking it out and looking at his unshaven face in it, thinking longingly of mother at home.

In the dark and troubled times after Japan’s defeat, I left home and moved into lodgings. The room was small, bare and ugly, but fortunately, I had my piece of broken mirror with me. Every morning before I went to work I would take it out and use it while I shaved and combed my hair.

The piece of broken mirror, whenever I look at it, speaks to me about those difficult days of my youth, my mother’s prayers and the sad fate of my eldest brother, and it would continue to do so as long as I live.