SGI News: Global activities for peace, education and culture

Thirtieth Anniversary of Toynbee-Ikeda Dialogue

Dr. Toynbee and Mr. Ikeda in London (May 1972)

SGI-UK sponsored a lecture and exhibition at the Taplow Court Grand Culture Centre on October 12 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's dialogues with the world-renowned British historian, Arnold Toynbee, whose work has had an important influence on modern attitudes toward history and international affairs. Mr. Ikeda first met Dr. Toynbee on May 5, 1972, and in May 1973, he again flew to London to meet with the historian for 40 hours over a period of 10 days. Their dialogue and correspondence culminated in the publication of Choose Life, a record of their views on critical issues confronting humanity. The book has been published in 24 languages to date.

At the Taplow Court event, Dr. Toynbee's nephew, Alexander Murray, an Oxford University historian, unveiled a bust of his uncle crafted by sculptor Martin Jennings. Mr. Jennings explained that he had given the bust a forward-tilting stance, as if Dr. Toynbee, who was hard of hearing in his advanced years, were leaning forward to hear what the young Ikeda had to say.

Mr. Murray unveiling the bust of Dr. Toynbee

Mr. Murray gave a lecture introducing Dr. Toynbee's career and academic achievements, which include the acclaimed 12-volume The Study of History, an analysis of the rise and fall of world civilizations. He also discussed the religious significance of the Toynbee-Ikeda dialogues.

SGI-UK Vice General Director Sue Thornton, who had taken part in transcribing the discussions 30 years ago, shared anecdotes about the encounters. She spoke about Mr. Ikeda's profound belief in dialogue, and closed her speech with his statement, "Dialogue . . . is the lifelong mission entrusted to me by Arnold Toynbee."