“Roams across a vast field .... An often engrossing tapestry of fact and opinion.”It was Toynbee who suggested to President Ikeda that he engage in dialogues with other world leaders and thinkers, even naming a few he might begin with. So it is very important to Nichiren Shoshu the discredit their dialogue in any way they can. Enter Polly Toynbee, the great historian’s granddaughter.
Her basic premise — and the basic premise of most of what Nichiren Shoshu says about the Toynbee-Ikeda dialogues — is that the SGI took advantage of Toynbee to enhance President Ikeda’s status as a world figure. How was the SGI able to exploit one of the world’s greatest thinkers? His granddaughter says — he had become senile and didn’t know what was happening!
Well. Obviously, the reviewers quoted above didn’t think so. The book is 342 pages (in its first incarnation, entitled the Toynbee-Ikeda Dialogue) of extremely deep dialogue covering a vast range of topics, from rationality, to the role of religions, to arts and philosophy, even to uses of currency. Mr. Toynbee wrote an introduction. Around the same time, he wrote a preface for an edition of Mr. Ikeda’s book The Human Revolution. Anyone who peruses any of these writings will know that Mr. Toynbee was, at the time, far from senile; rather, the reader might feel that it is he himself who is out of his depth. Further, as already mentioned, it was Mr. Toynbee who suggested to President Ikeda that he pursue a series of dialogues with other intellectuals and leaders — a course Mr. Ikeda has followed to this day.
Polly Toynbee, it would seem, was put off by her own subsequent contact with the SGI. It appears, though, that this has more to do with her own rather paternalistic and aristocratic worldview. For instance, she is surprised and offended that Japanese bow to each other in greeting and parting. Anyone who would have taken five seconds to learn anything about Japanese culture would have known that this is as customary in Japan as shaking hands is in the West; but Ms. Toynbee did not take those five seconds. She also begins her account of her relationship with President Ikeda by insulting his personal appearance.
So it seems Ms. Toynbee was predisposed to have a terrible experience with the SGI; and, having had it, then had to rationalize her grandfather’s wonderful experience with the same group.
More rebuttal of SG-eye: