Youth Are the Sun Brightening the New Era
SGI Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa gave the following address at the March 4 West Territory Champions of the New Era meeting at El Camino College in Torrance, California.
My congratulations on the holding of this Champions of the New Era meeting! Our organization aims to help individuals lead a vibrant and fulfilling life while creating the highest value based on Buddhist philosophy. We are committed to building a society in which all people can enjoy peace and happiness.
Buddhism teaches that nothing exists in isolation, that we are in a state of constant mutual support. For example, you owe your existence to your parents. But some of you may have parents who are deceased. Some of you may be struggling to have genuine interaction with them. And some of you may have lost contact with them.
But whatever the case may be, we are able to enjoy a fragrant breeze, feel great joy in looking at flowers or experience content in a job well done all because of our parents who brought us into this world.
I lost my father 22 years ago. And my mother passed away last April at the age of 94. But their warmth and boundless love still lives on in me today. It is a great source of inspiration and has helped me overcome all manner of hardships, staying true to my path in life.
SGI President Ikeda’s heartfelt message to the youth for today’s meeting elucidates from diverse angles what it means to live a happy and fulfilled life.
He recently wrote in the following poem:
Those who have a sense of appreciation are happy.
Their lives abound
with rich vitality and joy.
They are dynamic and cheerful
and have tremendous fortune.
Those who lack appreciation are unhappy.
Their hearts are dark and impoverished,
and they are always discontent,
filled with jealousy, resentment and complaint.
In this way, they isolate themselves from others.
Indeed, it is the spirit of gratitude
that gives rise to a brilliant life.
“Who has helped me and how have they helped me
become the person I am today?”
Thoroughly understanding this
and expressing our gratitude
powerfully affirms who we are
while establishing the foundation
of who we will become as individuals.
When we establish that foundation,
it becomes the basis
for our tremendous growth as human beings.
To repay the kindness we have received means
revealing our own potential to the greatest degree possible;
it means taking on the challenge of our own human revolution.
The great writer Goethe once commented that
while we encounter
those to whom we should offer gratitude,
more often that not
we forget to express it.
It is exactly as he says.
We must express our appreciation
to those who are quietly supporting.
We must never
take them for granted.
People’s hearts are moved by
one comment, one word.
Our heart, our intent, is the basis for determining all else.
By never forgetting our sense of appreciation,
and thoroughly repaying the kindness we’ve received—
the kind of action
we need to take becomes clear.
When gratitude becomes your guide,
you’ll always find boundless courage and wisdom
from within your life.
Those with appreciation shine.
A world full of grateful people will prosper.
(Tentative translation, from the Feb. 12, 2017, Seikyo Shimbun, p. 1)
In your daily life, you may sometimes forget the people who are supporting you. But in reality, it is thanks to your mentor, family, friends and co-workers that you are the person you are today.
Today’s performances were possible only because of those who were working behind the scenes, adjusting the sound and working the lighting. There are members who have been up since early morning to support this meeting. And there are members outside supporting in the parking lot, making sure people can get here safely, and also at the entrances to greet everyone.
Of course, you must not forget the members back home who sent you off, who must be chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo right now for the success of the meeting.
Furthermore, I’d like to recognize our mentor, President Ikeda, who sent us a heartfelt message today [see p. 7], and who is earnestly praying for our victory and happiness.
In addition, we owe our lives to the natural environment, the food we consume and the people around us. We couldn’t survive if not for the water we drink, the air we breathe and the other blessings of nature. Even water and air, when we take it in with appreciation, becomes sweeter, don’t you think?
Through our Buddhist practice, we can broaden and deepen our life state over time—so much so that we can appreciate even negative things.
President Ikeda points out that those who lack appreciation are unhappy, and they are always swept up by the discontent of jealousy. A person’s worst conditions in life can be summed up as “greed, anger and foolishness”—what Buddhism terms the three poisons.
Greed is a state of life in which one is driven by insatiable desires, and can be said to be “burning in the flame of one’s own desires.”
Anger is a state or tendency to despise others and harbor a sense of resentment toward one’s own life.
Foolishness, or ignorance, is a state in which one is constantly controlled by emotions and instincts, unable to see how his or her actions impact or harm others.
All three are states of life in which you are constantly manipulated by your desires and environment. You feel totally unhappy and in despair. This is often accompanied by seemingly never-ending difficulties with those who are closest to you.
The world today faces a crisis of division and hostility. Buddhism teaches that such occurrences in our individual states of life are not unrelated.
Buddhism teaches that the underlying cause of war and conflict is the prevalence of anger. Famine is caused by greed. And pestilence is triggered by a life of foolishness. As human beings, we are disposed to fall back on the tendencies of these three poisons. But with our Buddhist practice, we can build a life so strong that we can control and overcome these negative tendencies.
Our Buddhist philosophy is one of hope that stresses that people have the ability to create world peace and prosperity through each person’s inner transformation. This is not a fairy tale.
Just like the experience you heard today, SGI members can over countless examples of actual proof. I hope that all of the guests have a chance to ask your SGI friends about their experiences of revitalizing their lives through this Buddhist practice. No matter how dark the night, once the sun rises, the world is bathed in its brilliant light. Through our practice of Buddhism, we can uncover our limitless potential. Youth who embrace this philosophy are like the sun. With your passion, you can melt the icy conditions of hate and division, and illuminate this dark age.
I would like to close today by asking you to believe in your own potential and in the inherent dignity of life, and help many others live a life of value creation, where they can use any obstacle as a tailwind for advancement.
Together, let us vow today to start a powerful current of worldwide kosen-rufu!