How Do I Persevere When I Feel That My Efforts Aren’t Bearing Results?
From the series "Good to Know."
Q: How do I persevere when I feel that my efforts aren’t bearing results?
A: As the saying goes, “Patience is a virtue.”
Nichiren Daishonin teaches us, “To accept is easy; to continue is difficult. But Buddhahood lies in continuing faith” (“The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 471). When we are buffeted by numerous obstacles or continuously grappling with the same problem, we tend to develop doubts about our faith, thinking, I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do, but where are the results? We might feel our motivation slipping, and retreat into a solitary practice, or worse, give up on our practice. Such doubts and tendencies are functions of our fundamental darkness or ignorance—disbelief in our Buddha nature—that hinder our ability to realize our goals and happiness in life.
This is precisely when we must seek out our “good friends” in faith. Nichiren says: “Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may fall down on an uneven path . . . Therefore, the best way to attain Buddhahood is to encounter a good friend” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” WND-1, 598).
In Buddhism, a “good friend” leads us to the correct path of faith and keeps us from being overtaken by negative tendencies. Such friends are found in our fellow SGI members and in our mentor, SGI President Ikeda. And because “encountering good friends is the hardest possible thing to do” (WND-1, 598), we should do our utmost to treasure them.
In a well-known Buddhist story, when Shakyamuni’s disciple Ananda asks whether advancing together with good friends is half the Buddha way, Shakyamuni replies: “Ananda, this way of thinking is not correct. Having good friends and advancing together with them is not half the Buddha way but all the Buddha way” (April 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 57).
Ultimately, how we advance in life and in attaining Buddhahood depends on our individual efforts to develop self-reliant faith. But we need good friends to keep us on course, because when we practice in isolation, our perspective narrows, we become self-centered and veer off the path of correct practice. President Ikeda says: “The presence of fellow members who encourage and support one another plays an indispensable role in vanquishing [our] fundamental darkness. An organization of ‘good friends’ who act as positive influences is essential” (April 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 56).
We find the power to persevere in our faith by hearing experiences from fellow members and seeking guidance from seniors in faith, refreshing our commitment to our SGI activities. By repeating these efforts, not only can we accomplish our day-to-day goals, we will without doubt break through any deadlock and develop lives of limitless growth and happiness.