Striving With an Ever-Positive Spirit as “Champions of Challenge”

SGI President Ikeda's Monthly Message.

This monthly encouragement by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was originally published in the February 2018 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Photo: Seiko Press
Photo: Seiko Press

Nichiren Buddhism is a religion of challenge.

—The challenge of continuously creating, in rhythm with the Mystic Law, new value with a life force that is revitalized day after day and month after month.

—The challenge of overcoming, with Nichiren Daishonin’s writings as our guide, every trial and obstacle in life, especially, the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death, and helping others do the same.

—The challenge of confronting, together with our fellow members, the problems of society, and expanding our network for happiness and peace.

During the Atsuhara Persecution, Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, called out fervently to the 21-year-old Nanjo Tokimitsu,“My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (“The Dragon Gate,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1003). He also shared with him a passage from the Lotus Sutra: “We beg that the merit [we have] gained . . . may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 168).

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and strive to realize the great vow for kosen-rufu, our lives are one with the Mystic Law and the Buddha, and will not fail to overflow with the positive power of benefit as vast as the universe.

That is why we can triumph over all trials and obstacles that arise, and surely and steadily lead our families, friends and others with whom we share a connection to the path of eternal happiness—the path of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

What are the Bodhisattvas of the Earth? Nothing other than heroic challengers who emerge at the
appropriate time in the place where they have vowed to fulfill their mission from time without
beginning. The challenging spirit of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth pulses vibrantly in the Soka Gakkai.

I am reminded of the inspiring words of a women’s division member from the early days of our movement in Kansai: “I have always exerted myself wholeheartedly with the constant wish, awake or asleep, to help everyone become happy and to foster capable individuals.”

When we keep challenging ourselves as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, no matter what our age, our lives will shine with an ever more youthful and vibrant light.

It is just as the Daishonin teaches us, when he says: “Strengthen your resolve more than ever. Ice is made of water, but it is colder than water. Blue dye comes from indigo, but when something is repeatedly dyed in it, the color is better than that of the indigo plant” (“The Supremacy of the Law,” WND-1, 615).

During the assembly of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni’s disciples who profess to be “old and decrepit” hear from their mentor a Law that they had never known before and dance with joy, inspired to challenge themselves anew with a rejuvenated spirit (see LSOC, 117–25).

The mind of faith is free and unfettered, and prayer based on the vow for kosen-rufu is limitless.
In a letter to one of his female disciples, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “I am at a loss to say how moved I am that . . . until now you have never retreated” (WND-2, 465). I feel these words could also be taken as praise for all the noble pioneering men’s and women’s division members of our Many
Treasures Group.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, instructed us, “Our Buddhist practice is the challenge to overcome our complacency and change ourselves, our families and our communities for the better.”

The key is to take on a fresh challenge, no matter how small it may be, and chant clearly and specifically about actualizing our goal.

Reach out sincerely to even just one person a day, encouraging them and helping them form a connection with Buddhism.

This year we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ceremony of March 16, 1958, when President Toda passed the baton of kosen-rufu to his successors in the youth division. It is delightful to see our youth division and student division members rising vigorously to the challenge of expanding our network of Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

Together with the youth, let us continue to increase, one by one, the ranks of new members in our communities who will join us in this challenge.

Brilliant achievement awaits champions of challenge who strive with an ever-positive spirit!

is another name for
“champions of challenge.”
Triumph through all
with overflowing courage.

(pp. 4-5)

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