Why is there such a big focus on setting organizational and personal goals in the SGI?
Good to Know
A: Praying and taking action are vital aspects of advancing in our Buddhist practice so that we can bring forth our greatest potential and live the most fulfilling and happy lives. Setting goals helps us gauge and make concrete progress toward fulfilling all of our dreams, both in our personal lives as well as in our efforts to spread Buddhism. Each time we accomplish one goal, we gain confidence in our ability to achieve more in life.
An example of why we set goals in Buddhism can be found in the parable of the phantom city (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 174–75). In this story, a caravan of people sets out on a journey to a treasure land, which represents the Buddha land. But because it is a difficult and dangerous journey, before long, they become exhausted and want to turn back. Their wise leader urges them on, saying that just up ahead is a city where they can rest. The travelers reach the city, but as soon as they are rested and rejuvenated, surprisingly, it disappears. Feeling refreshed, however, they can continue their journey to the not-so-distant treasure land.
This parable teaches that the phantom city and the treasure land are one and the same. The Buddha land is not a distant destination but the place where we are right now, where we are striving to develop ourselves and contribute to kosen-rufu. For us, the phantom city represents the goals we make for developing ourselves and expanding kosen-rufu. And it is in the midst of striving to accomplish our goals that we bring forth the life state of Buddhahood.
For example, setting goals such as overcoming an illness or getting a job by a certain date provides a powerful impetus to seriously chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and transform our inner state of life. Similarly, goals in the SGI, such as gathering 50,000 Lions of Justice in September, become a means for us to expand our capacity to engage with and inspire the youth around us, while uniting with other members toward a shared dream.
SGI President Ikeda says: “It is important that we establish clear and concrete goals for what we hope to achieve each day and then pray and challenge ourselves to achieve each of them. This earnest determination gives rise to wisdom and resourcefulness, thereby leading to success. In short, to win in life we need determination and prayer, effort and ingenuity” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 2, p. 68).
What’s more, when we feel stuck, we can view our setbacks as opportunities to strengthen our resolve and learn to persevere. When we achieve success in something, we need to make sure we don’t become self-satisfied. Without a goal, it’s difficult to find hope and a reason to keep striving. Buddhism is about living with the spirit to keep challenging ourselves, no matter what.