Living Out Our Lives With Unwavering Faith
SGI President Ikeda's Monthly Message.
This monthly encouragement by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was originally published in the July 2018 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.
I am always deeply moved when I read of the lengths Nichiren Daishonin went to encourage his elderly disciples.
In a letter to the lay priest of Ko and his wife, the lay nun of Ko, a couple without children who lived on Sado Island, he wrote: “Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, must be a compassionate father to both of you. I, Nichiren, must be your child” (“Reply to the Lay Priest of Ko,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 491). In this way, he sought to dispel the anxiety the couple might have felt as they grew old in a troubled and uncertain world.
And in a letter to Toki Jonin, the Daishonin praised his mother, who was in her 90s, saying: “All the gods of the ten directions will come to know of it [this sincere offering she has made] as well. Like the dew merging with the great ocean or soil added to the great earth, [the benefit of this offering] will remain in lifetime after lifetime, and never abate for existence after existence” (“A Mother’s Gift of a Robe,” WND-2, 532).
Such words express the concern and reassurance the Daishonin would also surely convey to the men’s and women’s division members of the Soka Gakkai.
At the discussion meeting where I met my mentor, Josei Toda, when I was 19 years old, he stated confidently that Nichiren Buddhism enables all people to overcome the fundamental sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death, and to lead the best possible life.
In the 70 years that have passed since then, countless members of our Soka family have, in accord with second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s guidance, bravely faced the sufferings of life and death, and demonstrated victorious actual proof of their human revolution.
In “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” Nichiren writes, “How can we possibly hold back our tears at the inexpressible joy of knowing that not just one or two, not just one hundred or two hundred, but as many as a thousand Buddhas will come to greet us with open arms!” (WND-1, 216–17).
Our Many Treasures Group members, who have chanted for and encouraged many others over the years, will without a doubt be embraced and protected by a thousand Buddhas as they advance along a path of joy and security in their next lives.
• • • •
There is no denying that, as living beings, our mental and physical powers decline with age.
Even Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, acknowledged: “During these past eight years, what with a wasting illness and advancing age, I have grown weaker and weaker in body with each year, and my mind has become increasingly distracted” (“Reply to the Lay Nun, Mother of Ueno,” WND-2, 973). Still, he continued to endure harsh persecutions while protecting and fostering each of his disciples, and making efforts to ensure the eternal transmission of the Mystic Law.
Though you may be struggling with illness or perhaps caring for an ill or aging family member, there is no reason to harbor doubts and question why this is happening when you or your family have practiced Nichiren Buddhism for many years. As the Daishonin explained to one of his disciples: “Could not this illness . . . be the Buddha’s design, because [the sutras] teach that sick people will surely attain Buddhahood? Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way” (“The Good Medicine for All Ills,” WND-1, 937). The key is to find the deeper meaning in the experience, change poison into medicine, create enormous benefits and forge a great, invincible life state for the sake of your family members and friends. This is the purpose of faith.
Though our six consciousnesses—sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and thought—may decline, the “palace of the ninth consciousness, the unchanging reality that reigns over all of life’s functions” (“The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” WND-1, 832) that we have built through our efforts for kosen-rufu, will never be destroyed.
In our journey throughout the three existences of past, present and future, we are eternally united with the Mystic Law and Nichiren Daishonin. How could we be anxious or fearful?
This “heritage of faith” is certain to eventually flow on to all your family members, even those who oppose your practice, so there is nothing to worry about.
Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi died in prison for his beliefs. His example has taught us that no matter where we may be, no matter what the last moments of our lives may be like, those who have dedicated themselves to the vow for kosen-rufu are guaranteed to show wonderful victory of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.
Upholding this spirit of eternally unwavering faith we have inherited from Mr. Makiguchi, let us join with our Many Treasures Group members in spreading a fragrant breeze of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.
for in life and death alike
we are Buddhas!
Crossing mountains and valleys,
let us sing a joyous song of victory.