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Ikeda Sensei

A Positive Spirit Creates Joy at Work


SGI members worldwide are earnestly studying SGI President Ikeda’s novel The New Human Revolution to eternalize the mentor’s teachings and transmit them to future generations. To that end, the World Tribune has begun reprinting President Ikeda’s essays from “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution.” This essay was originally published in the April 1, 1998, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

A person filled with hope shines with a special light. The blue sky of infinite possibility unfolds before them.

Today, young people in workplaces all over Japan are making a brand-new departure as they begin their adult working lives. To all of them, I say: “Congratulations! The future lies in your hands!”

On June 3, 1949, when I was 21 years old and just five months after I began working at [second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda’s publishing company, I wrote in my diary: “Every day is so busy. But I am determined to give my all to every task assigned to me. If I do that, I know my work will be fulfilling. It may be tough, but it will be enjoyable. I want to make Mr. Toda’s company the best in Japan. We must create the best magazine in all Japan.”

No matter what your position may be, I believe that the first step in any job is to be personally committed to making the company or organization a success through your own efforts. You can never be happy if you take a passive role. The joy of work and the ambition to succeed are born from a positive spirit, from taking an active role.

One of the things that I have made it a practice to do since my youth was to start the day off right. I would get to the office about 30 minutes early every day to clean and straighten things up. No one had asked me to do so; I decided to do it on my own, so everyone would have a pleasant workplace. And I always greeted my seniors cheerfully each morning.

There were all different kinds of people at work: some who always did their best; others who did what they were told but no more, and still others who were very slack and tried to get away with whatever they could.

Some young people attach themselves to seniors who are not good role models. They allow themselves to be influenced by the shallow thoughts and ideas of these individuals, with extremely detrimental consequences for their own future, all because they lack goals in life and a solid personal philosophy.

Does the environment control us or do we control it? This is a challenge all of us must grapple with. When I started working for Mr. Toda, I decided to make the effort to be a model for others, to set a standard, and I was overjoyed when, eventually, the atmosphere of the company changed visibly.

Whatever company or organization you may join, you will find that you may not always be able to do the work that you like best. You may also discover once you actually start working that the job is not what you’d imagined it to be, and grow disappointed and discouraged.

I experienced something like this myself. When Mr. Toda’s company fell on hard times, we were forced to close the magazine, and I was switched from editorial work to finance, the kind of work I most disliked.

But I was determined to make the most of this new development. It’s make or break, I thought. I will do my very best. It’s a chance to learn, to acquire new abilities! Despite suffering ill health, I gave it my all. I visited our clients from early in the morning till late at night, responding to their requests and concerns with utmost sincerity. I am very proud that as a result, Mr. Toda’s enterprise took a turn for the better, and we were able to survive the crisis.

Before working for Mr. Toda, I had worked at a printing company while attending night school. I used to pull a large cart filled with printed materials, delivering them to publishers in the Ginza and Kanda districts of Tokyo. It was mindless, back-breaking labor. I remember the disdainful looks I would get from full-time university students the same age as I.

But I was cheerful and unconcerned, because I knew that suffering and hard work are the greatest treasures life has to give us. I was confident that every experience would be of use some time. I made every effort to be the best delivery person possible, to do my work more carefully and quickly than anyone else. And, in fact, that experience did become a wonderful asset, a precious resource, that I am deeply grateful to have acquired.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Regard your service to your lord as the practice of the Lotus Sutra” (“Reply to a Believer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 905). Mr. Toda taught me, “In faith, do the work of one; in your job, do the work of three.” To succeed at your work, to become an exemplary asset to your workplace, is proof of the power of your faith.

To work only for the salary you receive is to be a slave to money. Your place of work is your place of practice, the place where you forge and polish your character and humanity.

In Japan, we refer to those just starting out on their working careers as “freshers” [referring to freshmen]. That’s another way of saying a person who is ready for a challenge, a person dedicated to self-improvement.

Let’s Experience the Essence of Human Revolution

A Life Dedicated to the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu