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Buddhist Study

Making Good Causes for a Victorious New Year

“The Future Is Yours to Change”

Close-Up Of Pink Flowers
Close-up of cosmos flowers. Eri Shimizu / EyeEm / Getty Images

Just as flowers open up and bear fruit, just as the moon appears and invariably grows full, just as a lamp becomes brighter when oil is added, and just as plants and trees flourish with rain, so will human beings never fail to prosper when they make good causes. (“The Third Day of the New Year,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1013)

Every January, many of us make New Year’s resolutions to improve our health, quit bad habits, learn new skills, save money and so on. After 2020, a year that brought unprecedented difficulties, it’s essential to keep developing ourselves on a fundamental level and resolve to fill our lives and society with progress, hope, peace and happiness.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches that the causes we make—through our thoughts, words and deeds—form our lives.

In the passage above from “The Third Day of the New Year,” Nichiren Daishonin states, “Human beings never fail to prosper when they make good causes.” Making good causes is the key to advancing our lives.

More than thinking positively or doing something nice, “good causes” here refers to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and sharing it with others.

Ikeda Sensei says:

To courageously dedicate ourselves to spreading the Mystic Law is the greatest possible good cause we can create and the path to making our lives and those of others prosper and shine. (Feb. 9, 2018, World Tribune, p. 2)

“The Future Is Yours to Change”

Nichiren wrote this letter in early 1280 at Mount Minobu to encourage his disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu, who had sent him gifts in celebration of the new year.

At the time, the Daishonin’s followers were facing heightened persecution. Despite being in his early 20s, Tokimitsu strove tirelessly to protect them. As a result, the authorities taxed him heavily, so much so that he could no longer afford suitable clothing for his family and had to sell his horse.

Despite his personal struggles, Tokimitsu continued supporting Nichiren, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to the Daishonin’s teaching.

Sensei writes:

Youth is a time of grappling with problems. At times, you may lose confidence or worry about your future. But no matter what has happened up to now, the future is yours to change. How can you do that? By making good causes starting where you are right now, just as the Daishonin says. (March 13, 2020, World Tribune, p. 2)

In the same letter, Nichiren continues, “The sincerity you showed in celebrating the third day of the new year exceeds even the sincerity you showed in commemorating the first day” (WND-1, 1013). While facing major challenges, Tokimitsu persisted in protecting and spreading the Mystic Law. Records show that he held an esteemed position as a local official in his later years, demonstrating actual proof of his victory over all adversity. Regardless of our age or circumstances, we can learn from Tokimitsu’s sincerity and resilience.

Chanting Is the Key to Victory

Our life condition and mindset determine the kind of life we lead. If we feel defeated internally, taking action can be difficult.

Nichiren assures us that we will prosper when we make good causes, using examples of cause and effect in the natural world, such as a plant bearing fruit, the moon growing full, and plants and trees flourishing with rain.

By sincerely chanting and sharing Buddhism with others, we naturally come to exude the invincible life force of a Buddha, enabling us to keep taking concrete steps toward genuine fulfillment and prosperity. Sensei says:

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the ultimate key to victory, and continuing to exert yourselves one step at a time, your youthful lives will shine brighter and brighter. This is your human revolution, and it will guarantee your future triumph and success. (March 13, 2020, World Tribune, p. 2)

Let us refresh and strengthen our resolve to make good causes each day, to transform every adversity into victory and to move our lives in the best direction.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

From a Far-Reaching Vision to Reality

Q: Which is more important when chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo: quantity or quality?