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Daily Life

Our Attitude Changes Everything

Buddhism teaches that neither chance nor a divine being writes the script of our lives for us. We can and must become the playwright of our own victory. Photo by KEVIN MAZUR / GETTY IMAGES.

The following are excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s book My Dear Friends in America, third edition, pp. 258–61.

The Positive Life View Found Within a Single Moment of Life

You are the playwright of your own victory. You are also the play’s hero. Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players” (As You Like It, act II, scene vii, line 139).

Buddhism teaches us that the individual writes and performs the script for his or her own life. Neither chance nor a divine being writes the script for us. We write it, and we are the actors who perform it. This is an extremely positive philosophy, inherent in the teaching of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.”

You are the author and the hero. To perform your play well, it is important to pound the script into your head so thoroughly that you can see it vividly before your eyes.

You may need to rehearse in your mind. Sometimes it helps to write down your goals (for example, to pass an examination or to improve at your job), copying them over and over until they are burned into your heart.

Once, there was a young boy who had an accident that left one of his legs shorter than the other. But his parents never, under any circumstances, discouraged him by saying things like “You can’t do that” or “That’s too hard for you.”

They treated him like any other child and encouraged him to play sports. They taught him that he could do whatever he believed he could, and that if he failed it was because he had decided to fail before he tried.

The boy became a star football player at school, and after graduation he succeeded in society, as well. His life is a perfect demonstration of the assertion made by Russian writer Maxim Gorki that talent is believing in yourself, in your own power. This is not some abstract speculation or theory about the triumph of the will. It represents a belief in the latent potential of the human being.

Belief and Thought Alter Reality

The British essayist William Hazlitt was an acute observer of human psychology. He wrote that if we believe we can win, we can, asserting that confidence is a prerequisite for victory. The belief that you will win without fail summons all your strength, even that which is normally latent, and makes your triumph a reality.

The human brain has been called a microcosm. Some believe that billions of nerve cells can be found in the brain. When all their interrelated combinations are taken into account, the number becomes astronomical. The potential of the human brain remains an unknown. We do not know what powers it holds.

But one thing is certain: The power of belief, the power of thought, will move reality in the direction of what we believe and how we conceive it. If you really believe you can do something, you can. That is a fact.

When you clearly envision a victorious outcome, engrave it in your heart and are firmly convinced that you will attain it, your brain makes every effort to realize the mental image you have created. Then, through your unceasing efforts, that victory is finally made a reality.

To the Courageous, Everything Is Possible

Sir Walter Scott, the great Scottish novelist, wrote that everything is impossible to the coward. Why? Because he sees everything as impossible.

The attitude that “This is impossible” or “It’s no good” makes things impossible and no good. If your parents are always saying, “You’re a worthless child,” you can come to believe it and actually become worthless.

This autumn, an exhibit titled “Napoleon Bonaparte: The Man” will be held at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. Among other things, Napoleon is famous for the remark “You write to me that it’s impossible; the word is not French.”

By this, Napoleon was not boasting of his great deeds, saying, “Nothing is impossible for me.” Rather, he was saying that it was precisely because he so firmly believed that nothing was impossible for human beings that he had achieved such great accomplishments.

In other words, this famous remark is not an expression of his victorious results but of their cause. Nichiren Daishonin cites the Flower Garland Sutra in one of his writings: “The mind is like a skilled painter, who creates various forms made up of the five components. Thus of all the phenomena throughout the entire world, there is not a single one that is not created by the mind … Outside of this mind there is no other phenomenon that exists” (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 844).

When we read the Daishonin’s letters, we are struck by the way he always refers to examples and passages from the scriptures that are appropriate for the recipients, to somehow change their hearts, strengthen their determination, and give them confidence and conviction.

He always radiates hope and encouragement, like the sun. This is because he fully understood that changing our mental attitude changes everything.

Sufferings Are the Fuel for Our Happiness

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