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Ikeda Sensei

Transforming Hardship Into Happiness and Joy

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This monthly encouragement by Ikeda Sensei was originally published in the November 2020 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

“Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring” (“Winter Always Turns to Spring,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 536), wrote Nichiren Daishonin.

Imprisoned during World War II, founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi bore the full brunt of a bitter winter of persecution. Throughout, he demonstrated a sublime life state of overcoming adversity to savor joy. Proclaiming the truth that “winter always turns to spring,” he rang the bell of “transforming hardship into happiness and joy” for his disciples and successors.

In his personal copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, Mr. Makiguchi, who laid down his life for his beliefs (on November 18, 1944), underlined the following passage: “[Those] who wish to defend the correct teaching should emulate this poor woman crossing the Ganges who sacrificed her life because of her love for her child” (see “The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 282).

These words, which the Daishonin quotes in “The Opening of the Eyes,” are from the Nirvana Sutra. They refer in part to a story about a poor woman who, after endless wandering—in which she is forced to endure illness, hunger and cold—attempts to cross the Ganges River with her newborn child, only for them both to drown tragically. The sutra states that through the merit of her compassionate resolve to lovingly keep hold of her child in the swift current, the woman attained a state of boundless good fortune and benefit.

This story is a metaphor for the spirit of steadfastly protecting the correct teaching.

Nichiren then goes on to declare: “Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 283).

This great conviction of Nichiren, to which Mr. Makiguchi held fast until the very end, was carried on by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda and later, above all, by our women’s division members. They are noble women who are practicing in accord with the Buddha’s teaching and dedicating their lives to kosen-rufu. With firm faith in the Mystic Law, they reach out to those around them, confidently asserting that all people equally possess the invincible life state of Buddhahood.

They forge ahead on the path of mentor and disciple without harboring any doubts in their hearts, dauntlessly facing the onslaughts of the three obstacles and four devils and the three powerful enemies, which the Daishonin warned would arise. They pray and strive to staunchly protect their beloved families, fellow members, precious friends and the Soka Gakkai.

Please always remember that it is thanks in no small part to the genuine faith of our women’s division members that we can proudly and triumphantly celebrate our organization’s 90th anniversary.

Looking at our world today, the tears of mothers and children, including refugee families, still flow ceaselessly. That is why the culture of peace being built by the women of Soka, upholding the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism and taking action based on respect for all human beings, is more important than ever.

The gathering of Soka is a strong, wise and warm network of “human flowers” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 142), each beautiful and unique. Overflowing with the compassionate resolve to leave no one behind, let’s keep working to bring smiles of radiant happiness and joy to the faces of women and children everywhere. Let’s do so as we impart the hope-filled message that the harshest winter will unfailingly turn into the happiest springtime.

Let us dedicate
our laurels of victory
to the compassionate mothers of kosen-rufu
who sincerely pray and encourage us
never to be defeated.

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