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Q: I’ve lost confidence because of my mistakes. How do I move forward?

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A: Nothing is irredeemable in youth. Rather, the worst mistake you can make when young is to give up and not challenge yourselves for fear of failure. The past is the past and the future is the future. Keep moving forward with a steady eye on the future, telling yourselves: “I’ll start from today!” “I’ll start fresh from now, from this moment!” This is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism, the Buddhism of true cause, the spirit to start from the present moment. This is the heart of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

True success or failure in life is not apparent until one reaches one’s 40s or 50s. My experience after nearly 70 years of life has taught me how to clearly recognize the human patterns that determine victory and defeat.

Do not despair or grow impatient over transient phenomena. Life is long. Even if you have problems, even if you have done things you regret or have made mistakes, your whole future still lies ahead of you. Don’t become spiritless people who fret or plunge into despair over every little thing.

Many of history’s most famous people seemed far from outstanding in their youth. Winston Churchill was known for always failing at school. Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t a remarkable student either; he was shy, timid and a poor speaker. Albert Einstein, also, was a mediocre student, but luckily he excelled in math. And Wilhelm Roentgen, the discoverer of X-rays, was expelled from his polytechnic school when classmates falsely accused him of causing an accident. So what did these four young men have in common? Their refusal to give up on themselves. (Ikeda Sensei, Discussions on Youth, p. 26)

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