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Ikeda Sensei

The Causality for Victory in Life (Part 2)

SGI-USA members chanting together in San Francisco, CA.

This essay was written by Ikeda Sensei as part of his series “The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin and the Mentor-Disciple Relationship.” It was originally published in the Jan. 8, 2009, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun, and in the May 15, 2009, World Tribune. Part 1 was reprinted in the Oct. 1, 2021, World Tribune, pp. 2–3.

If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present. (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 279)

Be Positive and Strong

Japan and indeed the entire world are facing very trying economic times right now. Many of our members are struggling with all their might just to survive. Many are dealing with the prospect of being laid off or going bankrupt. In Japan, especially, young people are having a hard time finding jobs. There are also a whole host of other problems. Parents see their children becoming the targets of bullying, or refusing to attend school. And I’m sure there are those among you battling ill health. Life is a struggle with the realities of birth, aging, sickness and death. But all of you, as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, embrace faith in the Mystic Law that guarantees absolute victory. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the “cluster of unsurpassed jewels that has come to us unsought” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 124).

It is in the most difficult situations that we can accomplish the noblest achievements and accumulate the greatest good fortune. All of you are striving so hard for kosen-rufu, so there is no way that the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three existences and ten directions, as well as all the heavenly deities and positive forces in the universe, will fail to come to the aid of you and your families. My wife and I are also praying earnestly that you will be protected and will triumph based on the principle that faith manifests itself in daily life. Mr. Toda encouraged us to live with unshakable confidence. Let us do just that!

The Buddhism of True Cause

Mr. Toda also used to say: “If people live their lives thinking only of what’s happening to them now, focusing solely on the present effects of past causes, humankind would never grow or develop. Practicing the Buddhism of true cause means bearing in mind that every instant of our lives is a cause for the future; it means having the firm resolve to make every instant a cause for the future.” He also said: “Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the way to transform our karma for the better. Through chanting, we are able to clean our slate of past causes and effects and reveal our true selves as ordinary people enlightened since time without beginning.”

No matter what happened in the past or what has taken place up to now, we can make a new cause in the present—a true cause based on the Mystic Law, which is the strongest of all causes—and redirect the current of our lives. Our faith empowers us to continue moving forward victoriously into a bright future.

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) observed that all successful people have agreed on one thing—that is, the law of causality.[1] He also said that we should cherish each moment.[2]

When I met with Dr. Lawrence J. Lau, vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a noted economist, we spoke about “self-fulfilling expectations”—in other words, the idea that a person’s present expectations are reflected in future economic phenomena. Developing a positive, forward-looking attitude can also have a positive effect on the economy. This is one of the ways in which cause and effect operate in human society.

Leading a Life of No Regrets

Sixty-two years[3] have passed since my first encounter with my mentor, Josei Toda. He said to me: “Please keep on striving alongside me to see just how the results of our practice are manifested in the future.” Today, I am in the finest health, I have built friendships with leaders around the world, and I am advancing together with more than 10 million[4] members worldwide. The many honors and awards that I have received from institutions across the globe are all the splendid result of the chain of cause and effect that began from the moment I first met Mr. Toda. They are the rewards for having served such a great teacher and leader of kosen-rufu. I always dedicate such honors to Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda with heartfelt gratitude. And I accept them with the sincere prayer that the good fortune and benefit that they represent will flow on to all our members and to their descendants for generations to come.

The moment that the sun of the shared commitment of mentor and disciple rises in our hearts, a great transformation begins. There is no karma that we cannot surmount, no struggle that we cannot win.

The mentor-disciple relationship is, for all practical purposes, an indispensable component in the causality for achieving the fundamental transformation of life state as taught in Buddhism. The causality of the Mystic Law, in a sense, is the causality of mentor and disciple. The disciple embodies the cause and the mentor embodies the effect. Actually, the inner awareness or sense of responsibility of the disciple is the cause that sets everything in motion.

In “The Opening of the Eyes,” by detailing his victory as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin seeks to rouse his disciples to resolutely stand up themselves.[5] The victory of the disciple is the victory of the mentor. The victory of the mentor is the victory of the disciple. This is one of the most profound principles of Buddhism and the essence of the oneness of mentor and disciple.

At the end of 1957, when Mr. Toda’s goal of 750,000 member households had been achieved, I composed this poem, expressing my determination as his loyal disciple to continue growing and developing into the future:

In the midst of winter’s desolation
appear the buds of spring—
the simultaneity of cause and effect.

The mentor is the spiritual foundation or earth, a source of spiritual sustenance. From that earth, the disciple brings flowers of victory to bloom eternally.

Therefore, my young friends, don’t be defeated! Win now, toward the future! To live one’s youth based on the causality of mentor and disciple, the causality for victory, is the great and noble path to a life without regrets.

My wonderful fellow members, let us strive ahead intrepidly and triumph brilliantly in all our endeavors again this year!


  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays and Lectures (New York: The Literary of America, 1983), p. 971. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 479. ↩︎
  3. Ikeda Sensei wrote this essay in early 2009. He first met his mentor, Josei Toda, then Soka Gakkai General Director and later its second president, on Aug. 14, 1947. ↩︎
  4. At the time this essay was written, the SGI had close to 10 million members. Today, membership is over 12 million. ↩︎
  5. See “The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 220–98. ↩︎

Burn With the Pride of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth!

The Causality for Victory in Life (Part 1)