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Buddhist Study

‘Effect a Powerful Change in the Destiny of Humankind’

Photo by Molly Leebove.

Nichiren Daishonin envisioned a society of respect, equality and happiness enjoyed by all. This was a far cry from the feudal, class-based society of 13th-century Japan in which he lived. Yet he tirelessly worked to fulfill his vision based on the Lotus Sutra’s teaching that all people inherently and equally possess Buddhahood. 

This tenacious pursuit of his vision—based on his vow to awaken all people to their Buddhahood—enabled Nichiren to remain unswayed in facing all obstacles and persecutions. While maintaining integrity, dignity and respect, he joyfully devoted his life to this effort. He writes:

Since nothing is more precious than life itself, one who dedicates one’s life to Buddhist practice is certain to attain Buddhahood. If one is prepared to offer one’s life, why should one begrudge any other treasure for the sake of Buddhism? On the other hand, if one is loath to part with one’s wealth, how can one possibly offer one’s life, which is far more valuable? (“Letter from Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 301)

Since Nichiren’s time, much has changed for the better in Japan and around the world. At the same time, we continue to face serious global issues and problems. Thus, it’s vital that we carry on the Daishonin’s lofty vision to help all people become Buddhas and create a society of equality and respect, come what may. 

Ikeda Sensei says the above passage conveys important lessons for us:

One lesson, as noted above, is that simply clinging to our lives will not result in attaining genuine happiness. Establishing a fundamental purpose and pursuing the correct course in life—ready to face any hardship this might entail—enables us to experience deep joy and fulfillment. If we allow ourselves to be controlled by shallow desires and hold fast to our lesser selves at a crucial moment, then our hearts will wither, and only misery and regret will await us.

Another lesson is that the lofty state of life gained through Buddhist practice is eternal, transcending the limited nature of our present existence. By dedicating this precious lifetime to Buddhism, we are certain to enjoy abundant happiness and benefit in all future lifetimes. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, p. 7)

Create a Clear Vision Toward 2030 

The pioneers of our Soka movement, especially in the aftermath of World War II, strove with all their might to spread the hope-filled philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. Driven by a vision of a world without war—a world of peace, harmony and respect—they talked about the great benefits of Buddhist practice with one person after another, even as they challenged their own problems with finances, illness, family discord and more. They lived with a sense of mission as trailblazers for peace, gaining personal growth and victory in the process.

Sensei says:

There are now many members who have developed the state of life with which to freely travel the world, thanks to having painstakingly walked countless narrow lanes and alleys to encourage friends during the early days of our movement. …

In activities for kosen-rufu, absolutely no effort is wasted. Everything is engraved in our lives and enables us to establish a diamondlike and totally free state of life. In overcoming our weaknesses and exerting ourselves daily for our friends, we have already achieved victory as human beings. Ultimately, our victory or defeat in life is not decided by someone else—we decide it. A person who steadfastly adheres to the path he or she has chosen is a winner. (Learning From the Gosho: The Eternal Teaching of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 135–37)

Just like our predecessors—Nichiren, the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents and the pioneers of our Soka movement—we may face intense personal challenges and feel unease at the many issues facing humanity. But we can change all poison into medicine and use all our struggles to create lasting, positive changes in our lives and society.

A few years ago, in August 2020, Sensei pointed to the importance of this current decade:

The decade from the Soka Gakkai’s 90th anniversary [2020] to its centennial in 2030 will be crucial. We must be even more determined to show victorious proof of our own human revolution, to transform all great evil into great good and to effect a powerful change in the destiny of all humankind. (November 2020 Living Buddhism, p. 17)

With this in mind, how can we use our precious time and resources to initiate concrete steps toward effecting “a powerful change in the destiny of humankind”? 

We can certainly focus our efforts this year on the SGI-USA’s goal for 2023: to welcome one new youth member into each district, fostering them to become someone who contributes to world peace.

Now, more than ever is the time to create a clear vision of how we want to develop our lives and our Soka community toward 2030! 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department 

May 3, 2023, World Tribune, p. 11

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