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Ikeda Sensei

‘Rouse your courage and move powerfully ahead toward the future’

Ikeda Sensei's encouragement to members after heavy rains and flooding that caused widespread damage throughout Akita.

Shin’ichi was absolutely earnest. The English novelist Hall Caine wrote that the strongest are those who are “strong through suffering and resignation.” Those who do not succumb to hardship are indeed the true lion kings. Looking intently at the members, Shin’ichi said: “Most of you here haven’t been affected by the flooding. But what those who have need most right now is warm encouragement and support. When you meet them, please encourage them sincerely and do your best to cheer them up, treating them as if they were your own family members. Such friendship and solidarity will give them the courage they need during this difficult time. At any rate, I have plenty of time today to talk with all of you, so if you have any problems, or any ideas or requests, please feel free to share them with me.”

Shin’ichi then went and sat down in the members’ midst. Forming a circle around him, the members began speaking. They had many questions, and Shin’ichi offered heartfelt encouragement interspersed with humor.

A young man asked: “The Akita group photo sessions had to be canceled because of the flooding. Does that mean there is something wrong with our faith?”

All the Akita members had chanted earnestly for good weather on the day of the photo sessions. The terrible conditions therefore troubled them.

Shin’ichi replied promptly: “Weather is a natural phenomenon. Sometimes there are heavy rains. No matter how strong our faith is, we will still experience things like typhoons or heavy snowfall, like you do here in Akita. There’s no

need, however, to blame such events on your faith and worry about it from that perspective.”

Shin’ichi wanted to communicate the message that Buddhism is a philosophy of hope and a source of courage. He then said: “Of course, given that ‘one’s body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena’ (WND-1, 366), our chanting does affect the universe. But if you allow yourself to lose heart because heavy rains fall, there is no point in having faith. Nichiren Buddhism is concerned with the present and the future. The important thing is to rouse your courage and move powerfully ahead toward the future, determined to make your community into a ‘Land of Eternally Tranquil Light.’”

• • •

Shin’ichi wanted to thoroughly dispel the clouds that were shrouding the members’ hearts. “The purpose of our faith is to enable us to never be defeated and to adorn our lives with great victory in a manner that is true to ourselves. Buddhism is the way to transform everything into hope and the energy to advance.

“For example, if your photo session is canceled because of bad weather, you can take it as an opportunity to freshly resolve that the next session will be a tremendous success. Or if you experience a natural disaster, you can say to yourself: ‘All right, this is the crucial moment! I will win! I’m going to change poison into medicine and demonstrate the greatness of my faith.’ With such an undaunted spirit, you can boldly set forth anew. If you continue to move powerfully toward the future with brilliant hope no matter what happens, that itself will be your victory. That is the proof of your faith. Do you see what I’m saying?”

Everyone nodded in understanding.

With a smile, Shin’ichi added: “I’m sure you are dis-appointed that, despite having chanted so hard for good weather, there were still heavy rains, but wasn’t the sun-set this evening stunning? I remember a beautiful sun-set I saw on my first trip to West Germany, eleven years ago. During the day, I had visited the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate, and it had rained. But by evening the rain had stopped and there was an incredible sunset. According to the person driving me around, when the Germans see a beautiful sunset, they say that the angels have descended from heaven.

“The sunset tonight here in Akita was just as beautiful as the one I saw in Germany. Tomorrow, the original date of the group photo session, is probably also going to be clear. That means your prayers were in fact answered. Perhaps the problem is that you only prayed for good weather and forgot to pray that the photo session would actually take place!”

Laughter rippled throughout the audience.

“So I see I’m right, then? Since we’ve spoken so much about the weather today, I’d like to name all of you gathered here the “Weather Group.”

—From The New Human Revolution, vol. 16, pp. 203–05

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