Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei

The Great Transformation From ‘Deploring’ to ‘Rejoicing’

To deplore our circumstances reflects a mind that is controlled by its environment.

Rejoicing—Youth gather for “EMERGE,” a meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of Ikeda Sensei’s poem “Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land,” Santa Monica, Calif., January 2023. Photo by Allen Zaki.

The following excerpts are from the fifth installment of Ikeda Sensei’s lectures titled “To My Beloved Youth” in the “Buddhism of the Sun—Illuminating the World” series. It was originally published in the February 2019 Living Buddhism, pp. 50–56, and can also be found in Champions of Hope, pp. 74–85.

The Buddha’s Call for the Widespread Propagation of the Lotus Sutra

The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra states, “After I [Shakyamuni] have passed into extinction, in the last five-hundred-year period you must spread it [the Lotus Sutra] abroad widely throughout Jambudvipa [the entire world] and never allow it to be cut off.”[1] On the one hand, it is deplorable to me that more than 2,220 years have already passed since the Buddha’s demise. What evil karma prevented me from being born in his lifetime? Why could not I have seen the four ranks of sages in the Former Day of the Law, or [such great Buddhist teachers as] T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo in the Middle Day of the Law? On the other hand, I rejoice at whatever good fortune enabled me to be born in the last five-hundred-year period and to read these true words of the sutra. (“On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 398) 

“On the Buddha’s Prophecy” is an important writing. … It is a work that we, as “disciples of Nichiren,” dedicated to making his predictions for the Latter Day of the Law a reality, should study intently.

The Lotus Sutra quotation in this passage is from “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King,” the 23rd chapter, and articulates Shakyamuni’s wish. In it, Shakyamuni entrusts his disciples with the propagation of the Lotus Sutra throughout the world in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law after his death. These lines show that kosen-rufu is indeed the Buddha’s intent.

Kosen-rufu is the mission of the Buddha’s disciples—that is, the mission to inherit and realize the Buddha’s wish to free people from the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death, and enable all humankind to attain a state of lasting happiness.

After quoting these words, Nichiren Daishonin says, “It is deplorable to me,” lamenting that he was not born during the Buddha’s lifetime or during the time of the great Buddhist sages or teachers but instead in the evil Latter Day.

He goes on to say, on the other hand, “I rejoice,” expressing his gratitude for having the fortune to be born in the Latter Day and therefore able to witness the Buddha’s prophecy coming true.

This transformation from “deploring” to “rejoicing” has profound significance. At the time, Nichiren was undergoing a series of harsh persecutions. He was treated as a criminal and subsequently sentenced to exile, the equivalent of a death sentence. …

Yet even under these circumstances, the Daishonin declares:

What fortune is mine to expiate in one lifetime the offenses of slandering the Law I have accumulated from the infinite past! How delighted I am to serve Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, whom I have never seen! I pray that before anything else I can guide and lead the ruler and those others who persecuted me. (WND-1, 402)

The word rejoice shows that his heart burned brightly with the spirit of a lion king to stand up alone for kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law. …

The Transformation From Seeking Help to Helping Others

Let’s consider this great transformation from “deploring” to “rejoicing” in the context of our own lives.

For example, as human beings, we cannot choose the times or society into which we are born. Reality can be so cruel that we may lament the state of the world and question why we have to live in such a corrupt, degenerate age. Such deploring reflects a mind controlled by its environment.

But human beings, no matter what their circumstances or how difficult their environment, can live lives on a completely different level by transforming their deepest attitude, or state of mind. That is the profound transformation from “deploring” to “rejoicing.” This is what happens when we become actively engaged in the movement for kosen-rufu. Only when we take initiative as the protagonist of our own lives can we savor such joy.

The key to this great transformation is an awareness of our mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.[2]

Through the process of human revolution, we change from people who seek help from the Buddha to people who work alongside the Buddha to help others become happy. Rather than deploring our karma to be afflicted by the pains of the evil Latter Day, we take on the joy-filled mission of a bodhisattva. We support and encourage those around us and build happiness for ourselves and others, while challenging the raging waves of adversity. …

The Vow to Be Born in the Saha World 

Unavoidably, each of us faces challenging situations. We may experience painful hardships and sufferings. But the supreme way of life is to view these assaults of karma in a positive light, seeing them as having profound meaning and as situations that we are uniquely equipped to deal with.

This is the original spirit of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who vowed in the remote past to be born in the strife-filled saha world[3] in the Latter Day of the Law to propagate the Lotus Sutra.

While in prison during World War II, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda awakened to his mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and, after his release, set out amid the devastation of Japan to fulfill the great vow to spread the Mystic Law. In the despair and misery of the postwar period, who else could have proudly vowed to carry out kosen-rufu at that moment? …

Transforming the Land Through Imparting Courage and Hope

Our world today is rife with war and conflict. The threat of terrorism is growing. Social unrest caused by poverty and income disparity is intensifying, and deep is the darkness of suffering. As environmental destruction continues, so do terrible natural disasters.

But no matter how fiercely the storms of hardship rage or how daunting the obstacles in our path, in the light of the words of the Lotus Sutra, proud Bodhisattvas of the Earth are certain to appear, imparting courage and hope to all around them. If they did not, then the teachings of the Lotus Sutra would be false.

When one pioneering Bodhisattva of the Earth emerges, another and then another is guaranteed to appear and work together with those before them. As such people become vibrantly active in every corner of the world, they will produce a network of individuals striving for happiness and peace. This is the principle of “emerging from the earth” (see “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 385). When a great alliance of Bodhisattvas of the Earth forms, it will change the destiny of an entire nation.

March 3, 2023, World Tribune, p.9


  1. The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 330. ↩︎
  2. Bodhisattva of the Earth: The innumerable bodhisattvas who appear in “Emerging from the Earth,” the Lotus Sutra’s 15th chapter. They are entrusted by Shakyamuni to propagate the Law after his death. In “Supernatural Powers,” the 21st chapter, they vow to spread the Buddha’s teaching in the saha world in the evil Latter Day. ↩︎
  3. Saha world: This world, which is full of suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. In Sanskrit, saha means the earth; it derives from a root meaning “to bear” or “to endure.” The saha world indicates a world in which people must endure suffering. ↩︎

How I Broke Through

No Distinction Between Us, the Buddha and the Law