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Ikeda Sensei

‘Your inner resolve is what decides your happiness or unhappiness’

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

On July 11, Shin’ichi went to Akita. The rain had stopped, but the sky was overcast. When he arrived that afternoon at the Akita Community Center, it looked like an emergency relief headquarters. Shin’ichi first asked for a detailed report about the damage caused throughout the prefecture by the rains and flooding. He then issued a volley of instructions, dispatching leaders to critical areas and having condolence messages and encouragement sent to members who had been adversely affected by the storms.

That evening, meetings were held throughout Akita to encourage the members who had been scheduled to take part in the group photo sessions with Shin’ichi Yamamoto. Given how hard they had all worked in anticipation of meeting President Yamamoto and having their picture taken with him, they were naturally very disappointed when the event was canceled because of the weather. The meetings had therefore been organized to inspire them to unite toward advancing anew.

When Shin’ichi heard that such meetings were being held, he immediately wrote a message to the members and had the leaders traveling with him from Tokyo, as well as the top leaders of Akita, attend the various gatherings on his behalf. When one of the Tokyo leaders appeared at one such meeting, he was greeted with enthusiastic applause. The members were profoundly moved that a leader from the Soka Gakkai Headquarters had come to see them while the traces of the recent natural disaster were still fresh.

The leader read the message that Shin’ichi had sent in an energetic voice: “My fellow members in Akita! I am deeply concerned about the flooding that has taken place in your home prefecture. After conferring with your local leaders, we decided to cancel the group photo sessions. But I have still come here to encourage and support you. I want to do everything I can to help you and to ease your suffering.

“Nichiren Daishonin states, ‘When great evil occurs, great good follows’ (“Great Evil and Great Good,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1119). With these golden words engraved in your hearts, please rise up with courage and hope, in the true spirit of Soka Gakkai members.”

As the leader read the message, some members began to weep softly, thinking: “Though the group photo session has been canceled, President Yamamoto is so concerned about us that he has come to see us in Akita. We can’t give up!” This realization filled them with hope and inspiration.

• • •

One of the meetings was held in the Akita Community Center. About one hundred members attended, and the meeting began a little after seven that evening. …

The meeting began. A local leader announced excitedly: “Good evening, everyone! As you know, tomorrow’s group photo session has been canceled due to the flood damage. Today, however, President Yamamoto has braved the rain and mud to come to Akita Prefecture to encourage us!”

The participants exclaimed in surprise, erupting in cheers and applause. The leader continued: “President Yamamoto is currently in a meeting about relief measures to help the victims of the flooding. There hasn’t been much damage in this immediate area, but many people in northern Akita have suffered greatly, with some even losing their homes. But with faith, nothing is impossible. They

are certain to overcome this. Let’s all unite to surmount this crisis and use it as a springboard to further work for the prosperity of our community and kosen-rufu in our prefecture!”

At that moment, an energetic voice called out from the rear of the room, “Good evening!” Turning around, the members saw it was President Yamamoto, and they all began to cheer. Shin’ichi walked to the front of the room and said warmly: “Thank you for coming tonight. I hope all your homes are safe.”

A man in the front row replied, “Fortunately, there has been no major damage here in Akita City.”

“I am so sorry to hear about those of you who have been affected by the flooding,” Shin’ichi then said. “I offer you my sincerest condolences. The important thing is what you do from now. Are you going to be discouraged and allow yourselves to fall into despair? Or will you regard this as an opportunity to show actual proof of our faith and rise up again courageously, determined not to be beaten? Your inner resolve is what decides your happiness or unhappiness.”

• • •

Shin’ichi continued to speak emphatically: “Over the course of our lives, we are bound to face all kinds of adversity, not only natural disasters but things like bankruptcy, unemployment, illness, accidents, and the deaths of loved ones. No life is ever perfectly smooth.

“In fact, life is an endless series of trials and tribulations, and it would be no exaggeration to say that facing difficulties is indeed what life is about. The question, then, is how we remain unbeaten by these trials and adorn our lives with victory. Buddhism teaches the concept of transforming poison into medicine. According to this principle, we can change even the worst circum-stances into benefit and happiness through faith. We need to be utterly confident of this.

“From another perspective, this principle is saying that in order to attain the medicine of Buddhahood, of absolute happiness, we must triumph over the poison of suffering. In other words, suffering is the seed that enables the flower of happiness to bloom. As such, we shouldn’t be afraid of hardship. Rather, we should face it courageously.

“We are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth who possess the life state of Buddhahood and who have appeared in this world to lead all people of the Latter Day of the Law to enlightenment. We will never be deadlocked. Unhappiness is not caused by adverse circumstances; it is caused by our own despair and negativity.”

The members clung to Shin’ichi’s words, which brimmed with powerful conviction. He continued: “Another important thing is to realize that the suffering you are experiencing now has a profound significance. If all of you who have been adversely affected by this natural disaster are able to splendidly rebuild your lives, you will have turned poison into medicine and demonstrated the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism to society. That is the purpose of the struggle you are now encountering.

“Please relay the following message from me to all your fellow members: ‘Don’t be defeated. I hope you will surmount this obstacle and come out victorious. I will continue to send you my sincerest prayers.’”

—From The New Human Revolution, vol. 16, pp. 198–203

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