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Daily Life

A New Kind of New Year’s Resolution

New year, new me, new world

Illustration by Grandfailure/ Getty Images.

Three weeks into the new year, and we may already be in a tug-of-war between the demanding realities of life and our resolutions. 

On the topic of New Year’s resolutions, a recent opinion piece in The New York Times asked a curveball question: “What if, instead of planning our exercise regimens, we focused our intentions on all that is undesirable in human activity—wars, bigotry, brutality, the despoiling of the earth—and sought to address it? What if instead of making a milquetoast resolution, we made airtight commitments?”[1]

The article suggests that the small decisions we make to help others not only help “move the world” but that such exercises in selflessness lead to our self-improvement. “You may find that, all at once, you look and feel better than you would have after any amount of dieting and exercise.”[2]

This rings true for SGI members—who strive to go beyond their concern for just themselves and look to the grander concern for the person in front of them,  for society and for the world.

But wait: How can I be concerned for the world when it’s so hard to deal with my struggles? I want to have a broader heart, but I want to win in my life, too.

Resolving our challenges, improving ourselves and achieving our goals while striving toward grander ideals are not separate. Buddhism guarantees it. So, what does it look like to set and commit (or recommit) to a new kind of New Year’s resolution—one dedicated to advancing kosen-rufu?

A New Kind of Prayer

In Nichiren Buddhism, everything starts with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Of course, we can chant for anything. At the same time, Ikeda Sensei points to a familiar tendency: 

When we encounter problems and hardships, it’s all too easy to become wrapped up in praying only for ourselves. But our state of life reflects what we pray for.[3]

It’s natural to chant for our problems. It’s a vital aspect of our Buddhist practice, and avoiding our problems equates to escapism. But we’d do well to always remember that we are Bodhisattvas of the Earth with the power to transform every struggle into our mission to help others. Sensei continues:

When we broaden the focus of our prayers and chant for the lofty cause of kosen-rufu, this will also encompass all of our personal worries. Through the beneficial power of the Mystic Law, we can expand our state of life, transform our karma and change our problems into invaluable treasures.

Our prayers infused with a vow for kosen-rufu are what enable us to break through the shell of our lesser self that is dominated by suffering and lead a life based on our greater self.[4]

When taking on challenges this year, how great would it be to squarely face each one with a new kind of prayer—tackling every problem as the means for bringing forth our greater self and lighting the way for others.

A New Kind of Perspective

Nowadays, there’s an abundance of information available to us—life hacks on social media and blogs offering advice for any problem. Some are useful, but we can easily scroll through them endlessly without changing a thing.

Fortunately, Nichiren Buddhism consistently brings us back to a vital point: We have the power to move our lives toward victory. Sensei writes:

One of the truly great things about Nichiren Buddhism is that it presents life’s most profound principles in clear and simple terms.

No matter what hellish suffering we may be experiencing, we can still bring forth the life state of Buddhahood from within us. When we resolutely chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we are able to create a Capital of Tranquil Light—a realm pervaded with Buddhahood—right where we are, in the midst of the reality in which we presently find ourselves. Each of us without exception can develop an eternal and indestructible state of happiness for ourselves and help others do the same.

That is the purpose of faith and also Buddhist study.[5]

Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, Sensei’s lectures and essays, the SGI-USA’s publications and our local district discussion meetings—all these resources reinforce this point.

So when we feel we can’t go any further, we can seek out a new perspective through Buddhist study—countering doubt with the conviction that we will be victorious.

A New Kind of Strategy

As Buddhists, we learn that a goal is never too big, no problem insurmountable. But conquering our innermost disbelief, or fundamental ignorance, can be most challenging.

What cuts away at this fundamental ignorance? It is none other than sharing Buddhism with others. Sensei explains:

When we talk with others about Buddhism, we are grappling with our own ignorance and earthly desires. That’s why it gives us the strength to surmount our own problems, enabling us to transform our state of life and change our karma. In that sense, sharing Buddhism comes down to overcoming our own cowardice, laziness and delusion, thus enabling us to dispel the ignorance in our own lives and in the lives of others.[6]

SGI members worldwide, especially our pioneer members, have proven this point—courageously sharing Buddhism with others makes the impossible possible and helps us develop absolute happiness.

This year, achieving big goals and breaking through obstacles require a new kind of strategy—engaging in a profound human revolution by sharing Buddhism with one person at a time.

A New Kind of Determination

How can we stay on track with this commitment to kosen-rufu and our personal lives?

In this Year of Fresh Departure for a Youthful Soka Gakkai Worldwide, SGI-USA is focused on the effort to “Advance With 10 Friends,” connecting with young people in our communities toward the March Youth Peace Festivals and beyond.

The noble effort to empower and foster even one young person directly alters the course of humanity’s future. While this may be simple for some, others may think, There aren’t any young people around me!

This is precisely why we need a new kind of determination. Sensei writes:

Through the Buddhist doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” Nichiren teaches that a great transformation in our attitude can bring about a transformation in all phenomena comprising the three thousand realms. When our fundamental mindset changes, we ourselves change. And when we change, the environment and the world change, too.

The source of this great transformation is found nowhere but in a radical deepening of our own chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. This sort of prayer to the Gohonzon is completely different from that found in a dependent, supplicant faith; we do not weakly and passively beg someone for salvation or assistance.[7]

Through a “radical deepening of our own chanting,” we can actively support the lofty goal of world peace, confront the tendency to give up before even trying and awaken to the tremendous power of our determination.

And at the end of the year, we’ll reaffirm that winning in our personal challenges is directly connected to helping others. And we’ll see our problems resolved and our goals achieved by making dedicated efforts to advance kosen-rufu.

—Prepared by World Tribune staff

January 19, 2024, World Tribune, pp. 6–7


  1. <accessed on Jan. 11, 2024>. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. Creating a Century of Humanism, p. 23. ↩︎
  4. Ibid. ↩︎
  5. The Wisdom for the Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, pp. 286–87. ↩︎
  6. For Our Wonderful New Members, p. 23. ↩︎
  7. June 8, 2018, World Tribune, p. 7. ↩︎

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