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Ikeda Sensei

Profound Happiness Exists in Efforts for Construction

Because there are many youth division representatives present today, I want to discuss a number of points that I hope will prove of value for them as they make their way through life.

When I was a youth of 22 or 23, my life was filled with storms of difficulty. I alone continued to follow the Soka Gakkai’s second president, Josei Toda, when his business endeavors ended in failure. Around that time, I had the opportunity to speak with three people who had themselves received a great deal of assistance from my mentor.

One of them said to me: “You better stop working for Mr. Toda.  … It’s foolish to push yourself so hard that you damage your health.” Though deeply indebted to President Toda, this individual thanklessly repaid him with such derogatory words. He later suffered from depression and lived in misery.

The second person I talked to urged me to follow him rather than Mr. Toda and to work for his company instead. At the time he was well off, but his life later took a downhill course.

The third person said to me: “This is the very time that you should support Mr. Toda. You must never harbor doubts about the Gohonzon.” That person dedicated himself to the cause of kosen-rufu until the end of his life. He was right and became happy in all aspects of his life.

These three people each approached me with different words and attitudes, reflecting their own way of living and, by extension, the future course of their lives, and each thereby revealed his true colors. The human weakness and strength that I observed left an indelible impression on my mind. This unforgettable experience has influenced my outlook ever since.

On the surface, President Toda appeared to be a loser at that time; however, I had firm belief in his mission. In a sense, people’s lives will be determined by the person whom they follow as youth. If you board an airplane bound for Beijing when you want to go to Los Angeles, you will never reach your destination; you cannot disembark midway once you are on board. To give up halfway in your practice of faith is like disembarking from an airplane in midflight. …

For my part, I was firmly convinced that because President Toda was the great leader of kosen-rufu, to protect him was to protect kosen-rufu and the great pure Law. In fact, because I alone remained with and supported him during that difficult time, I could expand my state of life far more than other people.

Nichiren states in “The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream,” “Alone, Shakyamuni continued his practice and became the Buddha” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 941). Those monks who initially practiced with Shakyamuni later abandoned him, but the future Buddha concentrated on his pursuit of enlightenment.

Climbing a mountain entails difficulty, and the higher the mountain, the greater the difficulties a climber faces. But once a person reaches the summit, they will savor a state of mind far greater than that attained by those who handily climb lesser peaks.

I hope that all of you become people of courage who, even if you were to be deserted by others, would persevere in the way of faith that you have determined to follow to the very end of your lives, no matter what difficulties may arise. If there is even one such person of genuine faith, waves of kosen-rufu will spread far and wide.

President Toda detested formality. For this reason, as his disciple, I have tried to place foremost emphasis on substance. Formalities are important in certain cases, but mere formality that lacks substance is an evil. Formalities in and of themselves have no life, whereas substance is alive. Formality is provisional, substance essential. Formality is conventional and therefore conservative, but substance provides the impetus for progress and development.

Suppose a meeting is held. If a person is caught up with formality, concerned only about how many people attend or whether the meeting goes off without a hitch, he loses sight of substance. This is a sign of failure as a leader.

Even if the participants are few, if they are convinced of the greatness of faith and feel joy, thereby deepening their confidence in the Gohonzon, the meeting is a success. In this case, you are focusing on substance. Let’s say, for example, there are only three people at a meeting, but when they pray to the Gohonzon, read Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and inspire one another, their lives are illuminated by the flame of faith. From the standpoint of Buddhism, such a meeting is a great success. …

The main point is to enable a single member to stand up by imparting heartfelt assurance and understanding. It is the explosion of faith in the microcosm of an individual that causes the macrocosm of the organization—a gathering of many such individuals—to commence its revolution. This is how the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life” applies to our practice.

Last, I hope that young people, with rich and apt powers of critical evaluation in all matters, will always advance toward higher and greater targets, never allowing themselves to become complacent with their present circumstances. At the same time, as far as the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and Nichiren’s writings are concerned, I hope that, regarding them as absolutely correct, you will first and foremost strive to put them into practice. I urge you to do so because this is the shortest route to understanding the essence of Buddhism from the depths of your life.

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings states, “Belief represents the value or price we attach to a jewel or treasure, and understanding [wisdom] represents the jewel itself ” (OTT, 54). For example, with one dollar of belief, you can obtain but one dollar’s worth of wisdom, but if you summon forth $10,000 or $1 million worth of belief, the wisdom and power you can obtain will increase in like measure. Limitless belief gives rise to limitless wisdom.

From the May 2024 Living Buddhism

One-to-one Dialogue Develops Our Humanity