Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 12: Transforming Karma into Mission [12.9]
12.9 A New Guide for Humanity
In his afterword to The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda reaffirms the principle of changing human karma or destiny, the main theme of his novel series The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution. He voices confidence that the philosophy of human revolution, which enables us to turn karma into mission, offers a new guide for humanity in the third millennium.
The main theme of both The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution is: “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”
How, then, do we actually go about changing our destiny or karma?
The profound awakening that Josei Toda experienced while in prison holds the answer to this question. Wishing to grasp the truth of the Lotus Sutra, he carefully read its passages again and again and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day in his prison cell. In the course of doing so, he eventually awakened to the fact that he had been present along with Nichiren Daishonin at the Ceremony in the Air depicted in the Lotus Sutra and was a Bodhisattva of the Earth entrusted with propagating the Law in the Latter Day. With inexpressible joy at this realization, he vowed to dedicate his life to kosen-rufu.
The Daishonin writes: “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth” (WND-1, 385). As this indicates, we, who devote ourselves to kosen-rufu just as the Daishonin teaches, are irrefutably Bodhisattvas of the Earth.1 Why is it, then, that we—noble bodhisattvas tasked with the solemn undertaking of kosen-rufu—have been born with karma that causes us various kinds of suffering?
The “Teacher of the Law” (10th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: “These people voluntarily relinquish the reward due them for their pure deeds and, in the time after I have passed into extinction, because they pity living beings, they are born in this evil world so they may broadly expound this sutra” (LSOC10, 200). The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China identifies this passage as articulating the principle of “voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma.”2
Just as this principle explains, we have chosen, in accord with our vow as bodhisattvas, to be born into the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law with all sorts of destinies, or karma—illness, financial hardship, family discord, loneliness, low self-esteem, and the list goes on—to help guide others to enlightenment. But by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, striving in our Buddhist practice for ourselves and others, and dedicating our lives to kosen-rufu, our vibrant life force as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and the expansive life state of Buddhahood well forth within us. Our lives will brim with the wisdom, courage, strength, hope, and joy to overcome every hardship and daunting obstacle that arises. As we bravely triumph over the onslaughts of karma, we demonstrate the validity of the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and the tremendous benefit of our Buddhist practice, and further advance kosen-rufu. In fact, we have willingly taken on these hardships and sufferings in order to do just that.
Karma and mission are two sides of the same coin, and our karma directly becomes our unique and noble mission. That is why, when we dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, there is no destiny that we cannot change.
We are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth and have a right to become happy. We are the lead players and stars in a glorious drama performed on the grand stage of life—a drama of changing the icy winds of winter into the warm sunshine of spring, transforming suffering into joy.
The New Human Revolution unfolds as a story of changing karma or destiny into mission. The quintessential teaching of Nichiren Buddhism does not view life and its phenomena as fixed or static, but elucidates life’s dynamism, in which everything is changing and open to change, as is seen in such principles as “earthly desires are enlightenment,” “the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana,” and “changing poison into medicine.”3 It also perceives the potential for Buddhahood in the depths of the life of each suffering human being, and teaches the way to awaken and manifest that life state—in other words, the supreme positive potential, creativity, and autonomy of human beings. This process of changing our lives, or inner transformation, we call human revolution.
Human beings are the builders and shapers of the societies, nations, and the world in which they live. Hatred and trust, disdain and respect, war and peace—all are the products of the human heart and mind. As a result, without human revolution, there can be no true personal happiness, social prosperity, or lasting world peace. Without this crucial element, any attempts to effect enduring change will be in vain. The philosophy of human revolution based on the principles of Nichiren Buddhism is certain to become a new guide for humanity as we set forth into this third millennium.
The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy observed to the effect that an immortal spirit likewise requires immortal deeds.4 It is my sincere hope that Soka Gakkai members will make the completion of The New Human Revolution a fresh starting point and stand up as “Shin’ichi Yamamotos” to work for the happiness of others. I pray that, through their tireless, tenacious efforts, they will create their own brilliant history of human revolution.
As long as suffering and misery exist anywhere on our planet, we must continue to weave with rich color and bold creativity the magnificent tapestry of human victory that is kosen-rufu. That is why our mentor-disciple journey to realize the great vow for kosen-rufu will continue forever.
From The New Human Revolution, volume 30, “Afterword.”
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Bodhisattvas of the Earth: An innumerable host of bodhisattvas who emerge from beneath the earth and to whom Shakyamuni Buddha entrusts the propagation of the Mystic Law, or the essence of the Lotus Sutra, in the Latter Day of the Law.
- *2Voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma: This refers to bodhisattvas who, though qualified to receive the pure rewards of Buddhist practice, relinquish them and make a vow to be reborn in an impure world in order to save living beings. They spread the Mystic Law, while undergoing the same sufferings as those born in the evil world due to karma. This term derives from Miao-lo’s interpretation of relevant passages in “The Teacher of the Law” (10th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
- *3Changing poison into medicine: The principle that earthly desires and suffering can be transformed into benefit and enlightenment by virtue of the power of the Mystic Law. This phrase is found in a passage from The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, which mentions “a great physician who can change poison into medicine.”
- *4Translated from Russian. L. N. Tolstoy, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (Complete Works), vol. 45 (Moscow: TERRA, 1992), p. 46.