Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 13: “Faith for a Harmonious Family” [13.6]
13.6 A Partnership of Deepening Love and Respect
In this selection, President Ikeda replies to a question about divorce and then goes on to share important insights for developing a partnership of deepening love and respect.
—Should couples in troubled marriages refrain from divorce and instead stay together to work at changing their karma?
This is an individual matter. No one else has the right to say that someone should or should not get divorced. Nor can anyone say a person has no faith because he or she is divorced. Divorce is a matter of personal choice.
Whether or not a couple gets divorced, the important thing is that they become happy in the end, that they do their human revolution. To be happy, whether or not one is married; to be happy, whether or not one has children—that is what faith is about, because happiness is something that exists within our own hearts.
We are born alone and we die alone. The purpose of this lifetime is to transform our own selves. That is why we need to do our best, bringing those around us to function as good friends or influences and viewing everything we do as part of our Buddhist practice.
Someone once asked President Toda this question: “Things are not going very well between my partner and me. Should I try to stick it out? Or do you think I ought to get a divorce?”
He replied: “It’s not my place to tell you what to do about your marriage. I can neither tell you not to get divorced nor to get divorced. The only thing I can say is that unless you break through the karma that led to you having such a problematic relationship, then, even if you separate, you are bound to experience the same kind of suffering in the future. And if you’re going to have to go through the same suffering anyway, then perhaps it’s not too late to do something about it in your present marriage.”1
It’s ideal if the parents of a child get along well. But if they don’t and end up divorcing, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will turn out badly. There are many cases where children grow into fine, upstanding people precisely because of such hardships.
Ultimately, you have to make your own decision based on reflecting deeply on your life, seeing yourself for who you are, and striving tirelessly to accomplish your human revolution in the place you are now. As long as you have such strong faith, you will definitely become happy in the end. No matter what happens, as long as you have the faith to continue advancing toward the achievement of kosen-rufu without giving up your practice, you will be victorious in the end. That’s all you need to understand.
If people do get divorced, then, rather than brooding over the past, it would be wonderful if they could look at the experience as a valuable lesson and work for kosen-rufu even harder than before. I would hope that those around them would provide warm support. I also hope that those children who are in single-parent families will not feel lonely but will instead, because of that, open their hearts and expand their circle of friends all the more.
It is said that most marriages are not 100 percent successful. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that 99 percent of all marriages are unsuccessful!
In reality, many families who appear to have everything going for them actually have many problems. It was the French essayist Montaigne who said: “There is hardly less torment in running a family than in running a whole country.”2
When a couple has similar life conditions, it is only natural that they will lock horns from time to time. But if you can take a step back and regard your partner with the compassion you would have for your own child for example, you’ll be able to be more forgiving and empathetic, and avoid unnecessary confrontations. How much better it would be not to take your partner’s nagging so personally, to be bighearted enough to see it as an expression of their natural vitality, a sign that she or he is alive and well. If you can achieve such an expansive life state, then even your partner’s nagging will sound instead like sweet birdsong.
Most important, in any case, is to have love and compassion for one another. Other than that, the key is to chant daimoku together, aspiring for the greatest heights, for true happiness.
All couples are essentially two separate individuals with different backgrounds and life experiences. That’s why, without patience and a conscious effort to understand each other, they cannot succeed as a couple. It takes patience and perseverance for a couple to make a life together, while striving to create a safe, supportive home environment, to work at their respective jobs, to care for their children and provide them with a proper education, as well as to take action to help others.
Happiness is built on patience and perseverance. There are many who dream about happiness without being willing to invest much effort. But that is merely a dream—a fairy tale, a simplistic and childish view of life. This illusion breaks up many marriages. To seek happiness that way can only end in misery.
Making steady efforts to build a life together, having the patience and perseverance to move forward together—these are the foundation from which real love develops. Real love means wanting to share your life with the other person forever. Real marriage is when you have been married for 25 years and feel an even deeper love than you did when you first met. True love is something that deepens. Love that does not is on the level of simple attraction or liking.
It is also important for a couple to thank and praise each other often. It can be for anything—just appreciating and praising each other is what matters. Nothing comes from pointing out the other person’s faults. That’s just foolishness.
Couples should strive to make their home a bright and happy place. You have to decide, “As long as I’m around, I’ll always make things happy and bright.” If you yourself shine like the sun, there will be no darkness wherever you go in the world. Similarly, if there is one person in the home who shines like the sun, the entire family will be illuminated.
From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, published in Japanese in August 2000.
Let us look back to the Headquarters leaders meeting of December 1957—the month that second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s lifelong goal of 750,000 member households was achieved. At that historic meeting, Mr. Toda announced three guidelines of faith:
- Faith for a harmonious family
- Faith for each person to achieve happiness3
- Faith for overcoming obstacles
Since that time, we have advanced toward kosen-rufu with these points engraved in our hearts as the three eternal guidelines of the Soka Gakkai. Their purpose is to provide a clear direction or focus, so that our members—in their respective lives and circumstances, in their homes, workplaces, and communities—will not be defeated by difficulties nor fall into the trap of negativity and complaint, but will instead live with hope and triumph over all.
The first guideline is “Faith for a harmonious family.” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Those who now believe in the Lotus Sutra will gather fortune from ten thousand miles away” (WND-1, 1137). He also cites the words of the Great Teacher Dengyo: “When in the family honor is paid diligently to the teachings, the seven disasters will most certainly be banished” (WND-2, 1026).
How wonderful it is to have the sound of the Mystic Law reverberating in the home! Strong faith is like a powerful magnet, attracting good fortune “from ten thousand miles away.” It acts as an impenetrable defense that repels all misfortune. With this conviction, please make your homes castles of happiness and peace.
In many cases, other family members are not practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism. There is no need to worry or grow anxious about this. That is because, if we ourselves stand up earnestly and confidently in faith, we can lead all of our family and relatives in the direction of happiness and hope. We are like a solitary lighthouse on a dark night, enabling numerous ships to safely sail the seas.
The Daishonin writes:
“The Venerable Maudgalyayana put his faith in the Lotus Sutra, which is the greatest good there is, and thus not only did he himself attain Buddhahood, but his father and mother did so as well. And, amazing as it may seem, all the fathers and mothers of the preceding seven generations and the seven generations that followed, indeed, of countless lifetimes before and after, were able to become Buddhas. In addition, all their sons, their wives or husbands, their retainers, supporters, and countless other persons not only were enabled to escape from the three evil paths, but all attained the first stage of security and then Buddhahood, the stage of perfect enlightenment.” (WND-1, 820)
In light of this passage, there is absolutely no need for family discord about faith. I hope that you will exhibit a broad-minded wisdom, chanting and working to patiently and steadfastly create happy, harmonious families where good cheer and joyous laughter abound.
The great French writer Victor Hugo said: “Laughter is like sunshine; it chases winter away from the human face.”4
Some of you have lost beloved family members. From the Buddhist perspective, however, this has a deep, deep significance, and you mustn’t allow yourselves to be defeated by grief.
Madame Deng Yingchao was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai. She, more than anyone, was filled with sorrow and grief, but when she saw multitudes of others weeping, she declared: “Let’s be strong. Let’s not cry. Crying won’t bring anyone back to life. I myself wept only on three occasions [after my husband’s passing]. If tears would bring Enlai back, then I would weep with all of my being. What we must do instead is dry our tears and carry on Enlai’s work. . . .”5
I have observed the lives of innumerable people up to now, and I can say with absolute certainty that all who stood up in faith at a crucial moment have gone on to become happy.
No prayer to the Gohonzon goes unanswered. The Mystic Law is a great teaching that enables us to change poison into medicine. Through faith, we can transform all sufferings into something positive and beneficial, and develop a higher state of life.
Praising Nanjo Tokimitsu, who inherited the indomitable faith of his father [Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro], the Daishonin writes: “You and your late father, because you both have faith in the Lotus Sutra, will be reborn . . . together” (WND-2, 500).
Faith is the greatest of all treasures. Passing on correct faith to your children is the surest way for both parent and child, and for the entire family as well, to walk the path of eternal happiness.
In that respect, too, I hope you will work even harder, both in your homes and in your local areas, to nurture our Future Division members.
The second guideline is “Faith for each person to achieve happiness.” [Based on a proposal made by President Ikeda, in the five eternal guidelines this has been simplified to “Faith for achieving happiness.”]
Referring to a Lotus Sutra passage, the Daishonin comments: “If there are a hundred or a thousand people who uphold this sutra, without a single exception all one hundred or one thousand of them will become Buddhas” (WND-1, 1099). We can definitely become happy. This is the Daishonin’s promise.
Faith equals daily life. While struggling valiantly in the midst of society, we are advancing kosen-rufu for the sake of the Law and for the happiness of our fellow human beings. As a result of these efforts, great benefit wells forth in our lives. We can also lead others with whom we have a connection toward the path of happiness.
In a famous passage, the Daishonin declares: “Winter always turns to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back into autumn. Nor have we ever heard of a believer in the Lotus Sutra who turned into an ordinary [unenlightened] person” (WND-1, 536).
We are resolved to share this great Buddhist teaching of hope with as many people as possible so that they can form a connection with Buddhism that will lead them to true happiness and fulfillment.
Happiness is not something given to us by others or that comes from somewhere outside. It is something that we ourselves must achieve with our own hearts. As the Daishonin says, “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1, 1000).
In another of his writings, we find the statement: “Fortune comes from one’s heart and makes one worthy of respect” (WND-1, 1137). Our Buddhist practice enables us to deepen and strengthen our hearts to the ultimate degree.
Each person’s happiness leads to kosen-rufu. President Toda remarked humorously: “Whatever you are doing for yourselves ultimately contributes to kosen-rufu and the world. So I hope that you’ll use most of your efforts in faith for your own happiness, and what’s left over, please send this way for the sake of kosen-rufu.”6
What is important for achieving happiness? The Daishonin repeatedly stresses that it is making sure that we are not deceived or led astray by evil friends, or negative influences, which have the power to “destroy countless good minds” (cf. WND-2, 135, 258).
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin says: “The element ku in the word kudoku [benefit] means good fortune or happiness. It also refers to the merit achieved by wiping out evil” (OTT, 148). Happiness means defeating the fundamental ignorance inherent in life.7 There can be no genuine happiness unless we fight against negative influences and devilish functions.
The third guideline is “Faith for overcoming obstacles.” The Daishonin writes: “If you propagate [this teaching], devils will arise without fail. If they did not, there would be no way of knowing that this is the correct teaching” (WND-1, 501).
The mentors and disciples who practice in accord with the Buddha’s teachings and carry out kosen-rufu are certain to be beset by the three powerful enemies8 and even greater hatred and jealousy than was experienced during Shakyamuni’s lifetime.
Encountering such obstacles is proof that we are faithfully practicing the correct teaching of Buddhism. Moreover, it is through overcoming obstacles that we can attain the indestructible life state of Buddhahood.
That is why the Daishonin declares: “At such a time, the three obstacles and four devils9 will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat” (WND-1 637); and “The greater the hardships befalling him [the votary of the Lotus Sutra], the greater the delight he feels, because of his strong faith” (WND-1, 33). This is the very essence of Nichiren Buddhism and the heart of the Soka Gakkai.
President Toda did his utmost to encourage members who were struggling amid various difficulties. He said: “The Daishonin’s Buddhism is a religion that enables those facing adversity to attain happiness. None is stronger than a person who has faced and triumphed over painful hardships. Such a person can become a real friend and ally to those who are truly suffering.”
As long as the Soka Gakkai spirit blazes brightly, we will never be deadlocked in our efforts to advance kosen-rufu.
“Those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood” (WND-1, 302). Stand up and speak out with lionlike courage!—this is the Daishonin’s teaching. Let us continue to overcome all obstacles and win with the invincible heart of a lion king.
I would now like to offer two new guidelines in addition to the first three. They are:
- Faith for health and long life
- Faith for absolute victory
To encourage a sincere follower who was battling illness, the Daishonin wrote:
“Life is the most precious of all treasures. . . . One day of life is more valuable than all the treasures of the major world system. . . . Moreover you have encountered the Lotus Sutra. If you live even one day longer, you can accumulate that much more benefit. How truly precious your life is!” (WND-1, 955)
Life is the most precious treasure of all. May every one of you enjoy good health and longevity, living each irreplaceable day to the fullest and creating infinite and immeasurable value.
The 21st century is the century of life—which means it is also the century of health and longevity. I hope you will all lead lives of value creation that brilliantly exemplify that ideal.
In a letter written at the start of a new year, the Daishonin sent these words of encouragement to Nichigen-nyo, the wife of Shijo Kingo: “You will grow younger, and your good fortune will accumulate” (WND-1, 464). The Mystic Law enables us to grow younger and happier in both body and mind with each passing year.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin states: “When, while in these four states of birth, aging, sickness, and death, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we cause them to waft forth the fragrance of the four virtues [eternity, happiness, true self, and purity]” (OTT, 90). Let’s live vibrantly, filled with confidence and optimism, enjoying this existence fragrant with the four virtues of “eternity, happiness, true self, and purity.” To that end, I hope you will put faith into practice in your daily lives, bringing forth ever greater wisdom.
Strong faith is an important cornerstone of health, because it enables us to draw forth powerful life force, triumph over negative functions, and transform our karma. The Daishonin famously declares: “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1, 412). Through practicing Nichiren Buddhism, we can strengthen our life force, develop our character, and expand our capacity as individuals. It is also important to work for kosen-rufu within the Soka Gakkai, an organization overflowing with incredible energy and vitality.
President Toda declared with absolute conviction: “If you have strong faith, then just as the Lotus Sutra attests, you will obtain fresh, powerful life force, gaining a new lease on life in terms of your business and in terms of your health. . . . [The things you need to sustain your life] will just keep flowing forth, like water bubbling up from the earth.”10
It is my sincerest wish that all of my dear fellow members, without exception, will become experts in the art of living long and healthy lives.
The fifth guideline is “Faith for absolute victory.”
Let me again cite a passage by the Daishonin that I have referred to many times: “Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat, while secular authority is based on the principle of reward and punishment. For this reason, a Buddha is looked up to as the Hero of the World” (WND-1, 835).
Being victorious is the very heart of Buddhism. In the sutras, the Buddha is given such laudatory titles as “Victor Over All,” “Attainer of the Goal,” “One Who Has Defeated All Opponents and Is Joyous and Fearless,” “One Who Shines like the Himalayas Which Surpass All Other Mountains,” and so forth. “Buddha” is another name for an absolute victor.
The Daishonin writes: “Buddhism is reason. Reason will win over your lord” (WND-1, 839). Hence, there is no way that you will be defeated. The triumph of truth and justice is the ultimate law of the universe itself. Firmly believing that with all of one’s heart is the essence of faith.
We must win. Only by winning can we achieve justice, secure happiness, and realize kosen-rufu.
From a speech at a conference with visiting SGI representatives and leaders of Tokyo No. 2 Area, Tokyo, December 11, 2003.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 2 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1982), pp. 283–84.
- *2Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays, translated by M. A. Screech (London: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 267.
- *3This guideline was later revised to “Faith for achieving happiness.”
- *4Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, translated by Julie Rose (London: Random House, 2008), p. 470.
- *5Translated from Japanese. Kazuteru Saionji, Tou Eicho—Tsuma toshite, doshi toshite (Deng Yingchao—As a Wife, As a Comrade), (Tokyo: Ushio Shuppansha, 1999), p. 240.
- *6Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 4 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), p. 257.
- *7Fundamental ignorance: The most deeply rooted illusion inherent in life, said to give rise to all other illusions. The inability to see or recognize the truth, particularly, the true nature of one’s life.
- *8Three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in the concluding verse section of the “Encouraging Devotion” (13th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests, and arrogant false sages.
- *9Three obstacles and four devils: Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. The three obstacles are (1) the obstacle of earthly desires, (2) the obstacle of karma, and (3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are (1) the hindrance of the five components, (2) the hindrance of earthly desires, (3) the hindrance of death, and (4) the hindrance of the devil king.
- *10Toda, Toda Josei zenshu, vol. 1, p. 110.