Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 15: “Faith for Overcoming Obstacles” [15.12]

15.12 A Buddha Is One Who Continues Striving

President Ikeda discusses the important defining qualities of a Buddha and how Shakyamuni attained Buddhahood.

Those who continue to strive and overcome hardships will attain Buddhahood. This is a very important point.

What is a Buddha? And how did Shakyamuni attain Buddhahood?

Hajime Nakamura, a leading scholar of Buddhism, has this to say on the subject: “Even after becoming a Buddha (an ‘enlightened one’), Shakyamuni remained a human being.”1

Even after attaining Buddhahood, Shakyamuni still experienced pain and suffering. He knew illness. He continued to be tempted by negative influences or impulses.

Professor Nakamura continues: “The essence of Buddhahood, then, must be identified as the practice of rejecting temptation. Unceasing, assiduous effort is itself the practice of the Buddha. When one attains enlightenment, one does not become some different kind of being called a ‘Buddha.’”2

The “temptation” of which Professor Nakamura speaks here refers to negative influences or impulses and bad friends. They are the forces that obstruct Buddhist practice, lead to unhappiness, destroy the harmonious unity of believers, and tempt us to abandon our faith.

The person who wages an unceasing battle against such devilish influences and continuously acts to lead others to happiness is a Buddha. A Buddha is not some special sort of being. The person who keeps striving bravely in both spirit and action, who keeps up the battle against negative forces until it is won—that person is a Buddha.

Shakyamuni’s attainment of enlightenment under the bodhi tree in ancient India and Nichiren Daishonin’s act of casting off his transient status and revealing his true identity as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution3 are both expressions of the highest state of humanity. Neither Shakyamuni nor the Daishonin ceased to be human. The essential truth of Buddhism is that ordinary people can attain the ultimate state of Buddhahood as they are.

It is in the faith of those who exert themselves in their Buddhist practice and actively make efforts to realize kosen-rufu that Buddhahood reveals itself.

Today, all of you are striving in Soka Gakkai activities, taking on the sufferings of many people as your own sufferings. This is truly the noble behavior of Buddhas.

Nichiren Daishonin declares that one who perseveres through great hardships and embraces the Lotus Sutra from beginning to end is an emissary of the Buddha (cf. WND-1, 942).

As long as we devote ourselves to the cause of kosen-rufu, we are sure to encounter obstacles. But it is these very obstacles that enable us to strengthen our faith and forge the state of Buddhahood within us.

From a speech at a Tohoku Region general meeting, Tokyo, March 21, 1994.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Translated from Japanese. Hajime Nakamura, Gotama Budda I (Gautama Buddha I), in Nakamura Hajime senshu (Selected Works of Hajime Nakamura), vol. 11 (Tokyo: Shunjusha, 1999), p. 300.
  • *2Ibid.
  • *3Tatsunokuchi Persecution: The failed attempt, instigated by powerful government figures, to behead the Daishonin under the cover of darkness on the beach at Tatsunokuchi, on the outskirts of Kamakura, on September 12, 1271.