Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 15: “Faith for Overcoming Obstacles” [15.16]

15.16 The Power to Change Poison into Medicine

In this selection from The New Human Revolution, the novel’s protagonist Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda) visits the Akita Community Center in July 1972 to encourage members immediately after torrential rains caused widespread damage throughout the northeastern area of Japan.

“I am so sorry to hear about those of you who have been affected by the flooding,” Shin’ichi said. “I offer you my sincerest condolences. The important thing is what you do from now. Are you going to be discouraged and allow yourselves to fall into despair? Or will you regard this as an opportunity to show actual proof of our faith and rise up again courageously, determined not to be beaten? Your inner resolve is what decides your happiness or unhappiness.

“Throughout our lives, we are bound to face all kinds of adversity; not only natural disasters but things like bankruptcy, unemployment, illness, accidents, and the death of loved ones. No one’s life is ever perfectly smooth.

“In fact, life is an endless series of trials and tribulations, and it would be no exaggeration to say that facing difficulties is indeed what life is about. The question, then, is how to remain unbeaten by these trials and adorn our lives with victory. Buddhism teaches the concept of “changing poison into medicine.”1 According to this principle, we can change even the worst circumstances into benefit and happiness through faith. We need to be utterly confident of this.

“From another perspective, this principle is saying that to attain the ‘medicine’ of Buddhahood, of absolute happiness, we must triumph over the ‘poison’ of suffering. In other words, suffering is the seed that enables the flower of happiness to bloom. As such, we shouldn’t be afraid of hardships. Rather, we should face them with courage.

“We are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth2 who possess the life state of Buddhahood. We have appeared in this world to lead all people of the Latter Day of the Law to enlightenment. We will never be deadlocked. Adverse circumstances do not cause unhappiness; it is caused by our own despair and negativity.

“It is also important to realize that the suffering you are experiencing now has profound significance. If all of you affected by this natural disaster splendidly rebuild your lives, you will have turned poison into medicine and demonstrated the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism to society. That is the purpose of the struggles you are now facing.

“Please relay the following message from me to all your fellow members: ‘Don’t be defeated. I hope you will surmount this obstacle and come out victorious. I will continue to send you my sincerest daimoku.’”

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 16, “Soaring” chapter.

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

  • *1Changing 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.”
  • *2Bodhisattvas 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.