Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 15: “Faith for Overcoming Obstacles” [15.7]
15.7 Obstacles Enable Us to Polish Our Lives
Stressing that hardships and obstacles enable us to polish our lives, President Ikeda explains that the very circumstances that trouble us help us reveal our Buddhahood.
Obstacles enable us to polish our lives.
In one of his writings, the Daishonin employs the following simile: “It will only be like a boar rubbing against the golden mountain” (WND-1, 770).
The story behind this simile goes something like this: Once there was a golden mountain. A boar came upon it and didn’t like the fact that the mountain glittered brightly. It tried to erase the golden mountain’s brilliance by rubbing against it. The boar’s coat was stiff, and he rubbed very hard. But what was the result? The harder the boar rubbed against the mountain, the brighter it shone.
This simile appears in The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom and in Great Concentration and Insight.
The Daishonin refers to it to teach us that the more that practitioners of the Lotus Sutra encounter obstacles, the brighter their lives shine.
The obstacles in question are the three obstacles and four devils.1 We cannot attain enlightenment without struggling against them. We cannot become Buddhas without experiencing and overcoming difficulties—just as we cannot graduate from university without taking examinations and passing them.
The Daishonin writes: “This world is the domain of the devil king of the sixth heaven”2 (WND-1, 495). As a result, good people are harassed and evil people do what they like. Kosen-rufu is a movement to fundamentally transform this upside-down state of affairs.
To shine ever more brightly the more obstacles we face—this also provides an important lesson in the area of human relations.
An organization is a gathering of all kinds of individuals. There may be some who are not easy to work with. Sometimes, the behavior of others may really annoy or upset us. But such things make the golden mountain of our lives shine.
If everyone in our lives was perfect, we would never grow. Working together with people we may not get along well with is a way to polish our “golden mountain.”
Quite frankly, we ourselves may not always behave as admirably as we’d like, so how can we expect others to behave just as we want them to? Getting upset at each little incident doesn’t improve anything, nor does it change the other person. Sometimes you just have to sigh and think, “Well, that’s the way he is,” and accept the other person with compassion.
The Daishonin writes: “The fifth volume of [T’ien-t’ai’s] Great Concentration and Insight states, ‘. . . like the various rivers flowing into the sea; like logs making a fire burn more briskly’” (WND-1, 770).
T’ien-t’ai is saying that the reason the sea is so vast is that many different rivers flow into it, and the sea accepts them all.
If the sea rejected one river or another, it wouldn’t be the great, vast sea it is. If we reject and avoid people we don’t like, we can’t develop a self that is as vast and expansive as the ocean.
T’ien-t’ai also says that the more logs we add to a fire, the more briskly it burns.
The logs of unhappiness fuel the flames of happiness. Because we experience hardships, we can know joy. Buddhism teaches that the sufferings of earthly desires lead to enlightenment. Problems enable us to grow. That’s why there is no such thing as unalloyed or unremitting happiness.
The Daishonin even says that Hei no Saemon-no-jo and others who had persecuted him are his “foremost good friends” and “best allies” (cf. WND-1, 770). Those who give us the hardest time are those who, more than anyone else, help us attain Buddhahood.
From a speech at a women’s division representatives conference, Tokyo, January 25, 1998.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Three 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.
- *2Devil king of the sixth heaven: Also, devil king or heavenly devil. The king of devils, who dwells in the highest or the sixth heaven of the world of desire. He is also named Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, the king who makes free use of the fruits of others’ efforts for his own pleasure. Served by innumerable minions, he obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings, the manifestation of the fundamental ignorance inherent in life. The devil king is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost.