Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 16: Buddhism Is about Winning [16.6]
16.6 Stand Up with Faith Based on a Vow
This excerpt from The New Human Revolution depicts an exchange during a discussion meeting with the novel’s protagonist, Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda), on his first visit to Brazil in October 1960. Here, he warmly encourages a Japanese migrant struggling to make a living as a farmer.
A man in his early 40s introduced himself stiffly, with the formality of a soldier standing at attention, announcing: “I’m a farmer!”
“Please, relax,” said Shin’ichi. “This isn’t the army. We’re all friends, all a family. Just relax as you would at home.”
The members present laughed. A bright smile lit the man’s sunburnt face.
He then explained that he had recently started farming vegetables, but his crop had failed, leaving him heavily in debt. He wanted to know what he could do to overcome the situation.
“What was the reason for your crop failure?” Shin’ichi asked.
“I think it might have been partly due to the weather,” the man replied.
“Are there other farmers growing the same vegetables as you who produced a successful crop?”
“Yes, but most people’s crops failed.”
“Was there some problem with the fertilizer you used?”
“I’m not really sure . . . .”
“Was there a problem with the way you tended your crop?”
“What about the suitability of the soil for the kind of vegetables you were trying to grow?”
“I don’t know . . . .”
The man couldn’t reply satisfactorily to any of Shin’ichi’s questions.
As a farmer, he was clearly working hard and trying to do the best he could. But so was everyone else. He was unaware of his own complacence in thinking that what he had been doing was enough.
Shin’ichi began to speak in a penetrating tone: “First, it is vital that you thoroughly investigate the cause that led to your crop failure so that you don’t make the same mistake again. You might want to talk with farmers who have been successful and take note of what they have to say.
“It is also important that you take sufficient measures to prevent failure. People who are deadly serious about what they are doing are always studying and exerting their ingenuity to solve problems. You won’t be successful if you neglect such things.
“You are greatly mistaken if you think that just because you practice this Buddhism your fields will yield abundant crops without any effort on your part. Buddhism is a teaching of unsurpassed reason. Therefore, the strength of your faith must manifest itself in the form of studying, exercising your ingenuity, and exerting twice as much effort as anyone else.
“Earnestly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the wellspring for the energy to rise to that challenge. And your chanting must also be based on a vow.”
“A vow?” asked the man, puzzled.
“By a vow,” Shin’ichi continued, “I mean making a personal pledge and praying to fulfill it. Some people just pray that everything they want will fall into their laps without effort on their own part. But a religion that encourages that kind of prayer disempowers people. Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism means chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo based on a vow. The essence of this vow is the realization of kosen-rufu.
“In other words, it means chanting resolutely with the determination, ‘I will realize kosen-rufu in Brazil. To achieve that, I will show magnificent actual proof of the benefit of Nichiren Buddhism in my work. Please enable me to give play to my fullest potential.’ This is what our prayer should be like.
“It is also important that we establish clear and concrete goals for what we hope to achieve each day and then pray and challenge ourselves to achieve each of them. This earnest determination gives rise to wisdom and resourcefulness, thereby leading to success. In short, to win in life we need determination and prayer, effort and ingenuity. It is misguided to dream of getting rich quick, expecting to encounter a rare stroke of luck or some shrewd money-making scheme. That is not faith. It is mere fantasy.
“Our work is the mainstay that supports our lives. Unless we show real evidence of victory in our work, we cannot demonstrate the principle that faith equals daily life. Please rid yourself of any laxness and reapply yourself wholeheartedly to your work with a fresh determination.”
“I’ll do my best!” said the man, his eyes filled with resolve.
Shin’ichi was well aware of the hardships many of these members striving as migrant farmers were facing. To be successful under such circumstances, they would above all have to battle their own complacency. The enemy they had to face was within.
The greater the adversity, the more important it is to resolve that it is a decisive moment in your life and to keep challenging yourself. It is here that the beneficial power of the Gohonzon becomes apparent. Adversity is therefore an opportunity to prove the power of Buddhism.
From The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, “Pioneers” chapter.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.