Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 16: Buddhism Is about Winning [16.9]
16.9 Living the Noblest Life Possible as a Human Being
In Buddhism, winning is not measured by the attainment of worldly fame or honors, but rather by what kind of value we have created and how much we have contributed to the happiness and well-being of others.
“All things are in flux”—I etched this insight of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus in my heart as a youth. All phenomena in the universe, all things without exception, are constantly and endlessly changing. There are all too many examples of people who have risen to the heights of fame and glory only to plummet to abysmal depths at the end of their days.
Nichiren Daishonin writes:
“At times we are born as human beings, becoming rulers of various countries, high ministers, court nobles, or other court officials, and we think ourselves incomparably happy. Thus we content ourselves with such little gains and are delighted with them.
“However, the Buddha has taught that these accomplishments are mere prosperity in a dream, a phantom joy, and that we should simply accept and uphold the Lotus Sutra and quickly become Buddhas.” (WND-2, 36)
From the perspective of Buddhism, however puffed up with self-importance people of power, government officials, politicians, or celebrities may be, their status and position amount to nothing but “prosperity in a dream” or “a phantom joy”—fleeting illusions of happiness.
It is a waste to spend one’s brief time on earth chasing after illusions, living in pursuit of ephemeral glories or racked by jealousy for those who seem to have attained them.
What, then, is the noblest and most meaningful way to live? The Daishonin indicates that striving to attain Buddhahood is the path to eternal happiness and is itself an unsurpassed way of life. In other words, the answer is to make our lives shine their brightest as entities of the Mystic Law.
Though their lives may not be exciting or glamorous, true victors, genuine champions, are those who strive seriously in their Buddhist practice, exert themselves earnestly for kosen-rufu, and live always together with the imperishable Mystic Law.
Kosen-rufu is a great eternal endeavor. Those who devote themselves to this path will savor boundless happiness and joy throughout eternity, the Daishonin asserts. This is his promise. I therefore wish to declare again that members of the Soka Gakkai are the world’s foremost heroes, people of unsurpassed humanity.
In a famous passage, Nichiren Daishonin writes:
“It is rare to be born a human being. The number of those endowed with human life is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a fingernail. Life as a human being is hard to sustain—as hard as it is for the dew to remain on the grass. But it is better to live a single day with honor than to live to 120 and die in disgrace.” (WND-1, 851)
A long life is not necessarily a good life. What matters is what we leave behind, what kind of value we create, and how many people we help become happy.
Ultimately, therefore, dedicating ourselves to kosen-rufu is the supreme way to live. It is the greatest possible contribution we can make to society. It brings happiness to ourselves and other people. Buddhism and society, faith and daily life—both are inseparable.
That’s why the Daishonin urges us to work for the sake of the Lotus Sutra and kosen-rufu and to make a reputation for ourselves through such efforts. He calls on us to create and leave behind a proud record of personal achievement, free of regrets, knowing that we have done our very best in the limited time available to us in this life.
If we are going to challenge something, we may as well do it with a bright and positive attitude. It’s no fun otherwise. When we make efforts on our own initiative and challenge our goals cheerfully, we will be filled with joy and an upsurge of energy.
Let’s challenge ourselves joyfully. Those who advance with joy accumulate good fortune. Buddhism is about winning; it is an ongoing struggle. Those who strive joyfully will win in the end. Those who base themselves on faith in the Mystic Law and on chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are sure to be ultimate victors.
From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, March 24, 1993.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.