Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 17: Making the Most of Each Day [17.1]

17.1 Leading Fulfilling Lives, Free of Regret

President Ikeda asserts: “The only way to lead a life free of regret is to make the most of each day. Today will never come again, so each day must be treasured, lived mindfully, with complete commitment. Each meeting may be my last encounter with that person. That’s why I’m determined to give my all to encouraging the person right in front of me and to treasure each individual to the utmost.”

To live each day bravely and with all one’s might—this honest, persevering way of life is the essence of our practice of human revolution.

This chapter features selections from President Ikeda’s guidance for making the most of each day, outlining from various perspectives, how to live our lives as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.

While strolling together with a group of young women’s division representatives this morning, I discussed the subject of the best way to live.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (WND-1, 852).

“Our behavior as a human being”—what kind of behavior leads to a life of happiness and wisdom?

The Daishonin also teaches: “You must not spend your lives in vain and regret it for ten thousand years to come” (WND-1, 622).

He is saying that we must not waste this precious existence, that we must not live in such a way that we are left with eternal regret.

It is, therefore, important that we choose a life of lasting fulfillment over one of shallow self-indulgence.

No matter how fun-filled or entertaining your life may seem, without a sense of fulfillment, it cannot truly be called happy. A life without any real purpose, which only leaves you feeling empty, is an unhappy one.

It’s also important that we choose self-improvement over pleasure. Those committed to self-improvement have depth. They are attractive. They have hope.

Likewise, we need to choose serious effort over resignation, to dare rather than retreat. Those who do so brim with energy and vitality.

Acting with compassion instead of arrogance, with courage rather than fear—in such behavior lies the essence of Buddhism.

In the same spirit, I call on you to choose progress over stagnation, unity over disharmony, joy over pessimism, action over indecision, optimism over despondency.

The Soka Gakkai is a gathering of champions dedicated to spreading the correct teaching of Buddhism. To stand up proudly for truth and justice, rather than cast our lot with those who propound false and misguided ideas, is the path taught by Nichiren Daishonin.

Let us always press forward steadily, come what may, choosing cheerfulness over gloom, encouragement over envy, enthusiasm over anger.

Let us live out our lives with unwavering confidence, demonstrating a spirit of tolerance, not authoritarianism, filled with hope instead of despair, taking action instead of complaining, and engaging in dialogue, not violence.

Those who fight against their own weaknesses and keep pressing forward resolutely—challenging themselves instead of giving up, and taking personal responsibility for victory instead of criticizing others—triumph in the end and attain happiness.

Moreover, the efforts we make now determine not just this existence but our past, present, and future.

From a speech at a Kansai Region representatives conference, Osaka, May 18, 1992.

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