Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 17: Making the Most of Each Day [17.5]
17.5 How We Start the Day Is the Key to Victory in Life
Sharing his personal experience, President Ikeda stresses the importance of making a good start to the day and maintaining a regular lifestyle so as to get the most out of each day and lead a victorious life.
For the sake of the growth and future success of our young men and women, I would like to impart the message that getting the day off to a good start is the key to victory in life.
In 1973, I visited the United Kingdom and engaged in an extended dialogue with the renowned British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. Professor Toynbee was 84 at the time. Yet even at that advanced age, with his motto Laboremus (Latin for “Let’s get to work!”), he energetically continued to apply himself to his scholarly research day after day.
I still clearly remember his words on that subject. He said that he kept regular hours, awaking every morning at 6:45. After preparing breakfast for himself and his wife and making his bed, he would start working at 9:00. In this simple description of his morning routine, I sensed his youthful spirit to treasure each day and keep learning and improving. His example also left me deeply impressed that truly outstanding individuals, no matter what their age or circumstances, remain tirelessly committed to the pursuit of learning and self-development.
At the same time, Professor Toynbee’s words reminded me that a good start in the morning and a regular lifestyle are indispensable to making each day productive and fulfilling. Those who go on to achieve eminence invariably value these important basics.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states:
“Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are persons who ‘lodge in the same place as the Thus Come One [the Buddha].’ Therefore, Fu Ta-shih [a venerated lay Buddhist in China] says in his commentary, ‘Morning after morning we rise up with the Buddha, evening after evening we lie down with the Buddha.’” (OTT, 83)
As disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, we chant and practice the Mystic Law, day after day. As such, each one of us rises and rests together with the Buddha [that is, the Gohonzon].
First, our practice of morning and evening gongyo is the foundation for advancing on the correct path of life—a path aligned with the Law that pervades the three existences of past, present, and future—leading the most meaningful existence. Especially important, as the phrase “morning after morning we rise up with the Buddha” indicates, is doing an invigorating morning gongyo.
Failing to win in the morning can lead to an unsatisfactory day. And an unending succession of such days can add up to an unsatisfying life. On the other hand, winning in the morning, getting off to a good start, leads to a productive day and puts you on a path to solid progress, ultimately culminating in a life of fulfillment and victory.
That’s why it’s so important to win in the morning and get the day off to a refreshing start. This is something young people, especially, should challenge, for it is a source of victory and growth in all spheres.
Mr. Toda was very strict about getting to work on time. And as a businessman of exceptional talent, he was keenly aware of the importance of a well-disciplined life. I fondly remember his many comments regarding work. He said that a workplace where everyone brims with a fresh and vibrant spirit and resolve at the start of the work day is sure to grow. And he always insisted that the top person in the workplace should be the first to arrive, instilling in their coworkers a sense of responsibility and enthusiasm about their jobs. Doing so, he said, would also ensure the success of the work they were doing and of the business as a whole. When those in positions of responsibility are late to work and many lower-level employees grow equally lax about coming into work on time, he warned, the business will have problems and eventually decline.
These strict yet spot-on observations are the result of Mr. Toda’s many years of firsthand business experience.
Mr. Toda himself was never late. He always came into the office, except when away on a business trip or some other special circumstance. Because of that, we, his employees, could never be late, either. Each morning was like a battle as I struggled frantically to make it to work on time. Sometimes, I even secretly wished that he’d be late. But that wish was always in vain!
Those days were really hard, but today I am deeply grateful for the valuable training they provided me.
I worked for Mr. Toda for about 10 years, doing everything I could to support and assist him. During that time, I was late for work two or three times for health reasons.
In those early years of our movement, Soka Gakkai meetings often went much later into the night than they do now and we often got home very late as a result. But Mr. Toda never accepted Soka Gakkai activities as an excuse for being late for work. He dismissed that as abusing one’s faith.
He also insisted that the higher one’s position in the organization, the greater one’s responsibility, and the more important it is to set an example. He also sternly warned against leaders talking big but failing to follow up with concrete action, decrying it as a disgrace and inexcusable self-indulgence.
It’s important for leaders to first be exemplary models for others, winning in the morning and getting each day off to a refreshing start.
Faith is manifested in daily life, and Buddhism finds expression in society. It would be truly regrettable if, though one practices Buddhism, one kept chaotic hours and it had a negative impact on one’s workplace. Such an example would likely cause people to question the validity of Nichiren Buddhism.
Each of us must strive to demonstrate the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism in society and win trust and understanding from those around us. We must set an example, so those who know us will say: “People who practice that Buddhism are really different from others. They are outstanding.” Those who win the unshakable trust of the people around them may be called genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.
Mr. Toda also said: “Being late for work is a sign that something is amiss in our Buddhist practice. Constantly making excuses will lead to lying and deviousness, and you will destroy people’s faith in you. The next thing you know, you’ll take a serious misstep, and you’ll end up quitting your practice altogether.”
Small things matter. Right or wrong, small things accumulate and lead to a major difference in the results. That’s why the best way to achieve your important future goals is to pay careful attention to your minor daily challenges, and triumph in each one of them.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “If a person cannot manage to cross a moat ten feet wide, how can he cross one that is a hundred or two hundred feet?” (WND-1, 766). Small challenges, small successes, repeated again and again, become great victories and flower into a life of glorious success.
From a speech at a Chubu Region leaders meeting, Aichi, March 28, 1988.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.