Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 20: Encouragement for Youth [20.12]
20.12 Our Workplace Is an Important Stage for Our Human Revolution
President Ikeda offers warmhearted advice to young people about work based on his own experience and the guidance of President Toda.
Concerns about work can occupy a big place in the minds of young people. They may wonder what kind of work they are best suited for, or if their present job is the right one for them.
I had many of the same concerns when I was young. When I began working for Mr. Toda’s publishing company, I started out as the editor of a boys’ magazine. It was something I’d always wanted to do, but the company’s business declined and the magazine was discontinued. I was then transferred to the kind of work I liked least, involved with finance. Additionally, there was a period when I didn’t even receive my monthly salary. I couldn’t buy an overcoat when winter came. But I never uttered a single word of complaint. My sole wish was to overcome the crisis facing Mr. Toda’s businesses, and I worked single-mindedly toward that end.
Mr. Toda offered this advice to young people who were struggling with regard to their work:
“There are three criteria for selecting a job—beauty, benefit, and good. Everyone’s ideal is to get a job they like (beauty), that is financially secure (benefit), and where they can contribute to society (good). But the real world is not always that accommodating. Very few people find the job of their dreams from the very beginning. In most cases, we have to do work that we never expected we would do.”1
For example, our job may provide us a secure livelihood and contribute to society, but isn’t something we enjoy or really suits us temperamentally. (It provides benefit and good, but not beauty.)
Or we may have a job that we enjoy and contributes to society, but it may not provide us with enough money to support ourselves. (It has beauty and good, but not benefit.)
Or our job may pay extremely well and be enjoyable, but have a negative effect on society. (It has benefit and beauty, but not good.)
As we can see, it can actually be quite difficult to attain all three values of beauty, benefit, and good. In the today’s trying economic times, in particular, it is increasingly difficult to find a job at all.
What should we do then? Mr. Toda advised:
“In times such as these, young people should not be discouraged. Just put all your energy into your present job and become an indispensable person there. By chanting earnestly to the Gohonzon and continuing to strive your hardest, not letting disagreeable tasks or assignments deter you, you will eventually find a job that you enjoy, offers financial security, and produces good for society. This is the benefit of faith.
“And that’s not all. When you look back at your less than satisfactory jobs, you’ll find that none of your hard work was wasted, but that it has all become a valuable asset for you. You’ll come to understand that everything had meaning. I can assure you of this from my own experience. Our faith is expressed in our lives and in society. That is the power of Buddhism.”2
Mr. Toda was a leader of unparalleled genius. I know from my own experience that what he says about work is true.
The important thing is to strive to win where you are now.
Buddhism teaches that our lives are inherently and eternally endowed with Buddhahood and that this suffering-filled saha world in which we live is itself the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light [the Buddha land].
Therefore, shine where you are. By throwing yourselves into your work rather than avoiding it, you will definitely open a way forward in the best possible direction. Eventually, you will come to appreciate that all your efforts up to now had meaning, and everything you have experienced is a treasure for your lives. And when you do, you will be victors.
Young people who uphold the Mystic Law are happy. They will lead lives of satisfaction and fulfillment without fail.
I would like you to develop a life state where you can declare: “I am a truly fortunate youth. All my struggles are themselves a source of happiness.”
The true nature of such a person’s life will reveal itself in their outward appearance and actions, in accord with the principle of the true aspect of all phenomena.3
As long as you are lamenting your situation, looking gloomy and downcast, you’ll be miserable and no one will recognize your abilities.
You’re far better off being upbeat and active. It will open the way to new possibilities. Your attitude determines everything.
I want each of you to be successful in your respective fields. You can’t be a success if you make halfhearted efforts. You need to follow through on your chosen path to the very end.
To do that, look at your job as your place of training where you build and develop yourself as a human being. This place of training as a human being is also your place of Buddhist practice, the place where you put your faith into practice. If you can adopt this outlook, all your complaints will disappear. Nothing is more pitiful than a person who is always complaining.
From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, June 28, 1995.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Translated from Japanese. From a lecture on the Lotus Sutra by President Toda to a group of youth division members who were students at Tokyo University, on April 18, 1953.
- *3True aspect of all phenomena: The ultimate truth or reality that permeates all phenomena and is in no way separate from them. Through the explanation of the ten factors, the “Expedient Means” (2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra teaches that all people are inherently endowed with the potential to become Buddhas, and clarifies the truth that they can tap and manifest this potential.