Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 20: Encouragement for Youth [20.2]
20.2 The Problems of Youth Are Themselves a Source of Light
With warm compassion and empathy, President Ikeda wholeheartedly encourages young people. He urges them to learn to encourage themselves, to like themselves, and to use their problems as fuel to shine ever more brightly.
Youth is a painful time. It is full of problems. But dealing with such troubles helps us grow as human beings. When we look back at the times we really suffered, the times we thought were the most miserable, we see that these were the most precious times of all.
That’s why we need to grapple with our problems head-on, instead of trying to escape them. That is the most direct way forward.
If you’re sad and lonely, then you should acknowledge those feelings. Don’t try to distract yourself from them with shallow amusements. Don’t diminish them. Go through those feelings, bravely weather them, and turn them into nourishment for your growth.
People, just like flowers, need light. People’s hearts wither when no one values or cares about them. So please be the sun that imparts bright light to all.
People, like flowers, also need water. Our hearts wither if we don’t encourage ourselves, make ourselves happy, and spark our own enthusiasm.
Those who can encourage themselves are truly inspiring. They understand the pain and suffering of others. Find the words, strength, and wisdom to bring happiness to your own heart. When you’re feeling down, lift up your own spirits.
If you can’t like yourself, you can’t love others.
If you’re shy and sensitive, that’s perfectly fine. Being thick-skinned and insensitive is not a requirement for being an adult. Flowers aren’t made of concrete, either; they are soft, delicate, and fragile. Those who remain sensitive to others’ thoughts and feelings their whole lives are truly strong.
Our destiny does not come from somewhere outside us; it is shaped within our own hearts, day by day. If we find life boring, it might be because we’ve let ourselves become boring. If life seems empty, it might be because we’ve allowed ourselves to grow empty and shallow. If we feel fed up with life, then life might actually be saying the same to us! We can only lead lives that match the way we live them.
If you get average grades in school, that’s fine, but please make sure you excel as a human being. Grades aren’t the only measure of how smart or capable you are, and they really matter little in life over the long term. However, I hope you will earnestly pursue those questions that spark your curiosity, and think long and hard about them.
Also, I hope you will become a person who is willing, at the crucial moment, to stand up for truth and justice, regardless of the personal cost. As the presence of such individuals grows, the world will become a more beautiful place.
Somewhere in the world a mission is waiting for you—a mission that only you can fulfill. It is waiting for you, counting the days. Since that is the case, you must live, you must keep going until the day you encounter your mission!
To shine, you must burn with an inner light, and the fire that produces that inner light is fueled by problems and suffering.
The problems of youth are themselves a source of light.
From an essay series “The Poetry of Light,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, February 27, 2000.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.