Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 20: Encouragement for Youth [20.4]

20.4 Seeking Out Challenges for Self-Development in One’s Youth

President Ikeda explains that a springtime of exhilarating victory comes to those who remain true to their vow and convictions, actively seek out challenges, and develop themselves in their youth.

Only those who have experienced the harshness of winter can truly know the joy of spring. The same is true of life.

The Swiss philosopher Carl Hilty asserted: “What joy is, is essentially known only to those who have suffered much. Others know only pleasure, which is in no way similar.”1 Those who haven’t experienced suffering cannot know real joy—how true that is!

Hilty also wisely observed: “Happiness in life is not a matter of having few or no hardships but, rather, of victoriously and gloriously overcoming them all.”2

True happiness in life lies in triumphing over every obstacle, he says. This point of view is quite similar to the Buddhist teaching that sufferings arising from earthly desires are the springboard to enlightenment.

There are some people who try to make their way through life without exerting any genuine effort, who try to profit and get ahead without putting in any hard work. Do they achieve real happiness? False veneers are eventually exposed, and pretense can only get one so far.

In the natural world, winter always turns to spring. What is needed in our human world for that to happen?

Hilty declared: “Break through!—this short phrase has an almost magical effect each time we face an inner crisis.”3 Persevere through all; continue, no matter what difficulty. Persevering is the secret to everything, he concludes.

To paraphrase Hilty: When your mind seems ready to drift off to sleep, or when you are overcome by a feeling of lethargy—tell yourself: Break through! This short phrase delivers a shock to a healthy will and awakens it. The elevated spirit is once again free to move toward the truth, toward what’s right and just. When you feel yourself succumbing to feelings of futility or apathy, rouse yourself and press on through!

We all experience problems and deadlocks from time to time—it might be with Soka Gakkai activities, with work, or with human relations. That’s the time to persevere. Continue pressing forward and win your own victory. That’s the only way.

There may be times when life itself seems a burden, when we feel trapped or weighed down by something, when we feel passive and a victim of circumstances, or when we feel somehow lost. Those are the times to shed our passivity and turn it into initiative, telling ourselves, “I’m going to follow through on this path!” “I’m going to carry out my mission for today!” When we decide to do so, a genuine spring will dawn in our hearts, and flowers will start to bloom.

Persevering for us means continuing in our efforts to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and share Nichiren Buddhism with one person after another. We who know this sure and practical way for transforming winter into spring are fortunate indeed.


It is my fervent wish that a steady stream of outstanding Soka Gakkai leaders for the 21st century will emerge from the youth division. Because of my strong hopes in that regard, I want to reiterate my advice that you continue to seek out challenges.

Mr. Toda often said: “Why did I become the president of the Soka Gakkai? It is because I lost my wife. I lost my beloved daughter. And because I have experienced all kinds of bitter hardships. That is the reason I became president.” Because he had undergone great hardships, he was qualified to be president—this was Mr. Toda’s philosophy.

Experiencing various hardships enables us to deepen our faith.

I still vividly recall the words of the Japanese industrialist [and founder of the Panasonic Corporation] Konosuke Matsushita, with whom I shared many conversations: “Mr. Ikeda, how true it is that people ought to struggle during their youth and even deliberately seek out hard work!”

These days, many people try to avoid hard work. They seem to feel that working hard is old-fashioned or a waste of energy. However, this is certainly not the case. In essence, all of our efforts are for our own sake.

We live in an age in which people can easily indulge themselves as much as they like and leave everything up to others. Making efforts to train and develop oneself is not considered important. But such an attitude has caused many to lose their sense of purpose and identity.

Because of this prevailing climate, those resolved to actively seek out hard work will gain great reward and benefit. Those who thoroughly develop themselves and forge an undefeatable self will be victorious.

Where can we find such a wonderful realm of self-development? It is here in the Soka Gakkai. Here, we find the path for securing supreme victory in life.

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 German. Carl Hilty, “Glück im Unglück” (Happiness amid Misfortune), Neue Briefe (New Letters), (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1906), p. 57.
  • *2Translated from German. Carl Hilty, Für Schlaflose Nächte (For Sleepless Nights), (Leipzig:
    J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1908), p. 71.
  • *3Ibid., p. 193.