Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 20: Encouragement for Youth [20.6]
20.6 Keep Moving Forward
Youth is another name for challenge. Victory and success shine in tenacious efforts to keep moving forward, undefeated by any obstacle.
Nothing is irredeemable in youth. The only real mistake you can make when you are young is giving up on yourself or allowing fear of failure to prevent you from trying to accomplish something.
The past is the past; the future is the future. Look to the future and keep moving forward, telling yourself: “Everything starts from today—it starts from now, this minute, this moment!” This is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism, the Buddhism of “true cause.”1
True success or failure in life will not be apparent until you reach your 40s or 50s.
Don’t allow your immediate situation to make you lose hope or panic. Though you may do something you regret, have problems, or make mistakes, the future is long. Don’t be a fainthearted person who frets or despairs over every little thing.
When we look at the lives of famous people, we find that many had a far from perfect youth. For example, Sir Winston Churchill was well known for failing in school. Mahatma Gandhi, too, was a mediocre student. He was shy, timid, and found it difficult to talk to others. Albert Einstein also didn’t do well in some of his school subjects—though, of course, he was brilliant at mathematics. Wilhelm Röntgen, who discovered X-rays, was expelled from technical college because his classmates falsely accused him of something they themselves had done.
But what did all these individuals have in common in their youth? They never gave up on themselves. People who get poor grades, who are bullied, who are betrayed by their friends, who fail, who have to deal with such problems as illness or poverty, are more likely to be able to understand others’ feelings and have deep insights into life. The important thing, therefore, is not to be defeated. If you can do that, whatever suffering you have had to endure will definitely contribute in a positive way to your growth in the future.
You must love, respect, and treasure yourself. You’ll be miserable if you allow yourself to be swayed by the prejudices, passing trends, and contradictions of society. Never forget to be who you are, to be true to yourself.
Mr. Toda sternly observed that the sense of happiness we feel in the final years of our life is what counts. It’s got nothing to do with how well things go in your youth. Similarly, no matter how many times you fail at something when you’re young, there’s plenty of time to recover and get yourself back on course.
Never lose hope, never lose your aspiration to do better. If you don’t do well in elementary school, there’s always junior high. And if not in junior high school, then there is high school, college, and your entry into society after graduation. And if you experience setbacks along the way after that, continue challenging yourself into your 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Moreover, from the profound perspective of Nichiren Buddhism, if you don’t accomplish all you set out to in this lifetime, you can continue to fight on in the next lifetime and on for eternity. Faith in Nichiren Buddhism means cherishing the highest aspiration.
Even if you think you’re hopeless and incapable, I know you’re not. I have not the slightest doubt that each of you has a mission. No matter what others may say, I will always respect you and believe in you. No matter what your present situation is, I am absolutely certain that a wonderful future awaits you.
If you should fall, just get right back up. If you can pick yourself up, you can move forward. You are young. Now is the time for challenge and construction. Start from the present moment. Begin something, here and now.
In every era, there is serious suffering. And in every era, youth is a time full of worries and emotional turmoil. School is not the only issue. There is family, health, looks, relationships, friends—all sorts of problems to deal with. There is suffering, anxiety, frustration, and sadness. Youth is a time of grappling with all sorts of problems.
Struggling for answers, dispelling dark clouds and moving toward the sun, toward hope—this is the power of youth. Of course, you will have problems, make mistakes, and have regrets. But what matters is not allowing them to defeat you. Just keep pressing forward, ever forward, pushing through all problems and suffering.
Suppose you are lost in the jungle. You want to find your way out and reach the ocean but don’t know which way to go. What will you do? The answer is, keep moving ahead along any course until you come to a river. Then, if you follow the river downstream, you will eventually reach the ocean.
Move forward. As you struggle, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and keep pressing ahead, even if only a millimeter, two millimeters. If you keep that up all your life, when you finally look back, you’ll see you’ve made your way out of the jungle.
The more you suffer, the more sadness you experience, and the more daimoku you chant, the more profound a life you will lead. All will serve to nourish your growth into leaders of the 21st century.
From Discussions on Youth, published in Japanese in March 1999.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1True cause: Also, mystic principle of the true cause. Nichiren Buddhism directly expounds the true cause for enlightenment as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is the Law of life and the universe. It teaches a way of Buddhist practice of always moving forward from this moment on based on this fundamental Law.