Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 5:
Transforming Suffering into Joy [5.5]
5.5 Living with Joy throughout All
In this selection, President Ikeda emphasizes that living with joy is the hallmark of a genuine practitioner.
Leo Tolstoy exclaimed: “Rejoice! Rejoice! The business of life, its purpose, is joy. Rejoice at the sky, the sun, the stars, the grass, the trees, animals, people.”1
“Rejoice!”—that was one of the ultimate conclusions the great Russian writer and thinker reached in life.
Living with joy throughout all is the hallmark of a lofty state of being, of strength and happiness. A life that greets everything with criticism and complaint is miserable, in contrast, no matter how fine it might look from the outside.
In 1901, Tolstoy was excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church. He was 72 at the time, already advanced in years. The Church thought that taking this punitive measure would humiliate Tolstoy, who was widely admired around the world. But he was unruffled by the tactics of the Church authorities. He observed their actions with serene dignity.
“Rejoice, rejoice!” His conviction remained unshaken. In fact, he burned with a passionate fighting spirit.
Tolstoy’s life was not untroubled. He struggled with his writing, with unhappiness in his family life, and with illness. But his spirit always and everywhere sought out and created joy.
This is also the Buddhist way of life. I hope you will all lead lives of pursuing and creating joy.
Nichiren Daishonin declared: “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 212). A life dedicated to kosen-rufu is a life of supreme joy. He also wrote:
I feel immeasurable delight even though I am now an exile. (WND-1, 386)
The more the government authorities rage against me, the greater is my joy. (WND-1, 243)
The greater the hardships befalling [the votary of the Lotus Sutra], the greater the delight he feels, because of his strong faith. (WND-1, 33)
And at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, the Daishonin said to his loyal disciple Shijo Kingo, who accompanied him: “What greater joy could there be?” (WND-1, 767). “You should smile!” he was telling him.
When hardships occur, the Daishonin taught, “The wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat” (WND-1, 637).
The more challenges we face, the more joyfully we should move forward and the more determinedly we should tackle them—this is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism and the most valuable way to lead our lives.
A joyless life is miserable. Those who are put off by everything, who are always negative, wear pained expressions, and do nothing but criticize and complain, are not living as the Daishonin teaches in his writings.
Those who can find joy in everything, who can transform everything into joy, are genuine experts in the art of living.
In “Letter from Sado” the Daishonin writes: “Worthies and sages are tested by abuse” (WND-1, 303). Truly great individuals are distinguished by their ability to endure criticism and abuse and calmly lead joyful lives.
Finding joy in everything—when you brim with joy, you will lift the spirits of those around you, bring smiles to people’s faces, and create value.
It is vital above all that leaders constantly think about how they can enable everyone to advance with joy.
From a speech at a divisional representatives meeting, Tokyo, June 28, 1993.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.
- *1Leo Tolstoy, Tolstoy’s Diaries, edited and translated by R. F. Christian, vol. 1 (London: The Athlone Press, 1985), p. 264. (September 15, 1889.)