Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 6: The Principle of “Cherry, Plum, Peach, and Damson” [6.2]

6.2 Bringing Out Our Positive Qualities

In this excerpt from The New Human Revolution, the novel’s protagonist Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda), after attending a student division meeting, encourages a young person who is worried about being timid by nature.

Shin’ichi said: “Gentleness and timidity can be seen as two different expressions of the same underlying nature. When that underlying nature takes the form of gentleness, it’s a strength; when it takes the form of timidity, it can be a weakness. When that underlying nature consistently acts as a weakness, it can become the cause of unhappiness.

“For example, people with a fiery temper by nature may often end up arguing with coworkers. This could alienate those around them, making for strained relations. In some cases, their hotheadedness could even lead to them being fired or quitting. And since that is their underlying nature, the same problem is sure to crop up wherever they go.

“Our basic underlying natures don’t change, but through our Buddhist practice, we can redirect our natures in a positive manner. Nichiren Daishonin says: ‘When one comes to realize and see that each thing—the cherry, the plum, the peach, the damson—in its own entity, without undergoing any change, possesses the eternally endowed three bodies [of the Buddha]’ (OTT, 200).

“Buddhism teaches the way for each of us, just as we are, to attain happiness while bringing out the best of our innate disposition and potential—in the same way that the cherry, plum, peach, and damson each manifest their own unique nature.

“People with fiery tempers are often also passionate, with a strong sense of right and wrong. By exerting themselves in Buddhist practice, they will no longer lose their tempers about unimportant things, but become people strongly committed to opposing evil and injustice.

“Likewise, people who tend to be too agreeable or easily manipulated by others are often very kindhearted and able to get along well with others. Through practicing Buddhism, they can bring out this latter strong side of their natures. Positively transforming ourselves in this way is what we call human revolution. The important thing is how to make that transformation happen.

“Basically, the key is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and continue developing your life. It’s crucial to reflect on yourself and discover your problematic qualities and life tendencies.

“We all have faults. Perhaps we tend to blame others when something bad happens to us, or we lack perseverance, or are unwilling to listen to the opinions of others. These faults can become negative tendencies obstructing our personal growth and happiness.

“But unless someone points these negative tendencies out to us, we may not be aware of them. That’s where our seniors in faith and fellow members come in. They can draw our attention to them and support us in the effort to overcome them. We also need to chant earnestly to challenge and transform our negative tendencies.

“In addition, we can also forge and develop ourselves through Soka Gakkai activities. As Nichiren Daishonin writes: ‘The flaws in iron come to the surface when it is forged’ (WND-1, 497).

“Refusing to allow our weaknesses to defeat us and triumphing in one activity after another is the way we train and strengthen ourselves; it is the path of human revolution for each of us to win over our negative tendencies. Soka Gakkai activities are the ‘place of practice’ or ‘training ground’ where we develop and strengthen our lives. By dedicating ourselves to the mission of kosen-rufu and continuing to strengthen and improve ourselves, we can also transform our karma.”

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 16, “Heart and Soul” chapter.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.