Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 6: The Principle of “Cherry, Plum, Peach, and Damson” [6.6]
6.6 Be a Shining Presence like the Sun
In Discussions on Youth, President Ikeda talks with high school students and other young people about the keys to finding their unique mission and becoming a shining presence.
When you live in a way that is true to yourself, your real value as a human being shines through. Buddhism teaches the concept of “illuminating and manifesting one’s true nature” (cf. WND-1, 746). This means to reveal your genuine innate self, your true inherent potential, and bring it to shine, illuminating all around you. It refers to your most refined individuality and uniqueness.
The important thing is to be patient, to have the confidence and determination that you will achieve something meaningful in the future. Don’t be impatient in your youth. Your true substance as human beings will be determined 10, 20, or 30 years from now. What matters is the kind of people you become then and whether you are fulfilling your mission then. Each of you has a mission that only you can fulfill. If you did not have such a mission, you would not have been born.
There are many kinds of mountains in this world. Some are high and some are low. And there are a great many different kinds of rivers. Some long, some short. Despite their differences, however, all mountains are mountains and all rivers are rivers.
There are serene mountains like the ones in the ancient Japanese capital of Nara, and there are rugged mountains like Kyushu’s Mount Aso [Japan’s largest active volcano]. Then there are the grand snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas. All of these mountains are beautiful and impressive in their own way.
The same is so with rivers. There is Hokkaido’s Ishikari River, home to magnificent salmon, as well as Nagano’s Chikuma River, which has inspired countless poets. There is the Yellow River in China, and the Amazon in South America, rivers so wide that in some places the opposite shore cannot be seen. Each of these rivers has its own special beauty.
The same is true of people. Each of you has a unique mission in life. Moreover, you have encountered the Mystic Law while still young. You have a mission that is yours and yours alone. That is an indisputable fact, one in which I would like you to have conviction and pride.
You won’t find your mission by standing still. Please challenge yourselves in something, it doesn’t matter what. Then, by your making consistent efforts, the direction you should take will open up before you quite naturally. It’s important, therefore, to have the courage to ask yourselves what you should be doing now, at this very moment.
The key, in other words, is to climb the mountain before you. As you ascend its slopes, you will develop your “muscles,” increasing your strength and endurance. Such training will enable you to challenge still higher mountains. It is vital that you continue making such efforts. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will enable you to bring forth the life force necessary to succeed.
Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and climb the mountain in front of you. When you reach the summit, wide new horizons will stretch out before you. Little by little, you will understand your own mission.
Those who never forget that they have a unique mission are strong. Whatever problems they have, they will not be defeated. They will transform all their problems into fuel for growth toward a hope-filled future.
The important thing, therefore, is to resolve to be a shining presence like the sun. If you do so, all darkness will be dispelled. Live confidently, determined to be the sun in your environment, no matter what happens.
Of course, in life, there are both sunny days and cloudy ones. But even on cloudy days, the sun still shines. The same is true for people. Even when we are struggling, we mustn’t let the light go out in our hearts.
All people have a unique mission that only they can fulfill. But that doesn’t mean you should simply wait for someone to tell you what yours is. It is important that you discover your mission on your own.
Precious gems start out buried underground. If no one mines them, they’ll stay buried. And if they aren’t polished once they’ve been dug out, they will remain rough and dull.
All of you, my young friends, possess a jewel. You are each like a mountain with a hidden treasure. What a shame it would be to spend your entire life without uncovering it!
It is often said that everyone is a genius at something. Being talented doesn’t just mean being a good musician, writer, or athlete—there are many kinds of talent. For instance, you may be a great conversationalist or make friends easily or put others at ease. Or you may have a gift for nursing, a knack for telling jokes, selling things, or economizing. You may be someone who is always punctual, patient, steady, kind, or optimistic. Or you may love new challenges, be strongly committed to peace, or bring joy to others.
Each of you is as unique as a cherry, plum, peach, or damson blossom (cf. OTT, 200), as Nichiren Daishonin explains. Please bloom in the way that only you can.
Without a doubt, you each possess within you a jewel, your own innate talent. How can you discover that talent? The only way is to challenge yourself to the limit. Your true potential will emerge when you give everything you’ve got to your studies, sports, or whatever you take on.
The most important thing is getting into the habit of challenging yourself to the limit in this way. In a sense, the results you get don’t matter all that much. The actual grades you receive in high school, for instance, won’t decide the rest of your life. But the habit of challenging yourself to the limit will in time bear fruit. It will distinguish you from others without fail and bring your unique talents to shine.
It has been said that we can only become as big as our dreams. That is why you should have big dreams. But it’s important to remember that dreams are dreams and reality is reality. If you want to realize your dreams, you have to take a hard look at reality and then make all-out efforts toward your goals.
Mr. Toda once said: “Young people must have the determination to excel at something.” Determination, tenacity of purpose, is crucial. Halfhearted effort will not make the precious jewel of your unique talents shine.
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 under key themes.