Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 9: Creating a Brilliant Final Chapter in Life [9.4]
9.4 A Source of Hope and Inspiration for a Happy Aging Society
Soka Gakkai members are taking the lead in creating a happy aging society in which all can enjoy a wonderful old age.
Birth, aging, sickness, and death are fundamental issues of existence that no one can escape. As the population ages at an unprecedented rate in many countries, people are living longer than ever, and time spent in the so-called twilight years of life is increasing, posing numerous new challenges for individuals and society. We of the Soka family, especially our Many Treasures Group members, therefore, have an even greater mission to take up these issues and find new approaches and solutions.
No matter how much wealth or power one may possess, such things vanish like a fleeting dream in the face of the unrelenting reality of old age and death. What is crucial, then, is the philosophy one upholds and the life one has lived.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states: “Passing through the round of births and deaths, one makes one’s way on the land of the Dharma nature, or enlightenment, that is inherent within oneself” (OTT, 52). The Mystic Law is the eternal and indestructible law governing all things in the universe. As people who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo based on faith in the Mystic Law and are committed to realizing kosen-rufu, our lives, too, are eternal and indestructible, diamond-like and imperishable. I firmly believe that, as entities of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our lives will continue advancing steadfastly and calmly “on the land of the Dharma nature, or enlightenment”—imbued with the four noble virtues of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity—throughout the cycle of birth and death. As such, we have nothing to fear.
In one of his letters, Nichiren Daishonin warmly encourages and praises the lay nun Toki (the wife of Toki Jonin), who devotedly nursed her over-90-year-old mother-in-law until the latter passed away peacefully. This sincere disciple also faced her own health problems, which had perhaps been caused in part by exhaustion from caring for her mother-in-law. Nevertheless, she refused to be defeated by illness. Encouraging her, the Daishonin writes: “There is nothing to lament when we consider that we will surely become Buddhas” (WND-1, 657).
There is no reason to lament and ask yourself why, after so many years of sincere and diligent practice of the Daishonin’s Buddhism, you should have to fall ill, or a family member should require nursing care, or some other such situation. Your practice has enabled you to lessen your karmic retribution1 and makes it possible for you to change poison into medicine. When families practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism pull together to overcome such obstacles based on faith, they will be able to open the way to attaining Buddhahood in a profound and substantial manner.
Brimming with powerful conviction in faith and shining brightly as treasure towers, our Many Treasures Group members are making the final chapters of their lives truly joyful. Their examples are an unsurpassed source of hope and inspiration for the realization of a happy aging society where long life is genuinely celebrated.
My mentor, Josei Toda, declared: “Smile amid the raging winds and fight on until your final day!”
My wise friends of the Many Treasures Group, together let us always brim with hope and forge ever onward!
From an editorial titled “Wise Members of the Many Treasures Group, Forge Ever Onward!” published in Japanese in the Daibyakurenge, April 2014.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.
- *1Lessening karmic retribution: This term, which literally means, “transforming the heavy and receiving it lightly,” appears in the Nirvana Sutra. “Heavy” indicates negative karma accumulated over countless lifetimes in the past. As a benefit of protecting the correct teaching of Buddhism, we can experience relatively light karmic retribution in this lifetime, thereby expiating heavy karma that ordinarily would adversely affect us not only in this lifetime, but over many lifetimes to come.