Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 9: Creating a Brilliant Final Chapter in Life [9.6]
9.6 There Is No Retirement from Faith
Sharing an observation by John Kenneth Galbraith about the importance of living each day to the fullest, no matter how old you are, President Ikeda states that the fundamental means for staying in good health is our daily gongyo, daimoku, and Soka Gakkai activities.
Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith, world-renowned economist and professor emeritus of Harvard University, is 90 years old and continues to work at a steady pace. Even now he is writing a new book. We have been friends for 20 years. I have visited him at his home in Boston [in 1993], and we met here in Tokyo [in 1978 and 1990]. He was kind enough to present a commentary when I delivered my second lecture at Harvard [“Mahayana Buddhism and Twenty-First-Century Civilization”].
Something that Dr. Galbraith said during our meeting in Tokyo nine years ago made a very deep impression on me. “I will be 82 the week after next [on October 15],” he said, “but I regard each birthday as a fresh start. I believe the older we get, the more there is to learn.” This is the philosophy of life of the ever-youthful Dr. Galbraith. He also offered the view that having firm goals or plans for the day when we get up in the morning is important in terms of staying alert and healthy.
We should wake up every morning ready to take on the world. In that regard, doing a vigorous morning gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which enables us to start the day fresh and energetic, is a wonderful way to maintain health and well-being.
Our practice of gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo represents a sublime ceremony in which we bring the microcosm of our lives into harmony with the fundamental rhythm of the macrocosm, the universe. We join our hands in prayer before the Gohonzon and do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Our voice reaches all Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and heavenly deities—the protective functions of the universe. Though we cannot see them, they gather round us to keep us safe from harm. We are in their midst. How awesome is the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! All of the protective functions become our allies. That is why we have the ability and mission to guide humanity to happiness.
Dr. Galbraith also remarked to me that the biggest mistake the elderly make is to retire from their work, for without having work to do, one ceases to exert physical and mental effort, adding that a decline in mental effort can have a particularly negative impact.
This applies all the more to the realm of faith: there is no retirement from faith. Our Soka Gakkai activities for kosen-rufu represent the greatest mental and spiritual effort. They strengthen our life force, and as such are a fundamental means for staying in good health.
From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, July 3, 1999.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.