Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.
(Passage from “Happiness in This World”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p681)
This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin in the sixth month of 1276 to Shijo Kingo and was titled, “Happiness in This World”.
Shijo Kingo was a samurai who served the Ema family, a branch of the ruling Hojo clan. Besides being well versed in martial arts, Kingo was also a skilled physician.
An early converter of Nichiren Buddhism, Kingo received many important letters from the Daishonin. He was also a leader of the community of believers practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
When this letter was written, Kingo was in the midst of a great challenge. He had incurred the wrath of his lord, Ema for trying to convert him to the Daishonin’s Buddhism and the situation was further fanned by malicious rumours spread by his jealous colleagues to Ema. Kingo was literally cornered.
This letter was one of the many encouragements the Daishonin sent to his loyal disciple amidst his most trying adversity.
How encouraged Kingo must have been after reading this letter. The Daishonin’s love and concern for his disciple is certainly heartwarming.
In our journey of life, there will be many unexpected and trying challenges awaiting us. Nevertheless, we must always remember that there is no obstacles, no matter how huge, that cannot be resolved through faith.
It is in times of adversities, the toughest of time in life, that actually serves an opportunity for us to grow and develop our lives. For this reason, in times of difficulties, it is all the more vital that we base our lives on daimoku, summon forth a surge of immense life force and resolve that we are going to triumph over every single difficulty, no matter how harsh it may seem to be.
On the other hand, in times of joy, let us savour the happiness while never neglecting to chant daimoku and offer our gratitude to the Gohonzon, exert ourselves in kosen-rufu (peace and happiness for all people) activities and share our joy of practice with our friends. By doing so, we can expand our life state and cultivate ourselves further.
The Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches that whether in times of suffering or joy, we must maintain the resolve to score victories in life, transform karma into mission based on earnest prayers, show actual proofs of the validity of Buddhism and bring joy and confidence to the people around us.
In his speech at the headquarters leaders meeting commenmorating May 3, “SGI Mother’s Day” in 2005, President Ikeda said:
“Life at times might seem like an endless succession of pain and suffering. But just as good times never last forever, neither do the bad. Life is a combination of both the good and bad, suffering and joy. Sometimes we win, other times we lose. Both suffering and joy are a part of life; this is life’s reality.
That is why we should keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo through both suffering and joy, without denying what we are feeling, the Daishonin said. If we do that, we will be able to attain a state of supreme happiness through the wisdom and power of the Mystic Law and lead a life in which nothing can defeat us.”
Mrs Masako Sugi, a Women Division vice zone leader, related an inspiring testimony on how her eldest son overcame an incurable disease at the Women Peace Forum held in July 2005.
At nine, Masako’s eldest son was suddenly attacked by a bout of high fever, had difficulties walking and began to complain about chest pains. The doctors disgnosed him to be suffering from “generalized juvenile rheumatoid arthritis” (JRA) and said, “If the pain extends to his heart, his life will be in danger.”
After repeating a few fluctuating cycles of improving and deteriorating conditions, the illness eventually reached his heart. For the following 21 days, her son lingered on the brink of death.
During this crucial moment, Masako resolved, “I must totally stem off my son’s karma once and for all no matter what!” With this indomitable spirit, she continued chanting daimoku whenever she could. As a result, her son achieved the impossible – he was discharged two months later and could even start attending school. Today, he has fully recovered and is studying hard at a faculty of medical science in a national university.
As for Masako, she has set up educational classes within various hospitals for the benefit of children who have been hospitalized for incurable diseases and her exteaordinary contribution were reported at the Japan Pediatric Society. On top of this, she has also been appointed the vice chairperson of the parent-teacher association committee in Kagawa prefecture. As a member of the parenting support group, Masako has shared her personal experience of overcoming her son’s incurable disease at various seminars, with medical and educational officials and mothers who have children diagnosed with such illnesses. As such, she has become a well-respected and trusted person in her community.
I also have encountered many obstacles in my journey of faith. However, each time, I summoned forth courage through reading the Gosho and President Ikeda’s guidance to challenge the obstacle squarely and overcame them all.
I am determined to always base myself on daimoku, synchronize my life with the life of my mentor and win in every challenge I undertake both in times of suffering and joy.
I will continue to create new history of kosen-rufu by sharing the joy of practice with my friends and people around me and score successive victories in my life and for SGI.
Translated and adapted from an article written by Shikoku WD Study Chief Michiko Takagi published in the October 2005 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.