Buddhist Thought


"More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all."

"Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment of all sentient beings in the Ten Worlds as well as all insentient beings in the three thousand realms, including plants, sky, and even the minutest particles of dust. Life at each moment permeates the entire realm of phenomena and is revealed in all phenomena."

" You must not think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha's lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself."

".......when one seeks the Buddhas' emancipation in the minds of ordinary beings, one finds that ordinary beings are the entities of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana."

"The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin"
Nichiren Daishonin, Buddhist Sage (1222-1282)


"Buddhism teaches that the same power which moves the universe exists within our lives. Each individual has immense potential, and a great change in the inner dimension of one individual's life has the power to touch the lives of others and transform society. When we change our inner determination, everything begins to move in a new direction. Hope, in this sense, is a decision. When we possess the treasure of hope, we can draw forth our inner potential and strength. A person of hope can always advance. Hope is a flame that we nurture within our hearts. It may be sparked by someone else--by the encouraging words of a friend, relative or mentor--but it must be fanned and kept burning through our own determination. Most crucial is our determination to continue to believe in the limitless dignity and possibilities of both ourselves and others.

Mahatma Gandhi led the nonviolent struggle for Indian independence from British colonial rule, succeeding aginst all odds. He was in his own words, "an irrepressible optimist." His hope was not based on circumstances, rising and falling as things seemed to be going better or worse. Rather, it was based on an unshakable faith in humanity, in the capacity of people for good. He absolutely refused to abandon his faith in his fellow human beings. Keeping faith in people's essential goodness, and the consistent effort to cultivate this goodness in ourselves--as Gandhi proved, these are the twin keys to unleashing the great power of hope.

Believing in ourselves and in others in this way--continuing to wage the difficult inner struggle to make this the basis for our actions--can transform a society that sometimes seems to be plummeting toward darkness into a humane and enlightened world where all people are treated with respect. There may be times when confronted with cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.

And our capacity for hope can actually be expanded and strengthened by difficult circumstances. Hope that has not been tested is nothing more than a fragile dream. Hope begins from this challenge, this effort to strive toward an ideal, however distant it may seem. It is far better to pursue a remote, even seemingly impossible goal than to cheat ourselves of the forward motion that such goals can provide. I believe that the ultimate tragedy of life is not physical death. Rather it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up on our own possibilities for growth.

My mentor, Josei Toda, once wrote: "In looking at great people of the past, we find that they remained undefeated by life's hardships, by life's pounding waves. They held fast to hopes that seemed mere fantastic dreams to other people. The reason for this, I feel certain, is that their hopes themselves were not directed toward the fulfillment of personal desires or self-interest, but based on a wish for all people's happiness, and this filled them with extraordinary conviction and confidence."

Here he pointed to a crucially important truth: real hope is found in committing ourselves to vast hopes and dreams--dreams such as world without war and violence, a world where everyone can live in dignity. The problems that face our world are daunting in their depth and complexity. Sometimes it may be hard to see where--or how--to begin. But we cannot be paralyzed by despair. We must each take action toward the goals we have set and in which we believe. Rather than passively accepting things as they are, we must embark on the challenge of creating a new reality. It is in that effort that true undying hope is found."

Daisaku Ikeda, President
Soka Gakkai International