Difficult Economic Times
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Accepting Our Situation
The global economic downturn, said by experts to be
the worst in a century, has had a direct influence on
Japan’s deteriorating economic situation. As conditions
worsen a growing number of people are expressing anxiety
about their future, especially those who have lost their
jobs or face cuts in their wages.
If we only take a negative view of such lean times,
however, we can do nothing to change our circumstances.
Rather, it is precisely in such hard times that it becomes important for us to view our daily lives in the light of the
The Japan of days gone by seems very distant indeed
from today’s material abundance. We might say that back
then, many ordinary people faced economic difficulties on
a daily basis, often having to struggle to obtain sufficient
food. Even so, people helped each other out, and led their
lives with consideration for others. In the family, parents
and children were united in their efforts to confront their
challenges and thus shared their happiness when they were
successful, strengthening the bonds between them. In
other words, in one sense the prevalent poverty encouraged
stronger ties between people, helping to create warm
There are many ways to deal with the situation we face
today. We can take a pessimistic and negative view, or we
can accept it positively, with gratitude in our hearts. How
we come to terms with our situation will determine
whether we lead a happy life or an unhappy one.
A Great Opportunity
The teachings of the Buddha show us how to see things
and how to accept them.
For instance, someone who thinks the tasks he or she is
given at work are boring and feels they are unfair and
unfulfilling, and someone who takes assigned tasks
seriously and thinks they are important, achieve very
different results and are evaluated differently.
Furthermore, when we are let go by a company, it is
only natural that we feel uncertainty about what the future
holds for us, but we could see that being released by a
company provides us with possibilities for demonstrating
creativity in the opportunity to start something new. In
this way, when we accept our situation with a positive
attitude and a feeling of gratitude, new worlds open up for
us one after another.
When we encounter something demanding and say that it is difficult, what we mean by difficulty is that it is hard for
us to stay unaffected by the changing circumstances
around us. In fact, however, we are being provided a great
opportunity to undertake positive change in ourselves.
There is an old saying, “Even if you are in tight pinch,
you will get through.” This means that when we are really
perplexed and cannot find a way out, that is when we can
find the key that unlocks the path before us. The saying is
an adapted form of a verse from the I Ching (Book of
Change), “When you are in genuine difficulty, the situation
surrounding you will change. When such change
occurs, you will be able to get through.” In other words,
what really matters most in difficult times is that we free
ourselves from our previous way of seeing things, because
in the process of changing our point of view we can find a
way out of our predicament.
Many Japanese people often quote the saying “Joy can
be found in the midst of suffering.” This means that such
joy as is found in suffering can be considered real joy.
I think that we are taught the same thing by the
symbolism of the lotus that grows in muddy water but
blossoms into a beautiful flower. The mud, in other words,
represents our feelings of pain and sadness, from which
our hearts can produce the happiness represented by the
beautiful lotus blossom.
Since we are now living in difficult economic times, let
us strive all the more to transmit the light of the Dharma
and help a beautiful flower blossom in the hearts of many
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.