Goals enable us to harness the energy of courage, wisdom and compassion that powers our lives.

Dear World Tribune:

In light of the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival next year, I’m wondering why we, as SGI members, focus so much on making goals. I just don’t understand. I get discouraged when I don’t accomplish my goals so I’d rather not make any. Please help.
—Fellow Bodhisattva

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Dear Fellow Bodhisattva,

Though we all want to achieve our goals, what’s most important is the process of who you become along the way. When you make a goal, and chant and rack your brain about how to make it happen while striving with all your might, you develop a habit of winning. In the realm of faith, this comes down to winning over yourself. SGI President Ikeda elaborates:

To take the path of least resistance is human nature. Outstanding individuals didn’t become great overnight. They disciplined themselves to overcome their weaknesses, conquering apathy and inertia to become true victors in life. Those short on willpower or self-motivation should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with conviction to become people of strong will, who can tackle any problem with real seriousness and determination. (Discussions on Youth, p. 98)

There are many troubling, painful, unpleasant, and worrisome things in life. When you face such things, you have two options. You can complain, blame the environment and be defeated. Some may express sympathy for you, but, ultimately, you’re the one to lose out, and anything you say will really be just an excuse. The second option is to live with an invincible spirit, blazing your own
way regardless of your environment. The choice is up to you. (You Were Born to Win, p. 23)

Nichiren Daishonin, who despite being exiled and almost killed for his unwavering commitment for kosen-rufu, also exhibited this fighting spirit, declaring: “But still I am not discouraged” (“The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 748). President Ikeda writes, “This indomitable fighting spirit—the true legacy of Nichiren Daishonin—is the Soka Gakkai spirit” (see “Nothing Is More Powerful Than Chanting” in this issue).

President Ikeda also reminds us that life is a constant struggle with ourselves, “a tug-of-war between moving forward and regressing, between happiness and unhappiness” (Discussions on Youth, p. 98). This dynamic struggle is the essence of life. That’s why we need goals. They give us something to fight for, to raise the bar in our own lives and to stop us from settling with the attitude of “that’s just the way it is, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Photo: Masayuki Tsujimura.

Every morning and evening, as we conduct silent prayers during the conclusion of gongyo, we pledge: I pray to accomplish my own human revolution, change my destiny and fulfill all of my wishes.

When we have specific goals, we have a clear focus. A clear focus then enables us to harness the energy of courage, wisdom and compassion that powers our lives.

President Ikeda writes:

An arrow will not hit the target unless we take proper aim. The same is true of chanting. Our prayers come to fruition when we set clear goals and strive earnestly and persistently to realize them. Faith in the realm of Nichiren Buddhism is not a matter of simply chanting to the Gohonzon and expecting things to automatically go well. We need to chant and make efforts, make efforts and chant; by doing so, we can activate the positive functions of the universe to work on our behalf. (June 29, 2012, World Tribune, p. 3)

What about shakubuku goals?

I feel like it’s just for numbers. Through President Ikeda’s example, he has taught us that the value of our lives is determined by what values we uphold and protect. The act of shakubuku is an expression of our deepest commitment as Bodhisattvas of the Earth to enable all people to become equal to the Buddha without distinction. “The goal of our great movement for kosen-rufu is to sow the supremely precious seed of happiness in the hearts of people all over the world,” President Ikeda says. “There is no nobler undertaking than this” (see “Nothing Is More Powerful Than Chanting” in this issue).

President Ikeda cited second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s explanation of the dignity of our shakubuku movement in the following accessible manner:

Bankers count money. Publishers are always calculating how many books they’ve printed and sold. We of the Soka Gakkai—committed to protecting life, the most precious treasure in all the world—count how many people we have introduced to the Mystic Law and led to happiness. (Aug. 17, 2012, World Tribune, p. 3)

President Ikeda goes on to say: In the SGI, numbers aren’t just statistics—they represent precious individual lives. They encapsulate each person’s happiness.

It Takes a Lion— Youth from across the country are gearing up for next year’s 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival through many heartfelt interactions. Toward this event, every SGI-USA member is uniting around the goal to personally introduce one youth to the practice and send that lion to the festival. Join our movement for peace! #ItTakesALion. Photos: Mary D’Elia, Daigo Otobe, Fern Tanakomsirichot, Emily Terada.

That’s why it’s important for us to set goals, value each individual and help one person after another form a connection with Nichiren Buddhism. (Aug. 17, 2012, World Tribune, p. 3)

Those who thoroughly develop themselves will be victorious.

Even if we do not hit a goal in the time that we set for ourselves, as long as we continue to chant earnestly about it, we can manifest an even more magnificent benefit.

President Ikeda cited the example of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872–1928), who led the first successful expedition to the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911:

As a matter of fact, Amundsen, too, originally hoped to reach the North Pole, not the South Pole. As he was making preparations, however, he received the news that an American explorer had beat him to it.

At that moment, his dream of being the first to reach the North Pole, for which he had long been preparing with the support of so many, evaporated. But Amundsen wasn’t swayed or downcast; he immediately changed his plans, deciding to go to the South Pole instead, and burned with evergreater determination to succeed. He also set his sights further, resolving that after his expedition to the South Pole, he would travel to the North Pole for more exploration. Indeed, 15 years after he reached the South Pole, he flew across the Arctic Sea and realized his dream of reaching both poles. (April 5, 2013, World Tribune, p. 5)


President Ikeda reminds us that we live in an age in which making efforts to train and develop oneself is not considered important. He warns that “such an attitude has caused many to lose their sense of purpose and identity.”

“Because of this prevailing climate, those resolved to actively seek out hard work will gain great reward and benefit. Those who thoroughly develop themselves and forge an undefeatable self will be victorious.

“Where can we find such a wonderful realm of self-development?” President Ikeda asks. “It is here in the SGI. Here, we find the path for securing supreme victory in life” (You Were Born to Win, p. 14). Here we develop the habit of winning.