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It is the world that is enlightened
and we who are intermittent
Like radios, we struggle through our static to receive wavelengths that are always there, being human, we are unable to sustain the clarity necessary to apprehend the magic, inherent in everything. So we vaccillate from the extraordinary to the ordinary, time and time again, and most of us blame the world.
It is not surprising, then, that though we feel intermittently gifted, our gifts are ever-present. For if enlightement stems from a clarity of being, then talent is no more than a clarity of doing, an embodied moment where spirit and hand are one. The chief obstacle to talent, then, is a lapse in being. It is not that people have no talent, but that we lack the clarity to uncover what it is and how it works.
Talent, it seems, is energy waiting to be released through an honest involvement in life. But so many of us check whether we have power with the main switch off -- the switch being risk, curiosity, passion, and love.
With this in mind, happiness can simply be described as the satisfaction we feel when we are in ultimate accord, however briefly, in being and doing. In those unified moments, our purpose is life and our talent is living it in its most immediate detail, be it drying the dishes or raking the leaves or washing the baby's hair.
So when I can't find my purpose, I beg myself to sit in a field in the sun watching ants in hopes that I will meet my clarity. When I am convinced I have no gifts at all, I implore myself to search for the switch, to try something out of view, to gamble on what is remotely calling. When I lapse between comets, I try to watch fish and hear birds glide while I trudge out of synch. And in a tremor of faith, I know if I don't try at all, it will return as surely and swiftly as light fills a hole.
by Mark Nepo, from the Book of Awakening, pp. 333-334, October 11
Finding Your Mission -- by Daisaku Ikeda
How do I discover my mission in life?
First, I want to repeat that you won't find it by standing still. What's
important is that you challenge yourself in something, it doesn't matter
what. Then by making consistent effort, the direction you should take will
open up before you naturally. It's important, therefore, to have the courage
to ask yourself what you should be doing now, this very moment.
The key, in other words, is to climb the mountain that is right before you.
As you ascend its slopes, you will develop your muscles, increasing your
strength and endurance. Such training will enable you to challenge still
higher mountains. It is vital that you continue making such efforts.
Climb the mountain in front of you. When you reach the summit, wide
new horizons will stretch out before you. Little by little, you will
understand your mission.
Those who remember they have a unique mission are the strong ones.
Whatever their problems, they will never be defeated. They can transform all
of their problems into catalysts for growth toward a hope-filled future.
Life is about scaling one mountain, then facing the next one, followed by
the one after that. Those who persevere and finally succeed in conquering
the highest mountain are victors in life. On the other hand, those who avoid
such challenges and take the easy route, descending into the valleys, will
end in defeat. To put it simply, we have two choices in life: We can either
climb the mountain before us or descend into the valley.
Everyone has some kind of gift. Being talented doesn't just mean being a
good musician, writer or athlete -- there are many kinds of talent. For
instance, you may be a great conversationalist or make friends easily or put
others at ease. Or you may have a gift for nursing, a knack for telling
jokes, selling things or economizing. You may be always punctual, patient,
reliable, kind or optimistic. You may love new challenges or be strongly
committed to peace or to bringing joy to others.
As Nichiren taught, each of us is as unique as a cherry blossom, plum
blossom, peach blossom or damson blossom. Each blossom is distinctly
wondrous; accordingly, each blooms in the way that only it can.
Without a doubt each person has an innate talent. The question is: How do
you discover that talent? The only way is to exert yourself to the limit
in whatever is before you. Your true potential will emerge when you give
everything you've got to your studies, sports, extracurricular activities
or whatever you are engaged in.
The important thing is that you get into the habit of challenging yourself
to the limit. In a sense, the results you get are not so important. The
actual grades you receive in high school, for instance, won't decide the
rest of your life. But the habit of pushing yourself to the limit will in time bear
fruit. It will distinguish you from others without fail. It will bring your
unique talent to shine.
THE RIGHT JOB
What should I look for when trying to find the right job?
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the first president of the Soka Gakkai, taught
that there are three kinds of value: beauty, benefit and good. In the
working world, to find a job you like corresponds to the value of beauty; to
get a job that earns a salary that can support your daily life corresponds
to the value of benefit; and the value of good means finding a job that
helps others and contributes to society.
Not many can find the perfect job from the start. Some may have a job they
like, but it doesn't put food on the table; or their job may pay well, but
they hate it. That's the way things go sometimes. Also, some discover that
they're just not cut out for the career they had dreamed of.
My mentor, Josei Toda, emphasized the importance of first
becoming indispensable wherever you are. Instead of moaning that a job falls
short of what you'd like to be doing, he said, become a first-class
individual at that job. This will open the path leading to your next phase in life, during which you should also continue doing your best. Such continuous efforts are guaranteed to land you a job that you like, that supports your life, and that allows you to contribute to society.
Then, when you look back later, you will see how all your past efforts
have become precious assets in your ideal field. You will realize that none
of your efforts and hardships have been wasted.
What if you start following one dream but have a change of heart and want to pursue a different path? That's perfectly all right. Few people end up
doing what they planned or dreamed of doing in the beginning. In my case, I
wanted to be a newspaper reporter, but my poor health prevented me from
pursuing that profession. Today, however, I have become a writer.
At one point, I worked for a small publishing company. Because of its small
staff, I had to work very hard -- but, because of that, I gained a great
deal of practical experience.
After the war, I worked for another small operation, but what I went through
on that job gave me a chance to really look at myself. Everything I learned
back then is of value to my life now. The important thing is to develop
yourself in your present situation and to take control of your growth. Once
you have decided on a job, I hope you will not be the kind of person who
quits at the drop of a hat or is always insecure and complaining.
Nevertheless, if after you've given it your all, you decide that your job
isn't right for you and you move on, that's all right, too.
Taking your place as a member of society is a challenge; it is a struggle
to survive. But wherever you are is exactly where you need to be, so strive
there to the best of your ability.
A tree doesn't grow strong and tall within one or two days. In the same
way, successful people didn't become successful in only a few years. This
applies to everything.
Some view work as an unpleasant chore they must do to earn money to
support their leisure activities. But in the words of a character from The
Lower Depths, by Maxim Gorky : "When work is a pleasure, life is a joy' When
work is a duty, life is slavery." Your attitude toward work -- even your
college classwork, which may take up the better part of your day decisively
determines your quality of life.
A friend of mine, the late philosophy professor David Norton, once said:
Many students are caught up in the notion that the only purpose of
employment is to earn money, that happiness means having money to gratify
their desires. But since there is no limit to those desires, they can never
truly be satisfied. Real happiness is found in work itself. Through work,
one can develop (and fulfill oneself and bring forth the unique value that
lies within -- and share that value with society. Work exists for the joy of
It is just as he says. A person's work should bring happiness to others.
Life is truly wonderful when you're needed somewhere. How boring and empty life would be if just because we had the means, all we did every day was pursue idle diversions.
Especially for young people, it's important not to be overly concerned
with salary. Along with doing your best where you are, it is best to have
the spirit, "I'll do more than I'm paid for!" This is how you can train
To slack off at work just because the salary isn't generous is foolish.
To receive a salary -- anything earned through honest labor -- is
precious, regardless of the amount.
Of course, it is satisfying to receive a good salary, but $100 earned
through one's hard work and efforts is a golden treasure -- whereas stealing
that same $100 or acquiring it through other illicit means has no more value
than dung or rubble. Stolen or extorted money is dirty. It will not bring
happiness. As the saying goes, "Ill gotten, ill spent." Influential
government officials who once enjoyed great prestige but who have been
caught accepting bribes must live the rest of their lives labeled as
Ultimately, the greatest happiness is found in applying yourself
with confidence and wisdom in your workplace as an exemplary member of
society, working hard to achieve a fulfilling life and the well-being of
Those who do so are victors in life.
WORKING FOR A CAUSE
Is working for a good cause better than just having some job? Aspiring
to devote yourself to a humane cause, to uphold human rights and act on
your desire to work for the happiness and welfare of others, is a truly
In no way does that mean, however, that you cannot contribute to peace and to the betterment of society unless you are in some special profession
or organization. While I highly commend anyone who works for a charity or
becomes a volunteer worker, there are many people striving for peace in
their own humble specialties.
I have met many such people, like Rosa Parks, the mother of the American
civil rights movement, who was working as a department store tailor's
assistant when she became the catalyst for the famous bus boycott in
Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955; and Argentina's Adolfo Prez Esquivel, a
sculptor and architect, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his activities to protect human rights.
The main thing is to be proud of the work you do, to live true to
yourself. Activity is another name for happiness. What's important is that
you give free, unfettered play to your unique talents, that you live with
the full radiance of your being. This is what it means to be truly alive.
It is not because things are difficult, that we do not dare. It is because
we do not dare, that they are difficult.
The guidance above "Finding your Mission" are excerpts from the book "The Way of Youth"-Daisaku Ikeda.