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Just like Coco Gauff and Simone Biles are smashing records, we too can overcome our preconceived limitations and create record-breaking achievements.
Practicing Buddhism is about bringing out our untapped potential so that we can conquer difficult realities and show others that they can do the same. As Buddhists, we view our problems as precious opportunities to show others the power we all possess. In other words, when we fall down seven times, we get up an eighth.
This type of grit isn’t limited to people with a certain skill or talent. It’s simply because within each person’s life exists limitless possibilities, and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is how we bring them out.
At one point, even running a mile in 4 minutes was assumed impossible. But one person chose to break through that wall and made it a possibility for everyone that followed. Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher, writes of this historic achievement:
Roger Bannister, a British athlete, broke through the steel wall of the 4-minute mile [finishing in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds]. Interestingly, after this one person broke through this wall, others soon followed. [Just 46 days later, Bannister’s record was broken.] … In other words, if your brain thinks that something is impossible, you cannot muster the strength to break through that wall of impossibility. This is the danger of preconceived notions. In the world of sports, improving one’s skills and athletic abilities are of course important. But in the end, in the midst of competition, everything comes down to a battle of the spirit, of human will. This story of the 4-minute mile eloquently expresses how a single individual can open up an unprecedented path.
February 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 3
If you’ve watched “Quarterback” on Netflix—from Patrick Mahomes yelling, “Get ready to score!” to Kirk Cousins having the greatest comeback game in NFL history—you can see in their examples the power of determination and refusing to be defeated, even in the face of seemingly impossible realities. Ikeda discusses the power of this kind of determination:
Human potential is a funny thing. If you tell yourselves that you’re not smart, your brain really will grow sluggish. Instead, tell yourselves with conviction: “My brain is asleep because I’m hardly using it. So if I just make some effort, I can do anything.” This is, in fact, the truth. The more you use your brain, the brighter you will become. Especially for those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and continue to make efforts, nothing is impossible.
Discussions on Youth, p. 25
Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the source of tapping into the energy necessary to overcome the self-doubt, lack of confidence and worries holding anyone back from moving forward. When we chant, we’re able to bring out the courage to find a path forward.
Ikeda explains the powerful impact that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has on this process:
The fundamental power activating and moving all stars, planets and other celestial bodies in the universe is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is an incredible force. And we of the SGI embrace faith in this great Mystic Law. We chant the most powerful and supreme rhythm of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. There is nothing stronger. Chanting is the key to absolute victory. We will never be defeated. When we practice as the Daishonin teaches, boundless energy and courage surge forth from the depths of our beings.
October 2023 Living Buddhism, p. 16
When we take the step of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and making a determination to achieve our impossible dreams, we inspire others to believe in themselves too. Anyone can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and tap into the limitless courage, wisdom and compassion needed to achieve any goal or dream.
That’s why we must never give up on our dreams—for the sake of ourselves and to give hope to others. Consider Stephen Curry, who was originally counted out by recruiters and is now the leading scorer in NBA history. We not only can take the lead in our life but also open a path for all people.