The Buddhist view is that “mission” and ” karma” are both closely interlinked. I found it a difficult concept to grasp when I was first introduced to the idea of viewing negative events in my life as an opportunity to fulfill my mission. It was explained that by overcoming obstacles and difficulties within my own life, I could become a living example of undying hope for anyone else going through the same circumstances.
Isn’t that exactly what Terry Fox did? His right leg was amputated due to cancer at the age of 21, and Terry resolved to run the “marathon of hope” with one prosthetic leg, and raise $1 from every Canadian towards Cancer research. This marathon was run in September 1981, and till date every September the “Terry Fox Run” is a grand event across Canada, in which thousands of people take part. Terry Fox created history, and through his life inspired millions of people in the world. He turned what could be a miserable death to a grand finale, and converted his karma of dying from cancer to a mission of creating a legacy of hope for cancer patients everywhere.
When SGI President Ikeda visited Sonia Gandhi in India after the assassination of her husband, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he told her “I really hope that you can change your sad destiny into a cause for realizing an important mission in India.” This conversation is captured in the book The wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2(p.184). Here he also explains that the greatness of Rajiv Gandhi arose from his love for the people of India. He writes: Not even the terrorist bombing that took his life (in May 1991) could have destroyed the love for the people that burned in Rajiv Gandhi’s heart. I believe people have a mission to fulfill that transcends life and death.
The most important thing to remember as practitioners of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism – especially when facing difficulties and problems – is that we possess a profound mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Instead of simply viewing our unfortunate circumstances as “bad karma,” our struggles, no matter how difficult, are in fact the soil for our great mission to take root. ask