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Updated: Aug 15, 2021

Buddhism calls the world in which we live the saha-world, a world of suffering and sorrow that must be endured. There is much we have to bear in living in society with other people.

Konosuke Matsushita (1894-1989), founder of the huge Matsushita Electric Industrial Company (now known as the Panasonic Corporation), once said to me, "I succeeded because I was poor, uneducated, and sickly." Normally we regard such characteristics as severe drawbacks. Matsushita was sent off to an apprenticeship after receiving only an elementary school education. He suffered from tuberculosis when he was still quite young.

Yet he used these hardships as the springboard for launching the Matsushita empire and became famous as the "god" of good management.

Most of us lack his strength to take a seeming disadvantage and turn it into an advantage. We look at someone who is successful and sigh, "People like that always get their way. How happy they must be." But there is nothing as dreadful as always getting one's way.

"The greatest unhappiness a person can suffer is to make a mistake and never have to suffer the consequences," says an adage. When things go our way, we forget to obey the rules and become proud and arrogant. More than a few people have been ruined in this way.

In contrast, people who encounter one difficulty after another learn to give their all to overcoming each one. At times our own inner strength takes us by surprise.

Accept everything that happens to you, whether it is good or bad, as being necessary for you at the particular time and place, and you will acquire the skill needed to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. That, after all, is the essence of humility.

Nikkyo Niwano

Buddhism for Everyday Life

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