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In commemoration of International Nurses Day on May 12

May 15, 2020

SGI President Ikeda’s Poem 

In commemoration of International Nurses Day on May 12, an excerpt of President Ikeda’s 2000 poem dedicated to nurses, “Protectors of Life—The Lofty Spirit of Hope!” was published by the Seikyo Shimbun. President Ikeda requested this out of his wish to express his gratitude to all nurses around the world, especially those working tirelessly at this time to protect and save lives in the battle against the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Protectors of Life—The Lofty Spirit of Hope!” (Excerpt)

 —With Deepest Appreciation for All the Noble Members of the Nursing Profession

 

My hands

are instruments

for protecting and saving

the precious lives

of many.

 

My silent,

calm actions

I take to serve

those who are suffering

and battling illness.

 

My arm

is a sword

for vanquishing

the devil of illness.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

You have been called angels in white—

but your profession is

not fashionable or glamorous.

The reality

is much harsher.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Many do not fully realize

the demanding nature of your work,

your boundless empathy,

sharing others’ pain and tears.

 

At times,

you embrace a weary traveler

on the road to recovery

like a refreshing breeze,

warmly encouraging them:

“I see you are much better!”

“You’ll be well again soon.”

 

At times,

you urge like a loving parent

or cheer on like a caring sibling:

“Be strong!”

“Be brave!”

 

Your Buddhist philosophy—

with its deep insights

into the fundamental questions

of birth, aging, sickness, and death—

helps you give patients the strength

to transform their fear and anxiety

over the vagaries of destiny

into passion for life.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

No matter how tired you are,

your compassionate eyes

remain deeply focused

on your patients and their health.

While carefully measuring their pulse,

you exercise your special ability

to encourage and lead them

from darkness

into light!

 

When you together win

over illness,

the patient’s smile sparkles,

applauding your mission

overflowing with honour

deep in your heart.

 

The Shirakaba [White Birch] Group,

the young women’s nurses group in Japan,

was founded on June 6, 1969—

the anniversary of President Makiguchi’s birth.

 

Like Bodhisattva Medicine King,

who burned his body

as an offering of light to the Buddha,

Mr. Makiguchi gave his life

in selfless dedication to Buddhism.

The lives of our nurses,

the Bodhisattvas Medicine King of Soka,

are always shining brightly

together with the founder of our movement.

 

On the day

the Shirakaba Group was established,

my wife and I

shared a profound determination

and powerful prayer:

 

“May our precious, precious

nurses group members

enjoy superlative health and longevity,

and lead truly wonderful lives!”

 

And to celebrate

the nurses group’s new beginning,

I sent this message:

“Please make it your mission

to encourage the sick

and the suffering.

Your noble voices

overflow with a genuine compassion

that no politician or celebrity

could ever match.”

 

Now, to my great delight,

thousands and tens of thousands of

nurses of Soka, protectors of life,

are standing up to serve,

striving gallantly

with a deep commitment to purpose,

day after day.

. . . . . . . . . . .

 

Your spirit of

tireless, unwavering dedication—

transcending all nagging fears and doubts,

your gaze fixed on the horizon

of a sure recovery—

is revealed in all its profound magnificence

in your calm visage.

 

Countless people

benefit from your daily care,

immensely reassured

by your presence. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

I once composed these poems

for our nurses group members:

 

“You are most certainly

bodhisattvas and Buddhas

who have appeared

in this human world

to create an age of hope.”

 

“Heavenly deities—

Staunchly protect

our nurses group members,

who have such a lofty mission,

and praise them eternally!”

 

In the dark hours of the night,

you make your rounds

through the quiet wards,

the rooms still, sombre,

forgotten by the world.

In the solemn dawn,

tired after a busy shift,

you pray to regain your energy

to fight on.

 

Your eyes and bodies

are quickly alert,

responding to complex situations

with complete mastery;

you are the very embodiment

of true health professionals!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Our nurses—

infinitely strong,

infinitely kind,

infinitely embracing,

infinitely wise,

and infinitely positive!

 

A poet once extolled

Florence Nightingale as a saint,

deeming her spirit

nobler than that of an angel

for the way she cared for life

with deep wisdom

and swift action.

 

Nurses call to mind  

the birch tree,

growing straight and tall

in the cold winds—

noble,

unyielding, majestic.

 

How admirable you are,

our nurses!

Your achievements,

your honor,

your pride,

your times of painful struggle,

even your future happiness—

all are for the sake

of those in your care!

 

Looking at the face of each patient

with an attentive expert eye,

and warmly watching over each one of them, 

you work day and night

to realize your dream of

helping everyone fulfill their wish

of living long, healthy lives—

what paragons of love and compassion you are!

 

Daisaku Ikeda

July 12, 2000

Translated from the May 12, 2020, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily newspaper

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