ADITI HALDAR

Inner Determination – The Key to Altering Present Reality & Future outcomes

by Aditi Haldar

New Delhi

With 2030 just 13 years away and India and the world in the race to achieve complete sustainability through the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets, Director Regional Hub South Asia at the Global Reporting Initiative, Aditi Haldar, combats defeatism through her own “inner determination”.

In the society of his [Shakyamuni’s] time, two currents of thought prevailed. One was a kind of fatalism that our present and our future are entirely determined by karma accumulated in the past. The other held that all things are a matter of chance and that nothing in our lives is the outcome of any particular cause or condition. The fatalistic view engendered the resignation that no effort on our part can alter our destiny and our only choice is to accept our fate. This worked to rob people’s hearts of hope. The other view, by dissociating any action from its outcome, uprooted people’s sense of self-control, making them indifferent to the harm they inflicted on others…. [But Nichiren Buddhism believes] [e]verything in our lives, far from being immovably determined, can be transformed for the better through our actions in this moment. In this way, Buddhism teaches that a change in our inner determination in this moment can change the present reality of our lives (Jpn: in; cause) that produces future outcomes (Jpn: ka; effect)…. [T]his is not a doctrine of passive acceptance or resignation. Rather, it acknowledges that we create our own present and future by the choices we make in each moment.

– Daisaku Ikeda, 2017 Peace Proposal

As a professional working in the field of sustainable development and transparency, I regularly invite individuals and institutions in business, government, civil society and academia to come together in dialogue to concretize India’s achievement of the UN’s SDGs. But, the thought of 17 goals and 169 targets overwhelms and burdens most attendees, who rapidly descend to debates on who would be accountable for the actions and results. Businesses? Common citizens? Developed or developing countries? For me, such a precursor to doubt, defeatism and ultimate apportioning of blame used to be a source of anxiety.

Then I read the 2017 Peace Proposal. SGI President Dr. Daisaku Ikeda says: “Everything in our lives, far from being immovably determined, can be transformed for the better through our actions in this moment. Buddhism teaches that a change in our inner determination in this moment can change the present reality of our lives that produces future outcomes” (ibid). I determined to see the future as President Ikeda visualizes it and this empowered me to create a series of dialogue forums that are being held over the past year and the current amongst South Asian individuals and organisations to orient and steward results on the 17 SDGs in their core functions. My role as the “illuminat[ing] lamp” to revitalize that for which I am responsible, became very clear.

In one of the first such gatherings, I began by quoting President Ikeda to top businesses of India: “The world is not simply a collection of countries, nor is it composed solely of religions and civilizations. Our living, breathing world is woven of the endeavours of countless human beings” (ibid). It is we who can and will do it. Our work has just begun but I am already convinced that through these dialogue forums we are already realizing the “reality” of global solidarity and sustainability in the “present”, thereby transforming our “future”.

Quick Takes

  • Progress in the achievement of all the 17 goals and 169 targets requires people to have a common awareness and solidarity.
  • None of the targets can be overlooked as each has been raised by people suffering for its lack.
  • In the spirit of being “friend to all, comrade to all”, people must come together to do their all for those who are suffering.
  • A true bodhisattva is an “inexhaustible lamp”, “respond[ing] to a grave social crisis” whether or not he or she is “directly impacted”.