“We can all learn how to tap the highest potential of our lives, to create value each day, each moment. As we can’t avoid sufferings, our only choice is to overcome them and live joyfully and vigorously while we do so. No matter how unpleasant the circumstances we find ourselves in, we can transform them into hope and good fortune.
The secret to leading a fulfilling life is living based on the life philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. Resolute faith is the best means for drawing out one’s inner potential and ensuring that we win each day.”
Happiness is not a life without problems, but rather the strength to overcome the problems that come our way. There is no such thing as a problem-free life; difficulties are unavoidable. The manner in which we experience and react to our problems depends on us. Buddhism teaches that we are each responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness. Our vitality – the amount of energy or “life-force” we have – is in fact the single most important factor in determining whether or not we are happy. We can never find happiness if we don’t challenge our weaknesses and change from within.
The practice of nichiren Buddhism empowers us to increase our life force overcome our weaknesses, face our problems, transform our karma, enrich the quality of our lives and become happier people.
“If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.”
Basics of Buddhism
The idea that every human being is born with the ability to become happy is not new. Gautama Buddha taught this principle more than 2500 years ago. He realized that all human beings possess the potential for enlightenment – or Buddhahood – in the depths of their lives. He preached various sutras to help people actualize that potential. After Gautama Buddha’s death, different schools of Buddhism based on based on different sutras arose, with Hinayana and Mahayana emerging as the two key streams.
Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism
In 13th century Japan, the Buddhist sage Nichiren Daishonin, after extensive study of various Buddhist sutras, concluded that the Lotus Sutra is the ultimate teaching of Gautama Buddha. The Lotus Sutra asserts the inherent dignity and equality of all people and, indeed, of all life. Nichiren Daishonin crystallized the teachings of the lotus Sutra into a concrete philosophy and established a practice suitable for all times. The Soka Gakkai International has made this philosophy accessible to millions of people round the world.
The first step in Nichiren Buddhism is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Law that permeates all life and the universe. The Sanskrit title of the Lotus Sutra – Sad-dharma-pundarika-sutra is translated into Japanese as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nicheren prefixed Nam, meaning devotion to the title. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo literally translates as : “I devote my life to the Mystic Law of cause and effect.”
Nichiren devoted great energy to encouraging his followers to muster deep faith that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a practice by which they could bring forth their inherent Buddha nature – strengthening their capacity for wisdom, courage, confidence, vitality and compassion – to successfully meet the challenges of daily life and establish a state of unshakable happiness in this world.
The meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
Each of the characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo represents profound principles :
Nam – This Sanskrit word means “to devote one-self”. It indicates the elements of action and attitude. By devoting our lives to this law through our faith, practice and study, we awaken the life-condition of Buddhahood or enlightenment within our lives.
Myoho – literally the Mystic Law. Nichiren writes : “[Myo] is simply the mysterious nature of our life from moment to moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or word express”. The three attributes of Myo are : to open, to be fully endowed and to revive. Ho is the Dharma or Law, together “the Mystic Law”. Buddhism regards Myoho as the two aspects –myo, latent and unseen and ho, active and manifest of deeper life-continuum.
Renge – is the lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time and symbolizes the simultaneously of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effect , both good and bad, that we accumulate through our thoughts, words and actions at each moment. This is called our “karma”. The law of cause and effect explains that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We crate our destiny and we can change it. The most powerful cause we can make is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. As we chant, the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously crated in the depth of our lives and will definitely manifest in time. The Lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, yet remains pure and free from defilement.
Kyo – represents sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. It also means sound, rhythm or vibration.
The power inherent in the characters Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is limitless. However, it is our sincere efforts in practice that determine the extent of benefits we experience. Through a consistent practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day, we can tap and manifest the state of Buddhahood, create value and positively transform our lives.
The Three Pillars : Faith, Practice and Study
There are three fundamentals in the practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Budhism : Faith, Practice, and Study.
Faith means to believe in the Gohonzon. Faith begins as an expectation or hope that something positive will happen. To develop faith, we must take action.
Practice in Nichiren Daishonin’s consists of two parts : Practice for ourselves and practice for others. Practice for ourselves is primarily chanting daimoku(the primary practice), doing gongyo(The Daily Practice). Practice for other consists of introducing them to Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.
Study means to read and understand the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.
Study means to read and understand the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Of these three, faith is the most fundamental for the attainment of Buddhahood. Faith gives rise to practice and study, and practice and study in turn serve to deepen one’s faith.
There are many books and journals that members read to deepen their study of Nichiren daishonin, commonly referred to as the Gosho, is a compilation of letters and treaties in two volumes. Value Creation, the monthly news letter is a compilation of SGI(Soka Gakki International) President Daisaku Ikeda’s latest speeches, poems, lectures and essays.
“The great power of the Mystic Law … embraces everything, brings out the positive possibilities of all situations, transforming everything towards good, reviving and giving new life to all experiences.”
Setting Goals and Experimenting Benefits
Each one of us has set out to accomplish a goal at some point in our lives. The goal may be something life-changing or something small, such as completing as assignment by a particular date. Goals motivate us and provide us the drive to make the required efforts.
Likewise, in our practice, goals help to focus our prayers and efforts. Unless we have our sights set on a target we tend to ‘spin our wheels’ without moving forward. When setting goal, it is important to make a determination to accomplish it and then put effort into chanting and taking action to reach that goal. Once you start to practice consistently, you will definitely experience benefits and notice some changes in your attitude and environment.
The Power of Actual Proof
Nichiren Daishonin spoke of three proofs that should be used as standards for judging the validity of any teaching. These are documentary, theoretical and actual proof. With regard to this practice, Nichiren states that actual proof is the most important of the three. And it is actual proof– usually in the form of increased good fortune, protection or happiness – that people are referring to when they talk about “benefits or experiences”.
Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches that physical and spiritual aspects of our lives are inseparable, so that if the overall state of our life is elevated, it is quite natural that this improvement will be reflected in both spheres. Broadly speaking, the benefits we derive from our practice can be divided into two types – conspicuous and inconspicuous.
Conspicuous benefits refer to improvement in our circumstances – in our working lives or in our relationships with others – that are clear and obvious. Inconspicuous benefits are not immediately apparent and can usually be seen only in hindsight.
The key benefit of the practice is the gradual elevation of our general life condition : from one in which we have suffered as a result of circumstances and our karma, to one in which we can increasingly experience life through the qualities of our Buddhahood – wisdom, courage, compassion an life force. Of the two benefits, inconspicuous benefit is incomparably greater : for as long as one keeps practicing, not only can it ever be lost or taken from one, but it also adds value to every aspects of our lives.