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Jul 9, 2014
The Truest Happiness
little Lotus girls by hyamei
Some people tend to think happiness hinges on whether they have enough money, a certain level of education, a successful career, healthy relationships, good looks, good physical health or other external circumstances. They may think, If I just has this one thing, then I'd be happy. But even experiencing one favorable circumstance after another doesn't guarantee happiness. Life includes good and bad times, favorable and challenging circumstances.
The purpose of our Buddhist practice is to help us appreciate every moment of our lives and live bravely, boldly and happily in a world filled with joys, sufferings and everything in between.
This was Nichiren Daishonin's message in this letter to his disciple Shijo Kingo. Kingo had been discouraged by the downpour of hardships and pressures he faced following his unsuccessful efforts to convert his lord, Ema, to Nichiren's teachings. Lord Ema was a supporter of Ryokan, a powerful priest who held great enmity toward Nichiren. Nichiren explained to Kingo that sufferings are a part of life. But he also assured Kingo that, through his efforts to uphold and spread the Mystic Law, he would experience the "boundless joy of the Law."
In this letter, Nichiren cites a passage from the "Life Span" chapter of the Lotus Sutra: "........where living beings enjoy themselves at ease." This phrase is part of the daily sutra recitation conducted by SGI members, written in the liturgy as shujo sho yu-raku (see Liturgy of Nichiren Buddhism, p. 12). It describes the indestructible life-condition of deep joy and fulfillment we refer to as Buddhahood.
Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda explained Buddhahood as the state of "absolute happiness." In strictly encouraging a young woman discouraged by the bleak outlook of her future, President Toda said: "What you think faith is? Are you anxious to live in comfort? Do you want to be flattered by others? Did you convert simply to achieve an outward appearance of happiness? The ultimate objective of Nichiren Daishonin' s Buddhism lies in awakening to your eternal life. This is something you yourself must acquire through your own experience. This attainment is called absolute happiness, because it is indestructible and endures for all eternity. To achieve it, we must continue our faith" (The Human Revolution, p. 323).
He stressed that each person must strive to establish this grand life- state within. In other words, happiness is not dependent on external circumstances or other people. It is solely dependent on our own efforts and awakening. The relative or temporary joy that comes from fulfilling a particular desire is not comparable to the profound state of life achieved through taking actions based on the Mystic Law. Such momentary joy fades with the dimming of the desire and may be called "relative happiness." The "boundless joy of the law" lasts for an eternity and equates to "absolute happiness."
SGI President Ikeda says: "True happiness is not feeling happiness one moment and then misery the next. Rather, overcoming the tendency to blame our sufferings on others or on the environment enables us to greatly expand our state of life." (Learning from the Gosho: The Eternal Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 237).
When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, we fuse our lives with the Mystic Law. At the same time, we are battling the inner darkness that prevents this fusion from taking place. When we overpower this darkness of delusion of ignorance and fuse our lives with the Mystic Law, we can experience its unlimited power in our lives. Chanting is the greatest cause to reveal Buddhahood in our lives. Therefore, Nichiren says, "There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo." President Toda described the expansive state of life we gain through Buddhist practice as follows: "It is like lying sprawled on your back in a wide-open space looking up at the sky. All that you wish for immediately appears. No matter how much you may give away, there is always more. It is never exhausted" (Lectures on "Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime," p. 35).
Through persisting in our SGI activities to practice and spread Nichiren Buddhism, we can bring forth the wisdom, courage, hope and joy to conquer even the most severe problems. We can feel at "at ease" and find the peace of mind regardless of our circumstances. Buddhism teaches us that experiencing difficulties allows us to treasure happiness. And both suffering and joy are necessary to truly understand the deeper significance of our existence. As long as we continue to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, working for our own happiness and that of others, we establish at fundamental core of our lives the greatest causes for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.