Archive | November, 2016

“No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies” – #Nichiren #Gosho #Study of #Buddhism by Daisaku #Ikeda – #SGI #SGIUSA #WorldPeace #WorldView

13 Nov

The Buddhism of the Sun Illuminating the World
—Study for November—

Living Buddhism

The Five Eternal Guidelines of the Soka Gakkai PART 2 [ 10]
“Faith for Achieving Happiness”— Creating Lives of Happiness for Ourselves and Others
What is the aim of Nichiren Buddhism?
We were born into this world to be happy. Surely no one wishes to be unhappy. This is why, since ancient times, happiness has been one of the central issues of philosophy. Human happiness is also the original purpose of religion.
After World War II, in a devastated Japan, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, rose up alone to rebuild the Soka Gakkai, which had been destroyed as a result of wartime government persecution.
In those post-war years, it was all anyone could do just to survive from day to day. People were in a state of spiritual desolation, without any hope or dreams for the future. They faced such trials as food shortages, financial hardships, poverty, illness, family discord, unemployment and punishing workloads. Society was racked by mistrust and turbulence. The scars of the war ran deep, and the younger generation had lost all hope. It was a period of great suffering, misery and misfortune.
The Proactive Attitude of “Achieving Happiness”
These kinds of maladies are still pressing issues for humanity in the 21st century. Poverty, epidemics and war continue to deprive people of their dignity, pride, independence and joy in living, plunging them into dark despair and resignation. Seeing this recurring pattern of people being robbed of their very right to exist, how can we find meaning in life? A truly living religion, a religion concerned with people’s welfare, must grapple head-on with this question.
In the extreme confusion of the times, Mr. Toda strove tirelessly to convey the philosophy of happiness of Nichiren Buddhism. No matter what depths of suffering and despair we may be in right now, the power of faith in the Mystic Law enables us to open the way to a life of genuine happiness. This unshakable conviction has provided Soka Gakkai members with great hope for the future and
been the bedrock of their determination to weather and challenge all of life’s hardships.
Mr. Toda stressed “faith for achieving happiness.” His choice of the word “achieving” embodies a profound philosophy of life. Happiness is not something given to us by others. It is not something we wait for to suddenly appear in our lives, unrelated to our own will and effort. Ultimately, each of us has to achieve happiness for ourselves. Faith in Nichiren Buddhism guarantees that we can do so.
The purpose of our Buddhist practice is to build a state of eternally enduring happiness in our own lives and to help others do the same. In this installment, let us study the second of the five eternal guidelines of the Soka Gakkai—“Faith for achieving happiness.”
There is no true happiness other than upholding faith in the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]. This is what is meant by “peace and security in their present existence and good circumstances in future existences” [ The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening
and Closing Sutras, p. 136]. Though worldly troubles may arise, never let them disturb you. No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies.
Drink sake only at home with your wife, and chant Nam-myohorenge-kyo. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nammyoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever. (“Happiness in This World,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 681) 1
Establishing a State of Absolute Happiness
What kind of happiness do we seek to achieve through faith? Mr. Toda summarized the Buddhist view of happiness into two key points.
The first is that there is a difference between relative happiness and absolute happiness.
Nichiren Buddhism does not reject the relative happiness of a comfortable life or good health. Having a job, good health and improving our standard of living are all important. While making positive efforts to achieve those things, Mr. Toda said we should also challenge ourselves through Buddhist practice to attain a state of absolute happiness that nothing can destroy—a state in which living is itself a joy and our lives are imbued with the four virtues of eternity, happiness, true self and purity. 2
The second aspect of the Buddhist view of happiness that Mr. Toda stressed is that we were born into this world to enjoy life.
The Lotus Sutra teaches that this world is a place “where living beings enjoy themselves at ease” (LSOC, p. 272). 3 But in this saha world4 filled with suffering, we cannot enjoy ourselves if our life force is weak. That’s why we need to exert ourselves in Buddhist practice to bring forth our inner Buddhahood and strengthen our life force. With a strong life force, we can calmly and enjoyably ascend the hilly path of life. The countless hardships and challenges we experience will be transformed into something that adds to our joy in life, like a pinch of salt that enhances the flavor of sweets.
Mr. Toda’s dearest wish was for everyone to find supreme pleasure in life.
A Life Where We Enjoy Ourselves at Ease
“Happiness in This World” is a letter Nichiren Daishonin wrote to Shijo Kingo and his wife, Nichigen-nyo, at a time when they were undergoing adversity. 5 In it, he taught them how to attain a state of absolute security and peace of mind.
His letter opens with the words “There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 681). This is the supreme path, he says, to a life in which we can freely enjoy ourselves. Based on this, he declares: “There is no true happiness other than upholding faith in the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]” (WND-1, 681).
A life dedicated to faith in the Mystic Law is in itself the state of Buddhahood, enabling us to enjoy life to our heart’s content. We are assured of “peace and security in our present existence and good circumstances in future existences” (see LSOC, 136).
Certainly, the world is filled with an unceasing cacophony of negativity and malice. Even those leading the most admirable lives cannot escape being attacked and criticized. But Nichiren says of such troubles, “Never let them disturb you” (WND-1, 681).
He then continues, “Drink sake only at home with your wife” (WND-1, 681). Shijo Kingo had his wife, Nichigen-nyo, to confide in; and we, in addition to family, also have fellow members, friends in faith, to share our troubles with. There’s no need to try to bear them alone and in silence. In addition, the Gohonzon is aware of everything. No matter what anyone else may say, we should just steadfastly live our lives the way we have chosen. Here, the Daishonin is teaching us the importance of chanting Nam-myohorenge-kyo as we strive together with good friends around us, warmly supporting and encouraging one another.
Regard Both “Suffering and Joy as Facts of Life”
“Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens” (WND-1, 681), writes Nichiren Daishonin. Countless SGI members have engraved this passage in their hearts and fervently chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to overcome their problems. No matter how painful or challenging our situation, if we keep chanting to the Gohonzon with focused prayer, we are certain to break through it.
Such prayer forges an indomitable spirit, kindles limitless hope, brings absolute peace of mind and powers resolute progress. It is a source of unsurpassed happiness and one of the most noble acts we can perform as a human being.
Next, Nichiren mentions the “boundless joy of the Law” (WND-1, 681). 6 Being able to freely enjoy the “boundless joy of the Law” is the life state of Buddhahood.
We can definitely lead happy lives based on unshakable conviction in faith and in accord with the ultimate law of the universe.
A Religion for Transforming Our Lives
In December 1955, the Kansai Headquarters, the first major Soka Gakkai facility in Osaka, opened [in a newly renovated building]. At a meeting held to commemorate that event, Mr. Toda, smiling warmly, called on the members to overcome illness and gain financial fortune, urging them to “persevere in faith and become exemplars of happiness.” 7
And in February the following year (1956), at the Nakanoshima Civic Hall, a place of so many memories, he said with humor: “I’ve never heard of a poor Buddha. I’ve never heard of a Buddha with tuberculosis. I’ve never seen a Buddha being chased after by debt collectors.” 8 The aim of our Buddhist practice is to become happy. Mr. Toda explained the great benefits of the Mystic Law by saying that the benefits he had personally attained through faith in the Gohonzon were so enormous that they wouldn’t fit into the civic hall. 9
Two months later (in April 1956), at a meeting at the Osaka Stadium held in the rain, he declared that he was determined to see to it that not a single sick or poor person remained in Kansai. 10 He put his entire being into encouraging these ordinary members who were struggling to make ends meet, resolved to help free them from the depths of despair and hopelessness.
“By practicing Nichiren Buddhism, we are sure to attain benefits, show actual proof of the power of faith and become happy without fail!”—filled with this conviction, we actively went out to share Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings with others. As we did so, some derided the Soka Gakkai as “a gathering of the poor and sick” and arrogantly scorned our Buddhism as a religion that only cared about worldly benefits.
But do we not need benefits in this world? We confidently replied to such charges by saying that an effective religion is one that improves its practitioners’ lives and positively transforms the way they live.
Above all, our members felt themselves brimming with zest for life, revitalized on a fundamental level and experienced the joy of actually setting forth on the path to breaking through the chains of destiny. The Kansai members, ordinary men and women rising powerfully into action, knew instinctively that those heaping scorn on them were arrogant and misguided individuals who looked down on others, and were ignorant of the true purpose of religion.
No fact speaks louder than transforming our life circumstances. No proof is more powerful than changing our destiny.
Just as our founding president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, insightfully observed, Buddhism is a teaching for living. It gives us the strength to navigate the rough waters of life. It is the path leading to supreme happiness.
With a confident laugh, Mr. Toda declared: “What’s wrong with being a gathering of the poor and sick? A real religion reaches out to and helps those who are suffering the most, after all! The Soka Gakkai is the greatest ally of the people.” This lion’s roar of my mentor was a great declaration of human rights, a pledge to eradicate the causes of people’s misery and misfortune, including poverty, sickness and conflict.
Let those who have suffered the most enjoy the greatest happiness! Everyone has the right to become happy. Nichiren Buddhism is the foremost ally of those experiencing the deepest suffering.
The Soka Gakkai stands forever on the side of the people. This is proof of its commitment to continuing its struggle against the fundamental evil that lies at the root of all human suffering and misery— the tendency to disrespect and devalue life—and to helping all people become happy.
From a mundane view, I [Nichiren] am the poorest person in Japan, but in the light of Buddhism, I am the wealthiest person in all Jambudvipa [the entire world]. When I consider that this is all because the time is right, I am overwhelmed with joy and cannot restrain my tears. It is impossible to repay my debt of gratitude to Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings. Perhaps even the rewards of the Buddha’s twenty-four successors11 are inferior to mine, and even those
of the great teachers such as T’ien-t’ai Chih-che and Dengyo12 cannot approach mine. (“On Establishing the Four Bodhisattvas as the Object of Devotion,” WND-1, 977) 13
“The Wealthiest Person in the Entire World”
Nichiren Daishonin’s life was threatened on numerous occasions. He was exiled twice, and denounced and reviled by people throughout the land. “From a mundane view,” as he put it, he may well have been “the poorest person in Japan” (WND-1, 977). But viewed in the mirror of Buddhism, he was “the wealthiest person in all Jambudvipa” (WND-1, 977)—that is, the wealthiest person in the entire world.
“I am overwhelmed with joy and cannot restrain my tears” (WND-1, 977), he continues, describing the reality of his indestructible happiness, impervious to the devilish workings of the most powerful authorities. 14
As SGI members striving to realize kosen-rufu, the mission entrusted to us by Nichiren Daishonin, we are forging a state of unshakable happiness through our daily activities. In other words, we are accumulating the most valuable of treasures, the “treasures of the heart.”
He writes, “More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851). Those who accumulate these “treasures of the heart” in their lives through faith dedicated to kosen-rufu are truly the wealthiest, supremely happy people.
Mr. Toda remained a spiritual champion, even while imprisoned for his beliefs during World War II, continuing his unsparing struggle to defend the correct teaching of Buddhism. Based on his profound conviction that he was truly “wealthy,” he assured his family that they were as well. In a letter he wrote to them from prison, he said: “No matter how hard life is and how poor you are, please always be confident that you are ‘wealthy people.’ For I, too, am living [with all my might here in prison].”
As the disciple of this great mentor, completely united with him in spirit, I have forged ahead through every storm of adversity in my struggle for kosen-rufu. I have dedicated my life to the Mystic
Law, to my mentor and to our members. I have been fully prepared to encounter great difficulties. Overcoming every obstacle, regarding each trial as an honor, I opened the way for worldwide kosen-rufu together with our noble pioneer members.
Now is the time for my fellow members of the men’s and women’s divisions and my successors in the youth division to advance triumphantly along this great and honored path with the conviction that you are the happiest people in the world.
“Joy” [in the phrase “responding with joy”] means that oneself and others together experience joy . . . Then both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion.
Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-rengekyo, they are expressing joy in the fact that they will inevitably become Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies. ( The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 146)
“Oneself and Others Together Experience Joy”
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin discusses the phrase “responding with joy” that appears in [“The Benefits of Responding with Joy,” the 18th chapter of] the Lotus Sutra, saying: “‘Joy’ means that oneself and others together experience joy” (OTT, 146). This shared joy, experienced by both oneself and others, is true joy and happiness, he asserts.
Happiness is something that we must each achieve for ourselves and experience in our own lives. But at the same time, one’s own happiness to the exclusion of others is not true happiness. Just being content with one’s own welfare with no concern for others is selfish. By the same token, brushing aside one’s own happiness and caring only about the happiness of others is not sufficient either. True happiness is a condition where both ourselves and others are happy.
The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) also identified the essence of happiness as existing in the expansive spirit of shared happiness. He wrote: “Remove exclusiveness from the pleasures. The more you leave them to [people] in common, the more you will always taste them pure.” 15 Happiness only exists when it is shared.
When something good happens, we want to share it with others—our family, friends, fellow members, our mentor. Happiness expands and grows within this web of relationships where we share our joys and sorrows.
Wishing for the Happiness of All
Nichiren Daishonin writes, “If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not?” (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” WND-1, 24). These well-known words express the fundamental spirit with which we should pray in order to realize a truly peaceful and prosperous society.
During World War II, Mr. Makiguchi rejected the notion of self-sacrifice for the sake of the country that the Japanese wartime militaristic authorities encouraged in their nationalist propaganda: “Self-negation is a lie. What is right is to seek happiness for both oneself and everyone else.” 16
Mr. Toda asserted: “Becoming happy yourself is no great challenge; it’s quite simple. But the essence of Nichiren Buddhism lies in helping others become happy, too.” 17
We cannot steal happiness from someone or attain it by sacrificing others for our own gain. It is something that must be shared—which is why I have always insisted that our happiness must not be built upon the misfortune of others.
Next in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren says, “Then both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion” (p. 146). “Wisdom and compassion” refer to the life state of Buddhahood itself. Whatever difficulty we encounter, we remain undefeated, and the wisdom to overcome it and the compassion to help others well forth from within us.
He continues, “Now, when Nichiren and his
followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are expressing joy in the fact that they will inevitably become Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies” (OTT, 146).
The “three bodies” are the Buddha’s three bodies—the Dharma body, the reward body and the manifested body. Both ourselves and others are originally supremely respectworthy Buddhas, embodiments of the Mystic Law. This describes the Dharma body. The wisdom to create happiness for ourselves and others based on that profound awareness corresponds to the reward body. And practical, compassionate action for the happiness of ourselves and others corresponds to the manifested body. This passage tells us that when we chant Nammyoho-renge-kyo, we ordinary, unenlightened beings, just as we are, become Buddhas possessing these wondrous three bodies.
The Joy of Expanding Our Lives
In another part of The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin speaks of the “great joy that one experiences when one understands for the first time that one’s mind from the very beginning has been the Buddha. Nam-myohorenge-kyo is the greatest of all joys” (pp. 211–12).
Moreover, realizing that one’s mind, one’s life, has from the very beginning been the Buddha leads to the recognition that this is true not only of oneself, but also equally of others. We and others alike are Buddhas—a realization that is certain to cause a feeling of absolute joy to rise up within us. When we attain this life state of rejoicing at our own welfare and that of others, unsurpassed happiness enduring for all eternity will shine brilliantly in our hearts.
There is no greater joy or happiness than realizing that we are “Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies” (OTT, 146), just as we are. This is itself the life state of Buddhahood. It is the state of savoring the “boundless joy of the Law” that enables us to fully and freely experience the benefits of the Mystic Law, a state of absolute happiness.
Spreading Waves of Joy Around the World
What kind of age do we want to make the 21st century? In response to that question, the eminent economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908–2006) unhesitatingly replied that we need to make it an age in which people can truly enjoy living in this world, confident that they can better themselves and lead happy, fulfilling lives; and an age where we put an end to killing. Having lived through the turbulent times of the 20th century, he had given long and deep thought to the future of humanity. I felt that his vision echoed Mr. Toda’s fervent wish to rid the world of all misery and suffering.
The Soka Gakkai is an organization dedicated to value creation. The essence of happiness for both ourselves and others lies in creating the values of beauty, benefit and good. 18 As the expression of our
personal triumph in faith, let us each bring flowers of happiness to bloom in all their rich variety and cultivate an ever-widening, joy-filled garden of happiness, victory and peace in our communities, societies and the world.
Nichiren Daishonin writes that hearing someone rejoice can cause another to rejoice in turn (see “The Recitation of the ‘Expedient Means’ and ‘Life Span’ Chapters,” WND-1, 68). We are now in the new era of worldwide kosen-rufu, when waves of joy arising from “faith for achieving happiness” are transcending borders and ethnic and linguistic differences to spread all across the globe. We are striving to open an age of the victory of the people, when all humanity together can achieve happiness.
Happiness accumulates through our steady efforts each day. And the foundation of our lives, which are directed toward realizing happiness, is our unsurpassed daily practice of chanting Nammyoho-renge-kyo.
I am praying earnestly today and will keep on doing so—praying for you to lead long, healthy lives; to realize all your desires, and enjoy peace and security in your present existence; to achieve your mission in this life and enjoy good circumstances in future existences; to become happy without exception; and to adorn your lives with brilliant victory.
Translated from the February 2016 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai monthly study journal.
1. “Happiness in This World” is a letter, dated June 27, 1276, that Nichiren Daishonin sent to Shijo Kingo, who was facing harsh persecution at the time.
2. Eternity, happiness, true self and purity are known as the four virtues. Describing the noble qualities of the Buddha’s life, the four are explained as follows: “eternity” means unchanging and eternal; “happiness” means tranquility that transcends all suffering; “true self” means true and intrinsic nature; and “purity” means free of illusion or mistaken conduct.
3. The phrase “where living beings enjoy themselves at ease” appears in “Life Span,” the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. It expresses the truth that this saha world of suffering is actually the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light, where all living beings experience the greatest enjoyment.
4. Saha world: This world, which is full of suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. In Sanskrit, saha means the earth; it derives from a root meaning “to bear” or “to endure.” For this reason, in the Chinese versions of Buddhist scriptures, saha is rendered as “endurance.” In this context, the saha world indicates a world in which people must endure suffering.
5. In 1274, after Nichiren Daishonin took up residence on Mount Minobu, Shijo Kingo attempted to introduce the Daishonin’s teachings to his feudal lord, Ema. When Ema reacted with displeasure, Shijo Kingo’s envious colleagues took advantage of the situation to slander him to his lord. This led to a period of great adversity, which he described with the words, “great hardships have showered down on me like rain” (“The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith,” WND-1, 471).
6. Boundless joy of the Law: The supreme and ultimate happiness of the Buddha, the benefit of the Mystic Law.
7. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1984), vol. 4, p. 400.
8. Ibid., p. 417.
9. Ibid., p. 418.
10. Ibid., p. 435.
11. Twenty-four successors: Those who, after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, successively inherited the lineage of his teachings and propagated them in India.
12. T’ien-t’ai (538–97), also known as Chih-i and commonly referred to as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai or the Great Teacher Chih-che (Chih-che meaning “person of wisdom.”) He spread the Lotus Sutra in China and established the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.” His lectures were compiled in such works as The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and Great Concentration and Insight. Dengyo (767–822), also known as Saicho, was the founder of the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) school in Japan. He traveled to China where he mastered T’ien-t’ai’s teachings.
13. “On Establishing the Four Bodhisattvas as the Object of Devotion” was composed on May 17, 1279, and addressed to Toki Jonin, who lived in Wakamiya, Katsushika District of Shimosa Province (present-day Chiba Prefecture).
14. In other writings, Nichiren states: “With this body of mine, I have fulfilled the prophecies of the [Lotus Sutra]. The more the government authorities rage against me, the greater is my joy” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 243); “It is indeed a matter of joy that my situation perfectly fits the sutra passage that reads, ‘Again and again we will be banished.’ How delightful! How gratifying!” (“The Joy of Fulfilling the Sutra Teachings,” WND-2, 463); and “I feel immeasurable delight even though I am now an exile [on Sado Island]” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 386).
15. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, or On Education, translated by Allan Bloom (London: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 353.
16. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi) (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), vol. 10, p. 8.
17. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1984), vol. 4, p. 378.
18. Drawing inspiration from the Kantian value system of “truth, good and beauty,” first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi postulated his own theory of value based on the principles of “beauty, benefit and good.” He defined the value of beauty as that which brings aesthetic fulfillment to the individual.