Section – 1
Happiness in 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.
This booklet is an attempt to share the basic principles of the faith and practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism which enables us to tap the highest potential in our lives and create value each day of the week throughout the year.
“If you want to understand the causes that exited 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.” (WND-1, p.279)
Basics of Buddhism
The idea that every human being is born with the ability to become happy is not new. Shakyamuni Buddha (also known as 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 Shakyamuni’s death, different schools of Buddhism based on the 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 Shakyamuni Buddha. The Lotus Sutra was preached by Shakyamuni towards the end of his life and is believed to have been compiled around the first century CE. 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 Myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren 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 regarded Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the Mystic Law, the natural principle governing the workings of life in the universe, the law to which all Buddhas are enlightened and the true aspect of our own lives. He saw the practice of repeatedly invoking this law as the “direct path to enlightenment”.
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 unshakeable 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...