Faith Equals Daily Life
On the significance of applying our practice to the issues and problems we encounter in daily life.
On the significance of applying our practice to the issues and problems we encounter in daily life, excerpted from An Introduction to Buddhism, pp.36–39.
The purpose of religion should be to enable people to lead happy, fulfilling lives. Buddhism exists for this very reason. While many tend to view Buddhism as a reclusive practice of contemplation aimed at freeing the mind from the concerns of this world, this is by no means its original intent. Seeking to deny or escape the realities of life or society does not accord with the genuine spirit of Buddhism.
Enlightenment, which Buddhism aims for, is not a transcendent or passive state, confined to the mind alone. It is an all-encompassing condition that includes an enduring sense of fulfillment and joy, and permeates every aspect of our lives, enabling us to live in the most valuable and contributive way. This idea is expressed in the SGI through the principle that “faith equals daily life.”
Our daily lives become the stage upon which we carry out a drama of deep internal life reformation.
Nichiren Daishonin stressed this idea from many angles in his writings, often quoting the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai’s statement that “no worldly affairs of life or work are ever contrary to the true reality” (“Reply to a Believer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 905). When, through our Buddhist practice, our inner condition becomes strong and healthy—when we bring forth the “true reality” of our innate Buddha nature—we can act with energy and wisdom to excel at school or work and contribute to the well-being of our families and communities.
Regarding the principle that faith equals daily life, “daily life” points to the outward expressions of our inner life. And “faith,” our Buddhist practice, strengthens the power within us to transform our inner lives at the deepest level. When we apply our practice to the issues and problems we encounter in daily life, those challenges become stimuli—causes or conditions—that enable us to bring forth and manifest Buddhahood. Our daily lives become the stage upon which we carry out a drama of deep internal life reformation.
Nichiren writes: “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs” (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” WND-1, 376). For us, “knowing the Lotus Sutra” means chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo courageously to the Gohonzon and participating in SGI activities for our own and others’ happiness. This causes our Buddha nature to surge forth, infusing us with rich life force and wisdom. We in effect come to “understand the meaning of all worldly affairs.” The teaching and practice of Buddhism enable us in this way to win in daily life.