Fundamentals

To Feel More Hopeful and Healthier --
Help Another Person

Buddhist practice for others.

Photo: Yvonne Sarceda.


If you want to feel more hopeful, and be healthier and happier, one of the best things you can do is help another person. Recent studies show that taking altruistic action produces many benefits, such as releasing endorphins that make us feel better, giving us a sense of purpose and extending our longevity. In essence, helping others lifts us up, too. This principle, which science today is beginning to examine, has always been core to Nichiren Buddhism, a philosophy that comes alive through our compassionate actions to help others.

Nichiren Daishonin instructs us: “Single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and urge others to do the same; that will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world” (“Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 64). This passage succinctly expresses the two aspects of basic Buddhist practice. “Singlemindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” points to “practice for oneself,” which consists of chanting, and reciting the sutra each morning and evening—the daily practice called gongyo.

And “urge others to do the same” touches on “practice for others,” which entails providing people with opportunities to experience the power and benefit of Buddhist practice. This means spreading the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, and communicating the spirit and conviction of the SGI. To earnestly want our friends to become happy, to pray for their happiness and to talk with them about the greatness of our Buddhist practice all constitute practice for others.

Even when struggling with our own problems, we can experience the greatest joy, courage and hope when we chant for the happiness of our friends and share Nichiren’s teachings with them.

SGI President Ikeda writes: “Basically, it is by working for kosen-rufu out of our desire for the happiness of others that we ourselves become truly happy. This is the fusion of practice for self and practice for others. Our own sufferings become the driving force for the ultimate bodhisattva practice that is kosen-rufu.

“As we do our best for the welfare of others, we break out of our narrow lesser self focused only on personal concerns, and gradually expand and elevate our life state. The commitment to others’ well-being propels us to transform our own life condition and carry out our human revolution” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 19, pp. 61–62).

When we try to relieve the suffering of those around us to enable them to experience true fulfillment, we are securing our own happiness as well. And even if we may not be fully versed in Buddhism, Nichiren encourages us to “teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 386).

Simply sharing the joys and benefits of Buddhist practice implants seeds of benefit and fortune in our lives. Such action opens within us the supremely noble life condition of Buddhahood.

Compassionately sharing the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo fuels our personal growth, and brings forth the energy and wisdom we need to overcome our problems and achieve our goals. In so doing, we are not only rewriting the destiny of our own lives and of those we know, but we are also transforming the destiny of all humankind.

This is the greatest benefit of practicing for ourselves and for others.

 

(p. 8)