Faith Equals Daily Life
Study Made Easy
Buddhism is often portrayed as a spiritual practice to distance oneself—mentally or physically—from the challenges of everyday life and real-world concerns.
For SGI members practicing Nichiren Buddhism, however, faith and daily life are not regarded as separate. The principle of “faith equals daily life” explains that our everyday activities at home, work and in our communities are where we demonstrate actual proof of our Buddhist practice.
For instance, Nichiren Daishonin writes to a disciple, “Regard your service to your lord as the practice of the Lotus Sutra” (“Reply to a Believer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 905). For his disciple, who was a samurai, Nichiren suggests that his practice of the Lotus Sutra is reflected in his job of serving his lord. For us, we should take “service to your lord” to refer to any responsibility or obligation we might have at work, in school or in society in general. Our faith enables us to fulfill these responsibilities with joy, appreciation and a sense of mission.
Thus, our Buddhist practice is deeply rooted in the reality of our daily lives. To reveal our enlightened nature, we don’t have to retreat from society and go to a special place or strive to achieve a special status. Rather, our daily practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon enables us to bring forth our innate Buddha nature in the midst of our day-to-day struggles.
If we compare our faith to the roots of a tree, our daily lives can be compared to the tree’s trunk and its branches.
Nichiren writes, “The deeper the roots, the more prolific the branches” (“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, 736). If the roots of faith are strong and deep in our lives, we can weather even the most powerful winds of opposition, and our dreams and goals will blossom luxuriantly. But if the roots are weak, the slightest breeze can knock us down.
To develop roots that are thick and strong, we must continuously nourish our lives with the nutrients of faith, practice and study. Through consistently chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, sharing Buddhism with others, engaging in SGI activities and studying Nichiren’s writings, we cultivate a rich life state that becomes the basis for our behavior. This will lead to positive changes in our circumstances.
SGI President Ikeda states: “We practice Nichiren Buddhism so that we can develop and improve ourselves, and carry out our human revolution in our workplaces, in our families and in our communities. We do so in order to create the greatest value where we are right now. Nichiren Buddhism is not about escaping to some other time or some imagined ideal realm. Doing so does not accord with the teaching of the Mystic Law; it is the shallow thinking of the provisional, pre-Lotus Sutra teachings. It is not reality.
“Nichiren Buddhism is a living philosophy for changing reality. That is why one of the titles of the Buddha is ‘Hero of the World’ ” (Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 24–25).
Our Buddhist practice supplies us with the immense life force that we need to live strongly and confidently each day so that we can overcome the various problems and sufferings we encounter.
Buddhism does not exist apart from reality. By making faith our foundation, we can absolutely transform our individual lives and effect lasting change in the world.
SGI President Ikeda’s Guidance
In The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, “Vow” chapter, SGI President Ikeda (who appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto) speaks to members in Brazil referencing second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s guidance about the importance of making all-out efforts in our Buddhist practice.
[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda said: “There are those who have the simplistic idea that because they have the Gohonzon, they’ll definitely receive benefit even if they don’t put any thought or effort into how they conduct their business. This is a big mistake and must be categorized as slander of the Law [because it goes against the teachings of Buddhism].” Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), vol. 1, p. 161.
Toda stressed that Nichiren Buddhism does not call on us to believe in or depend on a higher power. Rather, he said, it teaches us to actively create value by drawing forth our inherent wisdom and strength through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo before the Gohonzon, and to continue challenging ourselves while positively putting that wisdom and strength to work.
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With a strong wish for the members’ happiness, Shin’ichi [Yamamoto] said: “Referring to Nichiren Daishonin’s words ‘When one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs’ (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376), Mr. Toda declared it a grave mistake to interpret this passage to mean that we can attain benefits without any effort on our part.
“He added: ‘People who fail to notice the weaknesses in their business or consider ways to improve it should seriously reflect on themselves. It’s vital that you keep studying and learning about your business and strive to do better. My wish is that you, my dear fellow members, will come to “understand the meaning of all worldly affairs” as quickly as possible in the context of your own work and lead secure lives.’Toda Josei zenshu, vol. 1, p. 162.
“Mr. Toda’s wish is also my wish. Today, the winds of economic recession are blowing fiercely around the world. We mustn’t simply lament the situation, but should instead summon powerful wisdom and life force through our Buddhist practice and use it to brilliantly overcome difficult circumstances. That is what makes us ‘one [who] understands the meaning of all worldly affairs’ (see “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” WND-1, 376).
“To have the easygoing attitude that things will somehow work out simply because we have faith in the Mystic Law is a mistake. It is because we practice Nichiren Buddhism that we must chant earnestly about how to resolve each problem before us and then take action to do so. That earnest resolve and challenging spirit produces unparalleled wisdom. And making use of this tremendous power of wisdom generated by faith is the key to victory in all things.” (Aug. 17, 2018, World Tribune, “Vow” insert, pp. 3–4)
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), vol. 1, p. 161.|
|2.||↑||Toda Josei zenshu, vol. 1, p. 162.|