Q: How do I live a truly meaningful life?
Good to Know
A: In these increasingly turbulent times, many people question how to live in the most meaningful way, and many are in search of a sound compass or philosophy to guide them.
Buddhism teaches that happiness is not reliant on how much money we have, the academic degrees we obtain or any other external measures of success. Rather, genuine fulfillment and happiness are determined by the conviction and philosophy with which we live and how they inform the actions we take for our own lives and to help those around us.
Therefore, the first point to leading a meaningful life is to have a philosophy that enables us to face and triumph over our own adversities and impart hope to others. Nichiren Daishonin’s philosophy, rooted in the Lotus Sutra, teaches that all human beings have infinite potential.
The second point is to have a concrete means for carrying out this philosophy in daily life. SGI members engage in the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, elevating our life condition and tackling each obstacle with the determination to use everything as a source of growth and enrichment. Further, our practice consists of sharing Buddhism with others so that they, too, can find hope and inspiration to victoriously advance in their lives.
Finally, we also need a teacher or mentor to help us navigate through the confusion and doubts that arise in the face of hardships, and to gain deeper insights into our lives. In Buddhism, a mentor awakens us to our own potential and serves as an example of how to lead the most meaningful life.
SGI President Ikeda says that a mentor is a person who “awakens us to what we are seeking in the depths of our beings” (May 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 53). A mentor reminds us of our unlimited potential, our inherent Buddhahood, and our shared mission to achieve happiness for ourselves as well as all those with whom we are connected.
Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda stated: “In looking at great people of the past, we find that they remained undefeated by life’s hardships, by life’s pounding waves. They held fast to hopes that seemed mere fantastic dreams to other people. They let nothing stop or discourage them from realizing their aspirations. The reason for this, I feel certain, is that their hopes themselves were not directed toward the fulfillment of personal desires or self-interest but based on a wish for all people’s happiness, and this filled them with extraordinary conviction and confidence” (Hope Is a Decision, pp. 6–7).
We can live the most meaningful and fulfilling lives by basing ourselves on a sound philosophy, striving to apply this philosophy directly to our daily lives and working alongside our mentor for the shared desire for a happy and peaceful world.