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Q: What does it mean to transform karma?

A: We begin to transform our karma when we earnestly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, squarely face our problems and do our utmost to take courageous action for kosen-rufu. This requires overcoming, at each turn, our self-doubt, fear, anger and the many negative tendencies that keep us from moving forward in our lives.

And we can win over our own struggles and karma by working hard to help others break free from the chains of their karma by sharing Buddhism with them.

Especially when we are facing great adversity, SGI President Ikeda urges us: “You need to pray your hardest. You need to share this Buddhism with others and strive with all your might for kosen-rufu. Such times are golden opportunities to transform your karma” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 22, p. 230).

Karma may be explained very simply as follows: Making good causes yields good effects, while making bad causes yields bad effects. And through our thoughts, words and deeds, we make causes that manifest as effects at some point in time.

Karma is the accumulation of causes and their potential effects over many lifetimes. Traditionally, it was thought that to overcome bad karma and create good karma, it would be necessary to counteract every negative cause with a good cause. But if so, it would take countless lifetimes to eradicate all our bad causes.

Nichiren Daishonin took this general view of causality and expounded a deeper, “greater causality.” He taught that the source of all his sufferings in this lifetime resulted from slandering the Lotus Sutra.

The Lotus Sutra teaches that all people can attain Buddhahood and should be respected, and that we must strive to achieve happiness both for ourselves and for others. For this reason, slandering the Lotus Sutra means disparaging or denying the true potential and dignity of all people. It represents fundamental negativity that leads to suffering and unhappiness.

Slandering the Lotus Sutra means not believing in our own Buddhahood and that of others. This disbelief obstructs the emergence of the world of Buddhahood and keeps us from transforming our lives at the deepest level.

On the other hand, when we boldly challenge each obstacle in front of us with the determination to prove the validity of Nichiren Buddhist practice and strive to bring forth our inherent wisdom, courage and compassion, the light of Buddhahood begins to shine ever brighter in our lives.

It is in strengthening our commitment for kosen-rufu—in which we deepen our awareness of the great potential and mission of our lives and help awaken countless others to the dignity of their lives—that we are able to not only transform our deepest personal karma, but also the destiny of all humankind.

Excerpts From Nichiren’s Writings in Volume 4

Building Bridges of Dialogue