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Buddhist Study

Living From This Moment On

In light of the Mystic Law, everything we encounter has meaning and helps us move forward.

Long exposure of a colorful rainbow of light traces in a beautiful curved path between the rocks over the Mediterranean Sea in the Costa Brava shoreline on sunset.
In light of the Mystic Law, everything we encounter has meaning and helps us move forward. Rtur Debat / Getty Images

Society tends to focus on a person’s past. School grades determine future educational opportunities. Resumes present potential employers with a snapshot of our work experience. Payment history determines our credit score and, hence, our borrowing and purchasing power. In many ways, our past can either enhance or limit our present opportunities.

It may be said, though, that how we view our own past can influence our happiness even more strongly than how others see us. For instance, we might allow our past failures to lead us to believe that we are destined to fail at everything.

For this reason, Nichiren Buddhism consistently places importance on our intent and actions in the present, which shape our future. It stresses living with the forward-looking spirit of “From this moment on!”

The General View of Cause and Effect

Buddhism traditionally emphasized the importance of focusing on the present moment. But it also recognizes that our present circumstances are a result of our karma—the sum of the effects of all the actions we have taken (causes made) in this and countless past lifetimes.

Based on the general view of cause and effect, to override negative past karma, we would need to consistently engage in good thoughts, speech and actions while refraining from making further bad causes. Only by doing this over countless lifetimes into the future would we eventually be freed from bad karma and attain enlightenment.

Having to wait lifetimes for results, however, is not a satisfying option and can lead to passive acceptance of our circumstances.

Nichiren Buddhism’s View of Karma

Nichiren Daishonin saw this traditional interpretation of karma as superficial and disempowering. He believed instead that, although our past karma might inform the present, each moment of our life also contains tremendous, unimaginable potential.

This conviction is supported by the Lotus Sutra and the principle of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” revealed by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai based on his rigorous analysis of the Buddhist sutras.

Each moment of life contains the power of the entire universe and permeates the entire universe. And the most sublime potential within all life and the universe—the world of Buddhahood—resides within us and can emerge at any moment.

Nichiren expresses this idea, stating: “If in a single moment of life we exhaust the pains and trials of millions of kalpas, then instant after instant there will arise in us the three Buddha bodies[1] with which we are eternally endowed. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is just such a ‘diligent’ practice” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 214).

He taught that diligently chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with a powerful resolve to accomplish our aspirations constitutes the “true cause” to unlock the tremendous potential inherent in our lives at this very moment.

Ikeda Sensei says:

To put all our energy into the present moment, with great hope for the future—that is the mark of a person who is wise in the way of living. …

Faith in the Mystic Law is a source of infinite hope. No matter how adverse your present circumstances may be, even if it seems you have been defeated, it’s important that you stand up with strong resolve to turn your situation around and demonstrate the limitless transformative potential of the Mystic Law.

Only with all-out effort, with the determination to create something from nothing, can we understand genuine faith. The intense, arduous struggle of creating value—turning loss into benefit, evil into good, baseness into beauty—is the Soka Gakkai spirit and the essence of our practice of Nichiren Buddhism. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, pp. 231–32)

Our karma, weaknesses and society’s view of our potential are no match for the power of the Mystic Law. In fact, in light of the Mystic Law, everything has meaning and nothing is futile. Our Buddhist practice enables us to use every situation to move our lives forward.

From the moment we make a fresh determination, pray strongly and take action to transform our lives and share this practice with others, we are creating a bright future filled with fortune, benefit and happiness.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


  1. Three Buddha bodies: Three integral aspects of a Buddha. Dharma body: the truth or Law to which the Buddha is enlightened. Reward body: the wisdom that enables the Buddha to perceive the truth. Manifested body: compassionate actions, or the physical body with which a Buddha compassionately leads people to enlightenment. ↩︎

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