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District Meeting

District Study Meeting Material

January 2022

Illustration by ArdeaA / Getty images

The study material below is adapted from The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace by Ikeda Sensei. You can purchase the revised edition of part one at

OPTION #1: ‘Earthly Desires Lead to Enlightenment[5.2]

Chapter 5: Transforming Suffering Into Joy

Buddhism teaches the principle that “earthly desires lead to enlightenment.” To explain this very simply, “earthly desires” refers to suffering and the desires and cravings that cause suffering, while “enlightenment” refers to happiness and an enlightened state of life.

Normally, one would assume that earthly desires and enlightenment are separate and independent conditions—especially since suffering would seem to be the exact opposite of happiness. But this is not the case in Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches that only by burning the “firewood” of problems and suffering can we obtain the “flames” of happiness. In other words, by using suffering as fuel, we gain the “light” and “energy” for happiness. And it is by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that we “burn the firewood of earthly desires.”

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our problems and sufferings all turn into energy for our happiness, into fuel that enables us to keep moving forward in our lives.

The wonderful thing about faith in Nichiren Buddhism is that it enables those who suffer the most to attain the greatest happiness and those who experience the most daunting problems to lead the most wonderful, meaningful lives.

Problems come in all shapes and sizes. You may be dealing with some personal problem, you may be wondering how to help your parents live long and fulfilling lives, or you may be worried about friends who are sick or depressed and wish for their recovery. On a different level, you may be deeply concerned about the issue of world peace or the direction of the world in the 21st century. These are very noble concerns.

Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you can turn all these worries and concerns into fuel to propel yourselves forward—you can transform them into life force, into greater depth of character and into good fortune. I therefore hope you will challenge all kinds of problems, chant abundantly about them, and develop yourselves along the way.

Faith means setting goals and striving to achieve each one. If we view each goal or challenge as a mountain, faith is a process whereby we grow with every mountain climbed. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part one, revised edition, pp. 170–71)

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) How has a recent challenge served as fuel for your growth?

OPTION #2: ‘Changing Poison Into Medicine’ [5.3]

Chapter 5: Transforming Suffering Into Joy

Life inevitably involves victory and defeat. There may be times of sorrow and suffering. But Buddhism teaches that “earthly desires lead to enlightenment” and “the sufferings of life and death lead to nirvana.” The greater our problems and suffering, the greater the joy and happiness we can transform them into through our Buddhist practice.

We practice this Buddhism for our own sake. The purpose of our faith and practice is to live true to ourselves. It is to increase our good fortune and open the way to happiness. Since this is the case, if we are easily swayed by trifling matters, upbeat one minute and down the next, we cannot say that we are truly practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

In the realm of the Mystic Law, no matter what happens, we can, in time, positively transform all poison into medicine.

In fact, there is really no clear-cut dividing line between poison and medicine. The same substance can act as either a poison or a medicine, depending on the dosage and the life force of the individual who takes it. Some have even described medicine as “poison that saves lives.”

Similarly, there is no clear difference between what will function as poison or medicine when it comes to victory and defeat in life. For instance, if we triumph in the end, everything we experienced can be seen as medicine. On the other hand, if our lives end in defeat, then everything—even that which seemed to function as medicine along the way—becomes poison.

What do we mean by triumphing in the end? It means being victorious in faith. For this is our true victory as a human being—one that leads to our victory throughout the three existences of past, present and future. (WCHP, part one, revised edition, pp. 172–73)

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) Have you had an experience of “changing poison into medicine”?

The Essence of Buddhism Lies in One’s ‘Behavior as a Human Being’

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