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Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace

District Study for December

People with a strong state of life are happy. They are not defeated by suffering and can calmly enjoy life as it unfolds. Photo by Jonathan Wilson.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace consists of excerpts selected from Ikeda Sensei’s collected works—his lectures, dialogues, encouragement and poetry spanning more than 60 years—which reflect his insights based on the philosophy and practice of Nichiren Buddhism. With the aim of having SGI members throughout the world study this series, it has been recently revised. Purchase the revised edition of part 1 at bookstore.sgi-usa.org.

Monthly SGI-USA district study meetings focus on material excerpted from the revised edition of The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace series.

Here is a suggested framework for using this material:

1. Select one of the excerpts given.
2. Read the excerpt during the meeting.
3. Use the questions provided to guide your discussion.


Cultivating a Lofty Life State Imbued With the Four Virtues [4.10]

Chapter 4: It Is the Heart That Is Important

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states, “When, while in these four states of birth, aging, sickness and death, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we cause them to waft forth the fragrance of the four virtues” (p. 90).

The four virtues, or four noble qualities of the Buddha’s life—eternity, happiness, true self and purity—refer to the supreme state we can attain as human beings, a state of absolute freedom and happiness.

“True self” refers to a state of freedom as vast as the universe, in which we can enjoy our true, or greater, self.

“Eternity” refers to the dynamism of life that is ceaselessly renewing itself, the creative evolution of life that breaks through all stagnation.

“Purity” refers to the activity of purifying the narrow egoism of our lesser self through the powerful life force of our greater self.

And “happiness” refers to the joy of life as it pulses dynamically from moment to moment; it also corresponds to having a fully rounded character that imparts joy to all around us.

In this way, a person’s character, when illuminated by the Mystic Law, will be firmly grounded in the “greater self,” a state of boundless freedom that pervades the entire universe, qualitatively transforming even the energy of earthly desires focused on the egotistic “lesser self.” In other words, the energy of earthly desires can be elevated and transformed into shining wisdom and compassion; it can be powerfully redirected to a higher level that transcends the individual and benefits others, the community and society in general. …

The most crucial determinant for happiness is our own inner state of life.

Those with an expansive inner state of being are happy. They live out their days with an open and confident spirit.

People with a strong state of life are happy. They are not defeated by suffering and can calmly enjoy life as it unfolds.

Those with a profound state of life are happy. Savoring the deep significance of life, they are able to create a record of meaningful and enduring value.

People with a pure state of life are happy. They are always spreading refreshing joy to those around them. …

In the course of life, you are bound to face all kinds of difficulties. At times, you may become stuck. That is when you need to strengthen your faith and chant daimoku in earnest. Difficult as it might be, once you surmount the steep mountain of your karma, a new horizon will open wide before you. Buddhist practice is the repetition of this process. Eventually, you will reach a state of absolute happiness that will never be destroyed.

Discussion Questions:
1. Which part of this material resonated with you?
2. How are these four virtues expressed in your life and the lives of others?


We Are the Protagonists of Our Own Lives [5.1]

Chapter 5: Transforming Suffering Into Joy

Nichiren Daishonin cites a passage from the Flower Garland Sutra: “The mind is like a skilled painter, who creates various forms made up of the five components.[1] Thus of all the phenomena throughout the entire world, there is not a single one that is not created by the mind. … Outside of this mind there is no other phenomenon that exists” (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 844). …

His words always radiate hope and encouragement, like the sun. This is because he fully understood that when a person’s heart changes, everything changes.

Many people ascribe others’ success to favorable circumstances. They are likely to think If only I had such good luck or If only I didn’t have this problem to deal with. But that ultimately is just complaining. There is no one who doesn’t have problems.

A businessman once said to a friend: “You’re always complaining about having so many problems. I know a place where there are at least ten thousand people, and not one of them has even a single problem or worry. Would you like me to take you there?”

His friend said: “Yes, please do!”

And guess where the businessman took him? To a cemetery. He was teaching his friend that as long as we are alive, we will have to deal with problems and sufferings. Challenging ourselves to find ways to overcome these problems gives richness and meaning to our lives.

Buddhism teaches that “earthly desires lead to enlightenment.” This means the greater our worries and sufferings, the greater the happiness we can transform them into through the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. …

The most important thing is to expand our state of life. When we think only of ourselves, we become increasingly caught up in our small egos, or lesser selves. In contrast, when we work toward a great and all-encompassing objective—for the sake of the Law, the happiness of others and the welfare of society—we can develop big hearts and bring forth our greater selves through the “wonderful workings of one mind” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 30). With big hearts, we can savor truly immense happiness.

Discussion Questions:
1. Which part of this material resonated with you?
2. Recently, what has helped you transform your heart or overcome a problem?

References

  1. Five components: Also, five components of life. They consist of form, perception, conception, volition and consciousness. Buddhism holds that these constituent elements unite temporarily to form an individual living being. ↩︎

Commentary on Volume 30 Afterword

To Our Future Division Members, the Torchbearers of Justice—Our Hope for the Future