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District Meeting

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace—June

District Study for June

Our innermost heart, the attitude in the depths of our being, determines everything. Photo by Westend61 / Getty Images.

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 50 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 and posted on the new Soka Gakkai global website. A revised book will be available for purchase this spring.

In March, monthly SGI-USA district study meetings began focusing 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.

A Practice Accessible to All [3.9]

Chapter 3: The Practice for Transforming Our State of Life

Nichiren Daishonin sent many letters to his lay follower Toki Jonin. In one of them, titled “On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice,” he outlines the correct Buddhist practice for people in the Latter Day of the Law, clarifying that such practice lies in “making [the] single word ‘faith’ the foundation” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 785).

The essence of Nichiren Buddhism is not ceremony or formality. It is our heart. It is our faith. The Daishonin further states that the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon contains within it all other forms of practice. He explains with the following simple allegory: “The two characters that comprise the name Japan contain within them all the people and animals and wealth in the sixty-six provinces of the country, without a single omission” (WND-1, 788). Similarly, he says, the phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo contains within it the entirety of the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is itself the direct path to attaining Buddhahood. All other practices, especially those entrenched in formality, are secondary practices that, if given primary importance, can become an impediment to faith.

The Daishonin further teaches that even though we may not understand the profound meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can still gain the benefit of chanting daimoku. Here, employing another allegory, he states: “When a baby drinks milk, it has no understanding of its taste, and yet its body is naturally nourished” (WND-1, 788).

Though we may not understand Buddhist doctrine, if we simply chant daimoku free of doubt, then, just as a newborn baby gains nourishment from milk, we will naturally be able to imbue our lives with the great power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of the people; it exists for and is accessible to all.

In the same writing, Nichiren Daishonin states: “The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo[1] do not represent the sutra [Lotus Sutra] text, nor are they its meaning. They are nothing other than the intent of the entire sutra” (WND-1, 788). Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which we chant, is the heart and essence of the Lotus Sutra. Fundamentally, it is the very spirit of Nichiren Daishonin. Accordingly, though we may not grasp its profound meaning entirely, when we chant daimoku with faith in the Gohonzon, we can come into contact with the Daishonin’s spirit. We can bring forth within us the life state of the Daishonin that is one with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. How truly fortunate we are!

Discussion Questions:
1. What was one of your first experiences of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?
2. Based on reading this material, what do you want to achieve?

Living With an Awareness of the Importance of the Heart [4.1]

Chapter 3: The Practice for Transforming Our State of Life

I was talking with someone yesterday, and our conversation turned to the question of what is the ultimate message of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. We concluded that the first essential message is to base ourselves on the Gohonzon. It is to make the foundation of our faith “only Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (“The Teaching for the Latter Day,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 903)—that is, to sincerely chant and practice the Mystic Law alone. The second essential message is that “It is the heart that is important” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1000). These two points, we agreed, are the crucial cornerstones of the Daishonin’s writings.

The reason why the second is important is that faith is not just a matter of embracing the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo but also a matter of our heart, or the attitude with which we practice. Is our heart directed toward kosen-rufu? Our innermost heart, the attitude in the depths of our being, determines everything.

Whether we become happy, attain enlightenment, move in the direction of Buddhahood, or wind up in a state of suffering—everything is the exact result of the wondrous workings of our heart or mind. This point cannot be overemphasized.

Just like us, the universe, too, has a nonmaterial aspect. Our heart of faith is communicated to the universe. The workings of our heart or mind are truly amazing.

Selfishness, complaint, doubt, deviousness, conceit, arrogance and so forth are all causes of unhappiness for both ourselves and others. When we allow ourselves to be ruled by such negative attitudes, we are like a plane that has lost its direction in a heavy fog. We can see nothing clearly. The distinction between good and bad, right and wrong, becomes blurred. We plunge not only ourselves but our passengers—our friends and others around us—into misery.

When afflicted by arrogance, our minds run amok, like a crazed horse galloping wildly in circles, unable to stop, until we lose all self-awareness and do harm to those around us. This is not a normal human state. And though we may think ourselves better than others, the exact opposite is true. In fact, in Buddhism, the conceited and arrogant are the most dangerous people.

In contrast, a sincere concern for others, a dedicated commitment to our beliefs, a sense of responsibility toward fulfilling our mission for kosen-rufu, a wish to wholeheartedly encourage and support our fellow members, a feeling of appreciation, gratitude, and joy—these attitudes are causes that will produce boundless good fortune, not only for ourselves but also for our family and loved ones as well as our descendants. They give rise to strong protection by the heavenly deities—the positive forces of the universe—and enable us to advance directly along the path to attaining Buddhahood.

Let us therefore live with the Daishonin’s words “It is the heart that is important” engraved deeply and indelibly in our lives.

Discussion Questions:
1. Nichiren states, “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1, 1000). What does this mean to you?
2. How has living with a commitment to helping others and to our Buddhist practice affected your own life?


  1. Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being composed of two characters). Nichiren Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎

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