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District Meeting

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace—March

District Study for March

“Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is what is meant by entering the palace of oneself.”—Nichiren Daishonin. Dave Goodman.

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.

Starting in March, monthly SGI-USA district study meetings will 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.

Absolute Happiness and Relative Happiness

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda gave the following guidance on happiness:

“There are two kinds of happiness: absolute happiness and relative happiness. Absolute happiness is attaining Buddhahood. … Relative happiness means that your everyday wishes are fulfilled one by one—for instance, to have a million yen, a wonderful spouse, fine children, a nice house or clothes and so on. … Such happiness is not of great consequence. Yet everyone is convinced that this is what being happy is all about.

“What, then, is absolute happiness? Absolute happiness means that being alive and here itself is a joy. … It also implies a state where one is free of financial worries and enjoys adequate good health, where there is peace and harmony in one’s family and one’s business prospers, and where all that one sees and hears brings one a wonderful sense of pleasure and joy. When we achieve such a state of life, this world, this strife-ridden saha world, will itself become a pure land. This is what we call attaining the state of Buddhahood. …

“How can we achieve this? We must shift from the pursuit of relative happiness to that of absolute happiness. Only our practice of Nichiren Buddhism can make this happen. I’m working furiously to share this truth with others; so I hope you will have utter confidence in my words and lead such lives [of absolute happiness].”

• • •

The purpose of life is to realize this kind of happiness, in other words, absolute happiness. Absolute happiness is something that doesn’t change with time; it is eternal and unaffected by external factors, welling forth from the depths of one’s life. It is not a transitory thing like worldly status and fortune or some other fleeting satisfaction.

What matters is living in accord with the Law and attaining an elevated state of life based on the Law. The state of life we attain, like the Law itself, is eternal. As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we can make our way as champions of life throughout eternity.

Discussion Questions:
1. In the last few weeks, what has brought you the greatest feeling of happiness?
2. Based on President Toda’s explanation of happiness, what should we focus on to develop absolute happiness? Do you have any experiences that reflect this point?

Happiness Lies Within Us

Where is the palace of happiness, the indestructible bastion of happiness, that so many are eagerly seeking? And how is it to be acquired?

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states: “Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is what is meant by entering the palace of oneself” (p. 209).

• • •

The indestructible life state of Buddhahood exists within us all. It could be described as an everlasting palace of happiness, adorned with countless glittering treasures. By embracing faith in the Mystic Law and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can enter this palace within our lives. In other words, the Daishonin teaches that we have the capacity to make the “palace of oneself” shine with supreme brilliance.

People may live in fine houses or possess great wealth, but if their hearts are mean and their life conditions are low, they will not be truly happy; they will be dwelling in palaces of misery. In contrast, people who have beautiful, generous hearts and a high life condition, irrespective of their present circumstances, are certain to attain both material and spiritual happiness. This accords with the Buddhist principle of the oneness of life and its environment—that our lives and our surroundings are one and inseparable.

When we open the palace of our own lives, it will eventually lead to the “palace of happiness” opening in others’ lives and the “palace of prosperity” opening in society. There is an underlying continuity between the process of opening one’s own palace and others doing likewise. This is a wonderful principle of Buddhism.

Discussion Questions:
1. How does Buddhism impact the way you view happiness and what is important in life?
2. What experiences have you had in finding a sense of genuine fulfillment by helping someone else overcome their struggles?

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