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Achieving Happiness for Ourselves and Others

Illustration by DrAfter123 / Getty Images.

The essential practice of the Lotus Sutra is to achieve happiness for both ourselves and others. In his 2022 peace proposal, Ikeda Sensei underscores this point through the story of Vimalakirti, one of Shakyamuni’s disciples:

On one occasion, Vimalakirti … [who was] deeply respected for the way he interacted with people in various conditions of life with no sense of difference or distance, fell ill. Learning of this, Shakyamuni had a large contingent of followers led by his close disciple Manjushri visit Vimalakirti. After conveying Shakyamuni’s concern and well-wishes for his recovery, Manjushri asked Vimalakirti how he had fallen ill, how long he had been ill and what might bring about a cure. 

Vimalakirti replied: “Because all living beings are sick, therefore I am sick” and then offered the following analogy to fully communicate what he meant: “It is like the case of a rich man who has only one child. If the child falls ill, then the father and mother too will be ill, but if the child’s illness is cured, the father and mother too will be cured.” As someone committed to living his life as a bodhisattva, he explained, his feelings for other people were like those of a parent. Thus, “If living beings are sick, the bodhisattva will be sick, but if living beings are cured, the bodhisattva too will be cured.”[1]


  1. The Vimalarkirti Sutra, translated by Burton Watson (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2008), pp. 65–66. ↩︎

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