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District Meeting

District Study Meeting Material

September 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: ‘Joy’ Means That Oneself and Others Together Experience Joy [7.1]

Chapter 7: Happiness for Both Ourselves and Others

Nichiren Daishonin declares: “‘Joy’ means that oneself and others together experience joy. … Both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 146).

Both ourselves and others matter. Caring only about one’s own happiness is selfish. Claiming to care only about the happiness of others is hypocritical. Real “joy” lies in both ourselves and others becoming happy together.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda said: “Becoming happy yourself is no great challenge; it’s quite simple. But the essence of Nichiren Buddhism lies in helping others become happy, too.”[1]

The passage I just quoted from the Daishonin plainly states that true happiness means possessing both wisdom and compassion—in other words, the life state of Buddhahood. If one has wisdom but lacks compassion, one’s life will be closed and constricted. Such wisdom, then, is not genuine. To have compassion but lack wisdom or behave in a foolish manner is to be of no help to anyone, including oneself. And compassion that is incapable of helping anyone cannot be said to be genuine.

Only faith in the Mystic Law encompasses both wisdom and compassion. The Daishonin clearly states: “Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are expressing joy in the fact that they will inevitably become Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies”[2] (OTT, 146). This in itself is “the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 212).

Mr. Toda maintained that “individual happiness and social prosperity must go hand in hand.” The individual happiness referred to here is not self-centered; rather, it means cultivating true humanity—developing into a person who possesses wisdom and compassion and helping others do the same.

The Lotus Sutra (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) has the power to actualize both individual happiness and social prosperity.

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) Mr. Toda said that “individual happiness and social prosperity must go hand in hand.” What does this mean to you?

OPTION #2: The Bodhisattva Way Benefits Both Ourselves and Others [7.2]

Chapter 7: Happiness for Both Ourselves and Others

There are countless people in the world whose hearts have been wounded in some way. We need to extend a healing hand to such individuals. Through such efforts, we in fact heal ourselves.

When beset by some misfortune, people tend to think that no one could possibly be as unhappy or unlucky as they are. They feel sorry for themselves and become blind to everything but their own situation. They wallow in their suffering, feeling dissatisfied and hopeless, which only saps their life force further.

At such times, what gives someone the strength to go on living? It seems to me that it is human bonds—the desire to live for the sake of others. As long as we are wrapped up in ourselves, there is no happiness. When we courageously take action for others, the wellspring of our own life is replenished.

When we look after and care for others—that is, help others draw forth their life force—our own life force increases. When we help people expand their state of life, our state of life also expands. That is the wonderful thing about the bodhisattva way. The practice for benefiting others is one and the same with the practice for benefiting ourselves.

To only speak of benefiting others leads to arrogance. It conveys a sense of self-righteousness, as if we are somehow doing others a favor by “saving” them. Only when we recognize that our efforts on others’ behalf are also for our own sake will we be filled with humble appreciation for being able to develop our lives.

Our lives and the lives of others are ultimately inseparable. It is vital, therefore, that we follow the bodhisattva way.

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) How have you benefited from supporting others?


  1. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 4 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1984), p. 378. ↩︎
  2. The three bodies: The three kinds of body a Buddha may possess. The three bodies are the Dharma body, the reward body and the manifested body. The Dharma body is the fundamental truth, or Law, to which a Buddha is enlightened. The reward body is the wisdom to perceive the Law. And the manifested body is the compassionate actions the Buddha carries out to lead people to happiness. ↩︎

Applying the ‘Teachings for Victory’ in Our Lives

District Discussion Meeting Material