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Buddhist Study

Finding Beauty in Everything

Photo by Richard Drury / Getty Images.

This series highlights how Buddhism can enhance daily living. As Nichiren Daishonin says: “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.” [1]

For centuries, people have obsessed over the latest fashion trends. Yet the pressure to conform to the beauty standards affirmed by the media and society can be overwhelming.

In the U.S., for instance, roughly 10 million people (2–3% of the population) suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, an obsessive focus on perceived appearance flaws that leads people to spend excessive amounts of time checking their appearance in the mirror trying to fix it.[2] Though this affects young women disproportionately, this problem isn’t gender specific. 

Recently trending among young men is “looksmaxxing,” which entails adopting various methods to maximize physical attractiveness. These range from skincare routines to working out (called “softmaxxing”) to more concerning methods including starvation diets, steroids or even breaking facial bones (called “hardmaxxing”).[3]

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice or caring for our health and hygiene. But societal standards for beauty, fashion trends and our own appearances are constantly changing. Developing our inner beauty and strength is the key to lasting happiness.

As individuals, we each perceive the world through our own subjective lens. How we view ourselves and others determines whether we can find beauty in everyone and everything. 

Buddhism expounds the concept of the five components that make up life and helps us understand how life interacts with its surroundings. These five components are: 

1) form: the physical aspect of life, including our five senses
2) perception: receiving external information from the six senses (our five senses plus the mind)
3) conception: forming ideas from what we perceive
4) volition: our will to act based on our perception and conception
5) consciousness: our ability to integrate the other four components and discern value 

Ikeda Sensei explains:

In terms of life’s material and spiritual aspects, we find that form alone corresponds to the physical aspect and the other four components correspond to the spiritual aspect. In line with the Buddhist belief that the spiritual and material aspects of life are essentially one, however, there can be no form without perception, conception, volition and consciousness, and equally there can be no consciousness without form, perception, conception and volition. … 

This principle explains how life expresses each of the Ten Worlds. For example, someone in the world of hunger will form a conception of and react to the same object differently than someone in the world of heaven.[4]

In other words, our state of life determines how we perceive ourselves and others. So, to overcome the challenges of being stuck in a shallow worldview, we need to raise our life condition.

Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we raise our life state and tap the courage, wisdom and compassion to take action to bring happiness to ourselves and others. 

By chanting daily and applying ourselves to our Buddhist practice, we can develop confidence and engage in the process of self-transformation called human revolution. Sensei says: 

Self-confidence comes from hard work and effort. You’re deluding yourself if you think you can have self-confidence without it. Only those who strive to challenge a goal and work toward it at their own pace and in their own way; only those who keep trying, no matter how many times they may fail, can develop unshakable confidence in themselves. Self-confidence is synonymous with an invincible will.[5]

Rather than trying to satisfy society’s impossible beauty standards, by living passionately and uplifting those around us, we increasingly shine as people of true beauty who bravely face insecurities and problems, confident that we can overcome them.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

February 16, 2024, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Dai-shonin, vol. 1, p. 376. ↩︎
  2. <accessed on Feb. 8, 2024>. ↩︎
  3. <accessed on Feb. 8, 2024>.  ↩︎
  4. Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, pp. 132–33. ↩︎
  5. Discussions on Youth, p. 292.  ↩︎

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