Soka Gakkai International -USA
What is Happiness?
Do you believe in the possibility of lasting happiness? Or does this seem like something forever out of reach, a dream on the distant horizon? Would you react skeptically if told that you were born—just as you are—with everything it takes to cultivate an indestructible state of happiness?
According to Aristotle, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” But just what is happiness? Is it the fulfillment of our every wish and desire? Is it the absence of all suffering?
We believe that happiness is being able to experience profound joy that comes from never being defeated by any problems in life. In fact, we use the challenges of our lives as a catalyst to deepen and expand our inner lives. Despite a culture of instant gratification that influences so much of modern living, happiness is not a quick fix attained overnight. Rather, it results from our efforts to manifest life’s highest potentials—wisdom, compassion, courage and vitality—on a daily basis. Nichiren Buddhism provides a concrete means to tap into these traits that every human being holds in unlimited supply.
Even amidst the most difficult times, happiness is definitely not out of reach. We can indeed move in the direction of our dreams and face our problems wisely and courageously. We can come to savor the greatest of all joys: the ability to live life with a deeper and stronger sense of confidence, appreciation and hope. We have the power to take charge of our own destiny and become a source of positive change in our family, local community and the entire world.
The notion that every human being is born with the ability to become happy is not new. This is what the Buddha taught more than 2,500years ago. The word “Buddha” means “one who is fully awake”. It means to ‘awaken’ to the workings of the universal law within our own lives. The Lotus Sutra, the foremost of the Buddha’s teachings, asserts the inherent dignity and equality of all people and indeed of all life. It points to an enduring sense of happiness and compassion that is, in fact, our birthright. However, it wasn’t until Nichiren Daishonin, a 13thcentury Japanese Buddhist reformer, turned this philosophy into a concrete daily practice that the message of the Lotus Sutra became accessible to all people. In doing so, he established a practice that is both simple and very profound.
Nichiren revealed that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the law that permeates all life and the universe. This phrase literally translates as: devotion to the Mystic Law of cause and effect through the Buddha’s teaching, orsound. Nichiren describes this phrase by saying, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is not only the core of the Buddha’s lifetime teachings, but also the heart, essence, and ultimate principle of the Lotus Sutra (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,p.860). By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with confidence in our innate Buddhahood—or highest human potential—we can dispel self-doubt, challenge our problems courageously and reveal our innate wisdom and compassion. Through chanting, studying Buddhist philosophy and taking action daily for the well being of others, we can establish a state of profound happiness and make each moment of our lives joyful and meaningful while contributing to peace in our families and community.
The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) believes that the development of peace, culture and education are essential to building a better world. Under the leader-ship of its current president, Daisaku Ikeda, the SGI applies the practice of Nichiren Buddhism to modern times, promoting a cultural, educational and religious network of global citizens pursuing nonviolence and dialogue.
The SGI supports practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism and helps them teach others about it on a global scale. Today, there are more than 12 million SGI members practicing in about 190 countries and territories around the world. At the center of this global movement are neighborhood gatherings where people share experiences, study Buddhism and encourage one another. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate. These inter-personal ties of friendship, dialogue and support are the very heart of the SGI.
The dramatic positive impact of human rights education is illustrated by case studies involving schoolchildren in India, police officers in Australia and women victims of domestic violence in Turkey. This film, jointly produced by SGI together with Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), can be viewed in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. For more information, see: www.path-to-dignity.org.
People & Perspectives (Click on each photo below to be taken to their articles)
by Aiko Matsumura, Japan by Kira Feist, Ireland
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