Concept #15: Faith Equals Daily Life

We may dream of being happy one day, that sometime in the future we will have everything we want and be problem-free.

Buddhism, however, teaches that we can be happy right now, even amid all the stresses of daily life.

A key idea in Nichiren Buddhism that points to how to experience such happiness is “faith equals daily life.” Many think religion and daily life occupy separate spaces. But Nichiren Daishonin says, “A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs but, rather, one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world is governed” (“The Kalpa of Decrease,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1121).

As this passage reveals, “a person of wisdom” understands that daily life is the exact place for carrying out our Buddhist practice, and our attitude and actions each day are expressions of our faith.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon and bringing forth our Buddhahood help us rise to the challenge that each day brings. As we continue to do so, we come to understand our personal strengths. We learn how to transform difficulties with others and create respectful, harmonious relationships.

Upholding Diligent Faith

Shijo Kingo, one of Nichiren Daishonin’s trusted disciples, is someone we may easily relate to. His story illustrates how to create happiness based on the principle of “faith equals daily life.” He was on track to success in his multifaceted career as a samurai, physician and estate manager. Yet, he often ran into problems with his co-workers and siblings, and sometimes even with fellow Buddhists, mostly due to his sense of righteousness and quick temper. But his most redeeming quality was his devotion to Nichiren and his teaching.

At one point, he urged his lord, Ema Mitsutoki, to embrace the Daishonin’s teaching. This led Ema, who was influenced by a priest who hated Nichiren and by rumors spread by Kingo’s jealous colleagues, to threaten to confiscate his estates if he didn’t recant his faith in the Lotus Sutra.

Though distressed, Kingo challenged himself each day to diligently follow Nichiren’s instruction—to remain calm and loyal to his lord, while also trusting and upholding his faith in the Lotus Sutra.

Eventually, when Lord Ema suddenly fell ill, Kingo was there to treat him and help him recover, and he regained Ema’s trust. By applying faith to his daily life, he’d won.

In June 1277, as Kingo’s situation improved, Nichiren wrote to him:

Life as a human being is hard to sustain—as hard as it is for the dew to remain on the grass. But it is better to live a single day with honor than to live to 120 and die in disgrace. Live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemon-no-jo [Shijo Kingo] is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people. (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851)

More important than how long we live is how we live each day with a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

In the end, Kingo learned the importance of building trust and turned his entire situation around.

Three Points for Living a Fulfilling Daily Life

Based on the passage above, Ikeda Sensei offers three key points for finding happiness in our daily realities:

1) Build trust with those around us: “‘In the service of one’s lord,’ … means building a solid relationship of trust with one’s boss or employer. It means becoming an outstanding employee at our workplace or excelling in our profession. It also refers to our behavior as members of society” (October 2021 Living Buddhism, p. 60).

2) Consistently strengthen our Buddhist practice: “‘In the service of Buddhism’ means to practice steadfastly, always basing ourselves on faith in the Mystic Law” (October 2021 Living Buddhism, p. 60).

3) Extend ourselves to others: “‘In concern for other people’ means caring qualities, like a sincere interest in others, that earn the respect and trust of those around us as we live our lives in society” (October 2021 Living Buddhism, p. 60).

As we cultivate these three qualities and our ability to better navigate our daily lives, we become “people of wisdom.” The more we strengthen our foundation in faith, the more we become adept at using everything that happens each day to propel our own happiness and help those around us excel in their lives.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department