Living the Lotus Sutra
The Soka Gakkai practice of the Lotus Sutra.
The purpose of Buddhism is to become happy. Happiness is not a state of bliss, but an unshakable conviction in our capacity as human beings to lead limitlessly confident and meaningful lives.
Shakyamuni’s teachings were taught in a gradual manner to lead followers to the ultimate truth conveyed in the Lotus Sutra. As his teachings spread over the centuries, the practice of Buddhism diminished. It became rooted in formality and tradition, benefiting only priests and the well educated.
Nichiren revived Shakyamuni’s spirit of helping all people. He grasped and expressed the heart of the Lotus Sutra in the phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Based on Nichiren’s teachings, the Soka Gakkai formulated a daily practice for the modern day and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda spread that teaching across the world for all people to lead peaceful, happy lives.
Practicing Buddhism ignites an inner transformation, which triggers a response from the environment. By positively changing from the inside, we enact positive changes in society—transforming our families, communities and the world.
“Faith is eternal hope; it is the secret to limitless self-development. Faith is the most basic principle for growth.”
—Daisaku Ikeda, Discussions on Youth, p. 211
Faith often begins as a simple expectation of how Buddhism can help improve one’s life. With consistent practice, this expectation develops into conviction. Faith in Buddhism is belief in our own vast potential and the limitless potential of all people to establish lives of unshakable happiness.
Buddhist practice includes two aspects: practice for oneself and practice for others. Practice for oneself consists of daily recitations from the Lotus Sutra and the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Practice for others consists of introducing Buddhism to others and encouraging others in their Buddhist practice.
By chanting and inspiring hope in others, we endeavor to manifest the unlimited potential of our lives.
Reading Nichiren’s writings helps to correctly understand the Lotus Sutra’s teachings and apply them more effectively in our lives. By deepening our knowledge of the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, we strengthen our confidence and conviction and learn what it means to practice correctly.
As Nichiren states, “Practice and study arise from faith.” As we deepen our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism, we can establish stronger faith. And with stronger faith, we will seek further understanding of Nichiren Buddhism.
District Discussion Meetings
Members gather in local neighborhood homes or community centers to hold small group discussion meetings where members practice together, study and discuss Buddhism together, share faith experiences and encourage one another to overcome life’s challenges. First Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi designated these gatherings “discussion meetings to prove experimentally the life of major good.” (WLS-2, 118)
The Infinite Potential of Each Individual
Some say the prevailing mood in the world today is one of powerlessness. Whatever the case may be, we are all aware that things cannot continue as they are. Yet decisions about political, economic and environmental issues all seem to be made somewhere beyond our reach … This feeling of powerlessness fuels a vicious cycle that only worsens the situation and increases people’s sense of futility.
At the opposite extreme of this sense of powerlessness lie the Lotus Sutra’s philosophy … [which] teaches us that the inner determination of an individual can transform everything; it gives ultimate expression to the infinite potential and dignity inherent in each human life.
Wherever we are, it is necessary to begin with the revitalization of individual human beings. That is what we mean by the reformation of society and the world through [the inner transformation of people]. That is the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
—Daisaku Ikeda, The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 6–7, 11