Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 1:
What Is True Happiness? [1.2]
1.2 Absolute Happiness and Relative Happiness
How, in the face of the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death, can we lead positive and fulfilling lives? In this selection, President Ikeda describes a life of limitless value creation in pursuit of absolute happiness by cultivating a strong life force and bounteous wisdom.
What is the purpose of life? It is happiness. The goal of Buddhism and of faith, too, is to become happy.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The [Lotus Sutra] reads, ‘. . . where living beings enjoy themselves at ease’ [LSOC16, 272]” (WND-1, 681). “Enjoy themselves at ease” here means being freely able to live the kind of life one desires and wholeheartedly enjoying that life.
If you possess strong life force and abundant wisdom, it is possible to enjoy the challenge of overcoming life’s hardships in much the same way that waves make surfing exhilarating and steep mountains give mountaineering its appeal.
Because the Mystic Law is the source of the life force and wisdom for overcoming life’s difficulties, the Daishonin states that there is no greater happiness than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Reality is harsh. Please courageously challenge the stern realities of life and win, and win again, in everything—in daily life, work, school, and family relations. The teachings of Buddhism and our practice of faith are the driving force for unlimited improvement.
Where people possess wisdom and life force derived from their Buddhist practice, they can move everything in a brighter, more positive, and more encouraging direction. Wise, genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism are able to enter into a winning rhythm in actuality, not just in theory.
Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda gave the following guidance on happiness:
“I would like to say a few words about happiness. There are two kinds of happiness: absolute happiness and relative happiness. Absolute happiness is attaining Buddhahood. . . . Relative happiness means that your everyday wishes are fulfilled one by one—for instance, to have a million yen, a wonderful spouse, fine children, a nice house or clothes, and so on. . . . Such happiness is not of great consequence. Yet everyone is convinced that this is what being happy is all about.
“What, then, is absolute happiness? Absolute happiness means that being alive and here itself is a joy. . . . It also implies a state where one is free of financial worries and enjoys adequate good health, where there is peace and harmony in one’s family and one’s business prospers, and where all that one sees and hears brings one a wonderful sense of pleasure and joy. When we achieve such a state of life, this world, this strife-ridden saha world, will itself become a pure land. This is what we call attaining the state of Buddhahood. . . .
“How can we achieve this? We must shift from the pursuit of relative happiness to that of absolute happiness. Only our practice of Nichiren Buddhism can make this happen. I’m working furiously to share this truth with others; so I hope you will have utter confidence in my words and lead such lives [of absolute happiness].”1
Founding Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi once said: “There are some people who go around saying, ‘I saved the money I wanted, bought the house I wanted, so now I can sit back, enjoy a drink, and indulge in a few luxuries. What more can I want in life than that?’ This kind of person has no understanding of the true purpose of life.” On this point, Mr. Makiguchi clearly stated: “The purpose of life is to create supreme value and to attain the greatest happiness.”
The name Soka Gakkai (lit. Value-Creating Society) means an organization whose members are committed to creating supreme value and attaining the greatest happiness.
The purpose of life is to realize this kind of happiness, in other words, absolute happiness. Absolute happiness is something that doesn’t change with time; it is eternal and unaffected by external factors, welling forth from the depths of one’s life. It is not a transitory thing like worldly status and fortune or some other fleeting satisfaction.
What matters is living in accord with the Law and attaining an elevated state of life based on the Law. The state of life we attain, like the Law itself, is eternal. As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we can make our way as champions of life throughout eternity.
Some people say that happiness is just a state of mind and that if you think you’re happy you will be, even if you’re suffering from illness or poverty. But if it’s just something you’re telling yourself without actually feeling any real sense of happiness in the depths of your being, then it’s ultimately meaningless.
The “treasures of the heart” that we accumulate through our practice of Nichiren Buddhism will manifest in our lives over time as “treasures of the body” and “treasures of the storehouse” (cf. WND-1, 851).
Every day, I am earnestly praying that you may enjoy comfortable lives, good health, and longevity. And I will continue to pray wholeheartedly for this as long as I live. It is my ardent wish that you each fulfill all of your heart’s desires, so that you can declare in your closing days, “My life has been a happy one. I have no regrets. It has been a satisfying life.”
From a speech at a Rio de Janeiro general meeting, Brazil, February 13, 1993.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.
- *1Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 4 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), pp. 257–59. (Guidance given at the West Japan Joint Chapter General Meeting held in January 1955.)