Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 3: The Practice for Transforming Our State of Life [3.11]

3.11 The Lotus Sutra Is a Scripture of Cosmic Humanism

Nichiren Buddhism is based on the Lotus Sutra, the scripture teaching the supreme enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. The pinnacle of the Mahayana teachings, the Lotus Sutra was compiled in the first century CE. It sees the eternal life state of Buddhahood inherent within all people and teaches that anyone can reveal this lofty inner potential. And it calls on practitioners to carry on the struggle to lead people to enlightenment in the evil age after Shakyamuni’s death. In this excerpt, President Ikeda discusses the profound meaning contained in the sutra.

“The scripture of the lotus flower of the Law”—the Lotus Sutra is the monarch of all scriptures. As a monarch, it does not reject any other teaching, but acts to enable every other teaching to be fully effective.

Nichiren Daishonin writes:

“Ultimately, all phenomena are contained within one’s life, down to the last particle of dust. The nine mountains and the eight seas are encompassed in one’s body, and the sun, moon, and myriad stars are found in one’s life. We, however, are like a blind person who is incapable of seeing the images reflected in a mirror, or like an infant who has no fear of water or fire. The teachings such as those of the non-Buddhist writings and those of the Hinayana and provisional Mahayana Buddhist scriptures all partially explain the phenomena inherent in one’s life. They do not explain them as the Lotus Sutra does.” (WND-1, 629)

Teachings apart from the Lotus Sutra offer only partial explanations of the Law of life. Though partially true, they do not have the capacity on their own to revitalize all aspects of life. They are more likely, in fact, to produce distortions. The Lotus Sutra, however, is the single essential Law that unifies all these partial teachings, places them in the proper perspective, and enables them to function effectively.

This is the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. The “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra likens the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra to “a skilled physician who is wise and understanding” (LSOC16, 268). Like a skilled physician, the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra has the power to cure those who are suffering.

The Lotus Sutra seeks to convey in an easily accessible way the truth that each of us has been a Buddha since the eternal past and will be so into the eternal future. And it was Nichiren Daishonin, the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law, who made it possible for all people to actually experience this in their lives.

The Lotus Sutra teaches of a hidden treasure residing within us, as vast as the universe itself, that vanquishes all feelings of helplessness. It teaches us how to live vibrantly and vigorously, in rhythm with the infinite life of the universe. It teaches the true, great adventure of self-transformation.

The Lotus Sutra has a vastness that can enfold all people in a state of peace. It has cultural and artistic richness. It enables us to attain a boundless state forever imbued with the noble virtues of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity, and to live with the confidence, wherever we may be, that “This, my land, remains safe and tranquil” (LSOC16, 272).

The Lotus Sutra has the drama of struggles of good over evil. It has a warmth that comforts the weary. It has a vibrant, pulsing courage that banishes all fear. It has joyous songs of living unbounded and at ease throughout past, present, and future. It has soaring freedom.

It has brilliant light, flowers, greenery, music, and scenes like epic works of art or cinema.

It offers brilliant psychology, life lessons, and guidelines for happiness and peace. It presents basic principles for healthy living.

It awakens us to the universal truth that changing our mind-set changes everything. Avoiding both the desolation of individualism and the prison of totalitarianism, it possesses the power for creating a pure land of compassion in which people help and encourage one another.

Both communism and capitalism have reduced people to being a means to an end. But the Lotus Sutra, the monarch of all scriptures, embodies a fundamental humanism in which people are the end, not the means, where people are the protagonists, the monarchs. This message of the Lotus Sutra can be described as a “cosmic humanism”1—a magnificent theme to guide the 21st century.

From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, published in Japanese in March 1996.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.

  • *1In his lecture “A New Humanism for the Coming Century,” delivered at the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in 1997, President Ikeda explained this concept of “cosmic humanism” as “a humanism based on an expansive cosmology, a worldview that sees the individual as being one with the entire universe, expanding and growing with it, and therefore meriting the most profound reverence.”