Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 4:
“It Is the Heart That Is Important” [4.10]

4.10 Cultivating a Lofty Life State Imbued with the Four Virtues

Those who dedicate their lives to the Mystic Law can attain a completely unshakable life state of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity. To do so, it is crucial to develop a deep faith that cannot be defeated by karma or adversity.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states: “When, while in these four states of birth, aging, sickness, and death, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we cause them to waft forth the fragrance of the four virtues” (OTT, 90).

The four virtues, or four noble qualities of the Buddha’s life—eternity, happiness, true self, and purity—refer to the supreme state we can attain as human beings, a state of absolute freedom and happiness.

“True self” refers to a state of freedom as vast as the universe, in which we can enjoy our true, or greater, self.

“Eternity” refers to the dynamism of life that is ceaselessly renewing itself, the creative evolution of life that breaks through all stagnation.

“Purity” refers to the activity of purifying the narrow egoism of our lesser self through the powerful life force of our greater self.

And “happiness” refers to the joy of life as it pulses dynamically from moment to moment; it also corresponds to having a fully rounded character that imparts joy to all around us.

In this way, a person’s character, when illuminated by the Mystic Law, will be firmly grounded in the “greater self,” a state of boundless freedom that pervades the entire universe, qualitatively transforming even the energy of earthly desires focused on the egotistic “lesser self.” In other words, the energy of earthly desires can be elevated and transformed into shining wisdom and compassion; it can be powerfully redirected to a higher level that transcends the individual and benefits others, the community, and society in general.

This is the Buddhist principle that “earthly desires are enlightenment.” It opens wide a brilliant path by which we can strive for our own perfection along with that of others, while actively working to build an ideal society.

What are the ingredients for happiness? This is one of life’s fundamental questions.

The most crucial determinant for happiness is our own inner state of life.

Those with an expansive inner state of being are happy. They live out their days with an open and confident spirit.

People with a strong state of life are happy. They are not defeated by suffering, and can calmly enjoy life as it unfolds.

Those with a profound state of life are happy. Savoring the deep significance of life, they are able to create a record of meaningful and enduring value.

People with a pure state of life are happy. They are always spreading refreshing joy to those around them.

There are countless individuals who are blessed with wealth, social status, and other material advantages, but are unhappy. And such external circumstances are changeable and impermanent; no one knows how long they will last.

But when you have established an unshakable inner state of happiness, no one can destroy it. Nothing can violate it. Creating this great life state is the aim of your Buddhist practice. The important thing is to never stray from the Gohonzon, to never stop advancing in faith.

In the course of life, you are bound to face all kinds of difficulties. At times, you may become stuck. That is when you need to strengthen your faith and chant daimoku in earnest. Difficult as it might be, once you surmount the steep mountain of your karma, a new horizon will open wide before you. Buddhist practice is the repetition of this process. Eventually, you will reach a state of absolute happiness that will never be destroyed.

Develop deep, strongly rooted faith. As long as a sapling has strong roots, and receives enough sunshine and water, it will grow into a tall, sturdy tree, even if it is buffeted by the elements. The same is true of our Buddhist practice and our lives. I hope that all of you will be courageous individuals who cheerfully spread the great light of happiness throughout this troubled world, your lives serving as personal proof of the true greatness of Nichiren Buddhism.

From a speech at an SGI-Europe general meeting, UK, May 28, 1989.

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