Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 5:
Transforming Suffering into Joy [5.2]

5.2 “Earthly Desires Lead to Enlightenment”

As the principle “earthly desires lead to enlightenment” from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings indicates, Buddhism enables us to transform all our problems and difficulties into the energy to advance.

Buddhism teaches the principle that “earthly desires lead to enlightenment.” To explain this very simply, “earthly desires” refers to suffering and the desires and cravings that cause suffering, while “enlightenment” refers to happiness and an enlightened state of life.

Normally, one would assume that earthly desires and enlightenment are separate and independent conditions—especially since suffering would seem to be the exact opposite of happiness. But this is not the case in Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches that only by burning the “firewood” of problems and suffering can we obtain the “flames” of happiness. In other words, by using suffering as fuel, we gain the “light” and “energy” for happiness. And it is by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that we “burn the firewood of earthly desires.”

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our problems and sufferings all turn into energy for our happiness, into fuel that enables us to keep moving forward in our lives.

The wonderful thing about faith in Nichiren Buddhism is that it enables those who suffer the most to attain the greatest happiness and those who experience the most daunting problems to lead the most wonderful, meaningful lives.

Problems come in all shapes and sizes. You may be dealing with some personal problem, you may be wondering how to help your parents live long and fulfilling lives, or you may be worried about friends who are sick or depressed and wish for their recovery. On a different level, you may be deeply concerned about the issue of world peace or the direction of the world in the 21st century. These are very noble concerns.

Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you can turn all these worries and concerns into fuel to propel yourselves forward—you can transform them into life force, into greater depth of character, and into good fortune. I therefore hope you will challenge all kinds of problems, chant abundantly about them, and develop yourselves along the way.

Faith means setting goals and striving to achieve each one. If we view each goal or challenge as a mountain, faith is a process whereby we grow with every mountain climbed.

From Discussions on Youth, published in Japanese in March 1999.

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