Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 5:
Transforming Suffering into Joy [5.3]

5.3 “Changing Poison into Medicine”

According to the Buddhist principle “changing poison into medicine,” with strong faith, we can transform the poison of problems and difficulties into the medicine of happiness and victory.

Life inevitably involves victory and defeat. There may be times of sorrow and suffering. But Buddhism teaches that “earthly desires lead to enlightenment” and “the sufferings of life and death lead to nirvana.” The greater our problems and suffering, the greater the joy and happiness we can transform them into through our Buddhist practice.

We practice this Buddhism for our own sake. The purpose of our faith and practice is to live true to ourselves. It is to increase our good fortune and open the way to happiness. Since this is the case, if we are easily swayed by trifling matters, upbeat one minute and down the next, we cannot say that we are truly practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

In the realm of the Mystic Law, no matter what happens, we can, in time, positively transform all poison into medicine.

In fact, there is really no clear-cut dividing line between poison and medicine. The same substance can act as either a poison or a medicine, depending on the dosage and the life force of the individual who takes it. Some have even described medicine as “poison that saves lives.”

Similarly, there is no clear difference between what will function as poison or medicine when it comes to victory and defeat in life. For instance, if we triumph in the end, everything we experienced can be seen as medicine. On the other hand, if our lives end in defeat, then everything—even that which seemed to function as medicine along the way—becomes poison.

What do we mean by triumphing in the end? It means being victorious in faith. For this is our true victory as a human being—one that leads to our victory throughout the three existences of past, present, and future.

From a speech at a chapter leaders meeting, Tokyo, July 27, 1989.

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