Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 7: Happiness for Both Ourselves and Others [7.1]

7.1 “‘Joy’ Means That Oneself and Others Together Experience Joy”

Buddhism teaches that we should strive for the mutual happiness of ourselves and others, without sacrificing the interests of either. President Ikeda has consistently affirmed that happiness must be mutual and that we must not seek our happiness at the expense of others.

In this selection, referring to the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, President Ikeda explains how we should aim to live as Buddhists pursuing happiness for both ourselves and others based on compassion and wisdom.

Nichiren Daishonin declares: “‘Joy’ means that oneself and others together experience joy. . . . Both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion” (OTT, 146).

Both ourselves and others matter. Caring only about one’s own happiness is selfish. Claiming to care only about the happiness of others is hypocritical. Real “joy” lies in both ourselves and others becoming happy together.

Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda said: “Becoming happy yourself is no great challenge; it’s quite simple. But the essence of Nichiren Buddhism lies in helping others become happy, too.”1

The passage I just quoted from the Daishonin plainly states that true happiness means possessing both wisdom and compassion—in other words, the life state of Buddhahood. If one has wisdom but lacks compassion, one’s life will be closed and constricted. Such wisdom, then, is not genuine. To have compassion but lack wisdom or behave in a foolish manner is to be of no help to anyone, including oneself. And compassion that is incapable of helping anyone cannot be said to be genuine.

Only faith in the Mystic Law encompasses both wisdom and compassion. The Daishonin clearly states: “Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are expressing joy in the fact that they will inevitably become Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies”2 (OTT, 146). This in itself is “the greatest of all joys” (OTT, 212).

Mr. Toda maintained that “individual happiness and social prosperity must go hand in hand.” The individual happiness referred to here is not self-centered; rather, it means cultivating true humanity—developing into a person who possesses wisdom and compassion and helping others do the same.

The Lotus Sutra (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) has the power to actualize both individual happiness and social prosperity.

From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, published in Japanese in September 1999.

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, 1984), p. 378.
  • *2The three bodies: The three kinds of body a Buddha may possess. The three bodies are the Dharma body, the reward body, and the manifested body. The Dharma body is the fundamental truth, or Law, to which a Buddha is enlightened. The reward body is the wisdom to perceive the Law. And the manifested body is the compassionate actions the Buddha carries out to lead people to happiness.