Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 7: Happiness for Both Ourselves and Others [7.2]

7.2 The Bodhisattva Way Enables Us to Benefit Both Ourselves and Others

The bodhisattva way teaches that our happiness is inextricably linked with serving others.

There are countless people in the world whose hearts have been wounded in some way. We need to extend a healing hand to such individuals. Through such efforts, we in fact heal ourselves.

When beset by some misfortune, people tend to think that no one could possibly be as unhappy or unlucky as they are. They feel sorry for themselves and become blind to everything but their own situation. They wallow in their suffering, feeling dissatisfied and hopeless, which only saps their life force further.

At such times, what gives someone the strength to go on living? It seems to me that it is human bonds—the desire to live for the sake of others. As long as we are wrapped up in ourselves, there is no happiness. When we courageously take action for others, the wellspring of our own life is replenished.

When we look after and care for others—that is, help others draw forth their life force—our own life force increases. When we help people expand their state of life, our state of life also expands. That is the wonderful thing about the bodhisattva way. The practice for benefiting others is one and the same with the practice for benefiting ourselves.

To only speak of benefiting others leads to arrogance. It conveys a sense of self-righteousness, as if we are somehow doing others a favor by “saving” them. Only when we recognize that our efforts on others’ behalf are also for our own sake will we be filled with humble appreciation for being able to develop our lives.

Our lives and the lives of others are ultimately inseparable. It is vital, therefore, that we follow the bodhisattva way.

From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 4, published in Japanese in December 1998.

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