What is happiness? When will I achieve it? Who is the person who will “make me happy”? When will things be “good” so I can be happy? These questions are a constant reality of our lives. In the words of Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International, “We each move forward secure on our own earth, not the earth of others. Happiness is something we must create for ourselves. No one else can give it to us.”
Happiness is truly an inside job. But what is true happiness? When I first started practising Nichiren Buddhism in the Soka Gakkai, I didn’t know what it meant to be truly happy. I thought it existed only in favourable circumstances, good relationships, more fulfilling work, and financial security etc. But the 13th Century Buddhist revolutionary priest Nichiren Daishonin presented the people with the idea that the source of empowerment and joy lay deep within their own lives. ‘Happiness’, as understood by the Soka Gakkai, is all inclusive. So while striving for our own happiness we can actually open our hearts to the happiness of others. And while caring for the happiness of others, we enhance our own joy in a mutually inclusive way.
The fundamental point of the practice of Buddhism lies in our behaviour as human beings, in the sense of pride from embracing and respecting the dignity of each person’s life, each one “secure on their own earth”. Each individual life has the power to create value for themselves and others. And therefore this “value creation” itself becomes joy. Ultimately, the philosophy of Buddhism was to conquer suffering, not avoid it.
This is the “practice” of honing our inner lives to shift from a self-centred way of living to one that expands the unlimited capacity of our own lives. Happiness is a world where no one is left behind. This is true happiness.