Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
At the heart of Buddhism lies the belief that each individual has limitless positive potential and the power to change his or her life for the better. Through their practice people can become more fulfilled and happier and also able to contribute more to the world. Buddhism teaches that a universal Law (dharma) underlies everything in the universe, and that all life is interconnected. It also holds that we are all ultimately responsible for determining the direction of our own lives. A change in our mind or heart can lead to a change in our external circumstances and affect those around us.
Nichiren, a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest, formulated the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a practice through which anyone can bring their life into harmony with the dharma or the greater life of the universe, thereby experiencing greater wisdom, courage, life force and compassion. Enlightenment conjures the image of people practicing austerities in the quest for extraordinary powers beyond the reach of ordinary people. However, Nichiren taught that enlightenment, or Buddhahood, is the fusion of our subjective wisdom with objective reality—a full understanding of the realities of this world. Enlightenment is not a fixed point we someday finally reach. Enlightenment means constant, daily challenge and the renewal of our determination to grow and positively impact the lives of those around us.