“There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The sutra reads, “… where living beings enjoy themselves at ease.”1 How could this passage mean anything but the boundless joy of the Law? Surely you are included among the “living beings.” “Where” means Jambudvīpa, and Japan lies within Jambudvīpa. Could “enjoy themselves at ease” mean anything but that both our bodies and minds, lives and environments, are entities of three thousand realms in a single moment of life and Buddhas of limitless joy?2 There is no true happiness other than upholding faith in the Lotus Sutra. This is what is meant by “peace and security in their present existence and good circumstances in future existences.”3 Though worldly troubles may arise, never let them disturb you. No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies.
Drink sake only at home with your wife, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.”
In the letter, the Daishonin explains the nature of true happiness. It lies, he says, in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Suffering is unavoidable, he adds, encouraging Shijō Kingo to “regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.” The Daishonin emphasizes that this is the way to experience “the boundless joy of the Law,” or the state of Buddhahood.
With the opening sentence, Nichiren Daishonin conveys the theme and message of the letter. “For human beings”-for every living person-chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest happiness. Regardless of nationality, gender or economic status, whether famous or nameless, powerful or ordinary, anyone can find genuine happiness in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. In light of the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, everyone is equal.
The meaning of “chanting” in this passage is not limited to repeating a phrase again and again. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo encompasses two aspects: faith and practice. Practice itself is twofold-practice for oneself and for others. Both are founded on faith.
Faith means to believe that our lives and the fundamental Law of the universe are essentially one. All people can manifest the Law of Myohorenge-kyo and thereby attain Buddhahood. That is, faith is to believe we can become absolutely happy and wise in this lifetime through our practice of chanting to the Gohonzon.
Also, genuine faith seeks outward expression in actions for the happiness of all people, for kosen-rufu. With such faith, our chanting encompasses both practice for oneself and for others.
Sincere and earnest prayer matters most in chanting. Merely repeating the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo may bring some benefit, but without faith it will not bring true benefit the attainment of Buddhahood. Those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with correct faith and practice will dispel the fundamental darkness obscuring the Mystic Law in their lives. The Law will then function freely within them, expressing itself as the emergence of the life- condition of Buddhahood. This is what Nichiren means by true happiness.
The word translated here as true happiness literally means playing or enjoyment. This does not mean frivolous amusement or temporary pleasure, however, but a state of complete freedom and fulfillment, the ability to truly enjoy living.