President Ikeda Guidance on Karma

Generally speaking, Traditional Buddhism (Pre-Lotus) regards karma as the property of the past.  Nichiren’s teachings explain karma as more of ‘a property’ of the present moment:

  1. -  “Karma is being formed at each moment in course of life’s perpetual motion. In the present instant also, new karma is being fashioned as it transforms karma from the past”. Ikeda and Wickramasinghe, Space and Eternal Life, page 119.

Freedom from the past:

                                        Present effects are due to karmic causes from the past.   However, future effects arise from the causes we make in the present. It is always the present that counts.

It is what we do in the present moment that decides our future; our past causes do not govern our future as well. Nichiren Buddhism emphasizes that no matter what kind of karmic causes we have made in the past, through the causes we make in the present we can achieve a brilliant future. 

-   “The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddhism of the True Cause, the Buddhism of the present and the future. We do not dwell on the past. We are always challenging ourselves from this present moment towards the future. Because we advance with this spirit, we will never be deadlocked.” Daily Encouragement, p. 306

Taking Responsibility:

                                               The concept of karma was not developed so that we would resign ourselves to hopeless sufferings. By correctly understanding the notion of karma, we automatically come to recognise that we are responsible for whatever problem we face in life, and that we ourselves must strive to overcome those problems. This recognition enables us to establish true independence”.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, p.71

Eternity of Life:    

                        “The state of mind with which we meet death will greatly influence the course of our lives over eternity. If one is unconcerned by how one dies, or if one dismisses any connection between this existence and the next, then there probably isn't any need to practice the Daishonin's Buddhism. But the truth is that life is eternal, that our existence continues even after we die. Moreover, during the latent stage of death before rebirth, we cannot change the essence of our lives; we cannot carry out a Buddhist practice. Only when we are alive as human beings can we practice Buddhism". 

Faith Into Action p.23 & 24.

The Three Karmic Causes: 

                                            “Buddhism, which is founded on the law of cause and effect, stresses the concept of karma. This principle explains that life at each moment is subject to the cumulative effects of causes made in the past.  What we do, what we say and what we think are all causes. And according to Buddhism, the moment we do something, say something or think something, an effect is registered in the depths of our being. Then, as our lives meet the right circumstances, the effect becomes apparent. Personality traits are strongly connected to our karma. The good news is that, unlike fate, our karma can be changed by causes we make from this moment forward. In fact, the practice of Buddhism is essentially the practice of continually changing our karma”. 7July 2011

Backward understanding of Karma:

                                                              To simply view your sufferings as ‘karma’ is backward-looking. We should have the attitude: ‘ These are sufferings I took on for the sake of my mission”.  The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Vol. 2 p. 208

Reforming our Destiny:

                                           “Nichiren Buddhism enables us to fundamentally reform our destiny. When we truly base ourselves on Buddhism's view of life's eternity, we realize that the first thing to change is how we live in the present. In Nichiren Buddhism, change arises from the depths of our being. Strong, pure vitality abundantly wells forth. The iron chains of destiny are cut, and our original identity, the fresh and robust world of Buddhahood, appears”. October 17, 2011


         ”Based on the Buddhist perspective of the eternity of life, we volunteered to be born in our current life-condition and chose to encounter the problems we have. If you can take this perspective, you should be able to overcome any difficulty with joy”. September 17, 2011


         “ If our lives are filled with joy, then our death will also be filled with joy.

And if our deaths are filled with joy, then our next lives will also be filled with joy”.

The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p.60-61

        “I believe that whether we can live a truly satisfying life to the end depends to a considerable extent on how we view death. Sadly, many older people are anxious and fearful about death. But, as a Buddhist, I find it helpful to compare the cycles of life and death to the daily rhythms of waking and sleeping. Just as we look forward to the rest sleep brings after the efforts and exertions of the day, death can be seen as a welcome period of rest and re-energizing in preparation for a new round of active life. And just as we enjoy the best sleep after a day in which we have done our very best, a calm and easy death can only follow a life lived to the fullest without any regrets”. 23 May 2011

“Our life is eternal, continuing on after death. It stretches on ahead of us infinitely into the future. The existence we are born into in our next lifetime will be defined by our inner state of life at the time of our death. That is where the importance of our Buddhist practice comes in”. SGI Newsletter No. 4211


             “Josei Toda explained the supreme benefit of faith as follows: "Attaining Buddhahood means achieving the state in which we are always reborn overflowing with abundant and powerful life force; we can take action to our heart's content based on a profound sense of mission; we can achieve all our goals; and we possess good fortune that no one can destroy." 13 October 2011

“If we attain the state of Buddhahood in this lifetime, that state will forever pervade our lives. Throughout the cycle of birth and death in each new lifetime we will be endowed with good health, wealth and intelligence along with a supportive and comfortable environment, leading a life that overflows with good fortune. Each of us will also possess a unique mission and be born in an appropriate form to fulfil it”.

(Ikeda: Faith into Action page 23)

Karma as a Mission:

                                   “Someone who is too exemplary from the outset cannot go among the people. To spread Buddhism we intentionally choose to be born as people who are poor or sick. Only if one has taste life’s bitterness can one lead people to happiness. To simply view your sufferings as ‘karma’ is backward-looking.  These sufferings I took for the sake of my mission. I vowed to overcome these problems through faith.

When we understand the principle of “deliberately creating the appropriate karma” our frame of mind is transformed. What we had previously viewed as destiny, we come to see as mission.... Therefore, we should all respect one another as noble beings each with a profound mission to fulfil”. 

Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Vol. 2 p. 209

The conviction that we will win no matter how trying the present times and definitely attain Buddhahood - this is the unshakable belief that transforms karma into mission. Courageous faith transforms hardship into joy.  Here we find the unwavering optimism  of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism”. SGI Newsletter 8319  -13 Sep. 2011

Voluntarily accepting negative karma (through one’s birth circumstances):

“The Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches that we have personally taken on sufferings of our own free will in order to show the immense beneficial power of the Gohonzon. As such, there is no problem we cannot overcome”. SGI Newsletter 7800 - 22 June 2009

”Our original essence is pure and undefiled, but we willingly take on negative karma, choosing to be born in difficult circumstances or with various physical or psychological challenges in order to give hope to others by triumphing over these difficulties. By showing proof of the inherent power of our humanity to overcome suffering, we open the way for others to do the same. Likewise, we are able to give real support to people who suffer from similar difficulties. In each new life, we again awaken to our original vow and joyfully embrace whatever challenges it presents us.” 
(Ref.: Lifespan and the Bodhisattva Vow

Transforming negative karma :

                                                           “Even difficult situations, the kind we can only ascribe to our negative karma, are precious, never-to-be-repeated opportunities to fulfill our mission. In that respect, those who understand the wisdom of the true entity of all phenomena can transform any kind of karma into a radiantly brilliant mission”.

Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Vol. 1 p 190

The importance of the present moment:

                                                        The important thing is right now - the present moment. Our present inner resolve, our determination, enables us to sever the bonds of karmic causality by the strength arising from within - and enter the sure path of happiness”.

The Importance of the Present Moment

Karma in Nichiren Buddhism

Transformation of Karma

How can karma survive death