In Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and in life, there is a deeper [absolute] happiness that is different from the more superficial [relative] kinds of happiness associated with things that we might enjoy but do not last like more money, a new car, a big house, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a high-paying job. Absolute happiness is a joyful feeling inside our lives that does not go away regardless of what problems or challenges we face in life. Part of this absolute happiness is accumulating what are called “treasures of the heart.” Nichiren Daishonin teaches us that in life there are many treasures.
More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!
Treasures of the storehouse signifies monetary wealth, while treasures of the body refer to physical health. Treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. Nichiren Daishonin is saying that what we have in life is not as important as the kind of person we are. Treasures of the heart mean what is really and truly deep inside of us. Our feeling of joy and freedom at being our self is another treasure of the heart. Treasures of the heart are all the people we love and care about in our lives – our beloved friends, family members, co-workers, and life partners. Our treasures of the heart are all the memories we have of the times we spent together in previous years and in all the years to come. Treasures of the heart is the sincerity we demonstrate in our interactions with other people. The importance of sincerity cannot be overstated.
A mind which attaches importance even to the slightest matters and which loves and treasure even seemingly insignificant things can profoundly move people even through a small action. It seems to me, however, that modern society has long allowed this spirit to pass into oblivion, leaving it far behind in the march of history.
– “The Poor Woman’s Lamp” SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, Living Buddhism, March 1, 2006 p. 14
Sincerity is key when forming relationships with other people from all walks of life. The preceding quote is taken from the Buddhist parable “The Poor Woman’s Lamp,” and demonstrates the importance of sincerity. “The Poor Woman’s Lamp” tells the story of an old woman in Shakyamuni’s time who was so poor she had to cut off her hair to sell for flax oil so she could make an offering to the Buddha. Ajatashatru, on the other hand, the wealthy King of India, had donated tens of thousands as much lamp oil as the old woman, but due to his own arrogance, he did not receive a prophecy of enlightenment from the Buddha. It is not the material worth of an offering but the spirit behind it that counts.
What “The Poor Woman’s Lamp” teaches us is, more than anything else, is the value of sincerity. It is true that her efforts were not impressive, and people preoccupied with mundane affairs might not have taken the slightest notice of the dedication she expressed in offering the small amount of oil. But Shakyamuni was indeed a man of penetrating insight. You can no more sever the ties of sincerity which bind human beings to one another in the depths of their lives than you can cut through water or air. Even when all other things wane and collapse into the whirlpool of life’s relentless difficulties, such sincerity will only glow all the more brilliantly. I cannot help but feel that, in the light of the lamp which the old woman offered, Shakyamuni saw the light of life which never fades away.
– “The Poor Woman’s Lamp” President Daisaku Ikeda, Living Buddhism, March 1 2006, p.14