Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
February 11,   2010
The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness*

by

Ryuho Okawa

An Excerpt:

The Principle of Happiness

 

Early Adulthood

     To begin, I would like to describe how I became involved in the world of religion. I was a university student in my twenties, without much interest in spiritual matters. In those days, however, when I was on a bus or a train, for some reason the word eternity would often appear in big white letters before my eyes. I didn't know why the word kept appearing to me, but it happened from time to time. Without any idea of what lay ahead, I would often say to my friends, "In the future I would like to pass on thoughts that will be handed down for thousands of years." I wasn't aware of why I was saying this, but I had a vague dream of becoming a writer, or at least of being a philosopher. Now I understand that, at that time, the stage was already set for my future. But as time passed, my dream started to waver. Although I was attracted to the concept of eternity, and the word eternity kept appearing in my mind, I was gradually influenced by my friends, whose aim was to achieve worldly success.

During my student days at the University of Tokyo, I read books on a wide range of subjects, rather than pursuing one field of study. I became interested in the laws that govern society, and unwittingly, I was further drawn to worldly success. Gradually, my wish to get ahead and succeed in the world became stronger and stronger. I thought I would be very happy if, as a result of diligent study, I could dedicate my life to a highly respected job. At that time I had two options: to stay in the academic world and become a scholar, perhaps specializing in political philosophy, or to achieve success outside academia. I continued to waver between these two paths, but as graduation approached and I saw friends start to put their abilities to the test in the larger world, I felt increasingly pulled in that direction. However, I still wanted to study and learn.

I majored in law and studied very diligently. In spite of my efforts, however, my dreams of worldly success were frustrated. At the time, I couldn't figure out why. My classmates seemed to have no trouble finding careers in their chosen fields. Most of the members of my study group succeeded in becoming diplomats and high-ranking public servants, and some entered the legal profession. As graduation neared, my goal was to enter one of these fields after finishing my studies. However, every time I scheduled an exam or job interview, something intervened; it was as if a wall would appear and block my path. I became confused and doubted whether I really should enter the world of business or public affairs.

However, one autumn day I received a phone call from a trading company, and before I knew it, I had accepted their offer. In those days I still wasn't sure what path to take, or in what direction to channel my aspirations. In fact, it's not surprising that I couldn't find a position that matched my ideals, because no profession would have been able to fulfill my yearning for eternity. I had been brought up in a rural area, but ironically, I started to work for a company involved in international trade and was immediately sent to New York City. I found myself in a world completely opposite that of Buddhist or Christian seekers of Truth. It was a dog-eat-dog world where people were chasing numbers, day in and day out.

First thing in the morning, I went to the office a couple of hours before the other employees to read the overseas information sent by Telex (which often amounted to more than thirty feet of paper), analyze it, and consider the day's strategy as quickly as possible. Coffee cup in hand, I scanned the newspapers for the latest economic and financial information, trying to unearth useful clues to trends and critical factors that no one else had yet discovered. That was my work in the trading company.

The Path to the Truth

     On March 23, 1981, I quite suddenly began to receive the heavenly revelations that eventually would lead to a decisive turning point in my life. The first messages, which came from the spirits of the Japanese Buddhist teachers Nikko (1246-1333) and Nichiren (1222-1282), came as a shock, as if I had been pierced by a shaft of light. The revelation from heaven disclosed that my life was completely on the wrong track. However, I had to hold my life together. After receiving revelations from the heavenly world, I felt I would not be able to continue living an ordinary life. Yet it was impossible to live on alms, as monks used to do, so I sought somehow to balance my business career and my quest for eternal Truth. Over the next four or five years I continued seeking the Truth while still working in the company. But my spiritual seeking occupied less than ten percent of my time. At that point, although I was continuously receiving spiritual messages, I was still uncertain as to what lay ahead, so I decided not to make any dramatic changes in my life until I had a clear vision of my future course. In any case, I was young and not experienced enough to communicate my extraordinary discoveries to other people.

I thought, "The spiritual phenomena that I am experiencing must be real, but if I start to teach people now, I will surely fail. People will think I'm out of my mind. For now, I just need to be patient and constantly strive to learn, so as to compensate for my lack of experience." So I decided to wait patiently until I gained the confidence to teach people the Truth that was being revealed to me. I thought I should wait until the time was ripe, believing that before long the moment would surely come to make a move.

I continued to accumulate many kinds of spiritual experiences. Finally, after returning to Japan (having turned down a significant promotion in New York), eventually giving up the business world and undertaking a prolonged retreat, I published a number of books of spiritual messages, and was amazed that they became bestsellers in Japan. But I had also received hundreds of other communications that I didn't publish at that time. I have had contact with hundreds of high spirits. For my first book, The Spiritual Messages of Nichiren, I spent four years accumulating data, which means that in addition to what appeared in that book, there were one hundred times that number of additional messages. Hence, that book had a remarkably solid foundation of experience and received wisdom. I was determined that without such a foundation, I would not make any move forward. I also realized that Nichiren was only an initial guide, and that beyond him were four or five hundred high spirits who were ready to support me.

Three or four months after my first spiritual communications, I started to receive messages from Jesus Christ. However, instead of conveying these messages immediately, I spent some time confirming their authenticity. In fact it was at least another three years before I finally comfirmed that the messages from Nichiren were genuine.

The Responsibility of a Religious Leader

     There are many newly established religious organizations in these tumultuous times, and most of the leaders of these groups started preaching as soon as they had unusual spiritual experiences. However, many do not seem to realize how great a religious leader's responsibility is. A simple mistake can mislead millions of people, not only in this age, but also in future generations. Such damage cannot be corrected easily.

Spiritual contact with many deceased religious leaders has led me to be extremely cautious, which is why I refrained from taking action until I could confirm with certainty the authenticity of the revelations I'd received from Nichiren. For more than four years his messages were coherent and his character was consistent. The messages were so logical and inspiring that the smartest people on earth could not hope to equal them.

On the other hand, spirits from hell are inconsistent. No matter how fervent their efforts, the inconsistencies in what they say are soon revealed. Ordinary damned spirits are straightforward; they only complain of their pain. However, Satan and his demons are very experienced and quite shrewd. They boast of their religious knowledge regarding, for example, karma, or reincarnation. They may even send messages, such as, "Save people. I'm conveying God's words to you, so you must spread these messages to the people. Publish my messages as a book and deliver it to each and every house." Even if you hear them say things like this, you need to be cautious. Spiritual intelligence, or knowledge of the Truth, is essential in order to unearth these spirits' real intentions. There may be malicious spirits who have strong psychic powers or willpower, but they do not have a systematic knowledge of universal Truth, because there is no place in hell to learn such truths.

However, if you humbly study not only Buddhism but also a variety of religions, such as Christianity, Shintoism, and Taoism; and if you study morality, philosophy, and science as well, your deepened understanding enables you to grasp the golden thread that runs through all thought and science, and recognize the inconsistencies in what demons say. In contrast, those who believe exclusively in, for example, esoteric Buddhism or a particular sect of Christianity, keeping their eyes shut tight against other ideas, can easily be deluded by a malicious spirit, one who is an expert in that particular belief. You may come across these sorts of believers in certain Christian sects. I myself have been accosted by such people.

One day, when I came out of a subway station, a woman from a Christian sect approached me and asked, "Could you spare me a moment?" She didn't give me a chance to refuse, but continued, "You seem to be in trouble." Of course I was in trouble, wondering how I could escape from her. She went on, "Perhaps you are possessed by some bad spirit. I can purify you if you can spare a couple of minutes." I declined to be purified on the street. Then she said, "Why don't we move somewhere quieter?" I did my best to refuse her offer. But she was relentless, insisting that she had to save as many lambs as possible. Finally, I was forced to make an excuse in order to escape.

Having observed new religions and seen their founders in the afterlife, I strongly resolved not to undertake the path of religion unless I could do so with total conviction. Normally, no one would wait six years after receiving messages from Nichiren or Jesus Christ. Usually people who have such experiences start spreading the word immediately, but I did not. I decided that even if it took years, I wouldn't take any steps to appear in public until I could positively confirm that the spiritual messages I'd received really were from high spirits. Happy Science has been prudent and careful in its activities.

I started out very modestly, wanting to build a firm foundation before presenting my own teachings. My books of spiritual messages represent only a tiny portion of all the knowledge I have acquired. They are selected messages that I have analyzed and confirmed to be true. Those who join Happy Science are required to cultivate Right Mind daily, but some quickly forget this necessity, even if they were inspired at the beginning. However, for years I have continued cultivating Right Mind daily. Otherwise it is impossible to communicate with high spirits. You must attain the same vibration as high spirits if you want to communicate with them. This is the law of the universe, and there are no exceptions.

What Is a Prophet?

     Prophets are different from ordinary spiritual mediums. While mediums hear the words of the spirits of ordinary people who have passed away, prophets can hear the words of high spirits. They do not simply predict what is going to happen; they convey the words and will of God.

One example is Moses, who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. Moses could hear the voices of divine spirits of the ninth dimension because he was a prophet. It was his mission to convey the words of these divine spirits.

Another prophet, Elijah, who lived nearly three thousand years ago, challenged five hundred priests of Baal in order to show them the error of their belief that Baal would grant people whatever they wished for. Their worship of the storm-god Baal, also known as the god of fertility, had been unable to reverse the drought prophesied by Elijah. The prophet said, "You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire -- he is God" (1 Kings 18:24).

The Mount Carmel confrontation started early in the morning. The pagan priests laid a sacrifice on the altar and prayed to Baal to ignite it. From morning till noon they prayed to their god, but there was no answer, no fire from heaven. Midday passed and they began to slash themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom. Covered in blood, they danced and continued praying aloud, but still no fire appeared. On seeing this, Elijah began to mock and taunt them. He called out to his god, Yahweh, and no sooner did he begin praying than a fire from heaven roared down, setting his altar ablaze and consuming his sacrifice. Shortly thereafter, rain fell for the first time in three years.

More recently, Jesus Christ was sent from heaven. When Jesus was asked by one of his disciples, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us" (John 14:8), he answered, "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work" (John 14:10). The truth was that great divine spirits came down and spoke through Jesus. Divine spirits of the ninth dimension preached through Jesus, or, rather, they inspired him when he preached. That is why Jesus used to say, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14:11). Jesus was conveying the words of these divine spirits.

Mohammed (570 - 632 CE) was a trader and desert camel driver who became a prophet. At the age of forty, while meditating in a cave, Mohammed heard a loud voice say to him, "Mohammed, I am the god, Allah." Although initially frightened, Mohammed came to realize the significance of this spiritual experience. He received numerous revelations from heaven, and these divine messages are the basis of the Koran, the teachings of Islam. Mohammed listened attentively and memorized the messages and later repeated them to his followers, who scribed them on parchment, bones, or whatever was handy. (See chapter 5 of The Golden Laws.)

Thus, throughout history, divine spirits have come to Earth as prophets to convey God's words.

First Learn, Then Teach

     At Happy Science we place great importance on knowledge, because without it, one cannot distinguish right from wrong. This is not the sort of knowledge needed for school exams, but knowledge of spiritual Truth. If you examine existing religious teachings and philosophies against the knowledge of the Truth found in our books, you will find some inconsistencies. In other words, our books contain certain tacit criticisms.

Knowledge, as we know, is power. So for the first step, I would like you to acquire knowledge of the Truth, for knowledge is very important. When you read the books of the Truth, please don't be satisfied with reading a book just once; check and see whether you have really assimilated what you've read.

If you want to deepen your academic studies, there are many teachers, but there is nowhere to check whether or not your understanding of the Truth is correct. Our intention is to convey the Truth throughout the world, but at the present time, I place the utmost importance on making our foundation solid. Our basic strategy is first strengthening the inside, then the outside; building the foundation and then the pillars. The correct order is exploring the Truth, studying it, and conveying it to others.

Just as I spent six years creating the foundations of Happy Science, first study the Truth thoroughly. Consider carefully what you want to convey. As Jesus Christ said, "If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit" (Matthew 15:14). You cannot teach others what you don't understand. New religions often create problems, because those who have not yet attained true spiritual wisdom try to lead other people and draw them into their organization. It's wonderful to talk with someone who has a good personality, possesses vast spiritual knowledge, and has an understanding of the Truth. But usually this is not the case, so followers try to convert others to their religion by force, making everyone feel uncomfortable.

To avoid similar problems, it's better to spend some time exploring the Truth and studying it before we convey it to others. This is why I kept our organization to a study group for the first couple of years. We did not yet have any lecturers to teach newcomers, and an expansion of membership at that stage would only have given rise to confusion. So in the first few years, I cultivated people who had enough knowledge of the Truth, lecturers who could teach others and who would become the core of our missionary effort. Now, I have built the foundations for teaching the Laws, so before you think of teaching anything, first please study. To explain what I am saying now in Buddhist terms, Mahayana can only start after Theravada has been established. Only after you have attained enlightenment can you save others. When people start doing the reverse of what I am saying, there can be tragic consequences. So first find happiness for yourself before trying to make others happy.

Happy Science started its activities as a kind of Theravada group. But now, I would like to disseminate the Truth all over the world with the inner foundations firmly established. What did you learn from the teachings of Happy Science? Unless you can answer this question, you cannot teach people the Truth.

The Fourfold Path to True Happiness

     Finally, I would like to address the main theme of this lecture, the principles of happiness, which are unique to Happy Science. There are numerous ways to become happy, but the kind of happiness I am talking about is not the sort you can enjoy only in this world. It is a joy that carries over from this world to the next. We're exploring principles of happiness that apply to the past, the present, and the future. The starting point of these principles is willingness to explore Right Mind. Every individual has a diamond within, and this pure diamond represents Right Mind. You may think that highly developed spirits are better than lower-level spirits, for example, that Tathagatas of the eighth dimension are greater than Bodhisattvas of the seventh, and Bodhisattvas are better than the spirits in the Light Realm of the sixth dimension in the other world.

However, people should not be judged by their spiritual level alone. The diamond within everyone is essentially the same, the only difference being in the level of refinement and the brilliance of the diamond, which is the result of numerous incarnations. Those who make the effort to polish the diamond within become angels of light. So if you continue to refine your inner diamond, it will surely shine. This is true for everyone.

However, no one can become a Tathagata instantly. To make your diamond shine brightly, you must put forth constant and tireless efforts. These efforts are exactly the same as the exploration of Right Mind; this is the spiritual discipline that allows you to discover your true nature. Through daily effort to explore Right Mind, you will enter the next stage, in which you seek true happiness.

Love

     The first principle of happiness is love. This love is not the kind of love that you expect to receive from others. The love that I teach at Happy Science is love that gives.3 The true nature of love that gives is based on awakening to the fact that all human beings are children of God and originate in him, and that you are essentially one with others. Even if you seem to have a completely different personality from anyone around you, your true nature is essentially the same as the true nature of everyone else. This is the basis of true love. It is only because you think you are separate from other people that friction and discord arise. Once we have awakened to the fact that essentially we are all one, that we all originate from God and are all his children, we naturally come to love one another. We may have different personalities, but each of us is expected to realize our common spiritual essence while valuing our individuality.

What exactly does it mean to love others? It means wishing for the good of others, and wishing to nurture others without expecting anything in return. It is a selfless love, detached from personal desire. Because your essence and the essence of others is the same, you are required to love others just as you love yourself. It is easy to love ourselves; it's not something we need to be taught. But unfortunately, once we have been born into a physical body and experience ourselves as separate and distinct, we forget to love others. This is why we need to learn to practice love that gives.

The teaching of love sounds very Christian, but love that gives is the same as compassion, which is the basis of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. Translated into modern terms, Shakyamuni taught, "First, think of giving love." This was the meaning of his teachings on compassion. Love, therefore, is the first principle of happiness.

Wisdom

     The second principle of happiness is wisdom. As I mentioned before, it is important to have a correct knowledge of spiritual Truth. Without this knowledge of Truth, human beings cannot be free in the truest sense. I feel truly free because I am confident in my correct knowledge of the Truth. Some religions don't understand this concept. Take, for example, Christian missionaries who come to Japan. In their zeal to convert and save people, they insist, "You must throw away your Buddhist altar and convert to Christianity. You cannot enter heaven unless you abandon Buddhism." These missionaries may be pure in heart and dedicated, but they are unaware of the Truth. They believe that unless people abandon their faith in "heretical" Buddhism, they cannot go to heaven. They feel relieved to see people converting to Christianity, confident that they now will be able to enter heaven.

High spirits in heaven feel unhappy when they see this. Many dedicated religious people believe that only their particular brand of religion can save people, because they don't know that Truth can also be found in other religions. Such confusion is very sad. To avoid this, you need to have correct knowledge of the Truth. This is the real meaning of the phrase "The Truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

Self-Reflection

     The third principle of happiness is self-reflection, which is closely related to the cultivation of Right Mind. We are essentially all children of God with brilliantly shining souls. However, just as a diamond accumulates dirt if it is neglected, our souls inevitably collect dust and grime as we live in this world. Our life mission is to refine the soul.

Of course, there may be help from an outside power; it's like getting help from a specialist, and sometimes we need that help. But instead of doing nothing while waiting for help, we need to get busy polishing our own diamond. If we do not refine ourselves, what is the meaning of practicing spirituality?

During the course of your life, mistakes sometimes occur. If you realize you've made a mistake, who can correct it except you? Although someone else could wash your body, only you can cleanse your soul. Self-Reflection is based on personal power; it helps us to see what needs to be polished. Start by reflecting on your past thoughts and deeds. There's no point in gold plating rusty metal. If there is rust beneath, the shiny surface will soon peel away.

The teaching of self-reflection is the path to the level of Arhat, the upper realm of the sixth dimension. Arhat is the preparatory stage for becoming an angel of light, a Bodhisattva. Before entering this gateway to the level of Bodhisattva, it is essential to follow the path of self-reflection. You must endeavor to remove the "rust" from your mind, allowing a spiritual aura, or halo, to emanate from you. Aim first for the level of Arhat, a level we all can reach in this lifetime. Although everyone has accumulated karma, or rust on the soul from past incarnations, and although we are all going through different stages of spiritual development, everyone -- without exception -- can attain the level of Arhat. It is much more difficult to advance to the stages beyond this, but through spiritual refinement you will certainly be able to develop a spiritual aura and become an Arhat. This is the true purpose of practicing self-reflection. If we produce one thousand Arhats in every country, their work as politicians, teachers, and business leaders will exert a great influence on the people around them, and society will eventually change. One Arhat can influence fifty or even a hundred people, so if there are one thousand Arhats, about one hundred thousand people will gradually change, and those one hundred thousand will change another million, and so on. I believe this is the right way to spread the Truth.

Progress

     Self-reflection precedes the fourth principle of happiness: progress. If people seek progress without the practice of self-reflection, they will most likely face difficulties before they attain success. One can become an Arhat when one reaches a certain level of enlightenment. When people reach the next level of practicing loving and saving others, they advance to the level of Bodhisattva of the seventh dimension. Bodhisattvas then proceed to the Tathagata Realm, where there is no darkness, no evil or shadow, only light.

These steps clearly show that the dualism of good and evil does not conflict with the idea that only light exists. It is simply a question of different stages. Most people first need to practice self-reflection in the world of duality, and once they have finished cleansing their souls, they can enter the world where only light exists. It is an undeniable fact that there are distinct levels in the spirit world, and one must progress from one stage to the next. The spirits in the fourth dimension cannot leap straight to the eighth dimension; they first need to attain mastery of the fifth dimension. The spirits in the fifth dimension must first aim to go to the sixth dimension, then to the Bodhisattva Realm of the seventh, then to the Tathagata Realm of the eighth dimension. This is how progress can be achieved on the path of self-reflection; without the feeling of making progress, you cannot feel truly happy.

The last principle of happiness is progress: the development of the self, of others, and of society. The ultimate goal is to create a utopia, an ideal world on earth. The four principles of happiness, then, are love, wisdom, self-reflection, and progress. This is the modern Fourfold Path that will lead you to true happiness. This is the first gateway to the Theravada path that I teach. There will be further steps, but as the first step, I would like you to explore the Fourfold Path of love, wisdom, self-reflection, and progress. I'm sure that you will develop your own unique, true happiness.

 

*This excerpt from The Science of Happiness is reprinted by permission of the publisher, Destiny Books, Copyright C 2009, All Rights Reserved

 

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