Are Buddhists Allowed to Want Things?

(Photo above by Hiral Chavda / Pexels)

Can we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to manifest things? Is that even Buddhist? Aren’t Buddhists supposed to not desire things?

Early Buddhist teachings explain that we experience suffering because of our earthly desires—various cravings, attachments, illusions and destructive impulses.

Based on this premise, the logical solution to be happier would mean to get rid of all earthly desires. But it is not humanly possible to eliminate all desires.

For example, we have the desire to eat food and drink water. That’s a good thing. Or the desire to become happier… also important for our lives. Based on the early Buddhist teachings, then, people would have to wait for their lives to end to be rid of desires and to tap into their Buddhability.

The Lotus Sutra overturns these earlier teachings, focusing instead on the infinite possibilities of life and the joy of living in this world. This sutra teaches that desires are an integral part of life, and that they are one with and inseparable from enlightenment. This is because both desires and our Buddhability are the workings, or expressions, of life itself.

This sutra teaches that desires are an integral part of life, and that they are one with and inseparable from enlightenment.

So instead of trying to disregard or deny our desires and attachments, through Buddhist practice we use our desires or problems as fuel for tapping into our Buddhability.

The 13th–century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin states,

[Again, when Nichiren and his followers recite the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,] they are burning the firewood of earthly desires, summoning up the wisdom fire of bodhi or enlightenment.

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 11

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we awaken to and strengthen our Buddhability, thereby bringing forth the wisdom to create value from our desires and impediments, and liberate ourselves from the suffering caused by them. We change from ordinary people who are at the mercy of our desires into people who freely express the enlightened aspect of all things.

What’s more, when we practice this Buddhism, the nature of our desires also starts to change and extends to concern for and support of others. This transformation in our desires can be equated to an inner self-transformation, or what we call human revolution.

On this topic, the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda shares:

The Mystic Law [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] is the fundamental principle that allows us to draw forth the limitless power we inherently possess. It enables us to change earthly desires, or deluded impulses, into wisdom, just as a fire burns firewood to produce light. … Self-transformation—this is the main theme of Buddhism. Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching that actually transforms lives.

Lectures on “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” p. 128

As we continue to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can transform all problems and manifest our goals. All the while, strengthening ourselves and helping those around us.

Explore more Practice