A Buddhability Guide to Get Our Money Right

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Life is expensive. A recent survey found that while 74% of Americans 18 and older have a monthly budget, 83% of those with a budget admit to regularly overspending it.

Why is it so hard to get our money right? “Keeping up with the Joneses” or spending beyond our means to keep up with our friends and neighbors is a very real social phenomenon. Most Americans understand wealth and poverty as relative values that exist in comparison to our peers instead of a static value.

We also now live in a “subscription economy,” where our monthly TV and music streaming subscriptions seem to lead the parade of dollars exiting our bank account. The average American reportedly spends $219 on subscription services each month. There are many subscription services whose sole job is to help us find and cancel unwanted subscriptions.

Perhaps we also struggle with money because we are still reeling from the aftershocks the COVID-19 pandemic caused to the world economy.

Buddhism teaches that faith equals daily life. In other words, we don’t practice Buddhism to escape our reality but instead to transform ourselves and win in all aspects of our daily lives including our finances.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo creates many types of positive results. Sometimes they are very immediate, conspicuous changes. Chanting also allows us to change our state of life over time, our deep-seated tendencies and attitudes.

Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda explains:

Suppose you spend all your money playing rather than working and are now destitute. Do you think someone giving you a large sum of money would contribute to your happiness in the long term? It would be like making superficial repairs to a crumbling building without addressing the root problem. To create something fine and solid, it would be better to build anew from the foundation up. The purpose of our Buddhist practice is to transform our lives on a fundamental level, not superficially. It enables us to develop a strong inner core and solidly accumulate indestructible good fortune.

There are two kinds of benefit that derive from faith in the Gohonzon: conspicuous and inconspicuous. Conspicuous benefit is the obvious, visible benefit of being protected or being quickly able to surmount a problem when it arises—be it an illness or a conflict in personal relationships.

Inconspicuous benefit, on the other hand, is less tangible. It is good fortune accumulated slowly but steadily, like the growth of a tree or the rising of the tide, which results in the forging of a rich and expansive state of life. We might not discern any change from day to day, but as the years pass, it will be clear that we’ve become happy, that we’ve grown as individuals. This is inconspicuous benefit.

When you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you will definitely gain the best result, regardless of whether that benefit is conspicuous or inconspicuous. No matter what happens, the important thing is to continue chanting. If you do so, you’ll become happy without fail. Even if things don’t work out the way you hoped or imagined, when you look back later, you’ll understand on a much more profound level that it was the best possible result. This is tremendous inconspicuous benefit.

Conspicuous benefit, for instance, might allow you to eat your fill today but leave you worrying about your next meal. As an example of inconspicuous benefit, on the other hand, you may have only a meager meal today, but you are moving steadily toward a life in which you will never have to worry about having enough to eat. The latter is a far more attractive prospect, I think, and is the essence of practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, pp. 128-129

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo allows us to transform any behavior or tendencies within that contribute to the “leaky roofs” in our finances. Like in those moments when we want to blow out our budget for some rare sneakers or a five-star vacation.

Determination to win helps us find the wisdom to balance our budget.

The Buddhist principle “earthly desires are enlightenment” explains that the Buddha’s enlightened wisdom can be found in the lives of ordinary people who are driven by their earthly desires. For example, if we have the desire to achieve financial freedom, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo calls forth the courage and wisdom or Buddhahood to achieve that goal.

Daisaku Ikeda explains:

With one dollar of belief, you can obtain but one dollar’s worth of wisdom, but if you summon forth $10,000 or $1 million worth of belief, the wisdom and power you can obtain will increase in like measure. Limitless belief gives rise to limitless wisdom.

My Dear Friends in America, fourth edition, p. 22

In other words, if we can call forth limitless belief in ourselves and make up our minds that we will be financially secure, we bring out incredible wisdom from our lives for how we can achieve that goal.

What could this look like in real life? We set aside a good amount of time to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and steel our determination to not spend beyond our means, then we take wise action. We research great budgeting apps! We set aside time to review our finances each week. We wisely save for that dream purchase instead of spending beyond our means in the short term. Our belief in ourselves and Buddhability sparks our inherent wisdom and we find a way to win financially.

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with a desire to live in financial freedom, we can fix the “leaky roof” in our budget and transform our lives in the process.

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