Passing on the Dharma within the Family
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Worshiping before the Focus of Devotion
Already, this year is more than half over. In describing the year’s guiding principle as we prepared to mark the seventieth anniversary of Rissho Kosei-kai’s founding, I noted that we would pledge to commit ourselves to dissemination of the teachings, bearing in our hearts gratitude for our salvation and developing our awareness of the wish (gansho) that motivates our being born into this world. In the last half of this year, also, I expect and hope that we will walk the bodhisattva way, one by one cultivating the fields of our hearts and minds.
At this time, installment of the focus of devotion in the home Buddhist altars of all members is making good progress. For all members to enshrine an image of the Eternal Original Buddha and worship before it daily is basic Buddhist practice. We could say that for Buddhists the ultimate purpose of life as a human being can be seen in our making offerings of food, water, and tea to the Buddha, kneeling and bowing before him, and taking refuge in him.
Taking refuge in the Original Buddha—who can be considered the source of all living beings—is not something that is limited only to Buddhists. Kneeling before gods and the Buddha and worshiping with a sense of awe and respect—in other words, offering our reverence—is for us to appreciate anew each day with feelings of gratitude and humility being caused to live as human beings surrounded
by unlimited and wonderful karmic connections.
It is important for people to remember this regardless of their religious faith. Otherwise they can never free themselves from a self-centered, narrow point of view, and will eventually face many sufferings, ranging from small troubles within their family to large matters that can involve questions of war and peace.
As shown by the phrase “All existence possesses the buddha-nature,” every living being is a manifestation of the
buddha-nature. So we too are part of this manifestation because we are caused to live by the Eternal Original Buddha.
For that reason, our worship can be considered the embodiment of our feelings of oneness with the gods and the Buddha.
From Parent to Children
The fact that parents worship daily before the Buddhist home altar serves as an important influence on their children’s character development. Through the example of their parents’ Buddhist practice the children sense what is to be appreciated and valued. They come to realize that instead of simply being alive, they are caused to live.
Shigeru Tenmyo, professor emeritus at Miyagi University, in one of his books told of a teacher who had asked him his date of birth in his younger days. “I was born on such day, in such month, in such year,” he replied, but the teacher scolded him by saying, “You
should have answered, ‘I was allowed to be born on such day and month and year.”
World peace begins right in our own homes. Adults should first be thankful toward their ancestors and their parents, talk about the preciousness of life, and worship before the Buddha. Guiding their children by such an example is of utmost importance. Passing on the Dharma from parents to children is achieved by communicating the importance of daily acts of Buddhist practice that may
seem taken for granted and confirming this among all members of the family.
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.