Living in the Present Moment
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Tapping into Our Full Strength
It pains my heart to hear the news that, with no hint of
an early economic recovery in sight, the already high
suicide rate in Japan has been increasing this year. At
the same time, almost everyone feels anxious about
what the future holds. Some people may be ruefully
recalling bygone days. Yet, I think it is precisely at such
times as this that, rather than longing for the past or
being anxious about the future, we should be valuing
the present moment.
In discourses with his disciples, Shakyamuni spoke
of the length of human life as the time in which one
takes a breath. He even used the Sanskrit word kshana,
meaning an inconceivably short mind-moment, to
describe life. Since what occurs in t he present is all that
we ever have before our eyes and since it is only that
with which we human beings can actively engage, we
should be living in the present moment to the fullest. In
other words, e ach and every moment is part of our
Certainly, we can neither relive the past nor experience
the future before it arrives. When we clearly
recognize this, we are filled with the feeling of living
life fully by exercising care for the people around us and
devoting our hearts and minds to what is taking place in
front of us.
The kanji character for “thought” or “mindfulness”
is made up of the two characters for “now” and “heart,”
with the one for “heart” beneath the one for “now.” As
this combination of characters can suggest to us,
through a way of living in which we put all of our
mental and spiritual energy into the “now,” in other
words, leading a life full of mindfulness, we can
develop a future filled with hope, cheerfulness, and joy.
Cheerful and Warm
Let us look at the situation of newly hired office workers
who often have to perform minor errands for their senior
coworkers. Whether they complain about such demands
being unfair and perform them halfheartedly or accept that
such work is important for them right now, and undertake
it with enthusiasm, can make a great difference in their
development in their jobs. These new workers may later
be given the opportunity to take on a major responsibility
at work because they could be trusted to devote their best
efforts to performing even minor tasks.
Some reemployed veteran workers who return after an absence for child-rearing or other family reasons may be
given positions they feel are beneath them. If they change their way of looking at what they consider a boring job and
accept it with good grace, they will create a more pleasant
atmosphere for others as well as themselves. The reason
is that once they abandon their attachments and fixed ideas
about their former careers and concentrate on doing their
best at the job in front of them, what seems tedious and
unfulfilling can become more meaningful and something
to be performed with thankfulness. Freeing the mind from
previous attachments is the best way to lead a happy life. It allows us to lead lives of gratitude freely and joyfully.
In leading such a life, what matters most is being self-reliant.
For instance, the reason children can become so
enthusiastic at play that they lose all sense of time is that
they themselves are in change. No one is dictating to them.
Yet, it is important that we value the people around us.
When our relations with them are as cheerful and warm as
a sunshine-filled day we strive for the Buddha’s compassion
and wisdom to interact with them. Our lives then will
be enriched by as many such encounters as we experience.
Whether it is consideration for the people around us at our
workplace, or showing affection and respect for the members
of our families, as long as we are fully mindful of everyone we deal with face to face we can build harmonious
relationships between ourselves and others.
Scientists tell us that life on earth began some 3.8
billion years ago, so the present is but a brief instant in a
period that seems almost like eternity. But the present
actually is filled with precious moments that are the materials
of our lives. Since that is the case, we should let go
of past regrets, stop chasing after an illusory future, and
keep in mind the need to live in the “now” of every
moment so that we will lead our limited lives to the fullest.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.