Good Habits Help to Cultivate the Mind
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Finding a Rhythm in Our Way of Life
Following regular habits is the basis for maintaining good
mental and physical health. Busy modern people are apt to
have irregular eating and sleeping patterns. When we decide
to follow a schedule and keep to it, however, we find a
rhythm in our lives. Although we may be reluctant to keep
following the schedule at first, once we become accustomed
to the new rhythm, we come to enjoy keeping to it despite
One of our basic practices in Rissho Kosei-kai is chanting
the Lotus Sutra. Each morning, we devoutly place offerings
of food, drink, incense, and flowers before the image of
the Buddha and for our ancestors enshrined in the home
Buddhist altar, and perform sutra chanting. By beginning our
day with this pattern, the rhythm of our life becomes
balanced, and our minds and hearts naturally come into
Some people say they are too busy in the morning to
follow this schedule, but what is most important is that we
try to allow time for chanting the sutra.
Properly speaking, we should chant the Kyoten sutra
readings in their entirety, but if that is not possible, it is
enough that we chant just one chapter of them, or at the very
least bow our heads and place our palms together in reverence.
Although at first our chanting may be mechanical, in
time it will become a regular habit in which our minds are
deeply engaged. Then we are no longer the same
person―the way we see things and the way we think
changes. Once we have experienced this change, we deal
with things differently, and a natural change begins to take
place in our surroundings.
Three Regular Practices
This applies not only to the chanting of the sutra. When we
become accustomed to the rhythm of the good habits we have
acquired, our way of life completely changes.
Our three regular practices are to offer morning greetings
with a smile, to respond clearly when addressed, and to keep
our personal belongings in order. These are good habits that
help to make personal relations go more smoothly.
Some people may at first express doubts about making these practices into regular habits, but with repetition they
become second nature and, for example, we begin to greet
people more enthusiastically and enjoy doing so. And soon,
those around us begin to return our warmth and friendliness.
Making the Most of the Present
In a certain large Japanese corporation, all of the employees,
including the chief executive, are required to take turns
cleaning the restrooms. New employees generally were not
eager about taking part in the cleaning, but gradually came to
feel the joy of doing things wholeheartedly while scrubbing
the toilet bowls. That included their own job, of course, and
they later became able to feel grateful for even small things.
I have also heard that in manufacturing industry workplaces,
emphasizing the spirit of doing things in an orderly fashion leads to more effective management and increased
This has an effect similar to chanting the sutra, as I said
earlier, because in the process of forming good habits, we are
also cultivating our minds and hearts appropriately, and as a
result our way of thinking and our behavior are influenced.
In February, we mark the anniversary of Shakyamuni
Buddha’s entrance into nirvana. The final words Shakyamuni
left to us are:“All phenomena are always changing. Endeavor
to practice my teaching diligently.
These final words teach us who are sustained to live
through the Truth of Impermanence and the Dharma that we
should respect and treat with care the people and things we
see before us, and always value our own existence. As the
Buddha taught us, let us make a regular habit of regarding the
present moment as of utmost importance.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.