A Lifestyle That Never Tires One
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Having a Theme and a Goal
I have heard that in today’s society, among people employed full-time and also those in part-time or temporary positions, there is an increase of their being forced to work under unusually harsh conditions. Overexertion of the body as well as of the mind can cause physical and mental disorder and may also become a hindrance to the ability to work. Such harsh working conditions must be improved. I think, however, that the degree of one’s fatigue and stress can be reduced, depending on how one thinks about them.
What this calls to mind first is the parable of the magic city. A leader (the Buddha) of a group on a perilous road that is seeking a precious treasure (true happiness) shows his fellow travelers (living beings) a conjured city (the magic city) when, along the way, they become tired and start to complain. He then encourages them by saying, “If you go as far as that city ahead, you will be able to rest easy.” Given this goal, the group rallies and heads for the conjured city from where, having recovered from their fatigue, they can be guided forward to the place of the treasure. This is one of the famous parables from the Lotus Sutra.
In work as well as in daily chores, if one only functions in a routine manner, the result may be only a sense of fatigue. However, just as the previously mentioned leader showed the traveling group a goal, what do you think about coming up with a theme or a goal or a target suitable to yourself in your work or activities? When one approaches one’s work with a theme such as “I will greet others with a smile,” “I will not make petty complaints,” or “I will always try to put others first,” then that work becomes a path toward self-development. With a goal, work can become a source of joy. I think we could say that having a theme, a goal, or a target is the power to transform fatigue and stress into energy.
The other day, I was reading a newspaper when the catchphrase “I like it so I never get tired of it” caught my eye. These words seem to fit the idea of doing one’s work with a theme.
However, everyone is not employed in jobs they like and there are all sorts of causes of fatigue, including spiritual exhaustion and a sense of futility from the state of one’s personal relationships and evaluations.
Previously, I have introduced the amusing Shingon dharani om nikoniko haratatsumaizoya svaha, which means, “Smile and do not lose your temper. May it be so.” When stress builds up or irritation makes you want to grumble or complain, the secret to changing your mood is take a deep breath and say, “Om nikoniko . . .” or repeat your own words that turn on your mental switch. To begin with, complaining increases stress and intensifies the degree of one’s fatigue. Therefore, first you should think, “I can train myself not to complain” and quieten your emotions, and in addition find something therein for which to be grateful. Depending on what you can grasp from the object of your complaint, your feeling of physical and mental fatigue should change. As a matter of fact, what you should be most grateful for is having received life in this world, and then you can only feel thankful for having been born.
Of course, when one is extremely tired, it is best to get some rest, but at that time, there is one thing that is important. Namely, do not spend time on things that are unnecessary and fruitless to think about.
When Shakyamuni was asked by a forest-dwelling god, “These forest-dwelling practitioners only take one meal a day, so how is it that their faces show such a healthy glow?” he replied, “They do not think with sadness about things that have passed and are over, and they do not fret over the future. They are only living ‘now,’ and that is why their faces show a healthy glow.” I think that being far-removed from troubles and worries, and cherishing the here and now is a way of life of which one will never grow tired.
“Do you not see / That even the flowers that will be scattered tomorrow / To their full might / Bloom for a while” (Takeko Kujo, a humanitarian and poet of early twentieth-century Japan). Without being shackled by anything, live now. In order to do so, sometimes it is good to savor a poem like this and let it enrich one’s mind. In this way, let us protect the health of our bodies and minds and get through this hot summer.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.