Do You Think Positively or Negatively?
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
The Power to Move Forward
As people age, their bodies develop problems in one place or another. I, too, have experienced physical pain and the slight inconvenience that comes with it. No matter how much we want to escape from such reality, it is inevitable. At these times, what comes to mind are complaints about pain, suffering, inconvenience, and the desire to be healed and return to normal. In other words, we have negative thoughts toward our current state of affairs.
In addition to such physical problems, we tend to feel disappointed when things do not happen as we wish, and view situations negatively. For instance, rainfall is welcomed as a blessing by vegetable farmers, but the same rain is a cause of resentment by people who want to put their laundry out to dry or who want to enjoy outdoor activities. In other words, the functioning of our minds often reflects our personal circumstances.
However, such thoughts of dissatisfaction as “I don’t like that thing” or “Why has this happened to me?” have no bearing on reality. Why not distance yourself for a while from the emotional reaction of disliking something and try to look at it objectively, and then observe it positively? By broadening your thinking, you enrich your mind.
I have decided to accept my physical pain as a good experience that helps me become more considerate toward people who are similarly suffering. And if I am eventually cured, I will be able to feel more grateful than ever for leading a normal life without such pain. That is what I anticipate.
Sickness and injuries can be painful, and at times we may think they are unjust experiences. By accepting them positively, however, from the moment we do so we not only lessen the suffering and pain of the here and now, but also start to build up the energy to lead the rest of our lives to the fullest.
I mentioned above that rain may be seen as a blessing or may be the cause of resentment. This is an example of how we may view rainfall, which is a natural phenomenon, and it teaches us that when we look at something from different perspectives, we certainly can find an element that makes us feel grateful, no matter how trying or painful the situation may be. The reason we can do so is that nothing in the world is without purpose.
On the basis of the teaching of the reality of all existence, that is, that phenomena and all things are manifestations of the truth, the Buddhist scholar Kazuyoshi Kino (1922–2013) said, “We must positively accept that each and every thing itself embodies ultimate truth, whether it is the fact that people are born and that they die, or any other thing that happens in this world.”
In other words, there is nothing to do but accept that everything that we see, that we hear, and that we experience is, to refer to the expression of Mr. Kino, “positive, positive, absolutely positive.”
I said above that we certainly can find an element that makes us feel grateful, no matter how trying or painful the situation may be. And in this sense, not only are we able to find that element, but in fact, everything we experience is a gift that, no matter how difficult it may be to accept, enriches our lives and is therefore nothing else but something for which we should feel grateful and receive positively. It is only natural, of course, that depending on the individual and on the situation, a person may not be able to immediately accept what happens with gratitude.
This is similar to some people being able to show gratitude toward their parents from early on, while others only become aware of their parents’ feelings when they themselves become parents. So from one person to another, the time of gaining of awareness and the level of understanding can differ.
When we cannot accept something positively, let us try to concentrate on the point of self-reflection. When we cannot suppress the feeling of wanting to find faults with someone, we should ask ourselves, “Aren’t we forgetting about kindness?” When we cannot accept reality positively, then we should ask ourselves, “Aren’t we forgetting about honesty?” These are two important points, because when people look at things from the viewpoint of their own wishes, that is, their ego, they are apt to lose sight of kindness and honesty.
By looking at things positively, we can live broadmindedly and without unnecessary cares. And from that fact, it is clear which viewpoint, positive or negative, will bring us happiness.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.