Setting Out Together Toward the World of the Dharma
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Shakyamuni left us the following words:
This is a summary of the Proclamation for Dissemination of the Way, in which Shakyamuni declared for the first time that he would set out to teach the Dharma for the sake of liberating living beings. When he spoke these words, Shakyamuni's breast must have been filled with enthusiasm from having realized the Truth and the joy of sharing the Dharma with others. That we can now look up to the Buddha's teachings as the guidepost for our lives is thanks to these first steps of Shakyamuni when he set out with enthusiasm and joy that were hard to
And now we too have reached the present moment, experiencing enthusiasm and joy from our encounters with the teachings of the Buddha. That we experienced such enthusiasm and joy was, in and of itself, liberation. For this reason we should, just like Shakyamuni, transform the joy of being liberated into the energy of dissemination, and share our enthusiasm and joy from having been emancipated through contact with the Buddha's teachings—isn't that really our most important mission?
Guided by Compassion
In Rissho Kosei-kai, we often say, "The person guided is the person who guides others." We assume, however, that the Buddha's teachings are not so simple that those who have found
The meaning of those words is that we should share our enthusiasm. In other words, it is important to share with others the joy of being liberated.
That we can say "I am grateful" or "I am happy" proves that we cannot help but share our enthusiasm and joy with other people, and therefore, especially in matters of faith, the honest expression of those emotions is the opportunity for liberation that calls forth enthusiasm anew. At the same time, when we witness the joy of others at being liberated, our own happiness increases. This is connected to the true nature of the human heart and mind, and leads us to accumulate the merits of guiding other people toward the world of the Dharma. In this way, through our encounters with others and our sharing of the Dharma, our consideration for other people grows deeper and we have many more opportunities to improve ourselves. In that regard, we could say that dissemination makes up our essential Buddhist practice.
While sharing the Dharma, some people discover within themselves a warm heart and mind full of consideration for other people. And some are able to reflect upon themselves and so learn to control their emotions when harsh words are directed toward them. Such experiences definitely prepare a person for the next encounter, and nourish the development of the heart and mind. When guiding others toward the Dharma and transmitting it to them, it is important to use the means appropriate to each person and to progress by the proper steps. The Lotus Sutra teaches us many things that actually are hints for doing this. Seriously pondering this matter, however, reveals that while there are various means and methods for achieving this, the most effective element in bringing people to the teaching is one's own personality.
One of the men guided to the teaching by Shakyamuni was Angulimala, a notorious highwayman who had murdered many travelers. Having heard of his evil deeds, Shakyamuni nevertheless detected in him a desire to seek the Way, and therefore gently admonished him. Upon hearing such profoundly compassionate words, Angulimala underwent a change of heart and mind. Shakyamuni then called out to him, "Come over here, practitioner." Having finally destroyed the roots of his misdeeds, Angulimala said, "I, who was always afraid, have received the great compassion of the Teacher and can now live happily."
Since Shakyamuni's dissemination began with his truly compassionate heart and mind, it follows that our guiding people must also stem from the deepcompassion in our own hearts and minds. As in the important words [that Zen master Dogen left us], "All living beings, without exception, are the buddha-nature," demonstrating that compassion is the true nature of human beings, and is inherent in the life that all of us share.
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.