Be Cheerful, Kind, and Warmhearted
New Year's Dharma Guidance by
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
We have ushered in a new year. I imagine each and every one of you dear members have special feelings in your hearts and new resolutions in your minds.
The great earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in March has left deep scars there. Almost 20,000 persons perished or are still unaccounted for. A great many of our dear members have lost loved ones. I again pray for the departed, and extend my condolences to all of the bereaved families.
Even today, some ten months after the earthquake and tsunami, many people are still living in evacuation shelters and temporary housing. They still worry about their future. The nuclear power plant accident has also had serious effects.
The Sutta Nipata says, “May all beings be happy and secure.” This is the mind and heart of Shakyamuni. To overcome the harsh reality, a long time will be needed. I earnestly hope, however, that we will continue to treasure each moment of our lives and add to the strength of the Sangha, or our good friends in the Dharma.
When I visited the disaster areas in March, I said that I wished for all of us to help each other as a family with our hearts united as one, strengthening our bonds as one family and working together. I urge you to continue this, joining all our members throughout the country in giving sustained support with the feeling hearts and pure minds of a family that is considerate of its parents, children, and siblings.
Japan is a country of frequent natural disasters, and we have been the victims of many major earthquakes and tsunamis throughout our history. Our ancestors have overcome the resulting hardships every time one of these has occurred, and they have built the Japan of today. We Japanese have the proverb “Nana korobi ya oki” (Falling seven times, getting up eight), which I think expresses the way and spirit of our ancestors. Getting up one time more than we fell represents the sense of moving forward, unbroken. We, too, must emulate those who came before us and exhibit creativity in overcoming the difficult conditions immediately in front of us, in order to build a society and country that is even better than before.
For the start of 2012, I would like to offer the following guidelines for members for practice of the faith.
Since 1998, the year of Rissho Kosei-kai’s sixtieth anniversary, our organization’s general goal has been “Rissho Kosei-kai cultivates the fields in the heart and mind of each and every person.”
Since our seventieth anniversary, in 2008, we have promoted the enshrinement of the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni at the Buddhist altar of every member household.
Through these historical steps we have established our basic form for taking refuge in the Three Treasures of Buddhism.
Let us walk the path we must walk as human beings, deepening our sense of compassion and consideration for others (cheerfully, kindly, and warmheartedly) in the spirit of Shakyamuni and of the Founder and Cofounder, which is so important to bringing great peace and harmony to the world.
Installing the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni in each member’s home is a necessary aim for a Buddhist organization. We take refuge in the Buddha as our focus of devotion; the Dharma, or the teachings of Shakyamuni; and the Sangha, or good friends in the Dharma, as the Three Treasures. It is important, through the establishment of this basic form, that each and every person elevate their self-awareness as Buddhists and apply themselves with even more self-confidence and pride.
From time immemorial our Japanese forefathers earnestly sought great peace and harmony in the world, and we have been entrusted with a duty to apply ourselves to making that a reality in the home, in our communities, in our country, and in the world.
At the root of this is the sense of compassion and consideration of others (cheerful, kind, warmhearted) that is the spirit of Shakyamuni and of the Founder and Cofounder.
We can say that cheerfulness symbolizes wisdom and that warmheartedness symbolizes mercy. Kindness represents true feelings of consideration for others. And we are taught that imparting wisdom to others is true compassion.
If one is to apply oneself to the daily life of faith, one must put great value on following the basic practices: studying the Dharma, as the practice to obtain wisdom; guiding others to the Way, helping other members practice the Way, participating in Dharma circles (hoza), and sharing spiritual experiences, as practices for imparting wisdom to others; and each and every one of us becoming a person who takes refuge in the Buddha and recites the sutra at the altar morning and evening.
What I would like to draw special attention to in regard to kindness is that bosses and other superiors must be considerate of their subordinates and juniors. I think that the circle of kindness expands when senior people set the example.
The reason that people have been born into this world is to improve their souls and reveal their buddha-natures. I hope that every one of us will deepen our sense of compassion and consideration of others and walk the path appropriate to human beings, namely the Buddha’s path, the path of the Great Way.
This year I am again including with my guidance some additional remarks, as follows.
Let us always remember to pray for those who perished in the great earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
There is a traditional Chinese poem that says, “If you are thinking a year ahead, sow grain. If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant trees. If you are thinking a lifetime ahead, develop people.”
When we think about the world’s future, these words make us keenly aware of the many problems of the world, such as the lack of food security, nuclear accidents, and the degradation of the environment. In Rissho Kosei-kai we can experience the sowing of grain, the planting of trees, and the cultivation of human resources. Let us choose to do these things at the levels of the individual, the chapter, the Dharma center, and the entire organization, and by so doing contribute to our communities, our country, and the world.
The “year ahead” in the Chinese poem would mean emergency relief and material aid for recovery from the earthquake and tsunami. “Ten years ahead” would mean restoring livelihoods and infrastructure in local communities, as well as disaster prevention. “A lifetime ahead” would mean the most important tasks of long-term community planning, nation building, and nurturing human resources and talents.
This approach touches on food security issues (how to assure the safe supply of necessary foods), energy issues such as nuclear power, environmental issues, and the like.
It is the nurturing of human resources above all else that will, in every way, be the foundation in building the future. In advancing this, it is crucial that in addition to academic education there be the religious and moral training that is essential for people.
With the beginning of this year, Rissho Kosei-kai will put its Eleventh Administrative Plan into effect. The main theme of the Plan is “The Gift of Life and the Power to Live: Let Us Be Cheerful, Kind, and Warmhearted People.”
In conjunction with the sixtieth anniversary of its founding, our organization unveiled its general goal of “cultivating the fields in the heart and mind of each and every person.” With this general goal as the basis, we promulgated our Basic Concepts, which indicate the path that we should be taking for the next twenty years, and our Administrative Plan embodies these. Our Eleventh Administrative Plan (2012–17), which will be implemented starting this year, can be thought of as an overall wrap-up of the twenty-year Basic Concepts, which began fourteen years ago.
“The Gift of Life and the Power to Live” means gratitude for the gift of life received from everything in heaven and earth, and using that gift to empower our lives in the service of bringing happiness and peace to others. Becoming “cheerful, kind, and warmhearted people” means encouraging fellow members in their daily lives to bathe in the sunlight of the cheerful, kind, and warmhearted spirits of Shakyamuni, the Founder, and Cofounder and welcome their spirits into their own hearts. As I look ahead to our forthcoming one hundredth anniversary, I wish for the steady fulfillment of this most important goal.
Last year, I observed the twentieth anniversary of my Inheritance of the Lamp of the Dharma. At the time of the Inheritance I said that I would like to achieve a true religious order that embodies the teachings of Shakyamuni. In keeping with our general goal of “cultivating the fields in the heart and mind of each and every person,” the faith of each of our members has been constantly renewed, and I am filled with deep emotion as I see what progress we have made in that direction. For this we must thank the Founder, the Cofounder, and the many elders who, if we compare our organization to a tree, sowed the seeds, put forth the buds, spread the roots, and grew the trunk. I am deeply grateful for that and for the support of all you members.
The experience of the great earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan has etched in our minds the importance of compassion and consideration for each and every person in our midst. At the same time, I have learned the necessity of looking at things in the long term. While making a practice of this broader view, I would like to share with you the goal of nurturing cheerful, kind, and warmhearted people.
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.