Daily Activities Are Practice of Our Faith
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
One’s Life Expresses One’s Faith
For us lay Buddhists, our daily lives are the occa-sion to learn and practice the Buddha’s teachings. Responding cheerfully when someone speaks to us, greeting the people we meet, and showing kindness and consideration toward others… In order to become able to do these things naturally, at any time, in any place, nothing is better than learning from the Buddha’s teachings.
We look back on ourselves through offering sutra recitation, participating in hoza counseling sessions, introducing others to the Dharma, and giving fellow members guidance. These practices enable us to become considerate of our family members and other people and offer warmhearted words to them. As a result, we can pass from one day to the next cheerfully and full of energy, and that is a great benefit of our faith.
When we hear the phrase, “Learn and practice the Buddha’s teachings,” we are apt to think of learning and practice as separate things. The Japa-nese word for “learn,” however, shares the same root as the words for “emulate” or “follow.” Just as a site where people and cars come and go is a road, where learning and practice come together is the Buddha Way.
Shakyamuni preached, “No matter how many useful things someone says, if he does not put them into practice, he is negligent.” Zen master Shido Bunan (1603–76) explained this succinctly: “Do not become confused about the word ‘way,’ just understand the actions you are undertaking from morning until night.”
When I leave the house in the morning, my wife always sees me off with a cheerful, “Have a good day.” Her voice gives me encouragement, and I leave home feeling good. Such snapshots of daily life, like one’s behavior and conversation from one moment to the next, can be the practice of the teach-ings, and the power they give us is the real value of the Buddha’s teachings, which is finding joy in faith.
Awareness of Being Caused to Live
We cannot always pass from one day to the next with our hearts calm and still, however. Sometimes our feelings cause us to behave emotionally, which often leads to suffering.
I have said many times that it is important to know the Truth and the Dharma. This is because, although we are apt to be swayed by our emotions, awareness of the Truth allows us to see things as they really are and remain calm and collected.
The teachings of the impermanence of all things and of dependent origination demonstrate that no one lives by his or her power alone, and that we exist here and now because our lives are supported by all things.
Knowing this, in other words being aware thatwe are caused to live, we cannot help but feel grate-ful toward everything in this world. And that feel-ing of gratitude is expressed with regular words of thanks and a pleasant demeanor.
When our words and deeds bring harmony to our interactions with other people, they are certain to nurture friendly ties. The possibility of our getting along better with those with whom we have been in conflict also can increase. When compli-cated human relations become harmonious, we will feel at ease. Being aware of the Truth and the prac-tice of being grateful for it bring with them the dissipation of suffering over and worrying about problems in daily life.
Incidentally, regarding our bodhisattva practice, as the members know the Six Paramitas are dona-tion, keeping the precepts, perseverance, diligent effort, meditation, and wisdom. When we consider only these words of the Six Paramitas, meditationand wisdom especially can seem to be hard to con-nect to practice. Simply put, however, wisdom means the awareness of being caused to live, and because this awareness produces the mental state of living tranquilly and gratefully, we could say that these two are the practices that form the very foundation of our lives.
In terms of daily life, let us imagine that there are some people who happen to feel happy and grateful for being alive when preparing breakfast in the kitchen in the morning. People who can pass each day in such a state of mind are none other than teachers of the Dharma who are bearing witness to being liberated. This perspective is the starting point for being able to introduce others to the Dharma.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.