Words Connect Us with Others
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Gods and Buddhas Entrusted Words to Us
We humans are unique among all living beings, as we are the only ones to communicate with words. There is no denying that our being able to encounter the Buddha Dharma is thanks to the many people who have transmitted the Truth and the Dharma through words over the course of some 2,500 years.
Precisely because we have benefited from their efforts at transmission we can now lead lives worthy of human beings and follow the Buddha Way, but we usually take this for granted.
Broadening the topic a little, someone once said, about human beings having a heart and mind, “There is no denying that, even allowing for the theory of evolution, human beings were born from the original principle of the heavenly and the natural known in Japanese as tenchi shizen, and that it is possible to think of humans as its agents to reveal their hearts and minds.” This means that human beings are able to think about things and talk about their thoughts because the original principle of the heavenly and the natural, that is the gods and the buddhas, entrusts us with those thoughts and enables us to put them into words.
Buddhism teaches us that when each and every one of us awakens to our own wisdom and cultivates the heart and mind of compassion, we are able to pursue life with a true sense of purpose. If we really think about this, there is no greater use of the generous gift of being able to communicate with words than to see the true nature of things, which is wisdom, as well as to practice the compassion based upon that wisdom that brings peace of mind to other people. Because the use of words can lead us to wisdom, they are important tools of liberation.
For that reason, we should now take this opportunity to ponder our gratitude for words, as it is important that we employ this precious gift from the gods and the buddhas to show consideration to those around us. Doing so is, in and of itself, one way of transmitting the Dharma to them.
Words That Reach the Heart and Mind
We should not forget our gratitude for the gifts given to us human beings, including words. What we should do first of all, in order to show our thankfulness, is not to lose sight of the real importance of “self.”
In the past, I was profoundly impressed by the phrase, “The self is one’s portion of the natural world,” and in light of what I have mentioned above, for us human beings born of the original principle of the heavenly and the natural, this fact encourages us to realize that the self is only one tiny piece of the entire universe.
Once we realize that as human beings we are just a small fraction of the whole and that our lives are sustained by the gods and the buddhas, the words from our mouths become imbued with the heart and mind of gratitude, as we naturally say “thank you” or refuse to take credit by saying, “It’s all thanks to others.” When we make mistakes or have behaved rudely, we bow our heads and sincerely apologize by saying, “I’m truly sorry.” The exchange of such expressions back and forth makes social actions go smoothly, and human relationships become warm and gracious. It is such words of gratitude that connect human hearts and minds.
However, here I must add one more important point: it does not matter what kind of words you use, but rather what kind of “you” speaks those words. Frankly, what matters is whether your words match your actions. Whether what you say reaches the heart and mind of the other person depends on this. For words to inspire confidence in others depends upon the way of life of the person who speaks them.
Also, there is no one among us who can know everything about this world, and even if someone spent eternity trying to do so, it still would be impossible. Seen from the eyes of the Buddha, we are all novices who can attain but a little knowledge, so when we are talking with other people, we should never forget our humility.
From long ago in Japan, we have said that words have the power to bring happiness. And one way they do so is through our working to transmit the Truth and the Dharma that we hope will liberate as many people as possible from their worries and suffering.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.