With One’s Family, Enriching the Heart and Mind
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
The Home Is for Place of Peace of Mind and Support
It is a happy time when one’s immediate family along with relatives gather to celebrate a wedding or the arrival of a new year. When New Year’s comes, many of us can hardly wait until our whole family is together again.
In my family, too, since the time when Founder Nikkyo Niwano was still living, our relatives all gather on January 2, and with so many people together, our New Year’s celebrations could be expected to be very lively. At such times, the general atmosphere of closeness and relaxation is always something special, and I am sure that is the case in many other families.
The Japanese educator and thinker Masahiro Yasuoka (1898–1983) wrote in one of his books, “The family is a social unit that does not allow for division. It is a small world unto itself, of love and affection.” He clearly meant that it is necessary in nurturing young people to have them interact with immediate family, relatives, neighbors, and visitors in this small world of love and tender feelings, thereby giving them important social training. Many of us have frequent opportunities to take part in large gatherings during the holiday season, and these are important chances for people, as Yasuoka wrote, to enrich their minds and hearts, surrounded by their closest kin.
Yasuoka also wrote, “There is nothing better than a good home to let people relax and offer them support.” Surveys conducted in recent years have shown that the expected benefit many people have of their family is “peace of mind and a sense of fulfillment.”
Spiritual richness, peace of mind, a sense of fulfillment, and support—These are precisely what we can gain in a family that is a small world of love and affection. This is like the feeling of trust and security that a baby or small child feels from the warmth of a mother’s body, which some of us may remember from when our mothers carried us.
New Year’s gatherings have an important meaning, insofar as when family and relatives enjoy having conversations and renewing their contacts with each other at the beginning of the year, they provide sustenance for the hearts and minds of all of them.
Start by Being Considerate of Your Family
I have been told that in olden times, many husbands never said anything at home but to mention “food, bath, and sleep.” These days, I hear that conversations between couples, and between parents and children, are primarily related to money and things they need. Modern people, who are always busy, seem to prioritize their needs even in their conversations, which seems a little sad to me.
What sort of conversations and human contact will make a home a place of spiritual riches and peace of mind? I think the point lies in the seven types of nonmaterial donation in the family.
Of the seven types of nonmaterial donation—a friendly look, a cheerful face, kind words, volunteer work, consideration, offering someone a seat, and offering a place to rest—a cheerful face, a friendly look, and kind words are particularly important. A rich home life does not consist of surrounding ourselves with expensive objects and furnishings. A truly rich home life is one in which the parents smile at their children and grandchildren, and the children and grandchildren smile at their parents and grandparents, in other words, where consideration is shown when interacting with one another.
Then, such things as seniors at times tell about the importance of karmic connections and gratitude for being caused to live, and at the same time show an example of how to live, are also important means for family’s conversations. This kind of life exists in the daily practice of a family. For example, if you are a senior, you should be the first to take the initiative in respecting other persons, and always humbly say “thank you,” instead of admonishing them.
It is unfortunate that sometimes some people cannot talk with their families about work and other relationships under their current living conditions. However, as I have noted, we are all brothers and sisters linked through one great life. This means that everyone can be considered a member of the family and a relative.
Therefore, when all the members of your Dharma center should reach out with thoughtfulness to someone who feels lonely, I believe that the nourishment of their warm hearts and minds will spread through the entire community, although the situation is not quite the same as with one’s actual family.
For us as members of Rissho Kosei-kai, the home is the starting point for diligence. I hope you will spend the coming year being cheerful along with the members of your family, and developing richness of your heart and mind.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.