The Mind of Faith
Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Living as a Human Being
When things do not go as we wish, we suffer from worrying and regretting. For example, when there are bad relations between a husband and wife or between a wife and her mother-in-law, that is a state of affairs in which each wants the other person to act in a certain way, but that is not what happens, isn’t that so? In other words, the cause of much worry and suffering is within one’s self.
However, by trying to change our self-centered thinking of wanting to make people and things be the way we wish they were, we will find that even if the environment and the conditions do not change, the worrying we did up to that time vanishes as if by magic. Instead, our changed thinking can even become the seeds of joy. When we who are one part of all things under the heavens and on the earth, the same natural realm as the animals and plants that are unable to worry like us, can free our minds from the selfish desires and dislike of others that are peculiar to human beings, our ill feelings will go away and we will be able to accept things the way they are and so pursue a life rid of unnecessary suffering.
Religion teaches and guides us to seek this way of freeing our minds and living as wise human beings. Putting this into practice demonstrates our faith, doesn’t it? However, there are many things that may not be fully understood in this way of faith. The other day, someone asked me, “What attitude should I have in order to transmit the Buddha’s teaching to people who are distrustful of religion and faith?”
I replied, “Is it not best to interact with them in a normal way, and not try too hard to transmit the teaching to them?” because having faith is the same as receiving the Buddha’s mind, the mind of compassion, through the practice of the Buddha Way, and to live as someone who shows consideration for others.
Therefore, if someone seeks your advice, I think it is good to say something to that person to put his or her mind at ease. There comes a time for every person who is suffering in some way, when it becomes impossible not to seek relief. At such a time, we should show consideration for such a person from the bottom of our hearts, and draw close to that individual.
Make Yourself an Example
Looking at things in this way, distrust and misunderstanding of matters of religion and faith could be either resolved or intensified, depending on the attitude toward life that we people of faith demonstrate. In the writings of Founder Nikkyo Niwano, this passage appears: “I want you to not forget that true dissemination work is preaching by making yourself an example,” and we certainly should try to preach the Dharma by making ourselves an example.
For instance, when you undertake volunteer duty such as cleaning up an area in your community, it is seen as a positive act even in the eyes of people who are skeptical of religion. Such acts can be called the practice of donating to society the mind of consideration. However, if such people detect a sense of self-righteousness and exclusiveness in the attitude that “it is only our Buddha that is precious” through the act you are undertaking, then instead of reducing their distance from an understanding of religion, their feelings of skepticism may only be increased even more. Incidentally, in being dedicated to achieving world peace, we must remind ourselves that any sign of self-righteousness can contribute to disturbing the harmony between religions and nations, for it is important that through the example we set we continue to develop the mind of consideration for others and of donation.
In relation to that, the following passage from the Eternal Life of the Tathagata chapter of the Lotus Sutra could be said to bring us back to the source of such faith: “Ever making this my thought: / ‘How can I make living beings / Obtain entry into the unsurpassable Way / And quickly accomplish embodiment as buddhas?’” How can I guide many people to the Buddha Way? My constant wish is to have everyone attain buddhahood, and to become genuinely happy—in this way, we vow to pursue the wish of the Buddha as our own wish, and therefore, being considerate of other people and honestly and humbly leading our daily lives can itself be said to be of great personal importance. Then, as our way of life becomes accepted by the people around us, if we happen to be able to guide people to the Buddha Way it can be considered a great merit of faith.
I think that this is what Founder Niwano, whose seventeenth annual memorial service we mark this October, was always striving to teach us.
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing
Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.