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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
Phone: (323) 262-4430
eMail: info@rkina.org
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President's Message

Living Joyfully

Which Is More Enjoyable?

To bring up a topic from a little while ago, in late January–early February of this year, Japan had a series of very large snowfall that blanketed the whole country. The snow fell during the time of one of Rissho Kosei-kai’s annual observances, midwinter religious training (kanshugyo), in which members gather at the Great Sacred Hall in Tokyo or at local Dharma centers in the predawn darkness to recite the Threefold Lotus Sutra during the coldest time of the year. It seems that there were many members who were unable to make it to their Dharma centers. There was so much snow that at times it caused delays in the Tokyo transit system. At the time of the snowfall, someone made the following comment at the Great Sacred Hall.

“Why does it have to snow like this, just when I am going to the trouble of practicing midwinter religious training?”

Of course, it may be natural for people to grumble because the snow makes it difficult for them to leave home early in the morning and get to their Dharma centers by car, bus, or train.

On the other hand, someone else said, “I am glad that, thanks to the snow, I have been able to perform the midwinter religious training in the truest sense!”

The question that I want to ask all of you is this: Which person’s viewpoint do you think represents the more enjoyable way of life? I think that the second person will be declared the winner. The second person did not say anything particularly difficult. What is wonderful about the second point of view is this ability to see the changes in the natural world with humble eyes and accept them, just the way they are. Why is it, though, that merely accepting things humbly like this makes you feel as if you have thrown off the cold and the sleepiness for yourself and for the people around you?

I think that the difference is whether or not you are seeing things with right view.

snow storm in Japan

 

The Middle Way (Moderation) Is Important

We may be apt to think that the right view of Buddhism’s Eightfold Path is something we cannot easily have or that is attainable only by enlightened persons, because we feel overwhelmed by the weight of the word “right.” Some people might immediately reply that “seeing things from right view” means “doing the impossible,” but, as with the previously mentioned example of the snowy day, seeing the workings of the natural world for what they are—that is right view, isn’t it?

Right view also means seeing things by accepting whatever happens in a broadminded way—including what dissatisfies you or makes you angry when you see it with a wrong view or biased view, in other words, self-centered views—and, as a result, it puts your feelings at ease. It is certainly quite difficult to fully grasp such matters as the Buddha’s wisdom and the real aspect of all things, but a way of seeing things (wisdom) like the example of the snowy day must be already at work, naturally, in the course of our daily lives.

Recently, a man who was released from the hospital after heart surgery calmly said that, “Up until now, I was never grateful for the fact that my heart was beating. However, that is not something to take for granted.” When I heard this, I felt as if I were being taught anew what right view really means.

RKINA Pres. Nichiko Niwano

Without your willing it to do so, your heart goes on beating, without resting. When that man looked directly at this natural providence, his refreshed feelings erased the anxiety of illness. That he felt completely at ease could be perceived from his expression. I was taught anew that if we see, from the perspective of right view, the fact that we are alive here and now, then even sickness can become the object of our gratitude.

To see things in the light of the truths of this world—All things are impermanent; All things are devoid of separate self; All phenomena are characterized by suffering—indicates right view, the first component of the Eightfold Path, which teaches us the true way to eliminate suffering. This is the basis, and we could also call this the entirety, of living in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha.

Since Buddhism teaches us a way of life, namely the Middle Way, which is neither suffering from overindulgence in pleasure nor being restrained by asceticism or abstinence, our religious practice should therefore not be difficult. On this occasion, taking into consideration the meaning of the word “right,” I hope to continue learning the Eightfold Path for some time, together with all of you.


From Kosei, May 2018

 


Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.


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