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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Living in the Present Moment

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

President Nichiko NiwanoTapping into Our Full Strength

It pains my heart to hear the news that, with no hint of an early economic recovery in sight, the already high suicide rate in Japan has been increasing this year. At the same time, almost everyone feels anxious about what the future holds. Some people may be ruefully recalling bygone days. Yet, I think it is precisely at such times as this that, rather than longing for the past or being anxious about the future, we should be valuing the present moment.

In discourses with his disciples, Shakyamuni spoke of the length of human life as the time in which one takes a breath. He even used the Sanskrit word kshana, meaning an inconceivably short mind-moment, to describe life. Since what occurs in t he present is all that we ever have before our eyes and since it is only that with which we human beings can actively engage, we
should be living in the present moment to the fullest. In other words, e ach and every moment is part of our actual lives.

Certainly, we can neither relive the past nor experience the future before it arrives. When we clearly recognize this, we are filled with the feeling of living life fully by exercising care for the people around us and devoting our hearts and minds to what is taking place in front of us.

The kanji character for “thought” or “mindfulness” is made up of the two characters for “now” and “heart,” with the one for “heart” beneath the one for “now.” As this combination of characters can suggest to us, through a way of living in which we put all of our mental and spiritual energy into the “now,” in other words, leading a life full of mindfulness, we can
develop a future filled with hope, cheerfulness, and joy.

Cheerful and Warm

Let us look at the situation of newly hired office workers who often have to perform minor errands for their senior coworkers. Whether they complain about such demands being unfair and perform them halfheartedly or accept that such work is important for them right now, and undertake it with enthusiasm, can make a great difference in their development in their jobs. These new workers may later be given the opportunity to take on a major responsibility at work because they could be trusted to devote their best efforts to performing even minor tasks.

Some reemployed veteran workers who return after an absence for child-rearing or other family reasons may be given positions they feel are beneath them. If they change their way of looking at what they consider a boring job and accept it with good grace, they will create a more pleasant atmosphere for others as well as themselves. The reason is that once they abandon their attachments and fixed ideas about their former careers and concentrate on doing their best at the job in front of them, what seems tedious and unfulfilling can become more meaningful and something to be performed with thankfulness. Freeing the mind from
previous attachments is the best way to lead a happy life. It allows us to lead lives of gratitude freely and joyfully.

In leading such a life, what matters most is being self-reliant. For instance, the reason children can become so enthusiastic at play that they lose all sense of time is that they themselves are in change. No one is dictating to them.

Yet, it is important that we value the people around us. When our relations with them are as cheerful and warm as a sunshine-filled day we strive for the Buddha’s compassion and wisdom to interact with them. Our lives then will be enriched by as many such encounters as we experience. Whether it is consideration for the people around us at our workplace, or showing affection and respect for the members of our families, as long as we are fully mindful of everyone we deal with face to face we can build harmonious relationships between ourselves and others.

Scientists tell us that life on earth began some 3.8 billion years ago, so the present is but a brief instant in a period that seems almost like eternity. But the present actually is filled with precious moments that are the materials of our lives. Since that is the case, we should let go
of past regrets, stop chasing after an illusory future, and keep in mind the need to live in the “now” of every moment so that we will lead our limited lives to the fullest.

August 2009
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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