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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
Phone: (323) 262-4430
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Rissho Kosei-kai President Nichiko NiwanoRepetition Without End

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

Learning the Teachings

It is said that Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, preached
his teachings every day without fail from the time he became
enlightened until shortly before his death. Those teachings are supposed to have been very numerous and are called “the 84,000 teachings” to convey that. According to the ability of each of his listeners to understand, Shakyamuni taught that all living beings are equally children of the Buddha, and as such are all part of the One Great Life, interconnected, working together, and forever flowing and changing. Various sufferings occur in our lives, but following our encounter with the Buddha’s teachings, we can realize the precious value of our own lives.
That realization of our own intrinsic worth in turn makes us realize that others are equally worthy and that by respecting each other, we are enabled to overcome our suffering.

One of the basic religious practices in Rissho Kosei-kai is learning the Buddha’s teachings. This means to correctly understand the teachings, consider how they can be applied in our daily lives, and repeat this process again and again. That is how we make the teachings our own. When we realize that everyone is a child of the Buddha and part of the One Great Life, we cannot help but want to share this with other people and wish to live in peace with them. That is how we awaken to the vow of Shakyamuni, and thus we could say that learning the teachings is to follow the example of Shakyamuni. The kanji character shu in shugaku (to learn) conveys the image of a chick practicing flapping its wings and thus soon able to fly like its parents. Gaku conveys awareness of the speech and conduct of respected
persons and wanting to follow their example.

Always Reflecting on Ourselves

The kanji character shu is a cognate of the Japanese words meaning to accustom or become accustomed to. By repeating something again and again, we accustom ourselves to it, and it
becomes easier to do what once seemed difficult. That is the basic meaning of “learning.”

When we are studying something, we have the feeling then that we are understanding it. However, since at that very moment and in the following moments all things are changing, including ourselves and our situations, so to always work diligently at learning the teachings is how we should seek the Way and advance spiritually. None of us is perfect. Although we absorb the teachings, we sometimes still get angry, look with envy at others, and feel dejected when we fail unexpectedly. Even so, at just such times we should reflect on ourselves according to the teachings and ask ourselves, “Is this really all right?” Isn’t it in never failing to take such steps that we ensure our faith?

The three basic practices are chanting the Lotus Sutra; guiding someone new to the faith, sharing the teachings with other members, and participating in hoza sessions; and continuing our learning of the teachings. By repeating them, let us devote ourselves to bodhisattva practice so as to fulfill Shakyamuni’s vow to achieve the happiness of all people.

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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Rissho Kosei-kai International of North America
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