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Rissho Kosei-kai
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Buddhism for Today
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Rissho Kosei-kai President Nichiko NiwanoGood Habits Help to Cultivate the Mind

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

Finding a Rhythm in Our Way of Life

Following regular habits is the basis for maintaining good mental and physical health. Busy modern people are apt to have irregular eating and sleeping patterns. When we decide to follow a schedule and keep to it, however, we find a rhythm in our lives. Although we may be reluctant to keep following the schedule at first, once we become accustomed to the new rhythm, we come to enjoy keeping to it despite ourselves.

One of our basic practices in Rissho Kosei-kai is chanting the Lotus Sutra. Each morning, we devoutly place offerings of food, drink, incense, and flowers before the image of the Buddha and for our ancestors enshrined in the home Buddhist altar, and perform sutra chanting. By beginning our day with this pattern, the rhythm of our life becomes balanced, and our minds and hearts naturally come into harmony.

Some people say they are too busy in the morning to follow this schedule, but what is most important is that we try to allow time for chanting the sutra.

Properly speaking, we should chant the Kyoten sutra readings in their entirety, but if that is not possible, it is enough that we chant just one chapter of them, or at the very least bow our heads and place our palms together in reverence.

Although at first our chanting may be mechanical, in time it will become a regular habit in which our minds are deeply engaged. Then we are no longer the same person―the way we see things and the way we think changes. Once we have experienced this change, we deal with things differently, and a natural change begins to take place in our surroundings.

Three Regular Practices

This applies not only to the chanting of the sutra. When we become accustomed to the rhythm of the good habits we have acquired, our way of life completely changes.

Our three regular practices are to offer morning greetings with a smile, to respond clearly when addressed, and to keep our personal belongings in order. These are good habits that
help to make personal relations go more smoothly.

Some people may at first express doubts about making these practices into regular habits, but with repetition they become second nature and, for example, we begin to greet people more enthusiastically and enjoy doing so. And soon, those around us begin to return our warmth and friendliness.

Making the Most of the Present

In a certain large Japanese corporation, all of the employees, including the chief executive, are required to take turns cleaning the restrooms. New employees generally were not eager about taking part in the cleaning, but gradually came to feel the joy of doing things wholeheartedly while scrubbing the toilet bowls. That included their own job, of course, and
they later became able to feel grateful for even small things.

I have also heard that in manufacturing industry workplaces, emphasizing the spirit of doing things in an orderly fashion leads to more effective management and increased sales.

This has an effect similar to chanting the sutra, as I said earlier, because in the process of forming good habits, we are also cultivating our minds and hearts appropriately, and as a
result our way of thinking and our behavior are influenced.

In February, we mark the anniversary of Shakyamuni Buddha’s entrance into nirvana. The final words Shakyamuni left to us are:“All phenomena are always changing. Endeavor to practice my teaching diligently.

These final words teach us who are sustained to live through the Truth of Impermanence and the Dharma that we should respect and treat with care the people and things we see before us, and always value our own existence. As the Buddha taught us, let us make a regular habit of regarding the present moment as of utmost importance.

February 2009
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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