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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Bringing Happiness to Others

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

Responding to the Call of Life

President Nichiko Niwano
When we get up in the morning and see the members
of our families, it gives us a pleasant feeling to greet them with a cheerful “good morning.” In a single greeting, joy is produced that echoes from one heart to another.

Some people even say that this phenomenon is not
limited to human beings; they say that if we continue
to tell plants they are beautiful or that they are growing
well, they will produce more beautiful flowers or bear better fruit, so perhaps plants also respond to the human voice.

This calling and responding—“responding to the call of life”—does not only occur between living beings. For example, the reason people are moved by music played on sanukite, a rock known for the beautiful sound it emits, is that we can sense the emotion being transmitted between inanimate rocks and human beings.

In other words, in the relationship of all things continuing to change without ever ceasing (all
phenomena are impermanent) and that nothing exists independently (all phenomena are devoid of self), Buddhism sees everything that is present in the world, inorganic things as well as organic things, as having life.

In the world before our eyes, things appear in many ways indeed, and as expressed in the words of the great priest Nichiren, “One heaven and the four seas are attributed to the Wonderful Dharma.” In their aspect of change and interconnectedness all animals, plants, and minerals are manifestations of the one great life force.

And so what is common to all of them is that they exist in order to support the lives of other things. In terms of human relationships, this means that bringing happiness and peace of mind to others is the key to leading a happy life.

The reason is that Shakyamuni taught us this by providing examples from his own life.

Rejoicing in the Joy of Others

Shakyamuni was not satisfied only to be enlightened himself, and set out to share his teaching because of his wish that all people be liberated from suffering. He experienced great joy in the fact of liberating all people.

We also have, in the stories venerating Shakyamuni, the tale of a prince who saved the lives of a starving mother tiger and her cubs by offering them his own body, and this parable about one of the former lives of Shakyamuni, too, demonstrates that the true purpose of human existence is to find one’s greatest joy in bringing happiness to others.

In concrete terms, then, what form of practice brings joy to others, what type of action gives us real happiness?

As I have already mentioned, one such act is to take the initiative in greeting other people. There is no one who does not feel pleasure in being greeted. When others respond to our greeting, both their hearts and ours are warmed by happiness.

Another act is to cheerfully do something that we are asked to do, which pleases both parties.
When I think back, I realize that many times I myself have experienced happiness just because others were happy when I was able to agree to do something they asked of me. I believe that many people experience a happiness that nothing could replace when they feel fulfilled as a result of doing their utmost for others with total dedication, and then sharing their joy.

In other words, when we become aware of the desire that is already within us to become the kind of human being who can make others happy, who can lead a life that brings joy to others, then the wisdom and compassion to help others begin to operate naturally.

Put another way, being a person who is able to bring happiness to others is the most basic and direct way to perfect ourselves.

October 2009
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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The Gift of Life.
The Power to Live.
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