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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Cultivating the Field in Our Hearts and Minds

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA president NiwanoTwenty Years of Walking One's Own Path of Faith

This November marks twenty years since I became the second president of Rissho Kosei-kai. I feel as if the time has passed before I knew it, and during this period I have pondered many ideas about the best direction to take in moving forward together with all members.

Founder Niwano was a person who embodied leadership, guiding people vigorously like a locomotive, but I am not the same type. Therefore, when I returned once more to the teachings of Shakyamuni, I came to think of the fact that he himself told his sad, grieving disciples shortly before he entered nirvana: “Make yourself the light; make the Dharma your light.”

To me, this means, “Yes, instead of becoming a powerful locomotive like the founder, it is important that we all progress spiritually so that we can be led forward by the engine that is particularly suited to each one of us.”

I believe that this way of going forward is in consonance with the heart and mind of the Buddha, who wishes to liberate everyone, and since Rissho Kosei-kai’s sixtieth anniversary in 1998, I have heralded the general goal of our tice and gain our physical and spiritual liberation—that is the essence of Buddhism. We do not receive liberation through someone else, but only through our own efforts at solving problems, so what sort of person should we organization: “Rissho Kosei-kai: Cultivating the Field in the Heart and Mind of Each and Every Person.”

Even Weeds Are Nourishment

Human beings, by nature, are equipped with the power to overcome any hardship and resolve any difficulty. To understand this through practice and gain our physical and spiritual liberation—that is the essence of Buddhism. We do not receive liberation through someone else, but only through our own efforts at solving problems, so what sort of person should we become in order to be liberated?

The words that plainly show us what to do are “Cultivating the fields in our hearts and minds.” Before we can raise healthy crops and have a bountiful harvest, we must firstly cultivate the land. Good soil supplied with necessary water and nourishment can produce abundant fruits.

This is the same for each one of us. According to a leading Japanese language dictionary, the “fields of our hearts and minds” equates with the sincerity with which people are naturally imbued, and so the heart and mind becomes the foundation for bodhisattva practice. When we properly cultivate the fields of our hearts and minds, our way of seeing things becomes flexible so that even if an unfavorable situation occurs we do not experience disappointment, and instead see in a problem an opportunity to learn something and thus accept it as a positive development. When our hearts and minds are flexible and relaxed, our ability to benefit grows and all experience serves as nourishment. As a result, something that had been considered as suffering is no longer seen that way; it is a phenomenon that causes us to be aware of an important matter that we can accept with gratitude.

For that reason, we should concentrate on diligently cultivating the fields of our hearts and minds, and one of the keys to doing so is to free ourselves of arrogance.

Avoiding being arrogant or conceited, but living with humility—we should never forget the importance of this, and when our deeds, speech, and thoughts are kept under control, we can maintain their flexibility and thus avoid the rigidity that is liable to develop due to self-centered egotism.

Yet, the weeds that are represented by greed, anger, and ignorance can thrive no matter how often we cut them down. Removing them one by one would require a great deal of labor. We should instead plow the weeds under as we cultivate the soil and use them to provide the nourishment—that, I think, represents the real “taste” of Buddhism.

Long ago, when we weeded the paddies in Suganuma, the founder’s birthplace in Niigata Prefecture, we would mix the pulled weeds into the mud so they provided nourishment for the rice seedlings. I hope to continue to walk the

Buddha Way along with all of you, transforming the weeds that thrive in the field of our hearts and minds into energetic diligence for redirecting them toward activities that benefit others, because it is truly said, “Delusions are inseparable from enlightenment.”

November 2011
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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