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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
Phone: (323) 262-4430
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Here, Sit Down for a Minute

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA president NiwanoCorrect Posture Will Help

Every year, we feel somewhat unsettled in Japan at this season as we anticipate many changes due to the holding of university entrance exams, the start of the new school year, some people starting new jobs, and moving to new places of residence. When we see someone who seems flustered and confused, we should suggest that he or she calm down, saying, "Here, sit down for a minute." This is because people are apt to feel out of control when they are in too much of a hurry.

In contrast, if we develop mental and emotional stability, we can lead happy lives. Since that is the case, let us think about how we can attain such stability and remain calm at most times

First, let's think about a method for achieving mental and emotional stability by means of our entire being, that is, our mental attitudes and our physical posture. The body and mind profoundly influence each other, as they are in a mutually advantageous relationship. This is called physical and mental symbiosis.

As the educator Nobuzo Mori (1896–1992) expressed it, "To elevate the mind, first raise up the body." In other words, by straightening one's lower back, the body, of course, and the mind, too, will regain equilibrium.

Zen master Dogen (1200–1253) put it this way, "First correct your physical posture, then your mind will be reformed as well." When one feels discouraged or agitated mentally, by stretching the spine and correcting one's posture, the mind will gradually regain its composure, and one's emotional state will achieves balance.

Since long ago, human beings have been searching for a way to control the working of the inner self in order to attain equilibrium. At one end of the range of possibilities, when we consider what has been transmitted down to the present day as yoga and zazen, it would seem that achieving one's correct posture would have a great effect in helping to attain mental equilibrium and emotional calm.

True Peace of Mind

Next, in considering the frame of mind that can suppress insecurity and feelings of impatience, we should think about the causes of our anxiety, which often involves making comparisons with other people. As I have often said, it is important to realize the preciousness of our own lives and to feel grateful. In other words, we should become aware of the source of life within ourselves, which we do not need to compare with others and which will remain even after we free ourselves of concern about trivial matters of everyday life.

In this regard, as the Edo era Confucian scholar Sato Issai (1772–1859) wrote, "Human beingsshould pay homage to their own minds and should themselves inquire into their minds' well-being." It indicates the importance of our always respecting and revering our own minds and asking ourselves whether we are at mental peace or not. Doing this can give us the confidence to live.

Considering this in connection with suggesting that others "sit down," we members of Rissho Kosei-kai are accustomed to reciting the sutra every morning and evening before our home Buddhist altars, and thereby attaining mental stability. Many people also have experienced the calming of their emotional turmoil by participating in the Dharma circle (hoza) and receiving words of encouragement from friends in the sangha. In particular, the Dharma circle provides the opportunity to reexamine our way of life in the light of the Dharma and ascertain for ourselves the extent of our mental well-being. We could say it is a perfect place in which to truly look into ourselves.

However, many people are not able to devote the time for this from their busy daily lives. The reality is that many people instead are kept extremely busy at work-related activities and have little time to relax.

How can such people find peace of mind amidst such activity?

A poem by the Zen master Shido Bunan (1603–76) that reads, "While alive, become like a dead person, let go yourself completely become almost like a corpse—then whatever you set out to do, you will be able to do well," explains the importance of selflessness and detachment. At all times, being humble and forgetting about one's own circumstances, and in a certain sense not being concerned about ourselves and becoming wholeheartedly immersed in the activities of our workplace or home—that is the true beginning of achieving peace of mind.

However, as chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra tells us, "The World-honored One arose calmly from samadhi," Shakyamuni expounded the teaching for us after he calmed his mind and deepened his thought. If we want other people to enjoy the same happiness that we do—which was the wish of Shakyamuni—then we should share the teaching with them. That is our next step. In spreading our sense of calm so that it becomes the sense of calm of others, we will find true peace of mind.

February 2012
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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