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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Everyone is Wonderful

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA president NiwanoSurrounded by the Truth

When I hear the phrase "everyone is wonderful," I am reminded of the following passage in a book by the author of children's literature Hatoju Muku (1905–1987): "A wonderful power is given to all things and every living thing on earth. Nothing is born without being given this wonderful power. . . . You, too. You, too. And you, too. There's something we don't know. And we don't know what it is, but everyone has that wonderful power, each and every one has it."

This passage, from a book of children's stories, shows Muku's thinking as someone who believed in and praised individual personality and potential. It also has something in common with the basis of the Buddha's teachings

On the other hand, some people may doubt that the idea that "everyone is wonderful" applies to criminals. However, everything that happens is due to the coming together of causes and conditions, and therefore, if the conditions were even slightly different, instead of "that criminal," it might have been me or you who committed a crime. When we think in this way, we realize that everyone is capable of committing a crime. But as Muku tells us, it is also true that everyone's existence has a wonderful power.

Everything in this world and in the universe is an expression of the truth of the Three Seals of the Dharma: all things are impermanent, all things are devoid of self, and nirvana is tranquil. Of course, we human beings are sustained by the Truth, as are animals, plants, and minerals. Everything is an expression of one great life, that is, of the source of all life. In other words, everything is equally the buddha-nature. Only human beings, however, are capable of understanding that everything is sustained by the Truth.

For this reason, we should truly be grateful to be born human, which we can only say is wonderful. Then what matters most is that we gain self-awareness and become aware of our wonderful power and its radiance in every person.

Emulating the Spirit of the Bodhisattva Never Despise

In recent years, there has been a growing number of people who lack self-confidence and are falling into self-negation. By nature everyone is wonderful, yet many people are unable to realize their potential and radiance. Regarding this situation, one of the points that can help everyone revere themselves and see the people around them from the same perspective is the Lotus Sutra teaching that praises all things— especially the spirit and attitude of putting the palms together reverently shown by the Bodhisattva Never Despise in chapter 20.

The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh says that we need to have faith in the actions of the Bodhisattva Never Despise, and that by doing so, we can help people overcome their negative self-image. The reason, of course, is that Never Despise was a bodhisattva who said to everyone he met, "You will become a buddha." He demonstrated that both his own and other people's existence is worthy of respect by continuing the practice of putting his palms together reverently before others.

In the present age, I truly think it is extremely important that we follow the example of the Bodhisattva Never Despise and show everyone we happen to meet the spirit and attitude of putting our palms together reverently before them—that is, that they are wonderful. This is one and the same as the Buddha's Original Vow, and I cannot help but hope that for the people we meet, our encounters will become catalysts for their realizing the dignity of life and that they themselves and other people are equally worthy of respect, and that they can return to a self-affirming lifestyle.

Similarly, just as the chapter "Skillful Means" in the Lotus Sutra says, "Only a buddha together with a buddha can completely fathom the reality of all things," and only a buddha and another buddha can truly respect each other. Therefore it is important that every one of us also reaffirms the Truth and embraces the compassion and wisdom of the Buddha. Then, there is no denying that "everyone is wonderful" means that everyone is being liberated from suffering.

October 2012
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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