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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
Phone: (323) 262-4430
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The Key to Happiness is in Ourselves

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA president NiwanoObeying the Rules

On the one hand, most of us have certain rights and freedoms, but in leading social lives we also have responsibilities and duties. We are apt to think that the regulations and rules in effect restrict our activities. In religion, too, there are precepts,
which some people may feel are even more restrictive than the rules of general society.

If we really think about it, however, we can accept that social conventions and rules, as well as religious precepts, actually provide us in the truest sense with freedom and peace of mind.

This is quite apparent when we think of simple traffic rules—when a traffic light is green and vehicles are moving, we do not cross the street.
When the light is red and cars are stopped, we know that it is safe to cross the street. But how do we feel about ignoring a green light and rushing across a street just because we see no cars coming? We may worry that someone will see us breaking the rules, and may not realize that a bicycle or a car could suddenly appear from around the corner.

After all, following the rules is the right thing to do, and it also helps us feel at ease.
If we can accept that what makes us feel restrained or restricted actually helps us reflect upon our behavior, obeying the rules will naturally become easy.

Everyone is United

Religion always stresses the importance of first asking ourselves if we are not at fault
instead of quibbling over other people’s behavior, blaming society, or accusing the world of being unfair.

Shakyamuni said, “Do not observe other people’s faults. Look only at what you yourself have done and not done.” Jesus Christ, when asked if a woman should be stoned for committing adultery, replied:“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

No matter what others may be doing, it is important that we continue to reflect upon
ourselves and always ask ourselves whether our own feelings and actions are in agreement
with our conscience and with common sense. The basis for doing so is an attitude that accepts every phenomenon as a divine voice describing our shortcomings and faults. The teaching “All living beings have the buddha-nature” informs us that everything existing in this world is a manifestation of the life of the Original Buddha, and that each of us leads a life that is one part of it. This can be understood to mean that everything that happens involves us.

Some people, though, may assume that because everything involves them, they must shoulder the responsibility for everything occurring around them, consider only their shortcomings and failures, and eventually become self-negating and depressed. Putting the Buddha’s teaching into practice is similar to obeying the traffic rules. Doing so always puts our minds at ease and allows us to lead our lives with a sense of security. Therefore, even if we do think that everything that happens involves us, it is important that instead of allowing events to become a heavy burden on our hearts, we accept them positively—for instance, by assuring ourselves that anything and everything can make us happy—and that we lead our lives looking forward.

Even more important is the realization that we are united as one with all people, things, and phenomena, and that we should make a regular habit of looking from this perspective at the people we encounter and the events that transpire before our eyes.

Once we have made a habit of regarding everything from the viewpoint that all are united as one, we will feel compelled to be in harmony with our surroundings. We enjoy happiness when we get along with others, and we feel glad to perform such practice. The realization of true happiness that springs from our hearts is born from a lifestyle in tune with the rhythms of being united with the original source of life.

June 2012
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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