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Buddhism for Today
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People on Whom Others Rely

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA Pres. Nichiko NiwanoGently, with a Smile

Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, “The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Kannon,” contains these lines of verse: “Her true regard, pure regard, / Vast wisdom regard, / Merciful regard, and compassionate regard / Are always aspired to and ever revered!” Praising the gentle gaze of Kannon, who watches over people and the entire world, these famous lines of the Lotus Sutra, called the “five regards,” urge us to take Kannon as our model.

The above verse can be interpreted in modern terms as follows:

Seeing this world as it truly is (true regard), we can attain a pure perspective unclouded by ego and attachments (pure regard), and thereby can grasp that everything is a manifestation of the life of the Buddha and no matter what or whom we encounter, we are able to think of ourselves and others as one (vast wisdom regard). Therefore, the suffering of other people becomes our own suffering and we cannot stop ourselves from praying that the source of that suffering will be removed (merciful regard). At the same time, we feel welling up inside ourselves the desire to make happy as many people as possible (compassionate regard). With the wish to attain such eyes we hope we can aspire to revere the Bodhisattva Kannon and we want to make her our model.

When we regard Kannon as a model, however, her mental state may seem far beyond us, but actually, even though we may be unaware of it, we are already engaging in activities that are similar to “the five regards.”

For example, in the course of our daily lives, when we ask people to do something and they do not hesitate to undertake the task, we think of them as being reliable. If those people have ego and attachments, they would not be willing to deal with our request. With this thought in mind, when someone asks us to do something we should, without presenting an unpleasant expression, say gently with a smile, “Yes, of course.” In such interactions with the people in our daily lives we can observe the working of “the five regards.” Those who can naturally do this gain the trust of many others.

Parental Love Involves Sacrifice

We are often told that the qualities of a leader are having plenty of mettle that comes from firm convictions, and cheerfully, positively accepting whatever may occur. At the same time, these are also the qualities of someone who is genuinely reliable.

Whenever Founder Niwano attended a function somewhere outside of Rissho Kosei-kai facilities, he made his best effort to arrive at the appointed place at least five minutes early. His attitude of never showing favoritism and giving his full attention to every detail, no matter how minor it might seem, represents the true value of Founder Niwano on whom so many people relied. When the founder was making strenuous efforts to organize a World Assembly of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, or when some inconsequential difficulty occurred in his immediate surroundings, he would accept everything positively and describe every situation as a bright prospect and turn it into an advantage. I think that is why many people considered him to be such a dependable leader. I often hear people say that when they were facing a problem, they were “saved by Founder Niwano’s smile.” Just as people are attracted to a fragrant flower, the smile of his leadership brightened everyone like the blossoming of a beautiful flower. The Japanese word meaning “to bloom” apparently is the origin of the word for “to smile.” The phrase I used above, “gently with a smile” means, in other words, that human beings should think of themselves as flowers, and strive to blossom to their fullest, aspiring to become the kind of people who, with just such a smile, others will rely upon.

However, being relied upon by others in some cases means being used at their convenience.

To quote a satirical verse, “Mothers are too precious, but easy to deceive.” Even though a mother knows that she is sometimes deceived by her children, she accepts this behavior and does not really mind. Most parents would make any sacrifice for their children. If they have three children, instead of trying to divide their affection by three and giving one-third to each child, they give their full affection to each child one by one. That is the true meaning of parental love. The reason that a nursing child has complete trust in its mother is because such parental love is being transmitted directly.

The key to being someone on whom others rely is at all times to have the same degree of consideration for others as undivided parental love, which is equal to the compassion of Kannon.


November 2013
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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