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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Helping People to Develop

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA Pres. Nichiko NiwanoRefining Our Selves

Parents raise their children. Teachers educate their students. Seniors train their juniors and bosses help develop their staff members. For society, and for the family and the organization, too, each of these is an important endeavor. For this reason, regardless of the era, the challenges of educating others and helping them develop can be considered a major issue for society.

Certainly, child-rearing is hard work, so much so that sometimes tragedies occur when one parent, physically and mentally exhausted from caring for a small child or children, kills their own offspring. And the reality is that in an organization as well as in a group, educating others and helping them develop often do not proceed as planned. As a result, the stress shouldered by the individual most concerned can be the cause of physical and psychological damage and lead to discord in personal relations. In such cases, the individual may lose sight of the purpose of the intended education and development assistance.

Well, then, from the perspective of the person responsible for such development, for what purpose and for whose sake is it undertaken?

Although it is apparently for the sake of one or more people, and then for the sake of the organization or the group, I think that primarily the task of assisting the development of others presents a good opportunity for you to refine yourself, and that therefore education actually is making contact with others through karmic connections and growing together with them. When you think that way, you will no longer hold expectations of what others can accomplish that are too high or search for instant successes. Indeed, when things do not go well, you will feel the urge to reflect on what your present experiences are teaching you.

The educator Enosuke Ashida (1873–1951) told us this plainly when he said, “The greatest truth in education is the developing of one’s self.” At the same time, he said, “Educating one’s self is the shortest path to educating other people.” In other words, before trying to teach others, first you should refine your self, which is the shortest path to educating other people.

The Limits of Teaching

Whether it is rearing children or developing personnel in an organization, when we think of what sort of human beings should be the goal of these efforts, I think it suffices to simply say, “people with compassionate minds.” That is, people who can live in harmony with others and who do not fail to always show consideration for others.

So if we consider how best to assist in the development of such human beings in conjunction with the previously mentioned topics about human development, then becoming that kind of person by making a karmic connection with other people is the most direct route. This is just like the old didactic poem, “Seeing a good person, / I find my own self refined, / As if I am turning toward a mirror.”

People who can show consideration for others and live or work in harmony with them are also invaluable personnel for business corporations that are always seeking to achieve good performance. It is true that when people have not only skills and knowledge but also genuine passion for being helpful to others, they are sought out by many people and can achieve work that leads to the organization’s success.

However, you should be careful that, in hoping for the growth of other people, you do not express your expectations effusively. Someone has once said that it is important for parents to keep to themselves the goals they have for their children and not to verbalize them, but instead put into practice themselves what they silently hope their children would do. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself,” and therefore, assisting human development involves praising and encouraging someone, making yourself a factor that will help the person develop his or her greatest potential.

In this sense as well, it is important that people responsible for the development of others be humble and recognize their own limitations and insufficiencies. For instance, I myself, when leaving home, say to those in the house, “Itte mairimasu,” which literally means “I will go and worship” and is a more polite, ceremonious form of the expression of “Itte kimasu” (“I am leaving now,” “see you later”), one of the standard Japanese daily greetings and parting statements. That is because every encounter I may have is precious and I hope to learn from it before I return home. I think that repeating these parting words is a habit that refines my self and fosters the mind of compassion in me and in others.


July 2016
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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