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Rissho Kosei-kai
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Buddhism for Today
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Do Away with Complaining

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA Pres. Nichiko NiwanoAssuming That“ I Know”

When something goes wrong, we tend to grumble and complain about it. In Japan, we have a common phrase, guchi o kobosu, which means grumbling or complaining.

The two kanji characters that make up guchi, gu and chi, both mean ignorance. As the character chi comprises two components indicating sickness and knowledge, ignorance as expressed by this character reflects the mental state of assuming that one knows everything while not fully grasping it. As for gu, this character contains the meaning of the dullness of slow mental functioning.

Furthermore, the Japanese word for complaining also means to bemoan things about which one can do nothing. Indeed, even though we know it does no good to complain, we grumble about things being unfair, and sometimes, when something does not happen as we would like, we complain even to the point of ascribing the situation to someone else.

We cannot easily stop ourselves from complaining because of the illusion that we are absolutely right about what we ourselves know, feel, and think. This is nothing but suffering from the “I know” sickness.

Understanding the Truth

If one of the causes of foolishly making complaints is the feeling that you are right and know everything, then by reflecting on that mental attitude you would be less likely to grumble and complain. Through self-reflection your perception of things then will deepen, and what you once thought of as the cause of your grumbling and complaining can be accepted as a lesson from the Buddha.

If you stay familiar with the Buddha’s teaching in your daily life, when you might feel like grumbling and complaining the mind of wisdom will quell that feeling. This is described in scripture. The verse is: “Make an ignorant one give rise to the mind of wisdom,” and when you can think of the reason for your complaining as “This is the Buddha’s discourse teaching me an important lesson,” your mind of wisdom is then at work.

There is a method for making the working of that mind all the more firmly your own: knowing the truth that applies to everything that exists in this world, in other words, the truth of reality. This is the fact that every single thing that exists in this world is caused to live through the principle of causation that connects all things. This is the gratitude for being alive, here and now, thanks to the blessings of that principle. And when that becomes clear, you can be grateful and will no longer have reason to complain. Simply stated, when you understand the basic truth of the universe, you will no longer be able to complain.

The sutra says, “If those who have great folly revere Bodhisattva Kannon and always keep her in mind, then they will be able to distance themselves from their stupidity.” That is, by keeping Kannon in mind and continuing to revere her, you can be freed from foolish complaining.

When you feel that you are about to start complaining, your mind of compassion like Kannon’s, that is, your mind of being considerate toward other people, will hold back your selfish words and actions. “Keep in mind Kannon, the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World” is a mental expression of wanting to be like Kannon, and therefore anyone who can rejoice in the happiness of other people must be far beyond grumbling and complaining.

If you find that you still feel like complaining, cheerfully cut it off with the feeling “Here is the chance to put my wisdom to work,” or reexamine your mental attitude through your daily sutra recitation and regain the intention of looking at things and accepting them from the standpoint of the truth.


June 2017
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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