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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Sharing the Dharma with Others

Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

RKINA Pres. Nichiko NiwanoThe Meaning of Sharing the Dharma

As we continue to learn the Buddha’s teachings and put them into practice in our daily lives, we make the wisdom our own that enables us to accept and overcome the suffering we may be facing, no matter what difficulties or sorrows we may experience in the course of our lifetimes.

Furthermore, sharing with other people the Buddha’s teachings that we have learned is a practice important to acquiring the wisdom and compassion that allow us to lead better lives.

The Rinzai sect priest Taido Matsubara (1907–2009), who in his lifetime was the author of more than a hundred books that make Buddhism more accessible to the general public, was a genuine Dharma-teacher. Rev. Matsubara said, about the meaning of teaching the Dharma, “Teaching the Dharma is not for the sake of others, but for your own sake.” His saying so is because someone he looked up to as a spiritual mentor admonished him, “Our practicing zazen meditation and chanting the nenbutsu invocation cannot be for the sake of others, isn’t that right? So everything we do must be for our own sake. Or do you forget that you are teaching the Dharma for your own sake?”

Sharing the Dharma, that is, faith dissemination, is a Dharma offering based on our wish that as many people as possible will know the truth and become happy, and at the same time sharing the Dharma is nothing else but diligence in cultivating the fields in our own hearts and minds.

Wisdom as Deep as the Sea

We cannot communicate to others what we ourselves do not know well. So in order to communicate something to other people, we need a certain degree of understanding about it. However, the sum total of our knowledge and experience is quite small. Most important, therefore, in sharing something with others is that we have the humble attitude of “I myself do not know so much.”

Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures that we chant as part of our sutra recitation contains the verses, “We take refuge in the Dharma. / May we, with all living beings, / Embrace the riches of the sutra and / Make our wisdom as wide and deep as the sea.” Indeed, because we ourselves do not know much, we always hope and vow to “make our wisdom as wide and deep as the sea.” These verses also teach us that, in order to acquire the Buddha’s wisdom as appropriate to any given situation, we should value the connection we have to others and never forget the attitude of learning something from everyone. The phrase in the verses “with all living beings, embrace the riches of the sutra” conveys this point to us.

I have heard it said that the more that you try to teach, the more the fountain of wisdom dries up, and the more that you desire to learn, the more wisdom flows forth from it. So, regardless of the content of what you want to communicate, you should have the attitude of listening attentively to others and learning something from them, instead of the mind only of teaching them and communicating your knowledge to them. Then, from within you, the appropriate words and ways of expressing consideration for others that can be readily understood—that is, the fountain of wisdom that allows you and others to lead better lives—will flow forth.

Recently, when I listened to a high school student make a speech of religious affirmation, I learned anew the important points in communicating to others from his candid and refreshing speech about what had impressed him. Simply stated, nothing resounds in people’s hearts as much as sharing with them, frankly, your pure feelings of gratitude, happiness, and joy.

When we employ this idea in terms of our daily lives, it means finding many things for which to be grateful and continuing to share them with other people, doesn’t it? And therein lies the attitude of never losing a sense of gratitude, as well as the source of happiness and joy in everyday life. Then, always having a bright, cheerful outlook means being someone that others want to emulate as you achieve the personal magnetism that cannot fail to inspire others. That is, in and of itself, one form of disseminating the faith. When we think about it, being thankful is something that only human beings can do. I hope that, based on this realization, we all will continue sharing with others the many things for which we are grateful.


September 2017
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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