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The Lotus Sutra—in which the Buddha promises us that “of those who hear the Dharma, none will fail to become a buddha”—teaches the truth that can liberate anyone. However, just as a doctor prescribes medication according to the distinct symptoms and severity of the patient’s illness, this truth must be demonstrated in a form that adapts to the individual and their suffering—otherwise, it is impossible to truly help that person attain liberation.

The question of responding specifically to the individual is an issue of skillful means.

It is a lack of compassion to do nothing but lay out one of the major principles of the teaching and then give excuses like “they weren’t smart enough” when people don’t understand.

If you are serious about helping someone attain liberation from suffering, you will not be able to stop yourself from calling forth all of your strength—your experiences as well as your knowledge—to muster up everything at your disposal.

With this outpouring of compassion, no matter how vehement their replies, you won’t incur any kind of pushback. And neither will you overly indulge or spoil them by tenderly embracing them with your words.

Nikkyo Niwano

Kaizozuikan 9, pp. 66-67

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