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No matter what his monastic or lay disciples asked him, Shakyamuni Buddha would always praise them, saying, “Good! Good! You have asked an excellent question.” Then he would carefully explain the answer until they understood.

He never looked at them with an incredulous expression, as if to say, “You don’t even understand that?”

Because of this, simply meeting Shakyamuni or hearing his voice brightened his disciples’ hearts like sunshine bursting out from behind the clouds.

Among the members who are assigned responsibilities at Dharma centers, I see some who grow because of it, but there are also those for whom it has the opposite effect. What makes the difference? I believe it comes from whether they understand the notion that everyone is learning from them, or if they feel that they are learning from everyone else. When others respond, “Yes, yes!” and accept whatever you say, it’s easy to allow it to puff up your ego. This can, in turn, expose your bad habits.

Being appointed to a Dharma role means receiving the gift of practicing reverence for others’ buddha-nature. If you think to yourself, “How many times do I have to say it until they understand?” This is proof that you are beginning to become arrogant. The heart of humility is feeling grateful to the members for causing you to take the Buddha’s compassion to heart.

Nikkyo Niwano

from Kaisozuikan 9, p.186-187

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