【To live in the realm in which comparisons and distinctions are not made, a world of equality…】
Recently, here in New York, just when we think the season of bright sunshine blinding our eyes is upon us, we have had continuous rainy days reminding us of the monsoon season. How has it been for those of you who live in other areas?
In President Niwano’s guidance for June, he used two themes (“Taking Refuge in the Truth” and “When Awakened to the Truth”) to teach us “The Meaning of Taking Refuge.”
He said: The real world in which we are now living is temporary as expressed by the phrase, “the world is empty and temporary,” and that only the realm of the Buddha is Truth as expressed in the phrase, “Only the Buddha is Truth.” This means that “even those of us who live in an illusory world of making comparisons to others and rating them as superior or inferior are inhabiting a realm in which fundamentally all people have an equally worthy existence and in which there is no need to make comparisons of any relative values.” “Also, our lifespans appear to be limited, but fundamentally they are unlimited, eternal. Therefore, this world is said to be temporary, and the realm in which the absolute, the unlimited, and the eternal are innate is called Truth.”
And that Truth, ‘the realm in which comparisons and distinctions are not made,” in which one respects others and shows them consideration…”this is the true nature of human beings, returning to this innateness is the essence of religion and faith.”
Having received such inspirational words, I kept telling myself that “we human beings are supposed to be living in the realm of Truth, the realm of great harmony and equality.” Nevertheless, although I normally try to keep a calm presence of mind, in various situations of my daily life, my mind can billow in response to external provocation and I find myself losing my composure. Do I have such a ruffled heart and mind that emerged? Is this really me? There are times when I question and answer myself. To sum it up, what exists within me is drawn out through causation. I am finding myself experiencing such moments.
For example, this happened the other day.
I arrived at JFK Airport for my home visit to Japan and was waiting at the gate after the boarding was announced.
I saw a group of Japanese tourists and was appalled by the men’s behavior which disrupted harmony with people around them. It was as if the world existed just for them! Doing whatever they wanted to do without caring about those around them. I could feel my heart burning with anger.
Soon after, I boarded the plane. I then realized those men’s seats were very close to mine. They started to take their seats, one after another. Furthermore, their behavior, as they enjoyed themselves in the world of their own, kept jumping into my view. As their actions escalated, I felt embarrassed as a Japanese. Where is their dignity? I wish they would consider being more in tune with others, etc., etc…one after another, criticism of their negative factors welled up in my heart.
It was at that moment. I had difficulty breathing and felt nauseous. I felt so sick, I felt stumped. I just closed my eyes and sat still. After a while, I felt my heart and mind start to change. “I am at the moment unable to accept the reality that is developing before my eyes and feeling conflicted.” And, the thought that explicitly resonated and revived in my mind was: “By insisting my thoughts are correct, making demands and criticizing them in my mind, I may have created toxin in my own body. Such symptoms are indeed the symptoms of self-poisoning. The pain I am feeling is totally something I, myself, is creating.” Furthermore, I thought: How arrogant and self-centered I have been! Becoming aware of my own folly, I could not open my eyes for a brief period.
Things that happen in front of us will develop in various ways. However, to co-exist in tune with others in the realm of equality, in which comparisons and distinctions are not made, is where one can respect others, be considerate of others, and anyone can revere one another’s buddha nature…to live in such a realm. We are taught that to return to this innate nature of human beings is the essence of religion or faith. This time again, after 15 minutes of internal conflict as I faced an actual problem, I was able to return to the gateway of “Truth”…however…
It is truly a continuous daily self-reflection. Thanks to the teaching, as Buddhist, although I may take slight detours in actual life, I am grateful that I am able to focus on the path that I should be on, and steadily, step by step, walk the path.
This time I shared with you the changes my heart and mind had gone through in just the 15 minutes from the airport into the plane. I was able to accept the Buddha’s message within this episode that I should not overlook. Everyone, please, catch the Buddha’s message to you anytime and anywhere.
What is important for Buddhists to understand is that it is only when applied in our daily lives that the teachings have value. Thus, unless we firmly connect the teachings to our practice in our lives, there is no meaning.
Minister of New York Church