【“Gratefulness” and “Appreciation” Expression and Practice.】
Happy New Year!
New Year’s visit…For Rissho Kosei-kai, on this day when we welcome the New Year, a ceremony will be held at the Great Sacred Hall in Tokyo Headquarters to recite the Lotus Sutra with prayers for world peace and happiness for all humankind.
Everyone, I imagine, will feel fresh and ready to start anew on the morning of the New Year’s Day. What kind of a year will this year be? As you wish for a good year…it would be good to set goals filled with anticipation for this year.
In President Niwano’s Guidelines for 2017 Members’ Practice of the Faith, his guidance was:
“This year, too, without being overwhelmed by the complicated realities of our daily lives, we will find appropriate ways to focus constantly on the things that are important. With this in mind, we will begin our dissemination efforts under the “themes” we have each created for ourselves.
Let us express and put into practice in our daily lives, the heart and mind for “what is rare (be grateful); appreciation (thank you)” taught by Shakyamuni Buddha.
Let us walk the bodhisattva way (the right path for humanity) with the compassion and consideration for others shown by the Buddha, our Founder and Cofounder, and by showing our basic human qualities of cheerfulness, kindness, and warm-heartedness.
This guidance centers on the following three:
①Engage in dissemination with “themes” ②Express and put into practice Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching in our daily lives – the heart and mind for “what is rare (be grateful)” “what we appreciate (thank you)” ③Walk the bodhisattva way
The difference from last year’s guidelines is found in ②. Last year was “Let us clearly understand what Shakyamuni Buddha wished and then share it with others.” President Niwano explained: Shakyamuni’s last words to his disciples were, “Make yourself your light; make the Dharma your Light.” Shakyamuni wished for each and every person to live a purposeful life as an independent believer, and he wished us to be aware of the truth of the Dharma and to attain true liberation. These were, indeed, the wishes of Shakyamuni.
For 2017, the President indicated the following as ②: “what is rare (be grateful)” “what we appreciate (thank you).” For a moment, I, however, was puzzled regarding the difference between (gratitude) and (thank you). I pondered over what and how I should accept this and prayed.
Suddenly, what crossed my mind, then permeated and welled up in my heart and mind, was the President always reminding us how truly valuable our lives are. Moreover, I recalled what the President had previously said in his guidance last year, and linked that with this year’s guidance.
In his guidance, the President said:
“There is a well-known verse from the Dhammapada, ‘Difficult is it to be born as a human being; difficult is the existence of mortals, knowing they must eventually die…’ This verse teaches
us what we should be most grateful in this world is that we have been given this rare gift of life as human beings. Furthermore, although we must eventually face death, the fact that we are living now, at this moment, is truly a rare thing for which to be grateful. Through the Dharma of impermanence, it expresses the importance of becoming aware and awakened to the wonder of our life and the lives of others and how rare it is for each of us to receive this one and only irreplaceable life.
And we, with the rare life of having been born as human beings, are allowed to live thanks to all things in this universe. Since we were born in this world through the compassionate workings of the Buddha, the more we look and see our life, the more our appreciation (our thank you’s) wells up in our hearts for the miracle of being ‘caused to live.’ This is from the teaching of ‘all things are devoid of a separate self.’”
The President taught us one of this year’s important guidelines for Members’ Practice of Faith with simple words. “What is rare” and “what we appreciate” were based on the profound understanding of the core of Shakyamuni’s teachings – ‘all things are impermanent’・‘all things are devoid of a separate self.’ That was my understanding of his message.
Then, something astonishing happened. I felt some energy well up from within my body.
As we human beings live our lives as part of the universe, we just need to feel completely at ease as is, and faithfully follow the Truth…
We have all been given a rare and valuable life. And we do not live completely on our own.
We are supported by all things…The situation is that we are already liberated.
Let us entrust ourselves to the Truth of the universe. In other words, what do we have to complain about? Since it is about “appreciation” for things much too obvious and matter of course, we tend to be negligent. However, we are taught that it is especially in things we usually consider to be nothing special that we should “be grateful・say thank you.” When we realize this, we will find appreciation from our heart effervescently well up.
Firstly, let us focus on the original source and express and put into practice the heart and mind to “be grateful・say thank you” in our daily lives.
In conclusion, I have something to report and express my gratitude.
It is about the surgery on the heart of my 2 year-old grandson, Yukio, which I mentioned several times in my previous newsletters. On November 25, the 3rdand final operation for pulmonary atresia was successfully completed. The surgery took nine hours, but there were no complications. The prognosis was good and he was released from the hospital by mid-December.There were several drama that took place regarding this surgery, but we learned that everything that occur is about being caused to live by the Buddha. I would like to convey my deepest appreciation to everyone for your prayers.
My plan is to make this year a year “to give thanks.” Am looking forward to spending this New Year with all of you.
New York Center Minister