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Align Our Values with the Buddha's

by Yasuo Hideshima


When we ask "Where does the Buddha live now?" another question arises: "What is the Buddha?" Many people will recall Buddhist images in temples, but for most Rissho Kosei-kai members, the image that comes to mind is their focus of devotion, the Gohonzon.

A statue of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni, Great Benevolent Teacher, the World-honored One, was enshrined in the Great Sacred Hall as Rissho Kosei-kai's focus of devotion in 1964. Since 2008 the Gohonzon has been immediately enshrined in new members' homes. All members kneel before it morning and evening, reciting the Lotus Sutra and sitting quietly in meditation with eyes closed. This is one of the most important and basic practices of their faith.

Mahayana Buddhism believes that the Buddha has three bodies: the Dharma-body, the reward-body, and the transformation-body. The Dharma-body represents the great life of the universe, or the Truth, which sustains all that exists. The reward-body is endowed with perfect virtue and is a reward for accumulated religious practice on the path to buddhahood. The transformation-body is the historical Shakyamuni, who attained supreme enlightenment in India. When we speak of the Buddha, we consider the three bodies to be one.

Rissho Kosei-kai members do not recite the Lotus Sutra to have their wishes granted. They do so to grow spiritually, with Kannon and other bodhisattvas as models, and to align their sense of values with the laws of the universe and the Truth of Shakyamuni's enlightenment. When our sense of values is completely at one with the Buddha's, we feel close to him. Then our values do not bring us into confrontation with others. Our selfish attachments and troubles fade away as we attain a state of mind that is bright and forward looking.

What then is the Buddha's sense of values? To put it simply, it can be summarized in three ways: The first is that everything (all phenomena and existence) is one. The second is that there is nothing useless. The third is that everyone is interconnected. Normally, our common sense tells us that there is profit or loss and things can be good or bad. We tend to make judgments on these bases. In fact, this way of looking at things is self-centered. It is important that we distance ourselves from this. So, if things are not going as we wish, we should ask how the situation would appear to the Buddha and consider whether we are looking at it from our own biased point of view.

When we meet a difficult person, or when something unpleasant happens, we are tempted to flee or stay away. This is when we must think about the Buddha and ask ourselves what we should do or how we should change to bring out the best in the person or the situation. This is because this world has been created in harmony, where everything depends on everything else. People will become happy when they abide by the Truth.

Understanding this theoretically does not mean that we can easily discard our self-centered sense of values. People are physical beings and instinctively try to protect themselves, so they inevitably have a selfish outlook. Thus, when Rissho Kosei-kai members kneel before the Gohonzon, it is an opportunity to be keenly aware of the essence of the Buddha. Nevertheless, great troubles and sadness still afflict them, and they cannot put into practice the three ways of looking at things that I outlined above. There are separations from loved ones as well as accidents and disasters. At such times, I don't think we need force ourselves to align our sense of values with the Buddha's. Weep, be as sad as you can. Even people who grow bitter, and feel there are no gods or buddhas, live through the providence of the Buddha. In other words, they are his incarnations. When finally their tears dry, there is a moment when quietness returns to the saddened mind. It might take decades. However, when people resolve to make a new start, the Buddha is always at their side.

Striving step by step to move closer to the realm of the Buddha, which transcends the world of self-centered human beings, and making our own sense of values identical with the Truth and the Buddha's Dharma while we are still alive - that is the goal of members of Rissho Kosei-kai. That is to see the Buddha.

Yasuo Hideshima is director of Rissho Kosei-kai's Dharma Missions Department and a member of Rissho Kosei-kai's Teachings Studies Committee in Tokyo.

This article was originally published in the July-September 2013 issue of Dharma World.

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