Presidents Guidance

From Kosei,
March 2023

The Body and the Mind Are Deeply Connected

Health and Vitality Come from the Mind

In recent years, as opportunities to go out have decreased, I think that many people are staying home more often and not getting enough exercise. If you do not walk regularly, the muscles in your legs weaken so that even a short walk might make you tired, and then you become even less willing to go out.

Regarding muscles, it is reported that people with greater muscle mass live longer. We could say this is due to the relationship between muscles, immunity, blood sugar level, and so forth. However, I am also experiencing the decline of muscle strength that comes with aging, so in order to stay healthy, I continue to take an hour-long daily walk, unless it is a scorching summer’s day. Considering what else is indispensable for maintaining good health though, I think there is more to it than just training the body’s muscles.

The body and the mind are mutually inseparable. Indeed, the functioning of the mind affects the body, so it is important that we give our “mental muscles” a daily workout with inspiration and stimulation, always keeping them active in order to build up a constitution that is resistant to both mental and physical decline and illness. That way, we can always enjoy good health. Masahiro Yasuoka (1898–1983), whose writings have influenced me for a long time, also says that the cause of poor health and senility is more in the mind than in the body.

In particular, if you lose interest in things other than your private affairs and mundane daily routine, or become obsessed with trivial things, you will no longer experience the joy and stimulation of self-improvement but lose your mental vitality, which will, in turn, affect you physically.

What is important then for maintaining a stimulated, active mind that enjoys self-improvement, even when we are preoccupied with trivial, mundane matters? Yasuoka offers the following three principles.

“The Three Principles of Good Health”

The first of these principles is to “always keep the god of happiness in your mind.” The god of happiness is the most authentic mind. In other words, this means always keeping happiness present in your mind. And doesn’t that mean always accepting each and every event that unfolds before you with joy and the feeling of receiving the teachings of the Buddha? Even when we are suffering, by positively accepting the reality before us and asking ourselves “What is the Buddha teaching me now?” we realize that beyond suffering there is the light of liberation, and our minds continue to evolve and refine themselves.

The second principle for preventing the decline of your mental muscles is to “constantly keep thoughts of gratitude in your mind.” It is certainly true that every time we think of gratitude and say the words “thank you” they bring us fresh inspiration.

The third is to “always aspire to be quietly virtuous.” In reality, this is not limited to doing good deeds unknown to other people; it also includes being considerate of the people you come in contact with in your daily life, as well as practicing putting other people first while aiming to benefit them and bring them happiness. I think Yasuoka calls these “the Three Principles of Good Health” to mean that by maintaining this frame of mind, the body will also stay healthy. However, from our point of view, those who have cultivated these three things in their minds are called bodhisattvas, aren’t they?

Incidentally, I first became interested in health in 1960, when I found, in a used bookstore in Kanda, a book titled Nishi shiki kenko ho (The Nishi Method of Health) by Katsuzo Nishi (1884–1959). That was the year that Founder Niwano made me president-designate. Thinking back on it now, at age twenty-two I was filled with anxiety, so perhaps it was my instinctual reaction to try to keep my body and mind in harmony and maintain my physical health in order to suppress that mental anxiety.

Thanks to all of you, this month that anxious young man will turn eighty-five years old, and Rissho Kosei-kai will also mark its eighty-fifth anniversary. Although we have not yet exited the long tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s definitely share with the people close to us the blessings of the wondrous Dharma—which itself can be called a method of maintaining mental health—and together build healthy and dynamic families and societies.