The Happiness of Knowing Satisfaction
The Happiness of Knowing Satisfaction
Let Go of Your Desires
“Many desires in someone’s heart and thickly falling snowflakes—As they pile up, the way is forgotten.”
As the warm season of spring approaches, this Buddhist poem sounds chilly, but just as this poem tells us, if their desires go unchecked, people lose track of the Way they should walk as human beings.
This month, as our organization marks its eighty-second anniversary, I would like to remind you that Cofounder Myoko Naganuma, who established Rissho Kosei-kai with Founder Nikkyo Niwano, was always saying, “Let go of your desires and virtue will come to you.”
Because desire is something natural, it is necessary in order to live. However, people who have too many desires and say “I want that” and “I’ll do what I want to with this” are apt to be so blinded by their obsession with self-interest that being considerate of other people is of secondary importance. This happens because the mind is in a state of being full of “ego” = “my things.”
However, people who can be satisfied with having a modest amount of something, no matter what it is, have enough mental space to think about other people and therefore, for example, if they have some of their favorite food, the feeling springs forth naturally in them that it is a pity for them to eat it all by themselves, so they want to share it with others. We could say, after all, that a modest person does not want more than is necessary.
When human beings consider the feelings of others and allow their actions to arise from compassion rather than a desire for things, this is, I think, what the Cofounder meant when she said, “Let go of your desires and virtue will come to you.” This means that the virtue that we human beings intrinsically possess naturally comes welling up from within.
In chapter 11 of the Lotus Sutra, “The Appearance of the Jeweled Stupa,” people who learn and practice the teachings of the Lotus Sutra—those who are diligent in the true sense of the word—are “called keepers of the precepts and practitioners of austerities.”
According to the dictionary, “to shake off delusions and clear them away” is the meaning of “austerity” and being diligent in order to do so—by keeping to only one meal a day, wearing garments made from rags, and so on—is called “practicing austerity.”
Speaking of practicing austerity, what comes to mind is Maha-Kashyapa being called “foremost in austerities.” Maha-Kashyapa is said to be “someone who was satisfied, never speaking a word of complaint about such things as his clothing, food, and place to sleep.”
For us today, we may think this is difficult to put into practice, but “being satisfied and never complaining about anything” means being grateful for what you receive and not making egocentric pronouncements and passing judgment about what is “good and bad.” In addition, some literature explains “practicing austerity” in extremely simple terms as “having little desire and knowing satisfaction.” Through a lifestyle of few desires and knowing what is sufficient and by accepting whatever we receive as humbly as possible and living with gratitude, we can build up this mental attitude in the course of our daily lives.
In addition, regarding such things as one’s own personal appearance, I learned that passing judgment means breaking the precept not to take life regarding one’s own life. In this sense, a lifestyle in which we are nonjudgmental about things conforms to that of the aforementioned “keepers of the precepts” in the scripture. Moreover, we accept that what allows us to do so is having awakened to gratitude through our study of the Lotus Sutra. That being the case, we might even say that we who study the Buddha’s teachings through the Lotus Sutra are always in a state of the happiness of knowing satisfaction.
However, even if we do understand this, there are times when we cannot accept things gratefully. At such times, it is important that we start from the posture of pressing our hands together reverently and paying homage.
For example, at meals we say “I gratefully receive” with our hands pressed together reverently, and through this habitual action, we nurture our hearts of gratitude for being able to have a meal, for the lives of the ingredients of our meals, and in addition, for being alive.
We go on living our lives, putting our hands together reverently before all things we receive—and therein lies gratitude and joy—and real satisfaction and happiness.