Presidents Guidance

from Kosei
December 2020

Living Each Day Refreshed

This Is the Place of the Way”

This year, we were all forced to change our lifestyles due to the effects of the new coronavirus.

Some of you may have been infected with the virus or lost someone close to you. I’m not alone in praying that the physical and psychological pain of the many affected people, along with the collective anxiety about this disease, will disappear as soon as possible.

No matter how our lifestyles change, however, there are some things we should never forget.

As the Buddhist scholar Shobun Kubota (1896–1986) said, “For people who are living their faith in the Lotus Sutra, no matter what kind of place they are living in, that is the place of the Way” because “practicing and mastering the Lotus Sutra takes place in the midst of our daily lives.”

Even if you’ve felt anxious or afraid during this coronavirus pandemic, have you remembered to be considerate in your interactions with people? Have you been able to understand the attitudes of those who have different opinions and accept them gently and flexibly? For us, “this is the place of the Way,” and therefore, each and every encounter in our daily life presents us with an opportunity for spiritual diligence.

When Your Mind Is Pure

Chapter 19 of the Lotus Sutra, “The Merits of the Teachers of the Dharma,” describes how—through their attitude toward life and their daily words and actions—people who practice and broadly share the teachings of the Lotus Sutra purify their six sense faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

In Japan, we often chant the phrase “rokkon shojo” while climbing a mountain; this translates to “purify the six sense faculties.” As we head toward the summit, surrounded by the beauty of nature and breathing fresh air, our bodies and minds are washed clean. The mysterious spiritual energy emitted by the mountain itself and the workings of the gods and the buddhas presiding over it sharpen and cleanse our senses and help us return to our original, untarnished minds.

Even without climbing a mountain, however, we have methods to accept whatever happens calmly and live each day refreshed, with a pure mind. One method is to practice “this is the place of the Way.”

To do this, focus on seeing the good in people—do not give in to the feelings that may make you look for the bad. Accept everything with relish. Make sutra recitation a natural habit, and when you see someone, put your hands together respectfully before them without thinking about it. When you become able to spontaneously perform such practices, with a pure mind, you will be leading a harmonious daily life, won’t you?

My teacher, Yukio Sakamoto, said that “our daily life is, in itself, our practice of the Buddha Way. At the same time, it is where the work and the deeds of the Buddha are done—that is, the action by which the Buddha liberates living beings.”  In other words, while our day-to-day diligence continues to grow, it is also liberating us so we are always experiencing the refreshing happiness of a carefree mind.

This passage from “The Merits of the Teachers of the Dharma” shows what I’ve discussed so far: “The upholders of this Dharma Flower Sutra / Will attain such a purified sense faculty of thinking that, / Even without reaching a state of nondefilement, / They will have characteristics like these. / These people who uphold this sutra / Will steadfastly abide in a state of wonder, / Rejoiced in, loved, / And revered by all living beings.”

What’s more, the person the Buddha is talking to here is the Bodhisattva Ever Diligent. My personal interpretation of this is that the Buddha is encouraging us to be bodhisattvas who never forget to show compassion, kindness, and warmth for anyone—anytime, anywhere.

As the end of the year draws near, every home will undergo a thorough spring cleaning. But in order to welcome the new year with a refreshed feeling, we need to do a spring cleaning of our minds. When you look back on this year, what encouraging words of the Buddha’s inspired you?