The Mind of Belief and Trust
Seeing People from the Buddha’s Standpoint
To quote a poem by the eighteenth-century poet Matsuoka Seira (1740–91), “With change / Comes laughter / Mixed with tears.” The fact that change produces both sadness and joy has remained a constant from the Edo era to the present day. This is perhaps particularly true in early spring, when many organizations and businesses in Japan go through personnel changes.
Rissho Kosei-kai also undergoes regular personnel changes, albeit at a different time of the year. In our organization, these changes are determined by a personnel committee—like those seen in governmental agencies—that completes an annual staffing analysis. This is because if any particular person, such as myself, were solely responsible for overseeing human resources, personal feelings might come into play.
We all have the minds of ordinary human beings, which means we tend to be swayed by whether we like or dislike someone. We also tend to evaluate others by using labels based on rumors or prejudices. Of course, this is not seeing people from the Buddha’s standpoint. Although we learn that “everyone possesses buddha nature,” meaning that all living things, without exception, have the same essence as the Buddha, if our faith has not reached that higher level, we get stuck in the perspective of ordinary human beings.
Furthermore, we possess the same characteristics that we see in others: we are the same as them on the inside. It is important to reflect on this before we attach biased labels to people. In other words, if we look at someone and think, “What a nasty person,” this means that we ourselves have a nasty streak.
In chapter 22 of the Lotus Sutra, “The Entrustment,” the Buddha asks the bodhisattvas to share the Lotus Sutra with all living beings so they will be able to have happiness. Then he entrusts the bodhisattvas with it. If we can see and trust people like the Buddha saw and trusted the bodhisattvas, we will have peace of mind—not only when personnel changes occur in the workplace, but in any circumstance. Indeed, being able to look at people with belief and trust, just as the Buddha did, is in itself an attainment of great merit.
Shakyamuni’s Entrustment and the Wish Upon Which Rissho Kosei-kai Was Founded
In an era like this in which incidents such as fraudsters targeting the elderly cause public uproar, it may seem impossible to trust anyone just because “everyone possesses buddha nature.” In this sense, I hope that at least we ourselves will not lie to people or speak ill of them, and continue to build trust.
The Chinese character for “trust” (信) is written by combining the characters for “person” (人) and “word” (言). Therefore, a person’s words, which are the expression of his or her mind, should be sincere. The character for “word” also means “life,” signifying both the manifestation of the universe, the gods, and the buddhas as well as the fact that when we trust one another, we are able to exchange words that are filled with life.
Speaking with sincerity is important, as it leads to our trusting other people and their trusting us. No matter how obvious this may seem for we ordinary human beings who cannot trust so easily, it serves as an important reminder to pay attention to what we say.
Speaking of belief and trust, we members of Rissho Kosei-kai chant the daimoku, the title of the Lotus Sutra, every day. This is exactly the same as taking a vow that we believe all people will become buddhas and can have happiness, and that we place trust in the workings of the gods and the buddhas. Rev. Jitsuo Fujii (1898–1992), a head priest of the Jodo sect, said, “My body, which I have entrusted to Amida, is calm and strong. So again today, I will live brightly with Amida.” Overlaying Rev. Fujii’s words onto the meaning of the daimoku, I think that no matter what time period or circumstances we are in, the spirit of living brightly comes springing forth.
Since the founding of Rissho Kosei-kai, one of the principles of our faith is that as soon as new members join us, they are disseminators of the faith. After all, sharing the faith is what we were entrusted with by Shakyamuni—whose wish is for everyone’s happiness—and Founder Niwano, who said that whatever we members might do, he had complete trust in us. So, above all else, let’s make sure we maintain a positive frame of mind and deepen the ties of trust that connect us to the gods, the buddhas, and other people..