Nov 13, 2010

Buddhism Is The Clear Mirror That Reflects Our Lives

Pablo Picasso, Girl before a Mirror (1932)

by D. Ikeda 

A Japanese proverb has it that the mirror is a women's soul. It is said that, just as warriors will never part with their swords, women will never part with their mirrors. The oldest metallic mirrors to be unearthed were found in China and Egypt. Older still are mirrors made of polished stone surfaces. Suffice it to say that the history of mirrors is as old as that of the human race.

"A bronze mirror may reflect the body, but not the mind. The Lotus Sutra reflects not only our physical form, but out inner being as well. Furthermore, the sutra mirrors, with complete clarity, one's past Karma and it's future effect." [Gosho Zenshu, p.1521]
Even though people may make up their faces, they tend to neglect to polish their lives. Though cosmetics can be applied to the face, one cannot gloss over the face of his soul. The law of cause and effect functioning in the depths of life is strict and impartial. 

Buddhism teaches that unseen virtue brings about visible reward. In the world of Buddhism, one never fails to receive an effect for his actions-whether for good or bad; therefore, it is meaningless to be twofaced, or to try to put on airs.

"A mind which presently is clouded by illusions originating from the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but once it is polished it will become clear, reflecting the enlightenment of immutable truth."[On Attaining Buddhahood]. In this well-known passage, the Daishonin draws parallels between the tradition of mirror polishing and the process of attaining enlightenment. 

Observing one's life means to perceive that one's life contains the Ten Worlds and, in particular, the world of Buddhahood. The Gohonzon is a clear mirror. If you practice faith while doubting its effects, you will get results that are at best, unsatisfactory. This is the reflection of your own weak faith on the mirror of the cosmos. On the other hand, when you stand up with strong confidence, you will accrue limitless blessings. Understanding the subtle workings of one's mind is the key to faith and to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

There is a Russian proverb that says, "It is no use to blame the looking glass if your face is awry." Likewise, your happiness or unhappiness is entirely the reflection of the balance of good and bad causes accumulated in your life. 

People Who Do Not Know About Mirrors
Many people become angry or grieve over phenomena that are actually nothing but a reflection of their own lives-their state of mind and the causes that they have created. Because they are ignorant of Buddhism's mirror of life, such people cannot see themselves as they truly are. This being the case, they cannot guide others along the correct path of life, nor can they discern the true nature of occurrences in society.

With the thought that we are addressing a person's Buddha Nature, we should politely and calmly carry out a dialogue-sometimes, depending on the situation, mercifully correcting him with fatherly strictness. In the course of such human interaction, the Buddha nature in his or her life functions to protect us. On the other hand, if we belittle or regard that person with contempt, as though gazing into our own image reflected in a mirror, we will be disparaged in return. 

In General, the people around us reflect our state of life. Our personal preferences, for example, are mirrored in their attitudes. To the extent that you praise, respect, protect and care for SGI members, who are all children of the Buddha, you will in turn be protected by the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions and by all heavenly deities. If, on the other hand, you are arrogant or condescending toward members, you will be scolded by the Buddhas in like measures. Leaders, in particular, should be clear on this point and take it deeply to heart. 

We are a gathering of the Buddha's children. Therefore if we respect one another, our good fortune will multiply infinitely, like an image reflected back and forth among mirrors. A person who practices alone cannot experience this tremendous multiplication of benefit. In short, the environment that you find yourself in, whether favorable or not, is the product of your own life. Most people, however, fail to understand this and tend to blame others for their trouble. To a greater or lesser extent, all people tend to see their own reflection in others. 

Say What Must Be Said
We must gain decisive victory over the harsh realities of society and lead a correct and vibrant life. This is the purpose of our faith. We have to become wise and strong. Also, in the organization for Kosen-Rufu, we have to clearly say what must be said. The purpose of Buddhism is not to produce dupes who blindly follow their leaders. Rather, it is to produce people of wisdom who can judge right from wrong on their own in the clear mirror of Buddhism.

The purpose of Buddhism is to attain Buddhahood. In modern terms, this could be explained as realizing absolute happiness - a state of happiness that can never be destroyed or defeated. 

"There is no greater happiness for human beings than chanting Nam-Myoho-renge-kyo"
[The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p. 161] 

Edit from a 6 page speech given by President Daisaku Ikeda, June 1981 Summer Course

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