To be honest, upright and gentle in mind

To be honest, upright and gentle in mind

Remembering that practice happens everywhere - in our everyday thoughts, words and deeds

I first heard this phrase when I attended 67th High Priest Nikken Shonin's memorial ceremony at the end of 2019, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic happened. 67th High Priest had played such an immense role in the Kosenrufu movement worldwide, it felt as though a gentle giant had come and passed. So many stories of a life so humbly, strictly, and magnificently lived - where do we even begin?

At the end of the official eulogy, Chief Priest Reverend Shingaku Kato shared with us his personal memories of 67th High Priest, one of which was this phrase from the Jigage portion of the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which reads “质直意柔软” (those who are honest, upright and gentle in mind).

It simply translates as being "honest and upright", which means to embrace True Buddhism with a sincere and honest attitude. This passage expounds on the importance of living life with honesty, in our faith and practice.

Reverend Kato shared that 67th High Priest had always taught all priests to be honest, since the point they entered priesthood. There is a lot of social and Buddhist knowledge that we have developed as individuals, but how we acquired that knowledge is because we learned it "honestly". The key to successfully absorbing new things is to persist in being honest. And because we are still learning honestly, that is why people love and trust us.

However, we need to be careful about what we say "honestly" because we need to be honest about what we mean.

Frequently we hear the expression, "Be honest to your heart."

If people honestly follow their own confused hearts and minds, they would work obsessively to satisfy their many aspirations and desires.

Under such conditions, our lives could become increasingly arrogant. Particularly as we get older, our own life experiences can become the basis of our judgements, and we are less able to cooperate with others. We must cultivate “honest faith” with the Dai-Gohonzon and follow the directions of our High Priest as we advance with devotion in our practice for ourselves and others.

The above guidance struck deep in my heart. To be honest, upright, yet gentle in mind is such a simple, yet profound guidance to remember as we lead our everyday lives. When faced with challenges at the work place, at home, in relationships and with children, often times I find myself mumbling in my head, "I do not have a choice".

But do I truly not have a choice? I do. I have a choice to be honest, upright, and still gentle in my thoughts, words and deeds - only if I choose to approach life's every moment with faith in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism as my core. For practice is not just in the temple, but in every moment that we live in our everyday lives.

It is hard and I am still trying everyday.

However, gradually with each conscious choice to prioritise practice both in the moments when I am kneeling before the butsudan and in the moments beyond, I realised. Even if the challenges of this season of my life doesn't change, somehow, the sensations of this season that passes through my body and mind changes. And with each day that passes, somehow it does get easier and I am happier. 😌

In closing, when we read the words "质直意柔软" (those who are honest and upright and gentle in mind) in our daily prayers, let's remember 67th High Priest Nikken Shonin and remind ourselves to be honest every day.

M is a writer with the Kaimyo Digital Team. Her biggest fear each day is in the morning and evening "marathons" with her two kids under three (parents of young kids, you'd know...) Her biggest hope each day is for everyone in her family to be able to find special moments that reminds them of the beauty of practice, in their everyday lives.

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