As already related, at least in Japan, the 21st century is widely considered to be the “Period of the Mind and Heart.” It is the century when great hope is held for religion.
Many different religions exist. Although other divisions are possible, religions can roughly be divided into primitive, ethnic, and world religions. Among them, what are referred to as world religions are those that take up the problems of the mind and heart, in other words, which deeply pursue how we as human beings should live.
Among the three world religions of Buddha-dharma, Christianity, and Islam, the special characteristic of Buddha-dharma is expressed in the Dhammapada as:
Hatred is not overcome by hatred. Hatred is overcome only by extinguishing hatred. This is an ancient truth.
This passage was quoted by the Sri Lankan (then Ceylon) representative to the Peace Conference held in San Francisco during 1951 following the end of World War II.
Many of the disputes and complications in our world today are centered around religion. I believe the complications are not the result of religion per se, but as in the passage from the Dhammapada just quoted, the complications are removed only by extinguishing hatred. That is where I sense the greatness of the Buddhist teaching.
Again, as already stated, society today seems bent on the destruction of nature, which leads to the serious problem of environmental pollution. There are the problems of bullying among children, indiscriminate killings, killing for insurance money, infant cruelty, that leads to desolation of the human heart. And then there are the moral and ethical problems that arise because of advances in medical technology. All these very difficult-to-resolve problems continue proliferating in our world today.
What teaches us about the cause of human suffering and delusion (which is due to centering everything on ourselves) and what teaches us how to escape such a deluded state (which is seeking an enlightened realm of non-ego-centeredness), is the teaching of Buddha-dharma. I believe this teaching of the Buddha – the teaching of Buddha-dharma – is the light that will lead us through our present bewildering and confusing world.
As already stated, I believe that true religions offer us two benefits:
- Confers true peace and tranquility, and
- Teaches us the real way to live.
Further, I believe the Venerable Master Shinran’s teaching of Jodo-Shinshu is a religion that fully embodies these two benefits.