|Photo Credit: http://feross.org/japan/|
As life undergoes the eternal repetitions of birth and death, it expands in a free and dynamic fashion, always charged with limitless potential for self-improvement. This view of eternal life accords with the Buddhist philosophy of causality.
Living organisms eternally go back and forth between life and death, which
are themselves but two phases of existence. The causes formed by a person in the present become manifest as effects in the future.
If people apply this simple law to their lives, it is possible for them to develop a constructive, hopeful attitude toward their daily activities and to recognize the true value of life in this present world. The future does not exist apart from the present, nor will it remain fixed in a single plane.
What and how we will be in the future depends on what we do now. Every single act and thought plays a role in shaping our existence, in both life and death. The law of causality permeates and molds the great eternal flow of cosmic life.
What, then, are the practical implications of this philosophy? How should it affect our conduct and our outlook?
In the first place it provides us with the courage to challenge both life and death. It enables us to see death not as some terrifying unknown but as a normal phase of existence that alternates with life in an eternal cycle.
Second, it teaches us to treasure the life we are now living and to try to make it as worthwhile as possible. If we believe in our hearts our present behavior creates and determines our future existences, we will strive to cultivate ourselves and make the most of what each day offers.
Third, it teaches us that the only way to fulfill the potential of the human race is to live just, kind, benevolent and compassionate lives. We are helped by being aware that each activity in which we engage can be the source of growth and self-reformation. It is comforting to know that the seeds of good fortune we amass by means of our conduct are undiminished by death, integral with life itself and enhance our eternal self.
Finally, this way of thinking enables us to control and subdue our instinctive desires, redirecting them in such a way as to elevate our state of being. We learn to avoid the pitfalls of hedonism and pessimism, to find joy and truth in compassion rather than in an ephemeral hope for rebirth in some other world.
Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist leader, peacebuilder, a prolific writer, poet, educator and founder of a number of cultural, educational and peace research institutions around the world.
As third president of the Soka Gakkai (value-creating society) and founder of the Soka Gakkai International, Daisaku Ikeda has developed and inspired what may be the largest, most diverse international lay Buddhist association in the world today. Based on the 700-year-old tradition of Nichiren Buddhism, the movement is characterized by its emphasis on individual empowerment and social engagement to advance peace, culture and education.