I have read and summarised one of Masahiro Oki’s articles titled “Practice ‘love with reverence’. That is human value.” It was written in his Japanese monthly magazine ‘Yoga’ issued in March 1968. Two native English-speakers, Michael Cullinworth and Hiroyuki Mori, assisted me by correcting and polishing up my English translation.
Develop Buddha Nature (the busshō)
What is the difference between being a human and being an animal? Just being alive is the existence of an animal. Although we humans are animals, we must live a human life. To live a human life, we must feel reverence. I don’t think animals feel reverence. Thankfully, we humans are endowed by nature with the ability to consciously make ourselves that way. This ability is called Buddha Nature (the busshō).
To feel reverence, we must realise the truth. To realise the truth, we must know the meaning and value of things. Because we know the meaning and value of something, we feel it is precious. In the highest intelligence, the highest sensibility and the highest emotional state, Buddha Nature manifests itself. And this preciousness or value, which lies in the depth of everything, is called divinity. The ability to feel this is Buddha Nature. We receive education to develop Buddha Nature. This is also the purpose of other disciplines. We must make an effort to feel the preciousness of other people as well as make others feel the preciousness of everything.
Two things are needed to love
In order to make someone feel the preciousness of everything, you must practise love. Therefore, being a practitioner of love is the most precious thing as a human being. However, even though many people know that love is everything, few know how to practise love. To become a practitioner of love, we need to do the following two things: to feel love and to have intelligence of love. We need to consciously train ourselves in both of these ways.
Love arises from contact
In order to enhance the feeling of love for somebody, it is important to be in close contact with them. It is to consciously get in touch with them and consciously take care of them. Exceptions aside, we will not be able to feel love for those with whom we have no contact. For example, even if a child is your own child, it will be difficult to raise a feeling of love if you have left them in someone else’s care from the time they were born and you have had no contact at all. On the other hand, even if they are another person’s child, love will naturally arise while you have been taking care of them. So if you want to be a person with deep love, consciously get in touch with everything, whether it’s a person or a thing. It is necessary to practise paying conscious attention.
Enhance intelligence to correctly practise love
However, this ‘feeling of love’ is not enough. Even animals have this. The parent-child love of animals is beautiful. But in the case of human beings, intelligence must be added to this. Because true love is to help someone live and grow correctly. True love is to make both oneself and others live following the truth. To do this, we must know what the truth is.
Emotional love without intelligence may lead in a very wrong direction. Animals don’t love more than necessary. Human love, when it is biased by emotions, tends to do more than necessary. That happens in many parent-child relationships. Many parents tend to act too much from their emotions and take their children in a direction opposite to that of living rightly, strongly, and cleanly. This kind of way would ruin a person even if we love them. Not to do so, we must enhance our intelligence.
Love with heightened intelligence is ‘love with reverence’ or ‘sacred love’. Animals have feeling of love, too. However, human love must be love with reverence, or pure love. The love that Christ taught or the compassion that Buddha taught is not just ordinary love. In order to practise love with reverence, we should cultivate love in understanding other people by developing our intelligence.
What is balanced love?
Compassion taught in Buddhism means balanced love. Everything needs both yin and yang stimuli. We should give neither too much cool, nor too much warm stimulation.
We have to give both, not leaning in either direction too much. Everything can grow only when both yin and yang stimuli, or cooling and warming stimuli, or centrifugal and centripetal stimuli, are balanced.
However, love that lacks intelligence tends to consider that suffering is a bad thing. It is necessary to experience both ‘cold’ and ‘warm’. Therefore, only those who have mastered the truth can practise true love. The human way of living should be the way of living as a practitioner of love. In order to be a practitioner of love, we must enhance our intelligence. That’s why we must learn. In order to learn how to maintain balance in life, we should consciously experience various situations. Training with such a precious purpose is called ‘a discipline of searching for truth’.
We humans must consciously lead a balanced way of life. That is to truly love oneself. Do we really love ourselves while saying, “Nothing is as important as oneself”? Don’t we think we love ourselves even though we are making ourselves weaker? To become a true practitioner of love, we must abandon our selfishness. Many people try to escape from their situations with a selfish mind such as ‘like, dislike, gain or lose’. To dislike even one thing is to ignore its preciousness. As an animal, it is natural to feel likes or dislikes. But as a human, we must make an effort to come to like everything. Only then can we become a practitioner of love.
Human value is to be able to like
Human dignity is that, by enhancing our intelligence, we can consciously come to understand the value of others and come to like everyone.
Know that we are loved
In order to be able to practise love, it is necessary to consciously feel that you are loved. If you can’t feel it, you can’t practise love. To feel love, you have to feel blessings that everyone cares about you and that you can be yourself owing to others. For instance, it is your child who makes you a parent, and your parents who make you a child. It is your wife who makes you a husband, or your husband who makes you a wife. It is your lord who makes you a servant, or your servant who makes you a lord. Even a shop can only be established when there are a seller and a buyer. Neither a seller alone nor a buyer alone can make a shop. Please feel that. Because it is your child who makes you a parent, please reflect on how much you feel gratitude to your child, or how grateful you are to your husband for making you his wife, or how grateful you are to your wife for making you her husband. This is the ability to feel love.
To feel gratitude, we must be consciously impressed. To do that, we need heightened intelligence. If we don’t understand truth, we will not be able to be impressed or feel gratitude.
When we reflect like this, a feeling of repentance, which is taught in religion, arises. When we think like this one by one, we come to feel, “I see, I don’t have the ability to feel gratitude. I don’t have the ability to return blessings. I’m sorry.”
Even if we don’t ask other people, we can understand our own state of mind when we think quietly. That is why we practise meditation. Just saying ‘I’m sorry’ in words, does not mean repentance. The state of gratitude and repentance manifests itself as humbleness and a spirit of service.
Return the blessings you have received
“I am given so much, loved so much, and protected so much. That is why I can live. Because I am given everything I need for my living, l can live like this.” This is the fact that we are loved. So we don’t have to ask for anything more. On the contrary, we should consider returning the blessings we have been receiving.
Many people still want more in spite of already having been given a lot. Recognising this mistake and feeling “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll give you back what you gave me.” — this is the spirit of service. What should we return? That is what we already have. For example, when you wake up in the morning, you can first think, “I have awakened because I am given enough physical strength to live. So I will give back this physical strength all day today.” We have received a lot of knowledge since we were little. Instead of just continuing to receive, we must think about giving it back. It’s not that we should give something that we don’t have. We can just give what we already have.
To give as much as possible, we need various experiences. Even if we want to help someone with something, we will not be able to help if we don’t know what to do. It’s a big difference, for instance, whether we know how to mix cement or not. If we know it, we can say “Please let me help you”. But, if we don’t know, we will just cause nuisance. Therefore, we should consciously expand our experiences and try to acquire more things that we can use for cooperating with others and returning the blessings we have received.
Parents should let their child do like this from an early age. I think that raising a child to become someone who will be respected and loved by others is true love of parents for their child. Don’t think that you will take care of them. All you have to do is raise your child to become someone who will be able to live under the protection of others, whenever you die. Bring up your child to become someone who will benefit others, give joy to others, and make other people feel pureness. Then, people will not leave your child alone in trouble. This effort to belong to the world without worry or fear is religious training.
You are the one who will be saved
The balance can be achieved for the first time by putting out the skills you have acquired from others since your birth. You are not doing that for somebody else. By doing that, you will be balanced and therefore you will be saved. It is not that you take care of someone, but that you are enabled to take care of someone, through which you will be saved. This is humble-mindedness.
In this way, service is not solemn. It is not service that expects reward, but service that arises from gratitude.