An enlightened concept for our fairly unenlightened time
“Buddhism teaches that all people are inherently Buddhas [have the potential enlightened inner life state of a Buddha]. I believe that this…view of humanity embodies a fundamental principle for world peace. You are a Buddha and I am a Buddha. That’s why we must not fight each other. That’s why we must respect each other.” — Daisaku Ikeda
The universality of the Buddha or enlightened life condition is perhaps the most important lesson of Buddhism. And yet it is also the most elusive and often misunderstood. When I first encountered Buddhism in 1969, I was a living testament to self-criticism, much of it directed inwardly as shame and outwardly as anger toward adults and the political establishment. My inability to believe in myself, while not surprising considering my childhood, was nevertheless emotionally crippling.
I found the guidance I was receiving, such as the one written above, to be encouraging. It gave me hope and inspired me to begin what turned into a lifetime journey of self-improvement. Clearly, this is also the solution to the seemingly never-ending conflict that has existed forever between human beings.
I continue to try to avoid diminishing myself. After all, to belittle myself is to disparage the Buddha nature within my life. Whenever I place someone else including historical or current religious leaders on a pedestal, I inherently see myself as being less than that person. It’s one of the things about our spiritual community that I find so refreshing;
regardless of our leadership level, ethnicity, lifestyle and socio-economic status, we are all equal and deserving of respect.
There are many other aspects of this concept that we are all Buddhas. From an historical context, it is revolutionary. Just imagine if someday:
* People of every denomination spoke with mutual respect for each other’s faith and differing religious beliefs.
* Political leaders from all parties and sides of an issue engaged in respectful dialogue, only responding after careful consideration of each other’s point of view.
* Families celebrated or at least appreciated their differences and found common ground.
* Neighbors reacted to misunderstandings with compassion instead of animosity.
The list is endless. And reminds me that this is a teaching of the boundless potential within every human being. So, whenever I start to lose hope either in my ability to overcome my own problems or the world being able to learn to peacefully coexist, I return to this prime point. Because, otherwise, what’s the point?