The purpose of sharing the Dharma is not to make all people become Buddhists. . . . Christians can become buddhas as Christians, and Jews can become buddhas as Jews.
"Of those who hear the Dharma / Not one fails to become a buddha."
This is a phrase in the Lotus Sutra. Founder Nikkyo Niwano liked this phrase. With his big smile, he would explain to all gathered in the Great Sacred Hall, "Each and every one of you has the wonderful, boundless capacity of becoming even a buddha. So, grasping this Buddha's message firmly, please continue to walk the Way of the Buddha. You will all attain the happiest life." He also taught us the importance of sharing the Dharma with others, so that they can become buddhas too. His words always touched and inspired me very much.
In May 1978, I joined Rissho Kosei-kai in Sapporo. For thirty-some years since then, through studies and practices, I have been gradually deepening my understanding of the Dharma. I find that all the teachings I have been learning are closely connected and actually originate from the one Dharma. And in the Dharma, I feel the warm and embracing life force of the Buddha. I have witnessed the Dharma truly working in my life and in the lives of many others. Having been able to make the Dharma a light in life is such a blessing. I did not expect to receive this inestimable jewel when I walked into Rissho Kosei-kai in Sapporo that first time.
In December 2007, after serving as minister of Rissho Kosei-kai of Los Angeles for seven years, I was assigned as director of a newly established center, Rissho Kosei-kai International of North America (RKINA). RKINA was established under Rissho Kosei-kai's International Dharma Mission Plan, which aims to promote the Dharma mission among people born in North America. I am very grateful to have been here in the United States for the last ten years and to share the Dharma with people in this country.
I have some observations on our Dharma mission in the United States. First, there are no fundamental differences between Americans and Japanese. We equally possess the buddha-nature, and we all suffer from illusions. The Buddha Dharma works for everyone.
Second, as shown in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, bodhisattvas always emerge in each land in order to take the responsibility of teaching the Dharma to people in that land. My English is terrible. So let the Americans share the Dharma with Americans.
Third, I have witnessed a good number of American bodhisattvas springing up in various parts of the United States. They have experienced and acknowledged the profundity of the Dharma and they are joyfully sharing the teachings with fellow Americans.
One American leader returned to a city where her elderly parents live. With strong determination, the aspiring leader opened the Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center with her husband, from scratch. Her mother is a devoted Catholic. Wondering what her Buddhist daughter was doing, she decided to come and sit in a corner of the Dharma center and observe hoza, or the Dharma circle, every Sunday. One Sunday morning, her mother was listening to the conversation of people in hoza, who were reflecting on the daily application of the Dharma. Some of the teachings and reflections must have touched her heart and mind. She said to herself, "That makes sense," shedding tears down her cheeks. As we also may do, her mother often sees the cause of her anger in someone or something outside of her. Naturally, it was difficult for her to let go of negative emotion. But she is gradually beginning to realize that the cause of her anger may reside within her. Through this realization, the mother changed into a more patient woman. The leader was very delighted to have her mother's recognition of what she does. At the same time, she was very much impressed with her mother's miraculous change. "Wow, the Dharma really works," she said.
The purpose of sharing the Dharma is not to make all people become Buddhists. As the teaching of the One Vehicle shows, Christians can become buddhas as Christians, and Jews can become buddhas as Jews. What we would like to do is to share the Buddha's wisdom with everyone, so that we all are able to recognize, respect, and reveal the values of all beings as we all live in peace, harmony, and fulfillment.
Let us share the Dharma and let us all become buddhas!
Shoko Mizutani is director of Rissho Kosei-kai International of North America in Irvine, California.
This article was originally published in the July-September 2011 issue of Dharma World.