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Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
In the writings of Nichiren Daishonin we find the passage, "Even a heartless villain loves his wife and children. He too has a portion of the bodhisattva world within him." ("The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind," WND-1, 358) As this passage states, any person, no matter how evil he may be, has in the depths of his life the inherent spirit of love and compassion for others. Without trust in this inherent potential, the law, no matter how strictly it may be enforced, will ultimately prove ineffective . . .
Any person, even the worst villain, inherently has the spirit of a bodhisattva, and moreover, the spirit of a Buddha. With regard to this point, the Lotus Sutra relates the parable of "The Jewel Hidden in the Robe":
Once upon a time there lived a man who had, as a friend, a rich public servant. One day the man called on his rich friend, who entertained him with food and wine. He became completely inebriated and fell asleep. The rich friend, however, suddenly had to set out on a journey involving urgent public business. He wanted to give his friend a priceless jewel which had the mystic power to fulfill any desire. But his friend was fast asleep. Finding no other alternative, he sewed the gem into the hem of his sleeping friend's robe. The man awoke to find his friend gone, totally unaware of the jewel his friend had given him. Before long, he allowed himself to sink into poverty, wandering through many countries and experiencing many hardships. After a long time, now reduced to sheer want, he met his old friend. The rich man, surprised at his condition, told him about the gift he had given him, and the man learned for the first time that he had possessed the priceless jewel all along.
This is an allegory told by Shakyamuni Buddha's disciples as they reflect upon their ignorance in forgetting to develop the supreme life condition of Buddhahood and being satisfied with lower states of life.
No one has the right to take human life, which contains the "jewel" of the supreme life condition . . . related article The Poor Woman's Lamp In a letter Nichiren wrote 700 years ago in appreciation of the sincere offerings made by a devout woman named Onichi-nyo, there is a passage which reads: "A poor woman cut off her hair and sold it to buy oil [for the Buddha], and not even the winds sweeping down from Mount Sumeru could extinguish the flame of the lamp fed by this oil."
Let me expand upon the parable of "The Jewel Hidden in the Robe" in everyday terms. Take for example, the human tendency toward arbitrary faultfinding. Parents, seeing their children's small mistakes, yell at them, "You're stupid and hopeless!" Even adults come to hate each other vehemently for trivial reasons. Yesterday they were good friends or neighbors, and today they are bitter enemies . . . When one insults another, the other replies in kind. Totally unaware of the existence of the "supreme jewel," they continue to exchange harsh words and hurt one another. These kinds of emotional collisions take place far more often than one might imagine.
The fact that one cannot see the "supreme jewel" in another means that one cannot recognize it in oneself either. I firmly believe, therefore, that we all should fix our attention on this point.
Your children or neighbors can, in a sense, be a mirror which reflects you as you are. As often as not, when you blame someone for some fault, you may be simply seeing the dark part of your own life rather than a true picture of the other person. In Miyamoto Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa (1892-1962), Musashi, a famous master swordsman, tells a little boy named Iori as he gazes up at Mount Fuji: "Rather than struggling impatiently to become like this or like that, make yourself as solid and imperturbable as Mount Fuji. If you do not cater to the world but instead come to be respectworthy in and of yourself, then people will naturally recognize your true value."
I know many people of advanced age who are living a life of satisfaction and dignity, enjoying a state of life as lofty as Mount Fuji. Their faces, without exception, all shine like the "supreme jewel," polished by having weathered all kinds of adversities in the course of life.