(Photo above by Tim Samuel / Pexels)
Does your heart sink or stomach drop each time you see or hear from a certain person in your life? Well, you’re not alone. When it comes to accepting others for who they are, it can sometimes feel impossible.
Even in the 13th–century, people struggled with the same thing; it’s really a timeless experience. In response to a follower’s difficulty in getting along with others, the Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin offers the following advice:
If you happen to meet someone, even though you may feel reluctant to do so, you should acknowledge them. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, greet them with a smile.
“Reply to Kawai,” Gosho zenshu, new edition, p. 1952
We all have people that we would rather not have to talk with or see regularly. But if we lived based on staying away from people we don’t like or get along with, we’ll find our lives becoming limited. We may avoid getting hurt but we’ll become more closed off, missing the opportunity to become a stronger, more caring person.
Psychologist Marsha Linehan, of the University of Washington, teaches that by choosing to accept others in difficult moments, opens the way for our happiness. But don’t worry, we don’t have to do backflips in our head to get to this place. Simply chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo consistently, brings out the courage, wisdom and compassion needed to transform any human relationship.
If we lived based on staying away from people we don’t like or get along with, we’ll find our lives becoming limited. We may avoid getting hurt but we’ll become more closed off, missing the opportunity to become a stronger, more caring person.
As the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda explains:
Whether we change our situation for better or worse depends on our actions, which arise from our attitude and determination. Especially when we treasure and appreciate our relationships with those around us, they in turn will function to support and protect us. Nichiren Daishonin teaches that we should interact with others, even those we find difficult, with wisdom and broadmindedness.
December 2022 Living Buddhism, p. 54
Buddhism is a teaching of taking action. Our behavior as a human being is the most important. Alex Boling, of Los Angeles, exemplifies this Buddhist principle as he navigates actually caring for people versus the idea of caring for people.
Taking it a step further, Buddhist philosophy states that we are all interconnected, so the moment we accept others, we are essentially accepting ourselves.
And if we don’t feel it in our hearts, that’s OK. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to embrace that person in our life, just as they are, will enable our hearts will begin to change too. We can also improve our human relationships, and take action to accept ourselves and others, which is really the most radical thing we could do to change society.
Buddhist philosophy states that we are all interconnected, so the moment we accept others, we are essentially accepting ourselves.