(Photo above by Melissa Mullins / Unsplash)
The equality of all people is the essential message of the Lotus Sutra, as taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, or Siddhartha, as he is sometimes referred.
Buddhism also teaches that, at the most profound level, all life is interconnected. Therefore, to discriminate against others based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation is to discriminate against oneself.
To discriminate against others based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation is to discriminate against oneself.
Why do we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo specifically?
Myoho-renge-kyo is the title of the Lotus Sutra, and “Nam,” means to fuse our life with this truth—that we and everyone else are inherently worthy of respect. So, each time we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo out loud, we are essentially saying, I am worthy of respect, just as I am, and my potential is infinite.
Why your individuality is needed in this world.
Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher, uses this analogy to emphasize just how precious your life is:
The cherry tree is a cherry tree; a peach a peach. We don't all have to be cherries; just as trees bloom in their own distinct way, we should strive to live in a way that is most natural for us. … Your individuality is a single treasure that only you possess. Your individuality only really starts to shine when you strive with all your might, challenging yourself with every last ounce of your energy. Your individuality is your own unique weapon for making the most of your life. It is your jeweled sword.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, pp. 125–37
So maybe you’re a peach and the next person is a cherry tree. Both are wonderful! Buddhism is about embracing our individuality and recognizing that it is our greatest treasure. It’s about being our own person.
Why respecting others’ individuality actually helps you develop your own.
Buddhism also teaches that our individuality is something to be celebrated, not looked down on. Interestingly, the more we appreciate others for who they are and the ways they are different from us, the more we can accept and appreciate ourselves.
In fact, Buddhism gets pretty serious when it comes to respecting our own life and others. Ikeda shares just how important this is:
In truth, if we respect and treasure the individuality of others while at the same time working to develop our own individuality, we can realize valuable progress for both ourselves and others. To judge people by their appearances is an insult to humanity. It is the exact opposite of the spirit of treasuring individuality.
Discussions on Youth, p. 289
This is why judgment-free spaces are so important. To hold space for each person to express themselves and feel zero-judgment are synonymous with the true practice of Buddhism.
Throughout the world, millions of practicing Buddhists meet regularly in their communities to support and cheer one another on toward their goals. These community gatherings are proof that when people acknowledge and respect the Buddhability inside themselves and others, a just and peaceful society can develop.
P.S. These community gatherings are open to anyone and totally free to participate. Feel free to email us if you’re interested in checking one out.