Practicing In A World of Suffering

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fred Rodgers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Shinshu’s Commentary

This inspiring quotation has gone viral, so you’ve probably read it or heard about it. Anthony Breznican, who writes for Entertainment Weekly, repeated Fred Rodgers’ comments after the suicide bombing in Manchester.

In our school, the question arises: “If we all have buddha nature, why do people do evil things to each other?” Unfortunately, our Buddha-nature is often obscured by our delusion, much as a rain cloud blocks our view of the blue sky. Also, we live in the buddha-field of Shakyamuni Buddha and a characteristic of our world is suffering-delusion. It is this very suffering and delusion that encourages us to wake up and realize our inherent Buddha-nature. In our world one does not come without the other. This is why the Buddha said, “There is suffering” and called it the First Noble Truth. It is the premise from which we begin practice.

So the question becomes “what is it,” rather than “why is it.” Once we come around to how things are, we can begin to find an appropriate response. The Helpers are the people who look around and ask themselves “what can I do?” and act. This “what can I do?” must also be combined with “what is needed?” regardless of the “why” of a situation. In Buddhism we call these people Bodhisattvas. They are the first responders.

We are inspired by the helpers and our attention becomes redirected from our discouragement, bewilderment, helplessness and anger. It is our Buddhist practice, to be both encouraged and encouraging. Practice-realization is the action of the helper-bodhisattva-first responder. May we all be inspired to follow the path of these bodhisattvas.

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