Religion & Faith
A Buddha is not the one who sits quietly in a remote world of enlightenment. A Buddha is one who never ceases to take on challenges, who goes among those who are suffering and sweats and toils for their happiness.
Buddhism does not exist apart from society but manifests itself in society. The wisdom of Buddhism must be applied dynamically in society. It is suicidal for a religion to remain cloistered in a world of religion, closed off from the rest of the world.
Buddhism lies close at hand, in the here and now. It is found in daily life, is innate in human existence and in society. To present Buddhism as belonging to some far-off realm, removed from life and reality is deceptive.
By nature, people are strong, wise, cheerful and warm. Religious faith is the power that develops these qualities. The purpose of faith is to make people wise.
Each religion can be made a force for good or for evil by the people who practice it.
Faith in Buddhism is not blind faith that rejects the criteria of reason. It is in fact a rational function, a process of cultivating wisdom that begins with a spirit of reverent searching. The impulse of true reason is to continuously and eternally transcend the confines of the present self. It aims to reach beyond its grasp, always improving, always surpassing itself. The source of energy and foundation for that constant search is faith in something larger than oneself. Faith purifies reason, strengthens it, and elevates it.
Faith is the function of human life that dispels the dark clouds of doubt, anxiety and regret, opens one’s heart and orients it toward good.
In the realm of religion, with its tragic legacy of fanaticism and intolerance, nothing is more vital than dialogue that transcends dogmatism and is predicated on the exercise of reason and self-mastery. For any religion to relinquish dialogue is to relinquish its reason for being. . . . We must never allow the banner of dialogue, the sine qua non of humanism, to fall―no matter how threatening the rejectionist forces of fanaticism, mistrust or dogmatism may loom.
It goes without saying that any religion that justifies terrorism or war has undermined the spiritual basis for its own existence. I firmly believe that the mission of religion in the twenty-first century must be to contribute concretely to the peaceful coexistence of humankind. Religious faith can help foster a truly global consciousness and restore the bonds between human hearts.
Philosophy should inspire people with a sense of purpose and instill in them the power to lead life to the fullest.
Religion in the twenty-first century must provide people with the wisdom to be independent, to think and decide wisely for themselves how to live their lives.
Religion is always in danger of growing apart from the people when its leaders forget to reflect carefully on their own behavior and come to look upon themselves as figures of authority.
The essence of the teachings of Buddhism is simple: treasure each person.
The human being is at the center of Buddhism. With its focus on the importance of the heart and the preciousness of life, Buddhism exists to enable all people to cultivate and manifest their innate Buddha nature.
The Lotus Sutra’s spirit is to resist the dehumanization of religion and religion's tendency to become divorced from reality but instead to steadfastly redirect religion to focus on the human being.
The tendency of religion is to depart from the human being. And when that happens, religion becomes little more than a means for controlling people.
The struggle to surmount inner deadlock and feelings of defeat is what faith is all about. It is the rousing of the strong and powerful spirit within, the commitment to resolutely wage battle against all inner tendencies toward complacency and stagnation.
What is called for now is a new union of faith and reason encompassing all aspects of the human being and society, including the perspective achieved by modern science. This is the great challenge that modern civilization faces, to restore the wholeness of human society, which has been rent asunder by reason without belief and irrational fanaticism.
Wisdom is the enlightened insight that enables us to improve our own lives as well as the lives of others. Knowledge that causes suffering for others could never be considered wisdom. The distortions of society today derive from a confusion of wisdom, which is holistic, and knowledge, which is fragmentary; and an inability to distinguish genuine faith from blind credulity.