One aspect of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and practicing with the SGI that I’ve always loved is the teaching that “the heart is most important.” I often think of this in terms of sincerity, especially in our relationships with other people. People can usually sense our sincerity (or insincerity) when we speak with them. Are we deceitful or sarcastic when approaching colleagues, friends and family? Or do we make an effort to convey our concern and appreciation? SGI President Ikeda says that sincere dialogue is the best way to reach other people’s hearts.
Daisaku Ikeda writes:
In Chinese and Japanese, the same characters can be translated into English as either “heart” or “mind.” That is because they contain elements of both intellect and emotion. For example, being “of the same mind as Nichiren” does not mean having undergone the same education or possessing the same degree of intelligence. Rather, mind here indicates determination and faith. Similarly, “it is the heart that is important” should not be read as referring to emotion alone, exclusive of thought or wisdom. Heart, in this case, indicates intent, similar to a sincere desire or vow.
Learning from the Writings: The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series p. 137
All too often, people’s hearts become closed off or hardened towards others. Whatever challenges they may have faced in life became too difficult to withstand and their hearts succumbed to disappointment, anger, frustration or loneliness. Other people’s hearts are filled with nothing but the desire for wealth, fame or material possessions. Many more fall prey to addiction.
If we are able to strengthen our hearts or minds with courage and confidence, we will be that much more capable of encouraging others along the way.