At the close of World War 2, the victorious American forces occupied Japan and ordered a complete social reorganization. It was especially concerned about new religions, so the government scrutinized every new organization or cult and demanded that they justify their existence. Many Buddhist organizations were ripped apart, their founders imprisoned and interrogated, their instruments and holy books confiscated, and many were banned from continuing. Religion was generally outlawed and viewed with the greatest suspicion, and this legacy continues today. The Buddhadharma struggles to survive here more than almost anywhere else. Its survival fills the prayers of many spiritual leaders.
The master was imprisoned and tried. His children and wife were persecuted. Humans often intimidate innovators from a sense of envy or fear. He continued to deepen his faith throughout this disgrace, counseling murderers and common thieves about their faith in his communal cell. He continued to be kind and calm even under duress, and his interrogators recognized his quiet determination. His core of conviction was not touched by blows to his pride, by social shame, by degradation. His Buddha nature shone through and dazzled everyone, and this year the teaching celebrates its 80th year and boasts 2 million followers worldwide.
Our true mission in human life will undoubtedly require courage and conviction. Therefore, we should not be concerned with our reputation because if our innate goodness is shining through others will recognize it eventually. Dark forces may try to destroy us, to persuade us to stay in line, to put aside pipe dreams, to choose to have a quiet life. But we must follow our heart and make our contribution during this limited time. We have arms and legs, we can give vocal expression to our vision, we can smile and shine, radiating our loving kindness to give form to the invisible. But in this dangerous world of form where we are capable of being monsters or angels, of creating beauty or destroying wholesale, of preserving our innocence and purity or spreading poison and lies, it is our motivation that we need to always be mindful of.
So, although you may never have consciously experienced persecution, be sure that some of your ancestors did, and it was then that they intensified their courage, their conviction, and their motivation became as clear as a bell. This is our karma and indelibly written in our DNA. Clarity rises as your Buddha Nature, your true nature, is polished by adversity, so walk straight towards it and face it head on.
You can surely do this at some moment during your day today. There is something you are avoiding – a difficult relationship or situation, a decision, or simply telling someone your honest feelings. These people and situations are exactly your best teachers, so embrace them fully.