Skip to main content


Developing a Big Heart

Elephant with Balloon
Mike_Kiev / Getty Images

There is a famous parable in the Buddhist sutras that stresses the importance of empathizing with the suffering of others to transform our own heavy hearts:

One day, Shakyamuni was approached by a woman [racked] by grief at the loss of her child. She begged him to bring her baby back to life. Shakyamuni comforted her and offered to prepare a medicine that would revive her child. To make this he would need a mustard seed, which he instructed her to find in a nearby village. This mustard seed, however, would have to come from a home that had never experienced the death of a family member. The woman set out from house to house, asking each for a mustard seed. But nowhere could she find a home that had never known death. As she continued her quest, the woman began to realize her suffering was something shared by all people. She returned to Shakyamuni determined not to be overwhelmed by grief.[1]

Ikeda Sensei says:

When we think only of ourselves, we become increasingly caught up in our small egos, or lesser selves. In contrast, when we work toward a great and all-encompassing objective—for the sake of the Law, the happiness of others and the welfare of society—we can develop big hearts and bring forth our greater selves. … With big hearts, we can savor truly immense happiness. Sufferings that may have once been a heavy burden in a lesser state of life will appear minor, and we are able to calmly rise above them.[2]

Hardships are inevitable in life. Our Buddhist practice ensures that by turning our worries into the fuel for encouraging others, we can double our joy and halve our sorrows.

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff


  1. March 13, 2020, World Tribune, p. 7. ↩︎
  2. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, p. 77. ↩︎

LISTEN: Healing Family Rifts When You Don’t Share Beliefs

Q: Why should I express my appreciation if I don’t feel it?