Skip to main content

Lessons

The Eternal Pursuit of Self-Improvement

Shakyamuni taught his disciples that the spirit of Buddhism pulses in the determination to keep improving and challenging ourselves without end. Illustration by Leo Matsuda.
Shakyamuni taught his disciples that the spirit of Buddhism pulses in the determination to keep improving and challenging ourselves without end. Illustration by Leo Matsuda.

One day, Aniruddha [one of Shakyamuni’s 10 major disciples] attempted to mend a tear in his robe. But because he couldn’t see, he was unable to thread the sewing needle. In his frustration, he muttered, “Is there no one who will thread this needle for me and so gain good fortune [from helping a practitioner of Buddhism]?”

Someone approached him and said, “Allow me to accumulate good fortune.”

Aniruddha was stunned. For it was unmistakably the voice of Shakyamuni.

“I couldn’t possibly trouble you,” he protested, adding: “Surely one such as yourself, World-Honored One, does not need to gain any benefit.”

“On the contrary, Aniruddha,” Shakyamuni responded, “there is no greater seeker of happiness in the world than myself.” Shakyamuni went on to teach Aniruddha, who was still not convinced by his words, that there are things that one must continue to pursue eternally. For instance, in seeking truth, there is never an end, a point where we can say, “This will do.” Similarly, in our efforts to lead others to enlightenment, there is no limit at which we can say, “I have done enough.”

The same goes for our practice to develop and perfect ourselves. … The spirit of Buddhism pulses in this resolve to keep improving and challenging oneself without end. (Ikeda Sensei, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, pp. 105–07)

New Episode Out Now!

Men, Stand Tall as Golden Pillars