3 Pillars of Buddhism
To begin with, Buddhism is the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha of how to live at the critical junctures of old age, illness and leaving this world someday as we live in this world as a person. While those teachings are a colossal number of eighty-four thousand, even if the denominations and doctrines are different, there is a commonality that flows at the depths. It is called the three pillars of Buddhism. They are indispensable to Mahayana Buddhism.
1, First, Requital of Kindness and Gratitude
To put it simply, this is to give rise to a mind of thank you and a feeling of indebtedness. Invoking the name of Amida Buddha, uttering the sacred title of the Lotus Sutra, mantras, sitting meditation—while the chant and method of training is different, at the depths of the mind of those practices the feeling of knowing our debt of gratitude and returning the kindness received is essential. The Chinese character On 恩 (kindness, goodness, favor, blessing, benefit) is a combination of In 因 (cause, factor) and Kokoro 心 (heart, mind, spirit). In other words, the meaning of the Chinese character On is the mind that knows the cause and by-cause for our life.
2, Second, Repentance and the Destroying Sins
There are times when we intended to do good, but in fact caused trouble for another. A casual remark may hurt someone’s feelings.
Including myself, nearly all people have a weakness that prevents them from living without committing some kind of sin. While feeling mental pain, and fearing our sin, a mind of meek repentance is essential.
3, Third, The Wish for All Sentient Beings
Since we are being sustained within the great vow and hope of the Buddha, we at least give rise to the wish live for the happiness of as many people as possible. A human being is an animal that cannot live alone. Therefore what is now needed is way of life of coexistence of helping one another.
From an article in the Zen Nihon Bukkyo Kai Shi by Rev. Genrei Nakanishi. Translated by Mr. Dean Makinodan.