Oneness of Life and Its Environment

Most people see their environment as something that was established and existed prior to their arrival into this world. They were born into it and believe they were born by chance into whatever life circumstances existed at their birth. Whether they were fortunate or unfortunate, they’re taught these circumstances had nothing to do with them.

That way of thinking persists into how we view our lives. For example, if we enter into a work environment, we see ourselves as entering a work environment that is separate from us. If there are problems at work, we often think of the problem as lying with the company or another individual. If we are having financial issues, we see it as being due to a weak economy or to having no jobs in a small town. You can solve the problem if you go somewhere else, leave the relationship you have and find a more congenial one. Happiness lies out there.

Buddhism teaches the principle of the oneness of life and its environment. That means as though our subjective self and our objective surroundings might appear to be two independent realities, they are in fact two dimensions of a single reality, each arising in relationship with the other. As Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of this form of Buddhism says, “Environment is like the shadow, and life, the body. Without the body, no shadow can exist, and without life, no environment. In the same way life is shaped by its environment.” Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p 644.

How does this apply in everyday life?

This means that we are not born into one static environment into which everyone else is born as well. Rather we live in an individualized environment, uniquely customized and tailored to each of us according to the state of our inner lives. This includes the causes and conditions into which we were born and extends to all the circumstances of our lives.

Let me give you an example. One woman lived two houses down from an attractive family home. Then the grandson, who had inherited the house, became involved with the meth world, and that attractive home morphed into a weedy, unkempt, garbage-strewn environment that repelled every on-looker. He had lived there before, when the house was still attractive, but once the state of his mind changed, the home environment reflected that change.

Each of us at the core of our lives, through our Buddha nature, is one with the creative power of the universe. Through that connection we manifest all the circumstances of our lives in the objective world, through the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect says that whenever we think speak and act, we are setting a cause for our future when the time is right. This means that our current life circumstances are the result of causes we have made in the past.

It also means that if we are dissatisfied with something in our life, we have the power to change it through our faith and through changing the causes we are making through our speech and action. Using our connection with that creative power through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can take charge of our lives, manifesting what we want on purpose, rather than inadvertently manifesting what we don’t want. When we strengthen and improve the inner self, then our outer circumstances will come to reflect the change