Minister’s Message – May 2024

All the good acts and myriad practices,
Because they are performed with a sincere
Mind and aspiration, become, without exception,
Provisional good that will lead to birth in The Pure Land.

~Shinran Shonin, Jodo Wasan, verse 63

There is a behavioral scientist from Stanford University, who conducted
research on the impact of compliments on receivers and ourselves. One day,
the scientist popped into a post office shortly before it closed. The postal worker
was incredibly patient and went out of their way to help the scientist mail a pile
of packages, but before leaving, this scientist handed the postal worker a
“compliment card”, which was designed by this scientist. On the front of the
card, the sentiment said, “your willingness to go the extra mile never goes
unnoticed”. Inside the card, the sentiment read, “You’re receiving this
compliment because your awesomeness deserves a big shout out”. The postal
worker had a big smile on its face and a happier feeling.

We have to be reminded that kind words can have a stronger power to
brighten other people’s day more than we might expect. We tend to forget or
underestimate the power of our words. We tend to take too lightly the positive
impact compliments have on others as well as on ourselves. The scientist says,
“The compliment is one of these really powerful, small actions that brighten your
day and brighten someone else’s day…and it costs nothing”.

According to a social psychologist from Cornell University says that a simple
compliment can be so powerful. It makes” the human feel valued and respected
by others, like we belong”. We tend to worry about what others view us, yet

given very little feedback. However, compliments give us “feedback” we want to
know. It is a form of expression of admiration and provides that “sliver of hope”
that we are seen positively, maybe in our work or in our “style of fashion”.
Compliments boost our spirit and we feel rewarded in good ways.

When we see or may be involved in a difficult situation and the situation is
defused, yet we still wonder if it could have been handled in a different manner.
Compliments reassures us that they or we were on the “right track” and the help
received or given had not gone unnoticed. Who does not like a compliment? Yet
compliments are not for personal gain, but shared in respect, support,
encouragement or possibly even for a job done well.

It is not easy to give compliments. We may feel “weird” when giving words of
praise. However, compliments are shared with respect for that person.
According to the behavioral scientist, compliments can inspire, help think about
a situation in other ways, as well as see others or ourselves in different ways. “It
acknowledges an individual’s willingness, effort and growth mindset in
recognizing and cultivating the potential in others.”

It is difficult to accept compliments. We may blush, avert our eyes, mumble
something inaudible, be embarrassed or even belittling ourselves. However we
must also see the person giving the compliment. It makes the other person feel
good and we merely smile back with a “thank you”. We are building our
connection with the person of compliment and it leaves both the giver and
receiver with a happier feeling.

After all is done, we share our thanks, show our gratitude and appreciation
through Nembutsu/Namu Amida Butsu. Buddha is always there for us in giving
direction, guidance, compassion and wisdom. It is Namu Amida Butsu for both
the person of the compliment and the receiver.
Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano

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