Q: I have a hard time saying no to people. I end up making promises I don’t want to keep. As a result, I hurt my own relationships with people. How can I effectively say no?
P: Basically, it is because you have a desire to look good to others. You want to be thought of as a good person by others, and you want to be praised by others. That’s very egotistical. That’s why you can’t say no. In fact, even Jesus, who only tried to help people was crucified. Also, even the Buddha was criticized very often during his lifetime. As you can see, even great sages were criticized. Are you as good as the Buddha? If you are not, criticism is something that you should welcome. Do not be afraid of being criticized. You are being very greedy when you want to avoid being criticized. It’s okay for you to say no to the things you can’t do because ultimately you can’t fulfill everybody’s expectations. If you are able to do it, that’s fine. You can go ahead and do it. But if you can’t say no to those things that you don’t want to do, it means you want to escape criticism. So I want you to welcome criticism and learn to live with it. When you are criticized, think about whether you went against the four precepts I spoke about which prohibits hurting others, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying. If you did go against any of them, you need to repent and never do it again. However, if you didn’t, you don’t have to worry about the criticism. It is not a sin for you not be able to help someone who asks for help. If you steal somebody else’s property, that’s a crime. Don’t always try to be a perfect person. Just accept that you will often be criticized.
Q: Thank you.
P: Everybody who is born has the right to be happy. Whatever past experiences you have, you still have a right to be happy here and now. Buddha expressed it this way, “Everybody can be a Buddha.” And Jesus said. “Everybody is the child of the loving God”. So you have to realize how precious you are. You have to live happily. But if you choose to suffer, that’s fine too. If those of you living here in the United States can’t find happiness, it’s not just your problem but a problem for those of us in the rest of the world. People around the world who are in unhappy think, “If I just make it to the U.S, I’ll be happy.” When they come to the United States and find that all of you are unhappy, they won’t have any hope left. Your unhappiness brings despair to the rest of the world. Therefore, all of you here should be happy. I wish happiness to all of you.