The Learning Process

Look Both WaysI love the way this poem beautifully encapsulates the stages of learning, and the long, long road to enlightenment …

  1. I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
    I fall in.
    I am lost…
    I am hopeless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.
    ~~~~
  2. I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.
    ~~~~
  3. I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in…it’s a habit
    My eyes are open; I know where I am;
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.
    ~~~~
  4. I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.
    ~~~~
  5. I walk down another street.
~ Portia Nelson

Steady Chaps

Steady as she goes captain !!!There are times when we need to be reminded of the important things in life. When distractions come along it’s all too easy to get side tracked and let our focus slip. It isn’t that we forget that our Practice is the centre of our lives, it’s just that sometimes life itself can get in the way, albeit temporarily.

When everything comes along at once, it can all be a little too much to cope with. But being reminded that our practice is the one constant that keeps us on the straight and narrow is a very good thing. When we remember that everything pivots around our honzon, that our faith is central and the very thing that makes us who we are, we can take steps to realign ourselves.

Take a firm grip of the wheel, get your ship back on your desired heading, feel the wind of change at your back and focus on the horizon. Chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and it’s steady as she goes captain !!!

The Ride Of Your Life

The Ride Of Your LifeNobody ever said that life was supposed to be a bowl of cherries.

Our journey from birth to death, whichever lap we happen to be on at any one time, is a series of lows and highs, the rough and the smooth, the not-so-happy and the happy, the bad and the good.

So by assuming that even though things may be going along smoothly just now, we should prepare ourselves for the next pot hole, the unexpected hairpin or that most untimely puncture that will most certainly come along, to make that journey even more satisfying. Being prepared, as all boy scouts know, is the trick to reducing the effect that these unforeseen circumstances will have on our progress.

We have often talked about turning poison into medicine, using the difficulties in life as our way of making ourselves stronger, and seeing obstacles as challenges rather than problems. The old adage of ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ is exactly right, if we approach these things in the right manner. Being doggedly determined not to be beaten, to meet the challenges head on and win through, come hell or high water, is a great start and a great way to move on.

Imagine how disappointed we would all be, if the latest ride at Alton Towers was a perfectly straight, perfectly level piece of track, that started slowly, trundled along at walking pace, and gradually slowed to a genteel halt five minutes later. Who in their right mind would queue for something so predictable, so comfortable, so boring? Nobody I know.

The most popular rides, the ones that have the longest queues, and the ones that we want to get back on, time after time, are the ones that scare us witless, the ones that actually make us wonder if we will live to tell the tale. And that is how life can be if we prepare ourselves for the turns, the plunges, the unexpected. The greatest books, films and life stories are all about facing almost impossible adversity, battling against the odds, getting the odd knock along the way, but coming out as the victor in the end.

So face up to the rigours of life, meet those challenges head on, stay strong, be brave and make your life the subject of the greatest story Hollywood has ever told.

Are You Looking?

Are You Looking For Your Path?We all have to find our own path to enlightenment. One person’s way may not be that of another, but we all have a path, if we take the time, and have the courage to find it.

Finding the right way is not an easy task, but you owe it to yourself to keep looking.

Everyone has the right to flower, to reveal his or her full potential as human beings and to fulfil their particular mission in this world. You have this right, as does everyone else.

This is the meaning of human rights. To scorn, violate and abuse people’s human rights destroys the natural order of things.

Valuing human rights and showing respect for other people are amongst our most important tasks in life.

On Setting Our Goals

Goal SettingSet your goals with care. Whether they are big or small, work towards realising them.

You must be serious and dedicated to your goals – you will never get anywhere if you set them on a whim, or just treat them like a joke.

An earnest, dedicated spirit shines like a diamond and moves the hearts of people. That is because a brilliant flame burns within.

If we are sincere, people will understand our intentions, and our positive qualities will shine forth. It is pointless and destructive to be overly conscious about outward appearances.

As the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote,

“How may one get to know oneself?

Never by contemplation, only indeed by action

Seek to do your duty, and you will know at once how it is with you”

Goals are at the heart of our success, in fact they are the Kyo, and indeed the very basis of Kyo Chi Gyo I. Set your goals with care, and once they are set, aim for them with vigour passion and determination in equal measure.

Oops !!!

PoisonMy progress, through my Practice, has been pretty steady and positive for quite a while now.

So imagine my surprise when I seemed to take a step backwards yesterday. Nothing terminal, of course, and maybe it was long overdue and rather understandable.

Naturally, it’s tempting to only blog my successes, the good things, and paint a rosy picture. But that wouldn’t be a true reflection of my path.

I’m not going to go into details, those who need to know, already know, but I am going to use this challenge to strengthen my resolve, so more poison into medicine and proof that my faith is strong.

P Is For Practice

P For PracticeFor me, my Buddhist Practice is a way of life. A routine that I go through every day, Gongyo, Daimoku, even writing this blog. But routine is also another word for boring, mundane or even hum-drum, so it’s important to keep in mind why we Practice.

We Practice for several reasons …

  • To raise our life-energy levels …
  • To chant for certain outcomes …
  • To move us along the road to Buddhahood …
  • To give a stable anchor in our lives …

and there are many others, often different for every individual.

As a novice, I find that I can learn a little more each day Let’s face it, Buddhism has been around for well over two thousand years, so there’s plenty to learn about.. I can improve or seek to perfect my Practice and to maintain a more focused attention to the subject of my chanting.

I look forward to the feeling I get during and after Gongyo. I often find that I am quite warm when I finish chanting and in a really good mood, despite any problems I am facing.

I never cease to be amazed by the effectiveness of chanting either. To start with, the word coincidence came into my mind when I saw results, but not any more. But I do get surprised by the way the Universe solves the problems with which I have asked it to help. Not always the way I expected, and often in better, more subtle ways than I could have imagined.

So my Practice is a pleasure, not a chore. It’s something I enjoy and never something I feel I have to do.

As Nichiren Daishonin said, ‘If you practice something, you must test it’s validity with the results you see’. In other words, if it doesn’t work, stop doing it.

For me, it’s working wonders and I think the World would be a better place if more people were to discover those wonders.

On The Purpose Of Prayer

The Chosen PathPrayer, in Nichiren Buddhism, is unlike that in most other faiths, in that they are not directed to a higher power for help or consideration for the subject of the prayer.

When Nichiren Buddhists pray, they are making themselves more mindful of the effects they wish to see in their lives, and raising their life-state in order to enable them to create the causes to achieve those effects.

It is important to remember that our prayers reflect our life state. In that respect, prayer is a solemn means to raise our life-state or condition. To receive exactly the results for which we are praying, it is crucial to make a determined, single minded effort toward that goal.

This is the true path of manifesting faith in our daily life. Those of us who proceed along this narrow path, day after day, month after month, year after year, will develop, without fail. Just as a sapling grows into a mighty tree, to become a person of outstanding strength and character, one with wisdom, courage and compassion, relies on us remaining true to our chosen path.

On Being Grateful

On Being GratefulWe all have the ability to feel sorry for ourselves. Sometimes it seems we have problem after problem, and think the world is against us.

But we can all take a step back and look at our situation compared to others, and be honest enough to see that there are other people in much worse circumstances.

In Buddhist terms, the effects in our lives are the product of the causes we make along our way, it’s called Karma. Whilst it is difficult sometimes, to reconcile ourselves with the fact that we have, in some way caused our own problems, it is important to remember that we are not being punished.

So when you have had enough of your troubles, and are ready to throw in the towel, just take time to look around and realise that there is always someone worse off somewhere.

Be grateful for what you have, and concentrate on making causes for the effects you need to improve the situation. To do anything else is to lack Courage and Wisdom and that doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself.

On Individual Pride

Cherry Blossom

Pride can be a double edged sword. We should take pride in our achievements and our proper conduct, but we must take care that our pride does not turn into false vanity.

As Sensei observed …

Wildflowers are neither vain nor haughty, neither jealous nor servile.

Living in accord with their unique mission, characterizing the Buddhist principle of the equality of cherry, peach, plum, and damson blossoms, they neither envy other flowers nor belittle themselves.

They take pride in their individuality, knowing that each is a flower with a bloom like no other. Even the prettiest and most delicate wildflowers are by no means weak. They may seem fragile, but they are strong, unperturbed by rain or wind.

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