It’s So Easy To Let It Slide

Fundamental DarknessChallenges we set ourselves can be easy, or they can be hard. Generally speaking, the challenges that are worth setting, take us well out of our comfort zone. So what is the secret of success in such a situation?

Well speaking from my own experience, it is all about confidence and determination. My weight loss ‘regime’, if you can call it that, was set in motion through a determination to get into shape, both physically and in terms of my own self image. Now there is a further challenge, to stay that way for good.

It’s easy to put off till tomorrow, that which you should start today, and to give in today, promising that you will put things right tomorrow. Feelings like that are normal. It is our Fundamental Darkness talking us into wrong thoughts and deeds. The only weapon we have against it, and we all have those thoughts, is our determination to succeed. By imagining that our Dark Passenger,  as I prefer to call it, is actually something outside ourselves, we can mentally argue our case and, through determination, change our actions.

Success is sweet, failure is bitter and the only difference between the two is determination. Any goal, no matter how large or how small, is only unattainable if you lack the determination to go on.

No cause is lost until you decide that it is lost. So ignore, or better still defeat your Fundamental Darkness, have confidence in yourself, be determined, and never, ever give up. In that way, you will always be a winner, will achieve your goals, and be forever tasting that sweet taste of success.

The Goal – World Peace

Dove Of PeaceThe world’s population is around seven and a quarter billion, and our small planet is obviously not getting any bigger.

To support all these hungry mouths we have to collaborate more closely than ever, to stop fighting and start farming in sustainable ways.

All those hundreds of years ago, Nichiren was utterly convinced we could change even the most dire and painful reality, including the danger of war, and indeed that it was imperative that we do so.

This conviction underlies his unwavering determination to create a peaceful society by disseminating the teachings of Buddhism. This is why we are working with endless determination, to achieve Kosen Rufu, World Peace.

Do You Know What You Are Eating?

Factory FarmingAs a vegan, I don’t eat any meat, fish or dairy products, and for a good reasons.

First and foremost, I don’t feel that I have the right to eat our fellow earthlings. Secondly, it is well documented that animals suffer all manner of cruelty and hardship as they are reared for slaughter. And thirdly, there is little or no documentation or meaningful labelling of the meat, fish or dairy products consumed by those who are not vegan.

If a stranger came up to you in the street, and offered you something to eat, would to accept it? Of course not, you don’t know the person, you don’t know the contents or safety of the item they are offering. So why do you eat products offered by shops and supermarkets?

What we need is a deal more courage and wisdom in our eating habits. The courage to ask more questions and to demand real answers, and the wisdom to see that behind the attractive slogans and packaging, there is a litany of deceit and misinformation.

If you don’t believe me, maybe you will believe the BBC … read more

Keeping It Real

RipplesIt appears that there are now over six hundred people following my blog, so I need to continue to think carefully about the things I post.

Each topic will be, however small, a source for potential change in those who read it.

One of the principles of Nichiren Buddhism is that of the Oneness of Self and the Environment.

If you drop a pebble, no matter how small, into a pond, the ripples spread out in all directions and interact with everything in their path.

This principle states that there is a connection between the person and others around him or her. It is therefore clear that changes in our life-state, the way we relate or react to others and changes due to our Practice will affect those whose lives we interact with.

Some of these affects are very obvious. If we walk around with a happy demeanour, we find that people are more likely to be pleasant towards us. If, on the other hand, we walk around in a bad mood, with a scowl on our face, we find that people are less friendly and may try to avoid us completely.

Ok, so no rocket science there then, but there are more subtle ways in which changes can be felt. In my own case, my Practice has allowed me to stabilise my life-state, generally I am now more often in the higher Worlds than lower ones. The result of that is that I am better placed to create value, for myself and those around me.

My Practice has changed me and those changes are affecting others. That’s why it is so important for me to ensure that as these changes take place, my Wisdom, Courage and Compassion increases too, so I can make sure the changes are all good ones.

Tragic Tuesday

Memories and pipe dreams - maybe?The holiday is well and truly over and the crew are suffering. A week of not having to be anywhere at any time is a true luxury, but one to which one can quickly become accustomed.

Like a fool, I made the huge mistake, last night, of looking  at narrowboats for sale online, knowing full well that now was not the time. Sadly I found several that fitted the bill, beautiful, well equipped and (relatively) cheap.

So today I am busy getting my mind back into ‘sensible mode’ and dealing with the problems that every day life brings. Though I have to admit that I keep drifting back to last week, and an afternoon spent in the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury with Richard, a retired IT professional, now living full time on narrowboat Sarah Pay with his Welsh Collie Megan.

We all set ourselves goals and we are all guilty of looking over the fence to the greener fields, but we must use Wisdom when we navigate through these mental flights of fancy.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, at least for now, I have to concentrate on performing the role for which I am paid. The holiday is gone, albeit that the memories are still fresh in the mind. To make changes we must make causes, and to make causes we need to use our wisdom and courage. We will see, time will tell … again.

So Chilled

Bridge 43 on the Llangollen CanalThe holiday is over, the boat returned to its rightful owner intact and in good order and the crew are both back at work.

A week afloat, in beautiful countryside and always at walking pace or below is enough to slow even the most frantic heart rate. Of course there were a couple of issues, the most memorable being the deluge we encountered whilst trying to moor Kingfisher at Hurleston junction.

The rain was coming down by the bucketful and mooring spaces were at a premium, so the stress levels were raised just a little. To say it was wet would be an understatement. Everything, and I mean everything, was soaked through.

But these tiny bumps in the road we call life, are just opportunities to learn and improve, and although it was reported by First Officer Fogg, that I did use a few expletives at times, the task was accomplished and everything was dry, or drying, by the following morning.

So now I’m back in the office. Apart from the odd sensation of land sickness, where perfectly solid buildings appear to sway like a narrowboat, giving everyone the impression that one is a little intoxicated, it’s life as usual.

Whether life as usual is a good thing or not, is open to conjecture. Whether life as usual will remain life as usual was discussed on several occasions during the week afloat, so maybe watch this space for further developments.

Being Limitless

Being LimitlessWhen we are open and engaged, we experience the greater self. When we are closed off, we are exhibiting our lesser self.

The lesser self is a deluded condition, whilst our greater self is synonymous with our Buddha nature.

To live for the greater self means to recognise the universal principle behind all things and, being awaked in this way, rise above the suffering caused by the awareness of impermanence. A belief in something eternal is needed to enhance our quality of life.

By believing that this world is the be-all and end-all of existence, we will miss out, we will not live a truly profound life. When our viewpoint expands beyond the boundaries of our present existence to include the entire, eternal universe, we can finally live deeply fulfilling lives, unconstrained by our own limited experience.

Make A Splash

Make A SplashOne of the principles of Nichiren Buddhism concerns the Oneness of Self and the Environment and how that connection affects all of us in ways we sometimes fail to grasp.

If you drop a pebble, no matter how small, into a pond, the ripples generated spread out in all directions and interact with everything in their path.

This principle states that there is a connection between the person and others around him or her. It is therefore clear that changes in our life-state, the way we relate or react to others and changes due to our Practice will affect those whose lives we interact with.

Some of these effects are very obvious. If we walk around with a happy demeanour, we find that people are more likely to be pleasant towards us. If, on the other hand, we walk around in a bad mood, with a scowl on our face, we find that people are less friendly and may try to avoid us completely.

Ok, so no rocket science there then, but there are more subtle ways in which changes can be felt. In my own case, my Practice has allowed me to stabilise my life-state, generally I am now more often in higher Worlds (see The Ten Worlds) than lower ones. The result of that is that I am better placed to create value, for myself and those around me.

My Practice has changed me and those changes are affecting others. That’s why it is so important for me to ensure that as these changes take place, my Wisdom, Courage and Compassion increases too, so I can make sure the changes are all good ones.

Be That Drop Of Sunshine

Be The Sunshine

Life has it’s ups and downs, as we all know. Little things can make friends and family members unhappy or even depressed, so make it your job to make them feel better.

There are so many people, so many lives on this planet, too numerous, in fact, to count.

From this great multitude, we wondrously find ourselves together with those in our families, as parents and children, as brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives.

If we do not live joyfully and cheerfully with whom we share this profound bond, what is life for?

Should the atmosphere at home be sombre, you can be that drop of ‘sunshine’. By being a shining presence, you can cast the light of hope on your mother, father, children and indeed all of your family and friends.

Exploring NMRK

Exploring NMRKAfter the initial question “do you chant?” we are then asked “what do you chant?” followed closely by “how long do you chant?” and almost certainly “what does it mean?”.

After a little practice, no pun intended, most people can master the phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but explaining why we chant it, and what it means may take a little longer.

Here is how the SGI website describes the meaning of the individual parts …

Nichiren Daishonin established the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the way to awaken one’s Buddha nature and tap into the deepest levels of our existence, on which our own lives and that of the universe are one. He first taught the invocation of the phrase to a small group at Seicho-ji temple in Awa province, Japan, on April 28, 1253.

Myoho-renge-kyo is the name of the Lotus Sutra in Japanese pronunciation of classical Chinese characters, and so the literal meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is “I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra.” As the following explanation shows, there are deeper levels of meaning attached to each element of the phrase.

Nam

Nam derives from the Sanskrit word namu, meaning “to devote oneself.” Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life, or Dharma. In the original Sanskrit, namu indicates the elements of action and attitude, and refers therefore to the correct action one needs to take and the attitude one needs to develop in order to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

Myoho

Myoho literally means the Mystic Law–the underlying truth or principle which governs the mysterious workings of the universe and our life from moment to moment. Myo refers to the very essence of life, which is “invisible” and beyond intellectual understanding. This essence always expresses itself in a tangible form (ho) that can be apprehended by the senses. Phenomena (ho) are changeable, but pervading all such phenomena is a constant reality known as myo. Myo also means to open, to revive, and to be fully endowed with the qualities we need to develop our lives.

Renge

Renge means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad, that we accumulate (through our thoughts, words and actions) at each moment. This is called our “karma.” The law of cause and effect affirms that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We create our destiny and we have the power to change it. The most powerful positive cause we can make is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously created in the depths of our life and will definitely manifest in time.

The lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, and yet remains pristine and free from any defilement, symbolizing the emergence of Buddhahood from within the life of an ordinary person in the midst of the struggles of day-to-day existence.

Kyo

Kyo literally means sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. In this sense, it also means sound, rhythm or vibration. In a broad sense, kyo conveys the concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the Mystic Law.

Further explanation of the meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can be found here.

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