Testing My Practice

Nichiren Buddhism is not just about blind faith in the practice.

Nichiren Daishonin teaches us to always test our practice for successful results, a little like a scientist would do with his experiments.

If the practice isn’t working, we must modify our methods, learn more about perfecting the process, or we are wasting precious time and effort. There’s no point repeating the same thing, over and over, if the results are unsatisfactory, or at least improving over time.

So I found today to be a perfect day for testing whether my learning, chanting and awareness of self were having the desired effect. Namely to help me control my lifestate and make my mood more even, in the face of those day to day issues, good and bad, over which we have no control, but which affect our mood in some way.

Having spent half the night fixing problems with one of our company websites, caused by a person of great intellect who had hacked into the database to leave little messages everywhere, I was pretty tired.

Fortunately, being Sunday, I was able to have a lie-in, so I drew the blinds tight shut to keep the morning sunshine out and slept like a log. I do remember hearing the rain lashing the windows at some point, but I was snug and warm and didn’t think anything of it.

Imagine my ‘delight’, on rising around midday, to find a puddle of rainwater in the middle of the coffee table in my lounge and a damp patch on the ceiling above it.

Obviously it wasn’t the best start to the day, but to my surprise, I found that a situation that might have caused me to get angry, or a least spoiled the start of my day, turned into a simple test of my practice.

Nobody wants problems in their life, but Nichiren Daishonin teaches us that making use of these everyday problems or challenges is a way to strengthen your mind. Like changing poison into medicine, our problems help us increase our mental strength, like a weightlifter lifting ever heavier weights in order to increase his physical strength.

It wasn’t the toughest problem I’ll ever face, or even the only one I’ve faced today, but it did prove to me that my practice is working and that over time I will become even more capable of remaining on an ‘even keel’ when issues arise.

That has to be good for me and my happiness, but even more importantly the happiness of those around me.

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