LoveSometimes I can be as lonely in an office of a few dozen people, as I can alone in an empty room.

With my significant other more than 6,000 miles away, there’s no opportunity for the comfort that physical closeness brings.

We can phone, text, email and Skype every day, every hour even, but nothing can replace the reassurance that our auras entwining can instil.

I immerse myself in work, in study, in Practice but there is a section of my being that is in stasis, waiting for the moment our life-energies can mingle.

In the meantime I shall chant and pray for her wellbeing, her happiness and her safe return, and remain composed, patient and constant.

Wisdom, Courage and Compassion – In Real Life

My thanks to Lily Rose, of Myoho Beads, for bringing this heart warming story to my attention.

26/11: ‘My family and the others have not died in vain’

Jharna Narang, 36, lost her parents and brother at the Taj Mahal hotel on the day of the attacks. She was having dinner with her parents Vishnu and Neelam, brother Gunjan, his wife and her parents to celebrate Gunjan’s 32nd birthday, when the terrorists entered the hotel. Though her sister-in-law and her parents escaped, Jharna’s parents and brother died in the tragedy.

Jharna took four bullets — two pierced her hands, one hit her in the pelvic region and another in the stomach. The bullet wounds caused blood loss to the extent that her pulse ebbed to such a low level that doctors could barely feel it when she was first brought in to Bombay Hospital.

Nearly 50 bottles of blood and 24X7 efforts by a team of 19 doctors for eight months pulled her out of the crisis, though she would have to continue with medical treatment and physiotherapy for some more time.

Not one to give up on life and living, even the medical team which treated her call her an inspiration, found DNA’s Santosh Andhale, with whom she spent some time reflecting on her life-altering experience.

‘See to it that this never happens again!’ I am told this is what my brother said to the Taj employee who was with him, just before being shot. Now, two years after the tragic event, what has changed? I see increased security measures at most public places in Mumbai. But are we really safe? I don’t think so. People I know still shudder at the thought of 26/11.

I have been practising the philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism for a few years now. I am alive today and survived the excruciating episode because of my faith and practice. From the moment that I was shot there was complete clarity that I cannot die. I have to live… my work is not finished yet, that inner resolve has kept me going. I have a mission to fulfil. This is what I have understood over the years of my Buddhist practice. Life is precious and each person is unique and here for a purpose. My family and others who died that day did not die in vain.

So how do we ensure that their death creates a turning point for humanity? How can we be truly safe? We are not helpless, there is hope. Violence is not the answer for violence. As Gautam Buddha said, ‘We must kill the will to kill.’ Both creative and destructive tendencies exist in our life and manifest in different ways. Anger, arrogance, greed, disbelief and disrespect for human life are negative tendencies. Compassion, unity and mutual respect are positive. To ensure a progressive and safe future, we each have to take responsibility for our lives, environment and all the problems and conflicts that plague modern society. Instead of playing the blame game or finding the easy way out by becoming apathetic and self-centred, we all need to stand up and take charge. To lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives, we have to walk on the correct path of life.

Everything begins at an individual level and then extends to one’s immediate surroundings, communities and country. Our upbringing and environment influences the way we think, our belief system and that, in turn, prompts our way of life. A distorted view of life can make us lose our way and get into a self-destructive mode.

Focusing on an inner change in our attitudes and beliefs will enable us to live more humane lives. We can be happy only if we also consider the happiness of others and make all decisions and choices from the perspective of the greater good. Instead of blindly chasing our goals, stop to question and self-reflect what we are doing. What is the purpose of our life? What do we value most?

Have I grown spiritually over the years through life’s experiences along with my bank balance? If we want a peaceful and prosperous society how are we contributing to it? ‘Nothing is more precious than peace. Nothing brings more happiness. Peace is the basic starting point for the advancement of humankind.’ In the words of my mentor Dr Daisaku Ikeda: ‘Peace is not the absence of war.’ We can create the future we want, not passively but by becoming proactive.

What Gandhi stood up for and fought against has had an impact on many generations to come. We are enjoying the fruit of independence because of the struggles and hardships that he overcame. Inner strength, a fighting spirit and never giving up, these are qualities we must forge in our youth is what Dr Ikeda has taught. President of Soka Gakkai International, Dr Ikeda is a Buddhist leader, peace builder, author, poet, educator and founder of a number of cultural, educational and peace research institutions around the world.

Over the last two years, I have fought many battles, as because of my Buddhist faith I was deeply convinced that I have to go on. One step at a time, one day at a time I have to move forward. We all need a spiritual anchor to empower us to live with a sense of self-awareness, self-improvement and moral responsibility.

Buddhism teaches self-mastery, how to surmount and transform one’s inner weaknesses that make us unhappy.

Finally, medically I am fine. Physiologically a few more months to go… I don’t bear a grudge towards those who shot us. I want to use my life’s example to motivate the world to concrete action not revenge. Gandhi proclaimed that the power of the spirit is stronger than any atomic bomb.

Referring to this, Ikeda says, ‘To transform this century of war into a century of peace, we must cultivate the limitless inherent power of human life.’ This is human revolution.
As he says: ‘A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.’

Such an amazing story of Courage, Wisdom and Compassion. I would love to think I could, one day, show such qualities in the face of such tragic circumstances.

The original text of this piece can be seen here.

The End Of The Weekend

Let’s just think back to Friday evening. The anticipation of a couple of days away from the office, maybe big plans, maybe just looking forward to the chance to recharge the batteries.

But where is that time now? Of course you can remember what you got up to, at least most of it I hope, but it’s time that has gone and you can never get it back.

It’s just a simple example of the unending passage of time, something we take so much for granted we often fail to remember how important it is. Because, although we have all the time in world through the process of reincarnation, to waste a single second it is to lack Wisdom.

If there is something you have been meaning to do, someone you intended to phone, but keep putting it off for any reason you can lay your hands on, you might have found the world of Tranquillity.

It’s maybe not the worst of the Lower Worlds (Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Tranquillity, Heaven) but can mean that you lack the life-energy to drive you get things done.

Get chanting, raise your life-energy and hence your life-state, after all, the weekend is over for another week.

The Sound Of Silence

The Lotus SutraWhen we are struggling with a terrible problem or situation, from which there seems to be no positive outcome, remaining silent may be the most powerful action.

There are certain situations when, apart from unstinting spiritual support, there is nothing more a person can do.

So remain silent.

The unspoken understanding between people is the strongest bond of all. When you need to say nothing and need nothing to be said, then all is understood.

Chant for resolution and let the power of silence be your only other contribution.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Winter – Continuing Nature’s Reincarnation

The Winter has arrived early this year, even here in Dorset we are having snow flurries tonight.

Winter is Nature’s season of Death. Trees have lost their leaves and look bare and dead. The plants all around are transformed from their vibrant colours into drab browns. Animals such as hedgehogs, bats and even certain butterflies go into hibernation, about as close to death as they can come without dying.

But all this is necessary for the rebirth we will all witness when the warming rays of the Spring sunshine appear. It will come, as surely as day follows night, so enjoy the Winter colours, enjoy the snow when it falls, as with all things in the Universe, it is transient, impermanent, and will be gone before we know it.

Snow SceneOf course, snow can cause problems for people trying to travel, to work, to the shops, wherever. But when you are sitting in that traffic jam, stuck behind the snow plough that was sent to clear your way, just take time to look around you.

So many things in Nature are pure, beautiful and snow is one of the most wonderful gifts that Nature gives us. Don’t moan when you have to dig the car out in the morning, just enjoy the amazing transformation the snow brings and remember it will be gone as quickly as it appeared.

Practice Makes Perfect

For me, my Buddhist Practice is now a way of life. A routine that I go through every day, including 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 focussed 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.

Be Grateful

We 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 caused by 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.lotus

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.


It is said that patience is a virtue, and indeed that is a fact.

Having patience with someone, something, or with a situation can make the difference between causing, or solving problems.

When you are just about to run out of patience you should take a deep breath and carry on being understanding.

Sometimes when our patience runs out, it is because we don’t have the full picture. Having a partial understanding of a situation leads us all to try to fill in the missing parts from our imagination.

As anyone who has been to the dentist, and I guess that’s pretty much all of us, the waiting room, the fear of what might be in store, is far worse than the reality when we finally sit in the chair.

So it is with most situations in life. So stop imagining, take that deep breath, and find a little more patience. It will be worth it in the end.

Chanting For Someone Else

I know that this topic keeps cropping up, but it is filling my thoughts daily at the moment.

A close elderly relative is currently seriously ill in hospital and I feel it is my duty to use all my chanting for her benefit.

Even the doctors do not know exactly what is wrong, so I concentrate on chanting for her life-energy, peace, comfort and recuperation.

She is not Buddhist, but I doubt that matters one jot, it’s the thought that counts.

So she is in my mind night and day, and I would like to ask you to chant with me, if you feel it appropriate.

I will keep you updated on her progress.

Peace and Quiet

TranquilitySome days just start slowly, get slower and end at a snails pace.

Apart from a little therapeutic ironing, my day was a fitting finale to my holiday and a quiet prelude to the change of pace that the office will bring tomorrow.

Peace and quiet, being home alone, can be a bit of a double edged sword. It gives you time to think about things, and get them prioritised. It also gives you time to think about things, and wonder whether you have things straight.

I guess we have been trained to expect, and enjoy, the roller-coaster ride that modern living brings. Staying in, being quiet and contemplative and living in a world of Tranquillity at the weekend might be construed by some as a bit ‘sad’. But it happens all too rarely, so I look on it as a little luxury and make the most of it when I can.

It has been said that we should all have a period of thirty minutes of silence every day. Not to catch up on a little sleep, but to allow our brains to process all the input from the day. I fully endorse that theory, I feel better for it, fully refreshed and ready for the onslaught once more.

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