Learn While You Earn

The Buddha, Geoff & MeI guess I’m fortunate. For one, I have a job, something that can’t be taken for granted these days. I know, I’ve been in the life-energy sapping situation of being unemployed. For another, I can listen to music while I’m writing code or developing web pages. I find it helps me concentrate because it keeps all the office mutter away.

Today I’ve been working on the new company website. It’s an environment I know so well that I can almost work with my eyes shut. So for the whole day, I’ve been listening to Jason Jarrett’s podcast version of The Buddha, Geoff and Me.

I know I keep banging on about this book, but it is simply brilliant. There are hundreds of books covering various Buddhist traditions, but if you want to get a really good grounding in Nichiren Buddhism, in an easily absorbed format, these podcasts are the bees knees (as Piers would say).

You can listen to them all on Jason’s website, or if you want to download them for your MP3 player they are also to be found here.

The story follows Ed, a guy who’s having more than his fair share of bad luck, and his journey of discovery of Nichiren Buddhist with Geoff, the local Buddha. It is written in modern language and covers the main aspects of the Tradition in easy to understand examples that weave seamlessly into the narrative.

Nothing prepares you for the moment when you read the book that’s going to change your life …

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read or listened to this book. The lessons I have learned from it have changed my life. If you only read one book this year, this is the one to choose, you will wish you had done so years ago.

Karma Means Control

LotusWhen something happens that we can’t explain, there is a tendency to blame fate, bad luck or coincidence. It is comfortable to believe that when something goes wrong, that we are at the beck and call of forces unknown and unseen.

The fact of the matter is, that all of us are in the position we find ourselves because of the effects of all the causes we have made in this, and previous lives.

In one way this can be quite scary, because it puts the onus of responsibility on our shoulders. On the other hand, it is very empowering to know that we have complete control of our own destiny and that we are not simply the plaything of these unknown forces.

Having said all this, it is important to remember that Karma is not some form of punishment, or reward, because there is just as much good Karma as bad.

So work hard to make causes and enjoy the results. Your Karma is made to measure and you have the ultimate control over your destiny.

Calm Amidst The Storm

The ScreamBefore I start this post, I want to say that although it is about me and our current situation, it is not a boast or in any way self glorification. So here goes …

Yesterday, as you may already know, my eldest daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with breast cancer. She will receive the results of the biopsy next week, but that will probably only give more details of the form of cancer she has.

You can probably imagine the emotional turmoil that the family was going through yesterday evening. There was a lot of crying and pain.

The strange thing was that I wasn’t part of that grieving. Maybe it was because I was 100 miles from Charlotte, so wasn’t affected by the upset in others, though I did speak to everyone by phone. You might say that I am hard-hearted, though those who know me well will tell you otherwise. It certainly isn’t that I don’t love my daughter, because I do, with all my heart.

I hadn’t really even noticed that I had remained so calm and collected until one person after another commented upon it.

But my belief is that it’s my Practice that has allowed me to cope with such a trauma. Of course, as soon as I heard about Charlotte’s diagnosis I started praying and chanting for her to make a complete recovery. The chanting helped my life-energy levels and also brought me closer to the World of Bodhisattva, but it appears to have allowed me to remain composed and I feel that has helped other people too.

I suppose I shouldn’t be at all surprised because this is what is so powerful about Nichiren Buddhism. It actually allows you to control, to a greater or lesser extent, your own life-state, or mood in common terms, as well as your life-energy. Nichiren insists that we test our Practice in that if we don’t see tangible results from what we practice, we desist from that practice.

Well the Practice has certainly proven itself today, and that is good for me and, of course most importantly, for Charlotte.

High Contrasts

Pink RibbonToday has been a complete rollercoaster of a day, ultimate highs and lows, a day to test the faith of anyone.

My eldest daughter, Charlotte, is pregnant with her third child, my fourth grandchild and had been for a scan at the hospital. Imagine my elation when she sent a text to say that everything was fine, the baby is healthy and growing well. He or she, is due to enter this world on September 3rd, so a summer baby, wonderful.

I knew that she also had an appointment in the afternoon to have some other tests, so I was keeping my fingers crossed for everything to go well.

I was just packing up, and about to leave the office when my mobile rang.

It was Charlotte, in tears. She said that the tests had found that there is a very high possibility that she has breast cancer. The consultant had taken tissue samples and sent them off for analysis, but said that they feared the worst because of swelling of Charlotte’s lymph glands.

Cancer is such a scary word. The very thought of it sends shivers down my spine. But I am going to remain calm and not jump to any conclusions until the biopsy results are back. In such a situation it is all too easy to let your emotions get the better of you. I hope that I can avoid that happening, though time will tell, because I may be of some help and support if I can hold things together.

Obviously I will chant and pray for a positive outcome, but I will also look for ways of turning this strongest of poisons into medicine.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Back To Basics

L PlatesEvery now and then it is a good thing to brush up on the basics. That applies to pretty much everything in life, be it academic, occupational, sporting or more especially spiritual.

Let’s imagine that the Government decided to bring in some form of driving test for experienced drivers. Now I have been driving since the 6th of March 1973, nearly 38 years, since petrol was 50p a gallon, not a litre, and gallon, so I consider myself to be pretty experienced.

I fear however, that were I asked to take a driving test tomorrow, I would fail. Not because I am a bad driver, but because I have picked up bad habits over the years, habits that would be frowned upon in a test environment.

So what, I hear you ask, has this got to do with The Ten Worlds or the World of Learning. Well, having been a Buddhist for roughly a third of the time I have been driving, I have picked up bad habits there too. Well not bad habits exactly, but the lessons I learned in the early years have been reinforced by lessons learned more recently, reinforced, but also made slightly out of focus.

So I am joining a Buddhist study group, I am planning to study for the SGI exams and generally sharpen up my Buddhist act once more. Like a golfer who practices each and every day, alone on the driving range, faults creep in without the golfer being aware of them. So it is with my Practice, and I want to take a one-to-one with a teacher who can straighten out my Bodhisattva nature, and put me squarely on the fairway to Enlightenment.

Besides, the World of Learning is a wonderful place, so rather than filling me with any form of dread, it fills me with an excitement and a yearning to learn all I can about Buddhism, and Nichiren Buddhism in particular.

Kutai Restaurant

MemoriesWhen you spend some time with someone you haven’t seen for a while, after you have caught up on the happenings since you last met, you get to talking about the past.

This is when the magic of Kutai kicks in.

Kutai is the state between existence and non-existence, where something exists but is non-substantive, that is, it has no physical substance and hence cannot be proven.

Memories are a very good example of Kutai. They are very real to the person, or persons doing the remembering, but there is nothing physical to back them up. Another thing that struck me, was that in the same way as substantive things are often connected, so are non-substantive ones. You know the situation where someone tells a joke, and in hearing it, that triggers the memory in the listener, so they often come back with a joke of their own. So it is with memories.

Well so it was today with our shared memories. Lots of happy, and a few sad recollections became very real as we relived them together. Some memories are so deeply buried, that they almost need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from our subconscious. But they are there all the same. Regression therapy is based on the fact that we never actually forget anything. We may not be able, or may choose not to remember certain events or facts, but that is a failure to remember, not that we have actually forgotten.

Anyway, the process of remembering can be rather cathartic, a good way of clearing away the clutter and cobwebs that accumulate over time. So it was today, a spring clean of the memory banks, you might say.

Sun, Sea And Surf

Bournemouth SurfIt is the contrasts in life that make for magical moments.

So it was today, the contrast between the horrible wet weather of Friday and the beautiful warm sunshine of today. The contrast between the pressured concentration of work for so many hours in the week, to the relaxed, enjoyable leisure time of today.

The morning started with warm sunshine and perfect blue skies. It was a day to forget all the stresses of life, get out of the apartment, and become immersed in the beauty of nature.

A walk down through Branksome Chine, dodging the mud and puddles left after the inclement weather of the last few days, bombarded the senses with a mixture of vivid colours of the early shoots of spring and the earthy scent of leave mould.

Once out of the chine, a leisurely stroll along the promenade was followed by a light lunch of stone baked pizza marinara and fresh espresso coffee, in great company.

By the time lunch was over, the wind had picked up and the white horses were pounding Bournemouth beach. There were a handful of hardy souls, clad in full-body wet suits, windsurfing to and fro along the shoreline. Backlit by a slowly setting sun, they made for a spectacular finale to a few very enjoyable hours.

Back In The Groove

Back In The GrooveWith the pressure of work having eased slightly, albeit for only a few days, it was nice to give more time and focus to my Practice.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things drift to the back of your mind when they don’t receive the attention they deserve. So it was with my Gongyo, having been too tied up to make a proper job of it.

Now I know what you are saying, that my Honzon should come first, last and everywhere in between. But life isn’t like that really, is it? Man cannot life by Gongyo alone, to paraphrase, so work had to take precedence.

While I was at work this week, my two books arrived and until this evening I hadn’t even had time to open the parcel to take a quick peek.

The copy of The Buddha, Geoff and Me is similar in every respect to the last one I owned. No surprise there, though it will be good to have an old friend back on my bedside cabinet.

Having dipped into the new William Woollard, it does look interesting. He has a way of saying very profound or very technical concepts in a very easy to understand way, a real gift. He has been struggling against cancer and I will be very interested in how he has gone about it. I say struggled against cancer, but he is so grounded, that I can’t imagine William struggling against anything now.

Any road up, as my Mom might say, it’s nice to be back in the swing and I’m looking forward to relating my take on Buddhism and the Science of Happiness to you over the coming weeks.

P.S. In case anyone is wondering where the Juzu beads came from, they were made by my friend Lily Rose at Myoho Beads. Lily Rose is a lovely lady who happens to live just round the corner from the Arizona supermarket where the US Senator was shot a little while back. I really get in touch to make sure she is recovering from the shock of it all.

Cooking On Gas

HRH The Dalai LamaSo here we are, all live and looking lovely.

Following a 36 hour stint, the new website is online and really looking the part.

The whole team were Trojans, never giving an inch to any of the problems that crossed their paths.

After getting some well earned rest, we are all looking forward to the next project, safe in the knowledge that we have a whole bag of solutions to the issues we may encounter.

I know that several people missed the posts over that past few days. Many thanks to those who sent their best wishes for a speedy resolution. Maybe you’d like to look at the fruits of our labour? Simply click on the image of the Dalai Lama and have a mooch around. A word of warning though, I’d leave your credit cards well out of reach, just in case.

I would love to own this photo, but it flies in the face of Buddhism somehow. Desirous attachment and all that you know.

Namaste, Anupadin

Still Going …

The Clock's TickingSo the website went live today … WooHoo !!!

The chanting on the way to the office raised a few eyebrows from the people around me, but the batteries were fizzing by the time I got to work.

Since then, I’ve been working all night to make sure everything is working as it should, and it isn’t, quite.

So another missed post, but another productive day (and night).

I’ll try to get time later today to put my feelings and what I’ve learned from the whole experience into words.

And I promise to put a link to the new site once it’s ready for public consumption.

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