April Fool’s Day

April Fool's DayApril the first, April Fool’s or All Fool’s day, is traditionally a day of fun. To be totally traditional, any jokes have to be played before midday, but that seems to be just in the UK.

In France, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Russia,  The USA and other countries, jokes can be played at any time during the day.

There are some well known urban myth April Fool jokes, such as the phone call to London Zoo, asking to speak to Mr C Lyon as well as the BBC’s own spaghetti tree item on the Panorama programme that caused a stir when broadcast in 1957.

Given that our latest project is at a pretty important stage, and that our COO is visiting the office tomorrow, I’m not sure that jokes will be the order of the day.

The entry for April 1st in Daisaku Ikeda’s Buddhism Day by Day is far too profound to be used as a joke. As always Sensei finds us a piece that inspires …

At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?

This is taken from The Lotus Sutra and is therefore the words of Shakyamuni, The Buddha himself. Although regarded as the first Buddha, Shakyamuni was a human being and, as such, is an inspiration to all who seek the path to Buddhahood.

Have a fun day everyone.

Buddhist Thoughts

Rudyard KiplingThis poem, by Rudyard Kipling, is one of my favourites.

As I read it again tonight, for the first time in quite a while, I was intrigued by the similarity of the statements within it, to Buddhist principles.

IF …

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

~ Rudyard Kipling 1895

Kipling was not a Buddhist. He was, from a very early age, a Freemason and a Christian, but I cannot help feeling that his time in India brought him into contact with Buddhism and the ethos of the poem has a Buddhist feel to it. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I.

For more details of the poem, you might want to visit www.allthingsif.org

Always Keep Believing

PoisonMy progress, through my Practice, has been pretty steady and positive.

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

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, but I am going to use this problem to strengthen my resolve, so more poison into medicine and proof that my faith is strong..

The Limitation Of Changes

Sadness On The Path To HappinessI know that my Buddhist practice has changed the way I interact with everything and everyone in my own personal Universe.

The change is difficult to explain, and even more difficult to prove over the short term to others within that Universe.

Those difficulties are still further compounded by the fact that no matter how radical the change, nothing can change the past.

Like karma, my past was formed from the past causes I made. What I can do, is to try to make better causes now, and in the future. What I can not do, is influence the past.

That limitation is, I have to say, a very real sadness on this journey towards a happier and more enlightened future.

A Blinkered View

A Blinkered ViewThe fourth and final part of Professor Brian Cox’s Wonders Of The Universe covered the role that light has played, and continues to play in the evolution of the Universe as well as our understanding of it.

By examining the properties of the light reaching the Earth from the most distant galaxies, we can determine the age of the Universe and track its history from the Big Bang, right up to today.

All the scientific evidence shows us that the beginning of every thing was around 13.7 billion years. 13.7 Billion, not Million, Billion years ago. That is a mind blowing figure, a figure that puts our three score and ten lifetime into true perspective.

Even the widely accepted time that man came into existence, 2.4 million years ago, is belittled by such timescales.

I find these figures fascinating, and it lends a certain credence to my Buddhist belief, that we are born, live, and die, again and again through reincarnation. Whilst I respect everyone’s right to their own beliefs, I find some faiths more credible than others.

One branch of faith, which is growing in strength and following, is Creationism or Intelligent Design. Although they purport to be different, they appear to try to overturn the science of evolution from opposite ends of the same argument. The theory that all the creatures on Earth, including man, were created or designed by God flies in the face of accepted and verifiable proof of the process of evolution.

Harping back to my post about youth, and that our youths are our future, I feel strongly that they should be given all the ‘facts’ to allow them to make up their own minds. Hence the growing pressure to abandon the teaching of Darwinism in US schools is a blinkered and foolish path to tread.

If the protagonists of this determination are so confident of their beliefs, why do they ban the teaching of alternative views. I hope that they will open their eyes, and their minds and see that ‘channelling’ their children down this blinkered route, can only end in tears once the betrayal becomes clear.

A Family Day

Jake and StanleyToday was a wonderful family day. The drive to Bristol went off without a hitch and I was there before 8:30. It was fantastic to see Charlotte looking so well, and considering the surgery she had on Monday, she was looking better than I had expected.

After a quick coffee, Rob and I took Jake to his football training. Lots of lads running after a football in the local school gym.

Back at the house, Charlotte was having her dressing changed. Although it seems that the surgery has gone well, she is in a lot of pain at times, as the severed nerve endings start to heal. Whilst it was very difficult to see my daughter crying with the pain, I hope the way I dealt with it, in a calm and reassuring way, helped her keep a positive attitude.

Just before lunchtime, the house filled up as great grandparents arrived, so Hannah and I took Jake, Stanley and Zachery out to the local playground and then for a light lunch.

Charlotte was asleep when we got back, and the more sleep she gets, the quicker she will heal. It was a lovely day, in the circumstances, the weather was beautiful and everything went as well as could be expected.

Just following on from yesterday’s post, I was amused to see Daisaku Ikeda’s Buddhist snippet for today. In view of the reason for my Bristol trip, it seemed to be particularly apt, and I read it to Charlotte to boost her spirits.

“When experiencing failures and disappointments, frustrations or illness, people tend to lose confidence and let fear overtake them. At such times, however, we need to make a conscious effort to move forward with strength and courage. When you say to yourself ‘Next time I’ll succeed!’ or ‘I’m going to get better and make it through this!’ you have already won.”

Charlotte has both courage and strength, so she can be confident of her victory over this ailment.

Inspiration Every Day

Postman PatA parcel arrived in the post this morning, that will offer a little inspiration every day.

In the parcel was a copy of Daisaku Ikeda’s Buddhism Day by Day. Like a diary, it offers a different thought provoking passage for every day of the year.

I had seen the book before, on the SGI website, but my thanks go to Thierry for bringing the Wisdom of its contents to my attention.

Although it is primarily a compilation of Sensei’s thoughts, with an obvious Buddhist slant, I believe it would be an inspiration for anyone, irrespective of their religion or beliefs.

Here are a few of examples …

February 17

“True individuality never comes to full flower without hard work. Therefore you’re making a big mistake if you think that who you are right now represents all you are capable of being.”

March 25

“The significance of Buddhism lies both in the discovery of the Buddha nature in all beings and in the establishment of a practical method for bringing it out, so that human beings can derive maximum meaning from their lives. This reformation of the inner human world – what we in the Soka Gakkai call ‘human revolution’ – is especially relevant to modern civilisation, which has long been trapped in a sort of spiritual quicksand. We can escape the quicksand by calling forth the supreme human potential available to each of us.”

July 31

“What is the purpose of life? It is happiness. But there are two kinds of happiness: relative and absolute. Relative happiness comes in a wide variety of forms. The purpose of Buddhism is to attain Buddhahood. In modern terms, this could be explained as realising absolute happiness – a state of happiness that can never be destroyed or defeated.”

I think a little snippet of Sensei’s wisdom, each morning, will set me up for the day.

Ripples Around The World

Ripples Around The WorldOne 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 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.

Let me take the example of my daughter Charlotte’s current condition. My Practice has allowed me to remain calm and positive, when twelve months ago, I may have let my emotions get the better of me. I am completely certain that this has been of much more use to Charlotte and probably for the rest of the family too.

I think it is also important to be aware that the ripples, whilst being generally well accepted, can also rock the boat in some circumstances. I read Joey’s comment with great interest and compassion, when he said that although his partner had seen positive changes in his attitude and demeanour, other members of his family are less happy with his practice.

My Practice is changing 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.

The Value Of Youth

YouthI was thinking that, as the meeting yesterday did not go strictly to plan, and the Youth Division did not get it’s voice heard in the way it might have liked, that I would post a couple of the quotations that they brought for discussion at the start of the meeting.

I hope you enjoy them …


Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.
it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees
it is a matter of will, a quality of imagination, a vigour of the emotions
it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. Samuel Ullman (poet)

— + —

That we take pains to protect weapons while we expose children –
the future of the race – to peril is impermissible.
To ignore this absurdity will spell defeat for humanity.
We must not live to destroy.
We have the spiritual power to create peace and happiness. Daisaku Ikeda

— + —

Let me be more mother than the mother herself
in my love and defence of the child who is not flesh of my flesh.
Help me to make one of my children my most perfect poem
and leave within him or her my most melodious melody
from that day when my lips no longer sing. Gabriela Mistral (teacher)

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

The Best Laid Plans

ButsudanTonight, ten of us attended the study group at Jayne and Ken Hawkins’ flat in Sandbanks.

The meeting had been planned by the Youth Division, there were several young people there and the topic had been set based around several poems about youth and the importance of youthfulness. The youth of today are, after all, the future.

We started to discuss a couple of the poems, but one lady, who had practiced Nichiren Buddhism in her youth, rather derailed the discussions when she started to explain that she had been rather ill, both physically and mentally. She wanted to know why she was being punished and told us that there were times when she felt she just could not face the future.

Whilst it wasn’t the planned discussion, it gave us all the opportunity to show our support and to help her see that she wasn’t being punished, that is was simply her karma to be suffering in the way she is.

Ken pointed out, that although she had been through some very difficult times, that was in the past and by focussing on the future, and making the right causes, that she could be confident of a much better future. We all tried to explain that the future was under her control.

I don’t think that this single meeting will change her current plight, but it will, if she is supported and resumes her practice, be the trigger for her to create a much better future for herself. After all, we are responsible for our own lives, and for creating the causes for the happiness we wish in our lives.

The meeting ended and I had offered Simon, the head of the youth division in Poole, a lift home. I had no idea that he had been cured, or rather, had cured himself, of Hodgkin Lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the body’s lymphatic system.

Whilst Charlotte’s cancer is slightly different, it had spread to the lymph glands under her arm, so is similar. Simon was very helpful and during the journey to Bournemouth, jotted down several natural remedies as well as some useful website addresses for me.

So an evening that was intended to be all about youth, turned into a support group for one of the members and a fact finding mission, albeit unwittingly, about cures and treatments for Charlotte’s condition.

When we chant, it always brings results, but as I have said on so many occasions, not always the results you might expect.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

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