Family Fortunes

Oliver Richard SavageAfter much chanting, the great news is that, all being well, young Oliver will be going home from hospital tomorrow. I am so pleased that he is better, but even happier for Charlotte and Rob, that they have their little man back at home.

Is there any better way to confirm your faith, than to see a perfect outcome after sending daimoku for a definite goal? I think not.

A very short post, but a very good outcome.

More Than Precious

More Than PreciousSometimes we get a really sharp reminder about what is truly precious in life. Baby Oliver is being kept in hospital with a very high temperature. Tests indicate that it is not meningitis, but such a condition, in such a young baby is cause for concern.

In the midst of Charlotte’s chemotherapy, this just feels like one more challenge to add to the list, but it’s important that I, we, all stay positive and strong.

For me, that involves a lot of chanting, prayer and keeping my focus on the things that are more than precious in life and being there if I’m needed.

I must remember, poison into medicine. Nam myoho renge kyo.

The Purpose Of Prayer

Our Chosen PathIt is important to remember that our prayers reflect our state of life. In that respect, prayer is a solemn means to raise our life-state or condition. To receive exactly the results for which we are praying, it is crucial to make a determined, single minded effort toward that goal.

This is the true path of manifesting faith in our daily life. Those of us who proceed along this narrow path, day after day, month after month, year after year, will develop, without fail. Just as a sapling grows into a mighty tree, to become a person of outstanding strength and character,one with wisdom, courage and compassion, relies on us remaining true to our chosen path.

One Summit After Another

Mountain PeaksLife is all about scaling one mountain, then facing the next, followed by the one after that. Those who persevere and finally succeed in conquering the highest mountain of all are victors in life.

Those people, on the other hand, who avoid such challenges and take the easy route down into the valleys, will never experience the feelings of success, nor see the magnificent views from the highest peaks.

Press On Regardless

DeterminationThere are times when it seems that no matter how hard we work at something, it’s like pushing a rock uphill. In one of his writings, renowned microbiologist René Dubois said, ‘History teaches that man without effort is sure to deteriorate, man cannot progress without effort and man cannot be happy without effort.’ This is indisputable.

We may be experiencing various hardships now, but if we continue to make efforts in the midst of these challenges, no matter how painful they may be, we will definitely arrive at a happy outcome. Effort and happiness are indivisible, in the same way as submission and unhappiness are equally connected.

Let me sum it up in the immortal words of Harry Lauder …

Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Though the way be long,
Let your heart be strong,
Keep right on round the bend,
Though you’re tired and weary,
Still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode,
Where all the love you’ve been dreaming of,
Will be there.
At the end of the road.

A World Of Contrasts

Torrential RainIf life was a continuous straight, even path, no highs, no lows, it would be very easy, but very boring. Today has been a day of wonderful weather contrasts, beautiful warm sunshine and massive torrential ran showers, both amazing in their own way.

This morning the rain came down like stair rods, the raindrops bouncing off the balcony and it was so heavy, it flooded the gutters and dumped all the lichens from the roof all over the terracotta tiles. The clouds were so thick that it looked like late evening, even though it was still late morning.

There’s a special feeling to the air after such a shower, there’s a little nip, caused by the rain having come from such an altitude, but there is also a wonderful clean smell about the place. Because the clouds were heavy, but separated by bands of blue sky, the contrasts were even more apparent. Literally pouring one minute and blazing hot midday sun the next.

Beautiful SunshineLooking to the west, I could see a nice break in the clouds, so decided to take the chance to walk into Poole. Strolling up to the lifting bridge, I was feeling quite smug about the fact that I had beaten the next shower. But pride comes before a fall, and the bridge was raised. In the ten minutes it took for the yachts and motor launches to pass, and the bridge to lower again, the heavens opened.

I managed to duck into shop doorways and under arches as I made my way into town, but it was getting heavier and heavier. So I admit I decided to pop in to see my friend Gemma at Waterside Properties, on the pretext that I wanted to discuss something about the apartment, but she knew why I was there, I was rumbled.

We chatted for a quarter of an hour, but when the rain stopped she booted me out and went back to work. I must have looked a little out of place walking up the high street in shorts, T shirt and flip flops, when everyone else was sporting umbrellas, cagoules and other various forms of rainwear, but by now the sun was blazing down again.

Having done my predetermined mini shop, I walked all the way back to the quay in bright sunshine. There was a bank of black cloud looming on the horizon, but I made home with ten minutes to spare before the next deluge.

So a day of contrasts, amazing by the speed of the changes, and a day made all the more interesting by those contrasts. It could have been annoying to have a rain filled day off, but by living in the moment and accepting these contrasts, life is all the more exciting.

Wonders Of The Buddhist World

Wonders Of The Buddhist WorldHaving time to sit and watch, to listen and learn, is one of the most precious luxuries in our lives. So often, we have too much to do, too little time in which to do it. So having the chance to sit and really watch a beautifully crafted program about Buddhist culture and iconography today, was a real joy.

In the program, Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World, Bettany Hughes visits seven of the most famous ancient and modern Buddhist locations in the world: seven wonders that give an insight into the long and rich history of Buddhism.

Wonders Of The Buddhist WorldWonders Of The Buddhist WorldWonders Of The Buddhist World

Several Buddhist traditions are covered in the program, sadly Nichiren Buddhism isn’t one of them. But I believe that there is a very good reason for that.

One of the more appealing aspects of Nichiren Buddhism, for me, is the near absence of iconography. Ok, we have our Butsudan, our Gohonzon as a focus for our practice, but we actively shun statues and other paraphernalia which would clutter our path.

Wonders Of The Buddhist WorldWonders Of The Buddhist WorldWonders Of The Buddhist World

Beautiful as these building, statues and temples may be, I believe that Buddhism comes from within, and that there is no need to adorn our spiritual lives with these icons. In the program, Bettany poses the question of how The Buddha would have felt about the worldwide spread of his teachings. I’m sure he would have been happy at the thought of being able to give so many people the tools to reduce or remove unhappiness from their lives.

I’m also convinced that he would have been dismayed by this kind of adoration, he never looked for it in his lifetime and would not welcome it now. For me, the one single most important wonder of Buddhism, is that it puts control of my life in my hands, no gods, no fate, and nothing to do with luck. Make good causes, see good results, that’s all there is to it.

(All images are taken from the program and are copyright of the BBC)

Feelings Of Guilt

Work's EmailToday was the first day of my holiday, restful and relaxing, but tinged with feelings of guilt. Why would that be you may ask. Well all day, my smartphone has been pinging in response to incoming emails landing in my work’s inbox.

Ok, so I’m not doing anything wrong, my holiday was booked weeks ago and I left the office in a manageable state. But being in charge of the company website, dealing on a daily basis with client enquiries and responding to any issues, I am used to being involved and the feelings of responsibility don’t just evaporate.

So when I got a text this afternoon, telling me that the website was down, it left me wondering what was wrong. Of course, the boys in the office had it all under control and there was no need for concern. But it’s my ‘baby’ and I needed to know that the issue was being addressed.

I’m happy to say that I managed to overcome the guilty feelings, to the extent that I had a lovely afternoon lying on a lounger, in the sunshine, listening to a really good audio book. In my defence, I am happy to admit that I have ‘popped’ into my mailbox a few times during the day, so even though I’m on holiday, work is out of sight, but not out of mind.

Double Standards

Strauss-KahnWe must establish the correct standard of value upon the foundation of the dignity of life. Leaders of society, including politicians and schoolteachers, should teach children the distinction between good and evil and lead society in the direction of goodness.

Today however, the higher the status that people achieve, the more wrongdoings they tend to commit. Those in high status think only of their selfish interests while exploiting ordinary people.

The ‘me first’ attitude prevails. Looking at those adults, children cannot possibly grow up correctly. Such social trends, in a sense, are destroying our children. Adults must first reflect on their own way of life. Without self reflection, adults are in no position to reprimand or teach children.

What’s In A Saying?

Red Sky At NightTonight we had the most beautiful sunset, reds and pinks and oranges covered the sky and I thought about the old saying “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight”. I think that means that the weather will be fine, but it obviously doesn’t come with any guarantee because right now it’s raining cats and dogs.

Another saying, well more of a quote from Daisaku Ikeda actually, is “A great inner revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of an entire society and, further, will cause a change in the destiny of humankind”. Watching the BBC news tonight showed that the ‘Arab Spring’ is still on going and that Libya looks to be freeing itself (albeit with a great deal of help from the West) of forty years of tyrannical leadership.

When you think how all this started, with one man in Tunisia giving his life for the cause of freedom, maybe some sayings hold more water than others.

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