Practice, Practice, Practice

The World of BuddhahoodNichiren Buddhists believe that, not only does everyone have the World of Buddhahood within them, but that it can be achieved within this lifetime.

Think about that, everyone you know has the potential to reach Buddhahood, your family, friends, work colleagues, everyone. And not only those people you like, but those you don’t like too.

But how do we achieve this state of Buddhahood? The Daishonin had this to say …

“When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha.  This is similar to a tarnished mirror, that will shine like a jewel when polished.

A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure it become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena, and the true aspect of reality.

Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.”

So there it is, such a simple Practice, so easy to learn, that when applied with faith and diligence, will allow us to reveal the Buddha in each and every one of us.

Accepting Those Challenges

The Roller Coaster Of LifeWhoever said that life was supposed to be a bowl of cherries? Our journey from birth to death, whichever lap we happen to be on at any one time, is a series of lows and highs, the rough and the smooth, the not-so-happy and the happy, the bad and the good.

So by assuming that, even though things may be going along smoothly just now, we should prepare ourselves for the next pot hole, the unexpected hairpin or that most untimely puncture that will most certainly come along, to make that journey even more satisfying. Being prepared, as all boy scouts know, is the trick to reducing the effect that these unforeseen circumstances will have on our progress.

We have often talked about turning poison into medicine, using the difficulties in life as our way of making ourselves stronger, and seeing obstacles as challenges rather than problems. The old adage of ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ is exactly right, if we approach these things in the right manner. Being doggedly determined not to be beaten, to meet the challenges head on and win through, come hell or high water, is a great start and a great way to move on.

Imagine how disappointed we would all be, if the latest ride at Alton Towers was a perfectly straight, perfectly level piece of track, that started slowly, trundled along at walking pace, and gradually slowed to a genteel halt five minutes later. Who in their right mind would queue for something so predictable, so comfortable, so boring? Nobody I know.

The most popular rides, the ones that have the longest queues, and the ones that we want to get back on, time after time, are the ones that scare us witless, the ones that actually make us wonder if we will live to tell the tale. And that is how life can be if we prepare ourselves for the turns, the plunges, the unexpected. The greatest books, films and life stories are all about facing almost impossible adversity, battling against the odds, getting the odd knock along the way, but coming out as the victor in the end.

So face up to the rigours of life, meet those challenges head on, stay strong, be brave and make your life the subject of the greatest story Hollywood has ever told.


BirdsongThe final part of the brilliant dramatization, by the BBC, of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong was aired tonight. It follows the life of a young Englishman, Stephen Wraysford, who having been involved in a passionate love affair in pre First World War France, finds himself fighting in the trenches of the Somme, in exactly the same area in which his affair takes place.

The screenplay is a masterpiece of interpretation of Faulk’s wonderful book, and encapsulates a rollercoaster of emotions, as Wraysford relives his memories whilst trying to stay alive in the hell-state backdrop of the trenches.

I don’t want to spoil the story for those who haven’t read the book or seen the programs, but it really makes you wonder how the young men involved managed to stay sane in the midst of all the horror and death of, what was supposed to be, the war to end all wars. With all the terror and, all too often, the ultimate sacrifice, it is saddening that we completely failed to learn the lessons provided by the conflict.

Life’s Learning Process

Look Both WaysI love the way this poem beautifully encapsulates the stages of learning, and the long, long road to enlightenment …

  1. I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
    I fall in.
    I am lost…
    I am hopeless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.
  2. I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.
  3. I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in…it’s a habit
    My eyes are open; I know where I am;
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.
  4. I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.
  5. I walk down another street.
~ Portia Nelson

Another Person’s Shoes

Another Person's ShoesThere is an old saying, that before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you have a pair of their shoes, and you are a mile away 🙂

But seriously, it is easy to see the faults in another when you are only seeing things from your point of view.

Today, I have had the privilege to take over one of my colleague’s roles for the day. I had always considered it to be a fairly simple task, talking to customers, answering their questions, dealing with their complaints, easy peasy … really???

No !!! It is a full on role, extremely varied, and never ending, like swimming against the tide. I made it through the day in one piece. But it has given me a completely different view of the role, and that learning process has been a really good thing for me. I take my hat off to everyone who has to deal with clients, to keep their cool, often whilst being provoked by sarcastic, even rude comments, you are all stars.

Keeping A Level Head

Level HeadedWe had a big, and potentially contentious, meeting at work today. We have spent a great deal of money on the web project, and we are seeing significant results on that investment. But, as with many large projects, there have been omissions and mistakes made on both sides, and we were meeting to discuss the route to resolution.

Now, when there are big bucks at stake, emotions can become inflamed and tempers frayed, but at what cost? Our software partners want to continue doing business with us. We want to resolve the many little issues that have made their way into the live site. So we both have much to gain, and more to lose, if the talking stops and the bun fight begins.

Although my colleagues, and a couple of the partners know about my Buddhist leanings, none of them are active participants. So it was hugely rewarding to find that the meeting was brimming with wisdom, courage and compassion from both sides. We covered most of the points of conflict in a calm and mature manner, and although there is a deal of fine detail to be resolved, the day went better than any of us anticipated.

Death – A Buddhist Viewpoint

Death - A Buddhist ViewpointThe passing of the close friend, of a close friend, led me to seek out a Buddhist poem about death, from the Buddhist viewpoint.

Though we may relinquish our body in this lifetime, we are not gone, nor will we ever be.

This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born, and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and seek.
So laugh with me, hold my hand, let us say good-bye, say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Sowing Hidden Gems

The Hidden Gem Of Buddhist TeachingsFollowing on from yesterday’s post about passing on the good news of Buddhism, this is a parable about the rich man, the poor man and the hidden gem …

A poor man visits a rich friend, gets drunk, and passes out.

The rich man, who has to leave on business, gives his poor man a priceless gem, which he secretly sews into the lining of his friend’s clothes.

When the poor man comes to, he resumes his life as a vagrant, unaware of the treasure he received during his blackout.

Later, he meets the rich man again, who shows him where the gem is concealed, and the poor man realizes his wealth.

Passing on the ideas and ideals behind Buddhist teachings can be likened to sewing a hidden gem into the lining of a friends clothes. Discovering the gem, even years later, can transform a poor life into one of untold enlightened riches.

Pass It On

Ed is having a hard time - at work, in his love life and, well, generally. Then he meets an unlikely Buddhist - who drinks and smokes and talks his kind of language. Bit by bit, things begin to change...When you find something that excites and enthuses you, you want to tell people about it and spread the news. When it is a spiritual matter it can be a more delicate situation, wanting to be enthusiastic without being evangelical or overbearing.

My goto book, as we all know, is The Buddha, Geoff and Me, beautifully simple, brilliantly written and, for me at least, a life changer. So to make a present of the book, to someone you care about, might be an idea.

That way, you show you care, you pass on the idea , but you don’t force the issue. If they are interested they may choose to read it. They also have the chance to pass on the news at a later date, if they so decide. And so the good news spreads.

Seeing The Positives

Sunnshine And ShowersThere was once an old lady who cried all the time. Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant while the younger daughter was the wife of a noodle vendor. On sunny days, she worried, “Oh no! The weather is so nice and sunny. No one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?” These worries made her sad. She just could not help but cry. When it rained, she would cry for the younger daughter. She thought, “Oh no! My younger daughter is married to a noodle vendor. You cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now there will be no noodles to sell. What should we do?” As a result, the old lady lived in sorrow everyday. Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbours could not console her and jokingly called her “the crying lady.”

One day, she met a monk. He was very curious as to why she was always crying. She explained the problem to him. The monk smiled kindly and said, “Madam! You need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”

The crying lady was very excited. She immediately asked the monk to show her what to do. The master replied, “It is very simple. You just need to change your perspective. On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas but the younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such good strong sunlight, she must be able to make plenty of noodles and her business must be very good. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of the elder daughter. With the rain, everyone must be buying umbrellas. She will sell a lot of umbrellas and her store will prosper.”

The old lady saw the light. She followed the monk’s instruction. After a while, she did not cry anymore; instead, she was smiling everyday. From that day on she was known as “the smiling lady.”

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: