The Wealth Delusion

False ValuesSitting reading William Woollard’s book Buddhism and the Science of Happiness, he talks about the way western society has become addicted to wealth and is dominated by the pursuit of money and power. This is at the expense of fairness, sharing and compassion. We have become, to all intents and purposes, what we earn or own rather than who we really are as a person.

A society that has sacrificed so much to material wealth that it has forgotten the human heart and the best of human aspirations, degenerates into something compassionless, doctrinaire, ignorant and ultra-conservative. When this happens, fundamental solutions to the issues of that society become impossible. If we protect the truth and are resolute, we are capable of creating peace and prosperity, and the truth that we should be protecting has to be high and great.

The great truth of Nichiren Buddhism, the thing that we must do our utmost to protect, involves ethics and the very best of human nature. At the very heart of this lies our duty to protect the truth of life, the truth that we are all one with the universe, and that every single human thought contains the entirety of universal life.

The sooner we realise that this addiction is destroying our human nature, the sooner we can start to right the injustices in society. Failure to take steps to redress the balance of wealth will result in more of the kind of riots we saw across the country last year. We all knock the bankers for their greed and avarice, but we are all to blame to a greater or lesser extent and we must do better.

Views From The Other Side

Views From The Other SideMy dear old friend Billy Brown had a favourite saying, ‘that everyone had a right to his opinion’. He was generally joking, but sometimes he meant it. My view is rather different, in that I believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion, whether it matches mine, or not.

Seeing things from another’s viewpoint is a critical part of being able to meet that person half way in any situation. That then gives us the ability to resolve, or at least come to terms with any potential point of conflict in a positive and constructive way.

If someone stands by their beliefs, even when doing so might run the risk of causing hurt in some manner, those beliefs must be respected. To do anything else would be to concur with Billy’s ideas, and that is not a recipe for peace, love or understanding.

Back On Track

This WayThere are times when we need to be reminded of the important things in life. When distractions come along it’s all too easy to get side tracked and let our practice slip. It isn’t that we forget, it’s just that sometimes life can get in the way, albeit temporarily.

When everything comes along at once, it can all be a little too much to cope with. But being reminded that our practice is the one constant that keeps us on the straight and narrow is a very good thing. When we remember that our faith is central, is our honzon, and the very thing that makes us who we are, we can take steps to realign ourselves.

Whilst it is no excuse, as life has been both hectic and delightful in the past few weeks, I have let things slide a little. So normal service is resumed and the balance of life has been restored. The most important things in life need a solid foundation, and my practice is the foundation that will allow those things to grow, blossom and persist way, way into the future.

The Winning Formula

WinningWhen experiencing failure or disappointment, frustration or illness, we tend to lose confidence and let fear overtake us.

At such times, we need to make a conscious effort to move forward with strength and courage.

When we say to ourselves, “Next time I’ll succeed” or “I’m going to get better and make it through this”, we have already won.

Steer A Steady Course

A Steady CourseWhen you devote yourself to achieving your goals, you will not be bothered by shallow criticism.

Nothing important can be accomplished if you allow yourself to be swayed by some trifling matter, always looking over your shoulder and wondering what others are saying or thinking.

The key to achievement is to move forward along your chosen path with firm determination.

Life’s Too Short To Waste

The Grim ReaperDeath does not discriminate, it strips us of everything.

Fame, wealth and power are all useless in the unadorned reality of the final moments of life. When the time comes, we will have only ourselves to hold to account.

This is a solemn confrontation that we must face, armed only with our raw humanity, the actual record of what we have done and how we have chosen to live our lives.

All that remains to ask is this …

Have I been true to myself?

What have I contributed to the world?

Which areas give me a sense of satisfaction, and which a sense of regret?

Think about this each and every day, for one day, maybe sooner than you think, it will be too late to make amends.

Perfect Peace?

TranquillitySometimes the World of Tranquillity can be a true blessing, a lull after a period of intense effort.

At other times it can be be like the dying notes of a moving piece of music, the echoes of the most magnificent firework display.

Maybe the biggest difference between the two is whether you wished for Tranquillity or not.

If you do wish for it, Tranquillity can be the most restful of time, if not it can be as quiet as the grave, peaceful but not something which you might actively desire.

If you find yourself becalmed in a world of Tranquillity, chanting will raise your life-state and get the energies flowing again.

Stick To It !!!

Stick To It !!!When you make a difficult decision for all the right reasons, stick to that decision.

Whether it is painful, or someone tries to convince you that it was a mistake, stick to that decision.

Back tracking, skirting round the issue, being persuaded to change your mind, what ever it may be, will end in tears.

So don’t be swayed … stick to that decision !!!

Mind Over Matter

Shikishin FuniWe must never underestimate the power the mind has over our bodies. If we can remain positive, with high life-energy and in one of the higher worlds, our bodies will respond positively and heal themselves all the quicker. If we allow negativity to creep in, the battle will be all the harder and healing will simply take longer.

The Nichiren phrase for this connection between our body and mind is Shikishin-Funi. Two, but not two, not two, but two, meaning that they are separate, but cannot function alone.

[色心不二] (Jpn shikishin-funi )

Also, non-duality of body and mind. The principle that the two seemingly distinct phenomena of body, or the physical aspect of life, and mind, or its spiritual aspect, are essentially non-dual, being two integral phases of a single reality. One of the ten onenesses formulated by Miao-lo (711-782) in his Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra.” In the Japanese term shikishin-funi, shiki means that which has form and colour, or physical existence, while shin means that which has neither form nor colour, or spiritual existence, such as the mind, heart, and soul. Funi is an abbreviation of nini-funi, which indicates “two (in phenomena) but not two (in essence).” This means that the material and the spiritual are two separate classes of phenomena, but non-dual and indivisible in essence, because they are both aspects of the same reality. In the above annotations, Miao-lo states that, from the viewpoints of the whole and its components, life at a single moment is the whole, while body and mind are its components. Neither body nor mind is a separate entity; there is not one without the other. They are inseparable components of life. In the Lotus Sutra, the principle of the ten factors of life represents the oneness of body and mind. The ten factors are listed in the “Expedient Means” (second) chapter of the sutra, where it states that the true aspect of all phenomena consists of “appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relation, latent effect, manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end.” On “The Profound Meaning” states: “Appearance exists only in what is material; nature exists only in what is spiritual. Entity, power, influence, and relation in principle combine both the material and the spiritual. Internal cause and latent effect are purely spiritual; manifest effect exists only in what is material.” The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings reads, “[Concerning the term dedication of one’s life ] ‘dedication’ refers to the element of physical form as it pertains to us, while ‘life’ refers to the element of mind as it pertains to us. But the ultimate teaching tells us that form and mind are not two.” – Taken from the SGI Dictionary of Buddhism

Now that’s a lot to take in, but in our current situation it basically means that staying positive in our minds will help heal our bodies.

Take The Plunge

Take The PlungeHave you ever had a problem or situation that has been there for a while, but you can’t drum up the enthusiasm to fix? I know you have, we all have.

Maybe enthusiasm is not the right word, maybe confidence is a better one. Maybe you should have made a phone call or gone to meet someone, but you know they aren’t going to be too pleased to hear from you when you do.

When I say you know, it’s probably more accurate to say you imagine, you suppose, see what I mean? We all build up little scenarios in our heads, and the more often we think about the problem, the more convinced we become, that our imagined outcome is what will actually happen.

This is where we need a bit of Wisdom, Courage and Compassion.

We need the Wisdom to see that what we imagine is the version of events from our point of view, and may be way off. We also need to accept that any problem that is left to fester, will only get worse and never go away by itself.

We need a deal of Courage to put ourselves into a situation that may be awkward, embarrassing or painful (hopefully not physically). Picking up that phone, or ringing that door bell, when we are unsure of the reception, takes guts. But remember that the alternative may be even worse.

Now we need a huge dollop of Compassion. The fact that we have put off doing something about this issue probably means that we feel that we are in the wrong, in some way. So we need to steel ourselves for a potential tirade, whilst remaining calm and sympathetic. We need to understand the problem from the other persons point of view. That will take a dialogue of some nature, and maintaining a compassionate nature may help defuse the situation. We need to bite our tongue when we may feel like giving a little back. I don’t mean a complete capitulation, more a flexible approach to understanding their side of things.

I imagine that each and every person who reads this has an issue, be it large or small, that falls into this category. Only you know what it is, so gird your loins, take a deep breath, and get it sorted today. You’ll feel a lot better when you do, believe me, I know from experience.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

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