2012 Is Over, Here Comes 2013

Happy New Year - 2013I have to report, that for the majority of people I know, with the exception of a couple of high points, 2012 has been a year of sadness, and one that most will be happy to see gone.

But as we know, the challenges in life are there to help us become stronger. And those of us who have met those challenges and grown as a result, are still here to greet the New Year.

Happy New Year everyone. I pray that 2013 will be a healthy, fortunate, positive and above all peaceful one for everyone.

Instant Buddhahood? – Simply Add Practice

Nichiren DaishoninReligion must teach an “attitude to life.” To live a life of true human dignity is certainly difficult.

Life is change; it is continuous change. Nothing is constant. The four sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death are an eternal theme that no one can escape.

Amid harsh reality, people yearn from the depths of their beings to live with dignity and for their lives to have meaning, and they make efforts toward that end. The product of these human yearnings, these prayers, is religion. Religion was born from prayer.

What is Nichiren’s response to these prayers of human beings? What attitude toward life does he teach? The answer, in short, is the principle of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

What is needed to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime? Wisdom, Courage and Compassion and that comes from sustained, diligent practice.

Speaking Out

The Lotus SutraNichiren Daishonin, in his writings to Soya Jiro Hyoe-no-jo Kyoshin, said this about speaking out in defence of slander of The Lotus Sutra …

To hope to attain Buddhahood without speaking out against slander is as futile as trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water.

No matter how sincerely one believes in the Lotus Sutra, if one is guilty of failing to rebuke slander of the Law, one will surely fall into hell, just a single crab leg will ruin a thousand pots of lacquer.

This is the meaning of the passage in the sutra, “Because the poison has penetrated deeply and their minds no longer function as before.”

Nichiren was referring specifically of The Lotus Sutra, but we should speak out against all manner of slander, the likes of which appear to be on the increase in modern life.

Problems? Them’s Not Problems

Viktor Frankl - Man's Search For MeaningI’ve been re-reading Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl, just to brush up on the lessons contained therein.

What an amazing account of such unbelievable suffering, and impossible to put down. I have found reading the book to be humbling experience. It’s put my problems well and truly into the ‘insignificant’ category.

Frankl was one of the few people to survive the Nazi death camps and writes his story from the viewpoint of his position as a psychiatrist.

I’m not going to relate anything from the book, but I strongly recommend you read it.

It’s not about Buddhism, but it really is very Buddhist like.

The Wonderful World Of Learning

The Wonderful World Of LearningHaving used all my holiday, and more, over the summer, I’m the muggins who has had to look after the office today. Not that I’m here completely alone, there are others around the place, but in terms of IT, I’m it … if you see what I mean. So in the quietness of the office, I’ve been able to keep one hand on the tiller and one ear on my Buddhist audio books.

As we all strive for Buddhahood, the life-state of Learning is a wonderful place to be. I love reading and listening to instructional podcasts and devote as much time as I can to these every day. Understanding the principles behind the practice is so important. If understanding is missing, chanting and working towards enlightenment is an uphill, and potentially futile, struggle.

So much is available on the internet that you can always find the information you need to take your knowledge to the next level. To make the most of every free minute of every day, I download podcasts from Karen and Jason Jarrett’s website, A Buddhist Podcast.

There are dozens of topics covered, as you would imagine, they have been online for over five years now. There are also audiobook versions of The Reluctant Buddhist, and Buddhism and the Science of Happiness, read by William Woollard himself, and The Buddha, Geoff and Me, all of which are hugely instructional and inspirational.

Learning is not just the way forward, it is insurance against going back to where we have come from. I love it, and I’m sure you will too.

Awesome Animated Instruction

OogwayWatching DreamWork’s Kung Fu Panda on TV last night, not for the first time I have to admit, was another good lesson in humility, wisdom, trust and self confidence.

If you haven’t seen the film it is, on the face of it, a kids cartoon, lots of action, lots of fun.

At a deeper level, it tells the story of the underdog, Po the Panda, who is chosen as the Dragon Warrior against the odds. Nobody believes that Oogway the Turtle has made the right decision, that he was chosen by chance, even though Oogway explains that there is no such thing as chance.

Even Po is convinced that he has been chosen by mistake, and cannot believe that he is the Dragon Warrior. He is slandered by everyone, even Shifu, who is charged with training Po in the ways of Kung Fu. The other pupils of Shifu, Tigress, Monkey, Crane, Viper and Mantis also look down on Po, though they slowly come to see that his determination is to be admired.

After Oogway passes on, having asked Shifu to believe in Po and following a lot of learning, Po has to meet his nemesis Tai Lung to save the valley.

Lots of Buddhist principles are woven through the film, a great cast, a good watch and a fun way to learn. Look out for the sequel, inventively called Kung Fu Panda II, more fun and yet more lessons.

Peace And Goodwill

As a Buddhist, I am not about to hijack one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, but on this festive day, may I wish you all a very happy Christmas and hope that for once, we can make it through the day without reports of incidents of conflict anywhere around the world.

Peace and Goodwill to all Mankind

Peace and Good Will to all citizens of planet Earth, may our wish of Kosen-Rufu, Peace to all Mankind, come true over the festive season and continue into the approaching New Year.

Namaste ~ Anupadin

Greater Sexual Equality – Sadly?

Afghan PolicewomanI was dismayed to hear the news this morning, that an Afghan policewoman killed a US NATO advisor in Kabul. It is believed to be the first ‘insider’, or Green on Blue attack to be carried out by a woman.

As with all crimes of violence, there seems to be, for me at least, and additional shock factor when the perpetrator is female. I am unsure quite why that should be, maybe it’s because I am old fashioned and still consider them the to be fairer sex.

Whatever the reason, it is very sad to hear about the incident in Kabul. One can only hope that it will prove to be an isolated incident and that it is an indication that the Taliban are finding it more difficult to carry out such attacks using men.

Following on from the news that The British troops stationed out in Afghanistan are to be withdrawn sooner than scheduled, due to the reported increased progress being made in the training of the Afghan troops and police forces, it makes one question, once again, what kind of mess we will be leaving behind.

Karma – Fate, God’s Will Or Your Responsibility?

Poison Into MedicineSometimes in life we find ourselves in difficult or disappointing circumstances. But the laws of Karma are universal, and we get what we deserve, whether we recognise the causes or not, the effects speak for themselves.

We might feel sorry for ourselves, we may think it’s unfair, but we make the causes for the effects we experience day in, day out. Now you may be saying that it’s destiny, or coincidence, but that simply means you are delegating responsibility for your life to fate or a mystical figure whose existence can never be proven.

Why do we allow ourselves to be fooled? When we know the reason for events, we accept the situation and move on. When we don’t know (or remember) why something has happened, we waft it away with airy fairy excuses, like fate or God’s will.

I’ve been through the mill in the last year. Failed relationships, serious illness and deaths in the family. More than enough to make me feel, at times, enough is enough. But when I sit and think things through, at the bottom of every disaster, is a cause of my own making.

So I hold my hands up, I’m culpable, in part at the very least, and my chanting, prayer and meditation are the tools I am using to start to put things right. You might be thinking this doesn’t apply in your case, but you are wrong. Accept your own responsibility and start making the causes to get the effects you would like to see.

Money Can’t Buy Me Love

Money Can’t Buy Me LoveSometimes, a fresh pair of eyes, a questioning soul, an inquisitive heart, make us look anew at an old thought.

As the Beatles song from the Sixties said, ‘I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love. Sadly, in our capitalist western society, too many are driven and judged by the money they own, but at what cost?

Sensei was speaking of exactly this issue when he said …

Even if you are born into the most affluent of circumstances or enjoy a spectacular marriage that is the envy of others, there is no guarantee that you will be happy.

Happiness does not depend on wealth or personal appearance, nor does it hinge on fame or recognition. If your heart is empty, you cannot build genuine happiness.

There is an expansive life-state of profound, secure happiness that transcends any material or social advantage. It is called faith; it is called the life-state of Buddhahood.

Of course, money may allow a greater degree of choice in the decisions we take in life, but be assured, it cannot guarantee the happiness that the faith in Buddhahood provides.

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