Uncomfortably Numb

Uncomfortably NumbHaving assimilated the situation that arose yesterday, I have spent the day in a rather quiet office, ploughing on regardless and trying to piece together my thoughts on the past, the present and the future.

Having been offered the chance to apply for a new, but not dissimilar role, still in Ringwood, I put in my application yesterday afternoon. Now I have to deal with the conflicting emotions of hope, fear and bewilderment, whilst trying to plan for all eventualities.

People in the office have been very nice. They were aware of the upheaval caused by yesterday’s departures. I’ve been through this type of situation a couple of times, and it is as unsettling for those who remain, as those who leave.

Folks seemed genuinely pleased to see me this morning, though few have been brave enough to ask after the details of the underlying changes, maybe for fear that they might be affected too. After the initial greetings, things settle back into the usual routine.

But I am now in a quandary, trying to soldier on despite having a possible leaving date, trying not to get too optimistic about securing a role for which I am only one candidate in a very competitive job market. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, I have become uncomfortably numb.

Chop, Chop

Getting The ChopBefore I became a Nichiren Buddhist I found disappointments very difficult to handle, so today, being told that my services are no longer required at work, I was inwardly pleased with the manner in which I handled the fall of the axe.

I have always been prone to setting my expectations too high, and that leads to disappointment when the expectation isn’t met. My Dad, on the other hand, always seemed to be a little pessimistic, he never appeared to have very high expectations, never got overexcited about anything, so didn’t allow himself to feel disappointment, or that was the way it looked to me.

Since I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism I have an inner strength that helps me through difficult times. It is a great comfort and I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with issues or problems.

The strange thing is that Buddhism doesn’t always make the problems go away, although that does sometimes happen, but it gives me a different way of looking at the situation and a focus that makes the problems more easy to understand and to bear.

In general, my life has been very easy. I have a very loving family, great parents and had a very stable home life in my formative years. I’ve been through a few troughs, the usual things like losing my grandparents, my father and failed relationships, the same as every one else. I’m not looking to test my practice, but I truly believe that my inner strength is helping me cope with such times much better now.

If I were to try to pinpoint the single most important reason for this, I would say it was a new found mental calm. I’ve never been a fighter. At school I used to use humour to get out of the usual scrapes all kids get into. But I was prone to letting my feeling show, particularly when disappointment was involved.

Now, because I can see the situation from all angles, just like those reviews on the web, where you can spin the item around and look at it every which way, I can rationalise more easily. Being able to see a situation from other peoples perspective allows me to make sense of how things appear to them, and understand why they are reacting in the way they are.

It has changed my life, or at least the way I look at it, and it can help anyone. Maybe it could help you.

Setting Our Goals

Goal SettingSet your goals with care. Whether they are big or small, work towards realising them.

You must be serious and dedicated to your goals – you will never get anywhere if you set them on a whim, or just treat them like a joke.

An earnest, dedicated spirit shines like a diamond and moves the hearts of people. That is because a brilliant flame burns within.

If we are sincere, people will understand our intentions, and our positive qualities will shine forth. It is pointless and destructive to be overly conscious about outward appearances.

As the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote,

“How may one get to know oneself?

Never by contemplation, only indeed by action

Seek to do your duty, and you will know at once how it is with you”

Goals are at the heart of our success, in fact they are the Kyo, and indeed the very basis of Kyo Chi Gyo I. Set your goals with care, and once they are set, aim for them with vigour passion and determination in equal measure.

Oops !!!

PoisonMy progress, through my Practice, has been pretty steady and positive for quite a while now.

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

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, those who need to know, already know, but I am going to use this challenge to strengthen my resolve, so more poison into medicine and proof that my faith is strong.

The Law Is Central

The Lotus SutraWhen we are sick, or the challenges of everyday life are coming thick and fast, it is all too easy to concentrate on ourselves, forgetting about those around us. To stop this happening takes mindfulness and courage, as noted by Sensei in today’s encouragement.

Buddhism is not about leading a self-centred existence. If we do not base our lives on the Law, we are not practicing Buddhism.

The German writer Friedrich von Schiller writes, “The brave man thinks upon himself the last.”

This is analogous to the spirit of not begrudging one’s life taught in the Lotus Sutra.

This means treasuring the Law more highly than one’s life.

The Law and kosen-rufu are central.

The old adage that ‘No Man is an island’ is very true. It is our family, friends and those we meet each day in our communities, who make our lives meaningful, and it is The Law that shows us the way we are to conduct ourselves and how we should relate to them.

Steering A Steady Course

Steering 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.

Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

And Then There Were Three ~ GenesisWhen life gets a little messy, I tend to go for familiar things from life, things that help me feel more comfortable. While working from home today, I took the opportunity to listen to some classic, and very familiar music, the Genesis album, And Then There Were Three, released in 1978.

I have loved Genesis since seeing their inaugural tour way back in 1969 and can still remember the dismay when Peter Gabriel left the band. He was such a figurehead, being the lead singer, we wondered whether the band could survive. And Then There Were Three answered that question, and is still one of my favourite albums.

Maybe because of my heightened sense of awareness, maybe because I am looking for meaning in events, I don’t know, but suddenly a set of lyrics that I have known for thirty five years, seemed more relevant than they had ever been before …


The curtains are drawn
Now the fire warms the room.
Meanwhile outside
Wind from the north-east chills the air,
It will soon be snowing out there.

And some there are
Cold, they prepare for a sleepless night.
Maybe this will be their last fight.

But we’re safe in each other’s embrace,
All fears go out as I look on your face –

Better think awhile
Or I may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you,
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger’s past, I need not feel the icy blast again.

Laughter, music and perfume linger here
And there, and there,
Wine flows from flask to glass and mouth,
As it soothes, confusing our doubts.

And soon we feel,
Why do a single thing to-day,
There’s tomorrow sure as I’m here.

So the days they turn into years
And still no tomorrow appears.

Better think awhile
Or I may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you,
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger’s past, I need not feel the icy blast again.

~ Tony Banks 1978

Genesis have provided much of the soundtrack for my life, sometimes happy, sometimes not so happy. Now Nichiren Buddhism is providing the anchor, the Honzon of my life and between the two, I am striving to pull things back together again and move forward.

Positively Choosey

Choosing The Right WayIt may seem to be a strange thing to say, but our happiness, or otherwise, is actually a choice we make for ourselves. It’s basically tied to the way we view the challenges that life throws at us. When something happens, something we would rather hadn’t happened, we have a choice to make. Do we throw our hands in the air and go into a selfish mood of depression, or do we face the issue head on?

If we take the former route, only seeing the bad side of things, the issue will seem to get bigger and worse than it actually is. Our depression will make things even worse, and a negative spiral ensues. This is not a good route to a positive outcome, and even if we were to conquer the problem, it would take us longer and require more effort in the long run. How often have you got into a state over something, only to realise, in the fullness of time, that it really wasn’t as bad as you thought?

The other way to approach things, is to remain calm, look for the positives, and there will be some, rather than focussing on the negatives. A calm mind works better than a frantic mind. Focussing on the positives actually raises our life-state, which makes us feel more energetic and more able to do what needs to be done and meet the challenges head on.

Enlightenment has been described as a state in which we are continuously happy. Now that might sound a bit far fetched, but if we make the right choices, consciously and subconsciously, we can maintain a state of happiness. To attain the ability to control our minds to such a degree that we make the right choices every time is no small matter, which is why the path to enlightenment is long and winding. But I know that I am further down the path each day, and the goal is worth every ounce of effort.


A Universe Of PossibilitiesIt’s amazing how we and the rest of the Universe are so closely connected. Sitting at home, still working, but being allowed to ‘take stock’ of my current predicament, I’m running dozens of ‘what if’ scenarios through my head.

Then, to focus my own thoughts on just what this situation might make possible, I stumble across this Thought For Today from Sensei …

“When we plant the seeds of self-doubt, only noxious weeds sprout. When we limit ourselves with low expectations, the growth of the tree of happiness immediately ceases.

The power of growth, of improvement, the power to overcome all stagnation and break through every obstacle and transform a barren wasteland into a verdant field—that unstoppable power of hope resides right there in your own heart.

It will well up from the rich earth of your innermost being when you face the future without doubt or fear: “I can do more. I can grow. I can become a bigger and better human being”—life and faith are a never-ending struggle to grow.”

So, when you couple that to the fact that the Canal and River Trust are advertising their vacancies, maybe taking stock is just what I needed, and that the connections are strong.

A Certain Stillness

A Certain StillnessWell, what a strange sort of day. Last week, I received a letter warning that my role within the company was in danger of being made redundant, not the best news. Along with the legalese and waffle about changes to make the company more efficient, there was an invitation to meet and discuss the situation, when I would be able to put my point of view and highlight any details the company might have missed about my role.

I have to say that, despite the pressure of effectively fighting for my future within the company, I remained completely calm throughout the whole proceedings. I even cracked a couple of jokes along the way. I did however make good use of the time I had spent preparing for this battle.

Life is a series of cycles, we all know that, similar situations repeat themselves over time. People who profess to know everything about everything rarely prove that to be the case, and so it transpired this afternoon. Whilst I must admit that there was a hint of self-preservation about it, I felt it was my duty to point this out where appropriate.

So now we have another wait. A wait while the powers that be try to answer the tricky questions that were posed during the meeting, and try to justify their original decisions. The mind races, the dark passenger is having a field day, but I’m rather proud that, through it all, I maintained my dignity and a certain stillness. We shall see what transpires, in time.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

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