Biting My Virtual Tongue

Fundamental DarknessWhen a lengthy email, filled with sarcastic comments, from a notorious client, let’s call him Mr Smith, dropped into my inbox, my heart sank.

In the first week of my new position, it is my job to respond to him, but I have no remit to action the changes he requires.

I had already sent the ‘standard’ response to his last email a couple of days ago, but that clearly was inadequate. So I had to put together another response, covering the points he raised in a sarcastic and overtly antagonistic manner, without stooping to his level.

That’s no an easy thing to do at times. I’m still feeling a bit like death warmed up, and the Dark Passenger is whispering that I should tell him to go swivel, to tell him that although he is a valued client, he isn’t so valued that he can talk to us (me) in that manner.

Doing so might just be enough to terminate my newly fledged career, so I bite my virtual tongue and tell him that although we appreciate his frustration, and will address the issues he has raised, that there are underlying reasons for the delays about which he is complaining.

Well the email has been sent, and a response is expected shortly, we will see whether he is at all placated. If not, it will offer another ‘real life’ chance to test my Wisdom, Courage and Compassion. I’m sure they will pass muster, I just wonder about the Dark Passenger.

Changes Make Us Better

Q&AGoing back over your mistakes, asking yourself painful questions and giving honest answers is a difficult, but cathartic experience.

We’ve all made mistakes in life, some more serious than others, but thinking them through, trying to explain why you made that decision at that point in time, makes you re-examine your own values. In my case, having changed through my Buddhist Practice, it also becomes clear that I would have made different decisions in many cases.

Our history is set in stone, we cannot go back and make those decisions anew. But we can try to make amends, apologise for any hurt we have caused, and, above all, be honest with ourselves and others.

The changes in myself, that I see and feel, the way I view life, and my responsibility for events affecting me and people around me, have come about through my Practice and my study of Nichiren Buddhism.

As I have said before, once you see things in a different light, you cannot undo that change. Nor would I want to, because even though I know I will make other mistakes in the future, I know that those mistakes will be made despite honourable intentions, and with a great deal more Wisdom, Courage and Compassion.

Major Relapse

Running A TemperatureWho would have believed it? Having had a huge dollop of stress lifted from my shoulder yesterday, I have succumbed to a major relapse, physically. My wheezing has returned, my joints ache, my nose is running like a tap and my back is pure agony. What has happened?

I know there is a great deal of research that shows that people who go on holiday, after a heavy time at work, very often come down with some bug or another. It’s almost as if the body relaxes too much, and leaves itself open to infection.

I was suffering with my back at the weekend, and being surrounded by the grandchildren may well have been the source of infection. But it’s really annoying to have to struggle through, on the first day of a new job, albeit in the same company.

So don’t try to contact me tonight, I’m going to go home, chant my heart out for half an hour, get undressed and tuck myself into my bed. I need to give this illness the heave hoe, I don’t want to be sick for my first week in this new position.

It will be interesting to see how I feel in the morning.

And Relax

And RelaxYou all know the saga about the round of redundancies at my place of work. It’s been a very trying time for all concerned. It’s not the easiest economic climate to find work at the moment, particularly when you are a gentleman of a certain age, as I am.

So you can imagine my relief when the phone rang at lunchtime and it was the boss calling to tell me that I had been successful in my application for the role of the Internal IT Helpdesk Technician.

Alright, it’s not the most influential role in the world, it ‘s not even the most influential role in the department, but it’s a role, a paid role, and it gives me back a little control over my destiny.

Interestingly, it is all down to cause and effect. During the redundancy discussions, I asked for the job spec and whether I might apply. Once my application had been accepted, I had to go through the interview stage, a little nerve wracking, but I made it.

So the fact that I am not now leaving on March 26th, that my continuous service will be maintained, as will my pension and share options, is down to me. Down to me making the causes in order to see the effects I am now seeing.

Having taken all the credit, the chanting clearly helped, as did all the very welcome support from my family and friends, who never stopped believing in me, or at least never let on if they did.

Thank you all, we did it !!!

Contrasting Joys

The Water Road - A Complete ContrastYesterday was pretty manic. Up at 7:00, after staying up till after 2:00 watching Comic Relief, and well done to those guys, over £75m raised so far. Then driving to Bristol in rain that even Noah would have commented upon. Spray, floods, hold-ups for broken down vehicles, a real relief when I pulled up on Charlotte and Rob’s driveway.

It never ceases to amaze me, the contrast between the relative calm of the car, to the total hubbub of a house full of three energetic and boisterous young lads. There’s no such thing as peace and quiet, squeals of delight mix seamlessly with the bings, bongs, plinks and plonks of Sonic on the Wii, hectic doesn’t even cover it.

After a welcome cup of coffee, one example of pandemonium gets swapped for another as Charlotte and I go off to do some shopping at the biggest Sainsbury’s I have ever seen. Despite the cathedral-like cavernous interior of the store, there wasn’t a spare inch of room. Weaving around the assembled throng with the ever filling trolley, was reminiscent of the video game the boys were playing earlier.

Back home, and with everyone fed and watered, Rob and Jake went off to the football, while Charlotte, Zach, Oliver and I went over to Hannah’s. Lots more chatting, rugby on the telly and the two three year old cousins playing away, filled the house with life and yet more noise.

Then as the rain finally stops, my brother arrives with my Mom, having driven through similar weather, all the way from Sutton Coldfield. My Mom is surrounded by doting granddaughters and great grandsons, and it is clear that she is delighted to see them all again.

Before we get chance to see the dying knockings of the Wales v England rugby match, delivering some respite from the disappointment the score line was causing, it is time to head off for dinner at a local Beefeater. The rain has resumed and although there is a huge car park, we all get another dousing getting from the car to the restaurant.

The evening flies by, the food is good and the company better, but by 9:30 it is time to start thinking of wending our way home. In fact, Charlotte, Rob and the boys had bailed a little while earlier, the batteries of the younger members going flat before thy could make it to the sweet course. The drive home was dark, damp but uneventful.

What a contrast with today. Getting back last night, I was greeted by a parcel in the doorway, left by Ms Post Lady while I was out. It was the books about single handed boating that I had ordered earlier in the week. Although tempted, I had left opening the parcel till the morning.

I slept until after 10:00, but the lure of that parcel was enough to get me out of bed as soon as I woke. Not that I stayed out for long. Having unpacked and closely examined the contents, I made a large mug of coffee and dived back under the still warm duvet and started reading the largest of the books.

The Water Road by Paul Gogarty, is the account of his four month odyssey travelling around the maze of canals linking four of Britain’s greatest rivers, namely the Thames, Servern, Mersey and Trent. As you might expect from an acclaimed travel writer and former TV presenter, the narrative is beautifully descriptive and impossible to put down.

So, from the constant contact with the family yesterday, the conversation and physical contact, I have had the exact opposite today. I’ve spent the day all on my own, not even a phone call to break the isolation. The contrast is amazing, but I have to say that each has its joys. I love my family and spending time with them, but I am perfectly happy being alone. I guess it’s all a question of seeing the best of all situations.

When Times Get Tough

DeterminationDetermination grows out of adversity. To accomplish an easy or pleasant task does not require determination, it is the difficult or unpleasant task that most definitely does.

Dreams don’t come true on their own. Determination is required to achieve the things we set out to accomplish and to keep things going in the face of discouragement.

The essential purpose of Buddhism is to make people happy. True happiness is the result of consistent effort and constant growth as a human being.

Remind yourself every day, why you are pursuing your goal. Self doubt and negative thoughts are the making of your fundamental darkness. Confront your inner demons and tell them that you are going to overcome them. Take heart and strength from your Practice, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo will raise your life-energy and help you focus on the task in hand. Remember, nobody ever felt satisfaction from giving up on their dreams.

And keep this in mind when times get tough …

When your determination grows, everything else begins to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fibre in your being immediately orient themselves toward your success.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Virtual Sunshine And Showers

Sunshine And ShowersIt is Friday, meaning that we have made it through another working week, with the emphasis strongly on the working bit. With the sword of Damocles still hanging over my head, it is a bit of a challenge to remain focussed, even though people keep telling me ‘You’ll be fine’. Sadly it’s not their decision, and the wait continues.

So it was a really nice surprise, when we had a visitor to the Ringwood office, a new guy who has been brought in to head up our ecommerce business unit, and it turned out that he’s only got one head, has worked for the likes of Amazon and Love Film, is very passionate about building the business and listens when people talk to him.

I really can see a positive light falling on the IT team. It felt like everyone has embraced the new energy and are buzzing with the enthusiasm our new leader has instilled. It remains to be seen where the line between the companies legacy ends, being established in 1856, and the adoption of new technologies begins. Philatelists are a funny bunch, in the nicest possible way, and it’s a fine line to be trodden.

The excitement is palpable and the way forward, for the team at least, is becoming clearer. The minor fly in the ointment, from my side of things, is that by this time next week, I may not be part of the team.

This is where my Buddhism kicks in, and in more ways than I had expected. My initial feeling is one of joy and excitement for the team. With second thoughts I see that their future may not be mine, but with that split comes a series of possibilities. I could see it as a potential crisis, but I am weighing up the balance between the danger and the opportunities and I see that the opportunities are winning hands down.

The way forward is to keep chanting, stay positive and wait to see what happens.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Renewable Energy

The Ultimate Renewable EnergyWhen we practice gongyo and chant daimoku before the Gohonzon, the good and evil capacities of our lives begin to function as the exalted form of fundamental existence.

Lives that are full of the pain of Hell, lives that are in the world of Hunger, lives warped by the world of Anger – such lives too begin to move in the direction of creating their own personal happiness and value.

Lives being pulled toward misfortune and unhappiness are redirected and pulled in the opposite direction, toward fortune and happiness, when we make the Mystic Law our base.

Chant diamoku with all your heart, chant whenever you feel downcast, whenever you feel listless or lacking in focus.

Chanting diamoku connects us directly to chi, the Universal energy, the ultimate renewable energy, so chant and raise your life-state, your life-energy and put your life back on track.

Poignant Memories

My Nan, Charlotte and HannahMarch the thirteenth always stirs up the saddest of memories for me and my family. It is exactly twenty one years ago today, that I lost the second most important lady in my life, my paternal grandmother. Just to make it even worse, if that were at all possible, ironically, March the thirteenth 1992 was a Friday, probably the worst Friday the thirteenth ever.

She was the most wonderful grandmother anyone could ever have had. She looked after me when I was very young, when my Mom was suffering from Tuberculosis, in the days when it was often fatal. She was a tweeny, a maid between stairs, in the days when Upstairs, Downstairs was a lot less romantic that it is on TV today. She was married to my grandfather Walter, in the days when Wally wasn’t a derogatory name.

She lived in a council house in Erdington, Birmingham, never owned a car, never really had two pennies to rub together, but was dignified and always proud of the way she looked and the way she kept that house. I spent many, many happy school summer holidays there, and remember being spoiled rotten.

She made the best bread pudding in the world, always had peaches or pears and trifle on the tea table and knitted me more school jumpers than I can count. We went on lots of holidays together as a family, but never outside the UK, in fact she may never have been abroad in her whole life. She was never happier than when she had something to worry about, but she was always happy and full of love.

She was just wonderful, was always there for us and is greatly missed. It makes me happy to know that she is back in the world somewhere and I know she will be spreading love and light wherever she (or he) is. We are thinking of you Nan.

Human Revolution

The Lotus FlowerThe human being is not a frail wretch at the mercy of fate. Shakyamuni insisted that to change oneself now is to change the future on a vast scale. The Western impression that Buddhism is all about meditation is alien to the spirit of Shakyamuni.

The goal of Nichiren Buddhism is neither to escape from reality nor to tread a path of passive acceptance. It is to live strongly, proactively, in such a way as to refine one’s own life and reform society through a constant exchange between the outside world and the individual’s inner world.

The transformation, of self and society, will come about through the process of Human Revolution. Not the waving of placards, although that sometimes happens, but the deep seated change of the ideals and morals of society, all around the world.

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