Opportunity Knocks

Exploring LifeEvery day can be an adventure into the unknown. If we allow ourselves to go with the flow of events, we can find ourselves in new situations, with new challenges.

Making assumptions about where life will take us, to expect the mundane, the ordinary, the usual, may mean that we walk straight past the very opportunity we need to take our lives in a completely different and exciting direction.

The belief taught in the Lotus Sutra provides no easy answers, no escape route from the difficulties of human life. In fact it firmly rejects such easy answers, and instead implores us to take up the two tools for exploring life.

The use of those tools, belief and understanding, allows us to continually challenge, and work to perfect, ourselves. When combined with the practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, they also provide us with the wisdom, courage and compassion and the energy to do just that.

Are You Prepared?

Be Prepared For LifeNo this isn’t a question about the motto of the Boy Scout movement. It is about being ready to face whatever life may throw at you. Life challenges us daily. There are joyous days and days of suffering. Sometimes really unpleasant things happen, but this variety is actually what makes life so interesting. The dramas we encounter are part and parcel of being human.

If we went through life without change or drama, if nothing unexpected ever happened, we could simply live like robots, and our lives would be unbearably dull and monotonous. We must therefore develop an inner strength, so we can enact the dramas of our lives with confidence and poise, in the face of whatever challenges we may encounter.

Just as a footnote, my day today is rather joyous, how about yours?

Get A Life

Don't Just Sit There, Get A Life !!!A life that is lived without purpose or focus, the kind in which one never discovers the reason why one was born, is joyless and lacklustre. To simply live, eat, sleep and die without any real sense of purpose, surely represents a life pervaded by the life-state of Tranquillity or Animality.

On the other hand, to do, to create or to contribute something that benefits others, society or ourselves and to dedicate ourselves for as long as we live, to that challenge, is a life of true satisfaction, and more importantly, a life of value.

To live life with purpose through Buddhist principles is a humanistic and meritorious way to live, so don’t just sit there, get a life !!!

Solid Foundations

Bomb ProofThe true victors in life are those who, having endured repeated challenges and setbacks, have sent the roots of their spiritual being to such a depth, that nothing can ever shake them loose.

Practicing Nichiren Buddhism, with all our heart and mind, on a daily basis, can allow us to grow our own spiritual roots to a great depth. Whilst our practice takes us along the road to enlightenment, this is a powerful side-effect that makes us able to defeat anything that life throws at us.

The Middle Way

The Middle WayWe are all aware that life is made up of two components, the physical (ke or ketai) and the spiritual (ku or kutai). They are two, but not two (shikishin funi) and cannot exist one without the other. The body or physical aspect becomes useless without the mind, or spiritual aspect, and the mind is helpless without the body.

The mind however, can continue to function without the body, when we sleep for example. We have all experienced dreams where we perform feats that would be totally impossible in the physical world, like being able to fly.

So we have two rather different components, maybe working in a way that is not necessarily harmonious, until chu (or chutai) takes control. Chu is the harmonisation of ke and ku. It controls each aspect, making sure one or the other does not dominate or drag us off course.

This is known as The Middle Way (chudo).

Juzu Beads & Chanting

Click for a larger imageIn the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, we hold juzu beads in our hands while reciting Gongyo and chanting Diamoku.

There are 108 beads in the main body, signifying the 108 Earthly Desires.

The 4 smaller beads in the main body represent the 4 Great Bodhisattvas of the Earth … Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo, and Anryugyo.

The 2 large beads at each end of the main body, are the “parent” beads.  The “mother” bead, representing “mystic” is on the side with 3 dangles, and is placed over the middle finger of the right hand.  The “father” bead, representing “law” is on the side with 2 dangles, and is placed on the middle finger of the left hand.

We cross the beads in the middle, which shows our oneness with The Law.  Also, we cross the beads so our benefits do not fall through our hands and lives.  By placing the beads on our hands this way, we are accepting the reality that Buddhahood exists within our lives.

When we press our hands together while we hold our juzu beads, our 10 fingers represent the 10 Worlds which fuse together simultaneously in the life of a Buddha, our lives.  Our life is now one with the Mystic Law!

The one small bead that sits below the “father” bead, represents Absolute Truth.

Prior to Nichiren Buddhism, there were only 2 dangles on each end of juzu beads.  The third dangle, consisting of 10 beads and a “Kosen-Rufu” bead, on the side of the “mother” was added, actually tied on, to signify Nichiren Buddhism and distinguish it from other Buddhist sects.

On the remaining 4 dangles, there is a differently shaped bead part way down each string.  This bead is called the “jar” bead and holds the benefits of our practice.

The 5 larger beads at the bottom of each dangle are the “Kosen-Rufu” beads, and represent our desire to spread Nichiren Buddhism,  Kosen-Rufu, throughout the World.

My huge thanks are due to my lovely friend Lily Rose of Myoho Beads for researching the meanings of the individual beads and for allowing me to use her explanation.

As Lily Rose says on her site, be careful buying juzu beads on line.  Use this description or the juzu purchased in SGI bookstores as a guide.  Make sure the beads you purchase have been created in an ethical and politically correct manner. Sorry to say, but many are not.

If you would like to learn more about chanting, this link will take you to a very informative video produced by SGI.

Time To Ponder

Cogs In A MachineProbably the best aspect of living alone, is that it allows plenty of time to let me find out who I really am.

Wisdom is rooted in the souls of human beings. One way to acquire it is to follow the simple advice of Socrates, to ‘Know thyself’.

This is the starting point for the establishment of a sense of human dignity, preventing the degradation of human beings into anonymous, interchangeable cogs in a machine.

Remember, the essence of true knowledge is self-knowledge.

You Lookin’ At Me ???

You Lookin' At Me?Before we go any further, this post is not aimed at anyone in particular, though if the cap fits, as they say …

Having the energy to argue is a sign of good health. When two people in a relationship share similar conditions, it is only natural that they will lock horns from time to time.

If on the other hand, one begins to outgrow the other, then they will probably not have serious confrontations, because their life-states are so different.

It would be great if we could live cheerfully, enjoying life to the extent where we regard our partners nagging as a sign of their good health and proof that they are still alive and kicking. If we can develop a broad state of life together, then even our partner’s ranting and raving will sound like sweet birdsong.

It’s A Boy … Now What?

A Right Royal AnnouncementWith all the news frenzy surrounding the birth of a baby boy to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate and Wills to you and me, and wishing them all the very best for the future, I was reminded of this explanation, by Daisaku Ikeda, of a relevant parable from the Lotus Sutra.

Every child is precious.

The Lotus Sutra tells the parable of the three kinds of medicinal herbs and two kinds of trees. There are many different kinds of plants; their shape, size and nature come in myriad varieties. Some plants grow fast while others take time to mature. In this parable, however, the heavens rain upon all the plants equally, nurturing their growth. And the plants blossom and bear fruits according to their own unique character.

This parable symbolizes the Buddha’s vast compassion to nurture all living beings despite their differences. All children are different; each possesses his or her wonderful unique quality. We must pour upon all children our great love and compassion so that each child can blossom, true to his or her unique quality.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Given that this heir to the throne will have every opportunity in life, it cannot be overstated how important it is that they are given the room to grow naturally, and allowed to remain a child as long as possible.

W.C.C … It’s Not Cricket You Know

Cricket_BallHave you ever had a problem or situation that has been rumbling around 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 energy, or confidence is a better one.

Perhaps you should have made a phone call, written a letter, or gone to see 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. Our fundamental darkness will also do its best to confirm our worst fears.

This is where we need a bit of W.C.C … 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.

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