What If? …

Cancer Cells DividingWhat if there was a way to stop you, your children, your family, your friends from developing cancer? What if, having already been diagnosed with cancer, there was a way to stop the tumour from developing further?

What if you knew that both of these have been known since the 80’s, but nothing has been done about it? Would you want to know more, so you could use the information?

Well the answers to these and many, many other questions are in the book The China Study and I would urge everyone to read it. I wrote about this last weekend, having read about how the diet also prevents and reverses coronary heart disease, but the revelations just keep coming.

I have to admit that I stumbled across the book via Freelee and DurianRiders excellent Facebook and YouTube channels whilst trying to find a sustainable diet to help me continue my weight loss program. But I could never have imagined that I would ever find such a life changing source of information.

Reading the book makes me sad, happy, angry and above all, determined to help more people find out the truth about what they are eating, and what it is doing to them.

There is an old saying, ‘you are what you eat’ and nothing could be closer to the truth. Sadly the saying, ‘you are what you think you are eating’ does not come close to the same truth. We are all told that fat is bad for us, that we should limit the amount we eat. Nobody ever told me, or you I imagine, that it’s not just fat that can harm us, but the animal protein that often accompanies it, in steaks, burgers, chicken, bacon, the list goes on and on.

The book covers many, many studies, experiments and surveys carried out all around the world. One of them, however, makes you really sit up and listen. Experiments on rats, carried out in India had found that animals exposed to a potent carcinogen aflatoxin, a mould found on peanuts, developed liver cancer in the same way humans exposed to the same chemical do.

So what, I hear you say, but there’s an amazing twist. The rats were split into two groups. Half were fed on a diet containing 20% protein, the other half 5% protein. The first group all developed liver cancer, but of the second group NOT ONE developed cancer. When allied to a survey undertaken in the Philippines, where aflatoxin is common, which found that the children of the wealthiest families were far more prone to liver cancer for exactly the same reason, because they consumed more protein, because their families could afford meat.

So again, I urge you to at least investigate this for yourself. There are many reasons for becoming a vegan, but I cannot think of a single one that can be more important than protecting yourself, and those you love, from a potentially life threatening illness like cancer.

I realise that this is rather off topic for a blog about Buddhism, but using Wisdom, Courage and Compassion is encouraged in my faith, and I feel I am employing all three in this post.

Seek Within

Nichiren DaishoninThere 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.

As Nichiren reminds us:

“It is the heart that is important.”

It is in the heart of faith that Buddhahood resides and boundless and immeasurable happiness shines forth. Happiness is not something located far away.

We must realise that it exists within our own lives. Nichiren Buddhism teaches this and shows us how to attain indestructible happiness.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Clearing The Decks

Clearing The DecksSometimes we need to wipe the slate clean, take a deep breath, and start anew. With my decision to change career, this might just be the perfect time to do so. Having new goals, new horizons and renewed vigour is just the ticket.

I know that some people fear change, are loath to relinquish all the effort put into a particular path, even if that path may be taking them in the wrong direction. I am not one of those people, I embrace change.

Setting sail on a new career, I intend to make the most of each and every day, and when change does arrive, I will enjoy the excitement of being reborn into a new and exciting experience.

Splish Splash

Causing RipplesOne of the principles of Nichiren Buddhism concerns the Oneness of Self and the Environment and how that connection affects all of us in ways we sometimes fail to grasp.

If you drop a pebble, no matter how small, into a pond, the ripples generated spread out in all directions and interact with everything in their path.

This principle states that there is a connection between the person and others around him or her. It is therefore clear that changes in our life-state, the way we relate or react to others and changes due to our Practice will affect those whose lives we interact with.

Some of these affects are very obvious. If we walk around with a happy demeanour, we find that people are more likely to be pleasant towards us. If, on the other hand, we walk around in a bad mood, with a scowl on our face, we find that people are less friendly and may try to avoid us completely.

Ok, so no rocket science there then, but there are more subtle ways in which changes can be felt. In my own case, my Practice has allowed me to stabilise my life-state, generally I am now more often in higher Worlds (see The Ten Worlds) than lower ones. The result of that is that I am better placed to create value, for myself and those around me.

I think it is also important to be aware that the ripples, whilst being generally well accepted, can also rock the boat in some circumstances. The idea of getting a teaching certificate with the idea of going off to far away lands to teach others to speak English may cause such ripples.

No man is an island. Family, friends and acquaintances will all be affected to some degree if I up sticks and wander off to the far side of the planet. That’s why it is so important for me to ensure that if and when I do go ahead with plans, that my Wisdom, Courage and Compassion are used in equal measure, so I can make sure the ripples are all good ones.

Challenge Or Opportunity?

IndonesiaWith my recently announced redundancy still five months away, time is not yet of the essence to find alternative employment.

But as we all know, times are tight, jobs few on the ground, and times flies when things of this nature are concerned.

Not, I have to say, that I am unduly concerned at present, but I have been having a look around.

Having put in a 40 year shift in IT, I’m not at all sure I want to continue in the same vein, so I’ve decided to have an open mind and see what opportunities present themselves.

Interestingly, during a recent night out in Poole to watch Jack Dee in concert, a friend asked whether I had thought about teaching English as a foreign language, know as TEFL in the profession. I had to admit that I hadn’t.

I’ve never been drawn to teaching. In the past I would never have had the patience to teach anyone anything. But with age and, maybe more so Buddhism, I have a great deal more calmness and patience. So I have been looking at the process needed to get qualified.

On the face of it, it all looks rather straightforward. There is an international qualification required, a TEFL certificate from an academy accredited by the World TEFL Accrediting Commission (WTEFLAC).

The course takes a minimum of 120 hours, of which 20 hours are face to face tutorials and practice. The cost is not too crazy, and the opportunities appear quite realistic, in places as close as Paris or as far away as China and Indonesia.

Whether or not the notion takes hold, the whimsies turn into reality or the possibilities become fact is in my hands. At the moment I have to say that it all sounds rather exciting, and I’m certainly going to take some time to investigate further.

So, far from being the end of the world, this redundancy might be the start of a whole new adventure. We all need a short, sharp, shock at times, just to ease us out of the comfortable rut we have made for ourselves. The shock has been administered, so time will tell.

Isn’t It Ironic?

The Barn Of FollyIt’s a fairly well known fact that 90% of the wealth of the UK is in the hands of 10% of the population, which is a shocking state of affairs in my opinion.

Of course it’s fairly easy to be shocked when you aren’t one of the 10%, but it got me wondering whether I would be any more benevolent if I were.

You may remember the fable about the rich farmer who, having grown his crops, decided that he needed to store it somewhere safe, so that the peasants of the area couldn’t get their thieving hands on any of it. So he set about building a huge barn, and made it secure so it kept out the riff-raff.

It must have taken quite a while to build it, but finally it was finished, and he was happy that his crops would now be safe. Of course, there was far more than he could ever need himself, but he locked it all away and hoarded it for his old age. Ironically, the night the barn was finished, he died in his sleep.

So the adage that ‘you can’t take it with you’ is anything but new. So I suppose the lesson from the story is, if you have enough of anything, money, food, whatever, you are fortunate. If you have more than enough, you are more than fortunate, and you might consider sharing some of it with others less fortunate, particularly in these austere times.

A Crying Shame

The China StudyI have to admit to having shed a few tears this afternoon, whilst reading how the epidemic levels of heart disease caused by our western diet, can be easily and effectively reversed by simple changes in that diet.

Why tears? Well it was heart disease that took my father from us all too soon, and because maybe, just maybe, knowing then what I know now, might have saved him. The evidence has been around for decades, but it has been buried by the food companies, under a deluge of marketing ‘science’, simply to protect their obscene profits.

When you add cancer, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease to the list of conditions being caused by what we eat and amazingly, amongst other things, the Casein protein in milk, it makes you wonder what the hell you have been taught all this time.

So what was this book I was reading, what scientific basis has it to make these outlandish claims? Written by the renowned Dr T. Colin Campbell and his son, The China Study has a simple title, coined from the research project that revealed some of the shocking truths.

For more than forty years, Dr T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, The China Study, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr Campbell is Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. His son, a 1999 graduate of Cornell University, Thomas Campbell is currently pursuing a career in medicine.

The China Study itself was the culmination of a twenty year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. It details a monumental survey of diet and death rates from cancer in more than 2,400 Chinese counties and the equally monumental efforts to explore its significance and implications for nutrition and health.

Now we are all taught to take things like this with a pinch of salt, although following a great deal of research into my HCRV diet, I avoid salt whenever I can. I just feel that when I come across something so potentially life-changing, like Nichiren Buddhism, it is my duty to try to inform others, or at least bring it to their attention.

I know that some of you will not go on to explore the information in the book, preferring to fall back on the accepted ‘truths’ we have all been taught. But if a single person reads the book, and having done so, alters their diet, or that of their children and that change averts the onset of any preventable disease, I will be satisfied that I did my bit.

Who The Kutai

Dr WhoI saw the very first episode of Doctor Who, way back in November 1963, sitting on the sofa in my Nan and Grandad’s lounge at 50 Ryland Road, Erdington, Birmingham. Watching The Day Of The Doctor tonight was awesome, it was brilliantly written, performed and produced and brought many of the intervening years together in a very clever storyline.

The amazing thing is that the program also brought back memories and images from half a century ago. The whole family sitting around a black and white telly, watching William Hartnell, my Doctor, in a brand new series on the only BBC channel, BBC2 didn’t appear till 1967.

Such vivid memories. Only I could see them, but they were as real as were the original experiences. So they exist and they don’t exist all at the same time, and Nichiren Buddhism calls this Ku, short for Kutai. All they need are the right conditions to become manifest, in exactly the same way our own potential does.

The human brain is an amazing thing. On the one hand I can remember people and events from fifty years and more ago. On the other, I can walk from the lounge into the kitchen and forget why I went in the first place, and I know we’ve all been there.

Amazing stuff that grey matter, a hugely complex system of neurons and synapses awash in a cocktail of serotonin, dopamine and countless other magical neurotransmitters, all busy doing their own thing, but all in sync. And all it needs, to switch on some memory buried deep in time, is a handful of images or a series of electronic notes in a particular sequence.

Take Responsibility

All those responsible, put your hands upSometimes we find ourselves in difficult or disappointing circumstances, and might believe that they are not of our making. The laws of Karma are universal, we get what we deserve, so 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, fate, or coincidence, but that simply means you are delegating responsibility for your life to chance 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 at various times in life. Failed relationships, jobs losses, illness and  even death in the family. More than enough to make me feel, at times, that enough is enough. But when I sit and think things through, at the bottom of every disaster, there is, at least in part, a cause of my own making.

So I have to be the first to hold my hand up, I’m culpable, in part at the very least, and my chanting, prayer and meditation are the tools I use to put things right.

You might be sitting there thinking this doesn’t apply in your case, but you are wrong. You are where you are at this very second, as a result of all the decisions and actions you have taken up to this moment. Accept your responsibility and start making your own causes to get the effects you would like to see. If you don’t, you have nobody else to blame if things refuse to improve.

A Perfect Fit

Nichiren BuddhismSo many of the World Religions base their beliefs on a God, a Supreme Being, a Creator or an Entity whose existence is the focus of the religion’s belief.

As a confirmed Atheist, that focus never sat comfortably in my psyche. I don’t think anyone really believes in a white haired old man sitting in the clouds these days, but there are millions of people who base their faith on a Being whose existence cannot be proven. In fact, many religions actively seek to dissuade followers from even trying to prove that existence.

I was schooled in the Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology as well as Psychology, and those sciences demand proof for each and every hypothesis. So when I stumbled, and that is the right way to describe it, upon Nichiren Buddhism, I was overjoyed to find that there was no supreme being and that every part of Practice demands we examine the results of that Practice as proof of it’s validity.

Nichiren Daishonin said that we should seek proof of the effectiveness of our Practice in the results it brings. He also says that if the results do not support the practice, that we should desist.

I don’t want anyone to think that I am putting Nichiren Buddhism above or before any other religion, I am only saying that, for me, it fits my thinking and for me, it works. Although I have been practicing for a little while now, I am still learning new things every day, and the results have been amazing so the proof is there for me, and others to see.

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