Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni BuddhaThe Sanskrit word Buddha means “One who is awakened [to the truth].” While the term was widely employed by various schools of the time, it eventually came to be used exclusively in reference to Shakyamuni. At the same time, the word Buddha implies “to bloom.”

A person who causes flowers of lofty character to brilliantly bloom and who bears the fruits of good fortune and benefit in abundance is a Buddha.

Such a person manifests the benefit of the Law and shines with character overflowing with blessings.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

L For Learning

L for LearningMy first CELTA evening class went very well last night. An enthusiastic, if slightly overwhelmed group of ten students, we were expertly corralled by our tutors, Emma and Stef, through the course introduction, grand tour and Receptive Skills overview. Roughly five hours of paperwork, listening, learning and above all, fun.

Being immersed into a classroom environment, learning new skills, preparing for a completely new career, is really rather exciting. New terms, new ideas, new jargon an mnemonics, it’s like learning a new language. Ironic in a way, as teaching a new language is what we are being taught to do.

I just love learning now. Why did I never feel this way back in school? Was it me, was it the teachers, was it simply because I had to sit there and suffer in silence? I imagine it was a bit of all three put together. There were certainly teachers I liked, some I hated, and a very few I absolutely loved, Mrs Winfield being maybe the most memorable.

I am really enjoying the part-time teaching I am doing. I think the students enjoy the classes. I really try to mix it up each lesson, so they are engaged and not bored by the same style each time. CELTA is a tough course, but if I get half way to being as good a teacher as Mrs Winfield, I’ll be chuffed to bits.

A Lifetime’s Goal

Buddhahood In This LifetimeOften we hear about the different attitudes of religious doctrine around the world, some we are happy to embrace, others we find unsettling. But whatever the doctrine, religion must teach us 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, for their lives to have meaning, and they make efforts towards 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 towards life does he teach? The answer, in short, is the principle of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime through continued practice.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

A Nice Warm Feeling

Heaven And HellA man was offered the chance to visit Heaven and Hell. Upon entering Hell he was greeted by the sight of an infinitely long room filled with tables laden with the finest of foods, meat, fruit, wine and all manner of delicacies. But around the tables sat groups of starving people, crying out in their hunger. He realised that each person was holding a spoon, but the spoons were so long that they were unable to feed themselves.

He then went to Heaven and was surprised to see exactly the same scene. The same room was filled with the same tables, covered with the same food. But this time, around the tables sat groups of well fed, happy people. They too were holding spoons, the same length as those poor souls in Hell. The difference was that these people were feeding each other and so could eat as much as their hearts desired.

Here on Earth, that might just be the difference between our own personal Heaven or Hell. Helping others, in Buddhism, also helps us indirectly, through the accumulation of positive karma. But whether you are Buddhist or not, helping others is the best way to make life better for everyone, one that can give us all a wonderfully warm feeling.

A Question Of Purity

MirrorsNichiren said,

“If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land.

There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds. It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being.

While deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished.”

We can all purify our minds, follow the path to enlightenment and strive towards Buddhahood.

Get polishing those mirrors folks!


English Lamb, Prior To SlaughterWe’ve all heard of sexism, racism and religious discrimination, but how many of you have ever heard of speciesism? What does it even mean? The spell checker in my blog writer doesn’t know the word, it suggests specialism, which is strangely ironic. Let me explain why I want you to know.

Speciesism is the act of assigning varying rights and considerations to creatures, including ourselves, based on the species to which they belong. It is an old idea, we are told that God put animals on the Earth for the use of man, and god, we have been using, or misusing them ever since.

You will know that apart from being Buddhist, I am also vegan. I refuse to eat any product that is part of, or has come from any other living being. So no meat or fish, no milk, cheese or eggs and nothing that contains any of these either.

A little like being Buddhist in a predominantly Christian country, being vegan is definitely considered to be swimming against the tide. We are all told, right from childhood, that food from animals, lamb, beef, pork, milk, cheese, the list is endless, is good for us. In fact, when I was at junior school, I was the class milk monitor.

Sadly, we weren’t told the whole story, as you may have read in previous posts. What we were never told as children, was how cows become beef, baby sheep become lamb, pigs become pork, or how the chickens who laid our breakfast eggs where kept in disgusting conditions, and still are.

We hear about Animal Rights groups, usually when they have committed some illegal act in their quest to release animals from scientific establishments or disrupting whale or fox hunting. But they are right.

Just because we have learned to use our large brains to develop societies around which we can farm animals, doesn’t make it right. Animals, as members of the family of Earth dwelling beings, have just as much right to be here, and exist in peace, as we do.

Other people can, and have put the case far more eruditely than I possibly can in this post, so please can you take the time to watch the video Earthlings. Be aware, it is not for the faint hearted.  It will shock and quite likely disgust you, but if it makes you think about our fellow creatures and maybe change your lifestyle, even a little, as a result, it will be worth your suffering.

Seeing Life Differently

Seeing Life DifferentlyDo you remember the day you mastered the art of riding a bicycle? Of course you do. For me, it was the culmination of a rather lengthy, and very frustrating process, and but for the perseverance  of my father, I might never have learned at all.

I just couldn’t seem to get it. It looked so simple, but the harder I tried, the worse I got. Then suddenly it clicked, I had it nailed, and from that day on I have been able to ride a bike.

Ok, so it’s no huge revelation, but I think learning about Buddhism is a bit like learning to ride a bike.

As you learn, about The Oneness of Self and the Universe, about Karma, about Life-Energy or The Ten Worlds, you also learn to see yourself, life and the Universe in a different way. And just in the way that having learned to ride a bicycle, you never unlearn the skill, once you learn to see the world through different eyes, you never unlearn that either.

Deep in my heart, I know that I am different for having Buddhism at the centre of my life. Some people have noticed that change, others ask what has changed and how I know that it’s a real change, not just a fad, or ‘a phase I’m going through’.

Well as I say, once you see the world differently, you just can’t un-see it that way. It’s a wonderful change, and I’m very confident, not to say delighted, that it’s a permanent change.

Use A Touch Of WCC … Please

The Lotus SutraListening to reports of the Syrian negotiations and upcoming elections in Egypt this morning, I was reminded of the wisdom encapsulated in the Lotus Sutra. Generally regarded as Siddhārtha Gautama’s greatest teaching, it forms the basic structure for all forms of Buddhist practice.

The Lotus Sutra has the drama of fighting for justice against evil. It has the warmth that comforts the weary. It has a vibrant pulsing courage that drives away fear. It has a chorus of joy at attaining absolute freedom throughout past, present and future. It has the soaring flight of liberty.

It has brilliant light, flowers, greenery, music, paintings and vivid stories. It offers unsurpassed lessons on psychology, the workings of the human heart, lessons on happiness and lessons on peace. It maps out the basic rules for good health. But more than all of these, it awakens us to the universal truth that a change in our heart can transform everything.

I am praying and chanting for peaceful resolutions of the situation in both Egypt and Syria. It is my hope that a little of the Wisdom, Courage and Compassion contained in the Lotus Sutra might find its way into the negotiations in both situations.

Great News!!!

Good News, Great News !!!My own experiences with Nichiren Buddhism have shown me how powerfully it can change your life. Whether that is simply making you a happier person or helping you see situations from a different perspective, that will help you solve problems in a better way.

As with all good things, you want to tell people about it, so they can share the benefits.

So the greatest feeling, for me, is when someone actually comes straight out and asks. At that point, it’s important to offer as much, or as little as they request. Force feeding them will kill that spark as surely as piling logs onto a smouldering ember. So be enthusiastic, but be reserved as well. Let them set the pace, be there for them when they want to ask for more, and just see what happens.

Giving people a gift is a great feeling. The shining smile you see when they open it and are delighted by what they find. Giving people the way to find Nichiren Buddhism is just like that, only a million times better for both parties.

The Joy Of Life

The Lotus SutraWe only have to watch the news on TV, listen to the radio, or even simply talk to the people around us, to be aware of the challenges and sadness that can accompany the process of living our daily lives.

Buddhism has at it’s very core, the ultimate goal of removing suffering and promoting a state of happiness in all those with whom it comes in contact. Many may think that this is an unachievable target, and that those who strive towards it are deluded.

But the principles and method for attaining such a state are encompassed by teachings contained in The Lotus Sutra. That is not to say that there is any magic bullet or instant fix to alleviate our suffering, but striving to do so is surely a task worth undertaking.

Daisaku Ikeda summarised it thus:

What is true joy in life?

This is a difficult question – and one that has occupied a great many thinkers and philosophers.

Joy can quickly give way to suffering. Joy is short and suffering long.

Also what passes for joy in society is superficial. It cannot compare with the joy derived from the Mystic Law.

The key then lies in cultivating a state of mind where we can declare without reservation that life is a joy.

This is the purpose of our Buddhist Practice.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

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