Breaking The Chains That Bind Us

Breaking The Chains That Bind UsOur actions in previous lives are all engraved upon, and contained within, this lifetime. The causes for our present suffering, our joy, happiness or misery, all lie with our own past actions. But Nichiren Buddhism enables us to fundamentally transform our destiny.

When we truly base ourselves on the Buddhist view of eternal life, we realise the first thing that must change is how we live in the present. In Nichiren Buddhism, change arises from the very depths of our being, brought about by our daily Practice.

When we practice with vigour, strong, pure vitality wells forth in abundance. The chains of our destiny are broken, and our original identity, the fresh and robust world of Buddhahood, shines forth. Far from being set in stone, our destiny truly is in our own hands, through our everyday thoughts, words and deeds.

Just Stay Connected

Staying ConnectedRelationship problems are opportunities to grow and mature. Such problems can be character building if you don’t let them defeat you.

That’s why it’s important not to isolate yourself. No one can exist apart from others. Remaining aloof from others cultivates selfishness, which accomplishes nothing.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

The Wonderful World Of Weird

Wonderful World Of WeirdThere was an amusing end to a dinner party last night, where I was told by one of the other guests, that I was the weirdest person they had ever met. She did soften the message by saying I was lovely, but she reiterated the fact that I was well weird.

She had earlier been giving me the benefit of her advice regarding relationships, albeit through her rather alcoholic induced sense of self confidence. I think some of the others were amused by the whole thing, and I was happy to let her continue to tell me I was too thin, given her inebriated state.

The evening ended pleasantly, with the usual cordial goodbyes, but on the way home I got to thinking about just how weird I really am.

Given that I turned up with my own food, my own drink and on my own, that set me apart from most of the others. I was the only Buddhist, the only vegan, the only one drinking fruit juice and water and one of only two who didn’t smoke, but does that make me weird?

Now eating meat, cheese or puddings that are full of fat, drinking wine, beer or spirits and smoking doesn’t make anyone a bad person, but is it really that wise, considering all the evidence of the harm to which they all contribute?

The changes I had made to my own life have resulted in me being as calm, as fit and healthy, as trim and as happy as I have ever been. I am well aware that that makes me different to many others, but if that’s how it must be, I am really pleased that I am weird.

The Jewel Of Life

The Jewel Of LifeAs you meet various trials and difficulties, thus polishing all the many facets of the jewel which is life, you will learn to walk that supreme pathway of humanity.

Of this, I am confident, and I am confident too that those who embrace life’s native creativity now stand and will continue to stand in the vanguard of history.

Bringing the creativity of life to its fullest flowering is the work of human revolution. Carrying out this kind of human revolution is your mission now as it will be throughout your lives.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Joined Up Thinking

Universal Energy FlowIt’s amazing how we and the rest of the Universe are so closely connected. The shoots of progress are suddenly showing through a fog of uncertainty, and I find myself running dozens of ‘what if’ scenarios through my head.

And as if 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.”

Having secured my very first, albeit part time, teaching position today, I am in a world of happiness and ever growing possibilities.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

New Shoots

Two roads diverged in a yellow woodFunny how Nichiren Buddhism, and the principle of Cause and Effect, keeps proving itself over and over again.

Having decided to take a completely different tack, career wise, once my time at Stanley Gibbons is over, you will know that I’ve already started my teacher training.

Giving up 40 years of IT experience, for a new, though exciting new path is, on the face of it, a bit of a gamble. But just as I should have expected, causes put in place some little while back are just now beginning to take effect, and opportunities with amazing possibilities are already starting to make themselves known.

Mulling it all over and over in my mind, knowing that whichever way things turn out, I will never know whether it was for the best, reminded me of the poem by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could; To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

An Inner Oneness

Inner OnenessThe misfortune of others is our misfortune. Our happiness is the happiness of others. To see ourselves in others and feel an inner oneness and sense of unity with them represents a fundamental revolution in the way we view and live our lives.

Therefore, discriminating against another person is the same as discriminating against oneself. When we hurt another, we are hurting ourselves. And when we respect others, we respect and elevate our own lives as well.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Tireless Effort

The Bodhi TreeBuddhism comes down to practice. This means making a personal determination and steadfastly taking action to accomplish it, no matter what obstacles may arise.

If we aren’t striving to open a way forward, what we are doing cannot be called Buddhist practice.

We will only enter the path to Buddhahood by making tireless effort based on the same determination as the Buddha.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

BFF?

BFF?What Buddhism terms ‘good friends’, are sincere, honest people without a trace of deceit, who guide others toward the correct path, toward good. It also refers to people who lend their assistance or support to us so that we can practice Buddhism with full assurance.

If you become close to a person who makes you feel “that person is always glowing and animated” or “when I’m with that person I feel strong and secure,” then your faith will naturally deepen, and you will develop bountiful wisdom. In carrying out this Buddhist practice, encountering good friends is the key to obtaining Buddhahood.

– Daisaku Ikeda

Certified Fun

I Can Sing A RainbowAnother wonderful day of certified teacher training fun. Just full on learning, does it get any better than this? Despite the long day yesterday, and the rather challenging homework on verb tenses, everyone was in excellent spirits and raring to go.

We organised ourselves into new groups and moved to new places in the classroom, just to change things up a bit, and then carried on with the training. The morning started with grammar. Do you know your future simple from your past perfect? I do, well now I do. That was followed by teaching techniques for speaking and reading, writing and listening.

Who would have thought that there were so many interesting ways to introduce language concepts? All the topics covered, from both days, were leading us towards designing, planning and finally presenting a lesson on a topic of our choice. So after a quick stroll into town to buy provisions, we all settled down for a working lunch.

Our team task was to design a ten minute lesson to teach children, at the elementary learning stage, the colours of the rainbow, as listed in the popular song. We created posters for the names of the colours and put them up around the classroom. We sorted ‘tiddly wink’ style counters into groups, so each colour was represented.

Each member of the team had to be involved in a teaching role at some point, so we organised the task into sub-tasks and set about learning our part. Although we had more than two hours to complete the lesson plan, it is amazing how quickly time passes when you are enjoying yourself. So in no time we had to stop designing and start teaching.

Despite the similarity of the tasks, it was fascinating to see how each team had slightly, even vastly, different ways of approaching them. Some people used the flip chart and had pictures, others used the projector and PowerPoint slides, one team even used a chair as a prop.

All the lessons were excellent, lots of fun, and would have met the requirement nicely. Ian and Ashling’s lesson on Prepositions, on, behind, beside, under etc. deserves particular mention, simply because they used Ian and a chair to demonstrate the words. There was much hilarity at the sight of Ian, and subsequently Ashling and others trying to get under the chair.

Standing in front of a group of people and talking, or in our case singing, for ten minutes might be daunting for some people, but everyone either enjoyed the challenge, or put on a very brave face. The one thing that struck every team, was just how quickly the time went. I’m not sure anyone actually completed all the tasks that they had designed into the lesson. But that was just another aspect of our training, don’t try to fit a quart into a pint pot.

All too quickly the day was over. We all gave and received feedback on the weekend as a whole and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be delighted to hear that I had passed and will receive my practical training certificate in the post.

Apart from being immersed in a completely difference world, that of teaching rather than IT, and learning a whole new set of methods, tricks and tools, I also met a great bunch of people, with whom I shall be conversing via Facebook and email over the next few months or years, about our shared goals and ambitions in our new careers. How exciting is that? !!!

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