The 84th Problem

Buddhist WisdomA man once came to see the Buddha to get help with his problems.

After the man had told the Buddha one of his problems and asked for help, the Buddha replied: “I cannot help you get rid of that problem.”

The man was surprised that the Buddha could not help him in this regard, but he told the Buddha about another problem; he thought to himself that the Buddha should at least be able to help him with that problem. But the Buddha told him “I cannot help you with that problem either.”

The man started to get impatient. He said: “How can it be that you are the perfectly Enlightened Buddha, when you can’t even help people get rid of their problems?” The Buddha answered: “You will always have 83 problems in your life. Sometimes a problem will go, but then another problem will come. I cannot help you with that.”

The baffled man asked the Buddha: “But, what can you help me with, then?” The Buddha replied: “I can help you get rid of your 84th problem.” The man asked: “But what is my 84th problem?” The Buddha replied: “That you want to get rid of your 83 problems.”

We all have problems of one nature or another. Buddhism will not remove those problems, but it will help you come to terms with, and solve them by giving you wisdom and allowing you to see those problems in a different light.

The Angry Poet

An Angry ManSometimes, when anger wells up inside us, an outburst can actually do more harm than good.

But when it’s wrapped in poetry, the power is conserved but the harshness is somehow diluted, allowing the message to get through without causing an aggressive backlash.

Here’s a poem that encapsulates some of the anger I feel about climate change …

 

Mr Angry

My practice is that of a Buddhist
For practice makes perfect they say
So why do I still get so angry
When resources are frittered away?

The Earth has a finite collection
Of minerals, water and air
So why are we all quite so blasé?
It’s almost like nobody cares

They hoover the bed of the oceans
Till every fish has been caught
Then they freeze ’em till prices go mental
‘Cos profit’s their first and last thought

They cut down the trees in the forests
The lungs of the world it’s been said
To make palm oil for everyone’s cookies
Pretty soon Planet Earth will be dead

We marched in the sun at the seaside
In the hope that somebody would hear
Our demands that our leaders take action
To reverse all the climate change fears

But I fear for my grandchildren’s future
On a planet we all have sucked dry
They will never ever forgive us
When they find we’ve condemned them to die

Richard Blake © 2014

Testing Times

Nichiren DaishoninNichiren Buddhism is not simply about blind faith in the practice.

Nichiren Daishonin teaches us to always test our practice for successful results, a little like a scientist would do the results of on of his experiments.

If the practice isn’t working, we must modify our methods, learn more about perfecting the process, or we are simply wasting precious time and effort.

There’s no point repeating the same thing, over and over. If the results are constantly unsatisfactory, or not improving over time, we must make changes in order to perfect the process. If a problem arises, we might feel like screaming and shouting, taking our anger out on those around us, or finding someone to blame.

Nobody wants problems in their life, but The Daishonin teaches us that making use of these everyday problems or challenges is a way to strengthen your mind. Like changing poison into medicine, our problems help us increase our mental strength, like a weightlifter lifting ever heavier weights in order to increase his physical strength.

Problems that aren’t addressed don’t go away, they simply grow and worsen. So if you are troubled by something, get to it head on, and turn that poison into medicine before the poison taints every aspect of your life.

Debugging Life

Debugging LifeThere seems to be a nasty bug going round, both at work and at college, so I was looking around to see how Buddhism concerns itself with illness and healing that illness. I found these wise and thought provoking words …

Buddhism teaches that illness is one of the four sufferings which cannot be completely avoided in life, whether directly or through the experiences of close family or friends.

Buddhism takes a holistic approach to the treatment of sickness, stressing both the importance of finding the best and most appropriate medical treatment and care, and also that using our Buddhist practice will enable us to summon the energy and courage needed to fight our illness.

Often facing illness can lead us to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the profound principles of Buddhism, and we find that it is possible to create something valuable out of the experience.

As Nichiren wrote:

“Life is the most precious of all treasures. Even one extra day of life is worth more than ten million ryo of gold.”

Namaste ~ Anupadin

Happiness, What Is Happiness?

Happiness, What Is Happiness?What do we mean by happiness? There may be as many answers to that as there are stars in the night sky, everyone has their own idea of what makes them happy, and equally what doesn’t.

Maybe it is the love of a partner, being part of a family, the pay cheque at the end of the month or that new car you had always promised yourself. Whatever your idea of happiness, we all crave more of it.

We can probably agree that it is all too often a transitory state, punctuated by periods where we are unhappy, or at least a bit glum. So what would you give to have more of this illusive life-state, and how can you go about achieving a happier life?

Well speaking personally, I can almost guarantee happiness from my Buddhist practice. That might sound a little trite or even rather far-fetched, but for me it is true. My practice helps me see life from all angles, the ups and downs, from my view-point and from that of others, and it ‘smoothes’ out the emotional bumps we encounter each and every day.

The idea at the very core of Buddhism is the removal of suffering, and that in itself helps us to be happier. Seeing the beauty in nature, the best facets of another’s personality, the joy in helping others, happiness is there for us all, all of the time and all around us. Living a life that is more concerned with others than ourselves, giving more than we take, and so on, will also bring feelings of happiness. All we have to do is look out for it.

Living in a society that is more concerned about what we own, than who we really are, we all struggle to put those ideas into action. We hear about people earning ridiculous sums, whilst providing little by way of return, and wonder how they can live with the guilt. If society valued the good in people more than the goods of people, the world would be a much fairer, happier place.

Whatever flavour your own happiness comes in, I wish you more of it, now and in the future. And when it arrives, please make sure that you share it around. That way you will find it grows and grows, and that it lasts just that little bit longer.

The Broken Pound

The Broken PoundI know that I’m not the only one who is sick to the back teeth of the bankers taking liberties with their position, pocketing vast fortunes and laughing at us when we dare to complain.

The recent banking crisis is rather poorly named. As far as I can tell, the banks have all done rather well out of the whole debacle.

They have been ‘baled out’ by us, citizens of this nation, and come up smelling of roses. Would the same happen if you were to borrow irresponsibly and fail to pay it back, even for reasons beyond your own control, you can bet it wouldn’t.

There are people who want to keep us in the chains we all wear. Ok, we’re not slaves, like the African peoples who were bought, transported and sold, making places like Bristol and Liverpool vastly rich in the process. These chains are financial, and in a way, they are even more evil, because they are invisible and almost undetectable.

See the truth for yourself, take a moment to see the painful truths therein, and wonder why we are all sleepwalking into our own Airstrip One. I read 1984 in 1984, but I never thought it would become a near reality.

Then be brave, spread the message as far and fast as you can, the man really is coming to get us. In this anniversary year of The Great War, let’s just take a moment to think about just who we are really remembering, and what, if anything, has changed since then.

Back in 1914, the patriotic volunteers signed up to fight for their country, for a land fit for heroes. That land was never delivered, it was never going to be delivered, it was then, as now, all smoke and mirrors and false promises.

Come on, take those blinkers off, take a look at how money and the banks have us all in financial chains, and then pass it on, and on, and on …

Buddhism In Life

Buddhism In Life

Buddhism does not ask “What religion does this person follow?” but “What is this person’s state of life?”

Buddhism exists to enable all people to cultivate and manifest the world of Buddhahood in their lives.

Society is a realm of discrimination and distinctions, but Buddhism transcends all superficial differences and focuses directly on life.

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).

Ke, Ku And Chu – The Middle Way

This Way, That 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 separate, but joined, 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 doesn’t drag us off course. This is known as The Middle Way (chudo).

Burmese Anger

Myanmar Buddhist MonksWith more reports emanating from Myanmar, Burma, regarding the violence between Buddhist and Muslin groups, it is difficult to see how any good can come from actions fuelled by anger or hatred.

But Nichiren wrote that wrath can be both good and bad. Self-centred anger generates evil, but wrath at social injustice becomes the driving force for reform. Strong language that censures and combats a great evil often attracts adverse reactions from society, but this must not intimidate or deter those who believe they are right.

Remember, a lion is a lion because he roars. Having said that, the roar should be one of strength rather than anger.

Anger that is misdirected or caused by illusion or misconception is a wholly bad thing and can be very damaging. So before you vent such anger on an unsuspecting victim, take stock and let that anger fade. Compassion is far more positive and will achieve far more in the long run.

With the sanctions imposed on Burma by the United Nations being set to be lifted this week, let us hope and pray that wisdom, courage and compassion hold sway and that the violence between people of the same nation will stop before any more death and destruction are caused.

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