Ripples In A Pond

Ed is having a hard time - at work, in his love life and, well, generally. Then he meets an unlikely Buddhist - who drinks and smokes and talks his kind of language. Bit by bit, things begin to change...When you find something that excites and enthuses you, you want to tell people about it and spread the news. When it is a spiritual matter it can be a more delicate situation, wanting to be enthusiastic without being evangelical or overbearing.

My goto book, as we all know, is The Buddha, Geoff and Me, beautifully simple, brilliantly written and, for me at least, a life changer. So to make a present of the book, to someone you care about, might be an idea.

That way, you show you care, you pass on the idea , but you don’t force the issue. If they are interested they may choose to read it. They also have the chance to pass on the news at a later date, if they so decide.

And so the good news spreads, like the ripples in a pond.

More Happiness Anyone?

More Happiness Anyone?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.

On The Up – A Little

Healing Chakras - click here for the full size imageHaving successfully navigated the doctors appointment yesterday, with the simple prognosis of a chest infection, I was looking around to see how Buddhism concerns itself with illness and healing of that illness. Those nice people at the SGI had this to say …

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.”

So the healing process can itself be a good case of turning poison into medicine, and the combination of chanting and modern medicine seems to be doing the trick.

Namaste ~ Anupadin

Using Time Wisely

The World of LearningSince finding Nichiren Buddhism a couple of years ago, even though I have been a Buddhist for nearly twenty years, I still have a huge thirst for learning.

The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism contains over a 1000 pages of definitions, offering days, months and years of fascination.

Every day I try to add a little to my knowledge of the religion, either the tradition, the practice or the background. Every bit makes my life more complete and like a snowball rolling down a hill, the greater the knowledge, the more momentum it gains.

I have also been inspired by Edward Canfor-Dumas’ website, finding that people have been giving away copies of his book, The Buddha, Geoff and Me. As you know, I am a huge fan of the book and my Bodhisattva nature compels me to pass on the good news too.

The more I learn, the more I find Nichiren Buddhism working. I realise it may not be for everyone, and that many have their own beliefs. But if you are looking for a way to make your life happier, more fulfilling and need an anchor to steady the ship, I thoroughly recommend giving it a try.

False Impressions?

Indian Rape ProtestsAll this talk about the 23 year old Indian female student who was raped and murdered by a gang of men, followed today by a second very similar incident involving a 21 year old Indian woman has been a real shock to me.

I have known and worked with quite a number of Indian people over the years, seen scores of documentaries about Buddha, Ghandi and aspects of Indian life, and always thought that the society, although suffering from poverty in certain areas, was spiritual and peaceful in nature.

But these stories, and the background comments describing them as almost commonplace have forced me to think again. Obviously during the Indian mutiny and the struggle for independence Indians used force to further their cause, but to hear that the abuse of women is rife within Indian society flies in the face of everything I believed true.

If, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, that women are being mistreated and that social pressures are brought to bear on girls and women who are sexually abused, there needs to be a change, brought about by the Indian Government, to address that situation.

Similar changes are needed, and are slowly being implemented in the UK. There has long been a stigma about the reporting and prosecution of rape cases, which is slowly being eroded, but much more needs to be done. Having lived with a victim of rape some years ago, I can say first hand, that it destroys lives and should be treated with the respect and sensitivity it deserves.

It is very sad that these women have suffered and died in such a traumatic and violent manner. Let us ensure that the outrage the cases have caused in India, is mirrored in the UK, and the steps to help the victims of rape in this country are strenuous far reaching and happen as soon as possible.

Nichiren Works For Me

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.

Where Is The Wisdom?

HH The Dalai Lama - Time to speak out?As a practicing Buddhist, I feel I can be rightly proud, that Buddhism has always been a peaceful philosophy. Apart from some of the political struggles in Sri Lanka, and the forceful annexing of Tibet by China, there has been little or no conflict involving Buddhists, until now.

The recent outbreak of looting and burning of Buddhist villages by Muslim protestors, in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh, appears to have been sparked by a photo of a burned copy of the Koran that was posted on Facebook. Presumably the image was posted by someone who has been identified as a Buddhist, the reports do not say.

It appears, from where I stand, that there is an escalation of religious based violence in the past few months. Is that just my impression, is it due to the ease with which we can get news from anywhere in the world, or are the inter-faith tensions becoming more obvious as the world politics change?

Whatever the situation, there seems to be a surfeit of Courage coupled with a dearth of Wisdom and Compassion, surely a recipe for on-going strife, violence and even war. It is beholding to the leaders on all sides to reduce the tensions through their wise words and deeds, rather than, as appears to be happening, the use of inflammatory speeches to incite further violence.

We are often hearing the Muslim leaders in this country, describing the Muslim faith as one of peace and understanding. Our own Dalai Lama has always gone to great pains to promote a peaceful message. Now is the time for these leaders to come together to defuse a very dangerous trend.

Back To The Path

The Right WayReading back through my last few posts, I fear that the Buddhist content seems to have fallen a little by the wayside. So today, albeit back at work, has been a good excuse to bring my practice back to the forefront.

As always, the two hour drive from Bristol gives me ample time to chant, and this morning, chant I did, most of the way. It really does sharpen me up for the day ahead, but it also allows me to take stock of the weekend and the events thereof.

My life has changed quite a bit since Bumble and I got together, not just geographically, though of course that has been apparent, but also spending quite a bit less time at home, the structure of my practice has also changed. I would like to feel for the better, though some may disagree.

It’s quite funny that my being a Buddhist could probably be put down as the most influential reason why B and I ever met. Her Mum is also a Nichiren Buddhist and without that, she may never have taken an interest, and life would not have changed in the manner it has.

So it is beholding to me to ensure that I maintain my practice, improve my Buddha nature and continue my quest for self improvement, not only for my own benefit, but also for Bumble, who saw, and still sees it, as a very important part of our relationship.

And Life Continues

Wheel of LifeThis is the first day after Ivor’s passing, and it is taking a while for us to comprehend that although he is no longer with us in body, his spirit lives on, and that life in general continues.

It is so reassuring to know that he is at one with the universe and that after resting, he will be back to start his next life. Each lifetime is a journey, an opportunity for us to learn from the challenges it sets us, and to be a better person the next time around.

Ivor was much loved by his family and all those who came into contact with him. It is fascinating to ponder the ways in which he will use the lessons he learned during his next life. Whatever they may be, I am sure that he will make the most of them, becoming an even more loveable character when the Wheel of Life turns once more for him.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

A Fine Father’s Day

Lady Boys of BangkokToday has been pretty perfect. It started with a family breakfast at the Porto Lounge in Fishponds. Apart from my son Stas, everyone was there. Charlotte and Rob, Hannah and Jay and all four grandsons, tucked up round a nice long table and seemingly taking over half the cafe, just brilliant.

The lads were all well behaved. Jake taking photos of everyone with his camera, Zach colouring in a picture B had found for him, Oliver doing the rounds of people’s laps and Stanley helping his granddad by eating the marshmallows off the top of my latte. So lovely to all be together, and not before time, actually we couldn’t remember the last Father’s day we spent time together, but the next time will be soon.

A quick trip over to pick up B’s mum and then back to Frenchay to see Ivor and deliver his card. Again, he was in good spirits and we had a nice time telling him about the breakfast and the choral evening. It’s always hard to leave him, but I think he was getting tired, so he was already dozing as we left.

While B took her mum home I mowed the lawn, then we tackled the rose arch together. Although roses are pretty and have a wonderful scent, those thorns are little devils. I have the war wounds to prove it. A quick shower, change and back out again to see The Lady Boys of Bangkok.

I’m not going to excuse myself by saying that they are a Buddhist act, even though they are. I was a bit sceptical when B told me that she had got tickets, but I was wrong, they were absolutely amazing. It was difficult to remember that all these gorgeous women on stage were actually all men, you would never have guessed.

So another brilliant day, fun and family in perfect harmony. On days like today it’s important to remember those who don’t happen to be so fortunate. But it is also important to realise that the causes we have made brought these effects about too.

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