Another Change For The Better

Another Change For The BetterOn the day that signalled more a important change than my leaving, this seemed poignant …

In today’s world where global issues are so important, many people feel a sense of powerlessness and resignation; a feeling that no individual’s efforts can change the way things are.

But the Buddhist viewpoint is that the world should be seen from the perspective of the individual, and that the human life contains the entire universe.

That is why changing our own lives one by one will bring a change in our family, our community, and the society in which we live. It will change the age we live in, our history, and indeed all aspects of our world.

If we look for the true causes of war, we see that it is essentially caused by the human mind. War stems from the desire to control and conquer others, to have power, and from hatred and antipathy. Such is a human being in the grip of the negative force of life. World peace starts with the inner transformation of the individual, and the struggle to elevate our state of life, and free ourselves from the domination of the negative force of life.

A single sunflower contains the seeds for more than a thousand new plants. Similarly, when one brave person stands up for peace, his or her resolve spreads out into the environment in thousands of ways. Courage always brings a response. One person’s human revolution can therefore eventually change the destiny of the entire human race.

The Spirit of Human Revolution

In his writing On Attaining Buddhahood, Nichiren Daishonin conveys the basic spirit of human revolution: “You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your own life.” [WND p3]

We could summarise the spirit of this teaching as being, “It’s not up to others; nor can I blame anyone else. I have to change myself first.” It is a viewpoint which says, everything in life is part of our own training; it is for our benefit and development. Human revolution takes place right now, in the situation we find ourselves at this moment.

World peace starts with this inner transformation of the individual. And yes it is a struggle to develop and elevate our state of life but human revolution is the foundation for world peace and also for individual peace and happiness. It is at the heart of our Buddhist practise. It is about changing our heart and drawing out our humanity.

It is the most amazing feeling as you discover that if the cause of your suffering is within the realms of your own life then you and only you can change that aspect of your life. This is the most freeing feeling. This is human revolution and the door to your Buddhahood.

Human revolution brings into play all the principles and processes that make up the Buddhist teachings of life. Learning to be able to live our lives on the basis of correct teachings is part of our human revolution. The process is a transformation of the heart.

Transforming the Self, Living the Teachings

When we commit our lives to chanting we embark on a journey of self-discovery and challenge. By taking responsibility for our feelings and emotions, especially those we most dislike, we come to realise we have the ability to transform our lives from within. As we broaden our experiences of chanting daimoku we get experiences of our environment reflecting the transformation of our inner lives. This could be in our family relationships, at work or in other aspects of life.

It is usually within one of these arenas that we find life can be difficult or cause us to suffer. As we continue chanting, the more we start to see our lives very differently. At first this process may seem a little uncomfortable because it is quite unique and new to us. We may or may not like what we see. Perhaps we realise we have set attitudes or opinions about others or various issues that make us suffer. It may seem that others have a problem with us. This can draw out all sorts of feelings and emotions that can make us uneasy, or uncomfortable.

Getting this kind of reaction does not mean that chanting is not working or that it is working in a negative way. On the contrary you are actually in the process of transforming exactly that which has always led you to suffer in that particular area of your life. Your chanting is illuminating an area of your life that needs to change for your own happiness. The realisation that this opinion or attitude stems from our own lives and not from others opinions of us, leads us to uncover the Buddha nature inherent in our lives. The quickest way to transform these feelings or attitude is to keep chanting until you realise the cause of these uncomfortable feelings.

However, it may be that is exactly when you find it the most difficult time to chant. You are on the brink of changing a part of your life that always stops you from progressing or being happy. It will probably feel like walking up a hill backwards. At such times obstacles and devils arise. You will probably be able to justify why it is more beneficial to watch TV than do gongyo or chant or tell a friend about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or study some of Nichiren Daishonin`s writings. But this is exactly the time to do these things in order to break through and win over something that has always held you back. This is the time to muster a fighting spirit and to be courageous.

In his book Seven Paths to Peace, Daisaku Ikeda talks about human revolution in terms of self-mastery. Simply put, this means winning control over oneself, overcoming the small self that is dominated by narrow self-interest and awakening to the larger self that works for the good of all humanity. From this standpoint a major obstacle to developing ourselves is to pursue a way of life bound by our small ego or self. Expanding from the lesser self to the greater self is the path of human revolution.

Through our practice of introducing others to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, and through efforts to share Buddhism with others, we ourselves grow immensely, we can carry out our human revolution, and transform our karma. Therefore by guiding another individual towards happiness, we also guide ourselves towards happiness. The act of introducing others to Buddhism, which enables us to profoundly benefit both ourselves and others, is the formula of hope for humanity.

At a time when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood, or at a time when a person is at a turning point in doing their human revolution, the negative aspect of life will always appear in some form. This is an unavoidable fact of life! Nichiren Daishonin assures us of this and asks us to transmit it as an axiom or principle of faith so that it is understood by all those who practise.

Taken from the SGI-UK study notes, this encapsulates the meaning of Human Revolution. It beautifully explains the way that self discipline through practice makes us examine our own thoughts and deeds and promotes an inner change by increasing our self awareness.

Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (at least) twice a day, every day may seem a mindless practice, but it enables us to devote our whole lives to changing for the better.

It’s All A Question Of Eggs

It's All A Question Of EggsThere is the temptation, whilst continuing to practice, to wonder whether we will ever become a Buddha or doubt whether Buddhahood even resides within us. With his usual wisdom, Nichiren showed us the truth of the matter in his simple words.

“A bird’s egg contains nothing but liquid, yet by itself this develops into a beak, two eyes, and all the other parts, and the bird soars into the sky.

We, too, are the eggs of ignorance, which are pitiful things, but when nurtured by the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which is like the warmth of the mother bird, we develop the beak of the thirty-two features and the feathers of the eighty characteristics and are free to soar into the skies of the true aspect of all phenomena and the reality of all things.”

~ Nichiren Daishonin

Staying On Course

Staying On CourseDealing with the ever changing aspects of life is a little like sailing a yacht in a squally breeze.

There are external influences that push and pull on the direction of our path.

Our role as skipper of our own craft, is to deal with the challenges that those influences bring, whilst trying to steer in the direction we want our lives to go.

The similarity to sailing is most evident when you compare the way a yacht has to sail across the wind, in a direction as close to, but rarely directly towards, the desired goal. So there has to be a degree of compromise in order to make progress towards that goal.

Life is exactly the same. It is pretty rare to find, that the influences on our lives, push or pull us directly towards our goals. The old adage of ‘two steps forward and one step back’ is often very accurate. A little progress in the right direction is often followed by a period of consolidation, during which we may even find that we have slipped back a little.

It is good to remember that, as illustrated in The Buddha, Geoff and Me, resistance is not only inevitable, and a measure of our progress, but is essential for some processes to work at all.

The 1500th Post Has Arrived

Another milestone on my path to BuddhahoodBlogging is a labour of love, fun at times, less so at others and rather reminiscent of my Buddhist Practice.

I’m not saying that the Practice itself is a chore, but take today as an example. I seem to have contracted this bug that’s been going round for a few weeks, so chanting while trying not to cough, and concentrating while feeling less that 100%, was not as easy as usual.

So the fifteen hundredth post is here, and it marks another milestone on my path to Buddhahood. I started the blog as a record of that path and I’ve enjoyed revealing the rough and the smooth with you all.

Thank you to all those people who have commented on the posts and I look forward to writing the next couple of hundred. Who knows where we will all be then, geographically or spiritually.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

On Following The Path

Following The PathBuddhism 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

Mmm … That Friday Feeling

TGIFWell it’s taken a whole seven days to get here, but finally Friday has arrived again.

I know what you are saying, you were going to fill every minute, of every day, with sixty seconds of gainful employment, and I have.

But doing that doesn’t stop me being pleased that, arguably, the best day of the week has put in a much appreciated appearance at last.

The weather looks like it’s going to be a bit pants over the weekend, but that can’t stop us having fun if we are determined to make the most of our days off.

It was a funny old week up to Wednesday, but having realised that I was beginning to wish my days away, put me in a good place to boost my life-energies through chanting and that raised my life-state.

Being in one of the higher worlds really does put a sunny outlook on everything and everyone, so I hope you can manage to join me, and that you too are going to have a really great weekend.

On Remaining Strong

The Reflected MoonSome days we are strong, some days not so strong. Remaining strong requires understanding our faith, Nichiren explains …

When water is clear, the moon is reflected. When the wind blows, the trees shake. Our minds are like the water.

Faith that is weak is like muddy water, while faith that is brave is like clear water. Understand that the trees are like principles, and the wind that shakes them is like the recitation of the sutra.

                                                   ~ Nichiren

On Tranquillity

On TranquillitySometimes the World of Tranquillity can be a true blessing, a lull after a period of intense effort.

At other times it can be like the dying notes of a moving piece of music, the echoes of the most magnificent firework display.

Maybe the biggest difference between the two is whether you wished for Tranquillity or not.

If you do wish for it, Tranquillity can be the most restful of time, if not it can be as quiet as the grave, peaceful but not something which you might actively desire.

If you find yourself becalmed in a world of Tranquillity, chanting will raise your life-state and get the energies flowing again.

Steady Chaps

Steady as she goes captain !!!There are times when we need to be reminded of the important things in life. When distractions come along it’s all too easy to get side tracked and let our focus slip. It isn’t that we forget that our Practice is the centre of our lives, it’s just that sometimes life itself can get in the way, albeit temporarily.

When everything comes along at once, it can all be a little too much to cope with. But being reminded that our practice is the one constant that keeps us on the straight and narrow is a very good thing. When we remember that everything pivots around our honzon, that our faith is central and the very thing that makes us who we are, we can take steps to realign ourselves.

Take a firm grip of the wheel, get your ship back on your desired heading, feel the wind of change at your back and focus on the horizon. Chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and it’s steady as she goes captain !!!

On Coping With Challenges

The State Of Mindfulness The challenges we meet in life are often seen as the negative side of our existence. We alone can decide how we deal with them, we can accept and tackle them head on, or shy away from them and hope they go away. Anyone who has tried the second path will know that it never works, so accepting challenges has to be the right way to go.

Accepting our challenges is not, initially, the most natural thing to do. It might seem easier to run away, to bury our heads, or just ignore the issues, but no good will ever come of taking that path. Taking responsibility and meeting challenges head on can be really hard. That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult, but it does mean we have to dig deep, stay strong and never ever give in.

So how should we approach the process? For me, it means looking at the challenge from all sides, and that involves keeping a calm mind and thinking clearly about all the aspects involved. Chanting allows me to calm my mind, to focus and to concentrate. This is the state of mindfulness and gives me control over my thoughts, words and deeds. For others it may be beneficial to meditate or to write down a list of all the facets of the challenge.

The whole process can be thrown into turmoil by our fundamental darkness. That little voice in our heads that tells us the challenge is too hard, that we cannot overcome it, and that giving up is the easy path. We must listen to that voice because it is part of us, but we must then rationalise the alternatives and be determined to take the right path, not simply the easiest path.

When you overcome a challenge, the feelings of elation are immense. When we give into a challenge, the feelings of defeat are equally immense, but terribly damaging. Gaining your first win will be the hardest. Once you know the winning feeling, you will never again want to feel defeat again.

So try different coping strategies, be that chanting, meditation, list building or whatever works for you. Be sure that overcoming challenges will make you a stronger and more confident person, and that each win will make the next challenge easier to overcome. In time, you will lose the fear of challenges, and although you may not exactly look forward to the next one, you will be more prepared to meet and overcome it when it arrives.

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