On Self Improvement

The Struggle For Self ImprovementThere is no self-improvement without effort.

Without taking action, happiness will never come, no matter how long you wait.

A life without peaks and valleys is a fairy tale. Reality is strict, because it is a win or lose struggle.

This is the way it is for human beings. Therefore, you should not allow yourselves to be battered about by reality but rather willingly rise to its challenges and use them as opportunities to train and strengthen yourselves.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Life Is Trying, So Keep Trying

Life Is TryingThere is no self-improvement without effort.

Without taking action, happiness will never come, no matter how long you wait. A life without peaks and valleys is a fairy tale. Reality is strict, because it is a win or lose struggle.

This is the way it is for human beings. Therefore, you should not allow yourselves to be battered about by reality but rather willingly rise to its challenges and use them as opportunities to train and strengthen yourselves.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Christmas Cheer

Christmas CheerWith families and friends gathering all over the world, to celebrate Christmas, it can be one of the loneliest days of the year for those who find themselves alone.

But rather than wallowing in that loneliness, you should set yourself a goal, and be determined, not to let the situation occur again this time next year. Make causes in the coming months to change the circumstances.

In one of his writings, renowned microbiologist René Dubos, stated. “History teaches that man without effort is sure to deteriorate; man cannot progress without effort, and man cannot be happy without effort.” This is indisputable.

You may be experiencing various hardships now, but because you continue to make efforts in the midst of those challenges, no matter how painful they are, you will definitely become happy. Effort and happiness are indivisible.

No Pain, No Gain

Life Is A StruggleThere is no self-improvement without effort.

Without taking action, happiness will never come, no matter how long you wait. A life without peaks and valleys is a fairy tale. Reality is strict, because it is a win or lose struggle.

This is the way it is for human beings. Therefore, you should not allow yourselves to be battered about by reality but rather willingly rise to its challenges and use them as opportunities to train and strengthen yourselves.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Always Small Steps

The Climb To Grange HillMaking full use of the good weekend weather, I had decided to set myself a challenge and to ride up to the top of Creech Hill, via Old Harry Rocks, Swanage, Corfe Castle and Kimmeridge. On paper, or at least on the map, it looks very easy. On the road, it is a rather different matter.

I’m getting used to the undulations on my usual training route, so there were no surprises between home and the foot of the mount at Corfe Castle. But taking a left off towards Kimmeridge, instead of the right turn back towards Studland took me into a world of uncertainties.

The road to Church Knowle is very picturesque and does have a few ups and downs. St. Peters church, as you might expect, marks the high point of the village and The New Inn looked very inviting as I set off towards Steeple.

The real test, as I found out all too soon, was the climb out of Steeple towards the top of Creech Hill. It starts slowly, but gets steeper and steeper as you go on. I was encouraged on my way by a group of cyclists coming down the hill. They knew what the road had in store for me and urged me to press on.

The trick with tasks like this, for me at least, is to look at the next couple of metres before me. Looking up at the way ahead offers no real help, it simply serves to show you how much work is left to be done. Taking one step at a time is a far more productive method.

Although my legs will probably remind me of the trip in the morning, I completed the route at a reasonable pace and, of course, enjoyed the ride down the other side of Creech Hill, encouraging as I went, others who were making the reverse trip.

The title of this blog, The Search For Enlightenment, in so many ways, documents my own path to Buddhahood, a path that can be just as steep and difficult as the road up Creech Hill. The way to progress along this long and winding path is exactly the same as getting to the top of the hill, one step at a time.

The determination, perseverance and effort for both continue.

What A Let Down

Only Flat At The BottomSo the highlight of today was meant to be a gentle social cycle with friends over near Winchester. That’s not quite the way things worked out. Having made my way over there with my bike in bits, and having reassembled it ready for the ride, I was raring to go.

There are some beautiful back lanes around Alresford, obviously the reason that there are so many cyclists about. Rolling hills, farms, sheep, horses, even a pack of lamas, though not of the Buddhist persuasion. Beautiful countryside, and nice soft weather too.

All was going well, we were about half way around the 12k route, nothing too strenuous as one of the friends is doing the Round The Isle of Wight charity cycle tomorrow, then a minor setback.

My bike was feeling a bit strange, rather less roll and a bit more rock, and looking down I found to my dismay, that my back tyre was as flat as a pancake. Now 6km is not far on a bike, even with the odd hill to make it interesting, but 6km on a bike with a flat back tyre is a challenge.

Now I don’t know whether you have ever tried to cycle, standing up, leant over the front wheel, in order to take as much weight of the back tyre as possible, but it’s hard work. Try doing it for 10 metres, now try doing it for a kilometre, tough eh?

Now try doing it for 6km, up and down some not insignificant hills, with a certain degree of amused banter aimed in your direction, that is a proper challenge. They say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’m sure that is right, but just at this moment, sitting here, with two legs that feel like they’ve been under a road roller, it’s rather hard to agree with the sentiment.

But I’ve got a new inner tube, all ready to fix the wheel, and I’m looking forward to a ride over to the pier and back tomorrow, just to shake the aches and pains out of these poor old legs.

Silhouette Solitude

Bournemouth Pier SunriseMaking good use of the fair weather today, I decided to ride the seaside route to work. Once I was onto the promenade at Sandbanks, heading east towards Christchurch, there was almost total silence, save for the rumble of my tyres on the tarmac and the waves lapping gently on the almost deserted beach.

The cold air did a great job of purging any last traces of sleep from my person and in fact, compared to the last few weeks, it was decidedly chilly. Coupled with the effect of morning mist, my arms started to get really cold and wet, and I was beginning to wish I had put a long-sleeved top on.

I knew that a little more effort would speed me towards my destination as well as generating the heat required to thaw my frozen limbs, and so it proved. After just a few minutes hard pedalling I was feeling pretty toasty and was whizzing down the promenade at a healthy 30kph.

Now I know that some people seem to think that I am a bit crazy, cycling over 30km to get to work, but it really does have benefits. At current petrol prices, it saves me about £8 a day in fuel, it helps keep me physically fit, it makes me wide awake and alert, ready for work, and I get to see some amazing sights that others often miss. I also get time to think, in perfect solitude. There are very few others mad enough to be up at this time of day.

This morning, my timing was such, that as the first rays of the rising sun popped over the horizon, they fell directly behind the skeletal structure of Bournemouth Pier. Now the pier itself is no Victorian masterpiece, and the funfair that perches precariously at the far end is no oil painting, but in silhouette against the rising sun it made for an amazing sight.

With the return journey promising to offer similar views of the sunset, and with the weekend just around the corner, I’m looking forward to my ride back to Poole. The weathermen have promised that we will have a little more of this amazing summer during the next few days. I hope you can make the most of our good fortune, I know what I’ll be up to.

Onwards, Ever Onwards

Life Is A StruggleThere is no self-improvement without effort.

Without taking action, happiness will never come, no matter how long you wait. A life without peaks and valleys is a fairy tale. Reality is strict, because it is a win or lose struggle.

This is the way it is for human beings. Therefore, you should not allow yourselves to be battered about by reality but rather willingly rise to its challenges and use them as opportunities to train and strengthen yourselves.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Keep Trying

SmileIn one of his writings, renowned microbiologist René Dubos, stated. “History teaches that man without effort is sure to deteriorate; man cannot progress without effort, and man cannot be happy without effort.” This is indisputable.

You may be experiencing various hardships now, but because you continue to make efforts in the midst of those challenges, no matter how painful they are, you will definitely become happy. Effort and happiness are indivisible.

Determination

IchinenIchinen is a Japanese word meaning determination (amongst other things).

ichinen

[一念] (Jpn; Chin i-nien )

A single moment of life, one instant of thought, or the mind or life at a single moment. Also, life-moment, thought-moment, or simply a single moment or instant. Ichinen has various meanings in Buddhism: (1) A moment, or an extremely short period comparable to the Sanskrit term kshana. The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom defines one kshana or moment as a sixtieth of the time it takes to snap one’s fingers. (2) The functioning of the mind for one moment. The “Distinctions in Benefits” (seventeenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra speaks of a single moment of belief and understanding. (3) To focus one’s mind on meditating on a Buddha; Shan-tao (613-681), a patriarch of the Chinese Pure Land school, defined ichinen (one instant of thought) as chanting Amida Buddha’s name once. (4) T’ient’ai (538-597) philosophically interprets ichinen in his doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life ( Jpn ichinensanze Chin i-nien san-ch’ien ). In this doctrine, ichinen indicates the mind of an ordinary person, which at each moment is endowed with the potential of three thousand realms; its characteristics are: (a) it pervades the entire universe; (b) it includes both body and mind; (c) it includes both self and environment; (d) it gives rise to good and evil; and (e) it encompasses cause and effect simultaneously. Nichiren (1222-1282) embodied this philosophical framework in the form of a mandala known as the Gohonzon. By this he aimed to establish a practical way for ordinary people to manifest Buddhahood from among the Ten Worlds of their own lives. (Taken from the SGI Dictionary)

Being a success at something isn’t just about talent, it’s about having the desire, in your heart, to be the best that you possibly can be.

If you have a strong Ichinen, you are far more likely to reach your goal. You still have to put in the effort and in fact, the more talent you have, the more effort is needed, because your end result might be far more exacting than a less talented person.

If you think you will fail, you will. You must embrace your goals, your targets, with every fibre of your being. Strive with all your might, night and day towards that goal and you are far more likely to succeed.

Success takes focus, desire, effort, hard work, determination and perseverance.

Ichinen covers them all and chanting for what you want to achieve makes your ichinen stronger and stronger.

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