Buddhist Football

uefa-champions-leagueThose of you who know me, even a little bit, will know that I am, and have been for longer than I care to remember, a Chelsea fan. Now this evening, I will be glued to the telly, watching a very important event taking place in Barcelona, namely the Champions League semi final, second leg.

Ok, I say important. Not as important as many, if not most other things in life, but an occasion of note let us say. Time was, when my lad and I would be glued to the telly, or at the match if we could get tickets, avid fans you might describe us.

If we won, we were happy, if we draw, less so, but if we lost … well, let’s not even go there. Sad to say, but when we lost, as Chelsea do occasionally, not only were we unhappy, but that made those around us unhappy too, crazy really.

I am pleased to say that I have come to terms with the situation. Winning is nice, losing not so nice, but it doesn’t put me into a bad place anymore. And that’s all down to re-anchoring my life, by making my Gohonzon my Honzon.

Life in general consists of an ever changing canvass of thoughts, words and deeds, a complete palette of emotions from the very happy to the very sad. But if you anchor your life on faith, and in my case that is obviously Buddhism, the changes have far less effect because you have a more stable base to work from..

It was the great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly who once said ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that. Shankly was indeed a great manager, but I’m afraid Bill, you got that wrong.

So if we, by whom I mean Chelsea, make it through to the final, I will be delighted. If we don’t, well it won’t be the end of the world, for me at least. In terms of the path to enlightenment, I guess I can chalk that up as a win either way.

Back On Track

This WayThere 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 practice slip. It isn’t that we forget, it’s just that sometimes life 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 our faith is central, is our honzon, and the very thing that makes us who we are, we can take steps to realign ourselves.

Whilst it is no excuse, as life has been both hectic and delightful in the past few weeks, I have let things slide a little. So normal service is resumed and the balance of life has been restored. The most important things in life need a solid foundation, and my practice is the foundation that will allow those things to grow, blossom and persist way, way into the future.

Solid Foundations

Solid FoundationsHaving a solid foundation in our lives is vitally important. It means that the ups and downs of life can come and go, but we can maintain an even keel.

Naturally that makes life easier for us, but it also means that we can be a stable influence in the lives of those around us, our loved ones and also our less immediate circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Having my Buddhist Practice at the centre, as my Honzon, as my anchor is a very liberating state of affairs. At the centre of that Practice is my Gohonzon making it the absolute centre and the pivot, around which my whole life revolves.

Of course, the centre of many people’s lives are their partners, their children, their families and that is perfectly acceptable, but does mean that their anchor is not fixed, it is ever changing. These changes can be a major source of unhappiness. How often have we seen the elderly couple, totally devoted to each other, so that when one of them dies, the other goes soon after.

Having Buddhism and my Practice as my Honzon doesn’t mean that my family and friends mean any less to me, in fact it allows me to make more of those relationships. But it does mean that as situations change, as the inevitable problems in life arise, my anchor remains firm and I can cope with those challenges all the better.

Maybe it’s not for everyone, it does take a conscious effort to make the change after all, but for me, the effort is repaid many, many times over by the feeling of constancy in my life.

Tranquillity

TranquilityToday could not have been more different from yesterday. Other than by phone, I have had no contact with a single person, a day of pure tranquillity. There would have been a time when I would have been lonely, feel isolated and unhappy, but those days are long gone.

Every day starts with Gongyo and that sets me up for the rest of the day. Chanting clears my mind and boosts my life-energy and having Buddhism as the centre of my life puts everything into perspective. I would like to share the tranquillity I now feel with others, it is a very powerful feeling, and something that would benefit anyone.

Yesterday was a wonderful, if rather tiring day, today has been equally wonderful, restful and contemplative. Some people may feel that having days where, outwardly, you do nothing, is a little boring, sad even. But having time to yourself is a luxury, one for which many folks would give a great deal.

So now I’m rested, relaxed, and all ready to face the trials and tribulations of the coming week. I am off to London for meetings one day midweek and I’m also looking forward to having my broadband connection restored this week too. So a day very, very well spent.

Imagination – MEF’s Best Friend

Dark PassengerDo you ever find yourself getting into a state over a situation that is mainly in your own head? If your world is not anchored by your faith and is dependant on factors outside your control, your imagination can run riot. Our Fundamental Darkness, or My Evil Friend, is a devious character and will use everything tot get it’s way. Your imagination is one of it’s most powerful weapons.

This is how I was until I found Nichiren Buddhism, and it is a very precarious state in which to live. Each day can be up, or down, at the whim of something or someone else, and that’s no life. Particularly if that something or someone cannot be relied upon.

Taking back control of your life is simple, it is a state of mind, a determination to re-centre, re-focus your life. That certainly doesn’t mean that you have to rid yourself of the something or someone, and it doesn’t mean that your relationship with them is any less important. It’s just that your life centres around something infinitely stable, and that can make all the difference in the world.

My anchor, my honzon is my practice, and I’m a better, calmer, more contented person for that. I am happier for that, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all seek from life, a little more happiness?

Amy – Another Sad Story

Amy WinehouseThe news that 27 year old Amy Winehouse has died today is the latest in a long list of musical stars who die too young and another member of The Forever 27 Club. Back in the days of my youth there were a number of stellar performers who also died too young. Jimi Hendix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, the list goes on and on.

But why do these amazing people lose their way, get trapped by drug addiction and drive themselves to oblivion? Is it because they find fame too much to handle, is their life out of their control, governed by the fickle fate of the rollercoaster of popularity?

Basing our lives on anything that unstable, anything over which we have no control, means that we leave ourselves open to the inevitable winds of change.

Basing our lives on something constant, unchanging, gives us back that control, or at least a greater degree of it. That is why I have based my life on Nichiren Buddhism, made it my Honzon, or anchor.

My Faith, my Practice, Nichiren Buddhism doesn’t magically remove all the problems in life, nor does it solve those problems that arrive, but having the stability that comes with basing everything on the Gohonzon does make life easier.

We are sorry to lose you Amy, you were a very bright star, and maybe the brightest stars are meant to burn out soonest.

Happy Birthday Dad

My DadToday would have been my Dad’s 85th birthday.

This photograph of him hangs on the wall next to my desk at home, and I look at it often and remember him with great fondness and love.

He wasn’t a religious man, only going to church for weddings and the like, though he always supported my Mom in her church activities.

As a boy, I remember him as always being at work. Back then, it was quite common for people to work on Saturdays too, and as a printer, he was always busy.

My Mom was definitely his Honzon. If ever she went away for the day, she would leave him a packed lunch, an apple cut into quarters and maybe a cheese sandwich, just to make sure he ate something. He was a bit lost whenever she wasn’t around.

His one big love in life, apart from his family, was printing. Our house was always full of books and paper and print samples, and if he was ever given a book as a present, he was far more interested in who had printed it than what it was about.

In later years, he had a passion for free pistol shooting, he kept meticulous sets of figures of his scores, and used to compile the tables of scores for the club to which he belonged. He was very angry when the Government brought in stricter gun laws, and he was unable to keep his much cherished guns. He always felt that they were punishing the innocent, for the sins of the guilty.

Sadly he spent the last couple of years of his life in the World of Tranquillity. He had a heart condition that meant he didn’t have the life-energy to get out and do very much. He still read quite a lot and watched sport on TV, but he slept a lot more.

You were a great Dad, and, in your own quiet way, a great man. You were Wise, Courageous and Compassionate in so many ways, though maybe I didn’t always appreciate it at the time. I pray for you every morning and evening during Gongyo, and although I know you are back here with us somewhere, I miss you a great deal.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Why The Gohonzon Is My Honzon

The Enshrined GohonzonOver the life of this blog, you will see that my Buddhist Practice has become, more and more, the centre of my life.

Having my Practice as the centre, as my Honzon, as my anchor is a very liberating state of affairs. At the centre of that Practice is my recently enshrined Gohonzon making it the absolute centre and the pivot, around which, my whole life now revolves.

Of course, the centre of many people’s lives are their partners, their children, their families and that is perfectly acceptable, but does mean that their anchor not fixed, it is ever changing. These changes can be a major source of unhappiness. How often have we seen the elderly couple, totally devoted to each other, that when one of them dies, the other goes soon after.

Having Buddhism and my Practice as my Honzon doesn’t mean that my family and friends mean any less to me, but it does mean that as situations change, as problems arise, my anchor remains firm and I can cope with those challenges all the better.

Maybe that’s not for everyone, it does take a conscious effort to make the change, but for me, the effort is repaid many, many times over by the feeling of constancy in my life.

Back In The Groove

Back In The GrooveWith the pressure of work having eased slightly, albeit for only a few days, it was nice to give more time and focus to my Practice.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things drift to the back of your mind when they don’t receive the attention they deserve. So it was with my Gongyo, having been too tied up to make a proper job of it.

Now I know what you are saying, that my Honzon should come first, last and everywhere in between. But life isn’t like that really, is it? Man cannot life by Gongyo alone, to paraphrase, so work had to take precedence.

While I was at work this week, my two books arrived and until this evening I hadn’t even had time to open the parcel to take a quick peek.

The copy of The Buddha, Geoff and Me is similar in every respect to the last one I owned. No surprise there, though it will be good to have an old friend back on my bedside cabinet.

Having dipped into the new William Woollard, it does look interesting. He has a way of saying very profound or very technical concepts in a very easy to understand way, a real gift. He has been struggling against cancer and I will be very interested in how he has gone about it. I say struggled against cancer, but he is so grounded, that I can’t imagine William struggling against anything now.

Any road up, as my Mom might say, it’s nice to be back in the swing and I’m looking forward to relating my take on Buddhism and the Science of Happiness to you over the coming weeks.

P.S. In case anyone is wondering where the Juzu beads came from, they were made by my friend Lily Rose at Myoho Beads. Lily Rose is a lovely lady who happens to live just round the corner from the Arizona supermarket where the US Senator was shot a little while back. I really get in touch to make sure she is recovering from the shock of it all.

Back On Track

Lotus SutraNow my flu is starting to ease, I need to get my Practice back on track.

I’m going to be spending even more time on my own, with my partner having to work away from home for a few months. I could look at this as a problem, but I can also see it as giving me the time to concentrate of my Practice and Learning.

I could feel sad, as I have in the past, because my Honzon has deserted me albeit temporarily, but now my Honzon is my Practice and that stays with me at all times.

So, plenty of chanting, reading and learning are the order of the day. I’m not happy that my partner has to go away, I shall miss her, but by turning that poison into medicine I can make the most of the extra time.

I’m sure it will make the weeks fly by too, so two birds with one stone.

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