It’s The Shortest Day

The Shortest DayToday is the shortest day of the year, here in the UK, and strangely some may say, it’s my favourite day of the year. Why, I can hear you asking, isn’t the longest day of the year more favoured, all those lovely hours of daylight, and often sunshine too. Well it’s because today marks the nadir of the year in terms of daylight. From now on we get an extra minute or so more light each day, and that’s something to look forward to.

Daisaku Ikeda has some very wise words for these long dark days, and offers a welcome ray of hope …

“Even if today may seem to be a time of total darkness, it will not last forever. The dawn will surely come if you advance, ever forward, without being defeated.

The day will definitely come when you can look back fondly and declare, “I am savouring this happiness because I struggled back then.” It is those who know the bitterness of winter that can savour the true joy of spring.”

~ Daisaku Ikeda

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Flames Of WisdomSo many of the ills in modern society are driven, if not caused, by our insatiable desire to earn, to own, to use, more and more.

Companies spend millions creating adverts to reach our deepest psyche and flick on the basest of urges, often I suspect, without us even realising the manipulation we are undergoing.

Aside from our own mental suffering, our cravings are having consequences in third world countries, the recent collapse of the clothing factory in Bangladesh being an indirect result of our desire for cheaper garments.

Nichiren spoke of earthly desires being used as fuel for the flame of Wisdom.

Buddhism teaches the converting of personal ambitions and desires, even base ones, into good traits like Wisdom, through altruistic living. A Buddhist doctrine that earthly desires are enlightenment, indicates that greed, anger through violence, and egocentricity can be transformed into altruistic traits such as compassion, trust and nonviolence.

The underlying delusions that drive our desires, including the desire for the development of science and civilisations, can be essentially transformed in a way that changes selfishness into altruism, violence into nonviolence and suspicion into trust.

The Western exploitation of emerging countries, for cheap labour and materials, simply to satisfy an ever growing market is totally unsustainable and must change. Until we can stop enriching certain groups at the expense of others, and concentrate on enriching all people by our actions, there will never be a sustainable peace, economy or even happiness in the world.

Problems? Them’s Not Problems

Viktor Frankl - Man's Search For MeaningI’ve been re-reading Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl, just to brush up on the lessons contained therein.

What an amazing account of such unbelievable suffering, and impossible to put down. I have found reading the book to be humbling experience. It’s put my problems well and truly into the ‘insignificant’ category.

Frankl was one of the few people to survive the Nazi death camps and writes his story from the viewpoint of his position as a psychiatrist.

I’m not going to relate anything from the book, but I strongly recommend you read it.

It’s not about Buddhism, but it really is very Buddhist like.

The Shortest Day – Woo Hoo !!!

The Shortest DayToday is the shortest day of the year, here in the UK, and strangely some may say, it’s my favourite day of the year. Why, I can hear you asking, isn’t the longest day of the year more favoured, all those lovely hours of daylight, and often sunshine too. Well it’s because today marks the nadir of the year in terms of daylight. From now on we get an extra minute or so more light each day, and that’s something to look forward to.

Daisaku Ikeda has some very wise words for these long dark days, and offers a welcome ray of hope …

“Even if today may seem to be a time of total darkness, it will not last forever. The dawn will surely come if you advance, ever forward, without being defeated.

The day will definitely come when you can look back fondly and declare, “I am savouring this happiness because I struggled back then.” It is those who know the bitterness of winter that can savour the true joy of spring.”

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Seeing Both Sides

London Riots We have all been shocked by the street violence in London and other major cities over the past couple of days. Groups of youths looting and setting fire to shops, cars and houses for the ‘fun’ of it. It’s disgraceful and one has to feel sympathy for the owners and the police who are having to deal with it. But let us, for one minute, see things from the youths point of view.

Many, if not all of them, come from deprived backgrounds, maybe going back several generations, and they realistically have no hope of any improvement. They see these premises as easy targets, owned by rich people or companies, in their eyes, and are using them as the target of their frustration and anger. Whilst not condoning any of their actions, it is all too easy to take the blinkered view and blame it all on mindless individuals.

These people are going through the same recession we all face every day. Many have no work, no money and more importantly, no hope. Who can really blame them for lashing out? I hope sense prevails, that the police take back control of the streets, and that the innocent victims are fully recompensed for their losses. But I also hope that our politicians see the wider picture, and make more of an effort to support the youth of this country. If nothing is done we should not be surprised if incidents like this become commonplace.

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