Remembering War, Working For Peace

A Field Of PoppiesThe two minute silence, in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the service of our country, seemed particularly poignant yesterday.

Being the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI has led to greater emphasis on the event.

But we should not forget the true meaning of the silence and why the sanctity of life is so important.

The sanctity of life is known to everyone. At the same time, there is universal confusion about the essential meaning of life’s sanctity. If the sanctity of life can become a solid touchstone of wisdom for all people, then humankind’s destiny to experience war and misery repeatedly can be transformed.

As Sensei explains it: “Kosen means ‘to widely declare.’ Widely implies speaking out to the world, to an ever-greater number and ever-broader spectrum of people. Declare means ‘to proclaim one’s ideals, principles and philosophy.’ The ru of rufu means ‘a current like that of a great river.’ And fu means ‘to spread out like a roll of cloth.’

“The teaching of the Mystic Law has nothing to do with appearance, form or pride. It flows out freely to all humanity the world over. Like a cloth unfolding, it spreads out and covers all. So rufu means ‘to flow freely, to reach all.’

“Just like a cloth, kosen-rufu is woven from vertical and horizontal threads. The vertical threads represent the passing of Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching from mentor to disciple, parent to child, senior to junior. The horizontal threads represent the impartial spread of this teaching, transcending national borders, social classes and all other distinctions. Simply put, kosen-rufu is the movement to communicate the ultimate way to happiness—to communicate the highest principle of peace to people of all classes and nations through the correct philosophy and teaching of Nichiren”It is toward this end, towards Kosen-Rufu, that we Nichiren Buddhists are struggling.

It is toward this end, towards Kosen-Rufu, that we Nichiren Buddhists are struggling.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

The Goal – World Peace

Dove Of PeaceThe world’s population is around seven and a quarter billion, and our small planet is obviously not getting any bigger.

To support all these hungry mouths we have to collaborate more closely than ever, to stop fighting and start farming in sustainable ways.

All those hundreds of years ago, Nichiren was utterly convinced we could change even the most dire and painful reality, including the danger of war, and indeed that it was imperative that we do so.

This conviction underlies his unwavering determination to create a peaceful society by disseminating the teachings of Buddhism. This is why we are working with endless determination, to achieve Kosen Rufu, World Peace.

Let’s Start A War On War

Dove Of PeaceWith all the coverage about ISIS and the continuing fighting in Syria and Iraq, we need to find some way to embrace and broadcast these positive words of peace from Daisaku Ikeda …

Each of us, no matter how weak or ineffectual we may feel ourselves to be, must build deep within our hearts a stronghold for peace, one that will be capable of withstanding and in the end silencing the incessant calls to war.

This is the only way humanity’s tragic predilection for violence can be reformed and its energies channelled in new directions.

Educate The Educators

Educate The EducatorsIn light of all this political palaver over the schools in Birmingham, it seems that there is a dire need for some education on both sides.

Sensei had this to say on the matter of education in general …

Education should not be based on or limited by a nationalist agenda.

Education must cultivate the wisdom to reject and resist violence in all its forms.

It must foster people who intuitively understand and know—in their mind, in their heart, with their entire being—the irreplaceable value of human beings and the natural world.

I believe such education embodies the timeless struggle of human civilization to create an unerring path to peace.

The Global Family

Global SocietyAs Globalisation proceeds, we enter an age in which everybody’s actions strongly influence everybody else.

If we realise this, we can then alter our mind-set and strive to build a global society of mutual coexistence and mutual prosperity.

This will be done by going beyond devotion to the interests of the individual or the  nation-state and devoting ourselves to the interests of all humanity.

As Dr Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.

The key to the solution is the imagination to care for others.

It is the empathising heart, or what Buddhists mean when they talk about mercy.

Inner Communication

Inner CommunicationI hear myself once again having to explain, that unlike almost every other religion, Nichiren Buddhism sees things differently.

Not that I feel I am apologising for that, just that because it is a philosophy for life and living, rather than a religion in the more generally accepted sense, the meaning and purpose of prayer are in my opinion, fundamentally different.

As with all the deity based religions, prayer is a conduit of communication, a method for getting a message, or request heard. However, in Buddhism, prayer is a communication to the inner self, rather than to an external being, and in that respect, it is more about focussing the conscious and sub-conscious on a task or topic at hand.

Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is an integral part of our daily practice. We say, or think, as three of the prayers are silent, four prayers during Gongyo and these are they:

First Prayer – for the appreciation of life’s protective forces:

I offer appreciation to the Shoten Zenjin, the functions in life and in the environment that serve to protect us, and pray that these protective powers may further be strengthened and enhanced through my practice of the Law.

Second Prayer – for the appreciation for the Gohonzon:

I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon the entire world.

I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to Nikko Shonin.

I offer sincere gratitude to Nichimoku Shonin.

Third Prayer – for the attainment of kosen-rufu:

I pray that the great desire for kosen-rufu is fulfilled, and that the Soka Gakkai International develops eternally in this endeavour.

I offer my most sincere gratitude to the three founding presidents – Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda – for their eternal example of selfless dedication to the propagation of the Law.

Fourth Prayer – personal prayers and prayers for the deceased:

I pray to bring forth Buddhahood from within my life, change my karma and to fulfil my wishes in the present and the future.

* Prayers for specific outcomes are brought to mind here.

I pray for my deceased relatives and for all those who have passed away, particularly for these individuals:

* Here we bring to mind the names of those we particularly wish to remember

I pray for peace throughout the world and for the happiness of all humanity.

I think you can see that the prayers are mainly intended to bring to mind the subjects they contain, rather than being any form of communication with a third party. They focus the mind on the desired effect, and are intended to remind us that we need to make the causes ourselves, for the effects we wish to see.

We remember the dedication and sacrifices that the founding presidents have made in order to keep the faith alive and the efforts they have made in promoting the religion in the past decades. I feel it is important to mention that although the third prayer mentions the development of the Soka Gakkai International, it is more important that the aim of the SGI to promote peace for all on earth, rather than the organisation itself, is the desired outcome.

Personally, during the forth prayer, where we bring to mind specific outcomes, I remind myself of personal goals, self-improvement, human revolution and the like, as well as thinking of others who are struggling with challenges such as ill health, difficult situations and so on.

By bring these things into my consciousness means that I can focus on ways I may resolve my own challenges, or help others resolve theirs. There is no concept of me asking any third party to intervene in the outcome, the responsibility for that is all my own.

In that respect, I find Nichiren Buddhism to be a very empowering philosophy. I am taking responsibility for the events occurring in my life, myself. Whilst this puts the onus squarely on my own shoulders, it also gives me control, rather than handing it to any third party  whatsoever.

Far from being an all-knowing, all-seeing deity, I am, like you, a simple human being. So I make mistakes in the decisions and thoughts, words and deeds I perform each and every day. Because I take full responsibility for all those mistakes, I am free to learn from them, rather than ask forgiveness for them.

Prayers form a large part in that learning process. By purposefully bringing these erroneous issues into my consciousness, I am able to analyse, evaluate and modify my thinking. By doing this as part of my daily regime, I am forced to constantly confront my failings, and that improves my chances to improve and to increase the scope of  my enlightened nature.

So I hope you can see the contrast between Buddhist prayers and those of other theistic religions. Far from being a form of communication between the person praying and his or her god, it is communication between me and my consciousness. Furthermore, because I accept responsibility for everything that happens in my life, I am forced to search for the causes of the effects I am experiencing, rather than asking ‘why is this happening to me?’.

I am tempted to suggest that Nichiren Buddhists do not actually pray at all, in the accepted definition of that word. But although the intended recipient of our prayers could not be more different, the intention behind those prayers can be seen to be very much the same.

Connected

ConnectedThe surge in communication technology, and particularly the spread of the internet, has made the world a much smaller place.

I sit here writing my blog, and with a single click, I can send my thoughts out to anyone on the planet who has the ability to connect to the world wide web.

As Globalisation proceeds, we find ourselves in an age in which the actions of everybody have the potential to strongly influence everyone else, be that with good, or not so good intentions.

Realising this, we must then alter our mind-set and strive to build a global society of mutual coexistence and mutual prosperity. This will be done by going beyond devotion to the interests of the self or of the nation-state and devoting ourselves to the interests of all humanity.

As Dr Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. We see injustice in so many forms, from discrimination against sex, race, colour or creed, to the disgraceful inequality in the distribution of wealth between the have’s and have not’s.

The key to the solution is for everyone to start having the imagination and will to care for others. It is the empathising heart, or what Buddhists mean when they talk about mercy.

One Hundred Years On … WWIII?

Kepp Calm and Support UkraineWith the media alive with recollections of the onset of The Great War in 1914, it is ironic that one hundred years later, Russia has taken control of The Crimea, and Western leaders are warning of dire consequences, should they fail to heed calls to withdraw.

Although reports of the military action are reporting that the local people welcome the move, and that no shots have yet been fired, it would appear, from outside Ukraine at least, that Russia is invading a sovereign country.

With the possibility of dire consequences, if Russian and the West resort to military conflict instead of political dialogue, one can only hope for calm heads in both camps to prevail. William Hague has already called the situation ‘Europe’s biggest crisis of the century‘.

With northern Ukraine seeking to form closer ties to the European Union whilst the southern Crimea region remains firmly allied to it’s former Soviet overlord, there would appear to be a strong possibility of civil war, should a political solution not be found.

A military conflict cannot be the way forward for either parties. But as Putin flexes his muscles, and takes control of the area surrounding their Black Sea bases, it is left up to the G7 leaders and President Obama to show wisdom and rational thinking in the weeks ahead.

Give Peace A Chance

Global PeaceWith Russian troops being put on high alert in Ukraine, as a result of the recent political unrest, it is clear that the goal of world peace, Kosen-Rufu, still requires much effort if it is ever to come to fruition.

The sanctity of life is known to everyone. At the same time, there is universal confusion about the essential meaning of life’s sanctity.

If the sanctity of life can become a solid touchstone of wisdom for all people, then humankind’s destiny to experience war and misery repeatedly can be transformed.

As Sensei explains it: “Kosen means ‘to widely declare.’ Widely implies speaking out to the world, to an ever-greater number and ever-broader spectrum of people. Declare means ‘to proclaim one’s ideals, principles and philosophy.’ The ru of rufu means ‘a current like that of a great river.’ And fu means ‘to spread out like a roll of cloth.’

“The teaching of the Mystic Law has nothing to do with appearance, form or pride. It flows out freely to all humanity the world over. Like a cloth unfolding, it spreads out and covers all. So rufu means ‘to flow freely, to reach all.’

“Just like a cloth, kosen-rufu is woven from vertical and horizontal threads. The vertical threads represent the passing of Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching from mentor to disciple, parent to child, senior to junior. The horizontal threads represent the impartial spread of this teaching, transcending national borders, social classes and all other distinctions. Simply put, kosen-rufu is the movement to communicate the ultimate way to happiness—to communicate the highest principle of peace to people of all classes and nations through the correct philosophy and teaching of Nichiren”It is toward this end, towards Kosen-Rufu, that we Nichiren Buddhists are struggling.

It is toward this end, towards Kosen-Rufu, that we Nichiren Buddhists are struggling.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Much Pomp And Circumstance

Last Night of the PromsI’ve been watching the Last Night of the Proms since I was a little lad, and it’s a wonderful and enduring spectacle. With the people watching around the world I imagine the audience must run into the tens of millions. Of course it’s a very British event, but seeing so many people united, by the pure joy of the evening, lifts the heart.

How wonderful the world would be if we could unite people in love, compassion and respect for each other. That is the aim of Kosen-Rufu, to transform the political and religious differences into a mutual love and respect for all living beings.

If it can be done on a small scale by the Henry Wood Promenade concerts, surely there is hope that it can be done on a world-wide basis.

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