Positive, Always Positive

Positive, Always PositiveWe must never underestimate the power the mind has over our bodies.

If we can remain positive, with high life-energy and in one of the higher worlds, not only will our bodies respond positively, but also those around us will feel more positive too.

If we allow negativity to creep in the battle will be all the harder, and we will find that we do not inspire those who need our support to try that little bit harder to support themselves.

The Nichiren phrase for this connection between our body and mind is Shikishin-Funi. Two, but not two, not two, but two, meaning that they are separate, but cannot function alone.

[色心不二] (Jpn shikishin-funi )

Also, non-duality of body and mind. The principle that the two seemingly distinct phenomena of body, or the physical aspect of life, and mind, or its spiritual aspect, are essentially non-dual, being two integral phases of a single reality. One of the ten onenesses formulated by Miao-lo (711-782) in his Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra.” In the Japanese term shikishin-funi, shiki means that which has form and colour, or physical existence, while shin means that which has neither form nor colour, or spiritual existence, such as the mind, heart, and soul. Funi is an abbreviation of nini-funi, which indicates “two (in phenomena) but not two (in essence).” This means that the material and the spiritual are two separate classes of phenomena, but non-dual and indivisible in essence, because they are both aspects of the same reality. In the above annotations, Miao-lo states that, from the viewpoints of the whole and its components, life at a single moment is the whole, while body and mind are its components. Neither body nor mind is a separate entity; there is not one without the other. They are inseparable components of life. In the Lotus Sutra, the principle of the ten factors of life represents the oneness of body and mind. The ten factors are listed in the “Expedient Means” (second) chapter of the sutra, where it states that the true aspect of all phenomena consists of “appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relation, latent effect, manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end.” On “The Profound Meaning” states: “Appearance exists only in what is material; nature exists only in what is spiritual. Entity, power, influence, and relation in principle combine both the material and the spiritual. Internal cause and latent effect are purely spiritual; manifest effect exists only in what is material.” The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings reads, “[Concerning the term dedication of one’s life ] ‘dedication’ refers to the element of physical form as it pertains to us, while ‘life’ refers to the element of mind as it pertains to us. But the ultimate teaching tells us that form and mind are not two.” – Taken from the SGI Dictionary of Buddhism

Not exactly easy to understand, but essential for us to prosper in these difficult times. By being positive, we give out positive energy to those around us. Whether we are in a difficult situation in our life, looking for a job, trying to make ends meet financially or just trying to grin and bear it in the face of seemingly unending bad news, being positive is the only way to win through.

Another Year

Balloons For Another YearYet again,  today is the anniversary of my blog, and there’s been a post of some description each and every day.

As it says in the About it is the story of my path to enlightenment, but it also logs the past four years highs and lows of life.

I would like to think that you can see the progress, gradual though it may be, that I have made since last September.

It’s a fascinating journey as many of you know, and everyone’s is different. I would really like to thank all the people who have left comments on here or on Facebook or Twitter, they are all greatly appreciated and very often show that we are all learning as we go along.

When I wrote the first post, I was determined to keep it up. Whilst I cannot, hand on heart, say that there haven’t been days when I’ve though ‘Oh bum, it’s late, I’m tired and I still haven’t written today’s post’ but I have always made the effort.

As with my practice, it’s the routine of it that makes the difference. It’s the discipline needed to keep going that adds to the progress through the practice, so when you feel like giving up on something, don’t !!!

Barring fire, pestilence or flood, I’ll still be here, blogging away this time next year, and I hope that you are all still reading the posts too.

The Root Of Mindfulness

The Root Of MindfulnessIt may seem perfectly acceptable to put ourselves and our own wishes first, to simply follow the dictates of our emotions and cravings, but the truth is that there is very little that is more unreliable than our own mind.

Life doesn’t always run like clockwork and things will not necessarily turn out as we hope or plan. Consequently, Nichiren frequently stressed: “You should become the master of your mind, not let your mind master you.”

We must not allow ourselves to be ruled by a self-centred mind. Rather, we have to discipline our mind and gain mastery over it. So often these days we are confronted by the ‘mind over matter’ attitude … ‘I don’t mind and you don’t matter’.

Always try to see a situation from the others perspective. You may find that the view from their side of the table is rather different than your own, and it may well illuminate facets that you had overlooked.

Walking In Another Person’s Shoes

Another Person's ShoesThere is an old saying, that before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you have a pair of their shoes, and you are a mile away 🙂

But seriously, it is easy to see the faults in another when you are only seeing things from your point of view.

There is a wise Buddhist saying that says ‘we hate in others, what we refuse to see in ourselves’. Before you start picking on someone for their faults, make sure that you don’t have the same faults yourself.

Seeing the other persons viewpoint takes wisdom, courage and compassion, particularly in the heat of the moment. But taking a few seconds to allow yourself to become mindful, and then trying to reach a balanced view will do no harm, and may help resolve the issue once and for all.

Learn To Know Thyself

Socrates - 'Know Thyself'The path to enlightenment involves a lot of learning, much of it about ourselves. My growing emphasis on mindfulness leads to much self examination, of feelings, thoughts and of the workings of the mind.

Wisdom is rooted in the souls of human beings. The way to acquire it is to follow the simple advice of Socrates – ‘Know Thyself’.

This is the starting point for the establishment of a sense of human dignity, preventing the degradation of human beings into anonymous, interchangeable cogs in a machine.

The basis of all true knowledge is self knowledge.

Balance Restored

Balance RestoredThere 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. So 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, 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 admit to having let things slide a little. So being mindful of the situation, normal service has resumed and the balance of life 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 flourish, way, way into the future.

Nature Is Everywhere

Girl with a swan - click for videoThe day had been billed as being affected by the remnants of hurricane Bertha, and in the wee small hours, it did indeed sound as though all hell had been let loose. However, after a leisurely start, including breakfast in bed, things were looking a lot calmer in the quay.

There is the temptation to draw the blinds and hunker down when the weatherman tells us that it’s going to be a nasty day. But as someone once said, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. So by lunchtime we were out in the very fresh air and down by the quayside.

Scully had spotted Vestas, the lone swan, looking hungry amongst the boats and pontoons. Vestas is my name for him. He is ringed, but he hasn’t got a nametag, so his nickname has stuck. Though how you can tell a swan is hungry is beyond me.

In my experience, swans are always keen to eat any bread you care to give them, and the slice of thick cut wholemeal was gone in very short shrift. Scully has a way with animals, they seem to know that, as a vegan, they aren’t in any danger of being eaten, and seem to trust her just a little more. She, on the other hand, was pretty wary of Vestas’ beak. Even though they don’t have teeth as such, the serrations along his beak could inflict a deal of pain to the incautious.

The theme of nature continued as we walked into Poole. The pavement alongside the road to the Twin Sails bridge was strewn with grasshoppers of all colours and sizes. They seemed to be enjoying the dark tarmac that had been warmed by the midday sun, and were oblivious to the giant footsteps approaching. We had to be very wary of where we walked as we tried not to injure any of the creatures.

Twin Sails Bridge - Poole - Click To View OriginalHaving had a quick bite in the Slug and Lettuce (more nature references) we had a mooch around Poole and then headed back over the Twin Sails bridge. This time we were treated to the magnificent sight of the bridge opening to let one of the RNLI lifeboats through.

Compared to the old bridge with its massive solid functional structure, the new bridge is a true work of art, and watching it open majestically really is a treat.

The whole process of opening and closing the bridge only takes a few minutes, but it is well worth the time spent as you see the spars of the lifting sections tower above the waters of Holes Bay.

More mindfulness as we carefully picked our way back through the grasshoppers, followed later in the evening by a stomach churning time on one of the fairground rides in Hamworthy Park. The ghost train wasn’t nearly as experiential, though there was a squib of cold water right on the back of our necks as we entered the first ghostly tunnel.

Good Evening Mr Toad - Click To View OriginalOur day of experiencing nature first hand was rounded off in style, when who should we find waiting for us when we got home in the pitch dark, but Mr Toad. Of course, Scully was keen to put the little fellow out of harms way, many fall prey to domestic cats, so picked him up.

Contrary to popular belief, toads have a dry skin, not wet or slimy, and the rescuee sat quietly in her hands as we selected a suitably sheltered spot in the back garden. He even seemed a little reticent to crawl off into the grass, maybe he was enjoying the warmth her hands offered.

With the adventure over, it was time for bed, but our day of mindful nature will live long in the memory.

More On Mindfulness

BreatheWhen we are feeling down, or simply the challenges of everyday life are coming at us too fast, it is all too easy to concentrate on ourselves, forgetting about those around us.

To stop this happening takes mindfulness and courage, as noted by Sensei in Daily Encouragement.

Buddhism is not about leading a self-centred existence. If we do not base our lives on the Law, we are not practicing Buddhism.

The German writer Friedrich von Schiller writes, “The brave man thinks upon himself the last.”

This is analogous to the spirit of not begrudging one’s life taught in the Lotus Sutra.

This means treasuring the Law more highly than one’s life.

The Law and kosen-rufu are central.

The old adage that ‘No Man is an island’ is very true. It is our family, friends and those we meet each day in our communities, who make our lives meaningful, and it is The Law that shows us the way we are to conduct ourselves and how we should relate to them.

To help with increasing our mindfulness, consciously focus on a simple task each day. Be that taking a shower, doing the dishes, going upstairs, even breathing, anything will do, but concentrate on every aspect of your feelings, your surroundings, everything, and you will find that even the simplest task takes on a whole new meaning.

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.

Wiping The Slate Clean

An Exciting New Path

A new job, a new career or a new relationship, all call for a bit of a spring clean of our mental attitude and emotional baggage from previous experiences.

Sometimes we need to wipe the slate clean, take a deep breath, and start anew.

Having new goals, new horizons and renewed vigour is just the ticket.

I know that some people fear change, are loath to relinquish all the effort put into a particular path, even if that path may be taking them in the wrong direction. I am not one of those people, I embrace change, but you may have trouble letting go of the past.

Setting sail on a new adventure, try to make it your intention to make the most of each and every day, and when change does arrive, enjoy the excitement of being reborn into a new and exciting experience.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: