One Hundred Per CentThe true victors in life are those who, having endured repeated challenges and setbacks, have sent the roots of their spiritual being to such a depth, that nothing can ever shake them loose.

By practicing Nichiren Buddhism, with all our heart and mind, on a daily basis, can allow us to grow our own spiritual roots to a great depth. Whilst our practice takes us along the road to enlightenment, this is a powerful side-effect that makes us able to defeat anything that life throws at us.

Another Change For The Better

Another Change For The BetterOn the day that signalled more a important change than my leaving, this seemed poignant …

In today’s world where global issues are so important, many people feel a sense of powerlessness and resignation; a feeling that no individual’s efforts can change the way things are.

But the Buddhist viewpoint is that the world should be seen from the perspective of the individual, and that the human life contains the entire universe.

That is why changing our own lives one by one will bring a change in our family, our community, and the society in which we live. It will change the age we live in, our history, and indeed all aspects of our world.

If we look for the true causes of war, we see that it is essentially caused by the human mind. War stems from the desire to control and conquer others, to have power, and from hatred and antipathy. Such is a human being in the grip of the negative force of life. World peace starts with the inner transformation of the individual, and the struggle to elevate our state of life, and free ourselves from the domination of the negative force of life.

A single sunflower contains the seeds for more than a thousand new plants. Similarly, when one brave person stands up for peace, his or her resolve spreads out into the environment in thousands of ways. Courage always brings a response. One person’s human revolution can therefore eventually change the destiny of the entire human race.

The Spirit of Human Revolution

In his writing On Attaining Buddhahood, Nichiren Daishonin conveys the basic spirit of human revolution: “You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your own life.” [WND p3]

We could summarise the spirit of this teaching as being, “It’s not up to others; nor can I blame anyone else. I have to change myself first.” It is a viewpoint which says, everything in life is part of our own training; it is for our benefit and development. Human revolution takes place right now, in the situation we find ourselves at this moment.

World peace starts with this inner transformation of the individual. And yes it is a struggle to develop and elevate our state of life but human revolution is the foundation for world peace and also for individual peace and happiness. It is at the heart of our Buddhist practise. It is about changing our heart and drawing out our humanity.

It is the most amazing feeling as you discover that if the cause of your suffering is within the realms of your own life then you and only you can change that aspect of your life. This is the most freeing feeling. This is human revolution and the door to your Buddhahood.

Human revolution brings into play all the principles and processes that make up the Buddhist teachings of life. Learning to be able to live our lives on the basis of correct teachings is part of our human revolution. The process is a transformation of the heart.

Transforming the Self, Living the Teachings

When we commit our lives to chanting we embark on a journey of self-discovery and challenge. By taking responsibility for our feelings and emotions, especially those we most dislike, we come to realise we have the ability to transform our lives from within. As we broaden our experiences of chanting daimoku we get experiences of our environment reflecting the transformation of our inner lives. This could be in our family relationships, at work or in other aspects of life.

It is usually within one of these arenas that we find life can be difficult or cause us to suffer. As we continue chanting, the more we start to see our lives very differently. At first this process may seem a little uncomfortable because it is quite unique and new to us. We may or may not like what we see. Perhaps we realise we have set attitudes or opinions about others or various issues that make us suffer. It may seem that others have a problem with us. This can draw out all sorts of feelings and emotions that can make us uneasy, or uncomfortable.

Getting this kind of reaction does not mean that chanting is not working or that it is working in a negative way. On the contrary you are actually in the process of transforming exactly that which has always led you to suffer in that particular area of your life. Your chanting is illuminating an area of your life that needs to change for your own happiness. The realisation that this opinion or attitude stems from our own lives and not from others opinions of us, leads us to uncover the Buddha nature inherent in our lives. The quickest way to transform these feelings or attitude is to keep chanting until you realise the cause of these uncomfortable feelings.

However, it may be that is exactly when you find it the most difficult time to chant. You are on the brink of changing a part of your life that always stops you from progressing or being happy. It will probably feel like walking up a hill backwards. At such times obstacles and devils arise. You will probably be able to justify why it is more beneficial to watch TV than do gongyo or chant or tell a friend about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or study some of Nichiren Daishonin`s writings. But this is exactly the time to do these things in order to break through and win over something that has always held you back. This is the time to muster a fighting spirit and to be courageous.

In his book Seven Paths to Peace, Daisaku Ikeda talks about human revolution in terms of self-mastery. Simply put, this means winning control over oneself, overcoming the small self that is dominated by narrow self-interest and awakening to the larger self that works for the good of all humanity. From this standpoint a major obstacle to developing ourselves is to pursue a way of life bound by our small ego or self. Expanding from the lesser self to the greater self is the path of human revolution.

Through our practice of introducing others to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, and through efforts to share Buddhism with others, we ourselves grow immensely, we can carry out our human revolution, and transform our karma. Therefore by guiding another individual towards happiness, we also guide ourselves towards happiness. The act of introducing others to Buddhism, which enables us to profoundly benefit both ourselves and others, is the formula of hope for humanity.

At a time when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood, or at a time when a person is at a turning point in doing their human revolution, the negative aspect of life will always appear in some form. This is an unavoidable fact of life! Nichiren Daishonin assures us of this and asks us to transmit it as an axiom or principle of faith so that it is understood by all those who practise.

Taken from the SGI-UK study notes, this encapsulates the meaning of Human Revolution. It beautifully explains the way that self discipline through practice makes us examine our own thoughts and deeds and promotes an inner change by increasing our self awareness.

Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (at least) twice a day, every day may seem a mindless practice, but it enables us to devote our whole lives to changing for the better.

Change Can Make Us Better

Life is made of funny stuffLife is made of funny stuff, isn’t it?

I’m currently going through major changes in my life, in my job, where I live, everything.

Now I have been very careful to scrutinise each and every situation, and make educated guesses at what these changes might encompass.

But we can never be sure of the outcome, no matter how carefully we plan. That’s the excitement that life provides, the not knowing.

Going back over your mistakes, asking yourself painful questions and giving honest answers is a difficult, but cathartic experience.

We’ve all made mistakes in life, some more serious than others, but thinking them through, trying to explain why you made that decision at that point in time, makes you re-examine your own values. In my case, having changed through my Buddhist Practice, it also becomes clear that I would have made different decisions in many cases.

Our history is set in stone, we cannot go back and make those decisions anew. But we can try to make amends, apologise for any hurt we have caused, and, above all, be honest with ourselves and others.

The changes in myself, that I see and feel, the way I view life, and my responsibility for events affecting me and people around me, have come about through my Practice and my study of Nichiren Buddhism.

As I have said before, once you see things in a different light, you cannot undo that change. Nor would I want to, because even though I know I will make other mistakes in the future, I know that those mistakes will be made despite honourable intentions, and with a great deal more Wisdom, Courage and Compassion.

Life Changes With Time

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Just when you think life is going along smoothly, something, or somebody comes along and upsets the apple cart. Sometimes that can be a bad thing, sometimes, it is exactly what you need to get you out of that rut you feel so comfortable following.

If you research Buddhism, you will find, as with Christianity, that there are many schools or sects, believing much the same basic principles, but with their own embellishments or focus.

When I first became a Buddhist, I was rather naive about the different schools and followed the Kadampa tradition practiced at the Shantideva Buddhist centre in Maidenhead, later moving to Reading.

Kadampa Buddhism focuses on the teachings of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and the centre of the practice is concentrated on clearing the mind through meditation. The cause of much unhappiness and suffering is due to desirous attachment to property, people or situations, according to Kelsang Gyatso. The way to remove suffering is therefore to break the links of desirous attachment and accept the principle of impermanence.

This is all very well in an eastern third world country, where possessions are few, life is lived at a different pace and everyone, or at least the majority, hold the same beliefs. Here in the west, where Judaeo Christianity is the predominant religion, Kadampa Buddhism only works if you can remove yourself from the mainstream society and immerse yourself in study within one of their centres.

I also felt that the worship of gods within the temple was wrong. Shakyamuni was a man, he never proclaimed to be, or to be connected with, any deity. So where did all these gods spring from. I believe they are the manifestation of the metaphorical gods of The Lotus Sutra, made real by man’s need for a focus of worship. Not for me, this went against my atheist beliefs and lost the focus of the practice in my eyes.

Over time I drifted away from the practice, and it was only when I was suffering because of the breakdown of my marriage, that I sought Buddhism once again. This time, I was lucky, or fortunate as we would say in Buddhism (no such thing as luck), to find Jason Jarrett’s podcasts, and through that, William Woollard’s The Reluctant Buddhist and Eddy Canfor-Dumas’ The Buddha, Geoff and Me.

Immediately, the sense that my own life would be put back in my own hands, that belief was in the self and one’s ability to achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime, struck a chord. At last, a Practice that worked with real life, that answered questions instead of posing several more. A Practice that has helped me more over the last few years, than anything else has done in the past sixty.

There is a letter from Nichiren Daishonin to the wife of the late Matsuno, which describes how unlikely, and how difficult it is to meet the Practice in a lifetime, it is well worth reading and explains just how lucky I have been to find my faith at long last.

It’s All A Question Of Eggs

It's All A Question Of EggsThere is the temptation, whilst continuing to practice, to wonder whether we will ever become a Buddha or doubt whether Buddhahood even resides within us. With his usual wisdom, Nichiren showed us the truth of the matter in his simple words.

“A bird’s egg contains nothing but liquid, yet by itself this develops into a beak, two eyes, and all the other parts, and the bird soars into the sky.

We, too, are the eggs of ignorance, which are pitiful things, but when nurtured by the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which is like the warmth of the mother bird, we develop the beak of the thirty-two features and the feathers of the eighty characteristics and are free to soar into the skies of the true aspect of all phenomena and the reality of all things.”

~ Nichiren Daishonin

Just Seek Within

Nichiren DaishoninThere is an expansive life-state of profound, secure happiness, that transcends any material or social advantage.

It is called faith; it is called the life-state of Buddhahood.

As Nichiren reminds us:

“It is the heart that is important.”

It is in the heart of faith that Buddhahood resides and boundless and immeasurable happiness shines forth. Happiness is not something located far away.

We must realise that it exists within our own lives. Nichiren Buddhism teaches this and shows us how to attain indestructible happiness.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Capital P For Practice

Capital P For PracticeAs you know, my Buddhist Practice is a way of life. A routine that I go through every day, Gongyo, Daimoku, even writing this blog. But routine is also another word for boring, mundane or even hum-drum, so it’s important to keep in mind why we Practice.

We Practice for several reasons …

  • To raise our life-energy levels …
  • To chant for certain outcomes …
  • To move us along the road to Buddhahood …
  • To give a stable anchor in our lives …

and there are many others, often different for every individual.

As a novice, I find that I can learn a little more each day Let’s face it, Buddhism has been around for well over two thousand years, so there’s plenty to learn about.. I can improve or seek to perfect my Practice and to maintain a more focussed attention to the subject of my chanting.

I look forward to the feeling I get during and after Gongyo. I often find that I am quite warm when I finish chanting and in a really good mood, despite any problems I am facing.

I never cease to be amazed by the effectiveness of chanting either. To start with, the word coincidence came into my mind when I saw results, but not any more. But I do get surprised by the way the Universe solves the problems with which I have asked it to help. Not always the way I expected, and often in better, more subtle ways than I could have imagined.

So my Practice is a pleasure, not a chore. It’s something I enjoy and never something I feel I have to do.

As Nichiren Daishonin said, ‘If you practice something, you must test it’s validity with the results you see’. In other words, if it doesn’t work, stop doing it.

For me, it’s working wonders and I think the World would be a better place if more people were to discover those wonders.

Just Another Day … Almost

Just Another Birthday Birthdays are funny things aren’t they When you are little, they are the best thing next to Christmas, you count down the days and they take ages to arrive.

Then you become a teenager and your life changes almost overnight. Shortly after, one day you are a child, the next you are an adult, and so it goes on.

Certain birthdays are real milestones in life. 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 65, the list goes on. However, 60 isn’t on any list that I subscribe to, so today was really just another day, albeit a very nice one. The last twelve months have been life changing for me, my strengthening faith in Nichiren Buddhism being one of the most important aspects of that.

But now it’s nearly over, and tomorrow will literally be just another day. So it is only left for me to thank all my family and friends for the presents, the cards and the nice greetings on Facebook and the like. I am grateful that I have chalked up another year. When you see the news, every day there are many, many people who don’t. So I should really be most thankful for my good fortune, life in all it’s glory, should never be taken for granted.

I Have A Great Role Model

BuddhaThe purpose for, and the reason behind my Buddhist Practice is to bring me closer to Buddhahood, each and every day.

That is to say, to emulate, as closely as possible, the Buddha himself in the way he was able to see life and all things in a pure clarity.

Siddhārtha Gautama was a man, albeit a prince, who forsaking his life of comfort and position, went out into the world to meditate on the causes of, and ways to reduce or remove, the suffering of life.

In Nichiren Buddhism we learn about the Ten Worlds, from Hell to Buddhahood.

The Buddha state originates from the very depths of life, called the amala consciousness, meaning the fundamentally pure life force or consciousness. The function of the Buddha state is to bring out the positive side of the other nine worlds.

This principle of the Ten Worlds shows that the Buddha state is a naturally occurring condition of life in every living being. The purpose of Buddhist practice is to enable us to cause the Buddha state to appear; to have it working strongly in us.

In Nichiren Buddhism, therefore, the Buddha is not some perfect, ideal being, but is rather an ordinary person living in rhythm with the law of the universe, taking wise, courageous and compassionate action for the benefit of others, through the functioning of the nine worlds in daily life.

The more I practice, the closer I come to Buddhahood, a very positive thought for today.

I’m Bomb Proof

I'm Bomb ProofThe true victors in life are those who, having endured repeated challenges and setbacks, have sent the roots of their spiritual being to such a depth, that nothing can ever shake them loose.

By practicing Nichiren Buddhism, with all our heart and mind, on a daily basis, can allow us to grow our own spiritual roots to a great depth. Whilst our practice takes us along the road to enlightenment, this is a powerful side-effect that makes us able to defeat anything that life throws at us.

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