You Make Your Dreams Come True

Wisdom, Courage and CompassionThere are some things in life that are worth the suffering involved in attaining them. Your dreams are included, if not top of that list.

It has been said that the things that come easily are never worth as much as those that take time and effort. Think back to your own achievements, I’m sure you will see that the things that bring the most pride and enjoyment are the ones that took the most work to come to fruition.

So let’s examine just what qualities we will need in order to succeed.

In the first place it may well take a great deal of Courage. The Courage to persist under difficult conditions, to make difficult decisions. Often we have to make sacrifices to achieve the greater goal and that also takes Courage. Sometimes we might be tempted to give in, when the pain seems to be too great. The Courage to go on, to reach that goal, will repay us many times over when we succeed.

To ensure that you are making the right decisions along the way will take Wisdom. Maybe we make mistakes and Wisdom is exhibited in the way we learn from those mistakes. At other times the Wisdom is apparent in the way we take the hardest option for the right reason.

Finally we need to have Compassion. There will be times when we have to live through short term pain for long term gain, and Compassion for ourselves and for the others involved will make the process so much easier for everyone to bear.

I don’t need to cite any examples, we have all got life experiences that illuminate the process very clearly. I wish you all the Wisdom, Courage and Compassion to aim for, and attain your own dreams. Remember it can all be made easier by following the Buddhist principle of Kyo Chi Gyo I, it is the recipe for success.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Use All Your Courage

Use All Your CourageWe all have choices to make in life. Everything from whether to take tea or coffee to the major life-changing decisions regarding money, relationships, children and careers.

Whatever the choice you have to make, make it with wisdom, courage and compassion.

If you summon your courage to challenge something, you will never regret it. It would be so sad to spend your life wishing, “If only I had a little more courage.”

Whatever the outcome, the important thing is to take a step forward on the path that you believe is right.

Do not worry too much about what others may think. It is your life. Be true to yourself.

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.

Winning, But With The Right Goals

Winning, But With The Right GoalsI had a resounding victory today, and my future will not be the same for it. But we must all take care to set the right goals for ourselves.

Set your goals with care. Whether they are big or small, work towards realising them.

You must be serious and dedicated to your goals – you will never get anywhere if you set them on a whim, or just treat them like a joke.

An earnest, dedicated spirit shines like a diamond and moves the hearts of people. That is because a brilliant flame burns within.

If we are sincere, people will understand our intentions, and our positive qualities will shine forth. It is pointless and destructive to be overly conscious about outward appearances.

As the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote,

“How may one get to know oneself?

Never by contemplation, only indeed by action

Seek to do your duty, and you will know at once how it is with you”

Goals are at the heart of our success, in fact they are the Kyo, and indeed the very basis of Kyo Chi Gyo I. Set your goals with care, and once they are set, aim for them with vigour passion and determination in equal measure.

The 1500th Post Has Arrived

Another milestone on my path to BuddhahoodBlogging is a labour of love, fun at times, less so at others and rather reminiscent of my Buddhist Practice.

I’m not saying that the Practice itself is a chore, but take today as an example. I seem to have contracted this bug that’s been going round for a few weeks, so chanting while trying not to cough, and concentrating while feeling less that 100%, was not as easy as usual.

So the fifteen hundredth post is here, and it marks another milestone on my path to Buddhahood. I started the blog as a record of that path and I’ve enjoyed revealing the rough and the smooth with you all.

Thank you to all those people who have commented on the posts and I look forward to writing the next couple of hundred. Who knows where we will all be then, geographically or spiritually.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

On Inner Happiness

develop within ourselves a brilliant inner palaceSuch things as money, fame, and material possessions offer a fleeting satisfaction, something that can be called relative happiness.

However, when we transform our lives internally, when we develop within ourselves a brilliant inner palace, then we can be said to have established absolute happiness.

If we develop a state of mind as vast and resplendent as a magnificent palace, then nothing—no matter where we go or what we may encounter in life-can undermine or destroy our happiness.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

A Pain In The Purbecks

In The SaddleFour of us set off from Wimborne this morning on a fifty mile bimble around Dorset.

Now cycling in a group is fun, we work for each other and try, where possible, to warn the others about the frequent and numerous potholes along the way.

If you ride a bike on UK roads, you’ll know how lovely it can be to find yourself on a stretch of nice smooth new tarmac. The lumps and bumps of our older repaired roads really can rattle your bones, so the new surface is a real treat.

Life is like that too. It’s the lumps and bumps of everyday life that make you realise just how comfortable the smooth untroubled times are. But without the rough times, we would never recognise the comparison and enjoy the easier times all the more.

We all know that as we move through life, it is impossible to stay on the smooth untroubled path. The bumpy times are a simple fact, just as they are out on the road. So when they come along, just be determined, hold on tight, keep pedalling and look forward to the smoother times ahead.

Here’s a record of how we did today … Click Here

What Is …

What Is PoetryRemember the scene in the movie Dead Poets Society, where Mr Keating is introducing the concept of poetry to the class?

He cites from the fictional weighty tome “Understanding Poetry”, by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. which tries to describe a formula for evaluating poetry in pseudo-scientific terms:

To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme and figures of speech, then ask two questions:

1) How artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered and

2) How important is that objective?

Question 1 rates the poem’s perfection; Question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the poem’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter.

If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.

A sonnet by Byron might score high on the vertical but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will, so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.

Of course Mr Keating tears the theory to shreds and encourages the boys to rip the whole section out of the book, an action that comes back to haunt him later in the film.

But what is poetry, what is love? Certainly it appears to have a slightly different meaning to each and every one of us.

Here are my thoughts on poetry:

What is poetry?

What is poetry?
A simple question
But I think you’ll find
That the meaning is different
To each person asked
And it’s more of a state of one’s mind

What is poetry?
A stupid question
When asked out of the blue
‘Cos the meaning is different
So what’s this thing to me
May be that thing to you

What is poetry?
A searching question
‘Cos it holds our passions and fears
It can capture just an instant
And at any time later
Remind us of joy or tears

What is poetry?
What a question

You decide …

So what is love? I don’t think I’m even going to try to quantify or qualify that one.

A More Beautiful Being

A More Beautiful BeingSelf awareness, the realisation of who, or what you really are, comes to some people with age, but for me, it came at a point in life where I was at my all time low.

Seeing my true reflection in the mirror was a long and painful process, there’s no joy in realising that you are someone you don’t really like, but it lead me to a turning point that has allowed me to change for the better.

It is said ‘that we hate in others, what we refuse to see in ourselves’ and I suddenly understood what that meant. Things that annoy us about other people, are sometimes the very things in us that annoy others. Being honest enough with ourselves, to admit our failings or less attractive traits, can be the start of a process of self improvement.

In Nichiren Buddhism we refer to that process as Human Revolution, the nurturing and growth of self improvement through the acquisition of wisdom, courage and compassion. It is achieved, over time, through a determined adherence to our practice and continued learning.

So next time, before you start criticising others, take a long, hard and honest look in that mirror, and have the courage to see the faults you are so desperate to hide from yourself.

It will be a painful process, but you will emerge on the other side, like a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, a better and more beautiful being for doing it.

Room To Grow

Room To GrowWe can all be guilty of trying to hold things, or people, too close to us. This may be for a number of reasons, fear of losing them probably being the most common.

With possessions we may only cause ourselves problems, but with people, the act of holding them close, may actually have the effect of pushing them away.

We must learn to give people the room to grow, to learn, to blossom and the chance to be themselves, otherwise we may lose them forever.

Nichiren writes:

“Myoho-renge-kyo is the Buddha nature of all living beings…. The Buddha nature that all these beings possess is called by the name Myoho-renge-kyo”
(wnd, 131).

“Regarding how to manifest one’s innate Buddha nature, Nichiren explains: “When we revere Myoho-renge-kyo inherent in our own life as the object of devotion, the Buddha nature within us is summoned forth and manifested by our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what is meant by ‘Buddha.’ To illustrate, when a caged bird sings, birds who are flying in the sky are thereby summoned and gather around, and when the birds flying in the sky gather around, the bird in the cage strives to get out. When with our mouths we chant the Mystic Law, our Buddha nature, being summoned, will invariably emerge”
(wnd, 887).

In Nichiren’s metaphor, our innate Buddha nature, whose name is Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, is a bird trapped in the cage of ignorance. In other words, our deluded minds create this cage that imprisons our Buddha nature. But when we chant Nam myoho renge kyo to the Gohonzon, which expresses Nichiren’s enlightened life and the potential of all people, our dormant Buddha nature becomes activated.

The singing of the caged bird is our chanting, and the birds flying in the sky are the Buddha nature in our environment, particularly as it is expressed in the Gohonzon. Through our chanting, the Buddha nature within our lives and the Buddha nature inherent in the universe begin their dynamic interaction.

For Nichiren’s metaphor to work, however, it is necessary for the caged bird to recognize the birds in the sky as being its own kind. In other words, when we pray to the Gohonzon, rather than thinking of it as an external power or deity, we must think of it as the mirror image of our own Buddha nature. If the caged bird thinks of itself as an elephant, it is unlikely to give the slightest thought to flying.

Nichiren Buddhism clarifies that the teaching of the Buddha nature is a teaching of faith and practice. All people have it, but not many can believe in it. Furthermore, some of those who believe in their Buddha nature may not practice to manifest it, erroneously thinking-I’m already a Buddha, so I don’t have to do anything. One’s faith in the Buddha nature must be expressed in one’s actions to manifest it.

Those who see the universal Buddha nature of oneself and others, and work to awaken it in all people are already Buddhas, for such actions belong to none other than a Buddha. As we cultivate our inherent Buddha nature through our conviction and actions to manifest it no matter our circumstances, we begin to see it and experience it. In our everyday lives, seeing may be believing. But in the world of Buddhism, believing in the Buddha nature is the first step toward seeing it.

(from Living Buddhism – February 2005)

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