On Observation

TranquillityThe advent of each day brings us joys and challenges, each of which have the ability to alter our life-state in some way. Joys tend to raise our life-state, challenges may lower it if we let them, and therein lies the conundrum. We need to be vigilant, to observe our life-state from moment to moment, but in doing so, we affect that life-state.

Just as in quantum physics, the mere act of observation affects the phenomenon being observed, self observation of our life-state can, and most likely will affect it too. Imagine a situation where you become angry because something has not gone the way you would like. Initially you may be reacting instinctively, in an animalistic fashion. But as soon as you realise that you are reacting in such a manner, in other words, you observe your life-state, there is a large chance that you will change to that of a more calm and reflective mood, even into a state of tranquility.

So we have this little test for ourselves. We must be, as far as possible, aware of our life-state. Ideally we want to be in one of the higher states, not grubbing around in the worlds of Hell, Hunger, Animality or Anger, but in Learning, Realisation, Bodhisattva or even Buddhahood. The act of testing can help us raise our life-state through awareness, which is a good thing. But be warned, when the results come back, and you find you are in one of the lower worlds, that can be a sobering moment, when you realise that you are not as far along the path to enlightenment as you would like to be.

An All Round Better Way

Stop That Finger PointingWhen you become submerged in difficult situations, when the way forward looks bleak and less than inviting, it can be tempting to start pointing a finger at others to lay the blame at their door.

But there is an old Buddhist saying about pointing. When you point, one finger points out, away from you, towards the one you are blaming.

But look at your hand, three fingers are pointing back, at you, towards the person who is also to blame. Meaning that for each inference you point at others, three will be pointed back at you. But there is another way.

If you are honest with yourself, really, truly honest, and you examine the situation from all angles, you will almost certainly find that you are indeed responsible for making some of the causes that, in conjunction with another or others, has contributed to the outcome in which you find yourself.

Rather than trying to apportion blame, take responsibility for your own mistakes, you will find it a very cathartic experience, I know, I’ve been there. The unsurprising side effect is that it will also change the way in which others perceive you. They will recognise the Wisdom, Courage and Compassion in your new found attitude, and will respect you for all it represents.

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.

Perfect, Just As You Are

Flowers Of HappinessYour happiness and victory in life hinge on whether you can grasp, while you are still young, the fact that happiness lies within.

That’s why there is no need for you to compare yourselves to others but instead strive powerfully and cheerfully to develop your state of life, aiming to improve yourselves each day.

From that struggle will bloom noble flowers of mission, flowers of happiness that are yours and yours alone. Shine as you are, live true to yourselves, and advance in your own unique way.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

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.

Carry On Reading

Carry On ReadingSo few of us manage to read enough these days, particularly books of real substance, we are besotted with instant web text.

Reading is a dialogue with ourselves, it is self-reflection, which cultivates profound humanity. Reading is essential to our self development.

It expands and enriches the personality like a seed that germinates after a long time and sends forth a multitude of blossom-laden branches.

People who can say of a book ‘this changed my life’ truly understand the meaning of inner happiness. Reading that sparks inner revolution is urgently needed to help us escape drowning in the rapidly advancing information society.

Reading is far more than simple intellectual ornamentation, it is a battle for the establishment and preservation of the self, a ceaseless challenge that keeps us young and vigorous.

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

About Illusion

About Illusion - What do you really see?We are weird creatures aren’t we? We see the world through amazing eyes, and still we manage to put our own spin on reality. Let true reality find its way into your consciousness.

Illusion about the true nature of existence is literally illusion about the nature of one’s own life. This is the fundamental source of all illusions.

If we are ignorant about the nature of our own existence, then we will be ignorant about the nature of other people’s lives too.

On the other hand, when our lives are free from illusion, we perceive the treasure that shines resplendent in all people. in all beings.

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