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.

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.

On Tranquillity

On TranquillitySometimes the World of Tranquillity can be a true blessing, a lull after a period of intense effort.

At other times it can be like the dying notes of a moving piece of music, the echoes of the most magnificent firework display.

Maybe the biggest difference between the two is whether you wished for Tranquillity or not.

If you do wish for it, Tranquillity can be the most restful of time, if not it can be as quiet as the grave, peaceful but not something which you might actively desire.

If you find yourself becalmed in a world of Tranquillity, chanting will raise your life-state and get the energies flowing again.

Make A Splash

Make A SplashOne of the principles of Nichiren Buddhism concerns the Oneness of Self and the Environment and how that connection affects all of us in ways we sometimes fail to grasp.

If you drop a pebble, no matter how small, into a pond, the ripples generated spread out in all directions and interact with everything in their path.

This principle states that there is a connection between the person and others around him or her. It is therefore clear that changes in our life-state, the way we relate or react to others and changes due to our Practice will affect those whose lives we interact with.

Some of these effects are very obvious. If we walk around with a happy demeanour, we find that people are more likely to be pleasant towards us. If, on the other hand, we walk around in a bad mood, with a scowl on our face, we find that people are less friendly and may try to avoid us completely.

Ok, so no rocket science there then, but there are more subtle ways in which changes can be felt. In my own case, my Practice has allowed me to stabilise my life-state, generally I am now more often in higher Worlds (see The Ten Worlds) than lower ones. The result of that is that I am better placed to create value, for myself and those around me.

My Practice has changed me and those changes are affecting others. That’s why it is so important for me to ensure that as these changes take place, my Wisdom, Courage and Compassion increases too, so I can make sure the changes are all good ones.

Enjoy that brief spell of sunshine …

Enjoy that brief spell of sunshine on an otherwise rainy dayEvery day we have highs and lows, wins and losses, good things happen, bad things happen, every single day.

Problems are an everyday reality, they are part of life and ignoring them will never make them go away.

So focus on what’s good, what’s going right, enjoy that brief spell of sunshine on an otherwise rainy day.

Smile, laugh when you can, and always focus on the positives.

Make the most of every minute, you will never have the opportunity to use that minute again, so don’t waste it.

Make causes today, to make tomorrow better and never give in to the inevitable resistance that you feel when you are nearing your goal.

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, never fear the truth, use the Wisdom, Courage and Compassion, we all possess, to help others to be positive, it will increase your own life-energy as you encourage them to increase theirs.

Get On With Life

Don't Just Sit ThereA life that is lived without purpose or focus, the kind in which one never discovers the reason why one was born, is joyless and lacklustre. To simply live, eat, sleep and die without any real sense of purpose, surely represents a life pervaded by the life-state of Tranquillity or Animality.

On the other hand, to do, to create or to contribute something that benefits others, society or ourselves and to dedicate ourselves for as long as we live, to that challenge, is a life of true satisfaction, and more importantly, a life of value.

To live life with purpose through Buddhist principles is a humanistic and meritorious way to live, so don’t just sit there, get on with life !!!

Exalted Forms Of Existence

Forms Of Renewable EnergyWhen we practice gongyo and chant daimoku before the Gohonzon, the good and evil capacities of our lives begin to function as the exalted form of fundamental existence.

Lives that are full of the pain of Hell, lives that are in the world of Hunger, lives warped by the world of Anger – such lives too begin to move in the direction of creating their own personal happiness and value.

Lives being pulled toward misfortune and unhappiness are redirected and pulled in the opposite direction, toward fortune and happiness, when we make the Mystic Law our base.

Chant daimoku with all your heart, chant whenever you feel downcast, whenever you feel listless or lacking in focus.

Chanting daimoku connects us directly to chi, the Universal energy, the ultimate renewable green energy, so chant and raise your life-state, your life-energy and put your life back on track.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Through Different Eyes

Through Different EyesDo you remember the day you mastered the art of riding a bicycle? Of course you do. For me, it was the culmination of a rather lengthy, and very frustrating process, and but for the perseverance  of my father, I might never have learned at all.

I just couldn’t seem to get it. It looked so simple, but the harder I tried, the worse I got. Then suddenly it clicked, I had it nailed, and from that day on I have been able to ride a bike.

Ok, so it’s no huge revelation, but I think learning about Buddhism is a bit like learning to ride a bike.

As you learn, about The Oneness of Self and the Universe, about Karma, about Life-Energy or The Ten Worlds, you also learn to see yourself, life and the Universe in a different way. And just in the way that having learned to ride a bicycle, you never unlearn the skill, once you learn to see the world through different eyes, you never unlearn that either.

Deep in my heart, I know that I am different for having Buddhism at the centre of my life. Some people have noticed that change, others ask what has changed and how I know that it’s a real change, not just a fad, or ‘a phase I’m going through’.

Well as I say, once you see the world differently, you just can’t un-see it that way. It’s a wonderful change, and I’m very confident, not to say delighted, that it’s a permanent change.

Rough Or Smooth, It’s Covered

Rough & SmoothYou know the saying about taking the rough with the smooth? Well life generally consists of a mixture of good times and bad times, happiness and sadness, health as well as sickness. In general, it is the ratio of these opposites that makes us feel that life is going well, or going badly.

Buddhism teaches us that human life is endowed simultaneously with both good and evil. The human mind is interpreted as partaking of ten different conditions, or states, the Ten Worlds, including, at one end of the scale, hell, which is filled with suffering; hunger, dominated by greed; and animality, characterized by fear of the strong and contempt for the weak.

At the other end are the worlds of Bodhisattva and Buddhahood – states of mind in which people strive to help others by eliminating suffering and imparting happiness. Buddhism further teaches us that it is the nature of life for good and evil to be essentially inseparable.

As we have seen previously, all ten worlds contain, and are contained within the other worlds. This explains how we can be flying high one second and down in the dumps the next, generally at the whim of some external cause.

By realising that the worlds are so interconnected, we can learn to exercise more control over our changing life-states, or mood swings as they are commonly known. The result of greater self-awareness, brought about by the self-improvement that our practice brings, is that we can maintain a more stable, happier state of mind, and isn’t that the whole point?

Just Another Brick In The Wall

Looking At A WallWith ever increasing mindfulness, our own feelings will change as we reflect on the causes for those feelings.

We know that acting in haste, motivated by anger, disappointment or desperation will result in the causes of unwanted effects.

So when you encounter what appears to be an insurmountable challenge, a wall if you will, you should tell yourself, “Since there is a wall here, a wide open expanse must lie on the other side.”

Rather than becoming discouraged, you should realise that the very fact you are encountering this wall is actual proof of the progress that you have made so far.

So if you find yourself facing such a wall, prepare to strive with all your heart, and you will surely find a way to get to the other side.

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