Oct 13, 2014

Sep 18, 2014

Making a Change in One's Heart

"The Lotus Sutra has the drama of fighting for justice against evil. It has a warmth that comforts the weary. It has a vibrant, pulsing courage that drives away fear. It has a chorus of joy at attaining absolute freedom throughout past, present and future......
It offers unsurpassed lessons on psychology , the workings of the human heart; lessons on life; lessons on happiness; and lessons on peace. It maps out the basic rules for good health. It awakens us to the universal truth that a change on one's heart can transform everything"

(The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, p. 14).

Daisaku Ikeda
Living Buddhism -Nov/Dec 2006

Aug 28, 2014

The Heart is Most Important

The human heart is sensitive, multifaceted and rich; it has the capacity for magnificent achievement. For that very reason, the heart often undergoes great suffering and torment, and can become trapped in an endless, downward spiral. Will we transmigrate forever along the paths of evil, or can we succeed in directing our lives into an orbit of good? As evidenced in many of his writings, Nichiren repeatedly stresses the crucial importance of life, the potential resides for dramatic shifts from evil to good or good to evil. That is why Nichiren's teaching of enlightenment can be viewed as a process that begins with inner change. In other words, through the power of faith, we can defeat the negative functions inside of us that are governed by the fundamental darkness in all human hearts and manifest the positive functions of life that are one with Dharma nature- our Buddhahood.

Living Buddhism- Sept- Oct 2006

Aug 18, 2014

Aug 4, 2014

Viewing Illness as an Opportunity

"Buddhism views illness as an opportunity to attain a higher, nobler state of life. It teaches that, instead of agonizing over a serious disease or despairing  of ever overcoming it, we should use illness as a means to build a strong, compassionate self, which in turn will make it possible for us to be truly victorious. This is what Nichiren meant when he stated, 'Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way'"

(Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, p. 53).

Jul 27, 2014

What is Compassion?

There is a part of us that thinks first of ourselves, and only then of others. It's innate and not necessarily bad. But when self-interest becomes a dominant force, we become insensitive to others and even cause them harm. While people sometimes may have to act out self -interest to protect themselves. Most human problems require cooperation and care from or for others to solve. Buddhism identifies compassion as key to solving most human suffering.

The Chinese Buddhist term for compassion, pronounced jihi in Japanese, comprises two characters. The first ji, comes from the Sanskrit word maitri, meaning "to give happiness," and the second, hi, from Sanskrit karuna, meaning "to remove suffering," Together they mean to relieve people of suffering and give them happiness.

This Buddhist compassion is an expression of the Buddha or Bodhisattva nature innate in all people. Nichiren Daishonin writes: "Even a heartless villain loves his wife and children. He too has the portion of the Bodhisattva world within him. " (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 358). Everyone has the potential of a Bodhisattva-to act with compassion toward another. Naturally, kindness that does not empower people may have little lasting value. But in the Buddhist view, compassion means to lead people to root out the cause of misery in their lives and to create happiness for themselves.

A natural example of compassion is seen in the actions of a mother toward her child. A mother will do anything toward her child. A mother will do anyyhting she can to protect her child, even if it means braving flames or flood.

Nichiren wrote, "I, Nichiren, am sovereign, teacher and father and mother to all people of Japan" (WND-I, 287). He made this statement to convey his state of life as the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, capable of embracing all people with the compassion of a parent.

Yet, how do those of us who sometimes lose patience even with our own children develop such compassion? The first step is to expose our lives to the state of compassion manifested by the Buddha. When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with faith in the Gohonzon, which embodies the compassionate life-state of Buddhahood, we can stimulate and bring forth the source of boundless compassion within us. 

Also, any successful parent or teacher knows the importance of seeing things from the child's perspective. Such people transcend divisions of self and other to view the sufferings and joys of their own children or students as their own. Constant is their concern for the children. The Nobel Prize winning French author Andre Gide puts it clearly: "True kindness presupposes the faculty of imaging as one's own suffering and joys of others."

Compassion therefore includes the willingness to know the sufferings and concerns of others. Also, while we try to recognize their strengths, we can come to appreciate and feel closer to them, and our concern for their well-being naturally increases.

Buddhism involves practice for self and for others. Our thoughts for others' well-being expressed in our daily prayer allows us transcend self centered impulses, and illuminate the fundamental darkness that is the source of suffering with the light of our innate Buddhahood.

-April 2000/Living Buddhism

Jul 15, 2014

Encouragement about Relationships

Love by zhornik

The agonies of love, are many and varied. Each person has his or her own character and personality, background and circumstances. No set rule applies equally to everyone. In addition, everyone is perfectly free to fall in love or be attracted to someone. Whom a person dates is also a matter of personal choice. Essentially, no one has any right to meddle in your private affairs. As one who has many years of experience, however, I want to stress at the outset how important it is to not lose sight of pursuing your own personal development.

Love should be a force that helps expand your lives and bring forth your innate potential with a fresh and dynamic vitality. That is the ideal but, as the saying "love is blind" illustrates, people often lose all objectivity when they fall in love.

If you are neglecting the things you should be doing, forgetting your purpose in life because of the relationship you're in, then you're on the wrong path. A healthy relationship is one in which two people encourage each others hopes and dreams. A relationship should be a source of inspiration, invigoration and hope. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), one of the greatest Western poets, had as his source of inspiration a young woman named Beatrice, whom he loved from afar since childhood. One day, after years spent apart, the eighteen year old Dante ran into her again on the street. He later composed a poem about his joy at that encounter, titled "Revitalization." In his struggle to convey his feelings for this young woman, he created  a new poetic form. Without a doubt, Beatrice unlocked Dante's artistic potential.

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti titled "Beata Beatrix" 1872, using the image of his beloved late wife Elizabeth Siddal as the symbolic embodiment of the death of Beatrice from the "Vita Nuova" by the poet Dante

She would remain, however, an unrequited love, for she married another man and then died at an early age. But Dante never ceased loving her. Ultimately, that love enabled him to strengthen, elevate and deepen the capacity of his heart into something truly noble and sublime. In his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, Dante depicts Beatrice as a gentle, benevolent being who guides him to Heaven.

Of course, Dante lived in a different age and different country from us. But I think many things are to be learned from this great poet who stayed true to his feelings, whether they were reciprocated or not, and transformed them into his guiding inspiration in his life. I truly believe that love must be a positive impetus for our lives, the driving force that rouses us to live courageously.

There are many views on love as there are people. So don't think we can find a blanket policy on love that will win everyone's consensus. Love is a complex matter that reflects each person's attitude and philosophy toward life. That is why I believe people shouldn't get involved in relationships lightly.  

The late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai and his wife, Madame Deng Yingchao, were admired far and wide as a model couple. Though sadly both have died, they always treated my wife and me warmly. When her husband died, Madame Deng placed the words Zhou Enhai, comrade in arms next to his coffin. "comrade in arms"- what profound feelings were infused in that. It speaks volumes about their mutual commitment, the respect that had for each other as comrade, and their side by side struggle for the realization of a great goal. Perhaps for example this will offer those of you who are contemplating love something to think about.

Rather than becoming so love struck that you create a world where only the two of you exist, it is much healthier to learn from those aspects of your partner that you respect and admire and continue to make efforts to improve and develop yourself. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, once wrote, "Love us not two people gazing at each other, but two people looking ahead in the same direction." It follows then that relationships last longer when both partners share similar values and beliefs.

Please don't succumb to the view that love is the be-all and end-all, deluding yourselves that as long as you are in love, nothing else matters. Nor, I hope, nothing else matters.. Nor, I hope, will you buy into the misguided notion that sinking ever deeper into a painful and destructive relationship is somehow cool.

All too often, when a relationship ends, the great passion it once inspired seems nothing more than an illusion. The things learned through studying, on the other hand, are much more permanent. It is important, therefore, that you never extinguish the flame of your intellectual curiosity.

It is demeaning to constantly seek your partner's approval. Such relationships are bereft of real caring, depth ot even love. For those of you who find yourselves in relationships where you are not treated the way your heart says you should be. I hope you will have the courage and dignity to decide that you are better off risking the scorn of your partner than enduring unhappiness with him or her.

Real love is not two people clinging to each other; it can only be fostered between two strong people secure in their individuality. A shallow person will have only shallow relationships. If you want to experience real love, it is important to first sincerely develop a strong self-identity.
True love is not about doing whatever the other person wants you to do or pretending you are something you're not. If someone genuinely loves you, he or she will not force you to do anything against your will nor embroil you in some dangerous activity.

No matter how much you may appear to be enjoying yourselves now, or how serious you think you are about your relationship, if you allow your love life to consume all your time and energy to the detriment of your growth, then you're just playing a game. And if you're playing games, then your life will just be that, a game.
Regardless of how large a number is, if multiplied by zero, it will inevitably come to zero. To have a relationship that wipes out the value in your life is truly sad.

You are only letting yourselves down if you succumb to unhealthy obsessions in your youth or are so blinded by love that you can't see anything else. No matter what, you must always do your best to live courageously. You mustn't be weak-hearted. Youth is a time for advancing bravely into the future. You must not veer off course or fall behind or hide in the shadows.

-from Discussions on Youth, vol.1, pp, 113-35
Living Buddhism, Mar-Apr 2006