Dec 12, 2016

Top 50 Buddhist Blogs

I am delighted and honored to announced that this blog has been selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 50 Buddhist Blogs on the web! 
We were ranked 35th out of 50!
Thank you!

This is the most comprehensive list of best Buddhist blogs on the internet.

These blogs are ranked based on following criteria
  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Oct 27, 2016

Relationships and How to Have Happy Ones

Hell in relationships comes from trying to change the behavior of anyone other than yourself. When we exercise self-control, beginning with becoming happy within ourselves, we have the ability to move the hearts of others. It is only when we stop trying to control others that we gain the power to actually influence them. For example, have you ever found yourself saying "You're making me angry – stop doing that" to people whose behavior disturbs or frustrates you? The implication of that statement, "You're making me angry", is that somehow you don't have control of your anger, they do. And since you have ceded them the control and power, it is their behavior that must change if your anger is to be eliminated. But, of course, you don't control their behavior, so the more you try to do so, the angrier you get.

Not that all anger is bad. There are, of course, real situations of injustice in which anger is appropriate. Even in such cases, however, self-control is the key to influencing change. Buddhism teaches us that in response to any situation, depending on the choices we make, we find ourselves in one of the Ten Worlds: Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Tranquility, Rapture, Learning, Realization, Bodhisattva or Buddhahood. Recognizing that we are choosing and taking responsibility for those choices empowers us to choose our life state, It give us our control back.

The Downside of Expectations

Expectations are important. Research indicates that children develop only as far as the expectations of the adults around them. But expectations can also destroy good relationships. We have expectations of other people. We expect them to be good husbands, good wives, good children, good friends, good bosses and so on. These expectations are sometimes higher than our expectations of ourselves.

While every situations is unique, there is at least one common but subtle delusion at work here, a delusion that is a challenge to all of us in our relationships with significant others, family, friends. The problem is that although we are motivated by the best intentions, the other person often hears from us a steady stream of criticism and disappointment. This is not encouraging, and in spite of the love in our hearts, the other person becomes unresponsive, even rebellious. The problem here is that although the heart is in the right place, we lack wisdom. Motivated by love but lacking wisdom, we get a response to our efforts that is the opposite of what we expected. Once this downward trend begins, unfortunately, it is difficult to reverse.

People do not respond well to criticism and negativity. Does that mean we simply have to settle for something less? No, it means, once again, that we're trying to change the wrong person. If we want people to do more, we need to praise and appreciate what they are already doing for us. Pay attention to the positives, and not what you feel is missing. People love appreciation and will try very hard to get it. Making these two the basis of all your relationships can have a powerful and encouraging influence. For the gardener of relationships, they are like sunlight and water. People will strive and thrive when they are praised and appreciated.

Criticism and disappointment create a dark environment, a garden where relationships cannot thrive. It is a major delusion to think that others will be motivated by criticism. Nichiren wrote: "When praised, one does not consider his personal risk, and when criticized, he can recklessly cause his own ruin. Such is the way of common mortals."

In any relationship, we must keep our power, developing a strong self-identity and the ability to be happy on the inside. Standing alone upon the firm foundation of our own happiness, we can then seek out and nurture contributive, sharing relationships, relationships in which we give our love freely without attachments and expectations. We are not needy of the other. Nor are we addicted to the other. A relationship between two such people brings a deep and abiding love.
Before going out to look for a contributive partner, we must first strive to develop that ability within ourselves. Only then will it be possible to draw forth and nurture the same quality in others.

Happiness is not something that someone else can give us.

Jul 31, 2016

Peace – The Foundation for Lasting Human Happiness
Poem by Daisaku Ikeda

“To lead hope-filled lives, we need peace.
To lead happy lives, we must prevent war at all costs.
The purpose of life is to become happy.
The purpose of life is to fight against
and triumph over the darkness of misery.
Those who inflict pain and suffering on other
are wretched inside. Those who
win over themselves are happy.
I, too, advance with hope in my heart.
I advance with joy and vigor.
I will not be defeated!
I will not give up!
There is something vaster
than the wide open sky –
and that is, my life.
There is something deeper
than the fathomless sea –
and that is, your life.

There is something more precious
than all the treasures of the
universe –and that is, our lives.
That is why we must not condone
unscrupulous actions that harm
life;we must fight resolutely against
the devilish forces that seek
to destroy life.
Nothing is more barbarous than war
Nothing is more cruel.
How many tears
have mothers had to weep?
How many precious seasons of
youth have been ruined?
How much happy laughter of
children has been stifled?
Change history! Move the age!
Bring the world together!
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Now is the time to vigorously sing
a song of the springtime of peace.
The deeper the darkness,
the closer the dawn.

Now is the time to sound the bell
heralding the dawn of peace with all our might.
There is a path that birds follow
as they fly through the sky.
There is a path that fish follow
as they swim through the sea.
There is a path that the stars follow
as they travels the heavens.
And there is a path of principle
that human beings should follow.
This is none other than the path of peace.
Let’s begin with what we can do.
Let’s move forward, even if just an inch.
Let’s climb that mountain,
and cross this river!
Let’s dash over those fields
and traverse that hill!
Let’s race to that town
and talk with our friends!
We are ever filled with bring confidence
that wonderful like-minded friends
will someday follow in our footsteps!
If you have no hope, create some.
If the world around you is dark
be the sun that illuminates all.

Happiness is not something we attain
by chasing after it.
Happiness comes to those who live with
courage and tenacity.
Similarly, peace will come to human beings
when they lead lives
of wisdom and principle.
Peace is not something far away.
Peace is caring for and valuing
a single individual.
It is bringing joy, not suffering,
to our mother. It is reaching out
to those who are different from
us.It is having the wisdom
to reconcile after an argument.
And it is protecting our beautiful natural world.
It is fostering a rich culture.
It is refusing to build our happiness
on the misfortune of other.
It is sharing others’ joys and sufferings.

Those who can bring happiness to their friends
are experts in the art of happiness.
Those who can bring peace to their society
are emissaries of peace.
Refusing to tolerate bullying is part of the struggle for peace.
Refusing to tolerate discrimination
is part of the struggle for peace.
Refusing to tolerate lies and slanders
is part of the struggle for peace.
Refusing to tolerate the arrogance
of the powerful is part of the struggle for peace.
Absolutely and utterly refusing to
tolerate violence in any form –
that is the essence of the struggle for peace.
Do no remain silent.
Speak out courageously.
Peace spreads where voices resound in song.
Peace depends through friendly dialogue .
Peace endures when we are willing to learn
from each other. The struggle between happiness
and unhappiness is the story of human existence.

The struggle between peace and
war is the story of the human race.
And the power of truth and
justice for eternal victory
resides within us.
A wise person once said:
“When in doubt, choose the more challenging course!”
Hardships makes us strong.
Problems give birth to wisdom.
Sorrows cultivate compassion for others.
Those who suffering the most
can become the happiest.
The flowers are smiling.
Gentle breezes are singing.
The moon is watching over us.
The vibrant energy of a strong,
true spirit befriends the entire universe,
transforming everything into an ally.
Children of the world!
The world is one.
We are all brothers and sisters
in a single family; let’s live together
harmoniously and in peace.

Come, let’s make our way towards the future.
Let’s share the hand of the person
next to us. Let’s look into their eyes and share
honest dialogue. Let’s sing a joyous song together.
That’s the first great step towards
peace. Let’s build a land of peace.
Let’s connect with others
who love peace.
is the brilliant light that humanity seeks.
Peace is the sure path to a life of true humanity
and dignity.
Peace! here we find the foundation
for lasting human happiness
and the joy of true human victory.”

Jul 14, 2016

The Parable of the Impoverished Son

Lotus Sutra Chapter 4, 
Belief and Understanding

Once a boy ran away from home and wandered for many years becoming more and more poor and confused.
The boy’s father loved his son very much, but had no idea where to find him. As time went on, the father became very rich.

Fifty years passed. One day, the son showed up at his father's estate. He did not know whose grand home this was, but wondered if he could find a job there. The father recognized his son, and set messengers to greet him. The father was overjoyed that his son had returned. 
But the son misunderstood. He thought the messengers were trying to arrest him for doing something wrong.
The father saw his son’s fear and confusion. He realized his son was not ready to accept the truth, so he told the messengers to leave his son alone.
Later the father had some of his servants dress in rags. He had these servants go to his son and offer him a job shoveling excrement. The son had been living so poorly for so long, he saw this job as a wonderful opportunity. 
Over the years, the father showed an interest in his son. He praised him, increasing his pay, and gave him better jobs. But he never told him his true identity. 
After twenty years, the father was old and near death. By then the son was in charge of all of the wealthy man’s business. The son had become a responsible but humble man. 
Finally, just before his death, the father gathered all of his friends and all the powerful people of the city to his bedside.  He revealed then the true identity of his son. The son inherited all of the fortune.

Jan 26, 2016

Our Truth

Jan 20, 2016

Life & Death

"Buddhism views the idea that our lives end with death as a serious delusion. It see everything in the universe, everything that happens, as part of a vast living web of interconnection."

Death is something no one can escape from. It follows life as surely as night follows day, winter follows autumn or old age follows youth. People  make preparations so that they will not suffer when winter comes. Yet, how few people prepare for even the greater certainty of death.

Modern society has turned its gaze away from this most fundamental issue. For most people, death is something to be feared, to be dreaded, or it is seen as just the absence of life- blankness and void. Death has even come to be considered somehow 'unnatural'.

What is death? What becomes of us after we die? We can try to ignore these questions. Many people do. But if we ignore death, I believe that we are condemned to live a shallow existence, to live 'hand to mouth' spiritually. We may assure ourselves that we will somehow deal with death"   when the time comes." Some people keep busy engaged in a constant stream of tasks in order to avoid thinking about the fundamental issues of life and death. But in such a state of mind, the joys we feel will ultimately be fragile, shadowed by the inescapable presence of death. It is my firm belief that facing the issue of death can help bring real stability, peace and depth to our lives.

What, then, is death? Is it just extinction, a lapse into nothingness? or is a doorway to new life, a transformation rather than an ending? Is life nothing more than a fleeting phase of activity preceded and followed by stillness and non-existence? Or does it have a deeper continuity, persisting beyond death in some form or other?

Buddhism views the idea that our lives end with death as a serious delusion. It sees everything that happens, as part of a vast living web of interconnection. The vibrant energy we call life that flows throughout the universe has no beginning and no end. Life is a continuous, dynamic process of change. Why then should human life be the one exception? Why should our existence be an arbitrary, one-shot deal, disconnected from the universal rhythms of life?

We now know that stars and galaxies are born, live out their natural span, and die. What applies to the vast realities of the universe applies equally to the miniature realms of our bodies. From a purely physical perspective, our bodies are composed of the same materials and chemical compounds as distant galaxies. In this sense, we are quite literally children of the stars.

The human body consists of some 600 trillion individual cells, and life is a vital force that harmonies the infinitely complex functioning of the mind-boggling number of individual cells. Each moment, untold number of cells are dying and being replaced by the birth of new cells. At this level, we experience daily the cycles of birth and death.

On a very practical level, death is necessary. If people lived forever, they would eventually start to long for death. Without death, we would face a whole new array of problems -- from over population to people having to live forever in aged bodies. Death makes room for renewal and regeneration.

Death should therefore be appreciated, like life, as a blessing. Buddhism views death as a period of rest, like sleep, by which life regains energy and prepares for new cycles of living. Thus there is no reason to fear death, to hate or seek to banish it from our minds.

Death does not discriminate it strips us of everything. Fame, wealth and power are useless in the unadorned reality of the final moments of life. when the time comes, we will have only ourselves to rely on. This is a solemn confrontation that we must face armed only with our raw humanity, the actual record of what we have done, how we have chosen to live our lives, asking, "Had I live true to myself? what have I contritbuted to the world? What are my satisfactions or regreta?"

To die well, one must have lived well. For those who have lived true to their convictions, who have worked to bring happiness to others, death can come as a conforting rest, like a well-earned sleep that follows a day of enjoyable exertion.

I was impressed a few years ago to learn of the atttude of a friend of mine, David Norton, professor of philosophy at the Uinversity of Delaware, towards his own approaching death.

When he was only 17, the young David had become a 'smoke jumper' a volunteer for fighter who parachuted into inaccessible areas to cut trees and dig trenches to keep fires from spreading. He did this, he said, in order to learn to face his own fear.

When, in his mid-thirties, he was diagnosed with advanced Cancer,  he faced death head on and found that the pain did not defeat him, Nor did he find dying lonely or solitary experience, according to his wife, Mary.  She later told me that he felt he was surrounded by all his friends and said that her husband had faced death without fear, regarding it as "another adventure, the same kind of test as facing a forest fire."

"I guess the first thing about such an adventure," Mary said, "is that it's an opportunity to challenge yourself. It's getting yourself out of situations that are comfortable, where you know what goes, and where you don't have to worry. It's an opportunity to grow. It's a chance to become what you need to be. But it's one that you must face without fear."

As awareness of death enables us to live each day-- each moment-- filled with appreciation for the unique opportunity we have to create something of our time on Earth. I believe that in order to enjoy true happiness, we should live each moment as if it was our last. Today will never return, We may speak of the past or of the future, but only the only reality we have is that of this present instant. And confronting the reality of death actually enables us to bring unlimited creativity, courage and joy into each instant of our lives.  

~ A Piece of Mirror & other Essays by Daisaku Ikeda 

Jan 19, 2016