Oct 28, 2009

What is a Buddha?

A Buddha is any being who has become awakened to the ultimate truth of life, one who perceives the true entity of all phenomena, and who leads others to attain the same enlightenment. In India the word buddha was originally a common noun meaning "awakened one," but in Buddhism it is used to mean one who has become awakened to the ultimate truth of life. In Hinayana the word means one who has entered the state of nirvana, in which both body and mind are extinguished. Provisional Mahayana generally teaches that one becomes a Buddha after eradicating illusions through aeons of austere and meritorious practices, gradually acquiring the thirty-two features of a Buddha. 

The perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra views the Buddha as one endowed with the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent, who is enlightened to the truth of all phenomena and who teaches it to the people in order to save them from suffering. In Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law is the original Buddha eternally endowed with the three properties and the three virtues, who appears in the form of a common mortal and expounds the Mystic Law.

SGI Buddhism

Oct 25, 2009

You say you want a Revolution

When I hear the word revolution, I immediately think of the Beatles' song. But there is another kind of revolution that exist. "Human Revolution".

(From a series of essays by Daisaku Ikeda first published in the Philippine magazine Mirror, in 1998)

Life is about expressing and developing our individuality as fully as possible--it is about self-realization. This process is what I call "human revolution."

There are many kinds of revolutions-political, economic, industrial, scientific, artistic, and so on. But no matter how external factors change, the world will never get better as long as people remain selfish and apathetic. As John F. Kennedy said, in 1963, "Our problems are manmade--therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants."

The "human revolution" is a term used by Josei Toda, second president of the Soka Gakkai, to describe the process by which an individual gradually expands his life, conquers his negative and destructive tendencies, and ultimately makes the state of Buddhahood his dominant life condition. The idea of revolution as most people understand it usually refers to a political or economic revolution. Such a revolution usually imposes new ideas upon people at large, and thereby effects change. The idea and the goal of human revolution is very different.

Rather than changing society directly, through improving or reforming social or political systems, the object of change lies deep within the life of each individual. As Josei Toda states: "'The human revolution' I am talking about...refers to the establishment of one's ultimate purpose in life and working towards the perfection of self. We carry out our daily lives according to our own views on life and society. However, 'human revolution' refers to the change that we bring about in the way we view life, society and the world. A fundamental change occurs in the way one has led his or her life up until that point. The 'human revolution' of an individual becomes apparent when he or she establishes an unwavering and absolute conviction in the eternity of life. Rather than focusing on short-term goals which apply only to one's present lifetime, this conviction becomes the basis for the pursuit of loftier goals and greater good, in contrast to one's previous satisfaction with the accomplishment of lesser goals and good."

An inner change for the better in a single person is the essential first turn of the wheel in the process of making the human race stronger and wiser. This "human revolution" is, I believe, the most fundamental and most vital of all revolutions. This revolution-an inner process of self-reformation- is completely bloodless and peaceful. In it everyone wins and there are no victims.

Life is a struggle with ourselves; it is a tug-of-war between moving forward and slipping backward, between happiness and misery. We are changing constantly, but the real issue is whether we change for the better or the worse, whether or not we succeed in enlarging our narrow, self-centered focus to take a broader view.
Every day we are faced with countless choices and decisions. We have to decide which path to take in order to feel good about ourselves and become better, more generous-spirited individuals? If we just allow ourselves to be ruled by force of habit, the way we've always reacted to a given situation, we will be drawn down the path of least resistance and stop growing as a person.

But if we succeed in challenging ourselves on a fundamental level, we can change from someone who is buffeted about by the environment or the people around us, to someone who can positively influence our situation and surroundings. We actually create the unique shape of our lives by the infinite choices we make each day.  True individuality and character never come to full flower without hard work. I feel it is a mistake to think that who you are right now represents all you are capable of. If you passively decide, "I'm a quiet person, so I'll just go through life being quiet," you won't ever fully realize your unique potential. Without having to change your character completely, you can become a person who, while still basically quiet, will say the right thing at the right time with real conviction. In the same way, a negative tendency toward impatience could be developed into a useful knack for getting things done quickly and efficiently.

But nothing is more immediate, or more difficult, than to confront and transform ourselves. It is always tempting to decide "That's just the kind of person I am." Unless we challenge this tendency early in life, it will become stronger with age. But the effort is worthwhile in the end, as I believe that nothing produces deeper satisfaction than successfully challenging our own weaknesses. As the Russian author Tolstoy wrote, "Supreme happiness is to find that you are a better person at the end of the year than you were at the beginning."

Human revolution is not something extraordinary, or divorced from our daily lives. It often begins in a small way. Take a man who thinks only of himself, his family and friends. Then, one day, he makes a move to break out of these narrow confines just a little, going out of his way to help a suffering neighbor. This the start of his human revolution. But this process of human revolution cannot be undertaken alone. It is through our interactions with others that we polish our lives and grow as human beings. The only way to hone and polish our character is through our interactions with others.

By taking action for, and being positively engaged with others, we become better and more disciplined people. But this doesn't mean making others happy while ignoring ourselves or our own happiness. The happiness we create as individuals, and the strong bonds we create with each other, result in the happiness of all mankind. Transforming our own lives at the most fundamental level actually holds the key to changing society. A deep change in our outlook, the inner reality of our life, produces changes in the external workings of our life, in other people, and our community.

I firmly believe that a great human revolution in just a single individual can help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and enable a change in all humankind.

Every single person has tremendous potential which is largely untapped. Through the hard work of our human revolution, this potential can be revealed and we can establish an independent, unconquerable sense of self. We can deal creatively with any situation that life has to offer. This open-ended process enables us to keep growing and developing throughout our lives, and beyond. We will never meet a deadlock in our eternal journey of self-realization.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda wrote these words in the foreword to his novel The Human Revolution: "A great revolution of character in just a single man will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind."


By Stephen L. Klick 

If we know what true love is then it is our greatest blessing, our highest joy. If we are mired in attachment then what we call love is really a kind of madness. This imitation of love can quickly become hatred if the expectations of one of the partners are not met. We see examples of this every day around the country in divorce court. Love with improper attachment is one of the principal causes of human misery.

This attachment causes you to experience a great many emotions but none of them are love. Jealousy, for example, is not love and has no connection to it. Jealousy has no place in a heart that is filled with love. If you are in a relationship and jealousy is present in your mind then you are not ‘in love’ with that person in any real sense.

To love someone, you should have warm feelings for them but more importantly you should emotionally support that person and want what is best for them even if that entails some kind of sacrifice on your part. If you are in a relationship with someone and believe that your life would fall apart or not be worth living without him or her then what you have is a case of attachment. It is not love. Love is never about grasping or controlling. Love is truly self-less, it is the noblest emotion we are capable of, and it is incredibly rare.

Love is positive energy that supports life. People who have pets that they care for live longer lives then those who don’t because it is actually good for your health to express love. We all need love and when we don’t have it we sorely feel the lack of it. The Buddha taught love from the very first teaching he gave. From the moment of his enlightenment up until the day of his death he lived a life dedicated to service to others.

The Buddha reveals why he came to this world in Chapter sixteen of "The Lotus Sutra." This is one of the most important chapters in the most essential teaching ever given by Shakyamuni. The final words of the Buddha in this chapter are ‘how can I cause others to speedily enter the way and quickly become enlightened?’ This is a practical example of love, and we should all follow this same pattern if we want live the life of a bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva works day and night for the benefit of all the beings he can reach. He does this without pay and without any expectation of gratitude. Bodhisattvas behave this way because this is the path that leads to enlightenment. It’s also a lot of fun.

It’s important to have fun because it means that we are enjoying the work that we do. What kind of a job do you do when you hate your work? It’s seldom your best, is it? How can you feel good about yourself if you’re not doing the best that you can? You will never be happy if you hate what you do all day long. If you do hate your job then you have a very strange idea of success. No matter what kind of money you are paid it does not make up for the unhappiness you experience daily. There isn’t enough money in the world to make that kind of suffering worthwhile, if you are in a situation like this then be aware that you are seriously undervaluing your worth as a human being.

To be a success in life you must become happy and fulfilled. If you replace that standard with the amount of money you make in a year you are making a serious error because the extra money cannot possibly make up for all the hours of daily misery you must endure. If you are in an unhappy job environment ask yourself, ‘what is the amount of wretchedness I am willing to endure for extra money? Why am I selling myself out so cheaply?’ No matter what material objects you acquire with this money how will you be happy when at least one third of your day is dedicated to something you loathe doing.

Before you are fit to love others you must be able to love yourself. You can begin to do that by treating yourself like a valuable human being because, no matter who you are, this is the case. To love yourself you must be able to respect yourself, you can fool a lot of people, but people who succeed in actually fooling themselves end up insane. You always know what your motivation is and you are your own harshest critic. If you don’t at least come close to living up to the moral code your subconscious mind believes to be correct in your daily behavior then your mind will punish itself by developing an illness in the body. This is an old teaching but medical people are just now realizing it as truth in the West.

Many of the diseases we suffer from come from our mind. The idea of treating a symptom, instead of the entire patient was a mistake. How do you separate a patient from his symptom? The pain cannot be removed and examined; it’s part of the system of the patient, considering part of the person while ignoring the rest of him only leads to error and tragic mistakes.

In the past the goal was to cover up the symptom of illness with drugs but that ignores the problem, and makes the trouble show up some other way. The problem is being caused by the human mind and the person can cure himself by dedicating himself to virtue and vowing to help all beings everywhere. ‘Miracle cures’ often work if the person honestly decides to change his life for the better.

Take some time to be alone and think about the way you live your life. Are you a moral human being? Do you live up to your own ethical expectations? If the answer is no then you will never be happy, you will never be able to respect yourself or love yourself and you will never really love anyone else either. Don’t be too hard on yourself once you do decide to change, as long as you are sincere you will continue to make effort and that leads inevitably to growth. You are bound to make mistakes because we all do. It doesn’t matter how big or small the error was, learn from it so you don’t repeat the mistake and then forget about it. It does not help you to continually replay this scenario in your mind. It only brings unnecessary suffering to you.

Once you develop self-respect you are ready to apply this same standard to others.
Never judge other people no matter what you think you know about them. All human beings are precious and any of them can choose, from this minute on, to follow the path that leads to enlightenment. It is the way we judge others that keeps us from realizing Buddhahood in lifetime after lifetime.


Slander of others is one of the very worst causes you can make, especially if that person is trying to straighten up his life by practicing the teachings of the Buddhas. Our job is to help others raise their life conditions, so we should always support other Dharma practitioners in any way we can. Slander is the very opposite of what we are supposed to do for others. In the Buddhist faith slander is any negative thing that is said about a person for any reason. It does not matter if the story is true or not. Truth is no excuse for injuring other people; if you learn things or think you have learned things about someone you should never communicate this information to others.

You should make the resolve to become a storehouse of other people’s confidences. Make certain that this storehouse only takes in knowledge and never gives it out. You must become someone that people can trust so from this moment on make the additional resolution to never gossip about others. Gossip is harsh speech no matter how cleverly it is worded. This kind of behavior is not good for you and it is not good for others. If you want to create value around you and in your society then you must become a positive asset to your community.

Begin by deciding to become someone who is patient with everyone. When you meet someone for the first time and they are rude to you, first remind yourself that you created this energy, and are now seeing the consequences. Do not respond to anger with anger because this is an endless cycle that could haunt you for all eternity. Instead, realize that you have already injured this person in the past, which is why he is here and now wants to hurt you in the present. Not only have you hurt this person in the past, you have caused him to hurt himself further by making negative causes directed at you now. Surely we have hurt this person enough with our past behavior, it’s not necessary for us to add to the pain and suffering he will continue to experience because of his present activities.

Some people are exceptionally difficult to like. At the time you are with a person like this we should remind ourselves of the debt we owe to all sentient beings. We owe all beings a great debt because life is eternal and every person has been your mother or father at some time in the past. Every one of these people has nurtured and cherished you at some point in time and they deserve great respect for that reason. You might as well realize now that it is far easier to love all of mankind abstractly, as a group then it is as individuals because many people do not know how to live skillfully.

If all else fails you can keep your mouth closed. Keeping silent is always an option and sometimes it is the best one. It is a higher form of practice to transform these feelings of anger or hate into love and gratitude but it is occasionally necessary to merely remain silent. Whatever happens do not add to the cycle of violence, if you do not break it, this cycle will continue until one of you relent. If you are both hard and arrogant then this violence has the potential to continue for eternity.

To break this cycle we must begin to clean up our own mess. To ‘clean up’ your mess stop making negative causes, replace them with carefully chosen good causes and practice the purification techniques taught by all three historical Buddhas.

Take time to think about what your next life will be like. If you are practicing Dharma you don’t have to experience random rebirths because you now have some level of understanding about cause and effect. This literally allows you to custom design your future. Even if you don’t believe you will be reborn the good causes you choose to make will brighten up your daily existence and make this life far happier. Rid yourself of the negative energy that comes from hostile speech. Again and again think about what you’re going to say and decide if it is harmful before you speak. If there is hostile intent in your mind then remain silent and think about the training you’re doing to become more then a mere animal, who will defend himself or his territory when attacked.

It takes time to turn negative thinking and speech around completely so please decide now to become very patient with your self, if you fail, admit it cheerfully, and then renew the struggle, determined to more skillful in the future.

Wonder Woman

We want to spend time every day generating a feeling of love for all beings everywhere because this is the mind-set we need to become a bodhisattva. The world of Bodhisattva is about compassion for all others without exception. You cannot leave any one out of your intention to benefit all beings. If you saw things correctly you would realize that the people you think of as enemies are really your best friends because they are burning off negative karma for you by their actions, which is really very kind. Their behavior further gives you the opportunity to practice patience and tolerance, which you have to do to improve spiritually. How can you view these people as enemies?

What they experience in sleep is not real but neither is what most people think they experience when they are awake. When you understand this intellectually it becomes easier to remind yourself that what you are experiencing is not real because you are distorting reality by the way you view the world. The world is a very kind place, it is already a "Pure Land," but you do not have the skill to see it. As you practice and begin to elevate your life condition you will also be purifying yourself with daily water offerings and by performance of the Gongyo ceremony. In a few months your life will begin to change in very dramatic ways and everything will start to look different to you.

A Buddha is someone with a pure life condition who is wide-awake. He or she sees things exactly the way they are because he is always dwelling in the present moment.

It is important to train yourself to be alert at all times. We call this mindfulness and what we mean is to always keep your mind in the present moment. If you keep your mind in the present moment all the suffering that comes from dwelling on the past and all the unnecessary worrying we do about things that haven’t happened are eliminated. You will also find that everything you do will be improved by your new focus and attention to detail. Buddhist training will dramatically improve your concentration and you will be shocked at what you miss when you’re not totally focused on ‘now’.

Life happens in ‘now,’ the past and future are abstract concepts; you can’t make any kind of decision or choice that matters except in the present. This is where your concentration and focus should be if you really want to live skillfully without suffering. When you stay in the present moment you are also far less likely to slip up and injure somebody with your mouth because you weren’t paying attention.

We focus on the future because we can imagine so many good things that could happen. This kind of thinking isn’t real, we don’t need more daydreams in our life, and almost everything we think and do is already the result of the fantasies we store in our mind. If we spend our time in the present moment we are much closer to reality.

What we are trying to achieve is a controlled mind. Uncontrolled mind is the cause of all the problems and suffering in your life and in the world. You have followed your uncontrolled mind for many lifetimes until you have finally arrived at this moment. From this moment, if you choose, your mind can move and begin to grow in a different direction.

Oct 24, 2009

Guidance on prayers answered based on our Goals

By -- SGI Vice President Kawai
Mr. Kawai's guidance in faith, conveyed by Mr. Noro, based on President Ikeda's guidance
We practice this faith not for mere exertion, that is, not for the sake of practice, but for change and progress and as quickly as possible.
Members may say, I'm doing many SGI activities, but so what? The real question is how much have I changed my life, my environment, and my livelihood? How much benefit have I received? There are many members who are doing lots of daimoku, but there is no change in their lives. Something is wrong. Buddhism is not the Law of Cause and Effect in Action. It is the Law of cause and effect in ichinen (determined prayer). For example, faith is not "feeling refreshed" after prayers and activities. Faith exists for us to change our lives. When we wish to travel somewhere, first we decide on the destination, then we plan on the action (route/ mode of transport) and then we travel and reach that destination. Faith is the same.  In faith, we must first have clear targets, prayer nd action .It is important to pray strongly and then take action and we will see the results without fail. It is important to determine to change. That is to pray "I want to change", and then take necessary action. It is absolutely no use to ask the Gohonzon, "What should I do?" There will be no answer. YOU must decide what you want to accomplish, not the Gohonzon. Once we decide / determine on some goal, there may seem no solution. But that is precisely why we pray. If it were possible, we would not need the Gohonzon. If there is a way out, then there really is no need to chant. But we pray to change the impossible to possible. Do not engage in "what shall I do..." daimoku, that is, while chanting to think of strategies / look for options in your mind. There is absolutely no need to think of methodology, because there is no way out! We should simply pray like this "I want to accomplish this. I will accomplish this."
If, while chanting, we think that our desires are unattainable / impossible, then that is the prayer that will be reflected onto the universe. And that is exactly the answer we will get back from the gohonzon... impossible/no solution. We must pray with 100% confidence in the Gohonzon. I believe in the Gohonzon, my prayer will definitely be answered, just as the Gosho states "no prayer to the Gohonzon will go unanswered". This is the Buddhist formula, which is 100% correct. It is our doubts that get in the way. While chanting, we always try to find ways out of our problem. Therefore, our ichinen is not directed towards the Gohonzon, but directed elsewhere. Thus it follows, that there is no real joy in daimoku and activities. We just keep doing what we were told to do.

There was a young lady (student division) who wanted to go to USA from Japan to study. It was impossible, as she had no money etc. So she prayed, not chanted, but deeply prayed "I want to go to USA to study - I will go" One year later, she reported positive results. There had seemed no solution, but a "bridge" was formed through her sincere daimoku. This is the Mystic Law. It is beyond our understanding, which is why it is called Mystic. So there is no need to think, just trust and pray...
--> There was a WD who came for guidance. Her husband had terminal cancer and doctors said he would not live longer than 3 months. Her question was "can he be cured?" The answer was "I don't know". The leader went on to say that President Toda's guidance was that when we determine that the only one thing we can trust is the gohonzon, then the body begins to recover from sickness.

This means to cure ones own illness by oneself, through faith. The human body is capable of producing 700 types of medicines. But when our life force is weak, then nothing is produced. When our life philosophy is polluted by slander, and impurities then our life cannot produce its healing power. Buddhism is great. Our life is great! It is supreme. It is Divine. It is the life of the Buddha. So through faith we can always manifest this supreme state of the Buddha, this power of the Gohonzon.

People call Buddhism great, but actually it teaches us that our own lives are great. With determination, great life force and wisdom can be manifested from our lives and bodies to overcome sickness which is one's negative karma -the source of which is slander. So the real question is not whether the illness is curable, rather, the question is whether i can determine it is curable. The woman told her husband about this guidance and together both corrected their ichinen and prayed and he was cured.
A Woman's Division leader in Japan could not walk due to pain in her legs caused by rheumatism. She was asked "do you think that your disease can be cured?" She replied "No!" "So then that is your desire. Your state of mind and that is why the answer from the Gohonzon is - - no cure!" replied the senior leader. The leader continued by saying that if the medical doctor has given up, if he says there is no cure for your condition, then that is the time to summon up your determination to change the impossible to possible. The very next day, the woman called the leader to report that when she determined, the pain disappeared from her legs and 2 weeks later she was completely cured. Her suffering had been caused by her thinking that it was impossible to be cured, that she would have to live with this life condition. But the moment she determined (ichinen) to overcome through faith in the gohonzon, the power of the mystic law was manifested through her life.

There are 3 kinds of directions to drive our practice:

Forward "Gear". Forward Gear practice consists of: having a clear and specified target and determination to accomplish it through prayer and action, for example: I want a white cat. She must be of Persian species, 3 yrs old, with blue eyes, female. And I want her in 2 weeks. I will get it. In other words, doing a lot of activities and daimoku with no targets and clear goals is no use, as it will not produce any changes in your life.

Neutral "Gear" Neutral Gear Practice is chanting out of duty, with no joy. A habitual practice. E.g.: I am a leader, I have responsibilities, so I'm doing activities. But there is no effect. Its like the car analogy... the engine is full and ready to go... but nothing happens.

Reverse "Gear" Reverse Gear Practice is when the more activities and daimoku one is doing, one is still going backwards, rather than forward in one's life. In other words, one may be making a lot of seemingly good causes, but one is also complaining. There is slander and grudges against others. Or one might be Complaining about ones' own situation on not seeing immediate results. This is dangerous practice.

Just like in automatic transmission car, there is very little difference between Forward and Reverse Gears, from outward appearance it is difficult to tell where one's ichinen is. But one's life will ultimately clearly manifest it.

Even if you commit slander without realizing it, it is still slander. One should never criticize leaders. Right or wrong, one should not complain at all. Instead, one can chant for them to grow and one will benefit from that too. Similarly, never do "onshitsu" in your family. That is do not complain, criticize or carry a negative feeling towards husband /wife, children or parents. This is your karma. You chose your spouse/partner  children.
Chant for their growth. Further, do not depend / rely on others. Do not complain that they don't do this or that. Criticism will bring no benefit. But it will certainly bring negative effects.

In conclusion
We must eradicate the following types of prayer:
Ø   Out of habit or ritual (that is without any target or determination)
Ø Out of delusion (that is while chanting, trying to find solutions to your problems)
Ø Out of disbelief (that is thinking that this is impossible and will not happen / change)
Instead, pray with your entire heart, your entire being that I am going to build a bridge towards my happiness and those of others by myself, by using the Supreme wisdom of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. One needs to have the experience of benefits / breakthroughs, so as to encourage others. "I have so many benefits through this practice... what about you?" Especially, senior members must receive many benefits. Buddhism is reason. Otherwise what is the use of practicing this faith? If they don't witness changes/ benefits then their faith has become habitual.

We need to experience benefits through faith and prayer to show power of Gohonzon and encourage others. President Toda and President Ikeda said there are 10 reasons why no change or benefits occur in senior leaders' lives, even though they have been practicing for a long time.

Ø Unclear determination
Ø No concrete targets in faith
Ø Doing regular Gongyo but no concrete prayer
Ø Passive Gongyo and activities from a sense of obligation
Ø A complaining and begrudging attitude about faith
Ø Seeking spirit for senior leaders/ guidance has become weaker
Ø Not working hard in office or home
Ø Depressed because of various sufferings in life
Ø Weak of sense of mission for Kosen Rufu
Ø Sense of responsibility as leader is weaker

Even if one of the above is missing, then faith has become habitual and there is no benefit. We must have dreams, which lead to hope and finally become reality when we chant! Therefore, we must have big dreams!

The President of a Fisheries Co was very concerned about the drop in catch of fish as it was affecting his sales, so he went for guidance. The leader asked him "You say that you can't get lots of salmon fish. Does this mean that there is no salmon or are you unable to catch them?" "I can't get any," he replied. "Why can't you call them to your net? Did you pray like that?" The leader encouraged. "No I didn't"."There is no natural boundary in the ocean. So why don't you pray like that?" The leader encouraged. So he did. His catch went up from 20 fish to 300 in one day. His company went from deficit to surplus. This is no miracle. This is the Law. This is reason.

What is amazing is when you don't get benefits even though you do chant.

The Flowering of Creative Life Force

April 18, 1974
Daisaku Ikeda

"Today I should like to elaborate on what we mean by a creative life. I am not about to launch forth upon a difficult philosophical disquisition or try to give you a definitive explanation of life. I only want to urge you to become cheerful travelers on life's long road. Let me suggest something from my own experience that may help bring honor and glory to your future. "I feel most deeply that I have done something creative when I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into a task and fought it through unstintingly to its conclusion and thus have won in the struggle to enlarge myself. It is a matter of sweat and tears.

The creative life demands constant effort to improve one's thoughts and actions. Perhaps the dynamism involved in effort is the important thing. "You will pass through storms, and may suffer defeat. The essence of the creative life, however, is to persevere in the face of defeat and to follow the rainbow within your heart. Indulgence and indolence are not creative. Complaints and evasions are cowardly, and they corrupt life's natural tendency toward creation. The person who gives up the fight for creativeness is headed ultimately for the hell that destroys all life. "You must never slacken in your efforts to build new lives for yourselves. Creativeness means pushing open the heavy door to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the hardest task in the world. For opening the door to your own life is more difficult than opening the doors to the mysteries of the universe. "But the act of opening your door vindicates your existence as a human being and makes life worth living. No one is lonelier or unhappier than the person who does not know the pure joy of creating a life for himself.

To be human is not merely to stand erect and manifest reason and intellect; to be human in the full sense of the word is to lead a creative life. "The fight to create a new life is a truly wonderful thing, revealing radiant wisdom, the light of intuition that leads to an understanding of the universe, the strong will of justice and a determination to challenge all attacking evils, the compassion gushing forth from the cosmic source of life and creating an ecstatic rhythm in the lives of all men. As you challenge adversity and polish the jewel that is life, you will learn to walk the supreme pathway of true humanity. He who leads a creative life from the present into the future will stand in the vanguard of history. I think of this flowering of the creative life as the human revolution that is your mission now and throughout your lives."

John Cusack needs a kick

I saw the film Grosse Point Blank awhile back and thought my ears were deceiving me when I heard Minnie Driver say the word "Shakubuku". I couldn't find this clip anywhere, so I grabbed it myself. For me, Shakubuku refers to sharing the happiness that we can all engage in by changing our life condition and awaken the Buddha nature within us. She wants him to "get it", to know. It doesn't necessarily mean to receive a Gohonzon and join. This isn't a recruitment center. Its more like sharing what we've learned and wanting our loved ones and friends to be happy. Take a look!

Tina Turner Chanting

Oct 23, 2009

Harold & Maude...& Buddhism

by Seleus Blelis

There are a slew of films with Buddhist themes from The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain, The Matrix and Groundhog Day. But a couple of years ago before I received my Gohonzon, I saw a little film called Harold & Maude (1971).  Let's just say the rest is history. The film took on a significance with me that can only be summed up in two words- Be Happy.

I was studying and asking questions about Nichiren Buddhism at the time and I couldn't get over how Buddhist Maude was. She came into this young man's life for a specific reason, it was no coincidence. Speaking for myself, you see and/or taught that happiness is temporary, fleeting, take it while you can. Suffering is a part of life and happiness is not possible.  Harold's problem and for the majority of people is that we are fundamentally unhappy. As the film unfolds, I couldn't get over how happy Maude was. She displayed an array of human emotions from sadness to joy, but maintained an indestructible spirit. The lessons of life she was teaching wasn't only for Harold but for the audience.

In essence, she was shakabuking us and I recognized this right away. How do you become happy? "Appreciate your life. You are a Buddha. You are the best thing that ever appeared on this whole planet. You are the greatest thing in the whole universe. If you believe that there is nothing you cannot do with your life, then there is nothing you cannot do. To believe that you can do anything is to bring your life into harmony".- (Mr. Sonoda: 2000).

Here are a few examples of Maude's wisdom:


Free yourself from attachments that cause suffering-   
 "Well, if some people are upset because they feel they have a hold on some things, then I'm merely acting as a gentle reminder - I'm sort of breaking it easy. Here today, gone tomorrow, so don't get attached to things."  

Have a positive attitude-  "Greet the dawn with the Breath of Fire!"

Relish every moment of your life-
"Don't play anything! Dear me. Everyone should be able to make some music. Why, it's life! - Rhythm and harmony - That's the cosmic dance. Come with me."

Experience your life-
 "I like to keep a variety. I'm always looking for the new experience, like this one.
something new each day to find it out. After all, we're given life."

Never give up-
"Reach out! Take a chance! Get hurt maybe. But play as well as you can. (she leads a cheer before the stands) Go team, go! Give me an "L." Give me an "I." Give me a "V." Give me an "E.

Embrace your Humanity
"I cry at beauty - a first snow, a rose, a sunset. I cry when a man tortures his brother... when he repents and forgiveness is refused... and when it is granted.  begs forgiveness... when
To cry is to laugh. To laugh is to cry... a uniquely human trait. 
And the main thing in life, my dear Harold, is not to be afraid to be human."


In the Gosho, “Winter Always Turns to Spring”-
"Well, not dying, actually. I'm changing. You know, like from winter to spring.
Of course, it is a big step to take"

(Winter Always Turns into Spring- Nichiren Daishonin wrote the following:
Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, which never fails to turn into spring. Never have I seen or heard of winter turning into autumn. Nor have I ever heard of any believer in the Lotus Sutra who remained a common mortal. A passage from the sutra reads, “Among those who hear of this Law, there is not one who shall not attain Buddhahood.”    (Gosho, p. 832; MW-1, p. 150)
In his explanation, the Daishonin compared the definitive principles of faith with the certainty of the changing of the seasons. Thus, just as winter turns to spring without fail, those who uphold faith in the Lotus Sutra will attain enlightenment without fail, even though they will definitely encounter obstacles.

I will end this post with my favorite scene that sums it all up  


Oct 22, 2009

Karma and Buddha Nature

By Jeanny Chen

(This is a presentation delivered at the first SGIPy National WD and YWD Conference in October, 2002. My trip to Paraguay was approved and permitted by Sensei and the SGI-Japan Headquarters. During my six-day stay I dialogued with the SGIPy members, and had the most incredible experience in my 13 years of practice.)

How many of you know what Buddha nature is?

In order to help you understand this commonly-used term, instead of explaining the term itself, I am going to use an example to demonstrate the characteristics of Buddha nature. Hopefully, the illustration will paint a vivid picture that will allow you to grasp the concept and identify your own Buddha nature. When we understand what Buddha nature is and recognize that we have it within our lives, we can then employ it to work wonders for us. But before I elaborate on the characteristics of Buddha nature, I would like to talk about karma first. 

Understanding karma will help us understand Buddha nature. Karma Every person we encounter, everything that happens to us and the various conditions that surround our lives are the exact manifestations of our karma. Our parents, relatives, friends, co-workers, fellow SGI members, neighbors, ex boyfriends… etc. all play different roles in our lives or our karma. Where we were born, where we live, where we work and what incidents occurred at certain points in time are also the manifestation of our karma. Put it this way: our entire life story describes exactly what our karma is. Let me read what Nichiren Daishonin quotes from the Parinirvana Sutra in his writing “Letter From Sado”: "Good man, because people committed countless offenses and accumulated much evil karma in the past, they must expect to suffer retribution for everything they have done. They may be despised, cursed with an ugly appearance, be poorly clad and poorly fed, seek wealth in vain, be born to an impoverished and lowly family or one with erroneous views, or be persecuted by their sovereign. It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law that they can diminish in this lifetime their suffering and retribution." -- The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 304 

According to this writing, our bad karma was created by what we thought, said and did in the past. Thus, based on the law of simultaneity of cause and effect, we wrote the script of the drama of our own karma. And we will carry it with us lifetime after lifetime, unless we change it through our practice of the Mystic Law. The same writing makes it clear that we have done similar things to people in previous lives, so all the effects are coming back to us in this life. For example, people who are now being physically abused by their spouses must have been the abusers of their spouses or of other people in their previous lives. People who win the lottery this life must have rendered monetary contributions to others in their previous lives.

The Daishonin also says that the most serious cause that we have committed was our past slander of the Mystic Law. On the surface, we suffer because we were born in a poor country or family, born incapable or born physically handicapped… We live on one adversity after another. We can’t find our ideal soul mate. Our children bring us headaches and trouble. Most women never feel pretty enough or sexy enough…etc. Gentlemen don’t express much of their feelings. I don’t know if they are also troubled by such superficial matters as the color, the curve, the length and the thickness of their hair.

Anyways, there are simply hundreds of things that could make our lives so difficult! The true aspect of all those superficial phenomena, however, is that they are our very own karma. We need those people and that environment to play their respective roles in the drama of our lives in order to bring our karma into view. If our karma had not been played out, we would have been unable to change it. Even if we could switch the entire cast, the new players would still act according to what we wrote in the script of our karma.

Our lives would still be the same. For example, let’s say I have bad karma in marriage. I am married to Jose, who loves to flirt and fool around with other ladies. I am very upset about his conduct. Now, forget about Jose. Let another man Humberto be my husband. He would still behave exactly the same. Both of them have no other choice. Anyone who plays the role as my husband has to act according to the script I wrote for my own life. The script of my life says that I will marry a man who flirts with other ladies, no matter how charming I am. I am the director who directs my husband to behave that way. Let’s look at another example. Suppose I was born to a very poor family with 10 siblings. My parents were uneducated. They could barely make a living throughout their lives. Under such circumstances, they failed to provide a good shelter for their children. They were too busy and too worried to even show their love towards the children. This is how my childhood karma says I will live my childhood. I can only be born to this kind of couple, so that I will live my childhood in poverty and without love. Even if another couple became my parents, they would provide me with the same bad living conditions.

Likewise, if we have only good karma in our lives, the drama of our karma would need a cast that manages their lives nicely in order to provide us with happy and comfortable environments and lives. Of course, the people in our lives have their own karma. Only those whose karma is being poor can play the roles of the poor couple, as in our previous example. But they are not to blame for our lives and our destiny. We don’t even have to forgive them. We are totally responsible for whatever we have to go through. Because we accept responsibility for our own lives, we can freely turn it around without depending on other people’s changes or other people’s actions. And we don’t have to carry bitter feelings of being ill-fated, mistreated, and born lowly and trapped, because we asked for it in the first place, and now we can change our destiny by ourselves through practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

The second president of the SGI, Josei Toda, explains that we were all present at the Ceremony of the Air when Shakyamuni Buddha entrusted us, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, with spreading the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. We were already Bodhisattvas at the time. We should be able to be born into good environments to enjoy happy lives. But, out of our compassion for all human beings, we voluntarily relinquished the reward due us and took that mission. We thus deliberately made bad causes and carried with us the bad karma to be born in the saha world, into an environment with the conditions that we chose of our own volition. Therefore, we were born with our respective karmas to suffer. That suffering becomes the impetus for us to seek out the solution. Under such circumstances, we were willing to embrace our suffering and practice the Mystic Law.

Thanks to Nichiren Daishonin, President Ikeda and the SGI organization, we have the Gohonzon and can follow the correct teaching. Through our diligent practice day in and day out, we polish our lives, activate our wisdom and strong life force from our innate Buddhahood. As a result, we can overcome our difficulties, change our karma, show actual proof, build credibility and deepen our faith. Thus, we become capable of proving the greatness of the Mystic Law and spreading it. Now it is clear why we say that our suffering is our mission. It is the noble mission we took on. It is also the purpose and meaning of our lives. In other words, we use our lives to suffer.

The ultimate purpose of our suffering is to spread the Mystic Law and bring happiness to others. How admirable! In this case, we know that suffering is not the major event of our lives. It is only the prerequisite of our noble mission. Once we realize the true reason behind our suffering, we are done with the suffering part. Then, we can claim to our Gohonzon and our own lives that from now on, we don’t have to suffer any more. We can move on to our main mission, spreading Nichiren Buddhism. With such a realization, we have mentally set ourselves free from our karma. Is my explanation about karma clear enough? Are you still being hypnotized by the words ‘true aspect’, ‘phenomena’ and ‘drama of our karma’? No? Great! So, if our husbands are not successful in their careers and don’t bring enough money home, from now on, are we going to blame them, complain to them, fight with them, bother them to death and leave no peace at home? Of course not! Instead, we should embrace the situation as our karma and take total responsibility. This way, with peace of mind we can focus on changing our karma. Then, we can discuss with our husbands their ideal career goals and chant for the goals as our own. If both partners practice this Buddhism, when the husband joins forces with the wife to chant and take action for those goals, the results will come faster and greater. However, since most husbands are the main income resource for the household, they are tied up with their current jobs. It is up to the wives to decide how much extra effort that they want to devote towards changing their family’s financial karma.

A married couple shares each other’s karma, good and bad. From now on you are the master of your karma instead of its slave. Congratulations! Your status has changed. Now, let’s get back to: Buddha Nature Nichiren Buddhism teaches that we all have Buddha nature inherent in our lives. Even if we cannot perceive it, at least with our common sense we can tell that it is good stuff. Since it is said that we already have ownership of it, it doesn’t hurt and doesn’t cost us a penny to bring some value out of it, right? We should at least give ourselves a chance to try it out. I have found out that Buddhahood is an incredible channel for us to use to communicate with another person without the person’s presence, contacting them through our minds when we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Many people encounter problems communicating with their loved ones, their associates at work or their fellow SGI members… etc. If we have found no other opportunity or possibility to smooth out our relationships with others, this is the ultimate way out! How do we communicate with another person’s Buddhahood?

Why open up Buddha nature? How does it work? Just like some people have active, positive and aggressive natures, and other people’s natures are negative, domineering, and abusive, Buddhas have their nature too. Among the characteristics of Buddha nature are wisdom, life force, compassion and happiness. 

Buddha’s immense wisdom sees the true aspect of all phenomena. People whose life state is in Buddhahood understand how karma functions in their lives. They are not deceived by the superficiality of any situation. In other words, they know that any situation happens to them because they themselves have made their karma that way. Their karma is the ‘real aspect’ or the ‘underlying truth’ of their suffering. With that wisdom, they know that they should work on changing their karma instead of focusing on suffering from the terrible things that happen to them. They certainly are wise enough to know how to communicate based on the truth, nothing but underlying truth. They know how to manage damage control, how to interact perfectly, and what to say to reach the win/win result. 

When people emerge their Buddha nature, their strong life force won’t be defeated by any circumstance. Again, because they understand karma, no matter how bad the situation, they have no worries and no negative concerns. Their wisdom gives them a clear mind about the truth of all problems they encounter. Also, they know how to eradicate their karma. Thus, they are strong, upbeat and courageous. When two such positive minds talk, their optimistic energy can only spark a constructive outcome. Compassion is the lifeblood and trademark of Buddhas. They respect and embrace all beings as they are and for what they are, regardless of their status. Thus, both ways of any communication are original, genuine and straightforward without being distorted, abated or blocked. Messages will be sent compassionately and humbly at one end. They will be warmly acknowledged, equally treated and thoughtfully responded to by the other person. How can anything not turn out to be harmonious and satisfactory this way?

With the wisdom to see the underlying truth of all phenomena, with the undefeatable life force to overcome any challenge and with the compassion to create nothing but good causes, Buddhas enjoy absolute happiness under all circumstances. They take everything as a blessing because they can always change poison into medicine. Nothing could ever upset or irritate them in such a high life condition. In other words, whatever you say is perfectly fine. Thus, is it a surprise that the dialogue between two forever-happy people comes to a happy ending? Prayers offered from the bottom of our hearts in the world of Buddha reach every corner, move the most obstinate and work wonders, be it a relationship, health, job hunting or promotion issue. It is the ultimate dialogue we conduct with Gohonzon, the universe, ourselves, family members, friends, co-workers, future employers, future soul mate, ex-husband, ex-girlfriend… etc. 

A heartbroken elderly mother had been mistreated by her son and daughter-in-law. She was devastated. She depended on their assistance in areas of her daily life. What she asked from them – especially from her son – was fair and clear communication. She was unable to get it. Her son only listened to his wife’s twisted, one-sided stories, putting her on the spot. After learning about dialogue in the world of Buddha, she engaged in a sincere daimoku campaign. She put all three of them in the world of Buddha. She apologized for the inconvenience she had placed on them. She appreciated their filial caring and prayed for the daughterin-law’s happiness. She specifically chanted for her son’s wisdom to see the truth. Within a week, her son’s attitude changed totally. Within one month, the daughterin-law became sweet and thoughtful. The elderly woman was overjoyed; she had found her happiness again. Throughout the episode, no outsider had to risk becoming entangled in their domestic affairs. Not a single person became offended. It was a seamless victory, achieved through heart-to-heart dialogue, via daimoku, at the state of Buddhahood.

Now, let’s check to see if we have the above mentioned characteristics of a Buddha within our lives. In “The Opening of the Eyes” (WND p 279) Nichiren Daishonin refers to what the Contemplation on the Mind Ground Sutra says: “If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.” This quote urges us to be wise in what we do now in order to live our ideal life in the future. It is based on this same teaching that Buddha wisdom can perceive past, present and future. Now that we understand karma, we already have the same wisdom to see the three existences of our lives too! In my humble opinion, as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, once we understand the true aspect of karma, we have the wisdom and compassion to embrace all occurrences and all people that appear in our environment. We don’t need to place blame on other people anymore. Because we now know how to turn around our situation through this Buddhism, we are motivated to muster a strong life force with which to face our difficulties head on. 

Our wisdom is powerful only when accompanied by the correct action. Well, we understand karma. But how do we eradicate karma so that we can move on to a brand new life? We may work through two channels: through our Buddhist practice and through working in the real world. Let’s talk about eradicating karma through Buddhist practice:

1. We set goals of how we wish to change our karma and chant for the goals. If we suffer from financial karma, we set a goal to become rich! If we suffer from the karma of illness, we set a goal to become as strong as a bull! And if our relationship is a pain in the neck, we set a goal to become women of irresistible charisma, wisdom and virtue who could enjoy their sweetheart’s love more and more each day!

2. But besides chanting for the goal, we have to take action to make the goal come true. I set the goal for my husband to love me more and more each day over ten years ago. Since then he has been working very hard and non-stop to keep my goal a reality. It is the smartest goal I have ever set for my life. But, I don’t just chant and do nothing. I work hard to make myself deserve his infinite love.

3. We introduce this Buddhism to as many people as possible, to fulfill our mission. This way, we are showing that we have moved to our true mission and that we are too busy to suffer any more. Shakubuku is one of the most effective ways to eradicate karma and to bring us fortune.

4. We chant to eradicate our karma. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo puts us on the right track and in perfect rhythm with the universe. According to what the Daishonin writes in “On Prolonging One’s Life Span”: “Sincere repentance will eradiate even fixed karma, to say nothing of karma that is unfixed.” (WND p 954) I would like to use the person in the previous example, whose parents are very poor and has 10 siblings, as an example to illustrate how we can pray to eradicate karma:

1. I apologize to Gohonzon for my past slander of the Mystic Law, and now I am going to help spread and protect the Mystic Law.

2. I apologize to Gohonzon for the bad causes I have created in the past. I vow to Gohonzon that because now I practice this Buddhism, I will create only good causes, and no more bad causes.

3. I apologize to my parents that because of my bad karma, they had to suffer their lives in poverty and anxiety in order for me to experience my bad karma.

4. I appreciate my parents because they used their lives to suffer in order to manifest my bad karma. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to eradicate it. I also appreciate their tremendous hard work in raising my 10 siblings and praise all the good virtues they have.

5. I promise to Gohonzon and myself that I am going to practice this Buddhism very earnestly so that I can eradicate my bad karma. In this case, my parents and I will not have to suffer from poverty anymore.

6. I reassure Gohonzon that now that I am awakened to my true identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth, I will definitely carry out my true mission to help others without having to use my own suffering as an impetus. In this case, I don’t have to suffer anymore. Now, let’s talk about eradicating karma through working in the real world: What we think, say and do becomes the substance of our life. If we keep on doing the same thing as before, our lives will be forever the same. In fact, our lives will get worse as we grow older. Therefore, if we want to live a different life, we have to do things differently, or do something extra. I personally really dislike suffering, therefore, if I have to choose, I will do both to change my life once and for all! When we chant for the goal to change our job karma, we mean to advance and increase our income. The Buddhist Gods will protect us and provide right opportunity. Our wisdom will emerge and we get better ideas with fulfill this goal. Our life force will be strong so that we can endure to breakthrough. in our job us with the which to the process.

Here comes the hard part. We are already tied up with everyday work. In order to do something extra, we might have to sacrifice our sleep and leisure time. Please don’t dislike me because I say this. Every move creates new causes in our lives. A good cause produces good effects; a bad cause, bad effects; no cause, no effects. Therefore, we have to be very diligent, active, earnest, positive and hard working. There’s no time to worry, to complain or to feel sad. For example, if we want to get out of poverty, we need to increase our skill in making money. We obtain more education or learn from all kinds of resources. We can work on more than one job. We spend more time on and work harder at our job to become more skillful and to get promotions. We also try to stop unnecessary spending. Of course we can set a goal to marry a millionaire. Then we will instantly become rich without going through all the effort! But the opportunity is limited to the single persons and maybe only for the pretty or handsome ones. Unless we have the penetrating ichinen to work persistently and make a change, we will soon go back to our routine before we see any change.

We have to plunge into an all-out effort to totally turn around our life. We should not give up and just run away from the problem. Otherwise, 10 years or 20 years from now, we will still be suffering from the same thing and living the same old sorrowful life. It might take five to ten years before we see the solid result. But, if we don’t ever do it, it will never happen, even after lifetimes. Our karma will stay with us forever. We get to make the decision. Do you feel restless and breathless after hearing all the heavy-duty words? Since I came a long way, this is a rare opportunity for me. I have to show off my ‘strength’. You may wonder where the way out is. As the practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we have Gohonzon and infinite fortune. We know how to set goals and to chant for them. We have the protection, wisdom and life force to fight against vicious karma. Although the job market is so bad, there are still hundreds of thousands of jobs that need to be filled. Our determination is that as long as there is still one opportunity available, we should be the one who gets the job. That’s the best opportunity for us to show our strength as Buddhists. Yes, the economy is so bad. But there are plenty of people who are still doing very well financially. We should determine to be among those people who are successful and can show actual proof. This is the best opportunity for us to exert ourselves to prove the validity of this great Buddhism! The lives of the practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism withstand any hardship because the benefits of Gohonzon are expansive, infinite and know no bounds! Buddhism is to win or to lose.

This Buddhist practice is powerful but not magic. It can help manifest amazing results only when accompanied by our strong determination and untiring actions. There’s absolutely no shortcut. We have to take persistent and painstaking actions to make things happen. Even though there is the law of simultaneity of cause and effect, we cannot expect good effect to fall on us prior to making good cause. Cause must precede effect. If we are not happy with our country’s karma, the change starts from our personal karma. Each and every one of us can contribute to make a difference!