Oct 11, 2011

Sep 13, 2011

Refuse to be Held Down



Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We're on the move!
Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We've got the groove!

There's been so many things thats held us down.
But now it looks like things are finally comin' around.
I know we've got, a long long way to go,
and where we'll end up, I don't know.
But we won't let nothin' hold us back,
we're putting our selves together,
we're polishing up our act!
If you felt we've been held down before,
I know you'll refuse to be held down anymore!

Don't you let nothing, nothing,
Stand in your way!
I want ya'll to listen, listen,
to every word I say, every word I say!

Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We're on the move!
Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We've got the groove!

Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We're on the move!
Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We've got the groove!

I know you know someone that has a negative vow,
and if you're trying to make it they only push you aside.
They really don't have, no where to go.
Ask them where they're going, they don't know.
But we won't let nothin' hold us back,
we're gonna put our selves together,
we're gonna polish up our act!
And if you've ever been held down before,
I know you'll refuse to be held down anymore!

Don't you let nothing, nothing,
Stand in your way!
I want ya'll to listen, listen,
to every word I say, every word I say!

Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We're on the move!
Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We've got the groove!

Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We're on the move!
Ain't No Stoppin Us Now!
We've got the groove!


by MacFadden and Whitehead

Jul 6, 2011

The Power of Words

Photo by Tumblr

"Sincere one to one conversation can soften and melt even hearts that are completely frozen."

By Daisaku Ikeda

I have vivid memories of encounters with people whose voices or words have moved me over the years. One that springs to mind happened during a visit to the Guilin region of China, a beautiful land of craggy mountains, mists and rivers. Walking along, we met two young girls, no older than 15 or 16, selling medicinal herbs near a river. They carried a large basket filled with herbs, inviting passers by to buy their goods with vibrant voices.

"Ni hao! [Hello!]" I called to them. "Ni Hao!" They smiled back. "We offer every kind of medicine: choose the one you want."

I smiled at their high spirits and asked, "Do you have anything to make me smarter?" They seemed taken aback, but only for an instant. "I'm sorry," one of them replied in a clear, firm voice, "We just sold out of that one."

Our group burst into laughter at this witty reply, and we felt as warm inside as if a gentle spring breeze had touched us. As a Chinese saying puts it, "Even a single word uttered out of goodness can warm the heart in the bitterest winter."

I fondly recall that my wife and I ended up buying some herbs as souvenirs, and I sometimes wonder how the girls and their families are doing. I believe that sincere one to one conversation can soften and met even heart that are completely frozen. By talking with someone face to face, you can actually change that person's life and your own.

Today, we live in the midst of a flood of soulless information. And, the more we rely on one-way communication, like radio or TV, or static and unmoving words in print, the more I feel the need to stress the value of the sound of the human voice: The simple but precious interaction of voice and voice, person to person; the exchange of life with life.

In a face to face conversation, the listener can ask questions or disagree, and this in turn may make the speaker rethink his or her own views. The process is dynamic and multi-faceted, creating mutual joy and understanding. For myself, I love talking with a wide range of people from all over the world.  I always learn something new and I find it inspiring to be exposed to different ways of thinking. This is the kind of spiritual nutrition for me. My experience is that no matter how strong the initial uncertainty, ot even hostility another person may feel towards you, if you approach them with complete sincerity and speak the truth, they will invariably respond in kind. 

I remember several years ago suggesting holding a dialogue with representatives of Islam. Some of my friends tried to convince me this would be difficult. But I felt we should not let ourselves be held back by such preconceptions. We never know what is possible until we try. I suggested that the dialogue did not need to be a debate over religious doctrine. We could start talking about the problems that we all face as human beings, focusing on culture and education, or we could discuss the desire for peace, something shared by people all over the world. I am Happy to say that I have since carried out dialogues with several highly respected representatives of the Islamic world, and SGI members in many countries have also carried out interfaith dialogues wth Representatives of Islam among other faiths. 

Face to face conversation may seem like something very ordinary, but it is in fact the most powerful tool for positive change we possess. We can exchange ideas on a very human level, with a basis of respect and faith in each other's essential goodness. Everyone involved is equal: their is neither superior nor inferior.

The French thinker, Montaigne, loved discussion, and he always kept an open mind, saying "no proposition astounds me, no belief offends me, however much opposed it may be to my own. Contradictions of opinion only arouse and exercise my mind." To him, dialogue was the search for truth, and he claimed that he welcomed and embraced the truth, in whoever's hands he found it. 

As we have two ears and one mouth, maybe we should listen twice as much as we speak. Certainly if we are self righteous or prejudiced, no one will approach us with an open heart. 

Sometimes our attempts to start a discussion or talk things over may be slighted ignored. Then we should remember that rejection and disappointment are inevitable in life, and just keep on trying. Maintaining dialogue takes great patience and perseverance. We need to develop a strong sense of self, so that although we can clearly see the emotions of the other person, we keep on calmly and steadily 'rowing' closer to their heart. 

The biggest obstacle to successful dialogue is usually excessive attachment to one;s own point of view. For Instance, a rift between a parent and child will not be easily healed as long as the parent only sees things as a parent and the child only from his or her own viewpoint. 

In a genuine discussion, it is best if we can see any confrontations that arise as just another from our connectedness. If both parent and child can see themselves as sharing common ground-making up a family together- things can take a surprisingly easy turn for the better. The deeper the common feeling that binds us, the more we can embrace those who differ from us and ensure that dialogue will lead to a fruitful outcome. 

Whether the problem is that of a single family, or international in scope, if those involved can view things from a higher perspective, with a sense of shared purpose, the gears of dialogue will always start to turn in a positive direction. 

If more people were to pursue dialogue in an equally broadminded and persistent manner, I am sure that the inevitable conflicts of human life would find easier resolution. Prejudice would give way to understanding and war to peace. Genuine dialogue results in the transformation of opposing viewpoints, changing them from wedges that drive people apart into bridges that link them together. 


May 21, 2011

May 10, 2011

A Conversation with the Gohonzon

By Anonymous

Me: GOHONZON!!!! !!!!!

Gohonzon : Hello. Did you call me?

Me: Called you? No.. who is this?

Gohonzon : This is GOHONZON.. I heard your prayers. So I thought I will chat.

Me: I do pray. Just makes me feel good. I am actually busy now. I am in the midst of something.

Gohonzon : What are you busy at? Ants are busy too.

Me: Don't know. But I cant find free time. Life has become hectic. It's rush hour all the time .
Gohonzon : Sure. Activity gets you busy. But productivity gets you results. Activity consumes time. Productivity frees it .

Me: I understand. But I still can't figure out. By the way, I was not expecting YOU to buzz me on instant messaging chat.

Gohonzon : Well I wanted to resolve your! fight for time, by giving you some clarity. In this net era, I wanted to reach you through the medium you are comfortable with.

Me: Tell me, why has life become complicated now?

Gohonzon : Stop analyzing life. Just live it. Analysis is what makes it complicated.

Me: why are we then constantly unhappy?

Gohonzon : Your today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. You are worrying because you are analyzing. Worrying has become your habit. That's why you are not happy.

Me: But how can we not worry when there is so much uncertainty?

Gohonzon : Uncertainty is inevitable, but worrying is optional.

Me: But then, there is so much pain due to uncertainty. .

Gohonzon : Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

Me: If suffering is optional, why do good people always suffer?

Gohonzon : Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Good people go through trials, but don't suffer. With that experience their life become better not bitter.

Me
: You mean to say such experience is useful?

Gohonzon : Yes. In every terms, Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.

Me: But still, why should we go through such tests? Why cant we be free from problems?

Gohonzon : Problems are Purposeful Roadblocks Offering Beneficial Lessons (to) Enhance Mental Strength. Inner strength comes from struggle and endurance, not when you! are free from problems.

Me: Frankly in the midst of so many problems, we don't know where we are heading...

Gohonzon : If you look outside you will not know where you are heading.Look inside.. Looking outside, you dream. Looking inside, you awaken. Eyes provide sight. Heart provides insight.

Me: Sometimes not succeeding fast seems to hurt more than moving in the right direction. What should I do?

Gohonzon :
Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure as decided by you. Knowing the road ahead is more satisfying than knowing you rode ahead. You work with the compass. Let others work with the clock.

Me: In tough times, how do you stay motivated?

Gohonzon
: Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.

Me: What surprises you about people?

Gohonzon : when they suffer they ask, "why me?" When they prosper, they never ask "Why me" Everyone wishes to have truth on their side, but few want to be on the side of the truth.

Me:
Sometimes I ask, who am I, why am I here. I cant get the answer.

Gohonzon
: Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation.

Me: How can I get the best out of life?

Gohonzon : Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear.

Me:
One last question. Sometimes I feel my prayers are not answered.

Gohonzon : There are no unanswered prayers. At times the answer is NO.

Me: Thank you for this wonderful chat.

Gohonzon : Well. Keep the faith and drop the fear. Don't believe your doubts and doubt your beliefs.


Life is a mystery to solve not a problem to resolve. Trust me. Life is wonderful if you know how to live. "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that took our breath away! " Remember GOHONZON is in our Inner Soul and GOHONZON 


is the POWER WITHIN, It is your True self; believe that all powers are within ourselves.

(Submitted by Saahil Kalvani) 

May 8, 2011

Thoughts on Peace

by Daisaku Ikeda

"No matter what justifications maybe offered, in my view, there is absolutely no such thing as a just and correct war."

Some people who have seen war stories in the movies or on TV may have been impressed by it; finding it somehow attractive and feeling that the actors looked glamorous and brave.

The reality of war, however, is completely different. It is cruel and filthy and filled with sadness and misery. Anyone who has actually experienced war knows it must never be repeated. I saw more than enough of the horror of war when I was young, living through air raids in which explosives and incendiary bombs fell like rain. Wandering in a sea of fire; worried out of my mind about my family, feeling terrible sadness and helplessness as I saw people dying around me.

No matter what justifications maybe offered, in my view, there is absolutely no such thing as a just and correct war. War treats human life as a means to an end, and it brings only terrible suffering and unhappiness to ordinary men and women on both sides. Each person who has died in war was irreplaceable and precious-someone's parent, child, or friend. That is why we must always oppose war. All conflicts should be resolved, not with violence and brute force, but with wisdom and sustained dialogue.

It may be tempting to think that wars are started by state, or an alliance of countries. However, in fact, wars are started by the workings of the individual human heart. Buddhism teaches that war is the result of anger and egotism. To overcome the threat of war, we must conquer and subdue the selfish nature that lurks in every human heart.

Natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes cannot be prevented by human reason or wisdom. But problems which are caused by human beings can be resolved by human beings themselves.

Two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling wrote in his book, No More War: "I believe that there is a greater power in the world than the evil power of military force or nuclear bombs-there is the power of good, of morality, or humanitarianism. I believe in the power of the human spirit." 



I also hold that an inner change in the depths of people's lives can transform egoism and replace it with a loving humanism that seeks peace and coexistence among all people. So what keeps this 'power if good' from having a greater impact on the world? What hinders progress towards peace? In a single word, it is mistrust. It is the prejudice and preconceptions that grow from mistrust. Often these have roots in past conflicts and rivalries. Without removing this wall of mistrust, and with the effort to discover the goodness that shines in every single human being, no progress towards peace will be possible.  

When I first traveled to the Soviet Union in the early 1970s, people wondered why, as the leader f a religious movement, I wanted to visit a communist country that did not recognize religion. I responded, "because the citizens of the Soviet Union are people, fellow human beings like myself," I wanted somehow to create a new path, to transform mistrust into trust, fear into confidence, an unhealthy lingering over the past into a commitment to the future. In every country I have visited, I have always felt how earnestly people everywhere yearn for peace.

The first condition for world peace is for people to really learn about each other, to start to really understand and appreciate each other. The surest way of melting the 'ice' of mistrust is to promote interaction among ordinary people- through meetings, visits and cultural and educational exchange. Young people who are not caught up in the part can often lead the way.

Many years ago, it was tradition among Canandian Indian indigenous people to hold great celebrations when a daughter came of age. Two daughters of a great chief had reached adulthood and a feast was being prepared. But news arrived that enemies to the north were preparing for war. The daughters went to the father and said, "Dear father! Someday we will become mothers and will give birth to children who will grow up to be strong chiefs like you. For their sake, please invite the people of the north to our celebration." The chief could not refuse his daughters, so reluctanly he sent a message to his long time enemies and invited them.

They came in great numbers, bringing their wives and children and many gifts. War songs changed into songs of joy.

Later the two sisters each gave birth to a son, and they became chiefs called Peace and Brotherly Love. bear Vancouver there is a beautiful twin-peaked mountain and according to legend, the two girls who loved peace became these peaks and still watch over Vancouver today.






I believe it is far too risky to leave the world's future in the hands of politicians., People must be wise and take action themselves to create peace. We must unite across borders: unite in our rejection of the idea of watr itself. When the people of one country communicate with those of others, they can create a current towards peace. It is vital to create a network of people that transcends national borders so that a small number of corrupt leaders cannot break the webs of friendship and solidarity that join us.

Peace can never be attained by passively waiting for it. it is necessary for each of us, no matter how weak we feel we are, to build deep within our hearts a stronghold for peace that can withstand, and in the end silence, the incessant calls of war.  


As Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral has written, "Have courage, my friends! For pacifism is not a sweet jam as some may think...Continue speaking out for peace, against the wind and the waves...Pacifism is not something easy. One must not abide injustice in silence. My friends, continue to cry out, until the circle of peace is expanded."

Real peace is only to be found in the realities of daily life. We must plant the seeds of a fundamental peace in the daily life of individual, in  our hearts and inner lives. And, we must protect and foster these seeds until they grow into the firm reality of peace for all.
Thus, it is up to us to construct a world without war. Whether we give up on this as an impossible goal, or whether we continue the challenge. However great the difficulties involved-on this the fate of the entire twenty-first century depends.








May 3, 2011

Capability in Buddhism

Culture Department meeting at FNCC

President Ikeda's Guidance to Soka High School Baseball Coach:

SHS finally made it to the playoffs, only to lose in the first round.

The Coach wrote to PI:
"Our ace pitcher was drafted and is gone. We are not as strong as we
were; I believe our capability is lower, but we will chant and become
a greater and more capable team."

President Ikeda: "You are wrong. You should have enough capability to
win without having to go back and chant. Become capable and then your
Daimoku will become a strong wind behind your capability. If you are
relying on Daimoku to make it happen rather than on your own
capability, then you are just using faith like a superstition. 

Tumblr


You should practice, and therefore, become capable. The team which
becomes the most capable will be the one which practices and works
hardest and has the most perseverance. Capability is very important
because it requires constant courage and training, but if your
capability counts only 50% and you base the other 50% on Daimoku to
the Gohonzon to bring it about "somehow", then your religion has
become a crutch for you. Religion is not there to hide your
shortcomings, but to strengthen you as a human being."

Apr 9, 2011

Use Buddhism Teachings for Better Relationships

Applying the Principles of Nichiren Buddhism to All Personal Interactions 

Sources: Hochswender, Woody. Martin, Greg. Morino, Ted. The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and Search for the Self. CA: Middleway Press (a division of the SGI-USA), 2001.

Nichiren Buddhism is a faith that lays a lot of stress on personal development and self-improvement. So, even when it comes to fostering strong and positive relationships and develop lasting bonds, it is essential that one makes the desired effort and brings forth a change in one’s attitude and perspective, a process known as Human Revolution. Learn how to use the principles of Nichiren Buddhism to improve relationships and engage in mutually beneficial interactions.

Respect for Everyone

One of the fundamental principles of Nichiren Buddhism is to see the inherent Buddha nature in everyone and therefore, give due respect.
Nichiren Buddhism stresses that everyone has the inherent wisdom and compassion to be a Buddha and that is the reason one must not disrespect or malign another person, because it would be akin to maligning Buddha himself. Relationships would improve dramatically, if everyone could accord the other person proper respect and dignity.


Oppose Evil and Corruption

While Nichiren Buddhism does emphasize respect for every human being, it also, stresses standing up for what is right and opposing injustice and corruption. It teaches that everyone should exercise courage and strength in supporting the right and good.
However, the way to fight is not violent and aggressive; rather it is peaceful and based on effective communication and dialogue. All relationships would benefit greatly if conflicts are resolved in a peaceful, non-confrontational manner.

Being Compassionate and Considerate

One of the foremost qualities of Nichiren Buddhism is to have immense compassion and consideration for everyone. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the happiness of others is something that most Nichiren Buddhists do on a regular basis.
Meeting members who need support, encouraging members and simply, paying attention to others are just some of the things that Nichiren Buddhists do and that is one reason why relationships between the members are strong and close-knit.


Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

Being accountable for one’s actions and not blaming others or circumstances is integral to Nichiren Buddhism. This ensures that every individual learns to introspect and works at becoming a strong, confident person who knows that every action, thought and word would have a corresponding consequence or result. This leads to relationships that are free of blame, guilt and any negativity.

Improving and Changing Ourselves

According to the principles of Nichiren Buddhism, human revolution or self-improvement is at the foundation of all successful relationships. Since the only person upon whom one has real influence is one’s own self, therefore, it makes sense to improve and change oneself to change one’s relationships. This could involve becoming strong enough to move out of an abusive relationship or becoming adaptable and open to a different perspective.
It is easy to see how simple principles of Nichiren Buddhism can enable individuals to form strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with others around them.


 


Apr 4, 2011

Lotus Blossom



Nurtured by the words of the wise
with each rain drop calling His name
in an infinite shower of love
the lotus blossom gently unfolds
as by its very nature must
and displays the center of beauty
free from attachment
free from fear
free from anger
the still, unmoving heart. 

by David Taylor

Mar 31, 2011

Positive Thinking Vs Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

By Kathy Aitken from UKE January 1998

Look in any bookshop, anywhere, and the chances are you'll find a section devoted to 'self-help' titles. These shelves are the domains of the 'positive thinking' manuals - modern day guides to the business of living. Some of them are bestsellers. Each of these offerings has a slightly different slant, but closer examination will reveal common themes: how to develop self-esteem; how to cast off pessimism and start thinking 'big'; how to set goals and then achieve them; how to improve your relationships. The basic message running throughout is: change your thinking and you change your life. It's a laudable theory, but how far does it go?



In Buddhism, the workings of the mind are elucidated by the doctrine called the nine consciousnesses. The first five comprise 'the senses' - sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. It is through these that we have awareness of the world around us. The sixth is the conscious mind which processes the perceptions made by the five senses and translates them into judgements about the external world: "That is an orange." The seventh consciousness, sometimes called the mano-consciousness, equates to the unconscious mind of modern psychology, by dint of which we are able to ponder and reflect: "Because this is an orange it must be full of vitamin C and therefore be good for me."

The eighth level of consciousness is known as the karma storehouse, or alaya consciousness. It is here that the sum total of all our actions - the effects of causes made by thought, word and deed - is stored. This in turn gives rise to the blueprint of our individual lives, or karma, which carries within it the propensity for our own particular ways of thinking, speaking and doing to become ever more defined. 

Beyond this is the ninth consciousness, the Buddha state - the highest consciousness attainable and a boundless source of wisdom, compassion and courage. This state forms the basis of all spiritual functions and is also known as the amala-consciousness - amala meaning pure and undefiled -, which remains forever free from any karmic impurities. Nichiren Daishonin explains that we express this state by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
As can often be seen from the above explanation, all conscious thought - be it positive or negative - takes place at the sixth and seventh levels of consciousness. It follows, therefore, that even the most valiant of mental efforts to upgrade the quality of one's thinking will still be limited by the constraints imposed by one's karma. We cannot reach the deepest level of our inner selves by conscious thought. Although 'positive thinking' no doubt helps in developing various skills in life, we cannot change karma, the eighth consciousness, with our thoughts. 

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon enables us to draw on the amala-consciousness, or as we more commonly call it, Buddhahood. 

When we do this, we are no longer at the mercy of the many distorted views, which are part and parcel of our karma; instead, we can see everything from a much broader perspective than has hitherto been possible. As Nichiren Daishonin so graphically expresses it:
"Fire can be produced by a stone taken from the bottom of a river, and a candle can light up a place that has been dark for billions of years. If even the most ordinary things of this world are such wonders, then how much more wondrous is the power of the Mystic Law." (MW, Vol.1, p. 223)

The fundamental purpose of practicing Buddhism is to reveal Buddhahood and to relieve the sufferings of others by sharing the Buddha's wisdom with them. It is not simply a means to achieve an improvement in one's personal circumstances. Buddhism concerns itself with the fundamental dynamic between ourselves and the rest of the universe, and maximizing the potential for creating happy, fulfilling lives within that dynamic. 

When we truly understand this, we gain sight of the bigger picture and are able to avoid the pitfall of becoming obsessed by our wishes and wants. Instead, we live in the knowledge that 'actual proof' in our circumstances will show itself as a natural result of our profound inner change.

In short, with the wisdom of the Buddha, we can see what actions needs to be taken and when to take it; with the courage of the Buddha we will take that action; and with the compassion of the Buddha, that action will encompass the greatest good for everybody and everything concerned.

True freedom is ours only when we act from a perspective free from karmic influences. By making this our prerogative through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, we begin to establish an inner core of unshakable happiness. Furthermore, we gain the conviction that we will, in this lifetime, overcome our negative karma, develop the attributes of the Buddha, and achieve the fulfillment of all our prayers.

Mar 29, 2011

Challenging our Weakness

Challenging our weakness is the key to believing in ourselves
By Linda C. Johnson, SGI-USA Vice General Director, Los Angeles (from Living Buddhism, January 2003) 

“I had to ask myself whether I truly believed in the power of my prayer to break through my own fears and insecurities.”

I want to unconditionally love myself. I want to embrace every part of me. I want to believe, without reservation, that my life is Nam-myohorenge-kyo itself. My challenge is to believe these things amidst the realities of my daily life. It is a struggle, I believe, all of us face every day.

As I prepared to write this article, my deepest insecurities and fears emerged. I wondered: “What could I say that will inspire someone?” I bathed in those feelings; they enveloped me. As a consequence, I could not write a single word. I turned to prayer, chanting to be able to write an article that would encourage others and help them break through the deadlocks in their lives. But my doubts lingered. I fought them continuously, during the day whenever they arose, as well as when I sat chanting in front of the Gohonzon. In spite of how I was feeling, I poured my entire life into encouraging others during meetings and guidance sessions. I told them that, with faith, they had the power to do anything. In the meantime, I remained stuck.

It was as a result of my fervent prayer that I realized I would never be able to write anything as long as I permitted myself to hold on to the doubt in my ability to write an article that would encourage others. I turned to “Reply to Kyo’o,” one of my favorite writings by Nichiren Daishonin. In it, the Daishonin tells us: “Believe in this mandala with all your heart. Nam-myohorenge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 412).

I had to ask myself whether I truly believed in the power of my prayer to break through my own fears and insecurities. I prayed sincerely to trust what Nichiren Daishonin was telling me. I also prayed to have unshakeable confidence that, with prayer as my foundation, I could overcome my doubts and write an inspiring article. My doubt, however, did not disappear instantly. There were times while I was chanting that it felt as if every cell in my body wanted to run away. The television was calling me. The telephone was ringing. I had chores to do. I returned to “Reply to Kyo’o”: “A sword is useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith. Then one will be as strong as a demon armed with an iron staff. I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart” (WND, 412).

This was my answer. I had to muster the courage to confront my fear. No matter how painful my current situation, I could not back down. For days, I continued to challenge my insecurity with prayer while immersing myself in activities to help others overcome their problems. Then, the day before I was scheduled to submit my article, I had my breakthrough. I had finally understood why I had been going through so much agony. The issue wasn’t the article. I needed to confront my own doubt, my own lack of belief in my inherent power to challenge and win over my fears and insecurities.

Whether we are writing an article, facing illness, being terminated from a job or looking for our soul mate, the process is the same. We must transform our weaknesses into strengths. We must face our suffering and triumph over it. This experience became the catalyst for me to explain how one uses faith to transform challenging daily life situations into an uncompromising opportunity for growth. This, I believe, is the essence of the concept of the oneness of good and evil.



Nichiren Buddhism makes it clear that everything and everyone in life has both a good and an evil side. I know that some people have an immediate negative response to the word evil. Evil also is synonymous with the words selfishness and self-centeredness. Life at every moment is a battle between these two opposing forces of good and evil. In other words, when we manifest our Buddhahood, it does not mean that our self-centeredness goes away. Instead, our ability to continue to uncover more of our potential is directly related to our ability to create value using the self-centered side, rather than allowing it to affect us negatively. In other words, the impact that our own self-centeredness or that of others will have on us is based on our response to it.

In Webster’s New World Dictionary, one of the definitions of respond is “to have a positive or favorable reaction.” This definition accords with Nichiren Buddhism, the Buddhism of true cause. We cannot change the past. In this moment, however, with our thoughts, words, and actions, we are creating our future. In this moment, through our actions, we have the opportunity to change anything and everything. Isn’t that the meaning of true cause? We affect change by how we respond to our circumstances. For example, rather than an automatic negative response to difficult circumstances, we must, like the definition, “have a positive or favorable reaction” in order to create the outcome we are seeking.

Many of us think that if we don’t do anything the problem will just go away on its own. This is not the case. Even if it seemingly goes away temporarily, it comes back bigger and stronger.

President Ikeda explains: “The strength of our mind of faith changes suffering into joy, into a tailwind to propel our further advance. This is what the ‘Devadatta’ chapter teaches. Nichiren Daishonin says: ‘Devadatta was the foremost good friend to the Thus Come One Shakyamuni. In this age as well, it is not one’s allies but one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress’ (WND, 770). 

To attain Buddhahood, we have to thoroughly conquer our own inner evil. The concrete means for doing so is struggling against and defeating external evil. Struggling to defeat evil enables us to polish and purify our lives and attain Buddhahood. Because we strive against the ultimate evil, we attain the ultimate good” (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. III, p. 84).

In other words, the oneness of good and evil means that where evil exists, there is the potential for good, and where good exists, there is the potential for evil. Whether evil is transformed into something good is totally dependent upon our reaction to evil. Do we use our circumstances as a justification for our failure, or do we use our circumstances as an opportunity to develop our strength? When we challenge evil with the spirit that we will create something of value out of it, then evil functions to propel us forward. It becomes the catalyst for our growth. “If evil functions to reveal good, then evil in its entirety becomes good. This is truly the oneness of good and evil. But if evil is simply allowed to run its course, then it does not become good. Only when evil is thoroughly challenged and conquered does it become an entity of the oneness of good and evil” (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. III, p. 83).

Art by Seleus


In addition to our individual lives, this principle also applies to the situation we are facing with Nichiren Shoshu. We live during a historic time, a time when we have the opportunity to prove the correctness of Nichiren Buddhism by the way we respond. Nikken is changing Nichiren’s teachings by proclaiming, for example, that people can only attain enlightenment by going through him. Are we going to permit Nikken to change the teachings, or are we, through our efforts, going to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to practice Buddhism correctly as taught by Nichiren? Are we going to prove that Nikken is wrong by showing the undeniable growth of the lives of SGI members throughout the world?

Happiness, from the perspective of Nichiren Buddhism, is not a state of life in which there are no problems. Instead, happiness is to be found in challenging and winning over our problems. I believe that the happiness we seek is the feeling that occurs whenever we cross that finish line, in spite of the fact that our heart is pounding, our feet hurt, and our lungs feel as if they are about to explode. That feeling of triumph against all odds is a state of pure joy that no one can give us, no matter how much they might love us. It is a state that we can achieve only through our own efforts.



This state of happiness is also greatly enhanced through our efforts to help others. I continually find that whenever I do my best to encourage another person in faith, no matter how I am feeling, my life-condition is positively transformed. Giving to others expands our own lives in wonderful, sometimes unimaginable ways.
We must, therefore, perfect our practice for ourselves and for others. Both aspects are essential parts of our practice. Not only must we challenge our own weaknesses, we must use our lives to help others win. For example, do we take the responsibility to help our friends in faith have a victory? Do we pray to make this happen? Maximum growth requires that we perfect both parts of our practice.

In this regard, I must mention that I have recently met many members who are stuck in what I call a maintenance practice. They are comfortable, even if it means being comfortable with being uncomfortable. They have lost their seeking spirit, the will to seek out challenges. They have no personal goals. This is a dangerous condition because, from my own experience, it robs us of our passion and enthusiasm for life. We are not even aware of what is happening at first. By the time we are conscious that our lives are missing something, our apathy has become highly developed, and it seems almost impossible to change.

There is no neutral gear in life. We are either going forward or backward at every moment. We need goals. They make us alive and deepen our understanding of this Buddhism. After all, how can we see change if there is no standard by which to measure growth? Challenging and achieving goals are the means we use to prove to ourselves as well as to others the power of the Mystic Law.

I believe that the challenge facing every human being is the ability to truly love and believe in oneself. What I have learned as a result of facing my insecurities and fears during the process of writing this article is that I do not
need to rid myself of weakness. Instead, I must train myself to learn how to use it as my motivation to create positive change in my life. The power to make this possible is sincere prayer based on a powerful determination. Prayer makes what we normally would consider impossible into something possible.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the song “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Negativity self-centered-ness and obstacles can be the wind beneath our wings that propels us to soar even higher. Viewing challenges this way may require rethinking the way we live our lives. I am convinced, however, that living this way is the key to experiencing a joyflul, fulfilled existence; one in which we will come to know and believe that Nam myoho-renge-kyo is life itself.

Success is triumphing over challenges. We must challenge ourselves to do everything we think we cannot do. Only then will we truly come to know that we have nothing to fear because, with the Mystic Law as our foundation, we can transform any weakness into strength. That being so, I think you and I are perfect just the way we are.

Mar 27, 2011

Faith and Attitude

Written by By SGI-UK Advisor Mitsuhiro Kaneda, UK Express March 2000 

Today I’d like to talk to you about how to make your prayers as effective as possible.
Firstly, it is very important to set clear goals. If you are sick, your goal will be to get better as quickly as possible; if you have problems with human relationships, you will want to get over these as soon as possible; and if you have financial difficulties, then of course you should be setting goals accordingly.

Once you have decided on the goal, the most important thing to do next is make a strong determination: ‘Whatever happens, I absolutely will attain that goal’. A firm determination like this is very important. The next stage, of course, is prayer. And after chanting daimoku, the next step necessary is to take action in order to realize your goal. Of course, after we’ve done all that, we know what the effect will be: actual proof. If we do not achieve the goal we have set then, in certain cases, we may need to review the determination, set a new goal, and once again strive to achieve it.

Why we need to pray
There are three reasons why we should pray. Firstly, so we can have the same wisdom as the Buddha. Secondly, so that we can have life-force, in other words the energy, the courage, to take action. Thirdly, so that we can benefit from the protection of the shoten zenjin, the Buddhist ‘gods’, the protective functions within the universe.

One point I’d like to make sure that you really understand, is that the shoten zenjin only start to take action and protect us when we ourselves undertake action. So, in order for us to achieve a goal, we need to act. We need to move. We need to make efforts. And it is important that our actions and our efforts are the best we can possibly undertake. To ensure that our actions and efforts are efficient, we need wisdom. Furthermore, if we are to attain the goal we have set ourselves, we need to make constant efforts – and we also need courage.


So we pray to the Gohonzon to have the wisdom to take the best, most efficient action possible; to have the life-force to make constant efforts; and to attract the protection of the shoten zenjin when we take an action. However, even if we chant ever so hard, it will be very difficult to boil that pot of spaghetti unless we take action. And to make sure that we not only boil the spaghetti, but that it is al dente, we need wisdom and we need experience.

Quality of prayer
The quality of our prayer is also extremely important. For example, someone who is sick may simply pray to overcome their illness. Or they may pray to regain their health in order to fight for kosen rufu. There is a very big difference between these two types of prayer.

To take another example, suppose there’s a couple who have been unable to have children, despite trying for a long time. While they may be chanting to have a child as soon as possible, what are their reasons for wanting a child? Are their reasons purely personal, because it would make them happy, because they want to have children? Or are they chanting to have a child do that they can bring this child up to become someone who will be a capable person for kosen rufu? There is a huge difference between these two in terms of quality of prayer.

The reason it is very important for us to focus on the quality of our prayer is that President Ikeda has said that true and sincere prayers for kosen rufu (not prayers aimed dimply at justifying our own point of view) will be answered without fail.

Taking action
Very often, however, members chant a lot of daimoku but do not take any action. Some people don’t take action because they are afraid of the results they might see. They are afraid that they won’t see the result they want, so they don’t take any action. For example, a salaried employee with a fixed income might want to become self-employed, or start his or her own business, but might not take any action for fear of accumulating a lot of debt.

Another common example is found amongst young people who want to get married. Because they’re not sure that the marriage will work out, and that they will live happily ever after, they are full of anxiety. So, before they get married, they think, “Well, maybe we should live together.” Some end up not getting married as a result of having lived together.

So, even when people chant a lot of daimoku, other factors such as personality and human character come into play and prevent people from taking action, even if they are praying.
Of course, taking action also includes Soka Gakkai activities. When you participate in Soka Gakkai activities, you are encouraging others. So you are actually working as a messenger of the Buddha. Inevitably, therefore, all those who participate in Gakkai activities will accumulate good fortune. And because these people accumulate good fortune, they will be able to achieve their goals and show actual proof.

I know that all of us have very different circumstances and situations – some of us may not have that much free time. Nevertheless, I really want to encourage all of you to participate in Gakkai activities because this will allow not only you, but your whole family, to be bathed in good fortune. So in order to achieve our goals, not only do we need to take concrete action, we also need good fortune. That is why Soka Gakkai activities are crucial.



Make up your mind
In Italy, we have a couple who have been living together for fourteen years. Once they came to me because they wanted to receive guidance. I said to them, “You’ve been trying out your relationship by living together for fourteen years now. The fact that it has continued this long, is this not a sign that it is working?

Even though their relationship had been successful and they still wanted to live together, they still weren’t sure whether they should get married. Of course I gave them all kinds of encouragement, but there is one particular point that I would like to share with you. I asked them, “In order to make a firm determination, how much time do you need?” To make a determination requires less than one second. So I asked, “How many seconds there have been in fourteen years?”

You may laugh at this story but please, reflect on your own life.
To sum up, to put Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism into practice, we need to decide, chant and take action.

FAITH AND PRACTICE DOUBT-FREE FAITH
DECIDE

Clarify the goal and make a determination
DECIDE CHANT CHANT
If you have a problem,
Chant one million daimoku
ACT ACT
Make maximum effort;
strive to resolve the problem
EXPERIENCE
Accumulating experiences deepens one’s faith
Theories without experiences are
no more than pure idealism
RESULT
Show actual proof DON’T DOUBT
Faith means having no doubts
BELIEVE

Mar 24, 2011

Mar 16, 2011

‘Never Be Defeated! Have Courage! Have Hope!’

‘Never Be Defeated! Have Courage! Have Hope!’

The following is SGI President Ikeda’s message to those affected by the March
11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. The message originally
appeared in the March 16 edition of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily
newspaper.

I offer my sincerest condolences to those of you who have been affected by the
devastating earthquake and tsunamis that struck northeastern Japan five days ago
(March 11) and have left many people still missing and unaccounted for. I can
only imagine the fatigue and exhaustion you must be suffering. My wife and I,
along with the members throughout Japan and the world, are sending daimoku
[Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] to you with all our hearts, earnestly praying for your
health and well-being, and that all Buddhas and bodhisattvas—the positive forces
of the universe—will rigorously protect you. I wish to deeply thank those of you who are selflessly devoting yourselves to the rescue and relief efforts in the stricken areas. I also truly appreciate those of you who are supporting your communities as solid and reliable pillars during this difficult time. 


Takuboku Ishikawa, a renowned, youthful poet who hailed from Tohoku, the northeastern region of Japan, declared: “Helping one person is a far greater achievement than becoming the ruler of a country.” I, therefore, express
my deepest respect and gratitude to all of you.

Nichiren Daishonin writes that even if we should meet with disasters and
calamities, they cannot destroy our hearts (see The Writings of Nichiren
Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 135). Nothing can destroy the treasures of the heart. Every
adversity is but a trial for us to overcome so that we can attain eternal happiness.
Nichiren Buddhism, our practice of faith in the Mystic Law, enables us to
transform all poison into medicine without fail. I am offering solemn prayers for all your loved ones—family members and friends—who have lost their lives. This disaster is truly heartbreaking. 

Life, however, is eternal, and through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can
transcend life and death to connect with the lives of those who have passed away.
Your deceased loved ones and friends, who through you share a profound
connection with the Mystic Law, will definitely be enfolded in the embrace of the
heavenly deities, attain Buddhahood and be reborn quickly somewhere close to
you. This is an essential teaching of Nichiren Buddhism. During the Daishonin’s lifetime as well, what was known as the great earthquake of the Shoka era (August 1257) caused unprecedented damage.

Grieved by the pain and suffering of the people and amid great persecutions, the
Daishonin embarked on writing his treatise, “On Establishing the Correct
Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” thereby raising the banner of peace and justice for all humankind. He assures us: “When great evil occurs, great good
follows” (WND-1, 1119).

Today, March 16, is the day that my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president
Josei Toda, entrusted his youthful successors with carrying on the work of kosen-
rufu in order to eradicate misery from the face of the earth. Now, let us
triumphantly overcome this great disaster by further strengthening our vow for
kosen-rufu while wholeheartedly supporting and encouraging each other.
I am fervently praying and calling out to each of you: “Never be defeated! Have
courage! Have hope!”

Feb 28, 2011

My 4th Year

Today, I celebrate my Gohonzon Birthday. Its been 4 years now since I became a Nichiren Buddhist and I know now when they say that it is easy to start but harder to continue. I've said this before and I will say it again. But I also wanted to add that a Buddhist practice is a lifelong journey. Its never-ending. I've met many members who've been practicing longer than I have, some over 30 years. And most of them have shared with me how they are still learning and discovering what they are made of through the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
My Gohonzon was presented to me by the wonderful late Tim Dennis at the White Plains cultural center. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was so ready. I felt it in my bones. I felt like I was shot into the sun. I was beaming. I anxiously awaited the day to enshrine my Gohonzon. I was excited and went out and bought everything for my Butsudan. I could feel myself glowing.
Fast forward 4 years now and that glow is still there despite struggles. It glows dimly, at times flickers, other times I have to re-light it. But one thing's for sure, that inner light will never stay dark as long as I have my Buddhist practice.

Thank you for all the lovely and encouraging words. Let's continue this journey together.

Sincerely, Seleus/Lotus Flower



WHAT A FEELING (I can have it all, now I'm Chanting for my Life)

First, when there's nothing but a slow glowing dream
That your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind
All alone I have cried silent tears full of pride
In a world made of steel, made of stone

Well I hear the music, close my eyes, feel the rhythm
Wrap around, take a hold of my heart
What a feeling, bein's believin'
I can have it all, now I'm chanting for my life

What a feeling
Take your passion, and make it happen
Dreams come alive, you can chant right through your life

Now I hear the music, close my eyes, I am rhythm
In a flash it takes hold of my heart


What a feeling, bein's believin'
I can have it all, now I'm chanting for my life
What a feeling
What a feeling (I am chanting now), bein's believin' (I am rhythm now)
Dreams come alive, you can dance right through your life
What a feeling (I can really have it all)
What a feeling (Dreams come alive when I chant)
I can have it all (I can really have it all)
Have it all (Dreams come alive when I chant)
(chant, chant, chant, chant, what a feeling) I can have it all

(Revised words by Maria Centeno)

Feb 24, 2011

Result is a Reflection of Your Faith in the Gohonzon


(Thanks to Donna for this)

Whatever you are thinking in front of the Gohonzon will be true for you. Are you thinking failure or victory? Are you trying to tell the Gohonzon how to solve your problems or are you turning over your heart's desire with unlimited trust to the Gohonzon?  The Gohonzon's power is beyond comprehension of our minds. This is why we call it mystic. Our challenge is to dream of results as big as the power of the Gohonzon, which has no limit. With this attitude of faith, you can tap the infinite power of joy, gratitude and victory. If you find you are stuck, pray to the release the chains of doubt and fear clouding your mind of faith. Pray for unbounded confidence and courage to win over your past and joyfully step into your bright future.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Jan 23, 2011

As Long as We're Alive


As long as we're alive, we will experience suffering. But it does not mean we have to be unhappy. Unhappiness comes from allowing ourselves to be controlled by life's ups and down feeling, from feeling defeated from losing hope, losing courage, losing the will to advance. Learn to defend yourself with Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.