Dec 16, 2012

Good and Evil

"If we lack the courage to confront evil acts, or tendencies toward hatred and discrimination, both within ourselves and in society, they will spread unchecked, as history shows. Martin Luther King, Jr., lamented, 'We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.'"

Good and evil have often been looked upon as diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive. But in a real, practical sense, such a simplistic way of thinking is unsatisfactory. Even the cruelest of criminals may possess a strong sense of love or compassion toward his parents and children. Is such a person fundamentally good or evil?

The Buddhist understanding is that good and evil are innate, inseparable aspects of life. This view makes it impossible to label a particular individual or group as "good" or "evil." Every single human being is capable of acts of the most noble good, or the basest evil.

by sanguisGelidus

Moreover, good and evil in Buddhism are seen not as absolute but relative or "relational." The good or evil of an act is understood in terms of its actual impact on our own lives and the lives of others, not on abstract rules of conduct.

Evil actions are those which are based on a narrow selfishness, the delusion that our lives are fundamentally disconnected from those of others and that we can benefit at their expense. Evil views life as a means to be expended, not an end in itself. Good is that which generates connection between ourselves and others, healing and restoring the bonds among human societies.

In the context of Buddhism, good is identified with "the fundamental nature of enlightenment," or absolute freedom and happiness resulting from profound self-knowledge. Evil indicates "fundamental darkness," or life's innate delusion which negates the potential of enlightenment and causes suffering for oneself and others. This inner darkness echoes with the despair that our lives are ugly and meaningless; it also drives a wedge of fear that splits the hearts of people into "us" and "them."

A Buddha is someone who has the courage to acknowledge these two fundamental aspects of life. As Nichiren states, "One who is thoroughly awakened to the nature of good and evil from their roots to their branches and leaves is called a Buddha." Buddhas accept their innate goodness without arrogance because they know all people share the same Buddha nature. Buddhas also recognize their innate evil without despair because they know they have the strength to overcome and control their negativity.

Unwillingness to acknowledge the potential of both supreme good and evil can stem from the fact that as individuals we are reluctant to see ourselves as either very good or very bad, hiding instead behind a collective moral mediocrity that requires neither the responsibility of goodness nor the guilt of evil. And perhaps this moral ambiguity within seems to demand quick judgment of others-viewing those who serve our interests as "good people" and those whom we dislike as "bad people" as if to counterbalance that inner confusion with external clarity.

Some view Buddhism as a teaching of tranquility and repose--of passivity even--whereas in fact the practice of Buddhism is not about "staying safe." It is a constant struggle to create value and change evil into good through our own efforts to confront it. Nichiren writes, "Opposing good is called evil, opposing evil is called good."

Soka Gakkai founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, imprisoned for his criticism of Japan's wartime policies, is said to have engaged his fellow prisoners in a debate on the nature of good and evil, asking if there was a difference between not doing good and committing actual evil.

If we lack the courage to confront evil acts, or tendencies toward hatred and discrimination, both within ourselves and in society, they will spread unchecked, as history shows. Martin Luther King, Jr., lamented, "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."

In the words of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, "The universe, this world and our own lives, are the stage for a ceaseless struggle between hatred and compassion, the destructive and constructive aspects of life. We must never let up, confronting evil at every turn."

And in the end, the evil over which we must triumph is the impulse toward hatred and destruction that resides in us all. The process of acknowledging, confronting and transforming our own fundamental darkness is the means by which we can strengthen the functioning of good in our lives.

[Courtesy October 2002 SGI Quarterly]

Dec 5, 2012

Happy Holidays

Hello everyone!

I am truly sorry I've been away for so long. I just wanted to check in and wish everyone who is still watching my blog, a happy Holiday season. I hope its filled with joy, laughter, great company, an abundance of food, love and shelter.


Dec 2, 2012

Real, True Love, Relationships & Broken Hearts

 By Daisaku Ikeda

Real love is not two people clinging to each other; it can only be fostered between two strong people secure in their individuality. A shallow person will have only shallow relationships. If you want to experience real love, it is important to first sincerely develop a strong self-identity.

 True love is not about doing whatever the other person wants you to do or pretending you are something you’re not. if someone genuinely loves you, he or she will not force you to do anything against your will nor embroil you in some dangerous activity.

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

Does that person inspire you to work harder at your studies or distract you from them? Does his or her presence make you more determined to devote greater energies to school activities, be a better friend, a more thoughtful son or daugther? Does he or she inspire you to realize your future goals and work to achieve them? Or is that person your central focus, overshadowing all else - your school activities, your friends and family and even your goals?

If you are neglecting the things you should be doing, forgetting your purpose in life because of the relationship you’re in, then you’re on the wrong path. A healthy relationship is one in which two people encourage each other to reach their respective goals while sharing each other’s hopes and dreams. A healthy relationship should be a source of inspiration, invigoration and hope.

If love could be explained logically, all the agonizing it causes would vanish from the world. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that, without respect, no relationship will last for very long nor can two people bring out the best in each other.

Rather than becoming so love-struck that you create a world where only the two of you exist, it is much healthier to learn from those aspects of your partner that you respect and admire and continue to make efforts to improve and develop yourself.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, once wrote, “Love is not two people gazing at each other, but two people looking ahead together in the same direction.” It follows then that relationships last longer when both partners share similar values and beliefs.

Partners in a relationship have different roles. There are times when the burning intensity and power of the sun are called for, and times when the soothing luminescence and serene wisdom of the moon is what’s needed. A complementary relationship in which the partners cooperate and work together is a beautiful thing.

Much of daily life tends to be ordinary and unexciting. Making steady efforts day to day can be trying. It’s not always going to be fun. But, when you fall in love, life seems filled with drama and excitement; you feel like the leading character in a novel.

If you get lost in love just because you’re bored, though, and consequently veer from the path you should be following, then love is nothing more than escapism. What you are doing is retreating into a dream world, believing that what is only an illusion is actually real.

If you try to use love as an escape, the euphoria is unlikely to last for long. If anything, you may only find yourselves with even more problems - along with a great deal of pain and sadness. However much we may try, we can never run away from ourselves. If we remain weak, suffering will follow us wherever we go. We will never find happiness if we don’t change ourselves from within.

Happiness is not something that someone else, like a lover, can give to us. We have to achieve it for ourselves. And the only way to do so is by developing our character and capacity as human beings; by fully maximizing our potential. If we sacrifice our growth and talent for love, we absolutely will not find happiness. True happiness is obtained through fully realizing our potential.

Each of you has a precious mission that only you can fulfill. Suffering people around the world are waiting for your brave endeavors. To neglect your mission and seek only personal pleasure is a sign of selfishness. It is impossible for an egotistic, self-centered individual to truly love another person.

On the other hand, if you genuinely love someone, then through your relationship with him or her, you can develop into a person whose love extends to all humanity. Such a relationship serves go strengthen, elevate and enrich your inner realm of life. Ultimately, the relationships you form are a reflection of your own state of life.

Some people are plunged into deep despair and lose all meaning in life when a relationship ends or their hearts are broken. Some take the rejection as a personal negation of everything they stand for and feel as if they have no value or worth left as human beings.

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

Please don’t let a broken heart discourage you. Tell yourselves that you’re not so weak or fragile as to let such a minor thing bring you down. You may think no one could possibly compare to the one you are interested in, but how will he or she compare to the next 100, the next 1,000, the enxt 10,000 people you will meet? You cannot declare with certainty that there won’t be others who far surpass him or her. As you grow, the way you look at people will change as well.

I’m sure quite a few among you have had your hearts broken or been badly hurt and perhaps feel unable to go on, your self-esteem in tatters. But you must never believe that you are worthless. There is no substitute for you, who are more precious than all the treasures in the universe gathered together. No matter what your present circumstances, I think of all of you as my irreplaceable sons and daughters, and I have the greatest expectation that you will overcome all obstacles and rise out of any suffering and despair.

It is crucial that we become strong. If we are strong, even our sadness will become a source of nourishment, and the things that make us suffer will purify our lives.
Only when we experience the crushing, painful depths of suffering can we begin to understand the true meaning of life. Precisely because we have experienced great suffering, it is imperative that we go on living.

The important thing is to keep moving forward. If each of you use your sadness as a source of growth, you will become a person of greater depth and breadth - an even more wonderful you. This is the harvest of your pain and suffering.

Hold your head high. Because you have lived with all your might, you are victors. You must not sink into depression or take a path that leads to self-destruction.

Daisaku Ikeda

Feb 29, 2012

Daimoku Charts has been set up to make it easy to share daimoku charts.  Check out all the daimoku charts and download the ones you want.  (There's a kid's daimoku chart at the end, too.)

Credit:  The site was set up by Rob R to share daimoku charts with SGI members.  These charts were created either by hand or in Powerpoint. 

Feb 13, 2012

Celebrating SGI Womens Division 2012

Happy SGI USA Women's month!