Oct 31, 2014

Boy George: 'I'm Catholic In My Complications And Buddhist In My Aspirations'

 Watch Interview here

Boy George offered an eloquent explanation of his evolving spirituality during a conversation with HuffPost Live on Wednesday.
The music icon, who is set to reunite with his band Culture Club for a tour this year, is a mix of many ideas. He had a "strong Catholic upbringing," he eventually became a vegetarian thanks to preaching from Hare Krishna devotees, and he's practiced Nichiren Buddhism for the last four years.
"I always say I'm Catholic in my complications and Buddhist in my aspirations," Boy George told HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani.

Embracing Buddhism, which includes "morning gongyo," has made a significant impact on him.
"It's a practice that improves my life on a daily basis," Boy George said. "It changes the way I behave. It changes the way I behave towards myself, towards other people, and I would highly recommend it."

TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc

Oct 13, 2014

Sep 18, 2014

Making a Change in One's Heart

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

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

Daisaku Ikeda
Living Buddhism -Nov/Dec 2006

Aug 28, 2014

The Heart is Most Important

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

Living Buddhism- Sept- Oct 2006

Aug 18, 2014

Aug 4, 2014

Viewing Illness as an Opportunity

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

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

Jul 27, 2014

What is Compassion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-April 2000/Living Buddhism

Jul 15, 2014

Encouragement about Relationships

Love by zhornik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 9, 2014

The Truest Happiness


little Lotus girls by hyamei

Some people tend to think happiness hinges on whether they have enough money, a certain level of education, a successful career, healthy relationships, good looks, good physical health or other external circumstances. They may think, If I just has this one thing, then I'd be happy. But even experiencing one favorable circumstance after another doesn't guarantee happiness. Life includes good and bad times, favorable and challenging circumstances.

 The purpose of our Buddhist practice is to help us appreciate every moment of our lives and live bravely, boldly and happily in a world filled with joys, sufferings and everything in between.

 This was Nichiren Daishonin's message in this letter to his disciple Shijo Kingo. Kingo had been discouraged by the downpour of hardships and pressures he faced following his unsuccessful efforts to convert his lord, Ema, to Nichiren's teachings. Lord Ema was a supporter of Ryokan, a powerful priest who held great enmity toward Nichiren.
 Nichiren explained to Kingo that sufferings are a part of life. But he also assured Kingo that, through his efforts to uphold and spread the Mystic Law, he would experience the "boundless joy of the Law."

 In this letter, Nichiren cites a passage from the "Life Span" chapter of the Lotus Sutra: "........where living beings enjoy themselves at ease." This phrase is part of the daily sutra recitation conducted by SGI members, written in the liturgy as shujo sho yu-raku (see Liturgy of Nichiren Buddhism, p. 12). It describes the indestructible life-condition of deep joy and fulfillment we refer to as Buddhahood.

 Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda explained Buddhahood as the state of "absolute happiness." In strictly encouraging a young woman discouraged by the bleak outlook of her future, President Toda said: "What you think faith is? Are you anxious to live in comfort? Do you want to be flattered by others? Did you convert simply to achieve an outward appearance of happiness? The ultimate objective of Nichiren Daishonin' s Buddhism lies in awakening to your eternal life. This is something you yourself must acquire through your own experience. This attainment is called absolute happiness, because it is indestructible and endures for all eternity. To achieve it, we must continue our faith" (The Human Revolution, p. 323).

 He stressed that each person must strive to establish this grand life- state within. In other words, happiness is not dependent on external circumstances or other people. It is solely dependent on our own efforts and awakening. The relative or temporary joy that comes from fulfilling a particular desire is not comparable to the profound state of life achieved through taking actions based on the Mystic Law. Such momentary joy fades with the dimming of the desire and may be called "relative happiness." The "boundless joy of the law" lasts for an eternity and equates to "absolute happiness."

 SGI President Ikeda says: "True happiness is not feeling happiness one moment and then misery the next. Rather, overcoming the tendency to blame our sufferings on others or on the environment enables us to greatly expand our state of life." (Learning from the Gosho: The Eternal Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 237).

 When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, we fuse our lives with the Mystic Law. At the same time, we are battling the inner darkness that prevents this fusion from taking place. When we overpower this darkness of delusion of ignorance and fuse our lives with the Mystic Law, we can experience its unlimited power in our lives. Chanting is the greatest cause to reveal Buddhahood in our lives. Therefore, Nichiren says, "There is no true happiness for human beings other than chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo."
 President Toda described the expansive state of life we gain through Buddhist practice as follows: "It is like lying sprawled on your back in a wide-open space looking up at the sky. All that you wish for immediately appears. No matter how much you may give away, there is always more. It is never exhausted" (Lectures on "Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime," p. 35).

 Through persisting in our SGI activities to practice and spread Nichiren Buddhism, we can bring forth the wisdom, courage, hope and joy to conquer even the most severe problems. We can feel at "at ease" and find the peace of mind regardless of our circumstances. Buddhism teaches us that experiencing difficulties allows us to treasure happiness. And both suffering and joy are necessary to truly understand the deeper significance of our existence. As long as we continue to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, working for our own happiness and that of others, we establish at fundamental core of our lives the greatest causes for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

World Tribune- Feb 2009

Jul 3, 2014

Source of Victory

Faith is the source of victory for everything. It is the foundation of our Buddhist practice for the happiness of ourselves and others. It is the key to carrying out our human revolution and transforming our karma. It is the sharp sword for cutting through the force for kosen-rufu, and for realizing lasting peace and prosperity based on the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhism.

~ Living Buddhism 2012

Jul 1, 2014

Understanding Negative Internal Functions

"The fifth cause of disease is the working of 'devils' from within that manifest in the form of mental illness.....
Devils in Buddhist mythology are personificationsof negative internal functions. They represent selfish attachments of bad influences that hinder people's pursuit of truth and that work to prevent them from cultivating a strong, positive life force. Devliish functions are aspects of our own lives that damage our health and hamper the practice of Buddhist teachings.

"Devils represent the fundmental tendency of an individual's life toward disharmony of body and mind. Unlike the other four causes of illness, this affects the relam of the mind. Its source is located not in external influences but within the individual, so that the person's life is robbed of its brilliance. The result is the emergence of life's fundamental darkness or delusion.

"From darkness and delusion arise the three poisons- greed, anger and foolishness. These poisons are understood as the source of all destructive, selfish desires or attachments, and are essentially devilish"
(Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, pg. 67).

Daisaku Ikeda
Living Buddhism -Nov/Dec 2006

May 11, 2014

People From All Ethnicities Turning To Buddhism For Strength

People From All Ethnicities Turning To Buddhism For Strength

Buddhism is oftentimes viewed as a mysterious Eastern religion. A series circulating on the web is helping to change that perception. Joining us this week on MY Lifestyle Extra is Jeremy Joffee, an award-winning filmmaker who received a student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

His current project, “Buddhist In America,” tells the inspiring stories of people from different ethnicities who have turned to Nichiren Buddhism for strength and to overcome their problems. Watch the video for a peek at one of the touching stories of a woman with Latin roots who turned to the faith during a difficult period in her life.

MY Lifestyle Magazine is a boutique publication for chic bicultural Latinos. From health, beauty, travel, entertainment and fashion, this national publication reveals all the latest cultural styles and trends. It is the first multimedia platform for bicultural readers, as 85 percent of the content is in English and 15 percent in Spanish.