On responsibility…

I haven’t even visited this blog for ages. 

Life is rushed and so busy.

Daimoku went up and down.

I became a Young Women’s leader. Still can’t believe how much responsibility I was entrusted with. It’s overwhelming.

Every time you take up something like that, all the darkness in the world seems to be coming your way. It joins your fundamental darkness, they cuddle and double. It’s overwhelming too. Well, it can be when you forget how to fight it. I still remember though sometimes I’m too lazy to do that and these are the times I lose control. And I hate losing control. It feels like falling of a skyscraper and there’s nothing to catch you, nothing to hold on to on your way, no hope. In those moments all you need is a ray of light cutting through the dark and save you. Might sound a bit Paulo Coelho now but the ray of light is, paradoxically, you. For normal people it’s cheesy and cliche and not logical. For me it is the most natural thing in the world. I have faith in the law, I’ve taken responsibility for my life and with the lion’s roar I fight and refuse to be defeated! Why can’t I be my own sun? Being the sun I don’t only light the way for me. I light the way for others. I warm others up. I bring smile to people’s faces. It’s brilliant! (No pun intended) All it takes is to remember that. Or you might just keep this Sensei’s guidance close 🙂

Soulless

Do you know the feeling like you have no soul?

Like the world around you thinks that it’s you but it’s only the shell. And it’s empty.

Your soul, everything that defines you, your essence has long ago melted in your inner hell.

That’s me now. I haven’t chanted for ages. Moved my butsudan around the flat like it’s a nuisance in my space. Haven’t opened it for weeks though.

I know what to do but it feels like I no longer know how. All those weird, Japanese words like daimoku, kosen rufu, gohonzon, bodhisattva stopped having a meaning and all my favourite passages from the gongyo (another weird one) I knew by heart now seem so distant.

And the remedy would be simple – chant. Chant daimoku with all the passion you have, from the bottomless hell that your heart has merged with, with all the sadness, desperation, frustration with life and all the helplessness you feel now. Chant like there is some of you left there in the dark.

I hope that me is just dormant, that it hasn’t given up and just hibernates like a polar bear under the snow to wake up for the spring. Cause there must be some spring, right?

Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. Nor have we ever heard of a believer in the Lotus Sutra who turned into an ordinary person. The sutra reads, “If there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will failto attain Buddhahood.”  WND1, p65

 

Shine!

I was struggling recently. Struggling with a fellow member hurting me with words. She meant well, it didn’t come across as such.
A couple of days later she asked me to translate sensei’s letter into my first language and I understood what I need to do and what every one of us needs to do to be happy (or at least happier). I don’t think it is exclusively buddhist either. Just Daisaku Ikeda’s advice on how to be a good human being.

The Daishonin teaches us: ‘The voice does the Buddha’s work’. Please therefore be a person of ‘heart-warming and encouraging words’, not of ‘bitter and hurtful words’. Be a person who embraces other people with broadmindedness and advance amicably with others, without holding any grudges. When you take this guidance as Buddhist training and challenge yourselves in human revolution throughout your lives, you can enter the orbit of absolute happiness throughout the three existences.

Simple, eh? Not really and not to everybody.
People seem not to remember the weight of words they’re using. We respond to physical abuse, conflicts, raised voices but very often fail to remember that our immediate environment and people close to us are hurt not by punches or kicks but by ‘bitter and hurtful words’. And yes, most often those words come from us.

And we ought to respect one another not only because they are loved ones, fellow workers, friends or simply humans. We need to respect one another because each and every one of us is a Buddha! They might not know that (but knowing you and knowing you are a Buddhist they should already learn that from you) but you do and should always remember that.

There’s a little reminder from Nichiren Daishonin himself: Take these teachings to heart, and always remember that believers in the Lotus Sutra should absolutely be the last to abuse one another. All those who keep faith in the Lotus Sutra are most certainly Buddhas, and one who slanders a Buddha commits a grave offence. (WND-1, p. 756)

One who slanders a Buddha commits a grave offence!!! Everybody that hurts a Buddha commits a grave offence. Everybody that fails to notice a Buddha in a fellow human being commits a grave offence. That is what we should remember because from there we’re only one step from shining.

One of my friends quoted a book the other day at a meeting: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”. I knew that before I read the book, before I went to my first meeting, before I chanted my first Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. You are the one that can fix everything by shining for other people. Good words, kindness, smiling, helping or just being a shoulder to cry on are all little lights that make the darkness disappear.

There’s more! It all comes back.
Imagine a lit candle. It gives some light. Imagine that candle lighting a hundred others. The light becomes blinding. That’s what you do by shining in your environment. In Buddhism it is also known as oneness with the environment. That principle says that your environment is a mirror that reflects yourself and your action. When you shine it shines back. It also shines wider and wider with more people getting infected with that light.

As you see, happiness is not as egoistic as you thought it was. It is infectious. So be happy and shine and infect as many people as possible!

By the way: the quote from the book is a Harry Potter quote 😉

Courage

For me the courage is closely related, if not synonymous, to freedom. For only when facing life and all the problems or obstacles courageously you can really be free. Free from fear, free from doubts, free from darkness. And what else is freedom if not happiness.

This handout will be about courage and freedom. Starting with Shakyamuni, through Nichiren ending with Daisaku Ikeda. I will use my books and different internet quotes to discuss not what courage is but what courage is to me. I simply don’t feel that I am a qreat authority on courage but I might share with you what I think about it.

Daisaku Ikeda says that faith is synonymous with courage. How? Well, for starters we believe that to achieve happiness and bring happiness to the whole world we need human revolution. To revolutionize ourselves we need as many obstacles as possible to challenge ourselves and to shift our karma. And how else to face obstacles if not with courage! Sensei himself said: Courageous people can overcome anything. Cowardly people on the other hand, because of their lack of courage, fail to savour the true, profound joys of life. And nobody wants to be a coward, do we.

Nichiren clearly states that courage is no fear in our heart and achieve Buddahood thanks to that. I feel a tiny bit different about that. Of course you’re allowed to have fear in your heart, you, my dear, are a human being!!! You are a great Bodhisattva, you embraced the vow for kosen rufu, you are an inspiration and a light in the darkness for others but… YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING. A gloriuos, shiny human with the potential to be a Buddha, on the very best path to become a Buddha but, for now, still a human with all the human strenghts and weaknesses. Your weakness is the fear, your strenght is the ability not to be overpowered by it – courage!

“Fearlessness” (in this Buddhism) means expounding the Law bravely and without fear. It indicates the Buddha’s unshakeable self-confidence in expounding the Law. (“The Heart of the Lotus Sutra” p85) See? To have no fear means not to stupidly do dangerous or unwise things. It means having a total, boundless confidence in the Buddhism when propagating it. For instance: riding a motorbike 200mph, despite being afraid, because you are confident of your skills or believing in the universe to save you as you are a Buddha is not courageous, its stupid and dangerous. Telling a person you met on the train about the Buddhist meeting or describing the law with courage and confidence, despite being afraid of lack of knowledge or level of language or just coming across as a crazy, ridiculous alien, is courage and a straight path to Buddahood.

Fearlessness sharing the Buddhism and courage in facing obstacles are essential to achieve Buddahood. And Sensei has faith in all of us and in our abilities:

I want to raise champions, genuine champions who will fight for the people with indomitable resolve. I want to foster champions who possess courage, champions who will defend freedom, who are warm human beings yet uncompromising when it comes to fighting evil.

I am quite confident that we are all those champions already and striving each day to remain that way.

But notice that he speaks about champions that possess courage and defend freedom. That’s how I feel. Those two cannot be separated.

How often do we feel limited by fear? How often do we feel trapped by it? How well do you know: I’m not pretty enough, I’m not skinny enough, I’m not good enough, I can’t do that, what if they laugh at me, what if they think I’m stupid… and my favourite I DO NOT DESERVE IT. Guess what, all those come from fear. Lack of self-confidence, shyness, depression, self slander are deeply rooted in fear. We all fear rejection, loneliness, failure and, let’s be honest, most of us started practising this Buddhism because it gives us courage to face life.

I started practising when my boyfriend’s father died. It was the exact day. Jim was highly intelligent, interesting and I learned a lot from him. We shared some interests and some laughs. I don’t think there was love there though. Jim was and, I think, still is suffering from depression. I was beside him during a very difficult time when his father was dying of cancer and I saw him falling deeper and deeper into his darkness and I was determined to save him. He didn’t want to fight though. Now I know I wasn’t the one to save him, it should’ve been himself. I was just desperate to be able to call someone mine, to have someone to come back to after finishing work. I measured my worth with this amazing man I saw, who wanted me. WOW, someone actually wanted me. Sure he wasn’t respectful enough, he wasn’t as caring as I would like him to be, he was dragging me down into his abyss but he was mine. Well, he didn’t consider himself mine either. I started chanting in November 2013. The following Christmas I set my first determination ever and it was to cure him by his birthday in February. By the discussion meeting in January, deep down inside, I knew it will not work but I was still too afraid to leave. And, after all, the Buddhism taught me to fight and that nothing is impossible. At the discussion meeting I heard one sentence that wasn’t very Buddhist but was like a wake up call: you can’t sit on a fence, you have to jump one way or another because sitting on a fence will just give you sore bum. And I woke up. I finished the relationship and despite being shit scared of loneliness I decided I will be better fighting for my happiness on my own. It paid off 🙂 and guess what, I was never alone since then. My friends and my Buddhist friends were always with me and I never felt lonely.

And that’s what I’m talking about. Whatever comes towards you, this Buddhism gives the means to fight it and to make you free from fear, so have courage. I know you will be scared but the courage is to use this fear to chant, to realise what you’re scared about and to overcome that with the lion’s roar Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I found Daisaku Ikeda’s words to justify that

Life is full of unexpected sufferings. Even so, as Eleanor Roosevelt said: “If you can live through that you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’” That’s exactly right. Struggling against great difficulty enables us to develop ourselves tremendously. We then call forth and manifest those abilities dormant within us. Difficulty can then be a source of dynamic new growth and positive progress.

One more thing is that when you go out of the shell, do that once and it works you will not only believe that it is possible. You will know that! You don’t have to believe anybody, that is the beauty of this Buddhism, you can test it and see for yourself.

The question is will you have the courage?