Friday, December 29, 2017

Lighting the Lamp of Hope from Florida!





Hello, Hello! 

It's been a busy, busy Christmas season filled with travels, parties and my fantastic new job. It is such a thrill to help families with their loved ones who need care. I love my job! I am just having a blast with my new life in my new city. 

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the source and power of every fantastic moment in my life. Every morning I chant. Every evening I chant. And THIS month one of my dearest new friends received her Gohonzon! She's so inspiring! My friend Deb is so excited about this practice. She's been through a lot this year, losing both her parents within three months of each other. 

And from the moment she started chanting she could feel the power in her life. She could feel herself surrounded by all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the universe. We set up a spectacular altar for her using a beautiful piece of furniture she already owned, and a new Butsudan. And you know what? Every day she inspires ME even more. Doing shakubuku is so amazing. The minute you shakubuku someone THEY start encouraging your practice! 

This Christmas season was especially sweet. Last year at this time I had to move, and I had a broken foot, and it was just my second Christmas since Ben became eternal. This year I've been filled with appreciation every single moment. I appreciate this practice, my new and old friends, my health and my family. I feel the incredible surge of fortune in my life. 

Keep practicing, don 't give up, and turn every poison into medicine and you will make your life shine too! 

Please consider donating to the GoFUNDME campaign for my dear friend Kate who has brought so much to my life, and to the readers of this blog for many years. Kate is in her 40th year of practice and is battling a fierce form of brain cancer, and this money is needed for her care.  Here's the link: 

https://www.gofundme.com/help-Kate-fight-brain-cancer

Friday, December 8, 2017

12 Quotes on Strengthening Our Lives by Daisaku Ikeda


The struggle of life is, and always will be, a struggle against your own weaknesses. Will you become cowardly and think, "I can't do this. I'm certain to fail"? Or will you challenge the difficulties that lie ahead with the conviction, "I am strong. And I can become stronger still"? Your destiny in life will vary greatly depending on the spirit that you maintain.

Resolving to take action is proof that you are progressing. Even if you have the tendency to make a determination but only stick to it for two or three days, just keep renewing that determination. Then you will become the kind of person who can persevere and reach their goals.

One cannot become a starring player in life if one is easily swayed by one’s emotions over every little thing. Strength of character lies in performing the drama of life with courage and confidence, practicing self-reflection and self-control under any circumstances.

When we decide to live each instant fully, with all our might, to live true to ourselves and make the present moment shine, we discover and bring forth immense and unimagined strength.

In life when we feel we have reached a limit, that is when the true battle begins. Just when you despair and think it is impossible to go any further, will you become apathetic, or will you say it’s not over and stand up with an unyielding spirit? The battle is decided by this single determination.

Whether we regard difficulties in life as misfortunes or whether we view them as good fortune depends entirely on how much we have forged our inner determination. It all depends on our attitude or inner state of life. With a dauntless spirit, we can lead a cheerful and thoroughly enjoyable life. We can develop a “self” of such fortitude that we are able to look forward to life’s trials and tribulations with a sense of joy.

Just being good-natured is not enough. If you are good-natured but fail to stand up to injustice, you cannot protect anyone. Instead, you will tend to be taken lightly, enabling those who perpetrate injustice to only grow stronger.

Every hardship is an opportunity to strengthen ourselves, to temper our life and make it shine with greater luster.

Even if things don’t unfold the way you expected, don’t be disheartened or give up. One who continues to advance will win in the end.

Truly strong people are not arrogant. Cowardice on the other hand causes arrogance. Cowards hide behind their own power and authority.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Excellent Family-Karma-Changing Experience

  

Hi….this  is Surashree. I am a part of Bsg family from last year. I  belong to a small city Raipur.  My relationship with my parents  has a void as both my parents  and  grandparents  were working and  maids took care of us. As parents did not have any time I always held a grudge  against them also felt  alone and frustrated. Also from childhood I was a stubborn person and a loner who avoided  people. When I completed my schooling all these qualities surfaced even more . My sister was facing the same issues. She suffered from obesity and was always  irritable. Till date, she has no  friend. Sometimes she used to speak very harshly. And I’ve seen her crying too. My sister and I always had problems with each other.  I am also suffering from a skin disorder. Overall, We were facing deep relationship karma within the family.
The first person from our family who encountered the Nichiren Buddhism was my elder sister. She introduced my mother too.  I went to Nagpur for my Graduation. More than studies to get  away from  parents. When I was in Nagpur, Didi and Maa both started practicing Nichiren Buddhism and each time I  returned home on vacations, I always noticed some improvement in my family environment. Everyone started taking responsibilities rather than blaming each other. I saw my sister becoming calmer and mature; and my mother became more serious about the family.
Still being a stubborn person, I used to fight repeatedly blaming my parents for never having time for me. One day my mother said sorry to me for not spending much time with us. My mother told me that if you want your karma to change, accept the hard realities of my life. This is only way that move towards happiness. After this, our family bonding  grew stronger , though  She also told me about the practice, but I ignored it.
Almost  8 years after this incident, When I saw huge victories in my mothers life, I thought of giving this practice a try. I seriously wanted change in my life. I was struggling with my office responsibilities, and I was tired of being alone also  very confused about the  course of my  life . As a girl in mid 20s, I thought It is better to spend some time with the family  so in spite of others opposition I resigned from my job and returned back to my hometown. I felt very  positive  that everything will be good from here on-wards.
I'm happy to report that it was then when I started practicing. I came across lines from Sensei Ikeda, ”You must have impossible dreams and then the courage to challenge them so that you can prove the power of the Mystic Law.”  Buddhism is the mirror that perfectly reflects the depths of our lives.” Soon  I realized that I never put any efforts in my relationships. I always behaved selfishly.  It was due to my own karma that I have suffered. And Buddhism is the way through which I can change my destiny.
Gradually, My relationship with my mother became good, though my  relationship with sister and father was not that great. I determined change the relationship with my father. He  is a very calm and fun loving person. He had issues with me due to my stubborn behavior. He  always wanted us to pursue music as career as we hail from a music family. It was only  after resigning, I started working on small stage shows with my father and helped him emotionally. After sometime, he started trusting me and our relationship grew stronger.
One day while studying, I came across gosho lines from the chapter, On Prolonging Life, “One day of life is more valuable than all the treasures of the universe, so first you must muster sincere faith.”  It explained how we can have an influence on our environment by practicing Buddhism and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I realized avoiding  problems will not help me. So, I strongly determined few things:
First, I would no longer hold my life back through fear and insecurity.
Second, No matter what, I’ll  strengthen my faith as much as possible for which I started reading about the concepts or books related to Nichiren Buddhism as much as possible.
Third, I determine to always put the concept of “ten worlds” in my daily life and to constantly check myself not to fall towards lower 4 worlds. Anytime time if I feel I'm spending more time in any of the lower worlds, I try to pull myself out from the situation and try to work on myself to become better. Sometimes I fail, but my practice gave me the strength to try again.
Fourth, I decided that I will have no hatred or anger towards anyone. Whenever I do, I confess it front of the Gohonzon and pray to give me the strength to overcome these negative feelings. Also, If I am angry on someone or I dislike someone, I pray for his/her happiness and their Buddha nature to emerge. I’ve experienced that if you chant for the happiness of the person who made you unhappy, the environment works for you, and everything will fall into place making your situation and those relations smoother than before.
Sensei says, “Dialogue requires heart-to-heart connection. You can have dialogue in your heart with anyone anywhere at any time, living or dead. The first step to touch another person's heart is “Appreciation”. Chant to develop appreciation. The path of the Bodhisattva lies in developing and expressing appreciation. Appreciation and joy multiply our good fortune. Complaint and negativity erase it”. After reading these lines, I took my fifth determination that I will always try to do heart to heart dialogue with everyone around me. I’ll appreciate every effort made by anyone surrounding me, no matter who that person is or which community he belongs to.
It is my observation that Even if any practitioner applies simple & small concepts from the book, “Basics of Buddhism”, One will surely receive tremendous benefits, conspicuous and inconspicuous both.
I got married last year. As a newly married, I started facing adjustment issues in the new environment, which even lead to arguments between me and my husband Saurabh. The drastic lifestyle-change became a huge challenge for me.  My practice gives me the courage to see the obstacles in life as an opportunity to change my karma. Instead of blaming others, I began to feel more confident in coping with problems in life and learned to live more creatively. My life has changed and become better since I started practicing this Buddhism. My husband and I are now great friends. He helps me in household chores and other things.  sometimes,  in office or in personal lives I face difficulty  I remember  Sensei Ikeda’s words, “Even if things don’t work out the way you hoped or imagined, when you look back later, you’ll understand on a much more profound level that it was the best possible result. This is tremendous inconspicuous benefit.”
I am happy to report that Environment in my family is much better and peaceful than what it was 12 years back. We all have very good & friendly relation with each other. I determine that I'll pray for my sister’s health & happiness and I’ll struggle and change my family karma completely. I’ll win no matter what…..

Lastly I would like to thank all my district members who always encouraged me whenever I needed. I would also like to thank my husband  who always supported me . I  thank my mom who introduced me into this practice and changed our lives completely.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gongyo is a Grand and Noble Rite by Daisaku Ikeda


This essay, by Daisaku Ikeda is from the collected essays of Daisaku Ikeda "To My American Friends"Gongyo is a Grand and Noble Rite: 

"I would like to take the opportunity provided by today’s training session of the youth division to present a succinct and easily comprehensible discussion of the significance of gongyo. Because of the limitations of time I cannot pursue the subject in all its details, so I would like all of you to consider and explore this topic on your own afterwards as well. 

Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches that our existence is identical to the universe as a whole, and the universe as a whole is identical to our existence. Each individual human life is a microcosm. 

The practice of gongyo is a grand and noble rite to achieve the vital communication to the microcosm of each person’s existence with the universe, based on the Gohonzon. 

The correspondence of each part of our bodies to parts of the universe is proof that our existence is a microcosm. Our heads are round like the heavens above us are round, and our eyes are like the sun and the moon. We close them and open them, like day and night. Our hair shines like the sparkling stars. Our eyebrows are like the seven stars of the Big Dipper. 

Our breath is the wind, 
and the quiet breathing from our nostrils is like the still air of the valleys and dales. 

There are some 360 joints in the human body
 and they stand for the days of the year. 
The twelve major joints signify the twelve months. 

The warm, front side of our body — our abdomen and stomach — is spring and summer. The cold hard back is fall and winter. 

Our blood vessels and arteries are streams and rivers. 
When we suffer a cerebral hemorrhage, it is as if a dam or dike has burst. 
Our bones are stones, and our skin and muscle are like the earth. 
Our body hair is a forest. 
Buddhist scriptures discuss in detail these correspondences i
ncluding each of the internal organs, 
teaching that our body is indeed a universe in miniature. 

There are clouds in the heavens. The wind blows, the stars twinkle. There are oceans on earth. The rivers flow. Volcanoes erupt. And great quantities of metals and minerals — gold, silver, copper, potassium, calcium — lie in the earth’s depths. 

The activities and qualities of all these materials are also incorporated in our bodies. 

The infinite elementary particles of the cosmos — atoms, protons, photons, electrons, neutrons, and all the rest — microscopic animals such as bacteria, the activities of good and evil, and the laws of gravity, the conservation of mass and energy, and all other laws of the universe also apply in almost the same fashion to the microcosm of our bodies. 

A look at the operation of our bodies suggests that they are great pharmaceutical plants. They have the capability to produce the drugs we need to preserve our health. They take in food and transform it into nourishment and energy. 

The human brain has the capability of a giant computer — even though we may not always be able to use it! 

The sixty trillion cells of our bodies work together 
in their established order in a perfect biorhythm. This is the original order of things. 

The Great Law That Pervades Individual Existence and the Universe 
Our existence is the universe, and its life processes are sublime. A slight change in the heat of the sun will enormously affect not only the Earth but all the other planets. If the Earth’s rotation were to stop for the briefest instant, or if its axis were to tilt the slightest degree, all living things would be threatened with extinction. 

That is how subtle the natural order is. And further, a firm and irrevocable law of the universe exists. This holds true for the microcosm as well. 

It is science that pursues this invisible but truly existent law, and technology is the invention of machines and other devices based on the fruits of scientific research. 

Nichiren Daishonin discovered and awoke to the great law of all existence that underlies all the partial laws governing all spiritual and physical phenomena, and it was he who revealed that law to humanity as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This Mystic Law applies equally to the universe as a whole and to each and every individual human existence. The universe and the individual are one in this Mystic Law. 

Under certain circumstances, an invisible law takes form as a visible existence. The individual human existence, for example, emerges out of its state of fusion with the rest of the universe by taking shape in the womb and being born in the world. 

A ship can be regarded as a tangible representation of the law of buoyancy, just as an airplane is a representation of the laws of aerodynamics, a radio or television program a representation of the law of electromagnetic waves. All of these objects give shape to invisible laws. 

The fundamental law of the universe and individual existence is also invisible. The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon as a visual representation of that Mystic Law for the people of the world. The Lotus Sutra and other Buddhist scriptures are the instruction manuals for the Gohonzon. 

Josei Toda, my teacher and the second president of the Soka Gakkai, explained the Gohonzon in an easily comprehensible way as "a machine to produce happiness." 

When we practice gongyo and chant daimoku before the Gohonzon, our individual existence is perfectly harmonized with the universe. 

Both the universe and our individual existence are the concrete manifestation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as is the Gohonzon. That is why when we practice gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon, our existence and the universe mesh as perfectly as two gears, and with an initial creak begin to work together. 

The single life-moment (ichinen) of the individual becomes one with the three thousand (sanzen) factors and realms of the universe and begins to produce great value. This is the concrete practice of ichinen sanzen. 

Through that practice we can acquire wisdom and good fortune, 
and glow with the energy to overcome any obstacle throughout the four seasons, 
three hundred sixty-five days a year; 
we can enter the way to the eternal happiness 
and attain eternity, joy, true self and purity (jo raku ga jo). 

Gongyo is a practice 
which calls forth and activates 
the infinite power that the microcosm 
inherently possesses. 
It transforms your fate, 
breaks through any apparent dead end 
and converts sufferings into happiness. 
It creates a transformation, 
a revolution of the microcosm. 
It is a diagram in miniature of kosen-rufu in our lives. 

The kosen-rufu that is our aim is a movement to transform the universe, the Earth and human society into a world of peace, comfort and harmony in accord with the rhythm of the Mystic Law. 

The Practice of Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime, Which Leads to Eternal Happiness 
If you let an automobile or any other machine fall into disuse, it will rust and stop working correctly. You have to use it and maintain it regularly and properly. Why, the same thing is even true of the hair on our heads: If we don’t wash it regularly we’ll be encrusted with dandruff! 

Gongyo and chanting daimoku 
are like starting the automobile’s engine every day 
and driving in the direction of happiness and truth. 

By doing so day after day, you will gradually attain perfect unity with the universe and the Law. That state is the state of the Buddha. 

Once that has happened, you will be able to enjoy yourself with complete freedom for all eternity. Your existence will be a diamond that will never perish throughout the three existences. 

To attain Buddhahood in this life, the Daishonin warns us with firm concern that we must never retreat in our practice. 

Even though we may experience a period of sadness 
or depression, 
the principle that earthly desires are enlightenment 
teaches us that great sufferings 
are bound to be transformed 
into equally great joy, progress and value. 
There is nothing to fear, 
since the Gohonzon possesses 
the infinite power of the Law and the Buddha. 

We often say that strong faith, valiant and untiring practice and courageous acts are important. This is an expression of the truth that without a strong will and courageous practice it is impossible to achieve great things. 

You will not be able to communicate in a discussion with another unless you are clear and direct. If you lack the courage of your convictions and mumble vague things, you won’t make any impression on your listener. Nor can you strike a chord in his heart. And of course you will not be able to move or convince him. To do that you need to be very determined and sure.

Isn’t the same thing true of love? 

It’s certainly true in a job interview. Unless you present your thoughts clearly and forcefully, you won’t make any impression on the interviewer. In other words, mental determination and courageous actions can change any situation and they possess a critical capability to produce happiness. 

The Victory Song of Life Is to Be Found in Action 
To fly, a plane needs the extra push it gets by acceleration down a runway. To get good grades in school, you need the extra push of study before a test. 

Whatever you do, to achieve something better, to reach a higher level, you need a push. 

Buddhism teaches practice for oneself and practice for others. If either one is lacking, you cannot practice properly. 


The Gohonzon is the concrete manifestation of the very existence of Nichiren Daishonin, who taught kosen-rufu. Because of that, if you only practice gongyo and chant the daimoku and don’t take any other action for the sake of kosen rufu or improving your own life, the Gohonzon will not have its true, full effect. 


If, however, you take actions to achieve kosen-rufu, they will serve as that extra push for your own life and help you leap to higher and higher states of mind in your gongyo and chanting as well. 


And it is only natural that the energy you acquire through the gongyo practice for yourself will be channeled back into your activities for others, for kosen-rufu. 

The fact is that the practice of gongyo and your actions in service of kosen-rufu will become one, and together they will unlock the infinite power of the Mystic Law in your life. 

In Buddhism, practice is faith. That means action is faith, and without action there can be no true faith. The action I speak of is the way of practice for oneself and for others that is taught in Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. 

Action is the source of blessings and merits. In propagating the teachings, for example, whether the person you are presenting the teachings to arouses faith or not is his problem. The effects of our action of propagating will vary, depending on the person’s capacities and other conditions. 

There is no need at all to rejoice or lament over each effect. You can be proud that you have practiced the truest, most wonderful law of life in the universe to the best of your ability and go forward with your head held high. One who has acted for the sake of kosen-rufu is already a great victor in life. 

The words "the heads of those who cause affliction will be split in seven pieces" are written on the Gohonzon. 

This is a warning that it is wrong to seek to harm this law of your own being. 

Abandoning the teachings or slandering them are self-destructive actions that are bound to split you apart. 

We also find the words "those who make offerings will acquire blessings surpassing the Buddha’s ten names." 
This forceful statement tells us that the merits of one who make offerings to the Gohonzon and spreads the teaching will be far greater than the magnificent merits of the one who makes offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha. This is a promise that our personal microcosm will absorb the nourishment of all the blessings in the macrocosm, the whole universe, and be elevated to a state of existence of the highest happiness itself. 

Thus we know that the children of the Buddha who strive for kosen-rufu are each guaranteed to attain the ultimate degree of happiness. There is no one who will be more blessed. 

Faith in Present and Future 
"For both the present and the future" is also written on the Gohonzon. For present and future. That is what faith is for, what the Buddhist Law is for. 

When we worship the Gohonzon, the eternal life of time without beginning wells up within us. Our faith is that every day, every instant begins from time without beginning. 

We are always setting out, full of hope, from today to the future, from this moment to eternal happiness. We are always young, always beginning. 


My message to you is that you must be absolutely certain of this and live your wonderful lives without regret, with joy and brightness, always moving forward."  


This essay is from the collected speeches of Daisaku Ikeda in "To My Young American Friends" 

Friday, November 10, 2017

How to Increase Your Belief in YOUR OWN Buddha Nature


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From the November 2015 Living Buddhism:


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Nevertheless, 
being no more than an ordinary person, 
I have at times been apt to regret 
having taken such a course." 

From the Gosho "On Rebuking Slanders of the Law and Eradicating Sins" by Nichiren Daishonin.

About this passage, Daisaku Ikeda writes on page 37:

'As Nichiren Daishonin writes here, we are ordinary people, and as such, are likely on occasion to have regrets. 

At times, we may allow ourselves to be defeated by our immediate sufferings and complain about our lot, thinking there is no point in practicing this Buddhism if it is going to involve so many challenges and wondering if we might not have had an easier time if we had not started chanting. 

Well aware of this human trait, Nichiren teaches the means by which ordinary people can walk the path to attaining the noble state of Buddhshood. Genuine Buddhism teaches fundamental trust in and respect for the Buddha Nature inherent within all human beings." 

Daisaku Ikeda, from Living Buddhism, November 2015, pages 36 and 37. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, I know we "know" our lives contain dignity and power and the Buddha Nature. I know we read President Ikeda's Guidance, and the Gosho, and we "understand" them with our minds...but do we understand them with our hearts? 

This is the work we do in front of the Gohonzon. When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (meaning: I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration) we tap into the power that is our birthright...that is always there for us...and we access that power for ourselves and for others. 

We can access the power to understand the profundity of our lives, the magnificence of our lives, and our true Buddha nature. 

How much do we each realize that we are the Buddha?

I hear people around me putting themselves down all the time. It seems to be part of our culture that we can't go around saying "I am magnificent. I am the Buddha." and I think we can and should change that part of the culture. Putting ourselves down is not helpful...especially when we are talking to ourselves. 

If we can't build ourselves up, who can? That's why I always say "Do not put yourself down. Ever. Not even in your head. you are a magnificent being...a Buddha of the highest respect. A Soka Gakkai Buddhist." 

President Ikeda has told us over and over that we will be remembered forever as the Soka Gakkai Buddhists. Each one of us is living out a drama of the highest significance. Each one of us is showing actual proof of the power of the mystic law to change our lives, change the lives of others and bring about a peaceful world through the power of our vow, and our chanting. 

And it REALLY HELPS if we REALLY believe this. It helps if we believe in the power of our lives and the power of our prayer. How can we really get to this point, that we believe it WITH OUR LIVES...and with every cell in our beings? Well, the answer is easy. 

We can chant to believe in our own magnificence. We can chant to believe in the power of our prayer. We can chant to dispel doubt forever and deepen our prayer at every moment. 

I have been chanting to uphold and see the dignity of my own life at each moment. I have been chanting to be present in each moment, and to BE WITH each person in front of me each moment. And you know what? When we are alone, WE are that person. WE are the one we need to support and uphold. We are the one we have to honor. 

How can we do this? We can start by talking to ourselves just like we would talk to our own very best friends. We can stop saying we are "idiots" or any other negative word. We can stop slandering our own lives 

We can tell ourselves we're doing great! We can tell ourselves we are beautiful, and we get more beautiful every day...inside and out. We can tell ourselves we make a difference. We can build up our own selves, while we are chanting and while we are going about our daily business. 

And we can make daily causes that prove our magnificence...chanting for wisdom...acting in wisdom and bringing forth our best selves!