Chanting is my only meditation. Life is meditation if you can psyche yourself into it. You gotta not let the things of life shake you. It’s much easier to isolate yourself in a room and meditate. There the only devils are your thoughts. But to live life itself as a meditation–that is infinitely harder. To achieve that which is called in Buddhism samyak samadhi, or the Buddha’s state of non-regression, only chanting Nam myoho renge kyo with powerful determination will work. Then you can sail through life like a calm breeze at all times. It just takes a lot of daily practice.
We are all imperfect. To try to pretend to be a perfect, flawless Buddha who is always smiling and compassionate so that others will take up this religion is both unrealistic and incorrect practice as well as a cop-out. Those who see us every day see real us. They see right through the pretense. However, what separates a genuine Buddhist practitioner from others is that a genuine Buddhist practitioner understands that he or she is far from a perfect Buddha yet makes efforts every day to live with greater self-awareness, greater compassion and a genuine self that can communicate in a real and natural way the greatness of Buddhist practice and the infinite reasons taking it up will greatly improve one’s life by seeing the real connections between the reality they experience, the causes they are making and the ways they are interpreting them and thinking about them. Rather than try to be a superior being, I am trying to be a better person than I was or even habitually am being up to this moment and I invite you to join me and see how much together we can accomplish so much more as our individual selves im our individual lives and thereby contribute to improving the world we live in that, if people stay as they are, will result in either nuclear annihilation or climate change annihilation, whichever ticking time bomb goes off first, more likely in our own lifetime than that of the yet unborn.
Some people have many harsh and unrelenting standards which they impose on themselves and others, or worse, only on others, and most of us have one or more of these people in our lives. Such arise from ignorance of our true wonderful nature which can never be dispossesed and the resulting fear of loss of self or possessions, these 3 being the 3 poisons of ignorance, anger and greed, or the fear of death. Because these fears and poisons are innate in all our lives, we incorporate the voices of such people in our heads and hold ourselves and others to harsh standards. If we try to practice or come into contact with people who practice Buddhism (Nichiren, SGI Buddhism, that is), unless we see the true nature of our thinking, we will have inrealstic expectations and often sink, in the face of such pressure, to giving up and finding whatever temporary fix or comfort we can to further mask the pain, an inevitably fruitless and pointless endeavor. So the first step is to recognize and be kinder to ourselves and others while bravely walking the path of Buddhist practice and becoming not a perfect Buddha (which doesn’t exist) but a better Buddha with each day and allow people to see natural growth and change as we continually share these great principles that truly work for anyone courageous enough to really try.
“Nichiren Daishonin states in ‘Letter to Akimoto”, ‘All the Buddhas of the three existences and the ten directions have attained Buddhahood through the seed of the Mystic Law. The Daishonin clarifies that the same principle, not any other special means, equally enables all people to attain enlightenment.
“Now all of us have had this same seed of the Mystic Law planted in our lives. How wonderful! When we exert the powers of faith and practice to tap the powers of the Buddha and the Law inherent in the Gohonzon, we can definitely show proof of having attained Buddhahood in this lifetime. This is a promise made by the original Buddha and absolutely never fails to materialize.
“You must never be deceived by someone who does not embrace the Mystic Law, no matter how extraordinary that person may appear. Both the Great Teacher Dengyo and Nichiren Daishonin state that in the Latter day of the Law, there will be no ‘saints’ or ‘sages’…”
“All of us are ordinary human beings. When ordinary people embrace the Gohonzon completely, we can enjoy our lives from moment to moment just as we are, savoring an inexhaustible taste of Buddhahood. In the eyes of Buddhism, therefore, all of us…dedicated to the cause of kosen-rufu [the wide spread of the Law, i.e. the principles of absolute respect for the dignity and unlimited capability of each person, which will of course lead to peace and save us all–these are my words] are indescribably precious”
These last 3 paragraphs were from “My Dear Friends in America”, p. 72. This is from a speech given by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. It happens to the very first speech of his I attended (via videoconference) and the very first time I saw him live and heard the sound of his voice. I could hear and sense the outrage in his voice toward those who give sincere people who are trying their best a hard time for “not measuring up” as he clarified what Buddhism really is all about and what religion should always be about, to help us grow to be better people in a human way while strictly embracing and supporting others while never saying or doing things to cut them down and make them feel bad. I can’t iterate this enough.
As long as I’m alive, I will stay young. Whether it’s nurturing the next generation, fighting for equal justice for all or awakening people to the beauty of their lives, I will be totally vibrant and alive. What I was too scared, too sick and too overwhelmed to do for too long, I will be doing 3-fold for a very long time ahead. I dare all you 20-year, 30-year olds, to try to keep up with me.
Sunday, July 20, 2014: Is Buddhism a religion? If, by religion, you mean belief in God, then no definitely not. It is no more a religion than yoga is a religion. And Nichiren, SGI Buddhism is way more radically different from traditional Buddhism than Christianity is from Judaism. So it is not even “Buddhist” the way people in the West understand “Buddhist”. If it were, then Christianity is no more than a branch of Judaism, not a separate religion.
OK HERE’S THE THING
OK, here’s the thing:
I make it a point to greet everybody I meet and offer the pleasantness of a smile, a hello, a how are you, something to brighten their day.
In return, I get mostly very friendly responses.
But sometimes I get duds, like my ball deflated and didn’t bounce but just hit the ground flat.
It’s a very uncomfortable feeling not to have your effort toward another unreturned.
It’s actually more uncomfortable for many to just not greet people so they don’t have to go through unrequited waves of happiness.
But here’s the thing with me:
Years ago, I became an SGI Buddhist.
Another name for an SGI Buddhist is Bodhisattva of the Earth.
Another name for Bodhisattva of the Earth is an ordinary individual human being who believes in the absolutely wonderful and unlimited potential of each individual to live an amazing life,
Become absolutely happy,
Conquer worlds of misery and transform all of them into immense joy,
And thereby, not to uplift anyone,
But to enable anyone to uplift themselves and be another stitch in the global embroidery of worldwide peace, harmony, prosperity and joy,
Rather than a tear, a stain in the garment, an impediment,
Simply for not being trapped in endless cycles of eternal karma created over countless lifetimes.
So back to me and the people I encounter:
Some of them know me when I myself was struggling.
To many of them I formed a negative first impression.
And we all know that countless follow-up impressions pale into nothingness while a first impression is an unbreakable cement that never dies.
For some, I was a person who was just not fun.
Or maybe to others, I didn’t look right, I wasn’t their type.
Still yet to others, my friendliness, like the blinding sun to one who has dwelt all his life in a cave of darkness,
Was a rude interruption to an otherwise calm and peaceful life.
Even before I practiced Buddhism, I was one of those rare people in this world who interpreted every breach of love
As a sign that I was somehow at fault,
Even though I had no idea how.
So, even today, when people are flat at the bright curve of my smile,
I still ask myself what I’ve done wrong to offend them.
Obviously, I’ve done nothing wrong and my behavior is way above most of these ungrateful people.
Or haven’t I? Or is it?
A great spiritual practice requires that we be tested by others.
Otherwise our spiritual mastery cannot happen.
Those who try us spur our growth far more than those who soothe us.
We live in a superstar world. We’ve turned our spiritual guides,
Ordinary people who are striving for self-improvement and love,
Into perfect saints of spiritual perfection,
Who could never do anything wrong,
And are far above any of us.
But all of them, without exception, were hated far more than most of us,
By the people they encountered face to flesh.
It was so bad that those who scowled at Jesus, Mohammed, Shakyamuni , Nichiren and the 3 Presidents of the SGI
Were far better and more desirable as friends
Than those who really harassed, tormented and tried to kill all of these.
Yet all of these tormentors were the greatest spiritual guides of these teachers of humankind.
We can become great and truly change the world into a better one
Only when we are willing and humble enough to learn from these people.
If our goal is to help them, enable them to become better people—
For they are the reason spiritual guides strive for spiritual mastery in the first place—
Then should we not find the opening, the channel where love and communication can truly enter and flow between?
The conduit of the flowering of what we as a human race can truly become?
It’s easy to say that’s not a spiritual person and therefore I don’t need to be concerned.
But that is not the way of someone who will truly help make this world a better place.
But we can only do so when we are willing to learn from the people who give us the most difficulty.
To see where we have faltered. To see where our own practice of self-mastery has come up short.
They are the ones who will tell us, who will show us.
They are the keys who will unlock the portal to human bliss.
Let us learn from them and grow with them.
For as all the guides said,
The growth of the least of us is the growth of the most of us.
If one person is unhappy, the entire world is unhappy.
Let’s not give up half way.
So the next time someone scowls when you smile,
Instead of just being hurt,
Where did I fall short? What can I do better? What can I learn from this person?
Mastering, Buddhism — Mastering Life requires that you process two very different, conflicting truths as one truth. And live with it not trying to justify it but to understand it.