Daily Encouragement February 2

February 2 – from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda

Because life is long, you should not be impatient. What matters most is that you embrace the Gohonzon throughout your life. It is vitally important to continually challenge yourself to chant even a little more daimoku and to pray before the Gohonzon for the fulfillment of your desires.

I read this encouragement a second and third time because the first sentence seemed odd to me. What did impatience have to do with the Gohonzon and daily practice?

Then I thought about all the different things I’ve chanted about over the years: clarity, rent money, understanding, wisdom, relationships… While sometimes my mind was engaged and clear, sometimes I was almost commanding the universe and my life to produce an immediate result. That usually doesn’t work.

Now that I know better, I just need to take my practice one day at a time, enjoying each minute I sit before the Gohonzon and look into my own life. My desires no longer are just about money or status, but now I desire the wisdom and courage to create more value in my life.

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door

Studying the World’s Foremost Life Philosophy

I was flipping through my new World Tribune newspaper, and came across a list of Nichiren’s writings. The Young Women’s Division across the country are challenging themselves to study these 30 letters with working links:

1. On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land
2. The Opening of the Eyes
3. The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind
4. The Selection of the Time
5. On Repaying Debts of Gratitude
6. On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime
7. On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings
8. On the Buddha’s Prophecy
9. The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra
10. Letter from Sado
11. On Prolonging One’s Life Span
12. Lessening One’s Karmic Retribution
13. The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood
14. Letter to the Brothers
15. Reply to Kyo’o
16. The Three Kinds of Treasure
17. On Persecutions Befalling the Sage
18. The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
19. The Supremacy of the Law
20. The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
21. Winter Always Turns to Spring
22. On the Treasure Tower
23. The Drum at the Gate of Thunder
24. The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
25. The True Aspect of All Phenomena
26. Many in Body, One in Mind
27. The Kalpa of Decrease
28. Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light
29. The Dragon Gate
30. The Proof of the Lotus Sutra

 

I think I’ll go ahead and study these too~

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door

To My Friends February 1

To My Friends – from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda on 2/1/17

Kosen-rufu means
cultivating friendships.
Let’s create bonds of trust
through sincere efforts to
get to know our neighbors and
steady contributions to
our communities.

Kosen-rufu is an especially important concept in Nichiren Buddhism because it’s ultimately the worldwide goal that Nichiren set out. It surely has many different meanings but typically you’ll hear someone explain it as “world peace” or “widespread adoption of Buddhist humanistic principles”. Without writing a full essay, Dr. Ikeda distills world peace into actionable items for everyday people.

You don’t have to practice Buddhism to cultivate friendships, and to be a good neighbor that contributes to the community. And yet you would still be contributing to the ultimate goal of Nichiren Buddhism. Isn’t that interesting?

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door

Thoughts on “Why I Started Chanting”

One of my joys is reading the experiences of SGI members around the world and how struggles and obstacles are transformed into victories through Buddhist practice.

I came across this powerful excerpt from a member in Canada:

I looked into various spiritual practices, but none of them answered the questions that I had. One night, it got to boiling point where my past demons were haunt­ing me. I couldn’t seem to break the cycle. Suddenly, I found myself saying Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It just came out of my mouth. The more I said it, the more the feeling of desperation and depression went away. So I just kept saying it.

The full experience with Q&A is here.

What I find most encouraging is that this is someone who encountered Buddhism previously and has siblings that practice, but personally there was not an interest to ever engage in chanting. But in the midst of a very difficult time with stress and struggle, he found his own answer, which became a turning point for the rest of his life.

If I can plant the seed so that even one person can find the answer that works for them, even when they’re struggling with dark times, I’ll have no regrets in my life.

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door

Daily Encouragement January 31

January 31 – from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda

Youth should not seek an easy comfortable path. No one develops in a pampered environment. Youth should instead actively seek out challenges and hardships, transforming them all into valuable assets as they strive to become individuals of outstanding character and ability.

Rightly or not, this reminds me of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
We’re lucky in so many ways to live in the current time with all the modern conveniences. And while technology has made many things easier and more convenient, it doesn’t always make things better. In the long run, the easy way usually isn’t the most fruitful or rewarding.
Isn’t the act of taking the road less traveled (the challenging one) the whole point?
Respectfully,
Buddhist Next Door

Daily Encouragement January 30

January 30 – from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda

Buddhism teaches that “all phenomena in the universe are manifestations of the Law”. I hope you will, with this understanding, engage in broad-ranging studies with vigor and determination. The brain has a potential as vast and boundless as the universe. How then do we manifest the brain’s full creative powers? There is only one way to bring out our full intellectual capacity: by constantly putting our minds to work.

One way to read this encouragement is that Buddhist practice enables one to perceive all phenomena as they truly are, and the way to develop that ability is through a spirit to learn about all kinds of subjects. It reminds me of a meeting written about in the Human Revolution where 2nd SGI President Josei Toda declares to a group of young men something along the lines of, “Buddhism permeates all aspects and fields of study. You may consider yourself an expert in mathematics or science, but I can confidently say that with Buddhist practice, I would be able to perceive the foundation of any field of study”.

Both SGI Presidents are emphasizing the vastness of one’s innate potential, and ultimately the power of this Buddhism to draw out more and more of that amazing capacity. It’s like chanting for 15 minutes a day and studying for another 15 minutes allows me to scratch the surface of my potential. But if I open my life to the reality that I have so much more capacity, and challenge myself accordingly, I’ll truly be able to accomplish great things.

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door

Thoughts “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime”

Each time I read the writings and teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, I have different thoughts and conclusions. Five years ago I felt a certain way, and in five years with more study experience under my belt, I’ll surely have a more nuanced view.

After reading “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” this excerpt sticks with me:

When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

This first part identifies what a Buddha is through the words of Nichiren – an ordinary human being free of delusions. And the second part identifies how to free oneself of delusions – by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith. 

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door

Demographics of Buddhism

It looks like Wikipedia needs to update their numbers! The last time I checked the estimate on the number of practicing Buddhists around the world was 200-250 million people.

But according to Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs, the number is actually 470 million!!

Now that’s of course the big tent of Buddhism including Theravada (Hinayana) and Mahayana schools as well as Tibetan Buddhists and every other variety you can think of. And here I thought that the SGI with 12 million members worldwide was a big organization!

It’ll be interesting to see during my lifetime how that number changes and if Buddhism will continue to provide answers and clarity for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Wouldn’t it be something in this time of marches and protests for all the Buddhists to stand up and chant/meditate/pray for world peace together?

Respectfully,

Buddhist Next Door