Monday, 31 January 2011

Beautifully Born Each Instant

Our lives appear to be unbroken blocks of seventy or eighty continuous years, but, actually... when you maintain the straightforward frankness of your own mind as it comes to life each instant, even without effort, even without training, you are beautifully born each instant. You die with each instant, and go on to be born again, instant by instant.

Soko Morinaga Roshi, "One Chance, One Encounter" excerpt from Tricycle daily guidance.

This is in indeed a wonderful quote. And it tells of the wonderful mystery of life. Even though we are  born and die and appear to have a life that is linear, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Locked within each of our lives, we are born and die a million times. From the cells in our bodies to the emotions we learn to master and the old pains we concur.

With each passing life, we learn and grow as a consciousness.

When we sit in our bodies, we feel solid, we feel whole, but what most people do not realise is that it is all an illusion. Matter is an illusion.

The only reason everything around you "feels" solid is because that is what your senses and your brain is telling you.

Your body is simply a tool with which your consciousness navigates the frame work of this reality. The framework is simply a void of pure energy, that comes together in many forms. Flesh, stone, wood etc

So as you move about your day and your life, begin to notice this principle, that your life is in flux, and the world around you is in flux.

Always appreciate that everything is changing, constantly.

When it comes to your life, know that nothing will stay the same. The myriad of emotions each of us feel from moment to moment is a good example of this. I know personally I can cycle through many emotions, each day. And the key to finding peace in this life is to master these emotions. To free your self of fear and regret.

Of course this isn't an instant process and it takes time and effort to move inwards and control these tools we have.

The mind is a wondrous thing, and as humans we understand so little about it.

But life is just a game, and once you know the rules you can being to play to your full potential.

Begin every day singing, chanting, praying, dancing... just move your body, your voice and your mind.

Now matter how old you are, always keep every thing moving. Especially your mind.

Just begin your day appreciating those moments, the happy ones and the sad ones.

Because just like all living things, we will transmute back to the earth one day.

Appreciate your life, because even though we are born again, in to a new life, each life is unique.

So as you are now, in this form. It will never happen again. You are unique.

So seize the day and know that your life and this moment is unique.

Use it well.


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Life - the daily struggle.

Life as a human being is hard to sustain— as hard as it is for the dew to remain on the grass. But it is better to live a single day with honor than to live to 120 and die in disgrace. (Nichiren Daishonin, from letter "The Three Kinds of Treasure" dated 11th Sept 1277)

Daily Guidance from Jason Swindle

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

To pursue material treasure alone is to lead a miserable life. Treasures of the heart bring genuine happiness.

Everyone can understand that being human, you want a happy life, a happy family, to be a happy individual. But material things will not provide you with genuine inner peace or inner happiness. Human values are essential. We must find a way to present basic human values to everyone—and present them not as religious matters but as secular ethics that are essential whether you are religious or not.

Treasures of the Heart

Essentials for proper self-control and personal brilliance
We value many things in life, particularly that which enhances and improves the quality of our lives in some way. Nichiren Daishonin divides life's "treasures" into three categories: treasures of the storehouse, treasures of the body, and treasures of the heart. He writes, "More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. Strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1 p. 1170) Thus the Daishonin teaches that life's most important commodity—that which most greatly enhances the quality of our lives—is treasures of the heart.
To pursue material treasure alone is to lead a miserable life
"Treasures of the storehouse" are material treasures. They include such things as property and financial wealth. They are, for the most part, life's external adornments. These are things that almost all of us want—treasures we are naturally attracted to, often feel we need, and to which there is usually attached monetary value. And while we tend to seek these things, most of us realize that focusing on them exclusively or excessively can be futile, or even detrimental.
"Treasures of the body" are attributes that endow our person, such as skills, knowledge, educational background, etc. They also include perceptions that are attached to or associated with us, such as social standing, reputation, position and fame. In contrast to treasures of the storehouse, treasures of the body are perhaps more stable and lasting. Nevertheless, simply possessing them does not ensure happiness, and when such attributes are misused even a little, they can lead a person to ruin or to the ruin of others.
Nichiren Daishonin referred to those of great skill or learning who failed to use those skills wisely as "talented animals."
The human heart, left to its own devices, tends to lean toward the exclusive pursuit of wants and desires. When, spurred on by this "hungry heart," people focus their energies on obtaining treasures of the storehouse and treasures of the body, they are never satisfied. It is quite as Cicero said, "The thirst of desire is never filled, nor fully satisfied."
Psychological research is finding more and more that people whose primary focus in life is the attainment of "extrinsic goals"—externals such as wealth, property, fame or status—tend to be less happy. In general, they are said to experience higher levels of anxiety, suffer more from illness, and have less of a sense of fulfillment.
Shakyamuni Buddha said that "the mind is wavering and restless, difficult to guard and restrain...But it is a great good to control the mind; a mind self-controlled is a source of great joy" (The Dhammapada, verse 34–35).
The most respected figures in early Buddhism were those known as arhats. Literally, the Sanskrit word arhat meant "deserving," or "worthy," but it was also interpreted as meaning "killer of the robber." In other words, an arhat was a Buddhist sage who had defeated the "robber" of earthly desires within his heart and mind.
Shakyamuni also said, "If a man should conquer in battle a thousand and a thousand more, and another man should conquer himself, this would be the greater victory, because the greatest victory is over oneself..." (The Dhammapada, verse 103).
No matter how many "treasures of the storehouse" and "treasures of the body" one amasses, nothing of these may remain in the aftermath of an unexpected event. And certainly after one has been visited by what Buddhism calls the four sufferings—birth, old age, sickness and death—these external treasures lose all meaning. The sense of loss one feels at parting with such treasures can even become a cause for further suffering. In this light, it is easy to see why the ability to win over ourselves—over our weakness that makes us vulnerable to defeat by our own desires—is the most important treasure we can possess. This is the treasure of the heart.
We can define "treasures of the heart" as the mental and spiritual capacities to achieve mastery over oneself and to have genuine concern for others. This equates to such attributes as a solid sense of fulfillment, a brightness of spirit, a warm and attractive personality, self-control, conviction, a sense of justice, courage, empathy and compassion.
Or, it may be viewed as an indestructible spiritual state—the state of absolute happiness— that allows a person to surmount even life's most fundamental sufferings. A winner in life is a person who amasses treasures of the heart.
The Roman philosopher Seneca, tutor to the infamous Emperor Nero, was unjustly sentenced by imperial order to commit suicide. Just before the end, he turned to his family and is reported to have said, "There is no need to worry. There is something that surpasses the riches of this world and I will leave as an example, the moral life I have led."
Even though facing a tragic and unjust death, at the final moment, he gave expression to the treasures of the heart he had accumulated through the way he lived. He also stated that he had led a full life. "Death," he said, "is so little to be feared that through its good offices, nothing is to be feared" (Moral Essays, book 1, XXIV).
Though not persecuted in the same way as Seneca, we may perceive the sufferings of birth, aging, illness and death, which assail us all, as inherently unjust. In a sense, we all fall victim to the tyrannical emperor of death. The question is whether we can face this ultimate suffering of death with composure and confidence.
Nichiren Daishonin wrote that because the four sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death are the greatest of life's sufferings, we can use them to "adorn the [treasure] tower of our beings" to the greatest extent. In other words, through our practice of the Mystic Law, we turn the greatest of life's sufferings into life's greatest assets—we develop treasures of the heart.
Ultimately, treasures of the heart mean the strength, wisdom and good fortune not to be done in by desires and suffering. It indicates the condition of Buddhahood potential within us, which we aim to bring forth and develop through Buddhist practice. And when we become rich in treasures of the heart, on that basis we also enrich our treasures of the storehouse and treasures of the body. In fact, we gain the ability to use these other two treasures to enhance our happiness and that of others.
Living Buddhism, July 1999, p.5

Monday, 24 January 2011

Sowing the seeds of change.

Because I have expounded this teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I have been exiled and almost killed. For as the saying goes, "Good advice grates on the ear" But still I am not discouraged.

The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.


Nichiren was a wise man, and what can be seen in the quote above was that he was so sure about his beliefs , that he was willing to stake his life on it.

Now many people have accused me of becoming part of a cult or believing in something that is based on fairy tales or myth. And where as I do agree, there is a lot of myth and magic sometimes in religion, Nichiren Buddhism is founded on one simple principle.

Success or Victory is achieved through self belief.

Chanting nam myoho renge kyo is about working on your inner self, your sense of self. It is about building up the missing pieces that have been removed or broken down because of your previous experience.

Nam myoho renge kyo, symbolises my life, your life and the life of the universe. We are taught that to be happy, we need to be in tune with the pulse of the universe.

We do this by chanting. But when we chant, it isn't just about sitting and saying some words and things magically happen in our lives, it is about a fundamental transformation that occurs from the inside out.

When we chant, we are polishing our lives. And there is a lot of interesting metaphors when it comes to polishing, which I will explain.

Now the Buddha has said that a normal person, who's mind is clouded by the illusions of emotion, is prone to suffering and can not be enlightened.  When a person grasps the nature of life, and is able to polish their life, they are able to see the truth about them selves and about life.

The Gohonzon, which is the external representation of our inner life state. It is used to polish our lives, we practice daily, until this mirror is clear.

This is when we begin to see our true selves emerge.

But this takes time, commitment and most importantly consistency. If you want change, then you must be consistent.

Just remember, that it has taken you years to get your self in to the situation you are right now with your mind and it can take an equally long time to get out it.

This all depends on how willing you are to change.

Chanting is about changing something. Some people chant for money, fast cars, a partner. Some people chant for world peace and the happiness of all of man kind.

At the end of the day, we chant because we want to move something in or out of our lives.

Nichiren Buddhism is different to most forms of Eastern Buddhism, one of the biggest differences is that we are not expected to abstain for all the physical desires of being human.

Through our desires we discover our humanity, this is what we believe.

What we learn is that we have free will and a choice to do what ever we choose to our bodies and our lives, and to the earth, but we must suffer the consequences of the karma we create.

There is nothing wrong with smoking 100 cigarettes a day, but you must live with the fact that you could potentially develop cancer one day.

You could give up your life for others and spend all day and all night working 19 hour days, in an effort to change the world, but you could potentially die in a car accident driving home one night because you were too tired to say awake at the wheel.

Life is about choices. Every single tiny choice. From how quickly you brush your teeth, to how much you spend on your house or a car.

What we learn is that through these physical and conscious choices we create changes in the world around us.

So through our chanting, we are able to know our selves better and to know the best course of action for the benefit of all.

Through every positive action, a positive effect is created. Every-time, without exception.

The idea simple; is be aware of all your actions and causes and do your best to be a good person in all avenues of your life, respecting life and respecting others.

But at the same time, acknowledging that you are human, that you will make mistakes, that you will fuck up occasionally and that sometimes, wether you like it or not, things are going to go horribly wrong.

But when they do, you have developed a deep and resounding strength, that no matter how bad things get, you know that you will find a way out.

And if the way out happens to be death, then we know and believe, that even death is the beginning of a new and exciting adventure.

Just know that at the end of everything, your experiences and choices are all you will take with you when you do.

So live boldly and dream big!


A new year, a new start!

Did you know that the more you focus on your problems, the bigger they seem.

The more you pour your discontent & your hatred in to your problem the bigger it will get.

I am too fat, my relationship isn't perfect, I hate my job, I don't have any money, my boss is an arse.

It may seem obvious but when your shift your focus away from your problems & focus on a solution, you find resolution.

Focus all your thoughts on that solution & thing will change.

What you resist, persists.

Every time without exception.

Now go -  kick some ass!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Why do we chant Nam myoho renge kyo in Japanese and not English or our native tounge?

A member of Youtube asked me a very interesting question and I asked around a few people their thoughts.

His question was; If the Buddha, didn't speak in Japanese, they why do we chant Nam myoho renge kyo in Japanese. Wouldn't this be a deviation from the Buddha's teaching?

As much as I appreciate chanting can manifest wisdom, I didn't really feel "chant about it" was adequate, so I decided to answer the question myself.

Please let me know what you think of my response. Your feedback both positive and critical is always respected and appreciated.

Hi L, 

Thanks for getting these back to me. 

Unfortunately I do not feel they answer the question to the degree I think Jack would like, I think simply telling someone who has an enquiring mind to chant about it, is not enough in my opinion.

This is only from my experience as a young SGI member.

We live in an age where people ask questions, they want to know how? why? when? 

Centuries ago, life was simpler and people accepted things at face value.

There was no internet, no satellites, no mobile phones, no deep space exploration, no genetic engineering.

So the question asked by Jack; 

Why do we chant in Japanese, when the Buddha never spoke Japanese.

And would it work if we chanted in another language.

I already know the answer, but I wanted to see if someone who has been studying for longer may have a better way of answering the question.

This is what I feel is the answer; 

Since Shakyamuni expounded the teaching of the lotus sutra, he spoke of a Daishonin, who would appear in the latter day of the law, to teach and share The Lotus Sutra. He would appear in a time of great calamity and he would be persecuted with in an inch of his life.

He would teach from the Lotus Sutra, that all human beings have the potential for greatness, especially in the areas of love, compassion, wisdom and strength. And that these qualities come from a well-spring of infinite potential.

He taught that through the mindful chanting of the phrase nam myoho renge kyo, we would be able to summon up these wonderful aspects of our nature.

Human beings are all capable of these wonderful qualities, but most of us live lives that have been hard and difficult. These struggles or obstacles as we like to call them, often have an effect on us as people, we feel small, we feel stupid and we feel inadequate. Through these daily struggles, our sense of self and our sense of self worth, are often reduced to nothing.

This is where the daily practice of sitting and chanting comes in. Spending that time with your thoughts and working through your problems. Facing your problems. Is the key to your happiness.

As you know, most of human suffering is in the mind, or as the Buddha would call it, illusion. Our minds are clouded daily with anger, rage, jealousy, hatred, revenge, disgust and judgment to name a few.

These are all illusions. Illusions that we create. Through the sitting, and chanting, we learn to master our minds and take control of our fundamental darkness, our limiting self doubt, our destructive behaviour and our self sabotaging tendencies.

When we do this, we polish the mirror of our lives, that is often so clouded by these illusions that as time passes we begin to truly see... ? what do we see? As we polish harder and harder, day by day... what do we see? We, of course, see our selves. Our true nature as human beings. Loving, compassionate and filled with the deepest of respect for our lives and the lives of others.

Back to the time of Nichiren;

From a young age, Nichiren felt that Buddhism had lost its direction, that the temples and the priests had missed the point. Rituals, money, dogma, was the name of the game.

The purpose of religion is quite simple, whether you are Christian, Buddhism, Muslim, Scientologist or Jewish. It matters not what path you take. All religions have the same purpose.

To bring strength to the weak, and hope to the hopeless. Each religion may tell the story differently, but they were created to lift people from suffering and give men and women the tools they need to find happiness, a strong community spirit and of course limitless love.

Many of the teachings of Jesus, are very compatible with what Shakyamuni said, as well as many of the teachings of other saints and religious men.

So, as time passed Nichiren manifested this practice, or the idea of the practice. He took the wisdom the ideas of the Buddha and he taught that each one of us is capable of finding this strength from within.

He studied and he studied and he learnt from life, that the idea that all of us are equal, was indeed the jewel of the Buddhas teachings. 

He realised that this, was the fundamental truth and the law of life as a human being in this universe.

There is a reason we chant together, as singing together, brings people together.

When we are all singing one song, in unity, we are connected.

Many in body, one in mind. That doesn't mean mindless drones, that means a common goal, a common good. Together we are stronger. 

Humans in this world, have become so disconnected from each. This is our primary illness.

We sing the song of Nam myoho renge kyo daily, because we are a family, not by blood, colour or sexuality, but a family with a common goal.

We sing this song, together, daily, because we want the world to change. We want the suffering and the anger to end. We want to spread the truth that has been hidden from most of us for such a long time.

We are a family that wants the world to be a better place. We want our children to be safe and we want our sons and daughters not to have to go to war and kill each other.

Every single one of us on this green earth wants the same thing, love, security, food on our table, the safety of our children and a future.

Yet we all spend so much time trying to convince our friends, our families and our neighbours that our way is the better way.

In doing this we miss the point of why we practice a religion.

We practice to bring happiness and abundance to our lives and the lives of those around us, no matter if they are Christian, Mulsim, Jewish or Quaker.

So the simple answer as to why we chant in Sanskirt (Nam) and Japanese (myo ho renge kyo) is that, that is how Nichiren the teacher, taught it, and that is how we all connect together, through this mantra today. 

Let me paint a picture through, just to be a little more clearer or simpler depending on how you look at it.

Imagine a gospel choir, how wonderful they sound! They sing, filled with joy and happiness. The roof of the churches of gospel choices seem to lift up with the jubilation and the excitement. What a wonderful thing it is to be part of that family of people, together connected. Loving and supporting each other.

Now, for a minute, imagine that each one of the choir, was singing the same joyful song, but in a different language.

How would it sound?

I think quite simply we all sing in the same chosen language, because it allows us all, from many countries, and states, to come together and share a common goal.

The words may seem different, but they mean the same thing.

There are many of us who ask why, but until you, sit and chant and have faith, how can you tell if it works or it doesn't.

There comes a point, when you can ask questions and keep trying to rationalise it, but until you pick up your voice and chant for your life, you wont know if it works or if it doesn't.

I think that it is key, that we trust. And what is so wonderful about Nichiren Buddhism, is that this deep trust, is not in a priest, or in an idol, or a deity or an angel.

This trust, is in your self. Nichiren asked that you polish your life like a mirror, and how should you polish it? By chanting nam myoho renge kyo.

Namaste dear friend.


Monday, 10 January 2011

Time to let go.

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy.

There is an un-broken thread that connects everything.


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