Following on from my previous post about prayer without goals, I have been reflecting on how to set goals to pray for. I have been also reflecting my own journey and the various kinds of guidance I received over the years through study and personal guidance.
Some of my key learnings are below.
Pray for What You Want…
I used to often start from what I want to change or manifest in my life. E.g. I pray to have absolute victory over my health problems so that I can freely contribute to the happiness of others. In this frame of mind, I found that I started practising diligently only when I was deeply suffering and wanting to change something. However, when this didn’t happen, it used to cause me deeper suffering and discourage me from practising.
But Don’t Chase After it
I learned that while I must pray for what I want, while chanting I must imagine this behind me as fuel and motivation for me to chant but not imagine it in front of me. Instead, I must chant to be one with the Gohonzon, to tap into the creative force of my life and the universe and to regenerate myself again and again in front of the Gohonzon. I must pray for my desire to be fulfilled so I can encourage others in my SGI group or my environment and demonstrate to them the power of this practice. This is to awaken them to creative potential within their lives too and provide them with renewed inspiration.
When You Have Nothing You Want …
This is the most useful step in my prayer and practice. Soon after I started practising, I fell really really ill and couldn’t even chant. I had to focus on the basic fundamentals of my life and I couldn’t contribute to others. I remained in the orbit of faith and SGI. My SGI group leader became my best friend. However, I lost all hope and aspiration for my life. I was focused completely on survival, I couldn’t see or visualise the future and even think of what I might want to pray for, what might good health look like for me.
Start With Setting Aspirations in Faith …
With guidance from a senior leader in BSG, I wrote a prayer to have the time, energy, life force and motivation to chant for one hour everyday. It took more than three years but I ended up in a situation where I had all three. When I am unable to chant much, I set a goal to be able to chant. Chanting is fundamental to giving me the life force to then have greater aspiration for my life. It has worked wonders in my life so far.
Set Determinations in Faith for Your Prayers
This is the most important thing I learned. When I have something really pressing I want to change or transform in my life and have an outcome I am praying towards, e.g. I prayed to find the right work opportunity that enabled me to contribute using my beliefs, skills and values by 3 July 2019, this is the effect I want to manifest.
I have to match this with the determination of what causes I am willing to make. e.g. I determine to chant two hours every day, introduce Buddhism to at least one person everyday, chant with others, go to meetings, study the gosho, encourage members through my dance performance and so on. These causes which cover abundant daimoku and action for the happiness of others based on prayer are fundamental to transforming my state of life. The elevated life state then provides me with unprecedented wisdom and courage to take action. Ultimately this leads me to win over myself and overcome my challenge.
An example of a determination, a leader said this to a member in guidance in SGI-USA, she got her job on day 20 and decided to forever live as though it was one of these hundred days:
“I have a secret recipe that bakes a fabulous cake. If you miss even one step, don’t blame the recipe. Chant 2-3 hours a day, study, apply for jobs in a way you have never done before, and share this Buddhism with one person everyday. Do this for 100 days. If you do not have a job by then, I will return my Gohonzon.”
In a Nutshell
If you feel like you have no aspiration for your life, it is a sign of low life force. Start to consistently do Gongyo and daimoku, go to your group meetings and read President Ikeda’s writing, even if a couple of lines everyday. Make the effort to engage with others for the sake of their happiness, no matter what. Soon you will have realisations about what you want to accomplish or transform in your life and how you will contribute to others if you accomplished this. Set a date, more on this later. Make a determination of how you would make causes in faith towards your life goal.
Set about on your journey. Persevere. Don’t give up. No matter what!
As President Toda said:
The crucial question … is whether we are changing for the better or changing for the worse. When we fail to be aware of this, we give in to inertia… Moreover, when we grow apathetic in faith, practicing only out of force of habit, it’s the same as if we have stopped practicing altogether. Faith in Nichiren Buddhism is an active practice for rapidly changing ourselves for the better.SGI Newsletter 9501 P6-7
Nichiren Buddhism focuses on the present and future. We must, therefore, concentrate on challenging ourselves here and now, for the sake of our present and future happiness.
The important thing is to never allow ourselves to be defeated. Remaining undefeated is being unwavering. With a firm resolve never to falter, we can embark on a renewed struggle to achieve absolute victory.
What if you end up praying for the wrong thing?
Don’t worry, plenty of good can come from this too. More on this in the next post!