Day of Friendship

I spent today with a friend for 6-7 hours. I’m so lucky that he cleared his calendar for me when I said I was struggling, depressed and home sick.

I came home and talked to another friend who’s been going through a rough patch too. He said to me how he thinks he’s talking to a guy, doesn’t feel self-conscious sharing his personal problems. What a great compliment, ahem with regards to his comfort.

Then I spoke to my friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a year and we had a mini crash course on each other’s lives for the last year. I saw how he seemed so “together” even with his struggles. On reflecting, I could see my daimoku reflected in his life. Maybe one day he will have the courage to chant again. Until then I’ll continue to chant for him.

So much love and joy. Now it’s past 2 am, I’m so sleepy but also happy.

💤

Choice – Part 2

As I was reflecting on my earlier post Choice yesterday, I considered how I could get better at recognising when I’m sinking into a negativity pattern, blocking my innate wisdom or Buddha nature.

Here’s a few warning signs and antidotes:

  • When I’ve fixated on a goal and all my prayers are about that one problem or thing I want to change. I’ve made that the centre of my life, my object of devotion rather than the Gohonzon. Antidotes – seek personal guidance, start chanting about someone else that I care about but don’t chase after, go to study meetings, training courses as per availability, chant more consistently and abundantly in the morning.
  • I feel stuck in the options available to me. This is usually a symptom of me being stuck in risk averse, catastrophe avoidance rather than a creative mindset. Antidote: Remind myself my lack of choices is only my perception, not the reality. Set myself an ambitious goal for kosen rufu and pursue it wholeheartedly through faith, practice and study. Chant abundantly in the morning. Remind myself that practising is not about avoiding difficulties, also not about struggle for the sake of struggle. Focus on creating actual proof for the sake of kosen rufu.
  • Trying to map the future path and scenarios, strategizing, not being open to the options shown to me. Trying to match my life to my expectation of what it should be, blocking my engagement with the present moment. Antidote: Write a prayer about my goal and chant each day with that thing at the back of my mind acting as fuel to chant but not taking over all my prayers or my life. Pray for an option to open up somehow that enables me to expand my contribution to life and kosen rufu with my prayer getting answered.

Ok time to get some precious 💤.

Goodnight you all!

Rescuing vs Supporting

As I was reading this post on the difference between rescuing and supporting this morning, I began to reflect on my journey to learning this valuable distinction.

When I first I got exposed to this concept, I took it to an extreme interpretation. I took it to mean that I must look after myself before I do anything for others. Or by helping them in a way they haven’t asked for, I’m rescuing them and taking away their opportunity to grow while spreading myself too thin.

Through my Buddhist practice embedded with life challenges over the last few years, I’ve learnt that this learning is a lifelong journey of the eternal truth of life. It is about how I always learn to find the “Middle Way”.

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Supporting family from afar

Today was a testing day. My beloved uncle is in the hospital in India. He underwent a triple bypass open heart surgery last night after having a massive cardiac event.

This day has shown me how the practice works for me. Earlier with losing my friends and classmates, I’ve been distraught and out of whack and crying for weeks.

Today I woke up at 5.30 am and saw my sister’s message asking me to chant for my uncle with a brief about what happened. First of all it’s so mystic how I even woke up that early. On Wednesday night I was dead to the world at 8.30 pm, it is not a frequent occurrence. It’s almost as though everything was setup so I could send daimoku to my uncle while he was in surgery.

I saw the message and kind of jolted awake. Took me thirty minutes to open my eyes enough to start chanting. By the time I went to work I had calmly chanted 40 minutes and I chanted another 20 minutes on the train. Usually I don’t chant on the train, it’s mostly study time but today I couldn’t keep myself from chanting. I also asked my friends for support to chant for my uncle, I’m truly blessed to have such a close network to lean on for support. Thereafter it was a usual day at work.

During lunch time I called home, my brother in law said my uncle was still in surgery. It was early morning there. It suddenly sank in that open heart surgery is long, no wonder it was still going. My heart sank a bit. I hung up and sat by the wharf to chant more daimoku quietly.

It was revealing in the sense of where I still harbored doubts about whether my daimoku was helpful. Today helped me investigate and close the holes in my conviction. Thanks to my uncle.

His surgery went well and he is in intensive Care on ventilator. The next 48-72 hours are crucial. I’m going to continue to chant for his absolute protection and full recovery for me to really see the power of this practice so I can use my practice to show great proof in my life and my health too.

Later in the evening I spent 2-3 hours talking to my friends in faith, not lamenting about my life and problems but encouraging them and being fully present and listening to them. Usually I would be a wreck and think that my problem is the biggest and how can someone talk about their “mundane” problems when my uncle is battling life and death.

My calmness and determination today showed me the actual proof of my practice.

As it says in the Gosho lecture on “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime”,

Practicing Nichiren Buddhism means not being swayed this way and that way; it means constructing a self that is solid and resolute like towering Mount Fuji. 

Also:

Our daily realities are filled with an endless succession of problems. But with the firm belief that our lives are Myoho-renge-kyo, we should strive to boldly challenge everything with the unwavering conviction that we can overcome all hardships and become happy without fail. When we maintain deep faith based on the foundation that “I am Myoho-renge-kyo,” we can take on any problem with courage. The key to victory in life lies in whether we can bring forth courage. Not a shrinking timidity but a challenging courage— this is what we need to have!

And also:

Nichiren Buddhism starts from the realization that the supreme lifecondition of Buddhahood exists in each of us. It is a teaching that makes it possible for us to achieve the profoundest inner transformation—a transformation of our fundamental attitude or mindset. That’s why Nichiren emphasizes the importance of our minds, of what’s in our hearts.

My determination for kosen rufu and my conviction in the power of mystic law enabled me to win over my weakness today.

And tomorrow, I redetermine and restart all over again. Chant for my uncle. Rinse and repeat.

How Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Heals Our Lives

Since I got sick in 2012 and got worse in 2013, which led me to the Buddhist practice, I have also been learning a whole lot about how dis-ease creeps up into our minds and bodies. It’s becoming more mainstream than ever with the widespread nature of chronic illnesses people have to live with.

As my fabulously kind doctor says, modern (western) medicine is great at helping in crises but it has no idea what to do with chronic illness where the body has forgotten how to be healthy and how to restore health. It is taking a step-by-step approach of trying to pull up anchors into a boat so it can maybe start sailing again. It is very hit-and-miss and he relies on his extensive experience of working with such health conditions.

My therapist from 2008 first introduced me to this idea that illness and healing both come from within us. Popping a pill to fix a symptom often disrupts our being’s way of healing itself. However, I’ve learnt through the years that this is only a part of the story. For example – for someone like me who underwent major trauma and emotional neglect in my childhood, my body, being and conscious never learnt the mechanisms to be well. Not popping a pill does not magically restore me back to health, because my “being” did not necessarily internalise the default state of “good health” or “natural state”.
Sidenote: Further reading on how trauma disrupts this process can be found in this superb book – The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma.

Today, my unwell stomach prompted me to reopen this classic book about healing – You Can Heal Your Life. It has a long list of symptoms at the end and how a certain thought pattern tends to be behind a health condition or symptom. I often find it as a handy reference to remind myself where I am stuck and perhaps let go of that pattern. I can’t say that I have been able to release a great deal of them using the method but it certainly helps improve my self-awareness.

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