Aligning to my mission

After yesterday’s friendship and joy, I found myself better able to connect to my purpose today. It was much easier to chant for an hour this morning. I invited one of my Buddhist group members to chant at the same time from her home. I thought of it as a chore for her because she must have been living a good enjoyable life with her husband.

However, things aren’t as always they seem to be. Even when I think I’m struggling and nobody else is in a soup like me, someone is still struggling in their own way.

When we finished chanting she said that she hadn’t chanted like this for a while and thanked me for inviting her. She said that she needed to redetermine and strengthen her resolve to align with her vow for kosen-rufu.

I was amazed how my new prayers based on President Ikeda’s guidance and persevering in creating causes led to this moment.

This fuelled me to talk to my state leader and reach out to many other young women. I want to strive to create so many causes and accumulate so much good fortune that when PMS and it’s accompanying deep depression and fatigue come around, my good fortune is enough to carry me over, that somehow my life force is so strong that I don’t suffer and am able to keep continuing the cycle of contributing to society and kosen-rufu.

I’m grateful for this challenge that leads me to strive. Thanks to my friend in Melbourne for giving me so much encouragement to focus on my determination.

My most favorite thing from that conversation was – everything I do is ok. If today I can only text one person and chant for five minutes, that’s ok. If I can do more, that’s ok too. As long as I’m somehow doing my best, whatever that turns out to be is enough and ok and will lead me to accumulate limitless good fortune.

This took so much anxiety away. Further that I can only focus on my causes. And if I text someone and they don’t respond, I don’t need to fixate on that, I can go ahead and connect to others who while continuing to chant for those who are not able to step forward yet.

So much to do and strive for. Exciting times!

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 đź’¤.

Goodnight you all!

Healing Trauma via Buddhism – Part 2

Continuing on from my post here, writing further about what I learned at the workshop “Trauma, Neuroscience and the Evolving Therapy of Traumatised Children and Adults” by Dr Bessel van der Kolk earlier this week and referring to his book The Body Keeps the Score.

The most important job of the brain is to ensure our survival, even under the most miserable conditions.

– The Body Keeps the Score pg 55

Amygdala is the smoke detector in the brain that detects danger. In a traumatised person’s brain, the amygdala becomes hypersensitive, very involved. It goes off all the time. This also translates into low serotonin production. Boosting serotonin can help quieten the smoke detector too.

Using the Buddhist practice in the present moment, I can rely on my prayer for survival. This action focused on bringing out my greatest potential enables me to bypass the in-built brain circuits that were formed in the past. I am gently nudging myself to not fall back to old ways, but let in new possibilities. SGI activities, visiting members, connecting to others, going to meetings gives me a sense of belonging that helps to boost my serotonin levels to calm the smoke detector.

When I sought guidance from the general director earlier this year, I was told that “Until the time, I am stuck in the mode of why is my life this way, why is this happening to me, I am still looking for the Gohonzon outside of myself. Instead when I chant to embrace my situation and I determine to engage with others, no matter what, I will find creative ways to solve my current situation”.

Continue reading “Healing Trauma via Buddhism – Part 2”

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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Creativity fueled by determination

Yesterday morning, my friend chanted with me in alliance from Melbourne. I felt so exhausted that I was 40 minutes late to the one hour long session. Without begrudging or berating me, she chanted and I could feel her daimoku lifting me out and bringing me in front of the Gohonzon to chant. I feel deep gratitude for her support and daimoku. Her kind gesture reminded me that I could extend this same kindness to others.

First I started with looking for other members I could chant in the morning with. People were ok to chant, but I felt something was lacking. I reached out to my cousin Diya in Florida that I introduced to the practice a few years ago, who has been undergoing deep struggle and hasn’t been able to really get into chanting. With time zones offering a short common time slot, I offered her to chant with her in alliance. Meanwhile I also realised I had another person I could ask in California, my sister’s close friend – Swarn.

This morning I chanted while Swarn was on the other end of a phone call for half an hour. She probably listened to Gongyo for the first time. She was so open and embracing. Chanting with her was a real joy.

Diya couldn’t join in until much later and I missed her message. I continued to send her my daimoku and gratitude and I hope we can break through it tomorrow!

I realised that I wasn’t supporting them by asking to chant with them. They were supporting me. It was the only reason for me to get out of bed at 6.30 am! For the last few weeks, I had a prayer to be able to chant with another member everyday and now I find a creative way to accomplish this feat! Yay!!!

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Strength – constant struggle

Much too tired to write for the last couple of days. But I wanted to share this from my study today:

My life hinging on every word.

<3

Update an hour later-

I found myself at unease and unrest after doing this study. Almost as though reading this made me weak just as I read it.

An hour later I could step away from it and realise how it was devilish functions at work again. My negative voice telling me that “oh you’re never going to be strong. You are never going to win. You’re so weak, unhappy and such a failure.”

It’s amazing how Nichiren reminds us again and again how devilish functions will come in confusing forms, sometimes subtly and sometimes with force. You have to have strong life force and high life state to recognize them for what they are.

I’m glad I could see it and now I can use my faith to walk past my negativity and show it the door.

Also realised how my uncle has endured a deep struggle throughout his life. It would break most. In his case it turned to anger but I’m kind of intrigued and inspired that it didn’t apparently manifest as self deprecation. And how he could continue to love and respect many when his own life would have been so testing.

Strength doesn’t have only one form. It isn’t binary. It is not a river you cross and reach the other side. It is a constant battle with varying demons. Even if you win over some of them, you are strong. Each win is the springboard for the next. Keep adding to your strength my lovelies!

<3 again!

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.

Weak vs Delicate

On Sunday afternoon, I met with a woman from a pole fitness class for coffee. I’d struck up a conversation with her after the first class and after the second class we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet for coffee. I expressed how it was lonely and isolated and I was looking to make friends in the area. She told me that I can message her anytime.

She texted me later to organise to meet on Sunday.

It was my most profound dialogue in a long long time. It was so enriching and interesting to meet someone else trying to live true to their convictions and live life based on strong faith.

We talked about our faith-based practices and daily challenges in how our respective trauma can be so hard to get past. It is almost like, when you’ve undergone trauma, your mind and body doesn’t know that you are drowning and how taking a breath of air would feel and to try to swim towards it. It is only our faith that continues to give us the push and courage to seek it.

My friend Saiyad is coming out of a domestic violence situation. Her mother tries to control her and her husband controlled her so much that he wouldn’t even let her pray. Yet, she had the courage to leave all of that to find herself. She said that her psychologist asked her if she was suicidal and she said, “No way, that it is prohibited in my religion. I am a woman of strong faith. This life belongs to Allah and I have no right to take it away.”

I spoke to her about how a broken relationship, a relationship before which I didn’t know I was lovable, left me broken. It snapped my connection with myself and then my health suffered and I am still learning how to connect with myself and Daimoku is the only way I have found to do that.

She nodded and said, there are words in Quran that say, a woman is delicate.

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“Under the Wings”

Today I finally could read Toda Sensei’s guidance on marriage from Under the Wings chapter of The Human Revolution.

It sheds light on where I am yet to strengthen myself and my faith in my love life and relationships. Some of the quotes from volume 7 and my notes below:

“In other words, you must marry a man to whom you will not regret devoting genuine love.” (Pg 895)

I tend to not find such a man and the first sign of trouble makes me regretful. I don’t necessarily have the emotional strength to back up my decision to love someone.

Continue reading ““Under the Wings””