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.

💤

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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Hope for Health

Yesterday I went to a Buddhist training course. The training courses usually have a format where you break into small groups and discuss based on study or some questions. It ends up being quite an organic discussion process. When I started practising, I used to find this format quite unnerving. I enjoyed lectures more and it wasn’t my style to share my life with people. In my view, I was there to learn, I didn’t see how that should relate to me sharing about my struggles.

Over time and with chanting and study, I realised that this stemmed from a deep sense of unworthiness about my own life. Inherently I felt that, I did not deserve to occupy space. That nobody wanted to hear what I have to say and that my words were not worthy and my experiences did not matter. In the last training course, I met a member who has now become a dear friend. Speaking to her made me realise the significance of my struggle. All my life suddenly seemed to make sense, that I was preparing and training to accumulate life experience to be able to encourage her through my continued struggle to win over my negativity.

Yesterday, I was the first one to jump up to share my view of the study when they asked for volunteers. So unusual for me. Usually I am a reluctant or fugitive ‘voluntold’ rather than an enthusiastic volunteer. I still fought through my negative mind mocking me for wanting attention or limelight.

Anyway, I digress. In my group study and discussion, I talked briefly about my continued struggle with health problems and how sometimes it becomes a masochistic practice where I feel my practice is significant because I am struggling. Another member mentioned how he had digestive problems for ten years but continued to pray with determination to overcome it. After ten year he found a doctor who fixed his problems. I asked for his doctor’s details. He advised me that she is very good and usually very busy that when I call her, I could expect a 3 month wait and can get on the appointment cancellation waiting list.

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Writer’s block

I don’t know what to write on here. Too much has been happening.

And I find myself doing things and getting things done. I feel good about that.

Other than that, I feel joy in my practice, in the friendship and heart-to-heart dialogue. Everything else seems to be going on in the background.

Life seems to be the playground for kosen rufu.

Let me savour it while it feels this way.

Next week life might be a battleground for kosen rufu instead, with the day long workshops, work travel et al. Subtle but significant shift. 😃

Handing out relationship advice

One would think that given I’m by myself and have been for the better part of the last decade, I won’t have much to offer in terms of relationship advice. I guess I don’t.

Today I had a friend reach out to me to help work through relationship struggles. I was skeptical about offering a guy relationship advice, because evidently I haven’t found a suitable one yet.

However, last year’s failed relationship with Mike has been quite a learning experience. I wish I had been chanting regularly then. I wish I’d been more open, loving, and given him more freedom. It still may not have worked but I wouldn’t have regrets. I do know with my prayer that what happened was for the best and I can see it in my life.

Ultimately, it is about creating supreme happiness in my life that isn’t driven by external circumstances. Inline with that perhaps one day I won’t care about how happy chocolate brownies make me. 😝

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Creating Hope and Light for Myself

Reading my friend’s post today got me to study and reflect on my conviction and what it means to be the light and create hope in my life and in the life of those around me.

President Ikeda says,

“There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.”

and

“I believe the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up our own possibilities for growth.”

– Hope is a Decision, Pages 5-6

Intellectually, I can understand this. In some of my darkest times, I know this is what I need to do. Before I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I had never known this light of hope inside of me. But even now, it doesn’t come about by default. It is far more natural for me to fall into despair than rise into hope.

I question then, how much I create hope for myself? What is the method that continuously works and that I can repeatedly trust and rely on? Is there a winning formula for me to create hope that works by default when I am deadlocked and paralysed with fear and anxiety?

The last few months have helped me unpack some of the variables that go into a winning formula for my life.

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Choosing what I want for my life

About six months ago, I read the Gosho and it’s study lecture – “Happiness in This World”, available freely here.

It took many times of reading it on hopeless days when I was suffering so much and in tears, not knowing how to transform my situation – alone, injured, in love with a man who didn’t have courage to be with me, living with a flatmate who wouldn’t even say hello or make eye contact with me, working in an office space having no natural light, feeling cut off from light, literally. There would be days I would go to the office and read the print of this page a few times before I could even get myself to do any work or be around people.

This morning while chanting in alliance with my friend in Melbourne brought me closer to the truth of this teaching.

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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.

Getting past self-pity when struggling with health issues

Turns out, it’s not always an easy exercise to find what inside of me needs releasing today and has crystallised enough to find way into reasonably coherent words here, and I use “reasonably” loosely. (Wonder how to add emoji to posts, do any of of you know how?)

I had a fairly busy day, still catching up on meal prep, laundry and work. It is a great blessing to work from home once a week these days. Hope I find a reasonable rhythm before things change.

The last couple of years of knee and foot injuries and accidents have left me with very weak legs that are also out of balance. My right leg is significantly weaker than the left. Lately I have been trying to do some exercise prescribed by my osteopath but that’s causing pain in the arch of my foot and very tight and sore achiles tendon. Blah blah blah.

As I write this post, I have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban playing in the background. Those movies are therapeutic for me, I can tune in and tune out, it facilitates my writing. Believe me I tried many other TV shows and movies but there is none I am so deeply familiar that I can tune in and out and relax into my creativity.

Dementors are the embodiment of fundamental darkness or the devil king of sixth heaven. They represent how something can suck all joy and life and purpose out of our lives and only very strong positive light and force from within us can defeat it. Brilliant representation, isn’t it?

Anyhow, I digress. Over the last many years of seeing several medical professionals has provided me with this ability to observe and describe my symptoms. At first, when I used to see my TCM doctor every week for acupuncture, I did not know what to say. I was so disconnected with the experience in my body that I did not know what was happening to me and how to describe it. Slowly I developed this awareness of myself. This by all means is a good thing. Connection is better than disconnection.

The next stage to this is though, trusting that what is out of balance can find balance on its own and helping that process along. For the most part, I haven’t found this within my being and my consciousness yet. Some days I have it but when I am struggling with pain or physical discomfort, it becomes harder to think positive thoughts and send healing messages to my body.

And in this difficulty and pain, I find myself questioning – why me, why is this happening to me, when would it stop. I find it hard to discern and balance the line between self-pity and self-compassion.

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