Conspicuous benefits are obvious. For example, you do something good and the results are immediate. You can see and enjoy the effects of that cause immediately. Inconspicuous benefits are different. You may set a positive intention and see it through, but the results may not be so obvious. You may even think to yourself, “I did all that for nothing.” Of course, that is hardly ever the case. Prayers in Buddhism are like this. For some, they are answered very quickly-conspicuous. Others are slower to come by-inconspicuous. The reality is that we are all in process of our progress, like a garden in constant growth and that growth takes time. You will not see a sapling spring into a fine tree right before your eyes, but over time you will begin to notice changes that move in that direction until one day a fully matured tree stands before you with deep roots, a mighty stem, and adoring leaves. Inconspicuous benefits born from prayer are very much like this. It takes time and patience is required.
Daisaku Ikeda, Presdient of the SGI, Buddhist philosopher, educator, and peace activist shares solid encouragement on this matter in the Guidance Series of Living Buddhism September 2014. He states:
1. Sometimes our immediate prayers are realized, and sometimes they aren’t. When we look back later, however, we can say with absolute conviction that everything turned out for the best.
2. Buddhism accords with reason. Our faith is manifested in our daily lives, in our actual circumstances. Our prayers cannot be answered if we fail to make efforts to realize them.
3. To create something fine and solid, it would be better to build anew from the foundation up. The purpose of our Buddhist practice is to transform our lives on a fundamental level, not superficially.
4. Conspicuous benefit is the obvious, visible benefit of being protected or being quickly able to surmount a problem when it arises. Inconspicuous benefit, on the other hand, is less tangible. It is good fortune accumulated slowly and steadily. We might not discern any change from day to day, but as the years pass, it will be clear that we’ve become happy, that we’ve grown as individuals.
5. No matter what happens, the important thing is to keep chanting. If you do so, you’ll become happy without fail. Even if things don’t work out the way you hoped or imagined, when you look back later, you’ll understand on a much more profound level that it was the best possible result. This is tremendous inconspicuous benefit.
Vincent van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.” You can replace the bold words with whatever it is you desire to be, but keep in mind that nothing of true value happens overnight and certainly not without action. Greatness takes time to develop, and it requires diligence, determination, faith, and action. As time passes, you will look back to observe the inconspicuous fruits of your prayer and labor. Just remember to never give up and keep making efforts toward whatever it is you want to manifest! That is the key!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!