The Pulse Of Your Dreams

I want to know about you.

photo credit: Lara Cores via photopin cc

photo credit: Lara Cores via photopin cc

Have you forgotten your big dreams?

Think back.

They are there,

floating about in the harbour of your mind.

Dig deep.

Anchor down as you sleep.

Reach out.

Grab that one, as it twinkles and beats.

Like the mind of a child,

precious and divine.

Believe in yourself

the way you did back then.

Let your light shine.

Your life has power,

and there is courage inside.

The Voice Does the Buddha’s Work

medium_3850756797The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume I


The Significance of Hearing the Law

In Buddhism, there are ten worlds.  There are the six lower worlds and the four noble paths.  The third world of the four noble paths is the world of bodhisattvas.  Bodhisattvas maintain a strong spirit.  They are relentless and push themselves to gain enlightenment of a Buddha.  In this regard, bodhisattvas are always working to share the teachings of the Buddha with others in an effort to relieve suffering and bring about happiness in the world.

The development of one’s voice along this spiritual path is a crucial characteristic of guiding others toward enlightenment.  The sound or vibration of the voice is a powerful and critical feature of being in the world of Buddhahood.  Nichiren Daishonin says that the voice of a Buddha is a “pure and far reaching voice” and it is one of the Buddha’s thirty-two outstanding features.  Ikeda says, “The voice is the vibration of the living whole.  A person’s being and character are revealed by the voice.  A French writer once said the voice is our second face.  Though we may hide our true appearance, we cannot hide the voice” (78).

We reveal much about our inner state of being through the vibrational sounds of our voice.  Just by speaking, one can communicate to another if he/she is happy, sad, angry, frustrated, genuine, sincere, or sarcastic.  In my experience with communication and relationships, I know that when a voice generates a vibe of anger, frustration, or condescendence, communication often shuts down, the receiver stops listening and the original message is lost.  Forward movement towards dialogue and mutual understanding stops dead in its tracks.

How can I relate this to my life?  Well, I think it becomes really important for me to develop and conduct myself in such a way that when I use my voice, I am able to speak from a place of sincerity, honesty, compassion, and friendship.  Rather, I practice and develop a genuine voice from the heart.  How often have we heard someone speak from a place of anger, releasing their frustration by attacking another person and choosing not to say what really needs to be said from the heart space?  When we choose to speak from the heart in a real and honest way, I think we naturally move to a place of calm and peace.  Give it a try and see what happens!  What have you got to lose except, perhaps, a bit more peace in your life?

President Ikeda says, “Not sparing one’s voice doesn’t refer to loudness or volume.  It means the great voice of compassion that seeks to bring all beings to enlightenment.”  So, go out there and do your life’s work.  Fulfill your mission or purpose!  Use your voice and speak your heart.  The voice is a tool to create and liberate!

Lessons From “The Wisdom Of The Lotus Sutra: Volume I” Part 1

In SGI, we have several activity groups based on age.  These include the young women and men’s groupings as well as the women and men’s groupings.  A few months ago, I graduated from the young women’s group into the women’s group.  I was then given an opportunity to join Sophia which is a gathering of women with the purpose of studying Soka Gakkai publications and other Nichiren Buddhist study materials.  We decided on The Wisdom Of The Lotus Sutra: Volume I”.  This book is a discussion between SGI President, Daisaku Ikeda, and Study Department leaders Katsuji Saito, Takanori Endo, and Haruo Suda.  Although it is fairly thin, the contents are thick requiring deep thought and reflection.  Below is my written preparation of study that I presented to the group during our May gathering.  The topic of discussion for this particular meeting covered chapter three.

A Scripture That Calls Out to All People

In chapter three on page 43 I learn that the Lotus Sutra makes frequent use of the phrase “good men and good women”.   Elaborating on this expression, President Ikeda states, “Returning to the expression ‘good men and good women,’ I think it is used in the Lotus Sutra not to make a distinction between lay practitioners and priests but instead to transcend that division. I believe these men and women are referred to as ‘good’ not because they come from good families, but because  they have made the commitment to follow the path to Buddhahood set forth by Shakyamuni—in other words, the path to true independence as human beings and victory in life.  ‘Good’ here refers not to lineage but to goodness of intent.” Saito then replies in agreement stating, “Unless they are truly committed people, whether lay practitioners or priests, they cannot carry out the difficult tasks of upholding and propagating the Lotus Sutra after Shakyamuni’s passing.” (pg. 44)

What makes a practitioner of our practice a truly committed person?  For me, the answer to this question is an ongoing journey of continual learning whereby I focus on gaining a deeper understanding and awareness.   I liken my faith and practice to something of an onion.  Each year offers another opportunity to peel back another layer. When I first began, my perspective of a committed practitioner was one who chanted daimoku everyday and performed gongyo.  Life, being as busy as it was, often times included evening gongyo alone.  The mornings were simply too rushed.  I quickly realized a notable difference between the days when morning and evening gongyo were realized in place of just the one.  As daily struggles became my focus to overcome, I understood that there was more to my practice.  Attendance and participation in monthly meetings as well as stepping into a leadership role offered another layer of commitment toward making positive changes happen in my life.  The passing of a third year brought additional insight.  This time I learned the importance of member care and the different ways I might assist others in their practice.  Yet, I am sure that this is only the tip of the iceberg for me.

On page 45, President Ikeda speaks of Nichiren’s Buddhist faith and practice.  He says, “Nichiren Daishonin read the Lotus Sutra with his life”.  Nichiren revealed the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and demonstrated how each person could realize their own happiness.  On page 46, Sudas says, “Only a heartless Buddha would fail to care about the fate of those living after him and refuse to teach them the path to happiness.” The Lotus Sutra teaches that all people whether they be rich, poor, male, female, of high or low status, all possess an innate Buddha nature and all have the capacity to bring it forth with absolute happiness.  Shakyamuni’s intention was to share this teaching with all people and so he chose to speak using the language of the everyday people rather than using the language only the wealthy and educated would understand.   This is an important point.  Propagating a teaching that can assist ALL people to realize their fullest potential is clearly important.  SGI is actualizing this goal by translating the teachings of the Lotus Sutra into a diversity of languages around the world.

President Ikeda is very clear about the difference between knowing what your mentor has taught and putting the teachings into practice, demonstrating the power of the teaching with your own life and sharing the teaching with others so they too can transform the suffering of their own lives.  He says, “It is no outstanding distinction to simply know what your teacher has taught; what matters most is the reason or purpose for which you know those teachings. Anyone can say, ‘My mentor’s teaching are wonderful!’ But, for example, Nikko Shonin took the next step: ‘Since they’re so wonderful, I must share them with others no matter what!”  On the other hand, five senior priests during Nikko’s time thought themselves great simply because they knew Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.  Since the teachings are so powerful and transformative both for society and the individual, it would be selfish to keep them a secret or to gain benefit alone.  An important step in one’s practice is to share the teachings with others because there is always someone somewhere seeking peace and happiness within their life.

President Ikeda best summarizes an absolute amazing truth about Mayhayana Buddhism, and these compelling reasons are, in part, why I love this practice.  He says, “Mayhayana Buddhism does not subscribe to a complicated list of rules of behavior or discipline with which to bind people. It respects the freedom and autonomy of the individual. However, when we hold the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism up before the mirror of the people, they offer an extremely demanding model of leadership. This is because irresponsibility is not permitted” (pg. 49).  And so, with the passing of another year, comes yet the peeling back of another layer.  The wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, as indicated at the end of this chapter, is that my life is the greatest gift, worthy of the utmost respect.  That is my Buddha nature.  It is clear to me now that the best thing I can do is to spread that message, share it with others, demonstrate the power of my faith through the transformation of my own life, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo no matter what!

Motivation For A Rainy Day

By Vinoth Chandar (Flickr: on a rainy day…) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is one awesome “quick fix” for your day especially if, like me on this rainy afternoon, setting yourself in a productive motion proves to be quite tricky.  On a day like today, for example, I find myself asking, “How can I best manage my time?”  In my research of time management and goal setting, here is what I learned.

All you can really do is your best to use the time you have and make the most of it.  Focus on being effective with the time given rather than practicing busyness.  Being busy does not necessarily  mean that effectiveness is your experience.  Proper planning may be required.  Start by identifying your goal.  Then, manage your tasks by labeling them either high priority or low priority.  Spend your time and attention taking care of those high priority items rather than busying yourself with those low on your list.  When deciding if an item or activity is worth doing, ask yourself, “Is this necessary, and will doing this move me closer to my goal?”  If your answer is no, then it may be in your best interest to release that low priority item.  Simply let it go.  If it’s not all that important, why waste your time doing it?  Freed up time could be better used doing something you enjoy!

And remember….

“YOUR ENVIRONMENT DOES NOT MATTER.

Everything starts with YOU.

You must FORGE yourself through your own efforts.

CREATE something,

START something,

and MAKE A SUCCESS of something.

That is the ESSENCE of human existence, the CHALLENGE of youth.

Herein lies a WONDERFUL WAY OF LIFE always aiming for the future.”

-Daisaku Ikeda in From Today & Tomorrow

A Recipe for Absolute Happiness

A Recipe for Absolute Happiness

Ingredients you will need:

A living, breathing life.

3-5 Troubles

2 Obstacles

1 Unexpected Problem

Confidence

Joy

Strength

3 ounces of calm

1 cup of wisdom

A whole lot of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

Directions:

Take your ONE living, breathing life and sprinkle in 3 to 5 troubles.  Next, add in the 2 obstacles and stir.  Allow time for the experience to get a bit hectic.  Just when you think you can’t handle anymore,  throw in that 1 unexpected problem and watch it burn.  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Allow that ONE living, breathing life to experience the chaos this cooking will bring.  Notice what happens and continue to feel the smoldering flame of discomfort.  Stay present and maintain control as best as you can.  Bring everything to a slow and steady simmer.  Easy does it.  Allow your creation to sit for one hour with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  Observe the life force of your ONE living, breathing being.  Give the life condition time to elevate.  Next, add in a dash of confidence and a heap of strength.  Throw in 5 cups of joy and 2 ounces of calm.  Continue cooking with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  You’ll know you’ve reached readiness when those 3 to 5 problems have turned into 3 to 5 benefits, those 2 obstacles are perceived as 2 strengths, and that 1 unexpected problem has become the best thing that ever happened to you.  Voila! You now have absolute happiness.  Now, continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, repeat, and enjoy!

Human Revolution in a Nutshell

June 6, 2011 by Mary Logan. Morning Butterfly. Photo 93242 of 100627; Previous · Next. Added: June 6, 2011. File Size: 48.62 kb. Resolution: 800×800

A human revolution is an inner transformation, a modern day expression of what it means to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.  When chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, a transformation takes place.  This involves freeing oneself from the four evil paths of hell, hunger, animality, and anger and moving into the world of bodhisattva and Buddhahood.  By entering into a continual process of self-improvement, one’s highest potential is brought forth.  A human revolution is about growth and achievement right now.  One can let go of the past, experience the present, and move forward into the future with compassion and vitality.  Chanting brings forth the greater self,  allowing one to let go of selfish tendencies and the needs of the ego and instead focus on the happiness and well-being of others.  “Using the example of cherry, peach, plum, and damson blossoms, Nichiren teaches that each unique entity, just as it is, possesses Buddhahood.  The essence of Nichiren Buddhism is for each individual to reveal from within his or her own true and highest potential.  There’s no need to pretend, try to be someone you’re not, to be impatient and anxious or to doubt yourself.  The Soka path of mentor and disciple is a great path of victory and happiness that will enable you to shine your brightest and in your own unique way.” (September 19th, 2008 World Tribune)

Alkaline Is Very Fine

By unknown master (book scan) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cancer breeds in an acidic environment.  On the other hand, it does not grow in an alkaline one.  All the more reason to pay attention to what foods you eat.  For a quick assessment, you can get pH strips to test the level of acid in your body.  It is super easy.  Of course, the best way to balance your pH level is through food.  However, I also suggest Alkalife which are pH drops you can put in your water to boost your alkaline levels.

A sampling of acidic foods you may want to limit or avoid altogether include beef, chicken, veal, pork, eggs, hard cheese, general dairy, white bread, pistachios, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, soy sauce, vinegar, beer, coffee, and, liquor.

Yep!  That’s right folks!  Meat, dairy, and sugar are huge acidic culprits!

On the other hand, high doses of alkaline foods that you can eat a lot of and your body will love you for it include alfalfa grass, barley grass, soy sprouts, sprouted chia seeds, wheat grass, summer black radish, avocado, fresh cucumber, soy nuts, and really anything that is leafy and green.

For me, cutting chocolate, cheese, and coffee completely out is serious business.  They are my three loves.  However,  I do think it is good to pay close attention to those acidic choices and how often you are choosing them.  Keeping a food journal could be helpful and a great way to become more conscious of your dietary choices.

For more information and education on how to live an alkaline life, check out “The Alkaline Sisters” at www.alkalinesisters.com  They provide a wealth of knowledge and support with great recipes and resources.  You can also access their alkaline food chart here: http://www.alkalinesisters.com/alkaline-food-chart/  It is awesome!

Eat Your Way to Health

By Scott Bauer, USDA ARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The leading causes of death in the United States include:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease

These are just a few illnesses I chose from a long list of others.  Lead researchers in the field of nutrition and health are piling up evidence suggesting that a majority of diseases afflicting thousands of Americans each year are nutrition and diet related.  The good news is that doctors and researchers are also proving that many of these diseases are reversible through better food choices.  Watch the film Forks Over Knives or read about it yourself in the companion guide Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health.  It is a New York Times Bestseller and it comes complete with 125 recipes to get you started on the road to a healthier you!  Happy reading and eating!

http://www.amazon.com/Forks-Over-Knives-Plant-Based-Health/dp/1615190457

Lives Like Gems

Different Cultures

Different Cultures (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

Our lives are like gems.

Delighted to learn.

Possessing traditions,

and cultural treasures.

Forces for good.

Deserving of peace.

We are all human.

Comrades.

Confronting the universe.

United in the same experience

of birth, aging, sickness, and death.

(Inspired by the words of Daisaku Ikeda, World Tribune, October 18, 2013)

Use Your Voice

Yellowhammer, a declining species but still th...

Yellowhammer, a declining species but still the commonest bunting in Wales. Green (2002), p240 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Use your voice

Speak your mind.

Vibrantly.

Always being gentle

to those who

are suffering.

Refute

the erroneous.

Seek

the truth.

Take action.

Dialogue.

Seek the good

in everyone.

(Inspired by the words of Daisaku Ikeda)