Thursday, July 21, 2016

Faith is the Key to Eternal Happiness

Daimoku is like light; as the Daishonin says, "a lantern lighting up a place that has been dark for a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand years." Similarly, the moment we offer prayers based on daimoku, the darkness in our lives vanishes. This is the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect. At that very instant, in the depths of our lives our prayer has been answered. 

The inherent cause of a deep prayer simultaneously produces a latent effect. While it takes time for this effect to become manifest, in the depths of our lives our prayers are immediately realised. So at that moment light shines forth. The lotus (renge), in blooming and seeding at the same time, illustrates this principle of simultaneity of cause and effect. 

Therefore it is important that we offer prayers with great confidence. The powers of the Buddha and the Law are activated in direct proportion to the strenght of our faith and practice. Strong faith is like a high voltage - it turns on a brilliant light in our lives. 

Prayers are invisible, but if we pray steadfastly they will in time definitely effect clear results in our lives and surroundings. 

Excerpt from Gosho lecture by Dr Daisaku Ikeda on the Gosho 'The One Essential Phrase.'

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Richard Causton's Channel on YouTube!


To access rest of the videos, please visit this channel

I am very excited to feature the official YouTube channel which contains Richard Causton lectures on Buddhist concepts and Gosho. This channel contains lectures on basics such as Nam myoho renge kyo, Gongyo, and Gohonzon. It also contains Gosho lectures on 'Letter to the brothers' and 'Rissho Ankoku Ron."
Richard Causton (17 February 1920 – 13 January 1995) was a British author, businessman, and the first chairman of the Soka Gakkai International in the UK (SGI-UK). He has also written The Buddha in Daily Life, one of the my favorite books ever. It is one of the best books to help you understand and apply Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism.
Sincerest thanks to those pioneering SGI-UK members who have made audio cassette copy recordings of his lectures, which are the sources for the uploads on this channel. They have kept these recordings all their lives, testimony to the incredible encouragement and inspiration deriving from Mr Causton’s lectures and his incredible ability to connect to audiences all around the UK.

You can subscribe to this channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCUCr0QuC4lvgzAQ5DjlfCQ

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Choosing to Honor and Love Myself - A Golden Experience

The following is an experience from the World Tribune, Nov 5, 1999 by Amy Schor Ferris. This experience has truly encouraged me time and again and I continue to read it over and over again when faced with any kind of a deadlock.
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"Even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but some inferior teaching" (Major Writings, Vol 1, p-3)
For most of my life, feelings of low self-worth and self-doubt have plagued me - not feeling good enough, caring too much what others think, wanting to be accepted. I think many people, artists in particular, tend to suffer from these issues. Having dropped out of High School when I was 15, I never went to college, and never took any courses in writing. At 19, I learned of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism from a friend. As I began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, my desire to write emerged. That was 25 years ago, and I have fulfilled my dream. I have everything I ever wanted. All the externals - a great husband, a great career, great friends, tremendous financial fortune. What I never had was confidence in myself. I had mistaken my determination to win for feelings of self-worth, and about a year ago I had to face that full force.

I was in Los Angeles where I had been fired from a project. I had been hired to write a film and after handing in the second draft, I was informed that the producers were going to hire someone else to do the remaining draft, I was devastated. I had been working nonstop as a screenwriter for years, and while I had seen projects fall to the wayside, I had never been fired. I was alone in my hotel room and the tears were pouring out of me, along with all the feelings of not being good enough, of not being wanted, and deep feelings of rejection. It took me hours to finally do Gongyo.

My fortune is that I have always sought out guidance when I was suffering, I called a senior in faith, someone I respect and trust deeply. I was encouraged to chant to manifest my Buddhahood, that I needed to appreciate and love my own life. If I merely continued to suffer from self-doubt, that in and of itself was slander. This was a turning pointin having faith in MYSELF. He hasked me what kind of writer I wanted to be - someone who is swayed by the environment or someone who would have an amazing impact on it.

I have been chanting for close to 25 years and just assumed that because I had been practicing for so long, I would be protected from my own internal demons. Even though doubts would arise, because I was working consistently, I managed to keep them pushed down. I had incredible faith in the Gohonzon - wasn't that enough?

I returned home from L.A., and for a few days I wallowed in the mud. I felt so defeated, and so powerless. Finally I decided to take this guidance to heart. I started chanting to manifest my Buddhahood. That's when the floodgates opened. The more I chanted to manifest my Buddhahood, the worse I felt. Every bit of negativity that I felt about myself poured out.
To my relief, I was offered an opportunity to write a movie - I had chanted to manifest my Buddhahood and I got a benefit. Not a project I was overjoyed about, but it certainly eased the pain of having been fired. I felt wanted.

Living in the woods in Pennsylvania, I have come to depend on and deeply appreciate my friends in the SGI and on the publications, the World Tribune and Living Buddhism. The minute I receive them, I read them cover to cover. In Living Buddhism, I read "Dialogue on the Lotus Sutra," which is all about changing our fundamental life condition. This particular dialogue I read was about the world of Anger. SGI President Ikeda said the world of Anger is the state of trying to win over others rather than ourselves, that anger was filled with desperation. He went on to say "that nothing was more powerful than joy, and that joy was a manifestation of Buddhahood." Joy was not what I was feeling when I chanted to manifest my Buddhahood.

Within 15 minutes of reading this article, I received a phone call from Randy, the executive from Universal who had hired me to write this other project. He had a movie, Funny Valentines, in which the script had to be rewritten within two weeks. Normally, when you're hired to do a page-one rewrite, you usually get at least six weeks.
Although I loved the story, the problem was that it needed a tremendous amount of work in order for it to become a full-length film. It seemed utterly impossible. I was going out of the country. My husband's film was at the Cannes Fim Festival and I would not be able to write while I was gone.
I chanted to have the wisdom to know what to do. I decided to do this project, because I felt it was tremendously important. I promised Randy that he would have a script within two weeks.
While in Paris, every morning and evening I chanted with tremendous appreciation, and to write the best script possible. Toward the end of the trip, an overwhelming feeling of self doubt emerged. I thought, "I can't write this, who am I kidding?" I was going to call Randy from Paris and tell him that he should hire someone else, that I couldn't do it.

Fortunately, I always carry with me copies of the World Tribune and Living Buddhism. After doing evening Gongyo, I picked up Living Buddhism, the very same one I had read previously. I reread the piece on "Dialogue on the Lotus Sutra." This time I felt as if President Ikeda was speaking directly to me. I had this incredible realization that whenever I have a problem of a desire, I chant out of desperation, in a state of fear. Just as our environment reflects our life condition, the life condition with which we pray becomes manifest in the result. I realized how frightened I was of being happy, genuinely happy. To me, feeling happy, feeling joy meant I didn't need anyone to make me feel good about myself, which somehow I equated with being alone. I was afraid that if I was happy, I wouldn't be needed. So, of course, I didn't dare feel good about myself.

In the article, President Ikeda talks about fundamental darkness. He says that human revolution is a constant battle between the lower worlds and Buddhahood, and that that battle determines whether we win or lose. I decided that I needed to seriously chant to manifest my Buddhahood, right there in Paris. I sat down and with every bone in my body, I changed.

A feeling of greatness, a deep feeling of absolute confidence, that had nothing to do with anyone or anything in my environment, emerged. I felt a sense of freedom that took my breath away. I promised myself I would never slander my life again, to believe in myself, and to have faith int he power of my life. I was selling myself short and the environment was reflecting that completely. I promised myself that I would bring into my life the fortune which matched a joyous life-condition.
Having returned from Paris, I started to write the screenplay. Every morning and evening, I chanted with absolute confidence in myself, in my Buddhahood. The joy I felt writing this script was indescribable. I had written it in four days. The director, Randy, and another executive called and told me that the script was exceptional; they couldn't believe what I had accomplished in such a short period of time. The movie was green lit that afternoon. I had won over myself, over the doubt, self-slander, and lack of self-worth.

While Funny Valentines was being shot, I started a project that I had been hired to do previously. I wrote one draft and everyone loved it but me. I couldn't help thinking that I had taken the job out of fear, out of desperation. I realized that being a writer, being an artist, I had to be true to myself, to create from my heart. I had spent 12 years desperately trying to please the people who had hired me, and now I knew that I had to please myself first and foremost. Because I had transformed my fundamental life condition, and was new chanting with appreciation and confidence, the most incredible thing happened. I was told that the studio didn't want to make this movie any longer, but they were going to pay me for the remaining drafts that were left on my contract. This was a manifestation of my life condition. In 'On Attaining Buddhahood,' the Daishonin says, "If the minds of the people are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land." (Major writings)

In the 25 years that I have practiced, my life has changed in ways that are extraordinary to me. I have experienced a profound change of fortune based on a fierce determination to see actual proof of the power of the Gohonzon. I can say that evaery single prayer has been answered.
What started off as an experience that showed me what little self-confidence I had, has become the very experience I needed to transform my life, to believe in my own Buddhahood. Now I am determined to create from that life-condition. My roots are in writing books, and I subsequently finished my second Novel, A Greater Goode, another manifestation of my Buddhahood.
When doubts arise - and they do - I choose to trust the greatness I feel inside myself. I choose to trust the power inside my life. I choose to trust that I, with all my imperfections, will have an impact on this world as a bodhisattva. When I say that I truly love and honor the Gohonzon, I am also saying that I love and honor myself.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Nikee's Sublime Experience

The following experience is of a very dear friend of mine. I have personally seen her journey in faith and it makes me very happy to share her experience here today. Thank you Nikee for encouraging us all.
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Hi. My name is Nikee Sandhu and I have been practicing this life transforming philosophy for the past 15 years. From a person who was so close to death, I have come a long way. I used to suffer from depression which I was able to overcome by practicing the Law. I have deep joy and gratitude in my life for being alive and able to strive alongside my living mentor, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda.
The last one year has been a very turbulent time in my life, full of painful challenges.
I have been working as a kindergarten teacher for the past 8 years and have always dreamt of expanding my career as one. Last year in July 2015, I had a major victory where I was able to get a wonderful job with an NGO which directly works with the government and children to ensure better civic amenities in the city.  
One of my first projects was to ensure tie ups for my workplace with 9 schools in Ludhiana within 10 days. This was quite a stiff target and involved approaching the principals of the schools directly and convincing them to tie up with my institution. Taking the challenge head on, I began my mornings with an invigorating Gongyo and chanted earnest daimoku, with a desire work on the behalf of my mentor as his extension. I did not have any experience in this field and made many mistakes but I was able to bounce back quickly and move ahead. Many times my meetings began with the other person giving me a cold shoulder and treating me inconsiderately. However I was able to smile through each meeting and soldier on, taking inspiration from the story of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. As a result I was able to turn these interactions around into a warm and compassionate dialogue.
I’m happy to share that I was able to sign up with 9 schools within 10 days with my company fully applauding my efforts. Moreover, my company shared in the employee database that "Nikee is a person who truly believes she can make a difference in this world and her mentor in life is Dr Daisaku Ikeda.” On seeing this my joy knew no bounds. It was me, the disciple responding to the mentor.
Before I had a chance to catch my breath, some very ugly karma emerged in my long standing relationship of 10 years. Suffices to say, I faced a situation where I felt completely betrayed by my partner. Having had immense confidence in this relationship, I could not believe this was happening to me. My life fell apart and once again I had to deal with acute depression. I would not come out of my room, I would not talk to anyone. I had severe panic attacks because of which I was rushed to the hospital.
Somehow crawling through it all, I chanted every day. While I prayed to be alive and work for Kosen Rufu, my legs would become numb. At other times, parts of my face and hands used to become numb and my body used to tremble. I developed insomnia and was unable to sleep. I would stare at the ceiling and chant in my heart and eventually fall asleep. There were days when I used to sleep the entire day and night because of the lack of sleep I went through due to depression.
My work suffered too. It required me to be very hands on and take classes in 10 schools in Ludhiana where as I could not stand or breathe or even walk properly. Somehow I persevered, holding on to the determination to represent Sensei at work.
Following 8 extremely painful months, I made a fresh determination during this year’s March campaign to travel throughout our General Area to respond to my mentor. I am happy to report that I was able to visit our entire general area which comprises of 6 cities despite my inconsistent health. Through this activity, I was really able to experience that the more I worked for the Law un-begrudgingly, the more change I felt in my body and mind. I took guidance and was told by my seniors that it's better to be betrayed then to betray and because I had made causes in the realm of faith, I will experience the blessings of the Lotus Sutra without fail. This further gave me great hope and encouragement. Slowly my anxiety started to fall away as I began experiencing a joy that was independent of my situation.
My most recent victory came the form of another challenge when I had to travel to Banglore for a mandatory official training. Due to my poor health and acute fear of flying, this situation made me very agitated. Since I was on anti-depressants my legs used to shiver. I would pray earnestly to use my legs for kosen rufu and mystically, the shivering would fade away. I reached Bangalore full of joy and hope.
My mornings used to start at 5 AM and end at 2 AM and from a person who used to sleep the day away due to sickness, not only was I able to muster energy to carry me through the day, but also I made new friends and had a dialogue with 5 people including my boss. I was able to take a class and give a presentation based on the training I had received in BSG. On the last day of the training I was asked to make a last minute presentation in front of the entire team and my boss. I chanted daimoku in my heart and went on stage and began with an enthusiastic ‘’Good morning everyone!!” just like we do in our BSG meetings. My own confidence took my breath away. It was as if it was not me but a disciple who is responding to the mentor. Everyone applauded my efforts and I knew then that I had changed something deep within my life.
After coming back to Ludhiana, a new Nikee emerged. I began getting up early, making quality time for my family, and going out with friends. My Gongyo transformed from a weak one to a lion’s roar. The passion I had lost for my work was revived. A deep desire to learn how to drive a car for the sake of Kosen Rufu was realized and I was able to overcome my fear of driving and can now drive freely. My dosage of medication during the May 3rd campaign has almost come to zero. In my relationship, my partner and I have been able to change poison into medicine and I am happy to report that we now share a very healthy bond as comrade and friends. Most important of all, I have regained my confidence and feel a lot more hopeful when I look at the road ahead of me.

Eternally grateful to my mentor and those who supported me, I determine to contribute maximum youth from our GA in BSG s target of 1 BSG of 100 ,000 youth n repay my debt of gratitude to Sensei. I vow to always value my life and use my entire life for Kosen Rufu and work on behalf of my mentor.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Watch Warning Signs - Why your prayers may not be getting answered?

"Some of you may think in frustration, "Members all over the world are receiving wonderful benefits from the Gohonzon. I read amazing experiences in the Soka Gakkai publications. Then why isn't my prayer getting answered?" Don't worry. If you rectify your attitude, benefits will begin to come your way.

Suppose you have an accident and escape with only a slight injury. You may say, rejoicing, "Because I practice Buddhism, I was able to avoid a disaster," and be contented with that fact. This is too easy going an attitude in faith. Of course, it is only natural and proper to feel gratitude to the Gohonzon that you were protected. But there are times when you must take such a mishap, though minor, as a warning from the Gohonzon to the effect that "You have the destiny to encounter accidents of this kind, so be careful. Strengthen your faith even more so you can change poison into medicine." A slight misfortune is often a precursor of a catastrophe. Take the Gohonzon's warning seriously, and reawaken your faith.

While not every illness or accident necessarily means that something is wrong with your faith, it is wise to use such occasions to reexamine your practice, improve or correct it where necessary and further strengthen your faith.

Some time ago a woman came to see me for guidance about her husband's sickness. She said that when her husband had a chest X-ray taken, it showed a shadow indicating some cause for concern. He did not practice sincerely at that time, but because of this warning he started practicing more seriously. He reflected on and changed his attitude toward practice. Some time later when he again had a chest X-ray taken, there was no shadow at all, must to the doctor's surprise.

The shadow in the X-ray was like an alarm clock which warns you when you are not sincere in faith. But once you are awakened, it ceases to ring and its existence becomes unnecessary. Nichiren Daishonin says in the Gosho that illness can be an opportunity to grow in faith. He states, "Your husbands' disease may well be the merciful consideration of the Buddha. A mishap can be a warning which says, "There is something you need to understand. Strengthen your faith so you can find out what it is." At that time it is important for you to correct your attitude wherever necessary and resolve anew to develop your faith. So long as you keep your "eyes of faith" wide open, you will eventually be able to solve your problem, changing it into an impetus for your growth."

Source: Guidelines of Faith by Satoru Izumi