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!

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading “Hope for Health”

Connection Disability

I’ve often said that the thing I want most in my life is more hugs. And yet this point is stuck in a deeper paradox.

Even though human touch and affection is one of the key things I want in my life, staying attuned to it is a big challenge. As a defence mechanism, I learnt to disconnect from feeling in my body so I won’t feel anything. This existed along side a phobia of touch. I would avoid hugging close friends, let alone casual acquaintances as is often the case in the Western culture. My best friend Ash who now lives in Europe, I first hugged him after five years of being friends with him. He hadn’t even realised it. He didn’t initiate a hug with a woman, he merely responded if the woman initiated.

Similarly one of my work colleagues that I became friends with five years ago complained then about this awkwardness when saying bye to me because he couldn’t hugged me. Then, I was trapped in my phobia, especially if hugging men.

Over the years, I have worked through it and now I don’t think much of it. I’ve even hugged strangers and people I have just met e.g. last year when I made a renewed determination of having more hugs in my life, I even hugged the old man who came to dry clean my couch. He was pleasantly surprised.

Still I have a part of me that’s stuck in fear and closes up if I’m extremely present and vigilant. This part of me kicks in when I’ve decided to hug someone. It just goes snap and cuts off all feeling. It turns into a thing my body is doing but my feeling brain has checked out. If I’m tired or rushed, I tend to cut off in a hug. If it’s too anticipated then I anticipate it and cut off before I have a chance to bring myself to the present moment.

This tendency keeps me stuck in the feeling of isolation. Either I have zero hugs or I feel zero hugs.

Continue reading “Connection Disability”

Rising from the Ashes

In some sense I live the life of the mythical Phoenix. In my severe menstrual issues, I’m one person for a couple of weeks of the cycle and someone else for the rest. Then there’s the exhaustion and pain in the first half so you could say I get about ten good days in every cycle. Plus the length of each cycle could vary because the hormonal issues make it unpredictable too.

From ovulation until my period, I feel like I’m slowly sinking and then drowning. I’ve always had this. I can’t remember a time since I started having a period that this didn’t happen. Oh wait, right there was the time I was on the pill and while I suffered from wild side effects, I realised for the first time that I’m not an angry person. For that, I am grateful. At least I got to see a glimpse of an alternate me that was still me. Unfortunately, that didn’t last, the pill contributed to too many problems. It’s so strange they don’t tell you how badly it can alter your gut and actually make things so much worse when you go off it.

On Saturday I did everything right, I got enough sleep the night before, I went for a walk, I socialised, ate well. I struggled. I had trouble processing questions, stringing words together. I met with a friend – that’s brave of me- I have many a broken friendships attributed to my severe premenstrual symptoms. PMDD as it’s called.

Turns out one of the big causes is low serotonin, that’s made in the gut and regulates the gut too. The other cause is weak oxytocin receptors. Literally these mean, I’m trapped in not feeling love and joy. The thread tying these together is traumatic childhood experiences that lead to dysfunctional development of the neurobiology causing lifelong problems.

I can’t change my childhood or anything in the past. I can only make a determination in the present moment and keep renewing in each moment. And then from the phenomena of 3000 realms of a single moment of life, this starts to transform my life and reality.

This determination and redetermination is a constant struggle. Battle against how things are inside of me and developing a deep conviction for my life and the purpose of my existence.

In the Gosho study lecture I went to today, the leader said (and I paraphrase)

Karma is misunderstood. It is usually described as the description of your current reality. However, in our practice, Karma is our tendency.

When we have changed our tendency, we have changed our karma. And this manifests in a change in our reality in our life.

So simple and so profound. It is so hard to change my tendencies. It is so hard to know what’s to keep, what’s to change. It’s so hard to solve this problem using my brain, impossible when I’m underwater in the dark ocean struggling to breathe.

When I realised the difficulty, complexity and impossibility of this challenge today, I went into despair. Realising yesterday’s depression caused despair today. Realising the struggle of the last 3 weeks, caused fear of the future, of my next cycle. Sometimes I want to undergo a hysterectomy but then I worry what if I come out stuck in my depressed state not my happy state. Who knows which one is the real me.

I was deadlocked.

Then I messaged my best friend in the practice, who I know has more than an inkling of what it feels like. Her care, while traveling overseas with a small baby to see her in-laws started to shift my life. Her simple words of, yes, this is so unbelievably hard, remind me to acknowledge the depth of my struggle. Reminding myself of the depth, I realise that this is not a struggle that is forever sinking. The fact that I deadlocked and hit rock bottom today means I’ve reached the turning point.

That turning point is my determination. For me to appreciate and contribute no matter what. For me to respect my life no matter what. For now, I will do my citizenship test next week and then if I need to take time off, I will. My friend reminded me to not strategize. I have the Gohonzon, the wish granting jewel. I don’t need to give up one thing in life to get the other. That’s the bit President Ikeda said about having a lofty prayer.

This led me to chanting which further led to this determination.

The fight continues.

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!!!

Continue reading “Creativity fueled by determination”

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.

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!

❤ again!