Loneliness and Hugs

Since I came back from India two and a half weeks ago, I’ve been struggling to adapt to life here in some ways. The thing I miss the most is the abundance of people to hug safely.

First I don’t have that many people to hug in Australia but second and more importantly, my connection disability means that I’m unable to connect to a hug or register the dopamine it would normally bring into a healthy person’s being.

If I’m hugging people regularly I become attuned to it and don’t suppress my emotions as much. Also, the people around me in India are my family that I have deeper bonds with and have over time become better at letting in. While here, when I hug one person a week maybe, my brain switches off the hugging receptor. It’s too overwhelming for my emotional brain to let in this hug, then not be able to process what’s going on because it’s a bit out of practice. But also the other more overwhelming aspect is, it doesn’t want to let in this hug and then crave and not have it tomorrow.

My brain has gone into the mode of protecting myself.

Writing this makes me realize that perhaps I need to chant to have a life where my brain doesn’t have to protect me, where I feel able to cope with whatever is in front of me – joy as well as sorrow.

Regardless, I’ll continue to strive in my practice and go out and engage with others for the sake of their happiness. I refuse to give up and be in my bubble. Sometimes chanting with others feels like a hug, expect that to happen plenty of times over the next week.

✌🏽

Looking forward to it.

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Making peace, building friendship

Last week I was traveling for work, quite wiped out and had diminished functioning. I met one of my SGI friends for dinner. It was a wonderful catch-up, always wonderful to see her. First met her in a training course in 2014 and the friendship keeps going.

Afterwards back at my hotel room, after finishing my chanting, I had an overwhelming urge to call my ex Mike from a relatively short but very emotional relationship, at least for me. Earlier this year I’d told him to never contact me again and he understood I needed the space.

As I was about to call him I prayed that only if this is right for me should he answer the phone, putting all my trust in the Gohonzon. I called him and it rang as though he was overseas, I was about to hang up and then reminded myself to persevere. Soon he answered and it was breaking up and his American accent seemed heavier than usual, I had trouble understanding what he said. I just got that he’s away and in a conference and will talk later. Surprisingly he followed up with a text that he couldn’t hear me but he will try calling me over the weekend when he has a break.

Knowing him, I figured I probably won’t hear back. It crossed my mind a couple of times as I went about my weekend, reminding myself that I’m not sitting around waiting or obsessing about it. He texted me late on Sunday night and I was already in bed and replied to him the next morning saying as much.

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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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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.

Answers in Metaphysical Realm

I spent all weekend studying numerology books. It was like binge eating, stimulation addiction. I didn’t sleep, cook, just studied numerology.

It threw my system out of whack, as all such binges do. I couldn’t go to my Buddhist meeting on Sunday morning because I was so sleep deprived. I did somehow cook lunch for Monday but worked from home.

Today I was so exhausted that I needed to take a sick day. Clearly didn’t do so well in looking after my delicate self.

Some good things came out of the binge though:

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“Under the Wings”

Today I finally could read Toda Sensei’s guidance on marriage from Under the Wings chapter of The Human Revolution.

It sheds light on where I am yet to strengthen myself and my faith in my love life and relationships. Some of the quotes from volume 7 and my notes below:

“In other words, you must marry a man to whom you will not regret devoting genuine love.” (Pg 895)

I tend to not find such a man and the first sign of trouble makes me regretful. I don’t necessarily have the emotional strength to back up my decision to love someone.

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Finding Freedom

Since last year one of my prayers has been to be able to live a life of true freedom. The last few years of my life have been very shackled because of my health condition. It has been like walking a tightrope – making sure I have food to eat according to the diet and I’m managing everything within the limited energy constraints. There’s been the stress management aspect where I get so stressed that I eat the wrong things or binge eat on the right things, either way it’s been really harmful. Also, not being able to accept the reality of my dietary restrictions, the fatigue I could accept eventually primarily because I didn’t even have energy to fight it but also because I just ate to cope with it.

There was a time of my life wherein I ate a big bag of sweet potato chips every single day, sometimes two. I never kept them at home, because I wanted to be stronger. Instead I would walk across the street, even in rainy and freezing whether, sometime before the supermarket closed at 10 pm to get my fix. Every day I would try to get by without them and every day I couldn’t. They were my only trusted reliable companion.

When I look back at that, I’ve come a long way. Even having one day without the chips would be called progress I think.

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