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.

Continue reading “Making peace, building friendship”

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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!

Healing Trauma via Buddhism – Part 2

Continuing on from my post here, writing further about what I learned at the workshop “Trauma, Neuroscience and the Evolving Therapy of Traumatised Children and Adults” by Dr Bessel van der Kolk earlier this week and referring to his book The Body Keeps the Score.

The most important job of the brain is to ensure our survival, even under the most miserable conditions.

– The Body Keeps the Score pg 55

Amygdala is the smoke detector in the brain that detects danger. In a traumatised person’s brain, the amygdala becomes hypersensitive, very involved. It goes off all the time. This also translates into low serotonin production. Boosting serotonin can help quieten the smoke detector too.

Using the Buddhist practice in the present moment, I can rely on my prayer for survival. This action focused on bringing out my greatest potential enables me to bypass the in-built brain circuits that were formed in the past. I am gently nudging myself to not fall back to old ways, but let in new possibilities. SGI activities, visiting members, connecting to others, going to meetings gives me a sense of belonging that helps to boost my serotonin levels to calm the smoke detector.

When I sought guidance from the general director earlier this year, I was told that “Until the time, I am stuck in the mode of why is my life this way, why is this happening to me, I am still looking for the Gohonzon outside of myself. Instead when I chant to embrace my situation and I determine to engage with others, no matter what, I will find creative ways to solve my current situation”.

Continue reading “Healing Trauma via Buddhism – Part 2”

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!!!

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Choosing what I want for my life

About six months ago, I read the Gosho and it’s study lecture – “Happiness in This World”, available freely here.

It took many times of reading it on hopeless days when I was suffering so much and in tears, not knowing how to transform my situation – alone, injured, in love with a man who didn’t have courage to be with me, living with a flatmate who wouldn’t even say hello or make eye contact with me, working in an office space having no natural light, feeling cut off from light, literally. There would be days I would go to the office and read the print of this page a few times before I could even get myself to do any work or be around people.

This morning while chanting in alliance with my friend in Melbourne brought me closer to the truth of this teaching.

Continue reading “Choosing what I want for my life”

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.