A Personal Practice Leads to Practice for Others
Nichiren Buddhism starts each person off by chanting for personal goals. When many people begin they may be facing some major challenges. So we each need to begin where we are.
As you practice chanting regularly you’ll find yourself overcoming one problem after another. If you keep at it, you’ll come to understand the efficacy of the practice. You realize you have a tool which can make anything in life work better. You’ll find yourself wanting to introduce other people to the practice so they can experience those same benefits.
Your successes will help to motivate those who are struggling or curious. You’ve had the experience in your own life that the practice will work to help them handle their problems so that they can become happy.
When you start introducing people to the practice and help them grow in it, something magical happens in your own life. It’s as though you’ve climbed on a jet plane in terms of your own growth and you seem to have much more energy than before. You’ll find happiness growing exponentially in your life.
Knowing these things through my experience with Buddhism, I was struck by an article on Eric Barker’s blog called The Importance of Supportive Relationships by Adam Taggert. In the article, Taggert refers to Lewis Terman’s study Genetic Study of Genius which has followed subjects from 1921 to today. This is a long term study with many variables which gave the researchers the ability to determine what factors had statistically-relevant impact in shaping the quality of life for the participants.
Terman’s study recommendations to live a longer life: “…connecting with and helping others is more important than obsessing over a rigorous exercise program.”
Terman also said, “Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.”
This isn’t being protected and cared for yourself – it’s reaching out and giving to other people.
Reach Out – Touch Someone
As you chant for your own issues and goals in your Buddhist practice, you’ll hear that it is important to chant for the issues of other people as well, to embrace their problems as your own. As you do this you’ll start chanting with other members to help another person who is struggling. As people chant together they become closer and before long you come to recognize that you are part of a caring community of people and have become closely connected to other people.
Well-being in Old Age
Another 68-year study called the Grant study agreed with Terman. Researchers found that “the capacity to love and be loved was the single strength most clearly associated with subjective well-being at age eighty.” The principal investigator George Valliant distilled this in these few words. “Happiness is love. Full stop.”
Buddhism Increases Your Capacity to Live Longer
These studies support the notion, that the Buddhist practice of caring for others will not only increase your own energy and happiness but also increase the probability your living longer.
Join the Conversation
Please leave a comment. What experience have you had with this in your own life?
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