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  • Why is it so Hard to Establish a New Habit?

    As we work on our human revolution, that transformation from the lesser to the greater self, we are going to have to give up habits of thinking and acting that don’t serve us and adopt new ones which serve us better.

    How Do We Build a New Habit?

    We start by making a decision to change something with our conscious mind.

     

    The  part of us that is going maintain and act on the change is our subconscious mind. that subconscious part of us is entrusted with all of the things that maintain our lives.  It keeps our heartbeat regular, digests our food, and keeps all of our vital processes functioning to maintain life.  For this reason the subconscious mind does not change quickly.

     

    Think about how you learned to drive a car. Initially you had to consciously make a decision to practice braking and accelerating as you learned to drive. You might have been overwhelmed by all the things you had to remember at once. You motivated yourself by looking at the freedom you would gain, the fact you would be a part of the grown-up world, etc. Yet after you practiced driving for a while, the actions became automatic and your unconscious reflexes put on the brake or the accelerator at just the right time.  You had become a driver. By setting the goal and following through, you grew into a new identity.

    The Steps:

    • You made the decision
    • You practiced taking small actions to build the new habits,
    • Your subconscious mind adopted the new behaviors
    • Once that happens you are supported in the new habit. the subconscious handles things automatically.
    • You built a new identity, a driver.

    Make a Decision: What do You Want to Achieve?

    Let’s say you don’t believe you can achieve the goal you’ve set and you want to be able to pull yourself out of that mindset.

    First, create a conscious vision of what you want to achieve. Why do you want to achieve it? Your why’s are your strong reasons for doing it, your motivators. Your motivators could be the opportunity, on the positive side, or the consequences if you don’t do it on the negative side.

    Make the decision you are going to do it no matter what. Then chant to be willing to make the necessary changes.

    Accept the Fact of Resistance

    We all have resistance to change. When we learn to recognize it and embrace it as part of the process, then it becomes easier to persist. Change doesn’t happen overnight so we can’t expect habit change to take place in a couple of days. You have to plan on being persistent with the new behavior for a couple of months.

    Change isn’t comfortable in the initial stages, so you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone for a while until the new behavior becomes habitual. We all revert to old thinking or behavioral habits and have to work to change them.

    Having this goal of changing a negative mindset. I don’t really believe this goal is possible. I want to change this way of thinking. I know I’m being negative and I know being negative has not created good results in my life. I don’t want to continue to create negative results in my life. I want to focus on the solution. But, I find myself falling into looking at the problem over and over. See my post, Do You Know why Your thoughts Are so Important? http://wp.me/p3V1J9-PB) to discover why developing a positive mindset is important.

    This is the time the rubber meets the road. Do you quit, drop the goal and move to something else? Or, do you stick with it and practice pulling your thinking out of looking at the problems to refocus on the positive end goal? If you decide to practice, you have engaged in the process of building a new positive habit – focusing on what you want.

    You don’t have to completely believe you will achieve the goal. Treat it as an experiment and see what happens. That way you will keep your mind positive, engaged in the process of building a new positive habit – focusing on what you want.

    One Small Step a Day

    Consciously take a small action to build the new habit. When you become aware you are falling into negative thinking, refocus your mind on your end goal – the solution to the problem. You may have to take that small action over and over during the day. When you take a small action, for example , turning your attention to what you want, your mind lowers its resistance.  It may take a month or two of being persistent in pulling your mind out of negativity. But one day you will find yourself doing it automatically. At that point you will have established a new habit and will easily focus on the positive goal.

    “I like change, but only a little bit at a time.”

    Whether you can believe you can achieve a goal or not, stick with it until you get what you want. Seeing the way events work themselves out, ends up building the belief that anything is possible.

    A Personal Experience: A Physical change

    Let’s say it’s a physical change you want to make. Lifelong I have had a tendency towards a rounded back. Slumping while sitting is a physical habit. As I got older my back rounded more as I worked at computers and desks. I decided one day I didn’t want to be facing the floor when I was 90.

    I chanted about the issue. an idea came to go to a physical therapist. I went and she she introduced me to the foam roller. I lie on it on my back length wise and use weights to open my chest. When I started a year ago, due to the rounding, there was a three inch space between my head and the foam roller. I committed myself to doing the exercises 3-4 times a week. Getting off the roller was actually painful.

    Over the months I noticed my back seemed to be loosening and then one day I was able to brush the roller with my head. Over the next couple of months my back continued to relax until I was able to lay my head flat on the roller. It took a year, but by doing just a little 4 times a week, I was able to transform the trajectory of my back. It was a huge victory. People started commenting that they couldn’t see the hump I had had. I won’t be facing the floor when I’m ninety. I didn’t think that kind of change was possible. One small action at a time.

    Find a Role Model, a Mentor

    If you’re unsure about what is needed, find a role model, someone who embodies what you want to do. You can talk to them to find out how they did it or you might read something they’ve written that shows you how they think. This is when having a mentor is so useful.

    When chanting for a goal that is a stretch, it is helpful to read Daisaku Ikeda’s writings. He demonstrates how to reach for a huge goal in The Human Revolution, and talks about the importance of staying positive in Faith Into Action. Then in the Daily Encouragement, he encourages you to persist with your dreams and not let anyone talk you out of them.

    Summary:

    1. Create a vision of what you want.
    2. Make a decision you are going to do this no matter what.

    3. Chant for your goal.
    4. Accept the fact of resistance.
    5. Take one small step a day to practice the new way of thinking, or to make a small behavioral change.
    6. Find a role model
    7. Never give up.

  • Why Chanting is Not Magic

    Chanting is not Magic

    Some people talk about this practice as if it is magic. Chanting is not magic. Our circumstances change as we change from within. There is no question that chanting gives us ideas about what to do. When we take action unseen connections are made that we could never have foreseen ourselves. Sometimes it seems like magic when we are not aware of the changes we have made in ourselves.

    I know a new person who is working on learning about leadership. She was having a problem with someone under her, who was causing difficulties. As she chanted about the issue, she loosened her control on the project he was working on. The problem disappeared as he assumed responsibility and moved ahead with the project. She said, “I don’t know how it happened.” It seemed like magic to her. But as I listened carefully, it was clear she had let go of micromanaging the project and her co-worker responded well. She had changed, so her circumstances changed.

    How do We Make Personal Changes From Within?

    First: Chant about an issue. As we align ourselves daily with the Mystic Law, that universal energy, we let go of the lesser side of our nature step by step and gradually come to embody our higher nature.

    Second: Listen to those little inner nudges do one thing or another. In the Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Vol 2, Daisaku Ikeda says,
    ”We are in constant exchange and communication with the cosmos, our lives reverberating with it as one living entity.”

    Guidance comes through your connection with the universe through those little internal nudges to do this or don‘t do that, and through those ideas that are better than any you would have thought of yourself. That guidance comes with an absolute knowing. Pay attention to that knowing. We all have heard that little voice, but it’s so quiet that it’s easy to ignore, or talk ourselves out of following it.  How many times have you had the feeling you should do something and then not done it?

    Third: Take action on those ideas that come with the knowing.

    Fourth: Study the daily encouragement available to us. That might be only a paragraph a day. Reading just a little each day allows you to absorb the thought, think about it and then look for opportunities to put it into practice. Our mentor is a living example of how to apply the Buddhist teachings in everyday life.

    Fifth: Support others. It’s remarkable how it happens, but when you chant, study and support others you put your life on the fast track of personal development. That’s how to make changes the most quickly.

    Personal Experience

    Though out my adult life until I started this practice, I tended to be a loner. I regretted it, but I didn’t know what to do to change it. I was working at an agency doing international adoptions and feeling isolated once again, this time at work.  

    By then I had been studying Buddhist concepts and knew that our lives come from the inside out. I realized my isolation came from me, and that if I wanted it to change, I had to do something differently. I had the realization, while chanting one day, that I was sitting at my desk in my office but not getting out to say good morning or ask about the lives of other people. I took a deep breath, went against some long term habits. I walked out of my office, and made an effort to say good morning and inquire about what was going on in the lives of my co-workers. One day I realized to my delight, I was no longer isolated.

    Even though I had chanted about it, this change wasn’t magic. I received the realization from chanting, but then I changed my behavior and my coworkers responded. By the way, that change transformed the rest of my life. I’m now part of a wonderful community of people whom I love.

     Summary

    1. Chant about the issue
    2. Listen to those little nudges and ideas that come with the knowing this is the right thing to do.
    3. Take action on those nudges and ideas.
    4. Study the encouragement from our mentor.
    5. Support others

    Please comment and share how you have made changes.  We can all help one another.

  • What is “Being in Rhythm” With the Universe?

    Buddhism teaches philosophical concepts, which, when you really study them, I believe are teaching us universal laws, or how the universe works. For example, one of them is the simultaneity of cause and effect. We are taught that when we create a cause through thinking, speaking or acting we have set a seed in our lives which will product an effect some time in our future when the time is right.

    Another is oneness of life and its environment. This law says that our environment is created from the inside of us to manifest in the outer world. Our outer circumstances reflect what we have projected to the universe consciously or unconsciously through those thoughts words, actions and attitudes.

    The question becomes. Can we use these laws consciously to create a future on purpose rather than by accident? And the answer is a resounding “yes”. If we are not getting the results we want in our life or through our chanting , it is important to become aware of the causes we are making with our thoughts, words, attitudes and actions, both while chanting and during the day.

    How Does This Work?

    When we chant, we are aligning ourselves with the highest part of ourselves, which, though invisible is one with the Mystic Law. President Ikeda describes it in Life, An Enigma a Precious Jewel, as the God energy of the universe. This is not an outside entity but resides at our core as our Buddha nature and exists within all of creation. We know that energy is creative, unlimited, manifests into the material world, and is not bound by any circumstance. This means that, since we are one with that energy in our Buddha nature, we have those same characteristics. When we create through our thoughts, words, actions and attitudes, that energy manifests into the real world as our life situation and circumstances.

    The Clear Mirror Guidance, he  says,  “In the inner realm of life, cause and effect occur simultaneously. With the passage of time, this causal relationship becomes manifest in the phenomenal world of daily life.” Our states of mind don’t just color our perceptions but actually determine the physical reality around us. These are the simultaneity of cause and effect and oneness of life and its environment, in action.

    Creating the Future on Purpose Not by Accident

    What am I projecting?

    If we are having the experience of things not working out, or being hit or miss, we must change the seed causes we are putting into our subconscious to manifest when the time is right in the future. If we plant negative causes we will reap negative effects. If we plant positive causes we will reap positive effects.

    There Can Be Lag Time

    Changing what you are doing definitely creates the conditions for the future. There may be a lag time between the time you have changed and the time when your new way of chanting, behaving and thinking begins to produce the effects that you want. Don’t be discouraged. Be consistent and continue keeping on until the shift happens.

    Of course when we chant with a goal in mind we are enhancing the process. Even with chanting to boost the process, we want to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling and how we are behaving during our chanting time and also all throughout the day. Awareness can help us plant the seed causes to produce the future effect we want.

    Try The Following

    If you are having trouble getting what you want, try the following:

    • Examine your thinking. Are you looking at the problem or what you want.

    • If you are discouraged, chant for courage.
    • Ask yourself, am I full of complaints or gratitude?
    • Am I dwelling on the negative side of any situation?

    Negative or positive?

    Do I really believe that outside circumstances control the outcome?

    Ask yourself. What do I want to create, a future full of problems and negativity or the outcome I want?

    Take These Steps

    1. Determine what you want, set a goal and chant for it.
    2. Take action on ideas that come to you.
    3. Pull your mind out of negative thinking during the day and refocus on what you want.
    4. Keep on keeping on until you get what you want

  • Do You Know Why You Shouldn’t Chant About Your Fears?

    As a Nichiren Buddhist, you hear that you should chant for what you want. But what if you have a fear, or feel threatened by something. Shouldn’t you chant for what you want to change? The answer is no, not if you are looking at the problem.

    Think about it carefully. If you are holding the fear in your mind’s eye, you are giving your attention to the problem, and the problem is what you are putting out to the universe.

    Speech, Thought & Action Create Your Future

    You want to envision what you want to have happen not what you fear. Why? Because according to the law of cause and effect and 3000 realms in a moment of life, our thought, speech and action, create causes for our future. In My Dear Friends in America, President Ikeda quotes Ghandhi saying, “Your minds determine your future, your lives.” He also quotes William Hazlitt, whom he felt was an acute observer of human nature. He said that the power of belief, the power of thought, will move reality in the direction of what we believe and how we conceive it.

    Quantum Mechanics would support this. It says that at the source of all thought and matter is an ocean of pure vibrating energy and consciousness. When we have a thought or chant about a goal, we begin the process of attracting that vibrating energy into form. As you think that thought over and over it begins to show up more and more in your world. Think of all the times you started thinking about something and then found it everywhere. So you need to ask yourself. What do you want to create? Do you want to hold the thought of what you fear, or do you want to hold a thought of what you want?

    When we sit to chant, we project our thoughts and state of mind on the mirror of the universe. Then it is reflected back to us as the results we receive. The Clear Mirror Guidance, pg. 10. As President Ikeda says, “ Life is a ‘visible’ manifestation of the ‘invisible’ workings of the mind.” MDFIA 253.

    Shift Your Goal From The Problem to What You Want

    Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you are you are afraid you won’t have enough money to pay the rent. While chanting, take the fear of not being able to pay the rent, and chant about what you want to see happen, having the money to comfortably write out the check. We attract whatever circumstances we chant about when we put something out to the universe.

    When you chant about something, there is going to be a buffer of time between when you begin chanting and when the result shows up.  This is sometimes the hardest period, because you’ve changed what you are doing but haven’t yet seen the results. Be patient, keep chanting for what you want, and expect you are going to get it.

    A Personal Experience

    My husband and I  chanted for safety and protection before beginning a two-hour drive north to Portland, Oregon. Both of us had had the feeling there was potential for an accident. We were driving along the expressway in sync with the other cars going 75 miles an hour, when the cars ahead of us abruptly stopped dead, without warning. We were just able to stop, and when we looked around, the car behind us was by our left window. We were unhurt, our car untouched. To this day, I don’t take a car trip without chanting for protection and a safe trip first. I know this is a prosaic example but when you repeatedly have experiences where what you chant about comes to be, you know you are truly experiencing the mystic function of the mind.

    Try an Experiment

    To begin to master your mind, so you can focus what you want and won’t dwell upon fears. Try practicing the following steps.

    1. Identify what you want to have happen in your area of interest and chant about it.
    2. Don’t pay attention to what appears to be happening in the present, or to any fears you might have. If necessary, pull your attention fifty times a day away from those thoughts and back to what you want.  Just get back on the horse and don’t linger on your fears.
    3. If you don’t really believe you can have what you want, think about working towards it step by step, until you can believe what you are putting out to the universe. Chant for the first step with a thought that gives you hope.
    4. When you think of your goal during the day, focus on what you want and expect it to happen.
    5. Enjoy the results.

  • Do You Know How to Refresh Your Practice?

    Have you ever had a time when you felt unmotivated, study seemed like platitudes, doubts have shown up, and you are in the doldrums in your practice? You can become stale when life is comfortable, and there are no real problems on the horizon. True you might have aspects of your life you wish would change, but they aren’t anything that pressing, so you let them go. You know the practice works and you always have it if you need it. You have become complacent and before you realize it, your life and practice have become stagnant.

    Since this seems to be a universal experience of everyone from time to time, I decided to ask some experienced 30-45 year practitioners what they have done to refresh their practice.

    Be Proactive

    Negative Thoughts Are your Feedback: Chant About What is Blocking You

    A roadblock barrier or barricade is split as you Break Through the obstacle and forge ahead to get where you want to go and achieve a goal or reach success

    Trudy says. “I know I’m is in trouble when study doesn’t seem inspiring and I feel completely unmotivated. In the earlier years I listened to my negative thoughts. I was convinced they were true, and I let them influence me. Now I don’t listen anymore. I know that that negativity is my barometer, my feedback that I need to change something in my life. It tells me I need to mobilize myself, start break through prayer, then chant until I sees what the blockage is. I know that the blockage is always inside of me.”

    Ken doesn’t listen to those thoughts or feelings either. He comments, “I don’t worry about how I feel anymore. I just do the basic practice. That refreshes me.”

    Angie, had this to say. “I realized I was in my own way. I had cut myself off without even realizing it. I know that when I feel disconnected it isn’t anyone else, but comes from inside me. When I feel unmotivated I need to be in contact with other members who are energized.”

    Study

    Education Student People concept - Asian student reading and researching on the study in the library. Asian student happy to study. University student.

    Ruth observed, “I realized I couldn’t always depend on other people. I had to have my own conviction. The way I’ve built that is through studying Buddhism. It helps me have a deeper understanding of what is going on in my life.”

    Help Others Become Happy

    Dick says, “I refresh my practice by addressing my mission to bring happiness to as many people as possible. While I chant, I visualize inwardly communicating with my mentor and ask what I can do towards that goal every morning.  During my evening chant I imagine reporting back. Keeping myself accountable every day to do something, keeps me motivated. I also make sure I read something from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin everyday, even if it is short. I have found that when life is tough, those snippets come back and strengthen me.”

    Nancy comments, ” I make a choice every morning to rededicate myself towards my mission of bringing happiness to others. During the first ten minutes of practice, I ask what I can do today, towards that end. That energizes and focuses me. All of the problems of daily life recede to the background, when I focus on the mission I was born for in this world. I also make a point of having at least a weekly connection with other members who are energized.”

    Chant for Others: Explain Buddhism to Them

    Jen says, “What refreshes me is starting someone in the practice. Explaining Buddhist concepts, and chanting about the person I am starting, really gets me going again.” Another way she refreshes herself is to take action to visit and help another person. She has found that when she encourages another person, she encourages herself.

    Group therapy. Group of young people sitting in circle while one man telling something and gesturing
    John instructs students in technology in electricity, welding, sheet metal and machine maintenance. Some of what he teaches could result in injuries if he isn’t very careful and on top of his game. “I have on-going goals to have my classes go smoothly and to be alert so I can keep my students safe. These on-going goals keep me very engaged with the practice and motivated to have the clarity and confidence to be the best mentor I can be,” he says.

    Challenge Yourself

    Another way to re-motivate yourself is to challenge yourself with a big goal and a drop dead date.  If you determine you are going to accomplish it no matter what, it can bring you out of the doldrums quickly.

    They Were Proactive

    Each of these practitioners knew that their complacency and sense of disconnection was a problem that needed to be addressed, that it was a hindrance to their practice.  Then they took proactive action to address it.

    Summary:

    If unmotivated try one of the following steps to re-motivate yourself.
    1. Chant to find what is blocking you.
    2. Ignore negative thinking.
    3. Be in contact with other practitioners who are energized.
    4. Do something to encourage another person.
    5. Explain a Buddhist concept to someone else.
    6. Start someone new.
    7. Ready or not, take on a big challenge.
    8. Make a contribution to the group, a presentation for ex.
    9. Remind yourself – feeling disconnected is one of the hindrances to Buddhist practice

    Comments:

    Please share the way you have refreshed your practice.  You will help someone else.

    February 2, 2017 • chanting practice, faith/prayer, personal growth, practical buddhism • Views: 427

  • Are You Aware of External Hindrances to Buddhist Practice?

    Buddhism is the practice and philosophy for transforming all of our lives, providing the path to becoming absolutely happy. Because of this it deals with the impulses which can either assist or hinder our attainment of unshakeable happiness.  Both the impulses which assist, arising from fundamental enlightenment, and the forces which impede our progress, originating in fundamental darkness, exist in an eternal tension in our lives.

    In the post titled The Ten Troops, we discussed ten hindrances to Buddhist practice which come from inside our own lives. These can hinder our efforts to awaken our inherent Buddha nature. These included greed, care and worry, hunger and thirst, love of pleasure, fear, doubts and regret, drowsiness and languor, anger, preoccupation with wealth and fame, and arrogance and contempt for others.

    Today we are going to discuss hindrances to Buddhist practice which come from outside ourselves. These kinds of hindrances can come from family members, or other significant people close to us, who oppose our practice. Some of these can be very difficult tests. Let me give you some examples.

    Family Tests

    Alicia and Tom’s Experience –

    Alicia and Tom were married. They had practiced separately and together for 45 years and were strong practitioners. Then one day Tom started questioning everything about the practice and became more and more negative about it. He had reverted to the substance abuse of his youth.

    Her must trusted relationship, her husband, had turned against the very foundation of their marriage. Initially she began to be swayed by him. But then realizing what was happening, Alicia geared in and chanted an increasing number of hours a day. Tom was not only trying to pull her away from her practice, but was threatening her income as well.

    Recognizing the threat, she determined not to allow him succeed on either front. She resolved to remain firm in her practice and to stabilize her income. Ultimately they divorced. After the separation he took her to court, where he lost. Then one day, for no apparent reason, he stopped threatening her income and started paying her double what he owed her. It was a stunning reversal.

    The Ikegami Brother’s Experience

    Their father, who opposed their practice,  threatened to disinherit the oldest boy if he didn’t give up his belief in the Daishonin’s Buddhism and tempted the younger to trade his beliefs to claim  his brother’s inheritance. This happened to the Ikegami brothers but could happen today just as easily. Instead of being divided, the brothers and their wives united.  The father who had tried to divide them ended up becoming a practitioner.

    Standing up to Secular Pressure

    Rocky obstacle to waves in the sea

    Shijo Kingo’s Experience –

    Shijo Kingo, one of Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples, tried to convert his lord, Ema, to the Daishonin’s teachings. Lord Ema did not respond in a positive manner. On the contrary he reduced the size of Kingo’s landholdings and threatened to send him away. His colleagues said terrible things about him and he was accused of formenting trouble. Losing his holdings could be very serious in feudal Japan. Everything was based on one’s place in society.

    The Daishonin instructed Kingo on the best course of behavior under the circumstances.. Nichiren told Kingo that when the Buddha nature manifests itself from within, it will receive protection from without. How do we do that? By chanting with determination.

    Nichiren also instructed Kingo in the way to behave. Don’t give in to temper, stay calm, observe what develops, don’t lament about how hard it is, respect and have concern for other people, and don’t give unreserved expression to what you are thinking. Your behavior is most important.

    Later that year Lord Ema fell ill and Kingo, using his medical skills, cured him. Ema was most grateful. He not only restored but also increased Kingo’s landholdings.

    Toda and Makaguichi’s Experience –

    These kinds of hindrances don’t exist just in Nichiren’s time. They exist today.  The first two presidents of the SGI, Toda and Makaguichi had to stand firm against the Japanese military government during World War Two. They were pressured to do something against their faith and were sent to prison for refusing to do it. That could happen anywhere, particularly if religious prejudice is condoned in a society.

    Tests from Religious Authority

    Inspirational Motivated Quote. Mountains. Motivational Banner with Quotes Concept. Achievement target Concept. Motivation to overcome for win future victory. Vector Illustration

    President Ikeda

    President Ikeda confronted the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood about their corruption of the teachings of Nichiren. After he did this, the head priest made him step down from his leadership role and then excommunicated the entire SGI. Through the solid practice of both President Ikeda and the rest of the practitioners, this test resulted in the teachings of Nichiren being spread to the whole world rather than being confined to a small group in Japan.

    Tests through Strong Negative Karma

    Strong negative karma can threaten to disrupt one’s practice, particularly when it takes a long time, many years, to resolve an issue. Such challenges should be viewed as an opportunity to purge oneself of bad karma from the past.

    Handling these Tests

    Any of these tests can be very challenging. As you can see from the examples these tests tend to threaten the very thing that is most important to the practitioner. Coming to understand what is actually happening may be quite confusing, but one thing will be clear. There is a hindrance to, or something pulling you away from, your practice. The real challenge is recognizing these external hindrances for what they are.

    To Handle These Tests:

    1. Identify the hindrance to your practice.
    2. Gear in and chant with determination to overcome it.
    3. Strengthen your faith, through study, getting guidance, hearing experiences.
    4. Get support – chant with other people.

    5. Be strong in your practice. Hang in there. You can transform these negative external sources into positive ones through your Buddhist practice, turning poison into medicine.

  • Did You Know There Are Ten Internal Hindrances to Buddhist Practice?

    When we become practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we take on the task of liberating ourselves from suffering. We also commit to helping others do the same. In this way we align ourselves with the positive forces of the universe.

    Both fundamental darkness and fundamental enlightenment reside in every persons life.  Fundamental darkness, negativity, it is triggered when a practitioner tries to expand their state of life with the goal of helping others to become happy. Fundamental darkness shows up as spiritual resistance. This spiritual resistance doesn’t arise because your faith is weak or faulty. It arises because your faith is strong and true.

    What Is Spiritual Resistance?

    Spiritual resistance manifests as one or another of the ten hindrances to Buddhist practice. In The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom written by Nagarjuna (150-250 B.C., these hindrances are called the ten troops. The function of the ten troops is to undermine the faith of practitioners.  Although this picture of the trees lying across the road is an outward hindrance, inward ones also prevent movement forward but are much more subtle.

    The Ten Troops

    1.Greed.   

    a young man wearing a sheepskin coat isolated over a white background holding banknotes

    Frequently when greed enters a persons life, most other things are given up in pursuit of it. When focused on “getting mine,”people can easily fall from a life of integrity, as we see in the newspapers every day.

    2. Care and worry
    Care and worry, especially focused around one’s own welfare, or that of people you care about, can pull you away from your Buddhist practice. It’s easy to be so immersed in fears and concerns that you forget to do Gongyo or decide not to go to meetings, even withdraw from the group entirely.

    man a husband on bed as patient in hospital or clinic with woman a wife take care on hospital bed side with love and care

     

    3. Hunger and Thirst
    When survival is front and foremost, everything else takes a back seat. For example, when we look at what the refugees are facing, it is understandable that we might deviate from spiritual practice in the face of such challenges. It takes a strong person to persist no matter what.

    4. Love of Pleasure
    How often do we skip Gongyo or a meeting because of something more pleasurable beckons to us?

    5. Drowsiness and Languor
    Drowsiness and languor leave us not wanting to do anything that requires effort, or would disrupt our comfort. It’s easy to turn away from doing our human revolution when we are drowsy.

    6. Fear
    You might turn away from taking the next step forward towards a goal that might require a step in your human revolution. Or you might have fear of authority like the leaders who abandoned Toda and Makaguichi to prison in war torn Japan. Or you might be fearful of a personal loss or situation, which would lead you to withdraw from parts of your practice. When dealing with fear, we need to chant for courage.

    Motivational saying that you have 2 choices with fear to either run from it or rise and take it on

    7. Doubts and Regret
    Doubts are insidious and must be resolved. Doubts hide from you that you are a Buddha and have within everything you need to handle anything that might come up. Doubts might pull you away from your Buddhist practice entirely. So when doubts arise, it is important to study, hear experiences, or get guidance in order to resolve them.

    8. Anger
    Anger at leaders or other people in the organization can readily lead to dissention and disunity. When members become angry they can slander other members. This can
    undercut the benefit they have built up. Some have withdrawn from the organization and isolated themselves, thus subverting their own practice.

    9. Preoccupation with wealth and fame
    Instead of trying to do their human revolution and become a person of character, this person is obsessed with money and fame. Spiritual considerations may be dropped by the
    wayside in that pursuit.

    10. Arrogance and Contempt for Others
    When one member becomes righteous and critical of others, it can become a real threat to the unity of the Buddhist group.

    One of the Ten troops might be the weak link in the otherwise strong chain of your life.

    Chain breaking

    Be Aware

    It’s important that each of us be aware of the ten troops, so that when they appear in our own lives, and they will, we will recognize them for what they are. Then we won’t be derailed, and will be able to persist in our human revolution to become happy and help others to do the same. This means handling whatever the situation is by doubling down with our practice to resolve it, not by giving in to one of the ten troops.

    Please Share an Experience

    Please share an experience where you have successfully engaged and won over one of the ten troops.  Tell us what you did.

    December 22, 2016 • Buddhism Concepts, chanting practice, personal growth, practical buddhism • Views: 541

  • When I Chant, My Mind Goes to My Fears. What Should I Do?

    I received an email with this question. I try to focus properly but my mind goes to my fears. What should I do?” Since we all have fears from time to time, this is an important question.

    President Ikeda points out that there is nothing wrong with having an active mind while chanting. That that is just the way the mind works. It’s like a monkey jumping from branch to branch. We want to be ourselves in front of the Gohonzon and not try to be something we aren’t.

    When a fear comes up. You have two options.  You can act like an ostrich and refuse to look at it.  Or you can ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Imagine what it would be like if the issue worked out the way you want and then chant for what you want, rather than continuing to focus on your fears. Chant about every issue you are facing.

    Are These Thoughts a Distraction or Not?

    We set our intention for what we want and then start to chant. Thoughts are going to come up that represent issues that concern us at the moment. They are not a distraction. So chant about each one no matter what it might be. As you win over one after another, you will strengthen your foundation.

    Distracted chanting is different. It is sitting with your cell phone and texting or taking calls. When you chant and do this, you are going to find that you are not going to get the kinds of results you see, when you chant whole heartedly  about an issue of concern.

    Say No To Distractions placard with night lights on background

     What About Doubts?

    When you doubt whether a prayer will be answered you are expressing barriers you have created in your own life. Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, V. 5 p.154. There is no limit to the great power of daimoku. You need to overcome any doubt or confusion. Chanting with doubt and confusion is like trying to fill a tub with water without putting in the plug.

    Feed your faith by listening to experiences. Make time to study  and discuss Buddhist topics with other members. Study is the third leg of practice and there is an important reason for that.  You will find your doubts disappearing as you learn more and more.

    Inspirational motivational quote. Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death. Simple trendy design.

    There is no need to be tense or nervous while chanting.  There are no rules about how we should pray.  Whatever happens, happens.

     

    You will Become More Confident

    You will find as you chant month after month, year after year, that you will strengthen your ability to concentrate. After having one experience after another where you overcome obstacles that seemed impossible, you will develop the confidence that you can overcome this obstacle too. At some point, even though you are facing a frightening situation, you won’t become fearful.  This happens because you have had the experience many times of chanting, taking action, then seeing circumstances work out.

    As time goes you may become intensely curious about how any specific situation is going to work out. You know it will, even though you can’t see how in the present.

    Some people say that their prayers have gone unanswered. In this religion all prayers are answered. If this specific prayer is unanswered right now, you will understand why later, when you see that your whole life is moving in the best possible direction.

  • 5 Steps to Handling Your Resistance to Moving Forward

    In the last post we identified different ways we talk ourselves out of our goals when we hit our resistance to personal growth. Is Resistance to Personal Change Stopping You From Achieving Your Goals?

    I want to add one more way that you might talk yourself out of your goal.

    I Am in a Rut

    I know I should be doing this, or that but I’m not and that is just how things are. When the person in a rut runs into some sort of obstacle, gets frightened or overwhelmed, he just quits. He doesn’t blame anyone else, he just quits. To avoid feeling bad about himself he distracts himself with mindless activities.

    Don’t lower your standards. Instead raise them a little and take baby steps to move forward. Little by little you can do it.

    5 Steps to Continue to Move Forward When You Encounter Resistance

    1. Identify your resistance as it is happening.

    You have probably recognized your preferred method of resistance as you read through the examples in the last two posts. Then note how you feel when your resistance is active. For example, I feel reluctant to move forward or begin to find reasons why I shouldn’t have to do this project. Resistance can show in in an automatic unthinking behavior. For example – even with a weight loss goal you find yourself going down the candy isle without even thinking. Or, you might feel pushed to behave in a certain way in a situation and uncomfortable if you can’t behave that way.

    An Example

    Carl has made a determination and is chanting to adopt a way of eating that will support a 50 pound weight loss. He eats out often. His parents trained him to clean his plate and not waste money. We know that restaurants today serve portions that are double what we need. Carl automatically acts on his habit of overeating in restaurants due to his training. As this habit does not support his weight loss goal, he needs to develop a new habit -to eat until he is comfortable, and then stop.

    2. Make a Plan for Handling the Situation

    Creating your Plan A close-up of a keyboard with green highlighted text Plan

    Carl will have to create a plan for what he is going to do at the restaurant. He might remind himself to cut the plate in half and take one half home. He might ask the waitress to bring him half a plate and put the rest in a carry out box before she brings his meal to the table.

    If he has a full plate, he will need to catch himself as he starts to automatically overeat. If he feels uncomfortable at leaving food on the plate, he knows he is facing his resistance and there is some belief he needs to identify and change. He must learn to recognize the thought that pushes him into overeating.

    3. Develop a different way of talking to yourself

    Carl will need to develop a different belief leading to different self-talk. He must identify the thought leading to automatic overeating. “I don’t want to waste money.”  Then he needs to replace it with another such as,“When I take home half the meal I am not wasting it. I am increasing my food budget as I’ll have food tomorrow. Or, “The starving children abroad won’t be able to eat this anyway.”

    4. Find a role model that exemplifies what you are trying to achieve

    The phrase Find A Good Role Model typed on a piece of paper and pinned to a cork notice board

    Carl needs to find a slim role model and watch what that person does in a restaurant.

    5. Develop a habit interrupt.

    One person who had a weight loss goal discovered he was sabotaging his weight loss by automatically eating 2 fig bars at 4:00 in the afternoon at his desk. He justified this by
    saying he was hungry. By adding these 400 calories a day, he had started to gain weight.

    He interrupted the habit by putting the bars across the room so he would have to go and get them, giving him time to think about what he was doing. He also laid in a lower
    calorie snack.

    Address the Resistance and Keep Moving Forward

    No matter what the goal or what your resistance looks like, you can apply these five steps to get through your resistance so you can move forward, do your human revolution and achieve your goal.

    • Identify your preferred method of resistance
    • Make a plan for handling the resistance when it comes up
    • Develop a different way of talking to yourself.
    • Find a role model that exemplifies what you are trying to achieve.
    • Develop a habit interrupt.

    Keep moving forward toward your goal.

  • Is Resistance to Personal Change Stopping You From Achieving Your Goals?

    Talking yourself out of moving forward with your goals?  You’ve hit your resistance to personal change. Once you can recognize your preferred form of resistance then you can move through it. We all have resistance as I discussed in 6 Steps to Making Personal Changes When Chanting for a Goal. I suspect that one of the reasons people may not achieve their goals is because of falling into one of the following types of resistance. Without recognizing what is happening and what to do about it, they abandon their goal.

    According to Rod Hairiston, coach and trainer, the following are the main ways we talk ourselves out of a goal I am sharing them with you, as recognizing my own method of resistance, has allowed me to follow through with goals I would have abandoned otherwise.

    Catagories of Resistance

    I Am A Victim

    The first is being a victim and seeing yourself as being at the mercy of all circumstances, people and situations around you.  The victim will give their power away to say, ”My hands are tied. I can’t move forward until he changes first.’ Or “I can’t get a good job until the economy gets better.”

    Hands of a missing kidnapped abused hostage victim woman tied up with rope in emotional stress and pain afraid restricted trapped call for help struggle terrified locked in a cage cell.

    In Nichiren Buddhism, we know that we create our reality from the inside out, oneness of self and environment.  You are not at the mercy of anyone or any circumstance.  Take back your power and “ability to respond” and change what you thinking and doing to support what you want.

    Is There Something Else?

    You are convinced there is something out there that will help you get the results you want. You are flexible and upbeat. Once the initial excitement of setting a new goal wears off and you find out what is actually going to be required for your goal, you  drop the goal  and look for the next book or seminar.

    Concept Handwritten With Chalk On A Blackboard.

    You need to work on internal confidence and stick with one goal in order to grow to the next level. Make a commitment to say with what you’re doing for an extended, defined period of time to develop your emotional muscle. Develop self-talk and find models that will allow you to persist.

    I Don’t Like Change

    Your highest priority is finding certainty, keeping things the way they have always been. You don’t like change. But the only way you can achieve your goals and grow to Buddhahood is through personal change. That is what human revolution is all about.

    Cartoon of business boss saying to his staff, I don't want to change. I want all of you to change.

    You know from Nichiren Buddhism that the unchanging rock, to stand on, is inside you. Remind yourself, everything else can change but you always have that stability.

    I Am Going to Push Thru Right Direction or Not

    Change is needed but you don’t know what the right decision is or how to do it. So you escape
    into a flurry of activity. You make a decision and stick to it whether or not you’re getting the

    Egoist, Arrogant, and Stubborn Boss. A hand drawn vector cartoon illustration of a boss with bad attitude.
    results you want. You don’t want to hear that there might be a better way.
    Remember if you’ve made a decision that isn’t working out, it’s not a reflection on you. It just
    means it’s time to try a different path.

    I Am Always Stressed

    Portrait of a mature stressed woman

    You are always hurrying thru your journey not enjoying it. You always think you have to
    achieve this or that before you can relax.

    You need to understand that life is about happily achieving, not achieving to be happy. Enjoy
    the journey.

    I Wear A Mask

    You only let other people see what you want them to see. You feel like a fraud and that other
    people will find you out. When you hit the hard reality of what your goal is going to require, you
    lie about how you are feeling – trying to look ok to everyone even though you feel things are
    falling apart.

    People aren’t really thinking about you. You need to acknowledge your own worth first and
    learn to like yourself. Then the opinion of others won’t matter very much.

    Getting it Together

    As we come to recognize how we resist moving forward, a new person emerges. . He or she makes a determination and has a strong “why” for what he is doing. This person meets obstacles by continuing to move forward at a comfortable pace, one step at a time. He works in small bite sized pieces which when repeated over and over grow into habits which support his goals.

    Background concept wordcloud illustration of meaningful life

    If he stops moving forward he examines what is happening but doesn’t put himself down for it. He examines his beliefs and if there is a better way to reach his goal he takes it.
    He knows he needs to keep moving forward, practicing positive attitudes and actions, finding good models to learn from and growing a little each day. He knows that his unconscious mind will turn into his ally once those constructive attitudes and actions turn into unconscious, automatic habits. He knows that once built, these constructive habits will make it easier for him to reach his goals.

    Personal Experience

    When I hit difficulties with goals and developed resistance to completing them, I looked for something else, the next tape or seminar, while abandoning the goal I had been so excited about. Once I learned to recognize this pattern as it was happening, then I knew what I had to do when working on a new project. Just gear in there and stick with it one step at a time. I chose to use as a role model a person who demonstrates this one step at a time approach.  Then I developed self talk  such as, ” This doesn’t happen over night.  Just take a step forward every day.” Since then I have been completing goals, from which I would have backed away previously. Your preferred method may be one of the others described in this post.

    You Can Get it Together

    Set a goal.  When you hit resistance to moving forward:

    1. Identify your preferred method of resisting change as it is happening.

    2. Find models you can emulate.
    3. Develop a way of talking to yourself that will allow you to move forward.

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