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  • Are You Missing a Step When Chanting for a Goal?

    1. Set A Positive Goal

    A reader sent me a question asking how to chant for a weight loss goal. Let’s use this goal understanding that the same principles relate to any goal we set.

    Often people chant about losing weight or wanting more money. These are negative goals. You are looking at what you are lacking, not what you want. To set a goal you need to do is decide what you want your goal weight to be, in other worlds the solution to your problem. If it is a finance goal, how much money do you want? If it is a relationship, the perfect relationship for you.

    Don’t set goals that have multiple parts. You want crystal clear goals. Simplify each goal and have as many goals as you wish. Be specific and make sure you’re chanting for what you really want.

    I heard a story from a young man, excited about results from his chanting, wanted to introduce people to the practice. He chanted to introduce people and talked to a good number of people. But they didn’t decide to start to practice. Discouraged he didn’t see he was getting exactly what he had chanted for – people to introduce. He wasn’t chanting for people who would want to begin the practice.

    2. Make a Decision

    We talk about making a determination. A determination is a decision that you are going to do this no matter what. Making a decision tells that universal part of yourself, your Buddha nature, that this is definitely what you want. Intention is the builder. Vague goals, such as I wish, I hope, maybe, I’d like, do not make that connection with the universe.

    You are telling the universe you don’t really believe your goal is possible. These kinds of thoughts do not have the energy behind them that a decision creates.

    When you make a decision and follow it up with taking the first action steps, you make connection with the quantum field, that invisible intelligent energy at the core of your life in your Buddha nature. That decision starts the process of manifesting your desire into the world. Step off the cliff and fly.

    If you can add a drop-dead date by which your goal will be accomplished that adds greater leverage still.

    If you having trouble believing it, set the goal lower or ask for the first step. You can always proceed step by step.

     

    3. Pay Attention

    Pay attention. Often the universe responds in subtle ways. Answers and ideas might come through other people, an overheard conversation or a book, a sense of inspiration. Notice any ideas that come regarding your area of concern to you, while you are chanting, or during the day.

    If you’ve set a goal, you have asked the universe to help you manifest your goal. Answers will come to you one way or another, as you’ve started a dialogue with the universe.

    Pay attention to small steps of progress. Don’t discount them.

    Be aware. Don’t let your thoughts slip into the abyss of doubt and disbelief and remain there. Pull them out and refocus on what you want. You may have to do this fifty times a day, if your habit of negative thinking is strong. Believe me it is worth it if you persist. You are practicing developing a positive mind state. Eventually it will come without effort.

    4. Be Receptive

    You have to be receptive to what you want before it can happen.


    If you not achieving your goal, you need to notice what is happening internally.

    • Are you at a subtly resisting getting what you want, thinking you don’t deserve it, that it’s for other people, not you? It could be a feeling of pushing it away..
    • Are you mostly focusing on problems all day long and not looking at solutions?
    • Are there underlying reasons why you wouldn’t want to achieve this goal?
    • Are you experiencing major ups and downs with your emotions, leading to negative thinking?

    Sometimes people focus on problems, thinking that looking at solutions is not realistic. if you do this, you are disregarding the truth of your life, that you are the builder and no one or no circumstance can stop you from getting what you want. You are looking at what appears to be true, not at the underlying reality. Turn away from thoughts of limitation, reinstate your desired outcome and follow ideas as they come to you. Allow yourself to be receptive. Open up to receiving what you have asked for.

    5.  Examine what You Are Thinking – Belief and Expectation Brings Your Goal into Manifestation –

    Your thoughts are far more important than you realize. What we believe and expect, we create. According to the Buddhist dictionary, our minds pervade the entire universe, including both body and mind, and self and environment. Our minds have the ability to take any thought and have it manifest in the future.

    People ask, “Why isn’t chanting working?” It is working. You are getting what you think about the most. Remember oneness of self and environment? If you not achieving your goal, you need to examine what you are thinking.

    Are you subtly resisting getting what you want, believing that it isn’t possible? Do you have a goal you don’t really believe you can reach?                 

    Try this. Pretend you are your future self, that you are living after your goal has been accomplished. Have your future self look back and see your goal accomplished. How would you feel then? Take that belief and confidence into your chanting time.

    6. Never Give Up

    When you hold a goal, consistently, it’s as though you are creating an architectural drawing in the unseen, which will manifest into material reality. When you don’t hold the thought, and relapse into having thoughts of limitation , it’s like having to start from scratch and redraw the drawing when you pick it up again.

    Don’t be impatient. Perhaps you may have to grow in some way before you can reach your goal. For example if your goal is a new job, you may need to develop some skill or present yourself differently as though you are the person who can fill that job. Maybe there is something major in your life that must be addressed before you would be considered for that job, for example, overcoming a substance abuse problem before being considered for a truck driving job. Are you resisting growing out of fear or because you don’t want to change something?

    Keep chanting no matter how long it takes.  you will eventually get your goal or something better.

    Summary:

    Here are the 6 steps

    1. Set a positive goal.
    2. Make a decision
    3. Pay attention
    4. Be receptive

    5.Examine what You Are Thinking
    6. Never give up

  • Challenging Goal? Add Leverage to Create Momentum

    Have you ever found that you set a goal, one that makes you stretch,  then found yourself forgetting to chant about it or finding reasons why you don’t want it after all? You might develop doubts that you can ever achieve it. You have encountered the normal resistance we all face when we start to grow. I discussed this in my last post, “Steps to Making Personal Changes When Chanting for a Goal.”

    Ask, Why Do I Want This Goal?

    Ask yourself , “Do I have strong reasons for setting this goal, strong enough to make it a determination rather than just a wish?” Did something happen in your life to push you set this goal? For example:
     Did you set a goal to become fit because you had a health scare?
     Do you have a strong desire to contribute to the world in some way, to accomplish something important to you?

    Man Hand writing What Is Your Reason? with black marker on visual screen. Isolated on background. Business technology internet concept. Stock Photo
     Are you facing a serious problem that you must solve?
     Are you trying to forge a new, expanded identity?
     Do you want to overcome a weakness?

    Remind yourself of all the reasons you set this goal to begin with. Write them down to remind yourself. A strong non-negotiable “why” can make all the difference when you hit your resistance to change.

    Add Some Leverage    

    Man moving up graphic with help of lever. Metaphoric

    Since you wanted the goal initially, create some leverage to get yourself back on track.

    Leverage can come in many forms and gives us the additional boost we need to keep us from slipping into old patterns. Leverage can help us overcome the reluctance to move forward. Some examples:
     Put a list of your reasons for setting this goal on your altar.
     Share your goal with a partner or your Buddhist group.
     You might announce that you are setting this goal at a discussion meeting and then report back once a month on your progress or lack there of.
     Ask a friend to hold you accountable for taking steps.
     Set a challenge for yourself like signing up for a race or attending a class at the gym. Maybe you have to hire a trainer or an online coach to hold you accountable
     Set a drop-dead date by which you will have completed your goal.
     Reward yourself after taking a step that is a challenge

    My Experience

    Before writing my first books, I had a history of loving the beginning of a project, but then losing motivation and follow through. When I wrote my first books, I had strong non-negotiable reasons for writing them. My writing critique group gave me the leverage I needed to write on a regular basis, provided regular deadlines for submitting my work, and encouraged me. My chanting practice kept me on track by giving me topic ideas. My prayer kept my end goal in front of me. Short daily Buddhist readings showed me what I had to address in myself to be successful.

    All of these things gave me the boost that I needed to keep moving forward when I engaged with my resistance to the personal growth required. Leverage can help you
    too and then you will experience success with that difficult goal.

    Excited, happy girl giving thumbs up showing success, isolated on pink background.

  • How to Unlock Your Mental Limits

    When we run up against a mental limit we think we are going to do something, and then we don’t do it. We resist moving forward, and abandon our goal or project.

    My Experience With Mental Limits

    I came up against my mental boundaries in the gym, where at seventy one I challenged myself to become fit. I thought this would be a straight forward process. I would just do what my trainer told me. What I hadn’t expected was that he would challenge me in ways that I would resist, that I would have to retrain myself mentally in order to move forward.

    One day my trainer added a lot of additional weight to an exercise for the abdominals.
    “I can’t lift this,” I said. He exploded, “Don’t you ever say can’t to me! You just made the decision to stop.” After that, I modified how I talked to him and to myself. When I felt something was impossible, I created a mental opening to doing the exercise. I said, “I’ll try.” Or, “I’ll do my best.” With that small change in thinking I set aside my self-imposed limitations and did the exercise.

    I discovered that I had beliefs about what an older body could or could not do. One day I asked my trainer, “What are the limits for someone my age?” “There aren’t any,” he responded. Rather than create limits for myself, I had to shift my thinking to encourage myself, “I’ll see how far I can take it, one step at a time.”

    Five years later at 76 I have not found my limits yet. I’m still making progress with balance, agility, strength and coordination. Every day when I go into the gym, I am faced with something I don’t think I can do. Every time, I have to take myself mentally in hand to create that mental opening. Then, I discover I can do it.

    Ways to Create A Mental Opening

    How can we can create mental openings, to allow us to move forward with a challenging project or goal? Try the following:

    • Don’t continue to look at the obstacle. Imagine what you want to achieve as already accomplished.
    •  Remind yourself. I have my connection with the universe on my side. Then with your goal in mind, chant for the next step to take.
    • Don’t look at the whole goal. Instead, just chant about taking the first step.
    •  Be curious. Challenge yourself, Let’s see how far I can go one small step at a time.
    • Scared about doing something? Chant for courage. Then think to yourself, I’ll do this one small thing, then I can relax.
    • Feeling overwhelmed? Remind yourself, I can do anything for 15 minutes. Set a timer and get to work.

    When you think in these ways you can take a challenge that feels enormous and break it down into bite sized attainable pieces. Your resistance and desire to back off and abandon your challenge will disappear and you will be able to move forward

  • What is a Buddha? #1 of 2

    The purpose of this post is to give you some idea of where you are heading when you start to practice this Buddhism.

    Traditional Beliefs

    People tend to look at statues of a plump Buddha with hands in a meditation position and think that is the Buddha, as if there is only one. Some traditions tend to look up to the Buddha as a superhuman being who stands way above an everyday person.

    In other branches of Buddhism, there is also a common perception that to become enlightened requires a long, arduous journey encompassing many lifetimes.

    Anyone Can Become Enlightened

    In one of his final verbal teachings, The Lotus Sutra, Shakayamuni Buddha, the original historical Buddha, said that every single one of us has the potential to become a Buddha. In the Lotus Sutra, he says that you have the Buddha nature, or the innate potential to become enlightened, in this lifetime, in your present form.

    The Path to Buddhahood

    When you come in as a beginner, you are taught to chant, to connect with the enlightened level of Buddhahood in your life, your universal self. Initially you are taught to chant for goals for yourself. At the beginning they might be quite specific, things that are needed for your life. In the process faith grows and your life becomes more connected with the universe.

    In time you will overcome many of the issues which were creating problems in your life and you’ll find yourself becoming happy. Then naturally a shift begins to take place, where your desires change and become more altruistic. You want to share the practice with other people, so they may become happy as you have. You have begun manifesting the compassion of the world of Buddhahood.

    As your life condition becomes more and more established in the higher worlds of Bodhisattva and Buddhahood, you find yourself deriving joy from supporting and caring for others. The main thrust of your life starts incrementally to shift from self-absorption to altruism and caring for others. You have begun the work of a Buddha, bringing forth your own potential through challenging yourself in Bodhisattva practice and also inspiring others to do the same.

    What is Attaining Buddhahood?

    So what does attaining Buddhahood mean? In Nichiren Buddhism, it doesn’t mean you suddenly turn into a Buddha, a God, a transcendental being standing way above ordinary people. It means you have securely entered the path of Buddhahood. It nmeans you continue to advance along the path of absolute happiness.You will come to live a life where you savor a state of happiness and complete peace of mind, while living with your earthly desires just as they are.

    Remember the Ten Worlds, those ten internal states of life within each of us? Buddhahood is the highest of the ten worlds. You tend to go in and out of all of them every day. That means you might be functioning at the highest level for a while and then slip into one of the lower worlds and then maybe return. What does happen is that over time that level of life becomes more established and is expressed in compassionate, altruistic behavior focused on enabling other people to become happy.

    In a Nutshell…

    Buddhahood is not some superhuman transcendental state. Anyone has the potential to become a Buddha. You will come to live a life of unshakeable happiness and peace of mind.

    Next Post: What Does the Life State of a Buddha Look Like?

    January 9, 2015 • Buddhism Concepts, early stages, newcomer, personal growth, Uncategorized • Views: 1366

  • What Controls Your Life? You or Outside Forces?

    Do you believe you can direct your life as you wish it, or do you secretly believe that outside forces determine what happens in your life?
    In the Western world, there is a common belief that something outside of ourselves controls what happens in our lives. You see this when you hear such comments as, “I can’t get a job, because of the economy.” “My significant other won’t let me.” “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

    You Determine Your Circumstances

    Buddhism teaches that in fact the reality is that you determine your life, the environment is just your shadow.

    Silhouette Friends. Sunset Water

    If you were to walk down the street, your shadow follows behind you. Your shadow appears as though it’s separate from you but it doesn’t exist without you. Like that, our past words and actions reflect in the circumstances of our lives when the time is right.

    You can see this in two very different bedrooms. One is messy with clothes and books strewn all over, while the other is very organized. The circumstances and conditions of the lives of the occupant are reflected in their room.

    Your personal universe extends from the inner depths of your heart outward to all of the circumstances of your life. The point of power is within you. This is entirely empowering because it means if there is something in your life you don’t like, you have the power to change it.

    Change Your World: Change Yourself

    If you want to influence your outer world, you must strengthen and improve your inner self. For example, if the girl with the messy room, wants to be more organized, she will have to make a determination to make the inner changes necessary, and take the actions required to change her habits. When she acts on these, her room will reflect her new inner reality.

    How to Change Your Circumstances by Changing Yourself

    1. Chant with the desired change in mind.
    2. Make a determination you are going to achieve this no matter what.
    3. Take action to do whatever is necessary to achieve the desired change
    4. Follow through until you achieve your goal.                                                                                              Winner Man On Mountain Top

     Jean Changed Her Circumstances

    When Jean wanted to lose twenty pounds, she sat down and envisioned her goal weight. She knew what she wanted to look like. Then she make the determination that she was going to lose twenty pounds no matter what. As she chanted, ideas came to her about actions she would have to take in order to lose the weight. She decided to try one thing at a time, figuring she couldn’t change everything all at once. She took up aerobics and weight training, and paid a trainer to make herself accountable. She cut down on portion sizes. She reached out for support from other people who had lost weight successfully. She persisted one day at a time until she reached her goal weight.

    You Can do It Too

    Hear the chant at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXPEkzV2Rq4

    October 7, 2014 • early stages, How Are You Chanting?, newcomer, Uncategorized • Views: 2034

  • Through Buddhism, Change Your Karma

    What is karma?

    Karma represents tendencies present in the inner, unconscious realm of life. They have been created through one’s past actions, which include ways of thinking, ways of speaking and physical actions. Karma, or actions, can be either good or bad, positive or negative.

    Popular thinking views karma as negative but Buddhism says that karma can be both positive and negative.

    Shakyamuni Changed View of Karma

    Historically, karma was considered to be fatalistic. You were born into a certain immutable situation and you couldn’t change it. You were expected to accept and make the best of any circumstances but your life wouldn’t change at any fundamental level. At best you might be born into better circumstances in your next lifetime.

    However, 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, changed this view of karma. He said that what makes a person noble or humble was not one’s birth but one’s actions as a human being. He saw karma not only as a means to explain present circumstances but also a potential force through which to influence one’s future. This was considered revolutionary at that time.

    What Are Examples of Good Karma?

    Good karma includes:

    • good habits that create positive results in life. Some examples would include the habit of exercise, studying for an hour a day,
    • making friends easily
    • an attractive personality
    • being born into a loving family
    • a person who always lands on their feet, or is always at the right place at the right time
    • positive characteristics such as a loving heart, a helpful nature, and a positive view of life.

    What are Examples of Bad Karma?

    Bad karma includes:

    • bad habits, such as overeating and drinking too much
    • tendencies toward negative thinking, and self-destructive behavior. One example would be a person who gambles and repeatedly creates financial problems for himself and his family. Another would be a person who refuses to work for anyone else, yet has one disaster after another trying to start his own business.
    • negative characteristics such as arrogance, or a bad temper
    • repetitive choices which lead to negative results. Let’s say a person picks the same kind of partner over and over and this type of choice results in similar problems in successive relationships. An example would be a person who repeatedly chooses an alcoholic partner
    • being born into a criminal family
    • repeating the mistakes of one’s parents and relatives
    • Being born into poverty

    Everyone has both Good and Bad Karma

    Each one of us has both good and bad karma. For example, someone might have experienced an easy financial road but have trouble with relationships. Or another person might have happy relationships but sabotage himself in his work life because he can’t settle down and work under a boss.

    Don’t Judge Yourself

    There is a belief in Buddhism that everything starts from this day forward. There is no point in dwelling upon the past as you can’t change it. But you can change the future.

    How to Change Negative Karma

    Let’s say you have a habit which is creating negative results.

    Chant First

    • Determine how the negative habit should change. What would be the positive habit to replace it? Be specific about how that would look and set it as an intention. For example: Let’s say the negative habit is overeating. You could determine to weigh x number of pound
    • Chant to seeing the end goal already achieved. Envision yourself weighing your goal weight.
    • Note any ideas of things you might do to change or actions you might take as they come to you. You might keep a list such as eating a different diet or going to a gym.
    • Be persistent. Keep chanting until you have achieved your goal.

    Second: Take Action

    To change negative karma, you chant and then take different actions. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, nothing will change.

    Some problems require peeling the onion. Undoubtedly the reasons for your overeating will come to the surface when you try to change the habit. You may have to chant about those resons as well. This will be discussed in more detail in a later post but for now repeat the steps above.

    How to Increase Good Karma

    As you chant day after day, and bring your Buddha Nature to the fore, your behavior will change inconspicuously for the better. This can happen without your being conscious of it until you look back over weeks or months. But gradually you are spending less time on the negative, reactive, side of life and more time on the positive, proactive side of life.

    As you chant about life challenges and overcome negative tendencies you are changing your life for the better and coming to live on the positive side of life.

    When different decisions result in good outcomes you will be motivated to continue. You have entered a positive spiral.

    Congratulations: You Are Changing Karma

    Since future karma is based on actions taken in the present, as your life becomes more positive, so do the causes you are making for your future. You are transforming your present life and future karma for the better one step at a time

    Join the Conversation

    Please share how you have changed a situation by chanting about it.

  • What is Faith,Exactly?

    The Question

    Exactly, what is faith and how do you find it?

    In Nichiren Buddhism, faith doesn’t just appear from nowhere. It is built step-by-step. If you decide to practice, I can tell you that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will enable your life to work, but you’ll need to prove to yourself. You can start by sitting and chanting about any concerns you might have. See www.margaretblaine.com/newcomers for instructions on how to chant.

    Some examples of things you might chant about :

    • Clarity  to resolve a conflict about which direction to take
    • An obstacle  which is blocking something in your life
    • A solution to a relationship problem
    • A negative character trait you want to change
    • Needing a new job

    Anything that comes up in life can be grist for the mill. Try chanting about your concern for 90 days and see what happens.

    A New Way to Handle a Problem

    Stop worrying and going round and round trying to figure out how to solve your problem. Instead, envision what you want and don’t worry about strategizing the steps to get there.

    Sit and chant with the end goal clearly in mind. Your job is to set your intention and then let the universe work it out. Strategizing just gets in the way. Chanting activates your internal connection with the universe through connecting with your Buddha nature.

    Be Brave; Try An Experiment

    Start a conversation with the universe by setting your intention, our goal, then chanting about it. You’ll receive a response. You’ll find that you receive ideas about steps to take. Follow up by acting on these ideas. As you chant about the issue day after day, you’ll discover the people and things you need to achieve your goal will be drawn to you. The perfect information may arrive unexpectedly. Just the right person may arrive to support you, exactly when needed. You know you hadn’t expected these ideas, this kind of support. They seem to have come to you; you don’t know how. You may find you are really surprised by what happens; you never imagined this way to the solution. It’s okay, this is how faith grows.

    Steps in the Development of Faith

    After you achieve one goal, then try another one. Stretch yourself. Over time, as you address one goal then another, you will find that when you chant about something, it seems to work out. You sense you have invisible forces upon which you can rely. This is a subtle, but unmistakable, experience and is the beginning of faith.

    The next step in the development of faith is to take on challenges you don’t really believe you can handle, a further reach. You continue to test that universal connection to see if you can rely upon it. When, after multiple experiences, you find you can, only then do you begin to trust it, have faith in it.

    Relax, You Don’t Have to Worry

    When a problem arises, rather than worry about it, you chant about it, envisioning what you want to have happen. Worrying gives way to a quiet confidence that if you chant about it and take action, that anything can work out. If you’ve tried chanting for concrete goals, you’ll discover you have the ability to manifest anything you need. At this point you stop worrying about not having what you need and know there is nothing to fear. Embraced by this knowledge, you’ll find yourself relaxing deep inside.

    An Anchor in the Storms of Life

    Before starting to chant, the winds of life had the power to toss you to and fro. Often you would be afraid and worried. After chanting for a while, the ability of life to throw you off balance grows less and less. As you develop the faith that you can rely on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, it’s as though you have an invisible anchor, a stable point to stand on, no matter what storms may be churning on the surface of life.

    Proactive Versus Reactive

    Over time, another subtle yet definite shift occurs. Instead of being passive and reactive to everything saying, “Well that’s just what’s supposed to happen”, you take your life into your own hands. You challenge obstacles and difficult circumstances to overcome them. You establish direction and goals, chanting about them and moving your life forward. You’ve become a proactive person and you are unfolding the potentials of your life.

    Faith in Daily Life

    Faith and work are not separate things. You don’t go to a retreat and practice faith and then come out in the world to work. Your faith is worked out through chanting about everyday challenges and, when you overcome problems and obstacles, this is done in the arena of daily life. Daily life becomes the proving ground where you can see the results of your faith.

    So, What is Faith?

    Now it’s time to answer the question, what is faith? In Nichiren Buddhism, faith is reliance and trust in the Mystic law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. With it comes an an expectation that when you sit before the Gohonzon with a new concern, it will work out. Faith is a sense of security no matter what happens and a profound knowing that you are supported by the unseen forces of the universe. President Ikeda describes it this way: …”the unshakeable state of life we develop through faith in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo represents our greatest spiritual treasure.”

    Join the Conversation

    What kind of experiences have you had in the development of your faith? Are they different? If so, how?

    Next Topic: A Cure for Anxiety

  • Chanting for Goals Develops Faith

    Goals Develop Faith

    When you are new, you may be encouraged to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo  for goal that is a stretch, something you don’t really believe you can achieve.

    One example. A member might suggest you chant for the money to attend a big event across country that you have wanted to attend but didn’t think you could afford. He would encourage you to take the actions necessary to get there on faith, such as signing up when you still don’t have the resources to buy plane tickets. This is called stepping out on faith. When you achieve a concrete goal such as this one, you will have had the experience of creating what you need through using the practice.

    This is an obvious goal. There might be others such as chanting to overcome a problem with anger, or to resolve the difficulties in a relationship.

    Why would a more experienced practitioner suggest this? Because they know that when you chant and achieve your goal, you will have taken a big step in the development of faith. Then you can use your faith to move forward in other areas of your life. I’m sure many of you have had experiences doing this. I hope you’ll share one.

    Let’s see how Sally did this in the following experience.

    Sally’s Experience

    Sally owned her own home and her house badly needed a roof. There was a problem in getting the roof as she didn’t have the money to pay for it. Sally was wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy and a large amount of her monthly income went for caregivers.

    However, having faith, she chanted for a new roof for a number of months, approaching her goal in a general way. Nothing happened. Feeling more pressure as the rainy season approached, she modified how she chanted about her problem. She envisioned a good roof on the house and began to chant with focus and the determination that this goal was going to be achieved.

    Not long after, she casually mentioned the fact that she needed a roof to a friend of hers and didn’t think anything further about it. About a month later a member of her friend’s church, a coach in the local high school, appeared at her door.

    “I can put a new roof on your house using students from my wrestling team. You won’t have to pay for labor but you will still need to pay for materials,” he said.

    Sally was thrilled. “I will have to do some creative thinking, since I don’t have the money for materials right now.” She continued to chant for a new roof and investigated the possibility of borrowing money.

    Unexpectedly, a couple of weeks later, the coach knocked at her door again. “We are going to put the roof on this weekend,” he announced.

    “What about the materials?” Sally asked.

    “A roofing company has donated the roofing supplies out of materials returned to the company that are to be recycled, so it won’t cost either you or the company anything.”

    Two days later his wrestling team appeared, and in eight hours the old roof was torn off and the new roof nailed on.

    Getting the roof was important, but the biggest benefit of that experience was that Sally came to understand that she could manifest what she needed in ways she could never have imagined, through her connection with the Mystic Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

    Faith Develops Step by Step

    You aren’t asked to believe anything when you begin the practice. Then you are encouraged to pick a goal and chant for it for ninety days and see what happens. The more experienced members know that you will prove to yourself that the practice works, thereby taking the first small step in developing faith.

    As you continue to progress, you’ll take on bigger challenges as your faith develops. You’ll become confident that your latest endeavor will work out, even if you don’t know how. Somehow you know that even if you leap over the abyss, you will land safely. You will have developed faith through the practice of chanting and achieving one goal after another.

    Join the Conversation

    Today’s question: Can you share an experience where you developed your faith through chanting for a goal?

    Next Post: An Experience

  • Buddhism Shows You How to Live Longer

    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.

    Research Says…

    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?

    Next Topic: Using the Practice to Become Fit

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    May 16, 2013 • Buddhism In Daily Life, early stages, newcomer, Uncategorized • Views: 818

  • Running a Marathon in Life

    Most of us admire marathoners, even if we don’t run ourselves. We love them because they are such a triumph of the human spirit over perceived physical and mental limits.

    I live overlooking a bike path and river. Recently there was a marathon of 26.2 miles. The runners came past our house on the bike path. Tables were set up with water and Gatorade and people yelled encouragement and applauded just below our living room windows.

    As I watched them I couldn’t help but think that a marathon is similar to what happens in our Buddhist practice when faced with a difficult goal or challenge.

    Setting the Intention – Mental Focus

    The marathoner sets a goal and the intention to reach it. Setting an intention just means using your imagination to see the goal as completed.

    This is also true for someone new just starting the 90 day challenge to see if Buddhism is right for them.  They set an intention and chant Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo for ninety days and see what happens. An experienced member who takes on a major challenge or one who is trying to surmount a difficult obstacle also starts out by setting a goal.

    In order to reach the finish line the marathoner must condition his mind as well as his body. He uses his imagination to see himself crossing the finish line.

    We do the same when we chant for a goal. We imagine what it will look like when we achieve it. We commit ourselves to chanting for the goal until it is achieved. We, too, have to condition our minds to complete a long term or difficult goal.

    Practice and Preparation

    Physical preparation

    The marathoner must prepare herself for months or years. She practices running longer and longer distances. She must learn how to pace herself, so she can sustain the pace from beginning to end. If she doesn’t pace herself, she might burn out or sustain injury.

    Mental Preparation

    He has to learn how to monitor and change his internal dialogue to encourage himself as he extends his limits. These mental reserves are what make the difference between someone who crosses the finish line and those who give up.

    We might not have to prepare physically as we chant, but we do have to prepare mentally to go the distance, one step at a time. We have to make a determination – that this goal, this intention, is going to happen, no matter what and no matter how long it takes.

    Gearing In

    The marathoner and the chanter have to give up distractions in order to focus their energies. Both must develop the discipline to do what is necessary to achieve the goal.

    The marathoner practices. He learns what shoes to wear, how to use his body to avoid injury, how to keep himself hydrated, skills which allow him to be successful.

    As you chant about a challenge you might have to learn skills in your area of interest, do research about something or acquire knowledge about yourself that will enable you achieve your goal. This is normal and  part of the process.

    Hitting the Wall

    The marathoners hit mile twenty-one in front of our house. This is the crisis point, when the body feels it can’t go any further and wants to give up. The runners have to dig deep and mentally overcome the body’s demand. Watching from our house, we can see the ones who do this successfully. The successful ones seem to gain additional energy.

    You can see the determination in others, even if they are walking. I particularly applaud the ones who come by seven hours after the start and have the determination to hang in there. They win by just crossing that finish line.

    When chanting for a difficult goal or trying to surmount an obstacle, there is a time when you will feel as though you can’t go any further and think of giving up. This is the time when you need to hunker down and increase the depth and focus of your practice.

    Say Goodbye to Negative Thinking

    This time of physical and emotional struggle is when both marathoner and chanter must focus on the successful completion of the goal, and refuse to harbor negative thinking, which says it isn’t possible. As Nichiren Daishonin says, “You should become master of your mind, not let your mind master you.”

    Some examples of negative thinking might be:  ‘I can’t do this’, ‘It’s just not possible’, or dwelling on what you fear rather than the goal. At times like this you will have to turn your attention away from the negative thoughts and talk to yourself differently. For example, ‘I can do this’, ‘ Nothing is impossible with the practice’. Then refocus on the goal and imagine how you will feel when you achieve it.

    Discouragement or a sense of being overwhelmed can add an emotional challenge as well. Mentally bring yourself out of this through giving yourself encouragement and refusing to dwell on your fears.

    Staying Strong to the End

    The chanter has additional tools to combat this crisis point. This is when it is important to deepen your faith and practice to stay strong to the end. So how might you do that?

    •  Chant longer:
    1.  If you’ve been chanting fifteen minutes, try thirty minutes or an hour. Someone with a serious issue might chant for hours.
    •  Study Nichiren Daishonin’s searchable writings and read Reply to Myo’o where he says, “This sutra can fultill their desires, as a clear cool pond can satisfy all those who are thirsty.”
    1. Go to http://www.sgilibrary.org and those of President Ikeda http://www.sgi-usa.org/buddhism/buddhist-concept/win-or-lose.htm for encouragement.
    •  Go to a retreat at FNCC and renew yourself.
    1. To find a schedule of retreats go to http://www.sgi-usa.org/memberresources/fncc/fnccschedule.php
    •  Talk to an experienced practitioner, and get spiritual guidance.
    1.  To locate someone, call your local community center or ask the leader of your home group.
    •  Group Chant:
    1.  In a marathon the runners receive energy from the encouragement of people along the path. When people chant together about someone’s issue, that person receives a big boost over the hump.

    When the marathoner goes the distance, he grows in his physical endurance, mental toughness and self-confidence.

    When you achieve your goal, you will have grown in many ways as well. You will have grown in faith, in using the tools of your Buddhist practice and in mental toughness. You will have learned you need never be deadlocked and that you can rely on your faith to overcome major obstacles.

    Join the Conversation

    Have you ever had a difficult challenge where you had to dig deep? What worked for you?

    Next topic: Buddhism Shows You How to Live Longer

     

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