If I Doubt the Practice, Can I Get Benefit?

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I received a question this week “A while back I read in the World Tribune, ’you must trust the Gohonzon wholeheartedly, or you will not gain benefits no matter how much you chant.’ Can you please explain?

Let’s first discuss what the Gohonzon is. The Gohonzon was created by Nichiren as a focal point. He knew that most people would need a focal point as he didn’t want to be worshiped. He gave us this representation of our connection with the infinite part of ourselves so we would be reminded on a daily basis that have this infinite capacity within us, just as he had. Trust the Gohonzon wholeheartedly means trusting your infinite capacity.

The reason you might not get benefits if you don’t trust the Gohonzon has to do with the power of our minds. The way I see it, we have two sides to this wonderful mind of ours. We have our infinite side our Buddha nature where we connect with the universe. Mentally, through our intuition, we have the capacity to receive answers and to know anything we need to know with this side. There are no limitations. Our intuitive side can know anything, things man has never discovered. This site will guide us perfectly if we listen to it. It’s how I wrote my first book.

Then we have our human side, the side which was born into this world has learned the teachings of generations about how the world works and has been taught to work through the senses and the intellect in the world of materiality and limitations. The intellect can’t know more than what mankind has already learned.

As Einstein says: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Man is the only creature on earth that doesn’t perfectly fit into his environment by instinct. He has to create his own environment. He has been given this incredible mind which is one with the creative power of the universe to create anything he wants. The way we think produces results of a like-kind. We have not been taught this in our schools and by society. We’ve been taught to explain what is happening in our lives by looking at our circumstances.

Now let’s look at what Buddhism teaches.

As Daisaku Ikeda says, “In accordance with the principle of 3000 realms in a single moment of life, pessimistic thoughts or feelings take form, just as they are, in reality, producing negative results. People who have negative thoughts create effects for themselves that perfectly match their thinking. So it’s important to be optimistic.” Faith into Action, pg 10

I don’t think an occasional thought creates those results, but rather when we dwell and focus on the negativity. Sometimes we can have these kinds of thoughts without being really aware of them. How can we notice them and change them? One way is through your feelings. Our thoughts give rise to our feelings. If you are anxious, or fearful, notice that and then notice what you have been thinking.

Let’s take an entrepreneur starting a business thinking, “I don’t know if I have what it takes.”  The feeling would be anxiety. So if he/she notices the anxiety and then the thought. It could be changed to, “I have everything I need within. With that connection, I am more capable than I realize. Then notice what happens to the feeling. It will dissipate.

Ikeda says: “I want you to understand the subtle workings of the mind. How you orient your mind,
the kind of attitude you take greatly influences you and your environment.” Faith Into Action pg. 8

For example, if you go into a situation with a defeatist attitude, that is what you will project to everyone around you. You’re also projecting it to the universe and in accordance with the law of 3000 realms, you will receive like results.

Let’s say you notice one morning that you are starting the day with a negative attitude. Sit in front of the Gohonzon with the intention of bringing out your Buddha nature and raising your life condition.

What should we do then if we have doubts while chanting? Notice them and then deliberately refocus them so you give the Gohonzon, your connection with the universe, the opportunity to work. For example, instead of thinking to yourself over and over, this isn’t going to work, reframe it. “I am one with the infinite power of the universe which can answer any question and find a way around any problem.”

In the Clear Mirror Guidance Ikeda says: ”If you practice faith while doubting its effects, you will get results that are, at best, unsatisfactory. This is the reflection of your own weak faith in the mirror of the cosmos.
On the other hand, when you stand up with strong confidence, you will accrue limitless blessings.
While controlling your mind, which is both extremely subtle and solemnly profound, you should strive to elevate your faith with freshness and vigor. When you do so, both your life and your surroundings will open wide before you and every action you take will become a source of benefit.

Understanding the subtle workings of one’s mind is the key to faith and to attaining Buddhahood in
this lifetime.”My Dear Friends in America, pg. 99

Understanding and working with the subtle workings of one’s mind is particularly challenging when our outward circumstances seem to support our negative thinking. We have been born into a world where we learn about limitations and look to our circumstances to determine what we can do. We have not been taught, by our parents and our teachers or by the knowledge handed down the generations about how things work, to understand the power we have within to change any circumstance to create the results we want.

Everything is created twice, first in thought and then as a thing. We know this, but we don’t understand the power of it. We know that for a house to be built, an architect must first imagine it in thought, then create a blueprint, and then finally the physical house. We know this about physical things but don’t realize this same principle works with our lives as well.

As Nichiren says: “If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the
results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be
manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present” (WND-1, 279).

He’s saying we have the power to consciously create our lives as we wish them to be. We can also create a life we don’t want by accident if we are not aware and being conscious about what we are thinking.

If we look at his life we see this. Even though he didn’t see the results he wanted in his immediate circumstances, he never gave up. He remained committed to his efforts. He believed with absolute conviction that the causes he was making would manifest as effects in the future. He envisioned that there would come a day when the Mystic Law would flourish and people throughout the world would chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. And, of course, we know, his belief has been validated.

What we are doing with our training in Buddhism is to go against everything we have been taught about how the world works. We’re being taught not to look at our circumstances but to look to the power within that can find a way around any circumstance. So we all need to be patient and understand that this enormous degree of change is going to take time and support from one another. It’s why it’s called a practice.

Summary:

We discussed that we are one with the creative power of the universe and that what we think
consistently will manifest over time. Understanding how the mind works is important as it goes
against what we have been taught by society about how the world works.

Comments: 

As always, I love hearing from all of you, so keep the comments and ideas for topics coming.

 

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  • Nitin Ghuliani says:

    Wonderful explanation Margaret.
    Thank you so much..:)
    NMRK

  • Helen A D Shultz says:

    Hi Margaret,
    I apologize for the length of this comment.. I just recently started listening to and reading your vlogs/blogs and am finding them to be very valuable. I was a practicing Nicheren Soka Gakai Buddhist back in the late 80s into the early 90s and then stepped away from the practice for a variety of reasons. Thirty years later the imprint that NMRK and this Buddhism’s philosophy made on my life remains. I started chanting NMRK again back in the Fall with no conscious intention of reconnecting with the full practice and the Soka Gakai, but through reconnecting with a Buddhist friend from that time I’ve ended up doing just that. I am incredibly grateful that things have developed in this way. I really appreciated this vlog in particular because the subject matter hits home.

    It seems that in addition to manifesting the effects of one’s doubts in one’s environment, the effects also manifest in my own internal environment of my mind. These habitual thoughts that result in anxious feelings fuel more anxious thoughts…ad nauseum. I agree with the idea of reframing these types of thoughts into ones that affirm my oneness with the Mystic Law and the inherent power I have within me to create my best life. AND the years of thinking these kinds of negative and self doubting thoughts has resulted in me creating ingrained, habits of thinking/ negative thought karma that I think may be more challenging to change because they are so ingrained. Do you have any suggestions how best to approach chanting to support my efforts at building these new more positive thought habits?

    Thanks in advance. NMRK, Helen

    • Margaret Blaine says:

      I’m sure that the negative thoughts also produce anxiety. Our thoughts give rise to our feelings. When you notice your feelings, become the observer and notice what you’ve just been thinking. Then reframe it to something more positive. This will take time. I personally would keep a journal where you record your new more positive thoughts so you can repeat them to yourself. Repetition allows them to sink into the subconscious where they will replace the negative ones. I would also chant for a positive day each day and to know what you need to address.

    • Margaret Blaine says:

      Hi Helen,
      I have been doing a number of videos on this topic in the last few months. You are working at mastering the mind which is an important part of
      Buddhism. Learning not to look to circumstances but instead to rely on the Mystic Law is a big shift. it takes practice. Notice when you have gone into the weeds. Your feelings tell you, when you become anxious. Look at what you were thinking as your thoughts control your feelings.
      Then reframe your thinking to look at whatever issue it is without being anxious. For example if about to try something new tell yourself that you are anxious because you have ever done it before.
      Repetition and doing this over and over will help the anxiety to settle down and allow you to shift your thinking.
      When chanting chant for positive day, and project how you want it to work out.

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