Can a religion that doesn’t have rules and commandments keep practitioners on the straight and narrow?
The purpose of Buddhism is to make people free in the most profound sense; its purpose is not to restrict and constrain. This means that in Nichiren Buddhsim as practiced in the SGI, the worldwide lay organization, there are no rules, no commandments.
Don’t you need rules so that people will not commit bad behavior?
When you think about it, have outside rules ever stopped people from behaving badly? They are certainly guides to indicate what kind of behaviors lead to suffering. But, if someone wants something enough, they will just go around the rules. What you hope to establish is an internal state of life which naturally enables you choose to do the right thing when faced with a choice.
In Nichiren Buddhism, you are taught a chanting practice, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When you chant you connect with the enlightened core of your life, your Buddha Nature. When you tap into that enlightened level of life on a daily basis, your life naturally becomes progressive and grows in the direction of a more positive state of life. Then you have the tendency to select positive behavior, when faced with a choice.
Buddhism also teaches the principle of cause and effect and how it works in your life. It reinforces positive choices. I will discuss this in another post.
How does Buddhism explain the evil and negativity in the world?
Buddhism doesn’t deny the negative side exists: we all have the potentials of both good and evil. But Buddhism teaches that the center of your life is the universal level, your higher self. The dark side surfaces when you are disconnected from your enlightened nature. All negativity, all dark behavior, comes from this essential ignorance, doubt and disbelief.
When you are disconnected, then you believe that the ways of the world are the only way, that you have to use negative methods to get what you want. You see this every day in the newspapers, from the negative attack ads in elections, to people undercutting human rights, exploiting people for money, torturing them, fighting wars, all done to establish themselves and gain money and power.
Tap into That Universal Energy to Solve Problems
When you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you discover a way to connect with that universal energy that exists within you to meet these daily life challenges. Then you can use the deep wisdom in that universal connection to handle life’s challenges and problems successfully. You also optimize your life force so you have the energy to achieve your goals and become happy.
Since the battle between positive and negative forces exists within our lives, having the boost from chanting allows us to remain on the positive side when having to make a choice between one or the other.
Do You Really believe a chanting practice can make this kind of difference?
Yes, I do. I’ve seen it over and over. I know it’s very foreign to our western culture and thinking. Talking about it is not enough. You need to chant and have the experience of what happens in your life to see how it works.
I would challenge you to try it for ninety days and see what you think. In Nichiren Buddhism you can expect you to see your life change and move forward in a positive direction within that 90 day period. Prove it to yourself