Steps to Win the Spiritual Struggle When Confronting an Obstacle

Everyone faces problems and obstacles. So what do you do when a tough problem, arises?

What’s Your Reaction?

Do you throw up your hands and give in, or do you decide to challenge the problem? When you engage with a serious problem, something you aren’t sure you can overcome, you have entered into an invisible spiritual struggle.

Struggling With Doubt

It is the struggle between your doubt that you can win over the challenge, and having the confidence to dig in and surmount the obstacle no matter what.

To determine if you are struggling with doubt, ask yourself, “Am I facing this unsure I can succeed? Am I feeling as though I’m facing mountains of problems and feeling discouraged? Am I focusing on my concerns and anxieties about my situation rather than looking at the solution to my problem?

Doubt can rob you of your faith in the practice, but it also opens a path for a deeper and more meaningful practice when you do the things necessary to overcome it.

Handling Doubt

Raise Your Life Condition

If your doubt is uppermost, first you want to change your life condition so you feel more confident. This is the time to sit down and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to elevate your life state, until you feel yourself leaving negativity behind and feeling more positive. Depending on the depth of the challenge this might take a few minutes or chanting longer periods for several days.

Encourage Yourself

Remind yourself that encountering an obstacle is an opportunity not something negative. Challenging that obstacle will give you the opportunity to strengthen your life and have the experience that you have a Buddha nature. It’ll provide an opportunity to see yourself as the powerhouse you actually are, not as a weak, separated being who is easily defeated.

Read one of the promises in Nichren Daishonin’s letters to his followers. In Reply to Kyo’o, 1, p.412 he says, “Muster your faith, and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?” or from President Ikeda, in For Today and Tomorrow, p.349 …”Just as the sun rises every day, if you persistently advance based on the Mystic Law, the absolute law of the universe, you will definitely be able to lead a life in which all desires are fulfilled, a life that you cannot now ever conceive of.”

If doubt persists, make sure you go to a meeting and listen to other people’s experiences for encouragement. Read experiences in the World Tribune and Living Buddhism.

Talk to an experienced practitioner.

Chant with other people for that extra boost.

Master Thinking Negative Thoughts

Remind yourself of obstacles you’ve overcome in the past.

While chanting, ask yourself, “Why am I doubting? Is there some action I need to take that I’ve been avoiding? Taking an action you have been hesitant to take, can clear doubts away.

Look at whether this is a goal you really want.

When you find yourself descending into fears and worries, turn your attention to what you want.  Doubts will drop away when you envision your goal as already accomplished.

Challenge the Problem

When you feel confident, energetic and positive, sit down and chant as soon as possible with determination that you will overcome the problem and emerge victorious.

Take Action

Take action as thoughts on the next step come to you. Chanting plus action are the two legs to success.

Keep On Until Your Goal is Achieved

If you find yourself reluctant to follow through with an action, repeat the steps above to encourage yourself so you’ll have the courage to proceed. Continue until your goal is achieved

  • susan says:

    Finally! Thank you Margaret for your common sense approach to HOW to practice Buddhism. Clear steps is what I’ve been looking for for years since the newest phase of the organization. I like studying sensei’s guidance but often I can’t figure out quickly what to do about a problem except chant. I now have a better understanding about Doubt, how to think about it and chant about a solution instead of praying outside of myself.
    Margaret what made you write these books and blogs?? Just curious

  • Claudette E says:

    I agree with Susan
    Thank you for such straightforward guidance!
    Much needed for older members too!! I needed this!
    Please add me to your posts/blog!!
    Thank you

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