Change Starts from Prayer

Nichiren Daishonin writes:

The prayers offered by a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra will be answered just as an echo answers a sound, as a shadow follows a form, as the reflection of the moon appears in clear water, as a mirror collects dewdrops, as a magnet attracts iron, as amber attracts particles of dust, or as a clear mirror reflects the color of an object. (WND-1, 340)

Life

I watched a few episodes of Lisa Ling’s “This is Life” last year and the title of her TV show made me think of the circumstances we presently face. I’ve often thought over the years that my (our) battle is one of truth and justice or good versus evil. I felt out numbered all these years in the fight for justice, when it seemed the evil was stronger than the good. Last week I realized that this battle is also for life itself.

In Buddhism, life encompasses both birth and death as well as both sentient and insentient beings. The term “Buddha” or “Buddhahood” literally means “enlightened one,” but also means life in its purest form. Buddhahood – described as a state of life that is free, open, and harmonious – is achieved by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Although I never gave much thought as to how I would describe this state of life (Buddhahood), Second SGI President Toda described his feelings after attaining his realization in prison:

It is like lying on your back in a wide open space looking up at the sky with arms and legs outstretched. All that you wish for immediately appears. No matter how much you may give away, there is always more. It is never exhausted.

“Living Buddhism” February 2017, p. 13

The image this brings to mind is one of a young child lying in a grassy field on a summer day staring up at the blue sky and the white clouds. The last two sentences make me think of love: “No matter how much you may give away, there is always more. It is never exhausted.”

“No matter how much love you may give away, there is always more love. It is never exhausted.” Love isn’t something we run out of, or only have in limited supply. It can be given to or shared with one person or many. I think we have an unlimited amount of love to share with each other.

Dust If You Must

DUST IF YOU MUST

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better

To paint a picture or write a letter,

Bake a cake or plant a seed,

Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,

With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,

Music to hear and books to read,

Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there,

With the sun in your eyes , the wind in your hair,

A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.

This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,

Old age will come and it’s not kind.

And when you go – and go you must –

You, yourself, will make more dust.

Forever and Anon

Beach Bonfire

The Eternity of Life

When I was younger, I remembered this quote from a passage of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings: “One should first study death before all other matters.” Perhaps death isn’t a very cheerful matter to delve into, but I did this in college with another book on Buddhism, “Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death: A Buddhist View of Life.” This book provided me with a much greater understanding of both life and death, and I have relied on this view since that time. From a Buddhist perspective, life is eternal and birth and death are both part of eternal life.

“The life of a human being is fleeting. The exhaled breath never waits for the inhaled one. Even dew before the wind is hardly a sufficient metaphor. It is the way of the world that whether one is wise or foolish, old or young, one never knows what will happen to one from one moment to the next. Therefore I should first of all learn about death, and then about other things.”

The Importance of the Moment of Death, WND II p. 297

When we’re young, we give little thought to growing old or the reality of death. For many people, death and dying is their greatest fear, others give no thought to how they live.

President Ikeda summarizes the importance of being true to ourselves succinctly: “Death will come to each of us some day. We can die having fought hard for our beliefs and convictions, or we can die having failed to do so. Since the reality of death is the same in either case, isn’t it far better that we set out on our journey toward the next existence in high spirits with a bright smile on our faces, knowing that in everything we did, we did the very best we could, thrilling with the sense ‘That was truly an interesting life’?” (“The Buddha in Your Mirror” p. 202).

“Buddhist Concept for Today’s Living” Living Buddhism October 1, 2001 p. 6

(more…)