The primary intent of the Buddha was to help every person achieve the same enlightened state he had achieved – in this lifetime. A quote from the Lotus Sutra reads:
At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings,
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?
In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha preached several parables to illustrate the universality of his teachings – some specifically to demonstrate how women and evil people were not excluded from the realm of enlightenment or Buddhahood. In the present day, we extend the egalitarian spirit of Buddhism to include all people, all “living beings.”
Because every person possess the Buddha nature, every person is equally deserving of respect. To disrespect another human being is to disrespect ourselves. Buddhism does not teach “every person is equal, every person is the same. Obviously, every person is different. We are all born into different circumstances, with different abilities, different skills, different talents, and different challenges facing us in life. If we were all the same, we would be living in a world of robots!
However, Buddhism teaches that every person deserves to be treated with the same dignity, the same respect. When we disrespect others or disrespect ourselves, we lose sight of the path to happiness in this lifetime.
I met a young woman a few days ago at my Buddhist center. After chanting, she showed me the first few pages of an essay written by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda about one of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings – a writing titled Happiness In This World. She only had a portion of the essay and wanted to know where she could obtain the remaining few pages. I mentioned that I had a copy of the essay collection and would bring it to her next week. I returned home and reflected on the writing’s title, Happiness In This World.
What does this mean? Happiness in this world. How are we supposed to be happy in the present? In this lifetime? In the here and now? How can we be happy without longing for the past, without waiting for a better tomorrow, without regret or wondering what might have happened if we had done everything differently. Where is happiness in this world? All too often we are looking for it in the wrong place. As President Ikeda states, “In every case, whether we feel happy or unhappy ultimately depends on us. No one else can make us happy.”
– Learning From the Gosho: The Eternal Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin
I read the writing this morning before taking my dog for a walk. It’s a fairly short writing, and the key message to take from it is the idea that no one can avoid problems or sufferings in their lives. No one has a perfect life. Nichiren writes, “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, no matter what happens.”
Although many days, my problems seem unbearable and never-ending, I try to keep hope alive through my Buddhist faith, my friends and my family. I’ve resolved to start writing on a regular basis. After I completed my memoir, I didn’t have a reason to write every afternoon. Over the past few weeks, I realized that I need to keep writing on a regular basis. This helps give me a feeling of accomplishment and I don’t feel like I’m just sitting around waiting for things to change. I have a lot of “works in progress,” so it’s not as if I’m lacking topics to write about. It’s kind of like the old Nike ad, “Just Do It!” Sometimes I just have to open up the laptop, get off the internet, and write.
Writing is definitely part of my happiness in this world.
The most wonderful aspect of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is the teaching of gender equality found in the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha of ancient India taught in the Lotus Sutra that all livings beings possess within them the world of Buddhahood, or enlightenment. Shakyamuni Buddha lived in an incredibly discriminatory society, yet he preached the equality of all people, regardless of sex, social status, or wealth. He taught that discriminating against another person is the same as discriminating against ourselves.
Discrimination, racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia are still alive and well in the U.S. today. We see it on the evening news every night. From the recently expelled University of Oklahoma students, to the newly released Department of Justice report that found Ferguson police and courts’ abusive behavior disproportionately targeted African-Americans. There are just as many instances of discrimination which target other racial/ethnic groups, gays and lesbians, and or course, women.
2015 isn’t so different from Shakyamuni’s time. “Shakyamuni was seen as a dangerous person by conservative elements of society who stood by the status quo.” This is exactly what happened when Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan in October 2012. The Taliban viewed Malala as a dangerous person who was advocating for a girl’s right to an education, something they do not believe in. The Taliban, and many other conservative sectors of society, whether they be political, religious, or social, appear to fear equality in all its forms.
Barnes & Noble has taken their NOOK version of my memoir off of their website, per my request it is no longer available for purchase. Thank you.
March 12, 2015
Hello! I recently discovered that Barnes & Noble has made a NOOK version of my memoir, Never Give Up, available on BN.com. The NOOK ebook is an UNAUTHORIZED electronic version of my memoir. Barnes & Noble does NOT have my permission to sell my memoir as a NOOK ebook. I don’t have a contract with Barnes & Noble, & therefore receive no royalties from their NOOK sales of my memoir. This constitutes copyright infringement on the part of Barnes & Noble. Please do not buy the NOOK version of my memoir until this matter has been resolved. The Kindle version of Never Give Up is available on Amazon. Thank you!
I started my first million daimoku campaign (chanting/prayer campaign) on June 1st, 2010.
I wrote down three goals in my small prayer booklet:
This was the first time I started to chant and pray specifically about the problem I faced in my life that involved the people who harassed and stalked me constantly – the insane people whose voices I constantly heard in my head. My prayer booklet was filled with encouraging quotes that reassured me along the way, and I finished this daimoku campaign on December 1st, 2011, approximately one and a half years later. On the last page of my daimoku tracking booklet I wrote, “Changed my life.”
While I had changed my life after completing my first million daimoku campaign, I had not even approached the amount of chanting, prayer, effort, self-reflection, internal change, and courage I would need to get to where I am today. The very next day, December 2nd, 2011, I started my second million daimoku campaign towards my goal of resolving the situation of the people in my life who were a constant threat and a constant danger.
I wrote down more goals in my new prayer booklet:
I finished my second prayer campaign on April 11th, 2013 and started my third prayer campaign with a new set of goals, the most important of which was to never give up.
I finished this daimoku campaign on April 24th, 2014. I self-published my memoir during the summer of 2014, did my best to self-promote the memoir, and began work on a children’s press called SundanceKid Press. On April 25th, 2014 I started my fourth million daimoku campaign with a few new goals, and a few continuing goals that still had not been resolved.
Currently, I have about one week to go to finish my fourth million daimoku campaign, depending on how many hours I chant each day. I feel that after all these years, I am finally approaching victory. I am determined to achieve every one of my goals, and I have absolute conviction that I will definitely do so. I believe that when I finish this campaign, this nightmare will be over. Buddhism is about victory or defeat, and I will achieve victory!