Food for thought

Zaimu Challenge

The Japanese word for mission (shimei) means to “use one’s life.” For what purpose do we use our lives? For what purpose have we been born in this world, sent for from the universe? ~Daisaku Ikeda

Some people spend years seeking, but never really finding, their mission. Others seem born understanding their place in the world. I believe each life, no matter how many breaths allotted on this this plane, is here to accomplish something. Perhaps  some are more fortunate than others in being able to discern (and even work to fulfill) their mission early in life.

When you can’t perceive your mission, you may feel your life is meaningless. But this is false. Reflecting on the events and the nature of your life can provide a window.

Even when, or especially when, your overwhelming experience is pain, you can find a way to use the events of your life to create more peace – for you and for those around you.

This is I think is the key from the statement above. It says “For what purpose do we use our lives?” This implies choice and effort rather than a passive anointing.

You needn’t await permission or a special phone call. You can look at your current circumstances and ask yourself, what can I do where I am, as I am? How can I create value here and now? Your answer may evolve over time, and based on your capabilities. It can be as simple as creating a more hopeful environment at work, or as complex as finding ways to eliminate lupus.

The point is to use your life in a contributive way. In so doing, you can better discern what you can do best; how you can help best.

For what purpose do you use your life today? How will you develop yourself to do even more tomorrow?

Quote of the day

Text Talk

You must never slacken in your efforts to build new lives for yourselves. Creativeness means pushing open the heavy door to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the hardest task in the world. For opening the door to your own life is more difficult than opening the doors
to the mysteries of the universe.
~Daisaku Ikeda

Plot Twist!

Spirituality, Temple Building

In My Dear Friends in America, Daisaku Ikeda wrote:

“You are the playwright of your own victory.  You are also the play’s hero.  Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players” (As You like It, act II, scene vii, line 139).

Buddhism teaches us that the individual writes and performs the script for his or her own life.  Neither chance nor a divine being writes the script for us.  We write it, and we are the actors who play it.

Despite the fact that we can take responsibility for our lives and plot out the life we’d like to live, there’s no getting around the fact that some things are simply out of our control. Even in a real stage play, props fail, actors forget their lines, and any number of things happen that could disrupt the beauty of a carefully crafted script.

Then what?

It’s a cliché to say attitude is everything, but it certainly does count for quite a bit.

When acting out the drama of your life, sometimes you have to improvise until the story gets back on track.

Sages, worthies and resolve

30 Day Blog Challenge

I attended a monthly Word Peace Prayer Meeting for my Buddhist sect yesterday. During the meeting, Alvin Munson shared a faith-based experience about personal development and living his dream of being a writer.  He shared several meaningful quotes that struck a chord with me.

The essence of what he said is based on guidance from Daisaku Ikeda: Faith means setting goals. View faith as a process that leads to success. The resolve to accomplish your goal is what counts.

In Nichiren Buddhism, personal development, also known as human revolution, often hinges on the resolve to take action. The resolve to begin when circumstances seem daunting. The resolve to continue when things are tough. The resolve to begin again after a major setback. Faith, in essence, is about believing in your ability to persevere.

It’s not the belief that you can magically avoid obstacles. After all, Nichiren wrote, “No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies.” But striving onward, resolved to win over your own weaknesses is the crux of Buddhist faith. The question is, how can I develop my life and expand my capacity to accomplish my goals? It’s not about besting others, but ultimately about besting ourselves.

What are you resolved to accomplish this month? This year? This lifetime? How will you grow in order to be successful?

A word on hope. #NaBloPoMo #Buddhism.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Spirituality, Temple Building

NaBloPoMo March 2013What is your philosophy of life? Does it involve action, momentum, value creation and good cheer? Is it passive, reactive, somber? Quality of life is more about how we decide to live, rather than what happens to us in the living of it. There’s risk in choosing to live optimistically. We can’t predict or control the hurricanes or floods, the disappointing diagnoses, the betrayals. Sometimes we don’t see that knock out punch coming, and there we are dazed, contemplating the wisdom of standing. The decisions we make in difficult moments are grounded in our approach to life.

I advocate a philosophy of hope. It’s funny, because I’ve often said, “hope is not a strategy.” But that’s incomplete. What I mean is hope is not going to write your paper, deliver your presentation, or mend strained relationships. Hope doesn’t take the action steps required for living day-to-day.

But having hope can keep you facing forward, looking on the bright side of a dark moment. It can feed your courage so you can regroup and try again tomorrow. Hope ensures you don’t give up at the crucial moment, when time is still left on the clock.

Hope is for the living.

We must face each issue that crops up, without flinching, solve it, overcome it and move on to the next. That is what human life is really about. That is what it is to be alive. When you triumph over your sufferings, they will all be transformed into joy. And you yourself will grow and expand.

“Despair is the refuge of fools,” goes the saying. As long as you hold on tightly to hope, as long as you take earnest actions to fight, you can be sure that spring will come again. A Russian proverb says, “There is no winter in the kingdom of hope.”

~Daisaku Ikeda in Goya

Spinning Wheels

Personal Narrative, Productivity

Let’s make big goals.
Every day, be clear about
the task at hand.
Ambiguity and ambivalence
are the cause for spinning one’s
wheels and getting nowhere.
Challenge yourself unremittingly
until you seize victory and success.

~Daisaku Ikeda, Nichiren Buddhist philosopher

Lately, I have not been clear about the tasks at hand. I have neither reviewed, revisited, nor reconsidered my goals, big or otherwise. There are certain tasks I must complete for my job, and those are easy to acknowledge and accomplish. But it’s the personal work I’ve neglected as of late. My writing. My teaching. Healing work.

I’ve let things slide.

The result? Days like today: a day in which I have the time and freedom to delve into pleasing topics, but no sense of joy because I’m rather unfocused. Haphazard. Today felt as though I were driving around in circles. I was obviously moving, but wasn’t really going anywhere.

I’ve talked a bit in recent weeks about what I’ll now call personal victory strategies (PVS). I conceive of them as strategies that work for sure. When you implement them, you are productive and are able to accomplish great things.

For various reasons, we I often engage in a bit of self sabotage. Fully aware of what works, I choose, inexplicably, to turn a blind eye and do something else!  One tried and true PVS is listing. I’ve made lists since I was a kid. In fact, I used them religiously, much to the consternation of my mother who thought I was a bit too obsessive with them.  “Are you okay?” she’d sometimes ask when she saw me brooding over yet another list.

Listing is my favorite PVS.

No one taught me to list. I simply thought of all the things I wanted to do in a given time period (hours, days, weeks, or even years), and I jotted them down. It was natural to me. I always knew exactly what to do, and I could just go do it. I’d cross things out, and when I got about half way through it, I’d rewrite it, revising as needed.

I remind myself of this particular PVS when I feel out of sorts, and after a day like today, it’s definitely time to implement it once again. Tonight and tomorrow I’ll be reviewing, revisiting, reconsidering my 2012 goals. I’ll list specific action items so I can move toward my goals with clarity and focus.

So tell me, what are some of your personal victory strategies?