I Have Come a Long Way Baby
It is so easy to turn away from our life difficulties. To turn our backs, put up walls and shields and hold fast, defenses up. It is much harder to turn those troubles, challenges, injustices and disappointments into fuel for our own growth and learning, seeing them instead as opportunities to study ourselves a little closer and turn hardship into benefit. This year has been a revelation of sorts – of myself, to myself. How I think, how I operate, how I instantly react to things all have become a focus of my gaze as I attempt to crawl out from under my own heavy burdens. A chance introduction at the Mussel Inn last summer has brought a cherished new friend into my life and it has been through conversation with her that I have come to look at many things differently.
This friend is a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, a form of Buddhism I had not encountered before her. The practice includes daily daimoku (chanting) of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo which, when chanted, allows people to ‘directly tap their enlightened nature’ and express the lifestate of Buddhahood which all people inherently possess, a key concept in the Lotus Sutra. Of course it also follows the teachings and study relevant to the faith as well as the altruistic action and thought we mostly tend to associate with Buddhism in general. At first I approached this part of her life with apprehension disguised in the usual way- closed mind and a gentle refusal to try it out myself. However, as this year has progressed, my understanding of the practice and the principles behind it has expanded and I have also welcomed the great benefits of her wisdom. Through unraveling myself, my thoughts and my actions in her presence, actively seeking change, she has steadfastly encouraged me to create my own internal revolution – to transform my life and chant for what I want. By example she has led from the heart, turning challenge into opportunity in many ways, using the practice as the fuel to her fire.
At this point I myself do not have a daily practice, though I do join her for chanting and discourse every week or two, weaving those diamonds into the tapestry of my life. The biggest gift she has given me though is a kind of sincere encouragement to figure out what exactly I DO want in my life. She acts as the hand at my back, gently pushing me to voice it, that I CAN have what I want and DESERVE to! This in itself has been confronting, and what I thought I really wanted has also transformed. In some ways I am reminded of the theories behind the Law of Attraction and Manifestation – identifying and focusing on the things I really want in my life, but realising that what I ask for might just happen. She has also rallied me to not feel defeated but instead to use those very difficult life events, situations, relationships and encounters as something to draw upon to better understand myself. To use that learning to generate benefit in my own life and perhaps even other’s.
So as I stare down the barrel of another family Christmas, summertime temptations and my own ongoing personal challenges – I rally hard and cry out from the heart for something more, something magnificent! For me AND FOR YOU.