In this issue, we look at the concept of Being in the Moment and what this means for practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.
There are many articles, books, pod-casts available all telling us what it means and the best way to be “in the moment”. As our Special Features mentions, when we chant, it is important to “be in the moment”. As we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we should not dwell on the past but rather focus on the moment with strong determination for what we want to accomplish to create the best future possible. In order to achieve that, it is important for us to have a correct attitude while we chant. SGI President Ikeda says:
“To be bound by the causes of the past and lament their effects in the present makes for an unhappy life. While it is true in a certain respect that the present is the result of past causes, by elevating our life-state in the present, our negative past causes are transformed into positive ones. There is no need for us to be prisoners of the past; in fact, we can even change to past.
The moment our mind-set changes, we create a cause in the present that can definitely transform the effect manifested in the future. Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of the sun. It is a philosophy of hope that enables us to transform the present and realize a bright future. Those who embrace this philosophy need never feel despondent or hopeless. They need never give in to complaint. What matters is our inner resolve right now.”
We trust that you will find the features article beneficial as it assists you in renewing your determination and becoming fully focused on this very moment of life.
We continue to publish the very inspiring guidance series The Wisdom For Creating Happiness And Peace.
President Ikeda has consistently emphasized the Daishonin’s teaching that “It is the heart that is important,” the philosophy that forms the basis for human revolution. What is the essence of the life state of Buddhahood that we are aiming to achieve? How do we reveal our Buddha nature? This installment presents valuable guidance about fundamentally transforming our state of life. We hope that you will read and re-read this chapter, embrace and understand it with your heart.
We hope that you will be inspired and enjoy your life, moment by moment in the now.
Quote of the Month:
“Invisible radio waves travel vast distances throught space. In the same way, our inner determination activates the forces in the universe.”
–Daisaku Ikeda - Buddhism For you -Determination p.40
Thank you once again for picking up this issue of Harmony.
As you will read in General Director Ng’s editorial, the month of July is traditionally regarded as the “month of youth”. It was in July of 1951that both the young men’s and young women’s divisions were established. Marking this occasion, the youth divisions of Hong Kong SGI will hold their respective commemorative meetings.
As President Ikeda reminds us in his editorial this month:
“The courage of youth is matchless—if fears nothing. The courage of youth is limitless—it never gives up.” Let’s all do our very best to support our youth division as they hold their much-anticipated meetings.
In this issue we explore the Lotus Sutra’s message that each and every one of us is the Treasure Tower. Nichiren Daishonin viewed the treasure tower as an allegory for human life in its enlightened state, achieved through the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
We are proud to reprint an excellent article, The Invisible Reflection, by the late Shin Yatomi, former SGI-USA Study Department Chief and author of the book Buddhism in a New Light. This insightful article touches upon the need for us to “better see ourselves in the mirror of the Gohonzon.” Shin reminds us that “When we pray to the Gohonzon, we must reach into our own lives for the hidden gem of Buddhahood”.
Our experiences this month are very inspiring and demonstrate that with strong faith, solid determination and lots of chanting, anyone can change poison into medicine and win.
Just a reminder to make sure you renew your subscription to Harmony, that way you will not miss any of the continuing series by President Ikeda, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace. These installments are extremely encouraging and a must read for everyone, members and non-members alike.
We sincerely hope you will be inspired by the content in this issue, and that it will move you to tap into and reveal your own treasure tower!
Quote of the Month:
“We have both a weak self and a strong self; the two are completely different. If we allow our weak side to dominate, we will surely be defeated.” –www.ikedaquotes.orgDear Members and Friends of SGI,
Every year, since 1983, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda writes and publishes a peace proposal that is presented to the United Nations. Each proposal has a key theme that focuses on global issues affecting politicians, policy makers and individuals alike. Overall these proposals explore the interrelation between core Buddhist concepts and the diverse challenges global society faces in the effort to realize peace and human security. In addition, President Ikeda has made proposals touching on specific issues affecting society such as education reform, the environment, the United Nations and nuclear abolition. The proposals frequently illustrate the crucial importance of dialogue as a means to break through deadlock in world affairs.
This month we are pleased to present a synopsis of President Ikeda’s 2015 Peace Proposal – A Shared Pledge for a More Humane Future: To Eliminate Misery from the Earth. We hope you will enjoy reading this overview and that it will inspire you to read the entire Peace Proposal, which can be found at http://www.sgi.org/sgi-president/proposals/peace/peace-proposal-2015.html.
As President has stated “The key to solving all our problems—whether it be building a secure and lasting peace, protecting our environment, or overcoming economic difficulties—is to cast off apathy and preconceived notions that lead us too view a situation as unsolvable or unavoidable. Problems caused by human beings can be solved by human beings.”
“Peace is not simply the absence of war; it is a state in which people come together in mutual trust and live with joy, energy, and hope. This is the polar opposite of war—where people live plagued by hatred and the fear of death.”
We hope you will enjoy and be inspired by this month’s issue of Harmony.
Quotes of the Month:
“Prayer entails an intense challenge to believe in yourself and stop diminishing yourself. To belittle yourself is to disparage Buddhism and the Buddha within your life.” -www.ikedaquotes.org
This month we are pleased to present you with a great special features regarding the long awaited upcoming exhibition “The Lotus Sutra – A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence” that will be held in May of this year at the HKSGI Culture Center.
This exhibition, organized by the Institute of Oriental Philosophy and the HKSGI, highlights the history of the importance given to the Lotus Sutra and explains why it has been widely accepted by various cultures over time.
In addition to the texts, visitors will be able to see reproductions and replicas of various artifacts related to the transmission of the Lotus Sutra.
As explained on page 26 in this months Buddhist Concepts column, “A core theme of the sutra is the idea that all people equally and without exception possess the ‘Buddha nature.’ The message of the Lotus Sutra is to encourage people’s faith in their own Buddha nature, their own inherent capacity for wisdom, courage and compassion.”
We hope that everyone, members and non-members alike, will have a chance to visit the Lotus Sutra Exhibition.
Also this month we celebrate the establishment of Nichiren Buddhism. On April 28, 1253 Nichiren Daishonin first chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Having widely studied all the Buddhist sutras, Nichiren concluded that the Lotus Sutra contains the ultimate truth of Buddhism: that everyone without exception has the potential to attain Buddhahood.
The title of the Lotus Sutra in its Japanese translation is Myoho-renge-kyo. But to Nichiren, Myoho-renge-kyo was far more that the title of a Buddhist text, is was the expression, in words, of the Law of life which all Buddhist teachings in one way or another seek to clarify.
Because of his compassion for all humanity, Nichiren provided a means by which all people could fundamentally change their lives, that of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
As President Ikeda reminds us: “Life is an everlasting struggle with ourselves. It is a tug of war between moving forward and regressing, between happiness and unhappiness. Outstanding individuals didn’t become great overnight. They disciplined themselves to overcome their weaknesses, to conquer their lack of caring and motivation until they became true victories in life. One reason Buddhist chat Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day is to develop strong will and discipline and, along with those, the ability to tackle any problem seriously with the determination to overcome it.”
We hope that you will enjoy this issue of Harmony as you deepen your faith and understanding of this great Buddhism.
Quotes of the Month:
“Metal has the power to cut down trees and plants, and water has the power to extinguish any kind of fire. In like manner, the Lotus Sutra has the power to bring all living beings to the state of Buddhahood.” –WND, p.512
You will also find within our pages a number of excellent lectures and guidance’s by President Ikeda.
Our Special Features this month is a great address he gave at the First SGI-USA Youth General Meeting held in San Francisco, titled “The Key to Humanity’s Fundamental Problems”. In it you will find some inspiring words on how to cultivate a never give up spirit, be victorious in life and raise the next generation.
Also in this issue we continue with the sixth chapter of the fantastic series “The Widom for Creating Happiness and Peace”, in which President Ikeda talks about “The Path to Absolute Happiness”.
Our Youth Study Session continues this month with the second part of “Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin-Advancing with the Spirit of Many in Body, One in Mind”. In this dialogue, President Ikeda talks with some Youth Division Leaders in Japan about our organization, promoting worldwide kosen-rufu and how to overcome all obstacles. This is a very insightful discussion that should be read by all members, not just the youth division.
In the SGI, youth is not exclusive to the young. We are constantly encouraged to develop and maintain a youthful spirit in our daily life and Buddhist practice, no matter what our age. Keeping curious and open to new experiences, continuously studying and making sure that we are not set in our ways are all qualities of being a youthful person.
Fostering the youth is an idea that is held not just by the Soka Gakkai.
President Ikeda reminds us of this when he says: “Rosa Parks, the highly respected civil rights activist, said that she derived her greatest pleasure from working with and for youth. Let us, too, joyfully and wholeheartedly exert ourselves in the task of nurturing the messengers of the future, our precious youth.”
We hope that your find this issue of Harmony inspiring as we all cultivate a youthful spirit.
Quotes of the Month:
“What is youth? It is the inner strength not to stagnate or grow resistant to change but to stay open to new possibilities. It is the power of the spirit that refuses to succumb to complacency and strives ever forward.”
This month we look at the Buddhist concept of The Eight Winds.
All too often we can be swayed by our environment. After all, we are only human. If we are not careful, external influences can become the only thing that determines how we act and feel. Quite frequently, our happiness is based on what is happening to and around us. But as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we realize that we have the means to become absolutely happy, regardless of the circumstances we might find ourselves in. We don’t have to succumb to the turbulent winds of our environment or let someone else determine our happiness. We should not to be swayed by our attachment to prosperity, honor, praise, or pleasure (the four favorable winds), or by our aversion to decline, disgrace, censure, or suffering (the four adverse winds).
Regardless of our circumstances, we should not have any doubt in he power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (daimoku) or in our prayers.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
“Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. Do not have doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples moning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith.”
Our Buddhist practice has the power to transform any suffering of disappointment into joy. It can also help prevent a victory from becoming the source for a defeat.
As President Ikeda reminds us in this month’s editorial, “That’s why we must always put daimoku first, whatever the situation. A person who chants strong and consistent daimoku will never be deadlocked.”
Let’s challenge each day with abundant daimoku that is like the roar of a lion king!
Quotes of the Month:
“Never conduct yourself in a shameful manner. Be unmoved by greed, by the desire for fame, or by anger.”
Happy New Year in the “Year of Dynamic Development in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu”! On behalf of the Harmony Team we wish you a wonderful 2015 and look forward to your continuing patronage in the coming year.
The beginning of the year is traditionally a time when people the world over set new goals and renew their determinations for the coming year.
As members of the SGI, we are encouraged to set lofty goals for our lives. At the same time, not just focusing on ourselves, we also include the well-being of others when making our resolutions. As Buddhists, we recognize and embrace the concept of the interconnectedness of all things. Thus, it is not simply a wish for the environment and all those in it to thrive, but it is a crucial part of our own well-being and happiness.
Members of SGI strive to spread the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, which places the highest priority on respect for the dignity of human beings and indeed, all life. And as we strive in our human revolution, such inner transformations will lead to absolute happiness for ourselves and ultimately for society, far and wide.
As President Ikeda says in his New Year’s Message, we are “committed to spreading the SGI’s hope-filled philosophy of respect for the dignity of life even more widely throughout our blue planet, the grand stage of our endeavors.”
As members of the SGI, we speak again and again about the great mission of kosen-rufu. We have dedicated this issue of Harmony to explain this concept in greater depth and to help clarify what it is and is not.
President Ikeda has written:”Kosen-rufu means sharing with our fellow human beings through heart-to-heart dialogue and friendship, striving together with them to find the way to become better and happier people. That alliance of individuals working for the happiness of all constitutes kosen-rufu.”
We have a daily practice, which effectively makes every day like New Year’s Day – an opportunity to start afresh with hope and determination. In light of that, I would like to close with the following two quotes.
“Be bold, Be bold, and everywhere, be bold.”
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
Quotes of the Month:
“In Buddhism, we either win or lose-there is no middle ground. Now and in the future, let us advance, determined to win in every sphere of our lives. By winning in our lives, we advance kosen-rufu; and by advancing kosen-rufu, we win in our lives.” - Daisaku Ikeda FIA p.74
This month we look at Earthly Desires and how, when viewed correctly, they can help us become happy.
“When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our problems and sufferings all turn into energy for our happiness, into fuel for our enlightenment.”
Growing up in the US, my exposure to Buddhism was limited and shaped by what I saw on TV, in the movies, and what little I read. I thought that “being a Buddhist” meant you had to change your diet, how you dress, live a monastic lifestyle, and give up all worldly possessions and desires. But after I started to practice and study Nichiren Buddhism, I came to realize that this common view was incorrect. It is possible to be a Buddhist and want things in life. We are, after all, human. I can’t tell you the number of times that someone has said to me “funny, you don’t look like a Buddhist”.
As President Ikeda mentions:
“Buddhism teaches the principle that ‘earthly desires are enlightenment.’ To explain this very simply, ‘earthly desires’ refers to suffering and to the desires and cravings that cause suffering, while ‘enlightenment’ refers to attaining a vast and expansive state of absolute happiness.
“Normally, one would assume that earthly desires and enlightenment are separate and distinct-especially since suffering would seem to be the exact opposite of happiness. But this is not the case in Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches that only by igniting the firewood of earthly desires can the flame of happiness be attained.
“As a result, our lives are infused with the light and energy of happiness. Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we burn the firewood of our earthly desires.”
It is important that we really grasp and understand this principal.
Nichiren Daishonin wrote a letter titled “Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment” in order to emphasize the importance of this core principle to all of us and to ensure that, through strong faith, we are able to view Earthly Desires in the correct light and lead lives of absolute happiness and freedom based on this awareness.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Harmony.
Quotes of the Month:
“Prayer is the courage to persevere. It is the struggle to overcome our own weakness and lack of confidence in ourselves. It is the act of impressing in the very depths of our being the conviction that we can change the situation without fail.” –www.ikedaquotes.org
Cultivating and maintaining an attitude of gratitude is a lifelong process. It appears that our brains are programmed to have much deeper memory and faster recollection for negative experiences than happy ones. Scientific research shows this again and again as a basic and wide-ranging principle of psychology. It is perhaps meant as an evolutionary protective mechanism to remind and stop us from repeating some situations.
Other research shows that happy people are those who have the ability to set aside negative experiences and recall more of their positive experiences. So what marks the difference between a happy and an unhappy person is not the amount of either positive or negative situations they experience, but the way they focus their attention on the positive rather than the negative.
In Buddhism we do not judge events as either positive or negative; we look at situations from the perspective of the Ten Worlds, and depending in which life-state we dwell, we regard our circumstances accordingly. Our life-state is ever changing and without a solid Buddhist practice, we can easily be swayed from a state of perfect bliss and happiness into a deep and dark depression triggered by our thoughts and circumstances.
So how do we get out of the negativity loop and develop this “Attitude of Gratitude”? President Ikeda says: “Viewing events and situations in a positive light is important. The strength, wisdom and cheerfulness that accompany such an attitude lead to happiness. To regard everything in a positive light or with a spirit of goodwill, however, does not mean being foolishly gullible and allowing people to take advantage of our good nature. It means having the wisdom and perception to move things in a positive direction by seeing things in their best light while all the time keeping our eyes firmly focused on reality.”
We need wisdom and a strong Buddhist practice fueled with both study and abundant chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to lift our life condition to the point where we truly appreciate everything about ourselves and around us. When we see the world with the Buddha’s eyes, we cannot help but be filled with absolute gratitude for our life and the great mission we have.
Quotes of the Month:
“What can we say, then, of persons who are devoting themselves to Buddhism? Surely they should not forget the debts of gratitude they owe to their parents, their teachers, and their country. But if one intends to repay these great debts of gratitude, one can hope to do so only if one learns and masters Buddhism, becoming a person of wisdom.”
(WND1 On Repaying Debts of Gratitude p.690)
We often associate the setting of goals, determinations, and making a fresh start to coincide with New Year celebrations – the big time to reset the clocks and our life. In reality, every day and every moment is an opportunity for a fresh start.
We get up in the morning , brush our teeth and wash our faces, making a clean, fresh start to the day for our body. We make our beds and tidy the house, to ensure it is all nice and fresh. We even reboot our electronics on a regular basis to ensure the best performance.
But what do we do about our mind? Are our thoughts fresh? Is our mind open to approach each new day with vigor and joy, or does it remain dull and cluttered with thoughts and worries about yesterday, tomorrow and beyond? Even though we know that dwelling on the past does not resolve any problems of the future, human nature is such that we ignore all the positive opportunities ahead and instead look back and frequently ask ourselves why this, why that, why me?
Nichiren Buddhism teaches that no matter what our situation, no matter how deep and dark our despair, we are reassured, that the moment we chant Nan-myoho-renge-kyo, our life expands and we infuse our life with the wisdom of the Buddha and move forward in a positive direction. Buddhism is reason and manifests in daily life, so let’s celebrate our life with vibrant gongyo and chanting of Nam-myoho-regnge-kyo so that all our actions become the Buddha’s work.
Our daily gongyo is the point of starting afresh. As President Ikeda says:
“When we do gongyo and chant daimoku, we conduct a ceremony in which we praise Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the law of the universe, and the Buddha. We also praise the eternal life of the universe, and the world of Buddhahood in our own lives.
[When we chant to the Gohonzon] right then and there the doors of the microcosm within us open completely to the macrocosm, and we can experience a great and serene sense of happiness, as though gazing out over the entire universe. We savor tremendous fulfillment and joy, and gain access to a great and all-embracing wisdom. The microcosm of our lives that is encompassed by the universe in turn encompasses the entire universe.”
We sincerely hope that the contributions and articles in this issue will inspire you to re-determine your goals and focus on positive changes in your life.
Let’s make it a fresh start, every day to create value!
Quotes of the Month:
“Gongyo revitalizes us from the very depths of our being. Therefore, the important thing is to do gongyo each day filled with a feeling of rhythm and cadence—like a white horse galloping through the heavens. I hope you will do the kind of satisfying gongyo that leaves you refreshed and revitalized in both body and mind.”