I like lotus. And I like diamonds. But as I told my friend who introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism, I had no intentions of becoming either. “Thank you very much…I’d rather be a roadside flower and an ordinary stone.” She, however, continued talking to me about it and soon I realised that the choices in front of me very limited. I already was in the muck we call life and living in my own hell. The only choice, as I saw it, was whether I wanted to drown in this muddy swamp or at least try and blossom like the lotus. Or to take the analogy of the diamond, pressures of life and living were crushing me anyways. The only choice I had was to either try and shine somewhat like a diamond or, well, just suffer in inner and outer darkness like coal.
As I met the leaders and members of BSG (Bharat Sokka Gakai) of my region, all I knew was that I needed to be rescued not from anyone or anything else, but from myself. “I’m getting on my own nerves”- this is what I told the lady who asked me if there was any specific reason why I wanted to join the practice. Not that my life was smooth sailing or particularly rocky. As always there were those who envied my life while there were those whose life and circumstances I envied. However by now Milton’s famous lines were a firm belief – “Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”.
So I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. To begin with I couldn’t even get the words right, forget the pronunciation. You tube came in handy and I started chanting along with the videos. Just the sound of the Daimoku (as I later learnt chanting was called) made me happy. And that was it. Starting with a mere 5 minutes in the morning and the evening, after a week I realised that I was not getting up with the sinking feeling that had been my morning companion since ages. I started waking up looking forward to those 5 to 10 minutes of chanting. And I started reading. Richard Causton’s “The Buddha In Daily Life” became my constant companion. Often it felt that the book described my mental and emotional state- living in a world of mental hell; attracting wrong kinds of situations and people and not being able to break out of self-defeating thought and life patterns despite wanting to. That we all carry our karmic baggage, I have long believed in. That even our mental habits and thought patterns were karmic, was news to me. The good news however was that karma can be changed. As per as my limited understanding, karma was fixed- what was done, was done and we just had to bear the consequences thereof. All that we could do was create better karma in the present. Buddhism however taught me that karma could be changed. That we could expiate our negative karma and create good fortune. And how do we do that? By whole hearted and abundant Daimoku.
Interestingly, there is no promise of a trouble free life in this philosophy. Any promise of a smooth sailing life in any case sounds suspect to me, having seen life in its varied colours. The promise however is that winter will turn to spring; that no matter what the obstacle, you will win. And the power to win lies in your hands. Any philosophy that gives you the power to change your life, both within and without, is definitely worth a try. So it was that after a month of 15-20 minutes of regular Daimoku twice a day, I started the Gongyo and gradually increased the amount of Daimoku. And the reason was not just because of what I read but the changes that I could feel and see within me. Many situations in the material world that were deadlocked started moving but most important were the changes I could see within myself- what is called “Human Revolution” in this philosophy. This was in January of this year (2015). And it was then that I decided that I will give one year of whole hearted and sincere efforts to the practice before deciding if it’s for me or not.
So far I have not shared my experiences at any of the meetings. My reason? That it’s too soon. To begin is easy, to continue, not so much. As of now, it is the pivot of my existence, inspiring me to lead a truly meaningful life, exerting myself to my utmost, breaking free of shackles that I didn’t even know were binding me – petty concerns, trivial affairs, things that just don’t matter. At a recent meeting, one of the seniors in faith, while talking about his 15 years in the practice, said that he was no longer the same person that he was before coming into this practice. Tomorrow when I can say the same about myself that is when I think I’ll be ready to share my experiences. Until then, let’s continue chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.