CHANGE UR LIFE IN 30 DAYS
MR. SONODA’S GUIDANCE
from the International District Meeting
This is a rough transcript of the guidance Mr. Sonoda gave at the International District meeting on November 30th, 2000. He gave us all a challenge to turn our situations around into the greatest benefit by January 1st, 2001. (See the “December Challenge” below.) The theme of our meeting was appreciation. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me.
Appreciation: Learning it is difficult because our society always teaches us about good and bad, right and wrong. We are programmed to believe in good and bad. If we have the things we want we are happy. If we don’t have what we want we begrudge our lives.
“14 Slanders.” The Daishonin taught that there are 14 things that prevent us from becoming happy. Two of them are: 1) A mistaken view of our life. (We don’t know who we are.); and 2) too much attachment to material things.
We embrace our mistaken identities so deeply that they become our reality.
Appreciation does not refer to things outside yourself. Appreciate your own life first. Appreciate when you fail. Appreciate when you try and try again and still fail. Appreciate when you embarrass yourself.
Our fundamental problem is that we are unhappy. So how do we turn it around? Appreciate who you are. You are a Buddha. You are the best thing that ever appeared on this whole planet. You are the greatest thing in the whole universe. If you believe that there is nothing you cannot do with your life, then there is nothing you cannot do. To believe that you can do anything is to bring your life into harmony.
When we were young no one taught us how to walk. We were true to our own nature and learned ourselves. But as we get older, people (parents, teachers, etc.) wanted to control us. We got angry. Be like a tree. A tree stays a tree no matter if you kick it or curse at it. It is in harmony with itself. It doesn’t care what you do. It is just being a tree. But this is not the same with humans. We don’t live in harmony with our true nature, and we are swayed by the opinions and thoughts of those outside of us.
To chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is to put yourself in harmony. But it comes from appreciating your own life.
When your life is falling apart, try and chant in that moment to appreciate your life. If you are in harmony, it will turn around. Our life has unbelievable power and wisdom, but we don’t trust ourselves and let it come forth. We always look for validation outside and we’ll never get it. If we validate ourselves, we will be able to influence everything around us.
“Challenge for December:” No matter where my life is at, I will chant with the determination that I will turn this situation around within one month. I’ll take the responsibility to make it happen. And in that one month, I’ll create the biggest benefit of my life.
The Daishonin said that the Treasure Tower in the Lotus Sutra is the Gohonzon, and that each and every one of us who chants Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is Many Treasures Buddha. If you believe that you are Many Treasures Buddha, then the place where you are is the dwelling place of the Buddha and the dream that you have is the Buddha’s dream.
If, however, you begrudge your life, you will not be able to turn it around.
Again the December Challenge: To turn your life around in one month:
1) Perceive the truth of your life.
2) Take responsibility for creating the greatest benefit you’ve ever had. Everything begins and ends with you.
Kyochi Myoho = oneness of the person and the law. When you chant, you and the law become one. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo encompasses everything in the universe. Chant that your life and your goal will become one. You are the center of the universe.
Don’t chant to overcome an obstacle. Don’t chant about something out there. Chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for the harmony of your own life. Chant to perceive your own truth.
What does it mean to appreciate another person. It means that you have no judgments about them. No matter what the conditions, you will do anything for that person’s happiness. Don’t use anger as a form of judgment. It is fine to get angry, but don’t judge another person life just because today you are feeling anger towards them.
Being a Buddha does not mean you are perfect. It means you always turn the negative into a benefit.
There is a story about Bodhisattva Fukyo. He was a believer in Shakyamuni. He was originally a very wealthy man, but he was very unhappy. When he converted to Buddhism, he decided that he would display complete appreciation for every person he came across and so he bowed at every person he saw. People couldn’t understand this behavior from a complete stranger. So they started cursing him and he just kept bowing. And then they started stoning him wherever he went. And as he fled from the pelting stones, he just kept bowing. Mr. Sonoda heard this story early on in his practice, and he decided that he too wanted to make the essence of his Buddhist practice Appreciation.
We usually think of Appreciation as something outside of us. We appreciate our possessions or what someone does for us. But in Buddhism, Appreciation is for our own life. We strive to appreciate the essence of our life, whatever we are going through in the moment.
We are all programmed from a very early age–by our families and teachers and TV, etc.–to believe that we are a certain person. But Buddhism says that we have an incorrect view of our life.
Our goal as Buddhists is to Develop A Correct View Of Our Life.
Nichiren Daishonin said, “He who perceives the greatness of his life is a Buddha. He who doesn’t is a fool.”
Chant to realize that you are the Buddha just as you are. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo allows the opportunity to perceive who you truly are.
When you perceive who you are, you will naturally impact your environment.
Programming makes it difficult to appreciate our life. We think appreciation always has to be connected to the material. Buddhism is awakening to the greatness of your own life.
It is not easy to appreciate your life, because your life does not want to appreciate itself. Just try chanting daimoku for fifteen minutes exclusively focusing on appreciating your life. Your mind will get distracted and you will think about everything but appreciation. But strive to stay focused on appreciation. Just as you are.
In our minds we judge our lives. We see part of our self as good and part as bad. We believe we have to push everything to the positive side to be happy. But you cannot do that. You just are who you are. There is no such thing as Good Buddha/Bad Buddha. There is only the Buddha. Just as you are.
We are all just Buddhas. And sometimes we will do terrible things. Good and bad exists because we are human beings. The only thing our stupidity proves is that we are human. And there is nothing wrong with that. Being a Buddha means that we take the negative and turn it into a benefit.
When we take a negative circumstance and use it to validate a negative belief about our self we are in misery. Because you haven’t got the job you’ve always wanted is not proof that you are a terrible and worthless person. It is an opportunity to prove how wonderful you are as a human being.
We are all dysfunctional somehow, and we believe it is the cause of all our suffering. That is B.S. We buy into this belief so that we have a reason to fail. We always have to have a reason to fail. Then negative only perpetuates itself and gets deeper. Our Buddhahood exists inside our dysfunction, too. If we manifest our Buddhahood and appreciate our life, then our “dysfunction” will become our greatest benefit. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo can turn anything around.
Everything about our character is unbelievably wonderful. We think we have to fix what we believe to be broken, but in reality nothing is broken.
We need to find out how wonderful and powerful our life is. And we can do it in one night if we really appreciate our self.
Appreciation does not mean that you accept the circumstances. Again, it is not about something outside of you. Appreciation has three qualities:
1) No Matter what happens you do not betray your dreams/goals/self.
2) No Matter what happens, you don’t make any judgments about yourself.
3) No matter what the situation in your life, you must turn it around.
It is unacceptable to be in a place where you are depressed. That has to be our fundamental attitude.
If you are angry, make it the function of the Buddha. Whatever quality is fundamental to your life, chant to appreciate it and it will bring out unbelievable power.
The following is guidance that Mr. Sonoda gave at a New Years meeting for the youth division, transcribed by the same person who gave us his November & December guidances.
As Buddhists, we have to always create a new vision for our lives. NMRK will not solve our problems. We must take responsibility for our lives. To take responsibility we must be willing to change our outdated visions of our life. Try something new when the old ways don’t work. Our life will perpetuate it’s same obstacles until we change our vision.
President Ikeda wants to create a new university in America which will create a new vision for education.
A loser does things that don’t work over and over again. A winner realizes that something doesn’t work and does something else.
The New Vision is You. If you totally trust yourself you’ll accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
When you totally trust yourself you are not afraid to fall, to fail, to embarrass yourself, to put your foot in your mouth. You absolutely appreciate your life regardless of whatever you are going through.
Every infant learns how to walk on its own accord. And it falls over and over, cries, and gets frustrated. An infant will never give up on it’s desire to walk, and so it is successful. The same is true of its desire to talk. An infant will walk and talk no matter what! You cannot stop an infant from learning. Where along the way do we lose that no matter what spirit?
We reach a certain age and we develop a resistance to trusting ourselves.
Chanting NMRK is radical. You have to take responsibility for your life. The only way you can do it is to trust your life.
No matter what situation you are in, you have no time to begrudge your life.
We must understand that doing something stupid is the harmony of life. So is embarrassing ourselves. Getting into an angry rage is the harmony of life. We must turn all of these experiences into great benefits. We cannot use them as negatives to validate negative self images.
The “10 Worlds” are not meant so that we can judge our lives. Nichiren illuminated them so that we could see that no matter what condition our life may enter, it can be the condition of Buddhahood. When we fall into hell, we tend to think that there is something wrong with us. But all it proves is that we are human. And in hell lies Buddhahood.
What makes chanting NMRK different from all other spiritual practices is that it places all responsibility on you–and on nothing outside. You are responsible for your happiness.
To start 2001 off right, we must believe that 2000 was the greatest year we’ve ever had. In 2001 we will manifest incredible results, because of the causes we made in 2000. You need to have complete appreciation for your life and where you’ve been. If you enter 2001 trying to fix something that is broken then you are screwed. Believe you made amazing causes in 2000 and the benefits of those causes will manifest in 2001.
Do you ever betray yourself? Give up on your dream? You cannot betray your dream no matter what! You can never give up on yourself no matter what!
Chant NMRK to let go of what you believe is wrong with you!
Buddhism is not based on mind over matter. Trusting yourself is not an intellectual proposition. You don’t tell yourself you are going to trust yourself . You just do it and you take action accordingly.
We always breakthrough when we are truly down for the count. We give up our resistance, surrender in that moment, and let the wisdom of NMRK to manifest in our life.
Trust yourself! Trust the Gohonzon! Trust NMRK! You will see amazing results, but you must let go of your resistance.
Give yourself the opportunity to change your vision about yourself.
The 9th consciousness is the consciousness of the Buddha. It represents a different vision of who you are. Whatever world you are in is the world of the Buddhahood. The Gohonzon is inside you–not outside you.
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