Yesterday it hit me. I made a big mistake! I am quite certain that I took temporary residence in “La La Land.” Yep, I am sure, it is unfortunately true. I don’t think I was really even conscious the day I packed my bags and spent a few weeks there dreaming away…delusional as could be. But it happened, and I only came down from the clouds yesterday.
My delusion was this—I believed that by moving all of my worries and problems would go away or be left behind. How could I forget this hard-earned lesson I learned so long ago that when you move, your problems follow right behind. It seems like common sense to me these days. I suppose this is mainly because problems are generally of a spiritual or emotional nature. They lie within and so changing your physical location doesn’t make them go away. You may for a week or so forget they are there as you get settled into your new environment, but the moment you stop to relax they pop right back up and stare you down. They are the baggage that weigh you down and keep you from realizing your true happiness. They lock you away like a prisoner in some terrible place, away from the present where you can enjoy the journey you’re on and the path you’ve taken. My problems keep me locked in the past, and this inevitably brings misery.
Suffering. Fear. Regret. Hopelessness.
These are the source of darkness, and lately the four have banded together like a storm cloud above my head.
However, this morning a ray of light brightened up my feelings of doom and gloom. I noticed for the first time my new monthly “Living Buddhism” magazine that I subscribe to, resting on the coffee table lying in wait for days. Like a message from some mystical place, key phrases and words spoke to me from the front cover. They included: “Hope Is Life’s Treasures”, “Perseverance Leads to a Springtime of Victory”, and “The Good Medicine for All Ills.” This was the encouragement I desperately needed. Hope was what I was searching for, and that was exactly what I found to help me along this stumbling road toward victory.
“Hope is life’s treasure.”
“Those who always have hope are happy.”
“One can have all the wealth, power and fame in the world, but if one loses hope, one will falter and stumble in life.”
“Hope is a jewel that inspires and uplifts. As long as we have hope, we will never be deadlocked.”
“Victory always awaits and happy smiles spread where there is hope.”
“No matter what trials and hardships may befall you, never lose sight of the golden light of hope!”
Nichiren Buddhism teaches that winter always turns to spring. The obstacles I am striving to overcome are like my winter. Winter is a time of hardship when one can grow stronger and transform suffering. Spring is the joyful time that follows when you have won and overcome your suffering. However, a successful victory and transformation of suffering into joy requires action. I realize that I must take action to solve my problems. During this dark time in my life, the moments I see some sunshine and a smile spreads across my face is when a sense of hope fills my soul.
That is my source of happiness. It is the light at the end of my dark tunnel.
All you need is hope.
Daisaku Ikeda writes, “When the spring of victory comes after a winter of harsh trials, everything is transformed into happiness and joy. Without having cried, you cannot genuinely laugh; without having suffered, you cannot savor real joy. I’m sure there are times when, in the midst of some difficulty, you think Why me? But that in fact is your chance to fulfill the mission you have chosen. The deeper your suffering, the greater your mission in overcoming it.”
As our winter here in Northern California turns to spring, I find hope that my spring is just a few steps behind. In the meantime, I do my best to keep my feet on the ground, and my head towards the sky.