Embodied in my daily prayers are my life aspirations. For the majority of the time, I pray for what I want to see happen in my life, or I pray to improve some aspect of myself. Other times, I pray for the well-being of friends and family members. However, there are times when the experience of praying seems futile. For example, awhile back I began to pray for an excellent job and my personal happiness. Reality is harsh at times, and I was experiencing unhappiness on a regular basis. I was applying for jobs, but getting no response. Then, I had an interview, but still no job. I was not happy. A month went by and then two. Slowly, hope was replaced by fear.
I was in need of a jump-start. So, I made the necessary arrangements.
Yesterday, I met up with a fellow practitioner, a very wonderful and wise woman who I often go to for guidance and encouragement. She asked me, “Heather, what are you chanting for?” I told her that lately it was just to be happy. She sort of chuckled and said, “Well, chanting for happiness is like chanting for world peace. You’ll have to be more specific then that.” One hour quickly turned into three, and by the end I realized through our conversation and her probing questions that my prayers or aspirations were being compromised by my dark side. The negative chatter I think we probably all experience was taking over. You know what I am referring to don’t you? That dark voice that tells us we are not good enough, we can’t do this, or we can’t do that. How often do we yearn to be our best selves, or to experience something truly wonderful? And how often do we, like a quick flip of a switch, tell ourselves that it could never happen to us? This, I believe, is self sabotage (a.k.a. “the Charlie Brown effect”), and it keeps us from living our best lives. It keeps us from truly being happy. I realized that if I wanted my prayers to be answered, if I truly wanted to experience happiness in my life, then I would have to battle my dark side and that negative chatter through prayer. And, I would have to change. Rather then being ruled by fear, I would need to become more courageous. Instead of being over come by doubt, I would need to develop a stronger sense of self and confidence. When confusion takes a firm hold, I must pray for clarity. I realized that fear, doubt, and confusion were not only robbing me of my happiness. They were keeping me from realizing my fullest potential. In essence, I was holding myself back and living a life of mediocrity. The good news is that I have the power to change all of that. We all do.
I realize that this post or this moment is not then end of my battle. Dealing with my dark side is something I may battle for a lifetime. However, this new understanding allows me to feel more self-assured, at peace, and equipped to face the challenging road ahead with a brighter smile, a stronger bounce, and a little less of that “Charlie Brown” attitude.
My friend shared this great piece of encouragement with me, and it really hit the spot. I apologize in advance because I do not know the name of the author. Also, there are 3 terms in the text that may be unfamiliar to some so I have provided a bit of information on them first.
1. The “Law” refers to the Mystic Law of the universe or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Devotion of oneself to the Mystic Law of cause and effect)
3. “Daimoku” refers to the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon.
“Once we make a determination that we’re going to succeed with a wonderful opportunity…then we have to guard our inner, subjective world against the subtle insinuations of the negative voices. ‘Nothing’s going to change, it’s always going to be the same.’ If we’re susceptible to that, which most of us are, until we’re strong enough inside to deflect those voices automatically, we listen to them. And we allow them to influence us. The longer we listen, the more it erodes our prayer. So internally we start replacing our prayer. At some point, we start to agree with the negative voice because that’s what we’ve always done most of our lives.
At that point, our prayer becomes NOT to succeed. When you chant Daimoku, it’s what you’re thinking and feeling that’s being projected into the universe. And because the LAW is impartial, we have free will. It’s like a mirror. So, if we change our prayer unknowingly, the LAW accepts that as what we want. It’s non-judgmental.
So, our responsibility is that if we want something, we hold on to that prayer and not allow that negative voice to discourage us. Because then we start compromising and before we know it, we’ve given up on our prayer. Once we set our determination, don’t compromise. BUDDHISM IS WIN OR LOSE. It is not compromise. Compromise is something we do all our lives.
So set the determination and chant Daimoku for that. Once you set the determination, how we get it and all that becomes the GOHONZON‘S responsibility to work it out.
Our responsibility is to hold on to the prayer without being swayed internally or externally.”
Have a wonderful week everybody!!