A Leap Of Faith

by Mary Brack

Photo by Mary Brack

This morning while performing my morning prayers (a.k.a. doing Gongyo) I suddenly broke into a crying fit of tears.  You see, I am engaged in a battle with myself, and I suffer because I am afraid.  I’m not talking about being a little bit scared about whatever goes bump in the night.  I am talking about immobilizing fear.  It is  probably more than, you know, a deer in headlights sort of thing.

I describe my situation as one where I am standing at a fork in the road and on my back is this giant monkey.  Take a closer look at that monkey and you will find that what I really carry is a massive amount of fear.  This is a fear about living, fear about choosing which path to take on this journey of mine and both choices scare the hell right out of me.  It is an internal battle of questioning, doubt, and confusion.  And so, I stand in this place, stuck as can be, afraid to move, and afraid of making the “wrong” choice.  At the same time, I am learning that being a grown up is all about the hard choices we have to make, and life is a series of hard choices.

Along with the fear and stuck stickiness, I am frustrated by the presence of this huge gap in my life of where I am and where I want to be. I realize that time is passing me by and the only way to get past this is through it.  I know I cannot get from point A to point B without trucking through the space in between.  Life gets hard and I think after awhile one simply has to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Trying to avoid the discomfort is itself a source of suffering.  And the stress, oh the stress times like these can bring!  Yuck!  Somebody call the doctor!  The stress I feel right now is so great that even my body responds in an agitated way as if to communicate that this must change.  I simply cannot continue to stand stuck upon this path any longer.  Heck!  I’m not even on a path anymore.  Rather, I’ve taken to lying in the dirt.  Good grief!  It is true that the mind and body are one.  Seriously. It is as if my emotional suffering is now expressing itself in physical form. I literally get pains in the heart space of my chest and this morning my right rhomboid seized up in a most painful way, so much so that it is nearly impossible for me to turn my neck left or right with ease, even as I write this.  And it hurts.  Truly.

In Nichiren Buddhism we would say that my faith is being tested.  It is a battle of win or lose, and I am determined to win!  And so I up the ante.  I increase my life force by stepping up my practice.  I get in front of my Gohonzon and I chant my butt off!  I search for guidance in the Living Buddhism magazine, World Tribune, and other sources of Nichiren Buddhist literature.  This pays off, and I find words of treasure to keep me company along this journey of mine.

President Ikeda shares a bit of wisdom from the famous jazz musician and SGI member, Wayne Shorter.  Wayne says, “Do not avoid confrontation with the unexpected and unknown.”  Ikeda builds on this by saying, “You will also be sure to encounter many things you find difficult or challenging from now.  When that happens, it’s important to have the lion-hearted spirit to confront them with resolve. ‘I’ll try my best!’ Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will give you the courage to do so.” (From Opening A New Era of Kosen Rufu Together by SGI President Daisaku Ikdea, World Tribune, September 12, 2014)  And of course, nothing beats the words and wisdom of Nichiren himself who says, “Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rise in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered. (“On Prayer,” WND-1, 345)  With this I recharge my batteries and renew my determination to break through.  And so, with both feet firmly planted on the ground and my eyes toward the sky, I take my next step and a leap of faith.

What about you?  What inspires you to move through your fear place?

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