Buddhist Belief – Challenges
”Medicine King, now I say to you, I have preached various sutras, and among those sutras the Lotus is foremost!”
~~~ from the Burton Watson translation of the Lotus Sutra
What is involved with meeting the challenges of later life? How do those challenges relate to following Buddhist Beliefs? How do we stay inspired? Do we still have inner resources to draw on for wisdom? So many questions looking for answers.
Now that I have been including the primary Lotus Sutra chant, Nam myoho renge kyo, in my meditations, I feel the answer to one of those questions, (Do we still have inner resources to draw on for wisdom?), is a resounding, YES! As I chant this with my meditations and other times through the day, I think about how this sutra came into being. This was a lesson taught by the Buddha in the latter years of his life. Since it was written by someone who was aging I wonder if it is especially understandable by older people? I know I feel a connection to it. This sutra was written and then stored for many years. Some scholars say it was stored for 500 years or more. They also felt the sutra was held back because the monks hadn’t reached the point where they could understand it. I’m not a monk by any means and I know as I study it I feel as though I’m studying one huge koan!
The primary teaching of the Lotus Sutra is its extensive instruction on the seventh paramita, skillful means, and the perfection of a Bodhisattva. This sutra also refers to the Buddhist traditions of Mahāyāna. As I said earlier, I am only beginning my study of this sutra and it is not easy to understand. I keep looking for different translations and explanations and am slowly finding more and more sources. Throughout all of them, one factor remains constant – this sutra is a special teaching that supersedes everything else that the Buddha has taught, but the Sutra never actually states what that teaching is. This is said to be in keeping with the general Mahāyāna Buddhist view that the highest teaching cannot be expressed in words.
Again, in my feeble attempt to put what I’m learning into words we can all understand, this sutra talks a lot about the parent/child relationship of all the former Buddhas, to those of us who are the children needing to be taught. I’m coming to the conclusion there are hundreds, if not thousands of Buddhas available to help as I progress through this stage of my studies and my life.
I feel I am learning as I continue to include the chant, Nam myoho renge kyo, of the sutra in my meditation. My quandary was how to be at this stage of my life and also learn how to be with “what is” – when the “what is” is not as I had hoped it would be. Oh, I have moments, plenty of them, where I would like to be anywhere but where I am. Most of those moments come when the two-year-old is having one of his tantrums. Or, now that he has figured out I am always attached to an oxygen tube and am only able to reach so far, he will pick up something he knows is off limits to him and then stand just out of my reach and give me a look of defiance that says, “I dare you to try and take this from me!”. The teenagers have a pretty good grip on how to push my buttons as well.
However, I have the luxury of being able to spend most of my weekdays in solitude. My wife works outside the home, the teenagers are in school, and the two-year-old goes to the sitter. I do treasure the weekdays. At the same time, the learning process is happening every moment. The way things are right now, is the way they’re going to be for the foreseeable future. I haven’t reached the point of true acceptance of this reality as yet, but I am learning ways to adapt. The changes happening to my body are rather harsh realities, but I feel following the teachings of Buddha are showing me how to still tap into the peace within.
I feel it is time for me to move on to a different topic with the next post. I don’t know yet what that topic will be, but I feel you’ve read enough about all the changes taking place in my home-life. Thanks for bearing with me as I unloaded!
Metta ….May I be well and happy. My I live in safety. May I be healthy and strong. May I live with ease. May all beings be well and happy. May all beings live in safety. May all beings be healthy and strong. May all beings live with ease.
Namaste — Be in Peace.
Just click the links that are sort of Grey in color to take you to where you can learn more about each book and how you can purchase a copy for your own library.
Stephanie Kaza — Hooked!: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume
Stephanie Kaza, an amazing writer and Buddhist teacher I knew from my 36 years living in Vermont, gathers key Buddhist thinkers to reflect upon aspects of consumerism, greed and economics. Certainly, many other authors have examined consumerism from the lens of their religious traditions, but this book’s Buddhist perspective is unusual, and its pairing of consumerist critiques with core Buddhist concepts is generally fruitful. Check this one out! Hooked!
Stephanie Kaza — Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking
Another one from my Vermont friend — Stephanie Kaza, a biologist and professor of Environmental Studies at University of Vermont, combines Zen Buddhist practices and teachings with her 40 years as an environmentalist for this guide to enlightened environmentalism, proposing a belief in the interdependence of people and nature as the genuine way to “go green”: “When we come to see ourselves as part of the green web of life… we are naturally drawn to respond with compassion.” A good read for Buddhists or anyone from any religion. Mindfully Green
Anam Thubten — No Self – No Problem
No Self – No Problem
shows how to realize the ultimate meaning of life in each moment by dissolving all notions of ego-identity. It asks that spiritual seekers wake up to their true nature, which is already enlightened. Based on Buddhist wisdom traditions, this easy-to-read book discusses in simple, but profound and inspiring language, how we can live a life full of love, satisfaction, and happiness. No Self – No Problem
Sharon Salzberg — The Kindness Handbook
“It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness–to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives. This book is an invitation to do just that. — From The Kindness Handbook
Eckhart Tolle’s amazing best seller, A New Earth
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s wonderful book, My Stroke of Insight: Nirvana is just a breath away!
And this one by Sharon Salzberg and is entitled: A Heart as Wide as the World: Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom and Compassion“.
This is a new one for you by Pema Chodron entitled: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Always remember this wonderful quote from Buddha ….
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Shanti everyone, … (A sanscrit word meaning, “Let there be Peace. Peace, beautiful Peace. Peace within, Peace without. Peace in this world. Peace for all beings.”)
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Have a peaceful day!! —
P.S. If you’d like to read my memoir/novel, you can access it here: