My Nichiren Buddhist Last Hurrah: Day 61.5

For the past two weeks, I was only able to chant the mantra twice a day for a few minutes a day.

I was busy, extremely so. If thinks were okay at home, I have to stay longer at work. If work is okay and there is no problem at the office, then I find myself doing more chores and errands at home. I hardly had time to do anything else but sleep and work.

At this point, I feel like I am working two full time jobs while getting paid for one of them.

While some “tough guys” talk about the importance of hard work, that they regale tales of working 2-5 jobs a week and hardly getting enough sleep in order to afford a small apartment, they seem to forget that they are bitter at life and sure as hell are against any laws to mitigate this harsh reality.

What I am trying to say is: it’s important to relax and have some fun. Work is good and good for you, but too much will drive you crazy or even kill you.

A couple of months ago, the workers in the Frito-Lay factory in Topeka, Kansas organized a strike because of harsh working conditions. They even had to work 5 months straight without a single day off. One truck driver drove into a gas station to take a nap in the parking lot. He died in his sleep.

He didn’t die playing video games or making Tik Tok videos. It was due to too much hard work.

At this moment, I feel like I am almost over the edge. I get called too many times to do favors for other people that I hardly have time to improve my own life.

I have some breathing room this weekend. Nothing crazy went on. In fact, I had time to go to a laundromat to get some much-needed cleaning done. I was happy that I was even able to read one chapter of a novel I have been trying to finish.

For the past couple of weeks I did nothing else but work and sleep. I stopped exercising. I stopped doing qigong. I hardly played any video games or read any books. I know I need to do something to bring more balance to my life but I don’t know what.

I am even thinking of going back to bowing 108 times a day. I love the bows and have done it for 100 days one time. I even had this idea of planking as well to compensate for the lack of upper body exercise. The only thing that is stopping me is the fact that it might influence my Nichiren practice.

Who knows, though? I need to lose weight. I also need to make myself happy. Both of which the bows can do.

Today I was able to actually do a full liturgy practice and it felt good. I want to see if I can keep that up until I am done with my last hurrah, or at least a week,

I do have a teaching agency based in Taiwan that is willing to hire me once I get my paperwork done. However, I am still wanting to work a more professional job there or even in Thailand. Originally, I was planning to submit my resume and cover letter to one job a week. Since I have been too busy to do that, I will submit my resume once a month.

Anyways a Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to you.

Suggestions to improve Nichiren Practice, Part 1: Just Do It

Sometimes I would come across this video by this nice lady, Margaret Blaine. She’s a longtime practitioner in the SGI, which is quite obvious when exploring her vlog and blog. While she might claim that what she speaks and writes are her own words, she does expound the same teachings that the SGI propagates.

In the above-mentioned video, Ms. Blaine lectures on why is it that people who practice Nichiren Buddhism don’t seem to get any results. The main point she says is because those people don’t have faith in the practice at all.

In fact, that was the same answer I was given whenever I asked about my lack of progress. There was one time I went to an SGI meeting and the main discussion we had is how we don’t have enough faith and belief in the practice.

Also, you need to do the liturgy with strong determination and “roaring” like a lion and all that.

So if you don’t believe in the practice then all that chanting and reciting is useless. That’s what most believers in the SGI preach.

I think we need to have a reality check for a moment.

Many of us live in countries with freedom of religion. We have to attend school. We have to pay our taxes. Some people have to serve 2 years in the military. We don’t have to practice Nichiren Buddhism. If you decide to stop practicing or skip the liturgy session, everything will be okay. You won’t get fired from your job. The police will not come and arrest you. You will not pay a fine just because you prefer going out for a run instead of chanting the mantra.

You have no obligation practicing Nichiren Buddhism. Your practice is, or at least should be, volitional.

Furthermore, there are plenty of things you can do with your time. You can watch a movie, dance to the Bee Gees, or make yourself kimchi stew. So why sit in front of the altar and recite a bunch of Sanskrit-translated-to-Japanese words if you don’t believe in the practice, at least on some level?

So if you make the time to practice the liturgy, then you have enough faith. Don’t kick yourself.

The question however how to make the practice give us results?

To plagiarize a sneaker corporation, just do it.

Put in your time to do your liturgy both in the morning and in the evening. As long as you take the time to practice, things will fall into place.

Of course, that is easier said than done. Part of the problem is that we do live in this instantaneous world in which we get everything we want now. Part of the other problem, especially in the Soka Gakkai, is that people make these testimonials that give the impression that once we start practicing Nichiren Buddhism that life changes rapidly for the better.

Anyone who has made a speech or testimonial in the SGI knows that there is always a higher-up that will ask you tweak your speech. Sometimes the tweak is for dramatic effect, other times the speech gets changed to be consistent with the way SGI uses language.

The reality is that any practice, from Nichiren chanting to meditation to jogging, is going to take time to get any results.

I find the best way is to look at the liturgy like a farmer or a gardener. The gardener simply plants the seed, makes sure to water the seed and give it fertilizer each day, and then simply let the sun shine on the ground while waiting for the seed to grow into a plant.

That’s the same for Nichiren practice. Just recite parts of the Lotus Sutra, chant the mantra, think your silent prayers, then wait for something to manifest. There is really no need for too much busy work, especially if it will leave you tired or exhausted.

That’s why I also say that when doing your liturgy practice at home, make it your practice. Do something that puts you in a good mood before or after the liturgy session. You can think happy thoughts for 5 minutes. You can recite some affirmations. Look out the window and notice the natural beauty that surrounds you. You can make yourself a fragrant cup of coffee.

Whatever you do, make your liturgy an enjoyable one so that you can look forward to chanting each day.

Now there are those who will say, “I practiced diligently for 90 days. I did the liturgy twice a day and I got nothing to show for it.”

To that I say, maybe Nichiren practice is not right for you and that’s okay.

I am going to write a few more articles with suggestions on how to improve your Nichiren practice. Let’s say you tried all my suggestions and still can’t make any headway. I still say try something else and see what works for you.

Nichiren Buddhism is not for everyone, but that’s not to say that “only the few and proud” can only practice Nichiren Buddhism. I’ve met both successful people as well as complete losers who practice Nichiren Buddhism. There are also many successful people who don’t practice Nichiren Buddhism at all.

Furthermore, there are plenty of other Buddhist traditions to explore as well as other traditions such as Daoism, Hinduism, and so on. Explore what the world offers. Again, I went into Zen and I loved it, but maybe that’s not your thing. Maybe you can get into Pure Land. Maybe you’d rather go for the spiritual not religious route.

You know what? Plenty of people are happy not having any religion at all.

Don’t limit your options.

 

 

My Nichiren Buddhist Last Hurrah: Day 55.5

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Yeah I miscounted how many days I was practicing, but it’s a good surprise to see that I was practicing longer than I thought.

Still, this was a shitty week. It’s still feeling like one, too. I am hoping to rest up this Saturday night and hope that I can feel better Sunday.

Until next time.

Suggestions on improving Nichiren practice, part 0: Introduction

Allow me to give a brief autobiography of my relationship with Nichiren Buddhism.

I joined the Soka Gakkai International right before graduating university and stuck with it for 4-5 years. I did love the SGI and Nichiren Buddhism at first, of course, but then I was getting more and miserable in the practice as time went on. It also didn’t help that I have seen and been a victim of toxic behaviors.

Around 2009 I left Nichiren Buddhism, mentally speaking, and went into Zen. Sure I would get invited back to the SGI meetings and I’d show up but I loved my Zen practice. If anything, Zen changed my life for the better.

The problem is that my Zen practice is quite extensive and all encompassing, so I would have to put it off when life gets busy. Sometimes work prevented me from further practice. Other times it’s crazy people and their drama. Sometimes it’s my family.

During those times, I would go back to Nichiren Buddhism. I never liked it, but it was the only Buddhist practice I could do while I wait for more free time to get back into Zen. It was a pattern. I would practice Zen for awhile then things hit the fan so I go back to Nichiren. When things settle down I go back to Zen until something or someone else compels me to change back to Nichiren.

Now I am in that “phase” of putting off Zen to practice Nichiren. However, there is a one twist: I am finally enjoying the Nichiren practice! I haven’t enjoyed practicing Nichiren Buddhism for many many years and here I am actually liking it!

This makes me wonder: why am I finally enjoying my Nichiren practice after all of this time feeling nothing but misery about it?

I don’t know for certain, but there are a couple of things I want to ponder about.

That’s why I want to invite you, a Nichiren Buddhist practitioner, to read about what I am doing and my views on the practice in a series of articles. My hope is that if you like what I am doing, you can incorporate it into your practice.

Every Wednesday or Thursday I am going to release an article analyzing my own attitudes and changes with the Nichiren practice.

There are a couple of things I want to note:

I intend this series for every Nichiren Buddhist practitioner no matter what sect or organization:

One of the biggest problems with Nichiren Buddhism, especially on the internet, is that everyone has to argue with each other and no one can agree to disagree. I think if we want to grow in our each individual practice, or even spread the teachings, we need to cool our jets and bury the hatchet.

Obviously, I am a former SGI member now independent, so what I write may not be applicable or relatable to someone in Nichiren Shu or Rissho Kosei Kai. I apologize for this, but I hope you can glean something from my brain droppings.

If you are a member of the SGI, I want to let you know that I don’t hate or despise you. I just don’t like your organization and I disagree a fair amount of its doctrines. Either way, I hope that if you do incorporate my suggestions that you would benefit from it.

Take whatever I write with a grain of salt:

My other big issue with the Nichiren Buddhist community is that everyone speaks in terms of imperatives and commands. “Do this” and “don’t do that” is very common in the Nichiren Buddhist mindset. Even if Nichiren practitioners don’t out right speak like authoritarians, it’s almost implied.

I want to let it be known that I don’t have that attitude. I might write my posts in a somewhat authoritarian tone, which I hope not, but I don’t expect anyone to simply do as I say.

You are an individual with a free will and it is your right to do what you want as long as you don’t harm others or break the law.

So if you don’t agree with me or don’t implement my ideas, I won’t take it personally.

Anything I write in this series of posts are suggestions, not commands.

No platitudes, jargon, or mystical proverbs

My biggest issue with the SGI is that most conversations tend to revolve around 20 or so slogans and platitudes.

A typical conversation would go like:

“I’ve been praying for a spouse for at least a month and I feel like I am getting nowhere.”

“I see, then you should pray so you should be in rhythm with the Mystic Law of the Universe.”

“How do I do that?”

“Never seek the Gohonzon [mandala] outside of yourself.”

“What do you mean?”

“You must chant daimoku [the mantra] with full determination with a roar of a lion. The sword is useless in the hands of a coward.”

And so on.

To be fair, I have that problem with Zen as well.

You can have a conversation such as:

“How do I deal with the existential crisis that I am having now?”

“Be like the farmer who cuts tofu into cubes on top of Mt. Fuji on a Sunday afternoon.”

To me, this type of “mystical” talk does more to obfuscate the conversation than anything else.

That’s why in my writings I want to provide suggestions that are both clear and practical. If I do have to use these platitudes, I will do my best to make my explanations as straightforward as possible.

My philosophy in teaching is that it is a teacher’s job to take something complicated and simplify it as possible so that anyone can learn any subject.

It’s okay to not practice or believe in Nichiren Buddhism

Nichiren was quite infamous in believing that his form of Buddhism is the only one worth practicing and that other form is BS. He also wrote that other religions and philosophies, such as Daoism and Hinduism, are also aberrations. The main reason was that he believed that the Lotus Sutra is the highest form of teaching and his practice aligns itself more with the sutra than anything.

Partly because of this belief, some Nichiren organizations urge their followers to spread the religion and convert as many people into the practice as much as possible.

I disagree with Nichiren on this issue. I think all religions and philosophies have their value when paired with introspection and critical thinking.

First of all, Zen helped me overcome depression and suicidal ideation. I used to live in Thailand, where most people practice Theravada Buddhism and many of Thais are the nicest and kindest people in the word,

Besides, I have known some good people in the SGI and also some jerks as well. I am friends with an atheist who treats everyone like his brother and sister. I also used to work with an atheist who was one verbally abusive @$$hole.

Religion, and lack thereof, is not everything. Character is what I look for.

So I don’t care whether or not you believe in Nichiren Buddhism, Buddhism, or any religion in general. You’re not a good person just because you practice. You’re not a bad person just because you don’t.

Besides, in order to convert to a different faith volition is needed. That is a post I want to write about in the future, although it has nothing to do with the series I am planning to write as of now.

I also like to put up funny pictures and memes on my posts

Because why not? Besides, it’s always good to have a sense of humor.

My Nichiren Buddhist Last Hurrah: Day 38.5

Yes I am enjoying my Nichiren practice. Yes I am somewhat enjoying the way I exercise. I am also enjoying the affirmations I would say to myself for minutes a day, twice a day. What I have not been enjoying is the feeling that I am getting nowhere. The main reason I am getting nowhere in life is because I have not applied to any jobs for the longest of time.

In every other post I would write something like, “This time I am gonna apply.”

Then I don’t.

The main reason is that after doing all the exercises, praying, and affirmations I feel like I did too many “chores” and then spend my afternoons watching videos or doing other leisurely activities. Then I would go to work, put my hours in, and then return not wanting to do anything but either watch more videos or go to bed.

Last Monday, I woke up feeling dissatisfied and told myself, “Sacrifices have to be made.”

So I stopped working out.

Because I stopped exercising, I was able to send out more applications and my resume. I am not happy that the multinational corporations in Asia did not respond to my inquiries, but English teaching agencies did. I already have one interview in the works and I need to make a self-introduction video for another agency.

I did make this plan to start working out three days a week, for at least an hour a day. However, I’ve been told that I am help out with my family for a bunch of errands starting next week. What also doesn’t help is that the holidays are coming up soon: Diwali, (American) Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

At this point, I don’t know if I can workout again for a long time.

I am a bit sad about this but not so much. For one thing, and thanks to the lockdown of 2020, I have been able to come up with a decent exercise plan that can be done anywhere. Since the workout plan doesn’t involve any floor work, such as sit-ups or yoga asanas, I can workout outside standing up the entire time. Since my workout does not involve running in place or jumping, I can exercise in an apartment or hotel room without disturbing anyone who lives under me.

At the same time, once I get a job offer and I choose that job, then I will have more time to workout. It may not be when I want to exercise and more when I can. However, I can work with that for now.

More likely than not, it seems to me, I will probably stick with qigong until I move out and work my new job. One hardly sweats with qigong and can be done in any setting. I might try to do more qigong in the office since I am the only guy there after a certain hour.

One thing that does amaze me is that whenever I go a full liturgy practice, I am enjoying it. None of my wishes and prayers have come true, but I do feel peace and happiness whenever I am done doing the liturgy.

That is why I am planning to write a series of posts on why I think I am enjoying the Nichiren practice now especially after years in which I didn’t.

That is about it. If there is one other thing I want to do, it’s to get back to reading novels. I miss that.

One more thing, last week I was going to challenge myself to do a full Nichiren liturgy twice a day for a week and then reward myself with beer imported from Laos.

Due to circumstances at work, I could not finish the challenge which means no beer for me. It’s too bad since Laos has the best damn beer in the world!

Taekwondo (non-radio) calisthenics

The first half of this post will be a rehash of another one I wrote long ago.

I have two favorite kinds of exercises.

One is martial arts. I am mainly into Taekwondo, but I have dabbled in many others. Tang Soo Do is my second closest martial art as well as Long Fist Kung-fu. Unfortunately, I don’t get to practice much and I hope to get back into it soon enough. Martial arts practice tends to be very high-impact in their movements and is quite taxing. Many people practice at least 45 minutes a day

The second type of exercise I like are radio calisthenics. These are a type of exercises that used to be featured in American radio programs in the 1920s. The Japanese government embraced this and made their own version which is still practiced today: Radio Taiso. Due to its imperialist ambitions, Japan also brought Radio Taiso to Taiwan, Korea, and parts of of China which is why they have their own versions today. These routines tend to be no more than 5 minutes and usually uses a lot of gentle, low-impact movements.

Some time ago, I found out that the Chinese invented radio calisthenics routines based on the national martial art of Wushu. Just like radio calisthenics of China and other Asian countries, they tend to be 5 minutes of exercise. Unlike the other routines, however, they use a lot of kung-fu moves.

That was why I have always wanted to see if the Koreans, both North and South, made one for Taekwondo. If not, did the Japanese make one for Karate? The Koreans somewhat made a Taekwondo style of radio calisthenics but the North Korean version looks like a form/kata while the South Korean versions infused a lot of K-pop. The Japanese didn’t seem like they made a Karate style radio calisthenics workout but someone did one for Judo.

So I have decided to create my own routine. I basically used this one video for my ideas. There were a couple of guys showing off hand techniques and I liked the way they did them. So I copied the movements down. I didn’t like the way the practitioners demonstrated the kicks. They were doing the kicks up and down a straight line as usual in a Taekwondo practice.

After all, just like radio calisthenics, I want all my movements to be done in a small space.

Therefore, I created a routine for kicks and combined it with the one for hands.

About a week ago, I decided to test the calisthenics routine out.

I was pretty decent on my hand techniques. Obviously they need work, but I did well for someone who hasn’t practiced in a long time. The kicks were another matter. I didn’t feel much power in my techniques and I was a bit out of balance. I wasn’t surprised, though. After all, I haven’t practiced actual Taekwondo kicking in awhile and, being a bit chubby, my center of gravity is in a different part of my body.

The next day was another matter. Hand techniques were fine, but the kicking techniques improved! They improved a lot faster than expected. The muscle memory came back and I had power in my kicks. I was still unbalanced, but I had more stability than expected. My kicks still need work, so they are fall from perfect.

What also surprised me was that I had 21 moves in my list, but I was able to do them all under 10 minutes.

Going back to the post in which I wrote of this idea of wanting a Taekwondo calisthenics workout, that is one of my main requirements for this routine. The other requirement is that it can be done in a small space, which the routine I have designed does. It also does a good job in energizing the person if one doesn’t overdo the workout.

If there is one requirement that needs to be addressed, it’s the warm-up. I was hoping none is needed but I found myself almost pulling a muscle or two the last time I did this routine. That problem can be easily rectified with a few stretches.

I am pretty happy with what I have. It’s something I can do on a daily basis to slowly get myself back into fighting shape. One of the these days, I want to train like a black belt and this routine will definitely get me on the right track. The nice thing is that if I increase the reps on the techniques, I can actually train like I am in a proper practice session.

Soon enough I will write the routine down and put it on the blog. Unfortunately it may not be suitable for those who haven’t trained in martial arts, but it is something that can benefit those who are proficient in Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do, and Karate.

My loving Walter Camp’s workout (again)

Sure I don’t really write so much about Walter Camp’s Daily workout as I did during the lockdown of 2020, but I still like to think of myself as a Walter Camp fanboi.

For the past 15+ days or so, I have been doing Camp’s daily workout at least once. I also tried to add other workouts like a Chinese radio calisthenics workout, an early 20th century supposed US Army routine, or even just a variety of low-impact jumping jacks.

So far, this made me feel great and a lot more optimistic about improving my health and general well-being. The CDC, Mayo Clinic, and NHS all agree we should do at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. With the increase of activity I have been doing daily, I was happy that I am slowly getting to the point of exercising for at least that much.

Then my job gave me an unhealthy dose of reality.

My boss wanted us to have a meeting one day at a late morning. Usually, as I work third shift in my job, I would wake up at 11 AM or noon. So this meant less sleep for me and even less time for me to exercise.

That day, I woke up early. I got myself some coffee and combed my hair so I wouldn’t look too messy. The meeting was to be an hour but it went on for 90 minutes. Boss thanked me for waking up early, we all logged out, and then I set my alarm and went back to sleep.

And that was it, I did Camp’s workout. Then I took a shower and drove to the office.

So that day I only did 7-10 minutes of exercise and no more. On the way to the office, I asked myself “Was it worth working out for such a short time?”

After I arrived at my office, I knew the answer: yes it was.

*Granted, I didn’t burn many calories doing this workout alone. However, this routine did wake me up and made me feel more alive. In a sense, being awake and alert helps burn more calories when doing everyday activities such as driving, brushing my teeth, and typing.

*I found myself having more mobility in my joints. Since I spend time rotating my shoulders, hips, neck, and so on I find my movements looser and freer.

*Many people suffer form of back problem as they get older. In my case, my back is getting stronger and more supple. The routine has me twist and turn my spine in different directions, giving it more flexibility than if I don’t exercise at all.

*There are some days my metabolism improves due to the improvement of my body’s elimination process. That is to say, because I am twisting the body and massaging the organs, many times I find myself using the bathroom after exercising.

*The strength training in Camp’s workout is minimal, but there is some. Most of the training comes through ankle raises and deep squats. So the legs as well as the lower abdomen do get exercised.

*Because I regulated my breathing for each movement, I got more oxygen into my blood and increase its VO2 max in a more gentle fashion.

* I usually have poor posture. But, after doing this exercise, my posture becomes a lot more erect.

* When using free weights (less than 3 lbs, mind you!) I get a higher calorie burn and faster muscular development. When I hold on to a pair of tennis balls, my muscles get more toned.

* Last, but not least, my body becomes more “addicted” to exercise. The 7-10 minutes I spend doing Walter Camp’s workout makes my body want to do more.

So obviously I am speaking from my own personal experience. However, I also think that if you tried this exercise routine out for at least a week, you can also see positive changes in your body and physique. You won’t lose a lot of weight, build muscle, or look like a bodybuilder or fitness model. However, this will be one hell of a first step in an 1000 mile fitness journey. This easy, low-impact routine will lead to greater health and fitness in the long-run.

Again, if you ever want to try this out, you can click here for one version of the routine.

Here is also another version.

Last, but not least, this is a modernized take on the exercises. Sure the ebook isn’t for free, but you only pay $6 US. However, once you incorporate the exercises in your daily life, it will be the best 6 dollars you will have ever spent.

Anyways, to wrap the story up, I was satisfied that day with my workout. I came to know that even if I do this workout only once a day, I will still benefit from the movements.

The next day I found out that one of my coworker is taking a week off of vacation. This means I have to put more hours in the office and that I would only have enough time to do Camp’s workout once a day.

You know what? I am okay with that.

 

My Nichiren Last Hurrah: Day 30.5

“Meow”
Photo by Callum Hilton on Pexels.com

What is has been surprising for me is that I am enjoying the Nichiren Buddhist practice. One of these days I will write my own thoughts as to why I am enjoying Nichiren Buddhism more now than I ever did. For the most part, though, I am at a loss for words or an explanation. Every other time I tried to get myself back into the Nichiren Buddhist practice, I was never happy. I used to be happy about the practice when I was a wide-eyed university student and I kept practicing until I went to China.

Now, for the most part, I feel like I am university again and the possibilities of the practice feels endless.

That being said though, lately I have been practicing in a very minimal fashion. Usually, I should recite two parts of the Lotus Sutra, repeat the mantra over and over again for at least five minutes, and also mentally recite some silent prayers. That’s the full practice. However, most of the time I have only chanted the mantra for 1-5 minutes at a time. That is a minimal way of doing things, but I want to go back to doing the full liturgy.

So I am going to challenge myself.

Starting Sunday, I will make sure to do a full liturgy practice everyday (except Friday, but that is a personal matter). If I can do this everyday for one week and week only, I am going to reward myself with Laotian beer. Here in America, since not many people know of Laos’ best kept secret, it’s very hard to find a place that sells it. However, I know of one restaurant that does and I am going to buy a bottle if I ever keep up with the full liturgy practice.

I am also quite surprised that I have been reciting my affirmations almost everyday without fail. I like it so far, especially as how it does get me to work out, chant, or even do qigong. However, I do find it a bit boring. Still, I promised myself to recite my affirmations twice a day for 100 days just to see how my life changes for it . . . . or not.

My physical workouts have been a lot more satisfying to say that least. My original plan was to do Walter Camp’s workout, a Western qigong routine, and then a Chinese one. For the past couple of days, I find myself spending more time in physical fitness than I normally would. However, I do have to say that it won’t be a regular thing. This week I spent everyday working out for at least 30 minutes.

One day was an exception and I want to write more about it soon.

I also find myself thinking of ways to incorporate more martial arts training into my life. I do wish to have a job in which I have hours free time to do a proper practice, but I am pretty happy that I can find ways to practice in unconventional ways. For one thing, I plan to do Taiji and Ninjutsu moves in the office. I also have had a chance to try out a Taekwondo workout, which I also want to write more about. While this isn’t martial arts related, per se, but I have also been able to do an entire isometric workout while in the shower.

The part of myself that I am not happy about it is my laziness in looking for a new job. I haven’t applied to a new job for a couple of weeks and I need to get myself back on in it. I will still apply for professional work in Asia, but I am still going to try to applying for English teaching jobs as well. Taiwan is my number one destination, but I have been thinking of Mongolia as well. The idea of living in Ulaanbaatar has intrigued me.

Last week, I decided not to blog because I was planning to focus on my shadow. That is dealing with my darker, more evil self. In case you plan to judge me for it, everyone has a dark side. Robert Louis Stevenson famously popularized that concept through his famous work, ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. So I was going to confront my Mr. Hyde since my family went out for vacation and I had the whole house to myself. I didn’t end up doing that, since I was alone and rather spend time enjoying my solitude. However, I do want to make time to visit my shadow self and resolve whatever issues I do hold one bit at a time.

Next week will be interesting. One of my coworkers is going to take a vacation and this might mean I have to put more hours in the office. This means less time for me to workout at the very least. Hopefully, I can make something good out of all this.

My Nichiren Buddhist Last Hurrah: Day 27.5

If there is one enduring theme of my life thus far, it’s that I should always see the silver lining in each cloud, the opportunity in every crisis, and the good in every bad situation.

Almost everyday of the week something annoying or aggravating has happened and then, after some time, I came to realize that this aggravating or annoying thing has brought about something better.

I will give one small example.

One night I had this nightmare in which I went back to my first job in Korea, working in a private education company. The company, and especially my foreign coworkers, was so toxic that when I returned back to the US I was strongly considering suicide. I did write about this in the beginning of my blog as my crap job over there influenced me to try out my first foray into Zen.

Anyways, so I had this horrible nightmare that I was back in that job and even saw my boss’ face as she gave me the evil eye and started swearing at me in Korean. When I woke up, I was feeling really grumpy from whole ordeal.

After a cup of coffee or 3, I went ahead and did my practices. While I was doing them, my mood brightened and I felt a lot more calm in peaceful. The last thing I usually do before I shower and go to work is my Walter Camp-qigong combination workout. While I was doing that I had a thought/vision reminding me of that dream. I came to realize if I was back in that horrible job, the practices I am doing now will help me endure and thrive in such an environment. It was a beautiful feeling.

There are some other examples, but I want to keep them private.

My biggest disappointment, though, is that I haven’t been able to do the full liturgy practice this week. In fact, I have been doing only a bare minimum this week more than last. I do want to get myself back to doing the full practice everyday.

This is my indirect way of saying I am actually enjoying the time I sit down and reciting parts of the Lotus Sutra and chanting the mantra.

This reminds me of this one time in Thailand that I did the liturgy practice everyday of the week and I felt wonderful. One day, I felt so wonderful I did it three times in one day.

Times like these I wonder why is that a few times I enjoy this practice while many other times I either felt boredom or anger. This is a question I am putting in the back of my mind for now.

While I haven’t been able to do a full liturgy practice many times, I have been able to do my entire workout. This is due to the fact that two parts of my workout are sweat-free and can be done anywhere. In fact, one day I didn’t have time to workout at home, so I did the vigorous, sweaty part before I took a shower and did the other two parts in my office.

Later on, this made me realize one good thing about my current job situation: I am usually alone in my office. One reason why I feel so sad in my life is because I hardly have the time to do any martial arts training. Yet I have a whole office to myself to do whatever I want!

That being said, I won’t do anything like Taekwondo or Shaolin Kung-Fu. My office has no shower facilities so I can’t do anything that would make me sweat. The best course of action, I think, would be to focus on Taiji. It is very slow and can be done in any type of clothing as long as it’s comfortable. There are also a series of Ninjutsu moves I can do as well.

One other good thing that I finally started was listening to Earl Nightingale’s Direct Line series. I have been attempting to listen to the first recording everyday for at least a week. I never got around to that mainly due to my depression. However, last week, I listened everyday for my commute to work. Granted, it’s not an entire week, but it was enough listening to that same recording.

According to Nightingale’s lectures, one of the most important tasks in life is to listen to ideas on how to improve ourselves. By doing so, one can find ways to grow in one’s life and profession. That is exactly why I want to listen to those lectures, to find new ideas.

I enjoyed listening to Nightingale’s recordings so much that I am planning to start listening to an audio book of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations on the commute back home.

On the same topic of looking into new ideas, I am also reading M. R. Kopmeyer’s “Here’s Help.” I’m not too serious on reading this book. I am just reading this whenever I can’t sleep or I need to use the bathroom. So far, it is an interesting read.

The only thing I have to complain about is that I haven’t done a single thing to apply for a new job. The main reason being was that last week the internet was down in my house for the most part. This week, at least this Monday, I will at least apply for one English teaching job in Taiwan.

One last thing I need to note, I came to realize there is a personal issue that I need to address. I don’t know if I will write more about it. However, later this week I will be alone in the house and so I will have the space to resolve it in any which way I can.

What this means is I may not be blogging for another two weeks.

Sayonara.

My Nichiren Buddhist Last Hurrah: Day 19.5

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

Up until last week, I felt like my Nichiren practice was helping me out. I felt that my life was slowly getting better and that I was seeing some improvements.

This week proved to be otherwise. I was miserable from Tuesday up until Friday. The main reason was due to family drama. As usual, small issues became a huge deal. Also, I had to deal with a lot of annoyances such as traffic issues and workplace problems. I was also becoming more afraid that I will be stuck in my situation forever since I get pulled into either office politics or my family’s soap opera.

It also didn’t help that I was afraid of this weekend because it was the elephant god Ganesha’s birthday. Hindu holidays are a joyous affair for most Indians. In my family, not so much. If we’re not stressed out and constricted in what we can or cannot do, then we are not doing it right. Two weeks ago, there was another holiday and I was not allowed to eat a damn thing all Friday.

Thankfully, though, this week was a lot more relaxed than I anticipated. For one thing, I was allowed to eat Friday and didn’t have to starve all day.

In the middle of all this BS, I found myself confronting the same reality I was brainwashed as a Nichiren practitioner: this was all due to my diligent practice. Since I have been doing the liturgy everyday, twice a day, I am being punished for every wrong thing I did since time immemorial, maybe since the Big Bang, as a way of absolving myself of all bad karma.

The crazy thing is that all this drama is also keeping me away from the liturgy practice. This week, I did the full liturgy practice for a couple of times. Every other time I was only to do the bare minimum of chanting the mantra for a few minutes.

Anyways, because I found myself thinking that I will go through days and weeks of punishment, I feel like I need to find a way to endure it all lest I get influenced by my run of bad luck into doing something either drastic, criminal, or toxic. That was when I have decided to add in affirmation practice.

Back when I was studying the Master Key System, I was doing affirmations on top of the meditation. However, I let the practice fall on the wayside as I was enjoying the Master Key study anyways. Still, I did enjoy the affirmation practice as it did lift up my spirits. Thankfully it still does. I usually recite my affirmations before liturgy practice which gives me at least 5 minutes of joy and happiness.

Another problem is that I have not been working out as much as I want. The only thing I have been doing is what I call “Western qigong”, in which I do a series of breathing exercises I read about from American and European exercise gurus of the early 19th and 20th centuries. That has been good, but I want to do more.

Part of the problem is that I have been afraid of being able to maintain a decent workout, with all that has been going on in my life. I do need exercise, not just because I have to lose weight (which I do) but also because it helps me channel out all my stress and frustrations away. Channeling those emotions help clear my mind and even give me better ideas on how to improve my life.

I might get into this more, but I decided to give myself a 100 day challenge: everyday I will do the “Western qigong” exercises, then I will do Walter Camp’s daily regimen, and then do an actual Chinese qigong workout. Because both qigong workouts can be done anywhere and without special clothing, I know I can at least do those while at the office. Walter Camp’s workout is another matter, as I have to do it before my first shower as it will get me to sweat. Whatever drama I need to deal with before work, I know I can at least do Camp’s workout.

Hopefully doing all three of these workouts will bring out some improvements in my mind and body.

I will say, though, today I tried that program out and I already feel better. So I am optimistic.

Another thing I am optimistic about is that tomorrow I will finished doing the Loving-Kindness meditation towards my Chinese ex-girlfriend. I was going to write more about her, but there is not much to say. We had a bad relationship and that relationship has influenced my subconscious for a lot longer than I realized. So now that I am about to finish clearing that influence out of my mind, I can live a freer life.

I wish her all the best.

Nice thing about doing the Loving-Kindness meditation is that it got me to think about doing other forms of meditation, like the ones I used to do for the Master Key System and my aborted attempt at studying Dynamic Thought by Henry Thomas Hamblin.

I will still put-off doing Hamblin’s Dynamic Thought Course. However, I will still meditate mainly through Creative Visualization taught by Shakti Gawain. In this case, I am going to visualize the type of life and future I want to live in. I will visualize my perfect job, my perfect home, and even my perfect girlfriend. I feel like doing so, and twice a day, will help give me the drive and motivation to keep on working for my dreams.

Speaking of which, since I have been having trouble looking for a more professional job, I am going to apply to teach English again. This time I am shooting for Taiwan, The Republic of China.

Here’s to hoping for a better week.

PS This song has given me a lot to think about: