Gongyo is Good for Nothing

YWD

(This blog post is meant for those who practice Nichiren Buddhism, mostly from the Soka Gakkai. Therefore, I will be writing in the jargon that they know best which means the rest of you may not understand what I am saying. My apologies.)

Greetings and salutations Nichiren Belibers,

I meant what I said: Gongyo is good for nothing and it has brought me lots of happiness knowing such a truth.

I am not saying gongyo is useless. Gongyo is great and wonderful, but I like doing gongyo as if nothing good comes out of it.

Let me mansplain why.

First of all, life sucks. The Buddha said that himself as the First of the Four Noble Truths. There is no such thing as lasting happiness and bad things will happen to us whether we like it or not. The normal thing we’re supposed to do, at least in the Soka Gakkai, is to psych ourselves up. We’re supposed to get our hearts pumping. Then we chant with the rhythm of a galloping horse and chant like the ROAR OF THE LION!!!!!

I don’t know about you, but that tires me out. My adrenaline gets all pumped for the chanting and all ready I feel drained before the day begins.

So why not take it easy? I have to deal with office politics, bad traffic, and all sorts of happenings that will annoy the crap out of me. Why not simply relax, smile, do gongyo and chant? Basically I allow myself at least 15 minutes twice daily to feel calm and happy thoughts. Besides, if my gongyo is good for nothing, why not make it an enjoyable gongyo rather than stressful one?

I could skip gongyo and do other things, but here is another reason for me to do “Good-for-nothing” gongyo: it helps me master my desires. In fact, it helps me use my desires and not let my desires use me.

This is especially the case when SGI leaders would tell me, “Hey man, you want that high paying job in Manhattan? If you start attending more activities, you might get that sweet gig.” “Hey man, you want that hot Japanese girlfriend with big boobs? Study for our SGI test and you might meet one.” “Hey man, you want to improve your work environment? You should spend your weekend at the 50K Lions of Justice of Festival and you’ll get ideas on how to do that.”

Having no reason to do gongyo means no can induce me to make commitments that I don’t want to make. Next time someone tells me, “Hey man, you want to make a million dollars? Recruit more people into SGI.”

I can say, “Nah, I’m cool. I don’t need a million dollars that badly.”

I also like to practice gongyo for no reason because I can teach people to understand their own practice and not let themselves be controlled by me. Case in point, let’s say you find out that I chant the Heart Sutra in my gongyo practice. Most of you would probably blow your top and tell me to stop chanting the Heart Sutra and even tell me a horrible fate awaits for my “transgression.”

I am going to tell you this: since I don’t have any expectations in my practice, I am going to practice however the hell I want. The questions you need to ponder over are: how will you react? Are you going to spend your time trying to change me or are you going to prove me wrong and show me that your way is the right way? How is my practice affecting yours?

Here’s another thing I want to talk about in terms of gongyo. I see gongyo as a form of exercise.

You know how exercise works? In order to benefit from exercise, you just simply do it. Sure there is some minutiae to look into, but you’ll find out soon enough once you start. Trying to “expect” or speed up results will do more to hinder your progress.  Consistency is key, not trying to figure out what kind of mindset you need to have before you exercise. As that sneaker company once said, “Just do it.”

That’s the same with gongyo, as long as you just do it the results will come in its own time. Trying to have faith in the practice, “seeking the Gohonzon in yourself”, making demands/determinations, or whatever are just more head games than anything. As long as you do gongyo, everything will fall into place. Don’t rush it and stop expecting anything.

One great benefit of this good-for-nothing gongyo is that you will finally see the Buddha’s disciples every where. People who you thought were demons actually become the guardians of the Buddha. People you thought were dry academic scholars transform into arahants. That janitor cleaning your office, he or she is a bodhisattva.

In fact, you’ll also hear the sound of the Buddha’s teachings every where. Daisaku Ikeda, Nissatsu Arai, Mark Rogow, the Dalai Lama, and even a single crow all become your teachers.

Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and kind regards,

Me

PS Those YWD members make my member go “PARN!”

Letting go of past issues

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

My apologies for not posting sooner. I was in Bangkok for 4 days and have been back in my village for 2. Bangkok was a huge distraction, but a welcome one. Here in my village I’ve been busy preparing for the move and hanging with my friends for one last time. Today, I’d like to write about the psychological procedure I use to let go of past anger and pain.

As I have written before, some aspects of the Soka Gakkai still affects my practice to this day. I want to free myself of such aberrations so that I can go practicing Nichiren Buddhism without constantly being taken back to those . . . . crazy times.

For this, I decided to focus my procedure on one such individual who truly encompasses everything I don’t like about the SGI such as its authoritarian culture, the black and white thinking, and the fear of questioning the philosophies and practices of the organization.

Here’s my procedure:

  1. I would take a notebook and a pen then write an angry letter towards someone who I don’t like. I would write something like, “Dear John, Here’s why I don’t like you, you poisonous bunch-backed toad.” I would then write of specific incidences in how such this person mistreated me, why I think s/he was wrong, and so on. This is the moment I let all hate and anger out of my heart and onto the paper.
  2. After I am done writing the hate letter. I simply put it away and let myself relax for a few hours to a few days.
  3. Once I am all nice and happy, I reread my hate letter. Then I take out a new piece of paper and rewrite that letter in both kindness and gratitude. For example, I wrote to that one SGI person how I am grateful that he has gotten me to leave the Soka Gakkai. I also wrote how I cannot blame him for acting the way he did, since he grew up in the organization whereas I joined when I was in college. I even thanked him for giving me my personal quest of finding out how to practice Nichiren Buddhism in a more rational, loving manner.
  4. After I am done writing the letter of love and gratitude, I would spend a week doing the Loving-Kindness meditation with the person in question as my main focus. Nowadays, I also chant and pray for his/her happiness.

For now, I just got done with step 3. Starting tonight, I will do the Loving-Kindness meditation and will also pray for the SGI Member’s happiness. In due time, I can finally go at least one step closer to practicing Nichiren Buddhism without the Soka Gakkai framework.

Love,

Capt. Idiotic

The first step

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I recognize that in order for me to continue on and benefit from my independent Nichiren practice, I need to stop stewing over the Soka Gakkai and my problems with the organization. After all, it’s the right of the organization to operate the way it does and the members who stick with it like it that way. I could either shut up and stick with the SGI, at least when I return to the US, or leave it altogether. Physically, I left it. Mentally, not really. Practicing Nichiren Buddhism while thinking about the SGI is basically putting one foot outside the door and the other in, so to speak.

The best course of action would then be to find a way to let go of the frustration I went through with the Soka Gakkai as well as the programming.

Today, I took my first step. I used a psychological tool that I came up long time ago to address past issues. I reopened some old wounds and voluntarily let myself get triggered by some bad memories. I spent a good 45 minutes letting out the anger in my heart, as I am supposed to, in order to move on from my years in the SGI.

I am not done yet, there are other steps I need to take. However, the worst is over. Now the healing will begin.

Tomorrow I will take some time to write of this exact procedure. Hopefully someone else out there will benefit from what I write.

For now, though, I am going to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Tonight, I am going to have a four day vacation in Bangkok. I will do some shopping, site seeing, and what-not. So I am going to prepare for my trip right now. Besides, I have to catch a bus soon for an 8 hour ride.

Oi vey, but things are better.

Love,

Capt. Idiotic

Still, my fear in the Nichiren practice

Ikeda

For the longest time, especially after I started Zen, I stopped seeing the Nichiren practice as a legitimate Buddhist one. After all, Nichiren himself was a bit crazy. He was essentially against freedom of religion and even exalted himself into a godlike figure or at least the greatest sage in Japan. I think a lot of his thoughts were due to many Japanese people thinking that the world was about the end back in the 11th century AD.

The Soka Gakkai is no different in that matter. Many members look down on other sects of Buddhism and even discourage the studying them. At the same time, the Soka Gakkai itself (save for a few publications) tries to move as far away as possible from Buddhist tradition. For example, many in the Soka Gakkai aren’t familiar with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path which are both foundations of Buddhism in its entirety.

However, I am glad that I am back into the Nichiren practice. Yes, I do see the Nichiren practice as a legitimate form of Buddhism. Doing the liturgy has been helping me improve my life a little at a time, especially in the past 2 days. However, during my times as a member of the Soka Gakkai I did witness some pretty irrational and anti-social behaviors.

There was this woman I met in China who joined the Soka Gakkai when studying in the states. On the only time I met her, she treated me like a common criminal just because I was told to contact her in regards to meeting other SGI members in China.

Whenever the SGI-USA would set up and advertise some big spectacle, everyone would always be told to go. A few times, some older middle-aged members who have been practicing since the 1970s would ask me if I was going to attend them and I would tell them no. Because I said no, they would scream at me. “WHAT??” they would say, “Why?? You should go! What’s wrong with you? This is very important!”

There was this one American guy who grew up practicing the SGI version of Nichiren Buddhism. He was a bit of a fanatic and we even had some shouting matches just because I didn’t totally follow the SGI party line. Just like a “good” Buddhist, he would even put me at fault for his anger. Years later, he ended up in rehab. I’m not judging him for getting into rehab. It’s better he ended up there over going to prison or dying and I do hope he is better nowadays. It did shock me, though. If his Buddhist practice couldn’t help him deal with his addiction in the first place, then how useful is it?

Here’s the thing, if I do plan to continue on with my Nichiren practice I am hoping to live a more rational, loving existence. I also want to be able to obtain my own insights so I can do good for myself and the world around me. I think about those people I mentioned and I wonder what my future would be like if I continue on with the practice.

Will I frequently lose my temper if someone does something I don’t agree with, like skipping the big SGI spectacle in order to spend their weekend reading a book? Would I get hostile towards those who don’t wholeheartedly agree with Nichiren’s and/or Soka Gakkai’s philosophy? Will I be hostile towards everyone in general? Would I get to a point that I would do something so stupid that I end up in jail, in rehab, or dead?

I sure as hell hope not. I really don’t need Nichiren Buddhism to be an anti-social, crazed jerk or to abuse others at will. If anything, I am practicing Nichiren Buddhism so I can be and do the opposite.

I guess one good thing that I am doing is not associating myself with the Soka Gakkai. Soka Gakkai as an organization is quite authoritarian with a lot contradictory beliefs. I think that’s the main reason why a lot of the members I’ve met tend to act irrationally. Outside of that, I don’t know what else I can do to ensure that I’m progressing, rather than regressing, in life through my Nichiren practice. At some point in time I will continue with my commentary on Master Kim Jae Woong’s book, Polishing the Diamond. At some point in time I will read the primary texts such as the sutras. Otherwise, I can only hope that I can improve myself from here on out.

Love always,

Captain Idiotic

A New Chapter

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As much as I complain about the workload, I do love my school. As much as I complain about the village being as boring as it is, I like the village. At the end of the semester the students showered me with gifts and letters to show their love for me. I even got some traditional Esan pillows and cloth from the faculty. Of course, being the only English teacher in the village, everyone knows me and they treat me like their own.

Unfortunately, for some reason, the principal has other ideas. I did ask to stay for one more semester, and everyone in the school initially agreed to it. The principal decided to change his mind and was very evasive as to whether or not I would be allowed to teach for another term.

Either way, my company decided to send me to another school. It’s in a bigger city called C***********m. It’s about 5 hours drive north of Bangkok and pretty close to Khon Kaen.

I will miss this small village. The four months staying here, although stressful at times, did a lot to melt my cold heart. I’ve never met a community of people that were so kind and welcoming, it makes me want to stay here forever.

However, I’m more of a city kid anyways. I can shop for things that I want, have a pizza once in awhile, and maybe even flirt with a few Thai beauties. Plus, I can easily travel to other parts of Thailand. In my current village, travel is almost impossible and requires a lot of planning.

As for the cultivation aspect of my life, I more or less let that fall by the wayside. Things got hectic in the last month of the semester, so I basically stopped. Once the term was over, I did try to get myself back into cultivation in a more hardcore fashion, but there was a lot of psychological resistance on my part.

As of now, I only workout 15-20 minutes a day. For the past 2 days, I started doing the twice-daily Nichiren liturgy. Today, I restarted my taiji self-study course. Tonight, I plan to start learning the Master Key System. It’s not much, but it’s enough for now. I just need to phase myself back into doing more cultivation. By March 31st, I am going to move into my new apartment and I am going to see about maybe adding yoga or something else into the mix.

May 15th will be the start of the new semester.

Right now, I am thinking about certain constraints and obstacles in regards to my cultivation practices. For one thing, my apartment is a 30 minute walk from the school. I might rent a motorbike to cut the commute time down to 12 minutes. I teach less classes in the school, but I still don’t know how that effects the amount of free time I have during the school day.

The one factor that gives me some anxiety is the fact that I will work with 5 other foreign teachers. So far, I’ve had good luck with the foreign friends I’ve made since I came here to Thailand. Except for the one rambler I have referenced, most of the foreign teachers I’ve met have pretty good heads on their shoulders. They’re quite mature and they seem to be focused more on enjoying life in Thailand over starting drama over emotional issues; as was the case with the two times I was in Korea.

That being said, though, I don’t know for certain if the foreign teachers I will work with are cool or if they are overgrown teenagers. The one American jerk I met back in Korea still haunts my mind and gives me the creeps.

For now, I will focus more on practicing Nichiren Buddhism and doing the 15-20 minute daily workout regimen. If things seem cool and there are no problems, I will get back to adding Zen. At the very least, if I were to stick to Nichiren Buddhism alone, I can still cultivate myself one step at a time.

That’s all I need to do.

Love and Kisses,

Capt. Idiotic

Yeah so I feel good

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I was going through my cultivation methods that I wrote about a week ago. I don’t know why but for some reason bad memories of the past started bubbling up. Again, my blood was boiling and I was back to feeling sorry for myself and angry at the world that such toxic people exist.

This time, I did something different. I did something that I wrote about doing sometime ago. I donned my gym shorts and a ratty t-shirt, I warmed up a bit, and then proceeded to do a short karate workout. As I was doing the workout, I channeled all my anger and bitterness into every move. I punched harder. I kicked faster and higher. I did my jump kicks like I was Bruce Lee. I even endured one second longer in practicing the stances.

After all that was done, I was sweaty and little tired. Importantly, though, I felt good! I exploited my anger to raise my endorphins and got a good workout out of it. I will continue using my anger to channel into my workout until I don’t need anger anymore. By then I will use the endorphin lift to motivate me to workout again.

Two thoughts came to my mind about what I was doing.

I’ve met people in Korea both times I went there, China, and even in the US who would say or do toxic things. Once confronted with their toxic behavior, they would go into this song-and-dance about how they had a bad day at work, a bad childhood, or even their ancestors suffering under Japanese occupation and how he or she had no choice but to act in that toxic manner.

I don’t know which of one of those people I’ve met were lying, but it seems to me that enough people believe that the best way to deal with stress or frustration is to make sure someone else suffers. I believe Freud called it displacement.

Personally I think that it is selfish to do that. Everyone has problems and something on their plates. Not everyone uses their problems as an excuse to be a jerk. In my case, with my problems, I’m not taking it out on my coworkers, students, or anyone for that matter. If something does get me miffed, I’m simply going to put the anger away and then let it out on my karate and taekwondo practice. I believe Freud called the former suppression and the latter sublimation.

The second thought I had was about that toxic ninjutsu guy as well as the one woman whom I have had tiff with on this Law of Attraction social network.

The Law of Attraction states that you need to keep your thoughts positive in order to raise your vibration and attract good things in your life. You should never fall into negative thoughts and emotions. I agree with that to an extant.

On that social network site, I wrote on my blog about how I was very frustrated at the drama at my office. I also wrote of how one night I channeled my frustration and anger into my kung-fu practice. I also wrote how after the workout, I got some clarity on how to deal with my workplace issues. The woman who argued with me told me how I was doing everything wrong by being angry in the first place and I attracted the drama by my negative emotions.

Yet she was angry. She did not write in a civil tone. She wrote lots of hurtful and means things on the comment section of my blog. She even accused me of some pretty insane behaviors. Before the tiff, we hardly even talked to each other. I was even respectful to her on our few online interactions. The fact of the matter is, if one is not supposed to feel anger then why was she so livid over a blog post? Keep this in mind, that blog post in question was my writing about the breakthrough I found and happy I was about it.

When I trained with him, the ninjutsu guy told me I had too much “shadow”. He kept on harping on me about my shadow and how it was obstructing my practice. He never said what shadow was and he never told me how to rid myself of it. In fact, I was supposed to find out myself. Later on, I found that shadow is basically negative emotions like anger, fear, regret, shame, and so on. I’m not going to act like I have none of those, in fact I am practicing Buddhism so I can overcome them.

Yet this guy who said I had too much shadow certainly didn’t act like he was without his own. He got angry over the smallest of issues to a point I was walking on eggshells around him. He was highly critical of everything I did and he loved to “assign” horrible reasons as to why I acted the way I did. One time he was training me and started acting like a USMC drill sergeant calling me weak and a coward and also screamed at me for doing taekwondo to a point I was reduced to tears. The next time we met, he told me I didn’t want to further my practice in ninjutsu which was not the case. One time I made a joke about how John Woo made war look cool in his movie “Heroes Shed No Tears” to which he would push me around going like, “You think war is cool, huh?? Let me show you war!” Again, one time I was talking about a difficult class I was teaching to which he responded, “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELF! YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN!!”

With that Law of Attraction woman and the ninjutsu guy, I think they both suffered from the same problem: they repressed their negative emotions. I cannot say much about ninjutsu’s philosophy but the Law of Attraction does say one should not feel negative emotions. Some of its practitioners shame others for even acknowledging for even feeling anger, fear, and other emotions like them. I’d say both of them ran away from their negative emotions since they felt ashamed for feeling them in the first place. As a result the would get triggered by jokes, tears, blog posts, and even social media statuses. Repressed anger has its way of coming out.

To them, I would tell them to not feel ashamed if they experience negative emotions. Instead, they should understand why they felt the way they did and then do something about it, preferably something constructive.

So there you have it. I acknowledge my anger. I know why I would feel angry. Now I use it to give me a good workout so now I can feel better for conquering it.

Love,

Capt. Idiotic

My medical problem and new insight

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

About a month ago, almost two weeks I started my Zen/Nichiren practice, I had bad case of muscle spasms on my left shoulder. The pain was so debilitating that I had to go to the emergency room and later took a week off of work.

For a long while, I couldn’t do anything without feeling pain. In fact, if I got up from bed or from a chair, I would have to endure a lot of agony as everything I did effected my shoulder. That’s the main reason why I couldn’t blog.

I’m doing much better now and the pain is almost gone. However, this muscle spasm is still preventing me from exercising which means no Zen practice for me. The only practice I’ve been focusing on is the Nichiren one.

Due to my SGI programming, this whole situation has three possible causes:

  1. The muscle spasm is because I decided to mix the “lesser” practice of Zen with the “greater” practice of Nichiren.
  2. The muscle spasm is the result of all of my bad karma kicking me in the gonads.
  3. The Buddhist deities themselves want me to concentrate on my Nichiren practice only, so they help caused the muscle spasm to see to it that I don’t continue with Zen.

In case you’re wondering I recognized these thoughts as mere programming, so I dismissed all of those “conclusions”.

The main reason why I was taught to think this way is the same reason why people started thinking and preaching that school shootings in the US are false flag operations and that people attract their abusive spouse due to their negative thinking.

That is to say: it gives us a sense of “control” over the things we really can’t control. It’s a way of coping with the inherent chaos of life.

The fact that there are aspects in life that we can’t control is a scary thought. Exercising, eating right, and abstaining from drinking or smoking won’t guarantee that we won’t get cancer. Treating others well and acting with dignity and self-respect won’t guarantee that one dude won’t be an (anus) to us. We can always do our best, but the best laid plans of mice and men always go awry.

Not that I’m advocating to act without reason, just be prepared that things can go south.

Therefore, for example, “knowing” that we attracted an abusive spouse through our negative thoughts or bad karma can give us a frame of mind that we can do something about it so that we won’t attract these abusive people ever again.

However, and I’ve seen this happen too many times, there are those who teach this way of thinking as a way to guilt others and shame them so that said teacher can control them. I knew a guy who preached the Law of Attraction and he loved making me feel like crap when bad things do happen to me. Even some in the SGI use that as an excuse to compel their members to spend more time chanting or doing activities for the organization.

How do I feel about bad things happening to others, especially myself?

They’re not due to bad karma or negative thoughts. It just happens. That’s it.

It’s doesn’t mean I shouldn’t watch my words or conduct or allow myself to think negatively. While acting with integrity and compassion and thinking positively won’t prevent bad things from happening to you, they sure as hell will help in overcoming them and making the best of it.

Therein lies my attitude about dealing with bad circumstances: I allow my time to grieve or vent, but I don’t feel sorry for myself or guilty about whatever imagined mistake I might have made in this lifetime or the previous one. I look to these problems as challenges to overcome and opportunities for learning and growth.

I focus on solving the problem and learning from it rather pontificating whether or not I deserve such problems in the first place.

While I’m not too happy that I can’t do any intense physical activities for the moment, I have been drinking 2 liters of water a day, started doing some qigong exercises while at work, and soon enough will start doing some yoga for 5 minutes a day until my left shoulder fully heals.

Yours truly,

Captain Idiotic

Why I (try to) practice Zen

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I’ve referenced before that I went to South Korea twice. Second time I went there I traveled around the southern half of the peninsula and learned a lot more about Korean Zen as well as the traditional culture.

The first time I went to Korea I lived and worked in a city 40 minutes drive from Seoul.

It was hell.

I worked in this private education company with about 30 other foreigners there. We all worked together, drank together, and even some slept with each other. Despite living in a very populous area of the country our foreigner-world was very small and soon enough, as the saying goes, familiarity bred contempt. One day we are friends. Next thing you know it, we were bitter enemies. Then we’re back to loving each other and then back to hating. Backstabbing was very commonplace, arguments erupted over petty issues, and everyone held a grudge.

Returning to America and living with my parents, I came home shell-shocked. I probably had some form of PTSD as everything triggered me. Whenever I watched a movie, read a book, or even played a video game I would witness something that reminded me of my time in Korea and my emotions would go haywire. It didn’t help that I was struggling to find work which was also a source of conflict in my family as I was coming up empty-handed.

This trauma went on for so long that it got to a point that suicide was the logical answer.

Before you judge me for being selfish, see things my way. I was desperately trying to get a job yet was failing to do so. I love my family now, but at the time we were constantly arguing. My life back in Korea was a Machiavellian soap opera where everyone battled with each other just to win a fleeting sense of self-satisfaction. One guy started a fight with me whenever I said or did something he disagreed with, like reading a book on Buddhism. Another guy would compete with me in getting women’s affections, especially if I like said woman. There was one female coworker who would watch for other people’s mistakes and weaknesses just so she humiliate him or her in public.

At the time, I saw that all of humanity was steeped in selfishness. Living with integrity and altruism meant opening oneself up for exploitation.

It was an autumn evening when I was walking around the neighborhood after going through another emotional episode. While I was calming myself down, I was thinking about how many people I knew back in Korea were toxic. Then I was beginning to suspect that the friends I already had before moving to Korea were the same. It also seemed quite evident that my family hated me. I was still an SGI member, but I sure as hell couldn’t make the practice work. Most people there didn’t care about me and some even loved to treat me like a complete asshole.

That was when I was thinking of killing myself. Only the strong survive and I didn’t feel strong enough to live.

I don’t know why this happened, but soon after I thought about killing myself I remembered a book I read years before.

It was The Complete Book of Zen by Malaysian Kung-Fu Master Wong Kiew Kit. As with most Zen books, Master Wong traces the origin of Zen from China to Japan and Vietnam. He also writes of the core teachings and compares it to other sects of Buddhism. Of course, he also demonstrates the influence of Zen on various aspects of Asian culture as well as the benefits of Zen practice.

What makes this book unique and remarkable is the self-study program that many Zen books tend to neglect. There are three phases in Master Wong’s program. The first one concentrates on martial arts, the second on qigong, and the third on meditation.

That was when I decided to try it out. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, but it was a lot better than doing the unthinkable. After all, I already have a black belt in Taekwondo and learned some qigong, so it would be easy for me to get started without too much of a learning curve.

I finished Phase I of the program before getting a job. That job took up a lot of my time and so I had to put off finishing the program, much to my chagrin.

Yet despite only finishing the first phase, I got a lot out of it.

  • While I did lose a lot of pounds, the main benefit I got out of training in the martial arts is the continual endorphin release. That helped me a lot in channeling my anger, hate, and fear into joy, love, and courage.
  • Part of my training involved reading lots of books such as both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, Western philosophy, and even self-help books. Through studying those works, I was able to see the changes I needed to make in my behavior and attitude. There were times I wanted to kick myself for acting so stupidly over the years, but 90% of the time I felt no shame or guilt at all whenever I made those changes.
  • I was part of a defunct social-blogging network that helped me make new friends. Some of the people I met on there are still my friends today.
  • Having a personal mission to learn and understand the world around me and to practice Zen, I’m loving life more each day.
  • Before I was like a leaf floating in the wind. Sometimes I’m here, other times I am there. All-in-all, I never really had much direction in life. After finishing the first phase of the program, I finally have an idea of what kind of life I want to live.
  • I came to discover one of the secrets of the Universe: If you want to change your life and your fortune, change yourself first.
  • Last, but not least, the job I got was very high-pressured and even has its fair share of high conflict personalities. It was a lot more stressful than teaching in Korea. Despite never getting back to practicing for 3 years, the lessons I have learned through my erstwhile Zen practice helped me succeed in my job.

There isn’t too much of a happy epilogue to this story. After working at the office for 3 years, I decided move back to Korea in a different city to restart the Zen program. During that time I encountered some controlling personalities, many who tried to obstruct me in my goal of Zen study. I was able to learn more about Korean Zen while over there, which was great, but starting and maintain a Zen lifestyle was a lot harder than I thought.

I’ve been back in the States for about 2 years, and even then there are lots of factors that have been getting in the way of my Zen study.

I’m not giving excuses nor am I giving up. If anything, getting back to the Zen self-study program has always been in the back of my mind and it’s more important to me than getting married or climbing the corporate ladder.

This is why I am writing this blog.

This is why I am looking for a new job.

Yours truly,

Capt. Idiotic

How do I Buddha

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No discussion on Buddhism can be without the actual techniques that one practices in order to improve one’s life and acquire insight.

Keep in mind, as much as I don’t mind Nichiren Buddhism I prefer Zen. The problem with keeping up a Zen in my life are threefold. One, I have a job with crazy hours, sometimes requiring me to stay in the office if things go bad. Two, my home is a bit unstable at times. It’s not toxic or anything, but drama is part of the home dynamic. Last, my sleeping pattern is really erratic. Sometimes I can stay awake for 24 hours, other times (especially on the weekends) I sleep like I’m in a coma.

Anyhow, this is how I am practicing Buddhism.

On the Nichiren side . . . .

For those who know nothing about Nichiren Buddhism normally, every morning and evening, one would sit in front of a scroll or mandala called the Gohonzon and recite two parts of the Lotus Sutra in Japanese and then repeat the mantra “Nam(u)-Myoho-Renge-Kyo” for a certain period of time. After doing all that, some would recite certain prayers in silence such as the list that SGI propagates.

Since my home life is less than peaceful, I usually do the entire prayer ritual, without the mandala, driving to and from work. Some people don’t recommend doing the ritual without the scroll, but I have to make adjustments. I do chant in front of the scroll for a few minutes whenever I have time, but for the most part I’m not using it.

My ritual is more or less from the Soka Gakkai, but I made a few changes. People in the SGI chant “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo” whereas I chant “Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo”. The latter makes more sense to me based on my study in East Asian languages. Furthermore, while the SGI have their own silent prayers, I compiled my list based on classical Buddhist scriptures such as the 4 Noble Truths and the Bodhisattva Vow.

As stated before, this ritual should be done daily. In my case, it’s only going to be from Monday-Friday. I work long hours and I have a long commute, which means I also lack rest. This inevitably results in my taking the entire weekend catching up on my sleep, whether I want to or not. I’m not joking when I tell you that there were times I slept for 48 hours straight.

Thank the Spaghetti Monster I’m leaving my current job soon.

On the Zen side . . . .

Most people associate Zen with meditation. In fact, most Zen schools stress that alone as the main practice. What many people don’t know is that Zen originally started in the Shaolin Temple in China, which is world-renowned for it’s martial arts. Nowadays in the temple there are fighting monks and there are meditating monks.

I believe that martial arts, or at least exercise, is just as important in seeking one’s Buddha-nature as meditation. I could be wrong, but I think there was a time that meditating and fighting monks were one and the same, that every monk did both kung-fu and Zen.

I’d rather do a more intense martial art regimen, but due to my job I don’t have enough time. At the moment, I do a 15 minute kickboxing workout, the zhan zhuang qigong exercise, and then meditate for 10 minutes.

Hopefully, once I leave the job, I can have room to do more.

Anyways, here’s what I am doing. At some point in time I’ll write about any changes that I am going through as well as my thoughts on a few issues.

Yours truly,

Capt. Idiotic

Introduction

 

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Allow me to introduce myself.

 

I was a Nichiren Buddhist under the Soka Gakkai International. Later on I left it to pursue Zen. I do love Zen and got a lot out of it. Nowadays I’m at a time and place in which I cannot go on further with my Zen practice so I am back to practicing Nichiren Buddhism; albeit in a more independent manner.

What’s my name? Call me whatever you want, but I’ll go by the name Captain Idiotic.

I am writing this blog for a few reasons.

  1. I need to find a way to track my progress. To be honest, I’ve been feeling lots of negative emotions. Part of it is bitterness, part of it is hopelessness, and other parts frustration. I’d like to write about my journey from where I am now to a more happier, well-adjusted state of being.
  2. Most authors and writers of Buddhism, I find, come from the point-of-view of someone who has already found “enlightenment” or “higher-understanding”. I want to be a voice for the imperfect, for the awkward, and for those who are drowning in the three poisons of greed, anger, and delusion. I am going to write about my struggles so that, hopefully, people out there will not feel so alone when they are also struggling with similar issues. I’m no dude with a shaved head wearing a saffron robe (although I might want to try that someday).
  3. Most blogs and websites about Nichiren Buddhism tend to fall on sectarian lines, especially in regards with Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Shu, Nichiren Shoshu, and so on. I’d also like to be one of the few independent voices that doesn’t mind examining different issues from a different perspective. For example: What does Buddhahood mean? Is chanting the O-daimoku the only way? Can be Nichiren be wrong on a few things?
      1. One thing I must note: Obviously I am not a part of the Soka Gakkai International. I won’t even shy away from expressing my own views, both positive and negative, about the organization. However, I am not going to dedicate this blog to trashing and bashing the SGI. It’s more important for me to discuss topics on love, compassion, and dharma over what Daisaku Ikeda is doing or the latest tiff with the Head Priest of Nichiren Shoshu. I might write about my bad experiences in the SGI, but I’ll change all names and keep all details anonymous. Otherwise, what goes on with the SGI is not my concern.
      2. In my experience, Nichiren Buddhists tend to be very argumentative to the point that personal attacks are common over differences of viewpoints and opinions. I’ll allow any and all comments on my blog but remember this: Don’t seek the Gohonzon outside of yourself. Don’t let my “erroneous” thinking be a hindrance to your journey. If you don’t like what I wrote, you always have a choice in ignoring what I write and moving on.

Without further ado…..

Welcome to my blog.