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Drifting along the faith highway

August 4, 2017

I began this Year practicing Nichiren Buddhism, I then switched to a Zen Buddhist practice for a couple of months, I then spent the last three and half months with the chanting practice of Nichiren Buddhism, It seems that I’ve been flip flopping between these two practices for a while now.

As a member of the SGI I wanted to give Nichiren Buddhism another try, despite our local district’s recent closure I wanted to give my practice one last try, I really wanted to receive actual proof, so I stripped away the study aspect as I wanted to approach the practice from the viewpoint of faith.

For the last few months I even stripped away the Gongyo aspect of the morning and evening service and just focussed on chanting ‘daimoku’ to the Gohonzon, with a specific goal and timeframe in mind.

As in the past I’ve chanted for things with no results, leaders have blamed my lack of consistency or lack of setting a timescale, so with this in mind I wrote down the goal and time frame on a small piece of paper and kept it in my Butsudan.

The ‘bountiful Mr. M’ has been in touch a few times during this period he’s the Men’s chapter leader, and someone I consider a friend, he has spent many a pleasant evening at our house talking about Buddhism and life in general, however I have asked him not to visit at the moment also I have not shared my goal to him, as I don’t want to be ‘talked around’ – that is being told that this was the wrong thing to chant for, or to change my perspective and adopt a new goal.

Nichiren Daishonin in writings tells his followers to chant for whatever they want, to challenge their faith, and to seek actual proof, and so I have and the result has been    – nothing.

Now I’m sure the ‘bountiful Mr. M’ will say that my practice isn’t strong enough to garner actual proof, that I chanted with doubt in my heart (that’s true) that I didn’t spend enough hours chanting, that study and attending meetings are as valuable as the chanting itself, whatever he may have said the fault would have been mine…placing the blame squarely on my doorstep.

My answer is a very simple one, It’s based on common sense not esoteric Buddhist scripture – how do I develop strong faith without the proof to start with, how am I supposed to ‘recruit’ others with the great benefits of the practice and share my experiences, when after almost four years, I’ve yet to discover the benefits of practice for myself.

Mr M, has been in touch again, this last couple of days promoting a study lecture at Taplow court, I’ve told him in polite terms that I need some time and space, although I still half expect a phone call within the next couple of days, it seems that sometimes he’s too caught up in his own narrative to hear what others are saying, after all this, I hope to remain a friends, although my past experience is that members quickly loose your number, when you stop practising.

It’s important to stress that I haven’t fallen out with anyone over this, or am I badmouthing the Nichiren practice, I’m just sharing my personal experiences.

The organizational and financial structures of the Zen monasteries and groups no longer appeal to me either, Zen is often called the weekend spiritual pastime of the middle aged, middle class, and while I cannot fully agree with this, I can see where these kind of statements may have a ring of truth to them, again born from my own personal experiences.

I really enjoyed my Zen practice, when I started ten years ago, and found that the Zazen practice gave me strength and hope at a dark time in my life.

I have nostalgic memories of Zen practice those Thursday nights at Sheffield with Bob’s small group.

The times when I’ve returned to the Zen tradition it’s in a vain attempt to recapture that feeling I had at that time in my life, but of course that time has past, everyone has moved on, and now it’s time I did the same.

So as I turn away from my decade of Buddhist practice and study, it’s with a heavy heart, it will be a door that I keep slightly ajar, and who knows I may return to in years to come, with a different mindset.

So once again off I set drifting to parts unknown seeking spiritual nourishment elsewhere, that great quest to find the all important ‘F’ not fame, not fortune, but that most elusive of all – faith.

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