Opening – March 25, 2013 Meditation
Meditation, whether silent or chanting Odaimoku, is an opportunity to open our lives to the Buddha within. It isn’t that the Buddha within is only present during these times, but it is these moments when we are able to actually be present to our deeper self.
Much of our day is filled with numerous activities, which drown out the soft voice of enlightenment. This soft voice is within, but it seems we are most likely to listen to its wisdom and compassion when we are able to silence the very active and also very loud shouting of our thinking, doing and processing mind.
It is completely understandable that we might become discouraged that somehow we are not able to practice and be Buddhists in an ever increasingly complex world. Yet, I believe that using those special moments of giving strength to our innate Buddha potential through our practice of chanting Odaimoku and then further trying to engage in mindfulness throughout our day will begin to change our lives.
If we think about the Simile of Herbs chapter in the Lotus Sutra we recall the story of the rain cloud, which nourishes each of the various plants and herbs equally, even though the capacities of the plants differ.
Our practice of chanting Odaimoku, our meditation, is like this Dharma rain cloud passing over our lives. The more Dharma rain our plant, our life, receives the more it will grow and thrive.
Below I offer you for consideration a way to perhaps more actively engage in your chanting and increase the benefit it brings to changing your life.
As you chant or prepare for your meditation begin with gratitude. Engage in a purposeful recollection of all the things, which occurred. If you incorporate this in the morning then think about all the things that occurred the day before for which you are grateful. Be fierce about trying to make your list as long and thorough as possible. Learn to not be stingy with your gratitude, and learn not be begrudging.
Next, review your activities from start to finish noticing if possible all the times when you were able to act in harmony with your Buddhist belief. Notice the times when the Buddha was present within your life, when your actions were in harmony with your beliefs. Give thanks and appreciation for the good you have done.
Now think of the times when your actions were perhaps not as skillful as you might have wished. Use this as an opportunity to see where you can grow, and allow change to seep into your life. Never mind if you think you are doing the same unskillful things every day. Eventually the more you cultivate awareness the more skillful you will become at making the kind of changes in your life.
Finally conclude your practice of self-examination and reflection with appreciation for both the skillful and the unskillful. For in becoming more willing to be grateful, and being aware of both your strengths as well as your growing edges you are softening up your life so your innate Buddha nature will have fertile ground upon which to grow as it receives nourishment from the rain of the Dharma on your life.
In all things cultivate the life of gratitude.