Since this chapter is about the World of Buddhahood, youre
probably expecting an explanation of the World of Buddhahood. The
problem is that even though there are many similarities among people
as they exhibit this World, descriptions of the subjective reality
of whats happening vary widely. The truth is that a lot happens.
What one person focuses on may be completely different than what
another person focuses on. And what you focus on one moment, and
see as a benefit from chanting, may be different than
what you will see as the benefit of chanting as soon
as 15 minutes later. Usually, what you felt you needed to change
about yourself is what you are going to see as either having changed
or not having changed. If you feel stressed, you may, after chanting,
say that chanting relaxes you. And, paradoxically, if you feel tired
and burned out, you may, after chanting, say that chanting revives
you and gives you energy. Did chanting have different results in
each case? No. They were the same results both times, but your focus
With that understanding, Ive created a list of various things
Ive noticed happen when people chant. Here they are:
· You see yourself becoming happier.
· You notice things in your environment more.
· You pay more attention to others around you and what they
are thinking and feeling.
· You find yourself embracing and reaching out to other
· You feel a much deeper sense of empathy and concern about
the sufferings of others, even people you dont know.
· You see situations from a different perspective, as an
extension of yourself, and your actions now support them.
· You regularly see even mundane things from a much broader
perspective than the vast majority of people: That of the whole
universe or of an unlimited span of time.
· You take more pleasure in everything you do.
· You enjoy your life more.
· You inspire others with wondrous new realizations.
· You attract people to you for unknown reasons.
· You approach new challenges that you would have never
dreamed of tackling before (and sometimes old challenges) with fresh
determination and vigor.
There are thousands more benefits that come from chanting, but
I cant list them all here. Im sure that as you chant,
youll notice tons of changes in yourself that arent
listed above. Really, you cant describe Buddhahood with a
list. The list is a list of results of becoming a Buddha. It isnt
a description of Buddhahood. The best way to explain what its
like to become a Buddha is to say that becoming a Buddha is becoming
a new version of you. Now that we have a description out of the
way, we can get on with the important part of the article
how to become a Buddha.
The goal in Buddhism is to make enlightenment ones central
life tendency. I mentioned before that a persons ability to
make a certain World their central life tendency is the result of
causes that they have made in the past. Some people spend their
entire lives striving to break free from a central life tendency
of Hell. For one to raise their central life tendency at all takes
tremendous effort, struggle, wisdom and good fortune. Therefore,
for a person to raise their central life tendency to that of enlightenment
is an incredible struggle.
Within each of the Ten Worlds is the potential for each of the
other nine. This is referred to as the mutual possession of the
Ten Worlds. What it means in practical terms is that the potential
for Buddhahood exists within each of the other Worlds. You dont
have to scratch and claw your way up through each and every one
of the Worlds to reach the highest or tenth World of Buddhahood.
As you become aware of your lifes tendency to cycle among
the lower six Worlds, you can develop a seeking mind to escape from
Even if your Central Life Tendency is that of Hell, as you chant
Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, you will easily and quickly escape the sufferings
of Hell and find within yourself a renewed hope for your own and
others future. If you fail to chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo,
though, you can never understand or experience the World of Buddhahood
in your own life. Chanting is not an intellectualization of Buddha
wisdom, such as reading passages from a wise man. Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
is not a phrase about Buddha wisdom; Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is Buddha
wisdom. Chanting is a direct connection to your Buddhahood, whereas
pontificating or studying about Buddhism is not. As Shakyamuni Buddha
said, The true entity of all phenomena can only be understood
and shared between Buddhas. (Shakyamuni, Lotus Sutra, p.24)
Therefore, the only way to do more than intellectualize the concept
of the World of Buddhahood is to start chanting Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
now and reveal the condition of Buddhahood within.
The accomplishment of enlightenment, or in other words, making
the World of Buddhahood your lifes central tendency, requires
Buddhist practice and involves both the World of Buddhahood and
the World of Bodhisattva. As we have stated before, the moment you
chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, your life is in the World of Buddhahood.
The moment you stop, your life returns to one of the other nine
Worlds, which is a process dependent upon your karma. Here an analogy
may help you to understand the process of enlightenment. Suppose
your life is a piece of steel and chanting Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
is like a magnet. The instant the steel (your life) touches the
magnet (your chanting), it takes on magnetic properties. While actually
physically in contact with the magnet, the steel itself is magnetized.
When you release the steel from the magnet, the steels magnetic
properties go away. But repeatedly rubbing the steel against the
magnet causes the steel to retain the magnetic properties even after
it is removed from contact with the magnet.
Chanting Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, alone, can temporarily lift your
life condition to that of the World of Buddhahood. But remember
we want to make the World of Buddhahood our Lifes Central
Tendency, right? In order to do that there is no other means than
to activate the World of Bodhisattva to strengthen and lengthen
our time spent in the World of Buddhahood. The practice of chanting
Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo along with true, selfless caring for another
person, causes Buddhahood to last longer and positively influences
the target of our caring.
When you chant for the first time, the condition of Buddhahood
may still be weak, just as the magnetic properties within the piece
of steel are weak after just touching the magnet. Therefore, you
may not be able to recognize the effect of Buddhahood. However,
the more time you spend chanting, the more consistently you chant
every day, and the more determinedly you chant, the more you will
see the various aspects of enlightenment emerging from your life.
As you challenge yourself to chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo lots, say
an hour per day, the discipline alone will create some positive
changes in your life. But dont be fooled into thinking that
its just discipline alone that creates the benefits of Buddhist
practice. You are, without even knowing it, doing battle with yourself
as you chant. You are using the World of Buddhahood to challenge
that pesky Central Life Tendency World youve been stuck in
for so long. As you pry and strain to loosen yourself from the grasp
of a life of frustration and suffering, it becomes clearer, day
by day, that this is what your life was meant to do
you are meant to be a Buddha.
There really is something that develops in a person becoming a
Buddha that is quite different. A strength and confidence seems
to naturally flow from you. No matter the circumstances, as a person
on the path to Buddhahood, you now are an actor as opposed to being
just a reactor. People no longer ignore you. People are more inclined
to either really like or really dislike you. You are no longer part
of their suffering club. The camaraderie of misery no longer is
the tie that binds relationships. You have to make uncomfortable
choices that youve never had to deal with in the past. And
it feels good; really good to have freedom at last.
In the midst of this new paradigm of action as a Buddha, you come
face to face with so many new challenges. But each new challenge
feels almost reassuring in the way that its so relevant, so
involving in the process you want for your lifes journey.
The boredom of routine, of being trapped in the desperate cycles,
naturally and gently falls away as new possibilities present themselves
to you and come clearly into focus every day. Not surprisingly,
each possibility involves someone other than you.
Just as youre coming to grips with the thought that those
around you now appear to like or dislike you more than ever before,
you become aware that you cant ignore them the way you used
to. Relationships have changed. They have changed because you have
changed. Your disciplined chanting of an hour per day has done something
it has given you freedom to make
choices that affect you and all the people around you. Your focus
is different. Your primary challenges are not about what to do because
of what someone else did. Your life has always had some power to
affect those around you
you just werent aware of it because
your life condition was so weak. Youve spent years being discouraged
and made unhealthy by your long stay in the Six Lower Worlds; you
never noticed its affect before. Now you feel strong. In just
a short period of time your life condition has risen like the phoenix.
But as you look around from your lofty life condition, you recall
all too vividly the resentment you have for those who have been
influencing, even controlling, your life up until now. It may take
a while to come to grips with your own resentment. Theres
no need to feel guilty about it. Sooner or later, as you continue
to chant, youll come to an understanding that all those around
you who have dragged you down before now need you
and you need
Why do you need them? Because deep down you do care that they are
so miserable and are suffering. And helping them is central to your
personal development. Your life condition of the World of Buddhahood
becomes more and more obvious to you while youre chanting.
But it also becomes more and more obvious to you that it doesnt
last the way it seemed to last when you first started chanting.
If youve been chanting for several months or years, you may
have lost your passion. Your journeys to the World of Buddhahood
may quickly lapse into the World of Learning or World of Realization
the instant youve stopped chanting. It may become really difficult
to chant with anything resembling passion anymore.
The resistance of significant antagonists can bring out something
in you that without them you have no chance to develop. Resistance
from others can reignite the flame of passion in your practice and
in your life that has faded with time and isolation. Opposition
from others helps us to concentrate when we chant, gives us a reason
to develop ourselves, and gives us something to chant about, study
about, and think about. When opposed, were sharp and ready.
When unopposed, we become lazy and stagnate. In Buddhism, there
are no real enemies other than the ones within. Hostility from others
only furthers our resolve to propagate Buddhism, become a better
person, and become a Buddha. Since your enemies are really your
biggest allies for your own development, how can you not feel a
debt of gratitude toward them? When you recognize yourself at a
plateau in your practice, realize that now is the time to retake
the oath of a Buddha.
The oath of Buddhas is to make all others equal to themselves.
Its what a Buddha does, by definition. You see, overcoming
suffering cannot be limited to just a Buddha. Seeing suffering people
all around you causes you to suffer. If the definition of a Buddha
is one who has overcome all sufferings
especially those of
the all-inclusive categories Shakyamuni illuminated: the four sufferings
of birth, aging, sickness and death
then one who suffers on
account of the suffering people around them has not completed the
transformation to that of a Buddha.
You can accomplish the feat of challenging the suffering of all
the people around you by sincerely caring and chanting and communicating
to them the very real hope that lies dormant in their lives. Doing
this will relieve your own suffering on behalf of them. There will
always be some who will not listen
at least not right away.
But there will also always be some who are deeply impacted by your
words and by your sincere and passionate caring. No one, though,
will escape unscathed from their encounter with you IF youre
sincere and truly care about their happiness. It may be next week,
next month, next year, or maybe even longer, but sooner or later
people find themselves in circumstances that reawaken the hope-filled
words youve spoken to them about their Buddha Nature within.
Yet we refrain from expressing our concern for others happiness
and for the development of their lives because we fear rejection.
Fear blocks compassion. Compassion can only blossom when we are
inwardly strong, emotionally, when we have confidence in our Buddha
When we see ourselves become fearful of others opinions,
so much so that it stops us from communicating sincerely with them,
we can prod ourselves onward to develop compassion by developing
our inner strength.
Reasoning is not our enemy here. We can ask ourselves why we care
so much about the possibility that others will totally reject our
sincere concerns. We can understand that we have allowed others
to control our lives by fearing their rejection. We can reason with
ourselves that from our own personal experience we have never made
significant gains in our relationships without accepting risks
without putting ourselves out there. Most importantly
and youd be surprised how frequently this is overlooked
by Buddhists we can chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to strengthen
our lives and to bring out our Buddha wisdom.
But it doesnt stop with chanting; it starts with it. Practicing
compassion is important in order to develop compassion and to develop
your Buddhahood. Empathy is the first step to committed, life-changing,
World of Bodhisattva compassion. Can you put yourself in anothers
place? Can you imagine how their troubles feel? This takes sincerity,
but its not all that difficult to do. You see, it doesnt
have to be everyone around you that is the target of your compassion.
Eventually, perhaps, it will be. But for now target a person, an
animal, any life you really care about already. Chant for them.
Communicate with them. Practice selflessness by focusing, even for
a moment of the time you spend chanting, on alleviating their sufferings.
Chant with your whole heart for them.
Practicing compassion changes the way you practice Buddhism. It
changes the way you deal with others. If you keep doing it, the
inevitable results will be repeated interactions with people where
you challenge their long-held superstitions and false beliefs that
caused them to suffer and look outside themselves for the answers
in the first place. The results of this kind of practice will be
a strengthening of your life condition, your Buddha compassion and
your Buddha wisdom.
So why do I feel the need to try to encourage this if its
so simple and results in such wonderful outcomes? Because when you
try it, youll find out just how hard it is to do. There are
many things that block your development: fears, insecurities, mistakes,
and failures. As you challenge yourself to practice compassion,
you will find that each specific block is right there facing you.
Your practice of Buddhism becomes self-directed at this point. There
is no need for anyone to tell you what to do anymore. No mentors
or teachers are needed now. Your blocks to compassion become your
road map. You are the only one who knows how to do this, specifically
as it relates to your own life. This is what practicing Buddhism
is all about.
You can do this in a crowd, I suppose, as in chanting with large
groups of people. But from my own experience Ive found that
progress happens most often when Im chanting alone or with
my wife. I can recall, though, times when dealing with groups of
people at Buddhist meetings that I chanted sincerely to help even
one other person see a glimmer of their lifes potential through
practicing Buddhism. At such times Ive actually astounded
myself at the encouraging words that came tumbling out of my mouth.
It was like another person was inside of me doing the talking. It
was encouraging and it felt really, really good. But you wont
always have others around you. You will always have yourself. And
others can and often do distract or become excuses for the derailment
of your life condition development. Bottom line: practice compassion
alone or with others, but practice it.
The World of Buddhahood and the World of Bodhisattva work together
to create the enlightened Buddha that is dormant inside of each
of us. As Ive said before, they are symbiotic Worlds. The
World of Buddhahood is strengthened and lengthened in your life
in direct proportion to the efforts and sincerity you put out in
practicing Buddhism in the World of Bodhisattva. Buddhahood doesnt
just happen by thinking about it. It doesnt just happen by
believing the right things. It doesnt just happen because
you belong to the right Buddhist group or temple. A Buddha must
take action to challenge their karma in the Lower Worlds and establish
their Central Life Tendency in the World of Buddhahood. Challenge
takes much courage, but even a moments efforts to challenge
your lifes weaknesses results in immediate and wonderful changes
in your life. Its no wonder people have historically looked
at Buddhas as supernatural or magical beings. The changes you experience
as you begin to exhibit the World of Buddhahood lengthened
and strengthened by the World of Bodhisattva are astounding.
It does seem magical when you practice Buddhism this way. These
two Worlds, working together in your life, are the most powerful
and dynamic forces for change imaginable.
This article is about practicing Buddhism in a war zone. It may
seem to some that it is impossible, or at the very least ironic,
that I would be trying to teach people about Buddhist compassion
who are involved in a situation and an environment where there are
people trying to kill them and where they are often asked to carry
out missions knowing that they will have to kill another person.
It has been said that Buddhism is the true Great Equalizer though.
I believe this wholeheartedly. Examined carefully, everyone is exposed
to conflict of some sort or another. And from the standpoint of
cause and effect, there is no one who is not, at the very least,
complicit in the crime of inflicting pain or death on others. For
example, Im a taxpayer who thereby helps to fund the war in
Iraq (however unwillingly). There are also many indirect causes
that I make every day that result in a negative effect to another,
even though that is not my intent. Those in a war zone have the
very same access to internal change that I do. And internal change
always shows up externally as well. No one lives in a vacuum. Everything
we think, do or say affects others in some way. The power generated
by the internal change of a person attaining Buddhahood is greater
than anyone can measure. And the circumstances in which that change
happens are unimportant to the process. In fact, if history is any
indication, it is more likely that a person will create dynamic
change will attain Buddhahood in the midst of conflict
and turmoil than in a peaceful and comfortable place in their life.
So is it unreasonable to think that a person in a uniform with
a gun in their hands can practice Buddhism? Absolutely not! Appearances
are often deceiving. The situation does not make the man (or woman).
And the positive ramifications from even one person trying to do
this are astronomical. But Ill guess that very few readers
are really convinced yet.
Heres a test you can do to prove to yourself the nature,
the difficulty and the amount of time required to engage in a selfless
Buddhist practice. It will show you what it feels like to do this
in your present circumstances. It will help you face your own excuses
for not challenging yourself. It will help you see that this practice
really and truly is not hampered in any way by the circumstances
of the practitioner of Buddhism.
Chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo while thinking of nothing other than
the happiness of one other person. Picture them in your minds
eye. Empathize with their suffering. Visualize their face becoming
happy. See how long you can chant before your mind switches back
to yourself. If youre honest with yourself while doing this,
its unlikely that you will be able to manage more than a minute
or two. Five minutes of compassionate focus is an extremely long
time. And I dont mean doing mental gymnastics while chanting.
Im not talking about chanting while thinking If this
person becomes happier then Ill be happier not having them
so miserable around me. Thats just about you. Its
not really chanting for them. Chanting for someone with pure caring
and sincerity means wracking your brain as you chant to try to find
how to make them happy. It means wishing that they would immediately
become happy without them giving you credit for it or even knowing
what youre doing. Ill be willing to bet that people
in life threatening circumstances are more capable of this kind
of compassionate chanting than people who are not.
If youre one of those rare individuals who find it easy to
chant for others, Ill be willing to bet that you find it difficult
to chant for your own happiness. This is why I said that practicing
compassion is a road map for your practice. If you cant sincerely
chant for your own happiness if, perhaps, you feel stabbing
pangs of guilt over self indulgent thought you need to focus
on re-establishing the worth of your own life. Without a high level
of self-esteem, some would even say a level bordering on arrogance,
you can have little impact on the world around you. You must develop
respect for all life, including you own, and realize that life,
at its deepest level, is one. There is no separation of life. For
you to neglect your own life is called self-slander and is very
serious in terms of negative cause and effect.
But if you are able to chant for others and for yourself
for the development of your own Buddhahood, then its time
you expanded your caring for others further and deeper than it is
right now. There is no ultimate amount of caring. There is no limit
to the impact you can make through your focus of chanting and developing
your Buddhahood. If you are self-satisfied with where you are in
your life I would say you lack both sincerity and true compassion.
You also lack a seeking mind. A seeking mind is a requisite for
Buddhahood. Until every last bit of suffering has been eliminated,
there is no time to indulge in complacency. A single persons
transformation to a Buddha can impact and change the whole world
or even the universe. The practice takes but a second and it takes
an entire lifetime.
The more sincerity you can pour into a single moment of your practice
of Buddhism the more extreme the results. An atomic bombs
explosive power is developed at a level thats so small its
invisible to the naked eye. A human who transforms themselves into
a Buddha does so unnoticed by others. Its only through their
actions derived from gut-wrenching caring that it is accomplished.
This is not a calm, sleepy process. It happens during conflict and
anguish. Its meditation for the real world problems that mankind
faces. What goes on in your life when you chant for the enlightenment
of others and yourself is unstoppable. No prison can stop it. No
threats can stop it. Absolutely nothing can. The process only gathers
power as it encounters external resistance.
Im not encouraging that we should all take up guns so that
we can practice Buddhism in a war zone. Im just saying that
this practice is all about practicing caring for others and
for self. And it involves practicing caring and selflessness while
living in the midst of a battle for self preservation. The battle
for self preservation rages on everywhere. No one practices Buddhism
who is not in some kind of a war zone.