I can very much relate to a certain level of resistance to a term that is inherently associated with a monotheistic concept, especially when used in the context of Buddhist practice and modern spirituality. I used to be just as opposed to the concept myself, but I wanted to explain in a bit more detail how I now think about God, and offer some more food for thought and discussion.
Chanting nam myoho renge kyois a truly powerful practice which can transform your life and mindset in hugely positive ways. There are a few ways you can focus your mind when chanting, but the practice becomes even more profound when you focus your attention on the meaning of what you’re actually saying. Not just the literal translation of the words, but what they represent. This mantra is rich in history and symbolism and can be interpreted in various ways, but all really coming down to the same general idea.
Vision boards are hugely popular, I see references to them and guides and templates for putting one together everywhere I look, especially at this time of year when everyone is making resolutions and plans and goals for the year ahead.
Usually, a vision board is created with the intention to immerse yourself in images of the things that you want, so you put up a picture to represent that new car you haven’t got yet, or that beach holiday you’re aching to go on, or that bank balance with more zeroes than you’ve ever had in your life. By meditating on this, imagining yourself as if you already have all these wonderful things, getting into that place of high energy and “Thanks in Advance” gratitude, the Universe will see your heart’s desire and conspire to make it happen. And it does work! Countless people have testified to how effective they can be.
A few years ago, there was a guy in my life. I won’t go into the boring (and ultimately irrelevant) details of what happened, but suffice to say he was not a good guy. It took me a while to realise that, though, as he had enough charm and wit to get under my skin, and also had the same effect on two close friends. He was quite manipulative and in the end, he had managed to play us all against each other, even resulting in a rift in our friendship. He didn’t care that he was hurting us; on the contrary, he actually seemed to get enjoyment from toying with our lives and emotions. We all worked in the same company so it was a very difficult time, with every day bringing new arguments and feelings of resentment, anger, and hurt. Even after I cut off contact with him, I couldn’t get the situation out of my mind. Every time I saw him in the office, strong feelings of bitterness and hatred would rise up, spoil my mood, and ruin my day.
The other day I was sitting on the beach here on Koh Lanta, my home away from home again this winter, watching this serenely beautiful sunset. I was thinking about someone, a person in my life whom I have come to love beyond measure.
Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God is one of my favourite books of all time, and one that resonated deeply with me when I first started getting into all this spiritual malarkey. The book is written as a dialogue between Walsch and “God”, after Walsch claimed to hear a response to his desperate plea for answers during a low period in his life. I understand that it may be a bit of stretch to ask you to believe that Walsch had an actual conversation with God (although for the record, yes I do believe it), but regardless, this book is full of beautiful insights and life lessons. This is a book I return to time and time again, and I wanted to share with you a selection of my favourite nuggets of wisdom within.
(PS If you like what you read here, you might consider buying your own copy!*)
As spiritual practice goes, chanting is a relatively easy option. It can be challenging to quiet your mind and release stray thoughts during silent meditation. It can be difficult to bring a sense of mindfulness to every moment, especially the difficult ones. With chanting, however, all you really need to do is say the words. Out loud, regularly and consistently. After a while, you’ll even find that those meditation and mindfulness skills start to come naturally! You just need to start with nam myoho renge kyo.
People often ask what they should think about while chanting, and there is no right or wrong answer to that. The power of the words alone will be invoked no matter what you’re thinking about as you’re chanting.
However, there are several ways you can consciously direct your thoughts and intentions to get the best out of your chanting, or to complement any other spiritual or self-help practice.
When it comes to spiritual (or self-improvement) practice, everyone has different preferences. Some like meditation, some prefer yoga, some do mindfulness practices, some talk to angels… I think that all practices can ultimately connect you to the same energy that lies within and around us, so it doesn’t really matter which particular practice resonates with you. There is no right or wrong.
With one caveat…
Spiritual practice should be a DAILY thing. Not every few days, or every once in a while. EVERY DAY.
Imagine having a conversation like this with a friend:
“Hey buddy! Thanks so much!”
“That 100 quid!”
“Ummm… what 100 quid?”
“The 100 quid you’re going to give me!”
“What, you need a loan?”
“Haha! No, not a loan, you’re just gonna give it to me!”
“Ehhh are you crazy? I can barely afford to splash out 100 quid on myself, let alone just give it away!”
Sounds about right, yeah? After all, it would be a bit presumptuous to just assume someone is just going to give you something for nothing.
Well here’s the good news – the Universe LOVES presumption!
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