(My own picture)
When you’ve been a Buddhist for 15 years, you have the opportunity to receive a special okatagi gohonzon. The gohonzon is the object of devotion for Nichiren Buddhists. It is the scroll that contains nam myo ho renge kyo written down the centre (in Chinese and Sanscrit) along with other characters depicting important Buddhist figures and principles. It embodies the life of the Buddha and it representative of the state of Buddhahood in each of us. Okatagi literally means “woodblock”. The difference between my first one and this one is merely the material it’s printed on and it’s a bit bigger. After 15 years of practice, there are many days when I feel like I don’t know jackshit about life. Other than the fact that I’ve managed not to lose my nut. Okay, well maybe I did a few times, but I got it back. I think it would be difficult if not impossible to practice on my own, so I’m grateful to my fellow practitioners who have continued to give me support and encouragement all these years. I’ve been privileged to hear some amazing experiences of lives transformed through this practice that only demands you seek the truth from within and to always question and study. I know that without their encouragement and daimoku, I would have packed up my stuff and run away. I have a community of people who are positive and uplifting and when you’re an actor, stay at home mum and transcribe for mind numbing hours, it sure helps. In return, I can encourage and help others by sharing my experience with them or by chanting with them.
So many times the sound of daimoku will fill my head instead of the negative noise that my insecurity generates when I’m freaking out about shit. It’s not the sound of just empty words but a powerful key to awaken that stand alone spirit. I know that no matter what life holds, I always have hope that I can begin again, I can get up and try again and one day I will believe that I am indeed the Treasure Tower. Someone once doubted that my practice truly worked as I had prayed diligently for a child and it seemed as if my prayers weren’t answered. In fact, it was 7 years of shitty things happening to me. Yet I hadn’t given up, I hadn’t run away, and in the end, I brought home a son. I thought that once that had been achieved that yes, I truly would be happy. And I was – for five minutes and then it was, oh my god, now what do I do? At the end of the marital struggles, elder care, depressions, job loss, and infertility, I KNEW I had the ability to survive any MOTHERFUCKING thing. Including myself.
This is my mission, my path. For me, happiness is not a destination. I’m not going to say one day, oh, I’ve got it all, NOW I’m happy. Cause there’s always something coming down the pike to change that one moment, isn’t there? Sometimes I think the whole world is in a conspiracy to remind me how unworthy I am, that I’m not skinny enough, white enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough, etc. Cause if I was, well, I’d be HAPPY. It’s a journey of cultivating appreciation, compassion and realizing your true nature. I’m talking about unshakeable happiness, which is not defined in one moment. It is not attained by gaining something outside of myself. Even if I won a million dollars (or by Vancouver standards $30 mil), I’d be thrilled…. then worried about how what I could afford and how long it was going to last and who was going to ask me for money. And yes, I’d like a million dollars anyway.
I want to learn more, expand my capacity to do more with my life and learn to suffer what there is to suffer and enjoy what there is to enjoy.
It’s a journey of cultivating gratitude and appreciation and compassion.