“If you shine with a radiant light, there can be no darkness in your life.”
26 May 2012 Leave a comment
“When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution. We all have the power to change. When we realize this truth, we can bring forth that power anywhere, anytime, and in any situation.”
19 May 2012 4 Comments
Today is a bright and beautiful day in Southern California. I feel very optimistic about things that are changing in my life and environment. It has been an interesting two years. I have learned so much about myself and about other people. I think the most important thing that I have learned is to trust my intuition. Through my Buddhist practice, I have learned to develop it and hone it. In the past, I would always rely on the opinions of other people. I would even go to get psychic readings before I would reach within myself to find the answers to my questions. All of that was really a reflection of my lack of self-confidence and my fears about making mistakes. I am surely not alone. In reflecting on these thoughts today, I am reminded of a quote from Daisaku Ikeda found in the book called The New Human Revolution, Volume 2 (1995). On page 154, Ikeda states:
The path of human evolution lies in an ongoing commitment to self-reflection and improvement based on the teachings of the Daishonin’s Buddhism — striving each day to become a better person today than we were yesterday, even if only a little bit, and better tomorrow than today. Unlimited benefit and good fortune are found only in such unflagging efforts.
It is an ongoing process, and at times, I will probably need to remind myself of the progress that I have made so far to continue pushing myself forward still. I give myself permission to trust the process as I shine from within and undergo my human revolution.
14 May 2012 Leave a comment
24 Sep 2011 Leave a comment
Today marks the 18th anniversary of the founding of the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue. It is an institute for peace, learning, and dialogue located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In honor of this anniversary, I would like to share this quote with you:
“I hope you will always have the spirit to learn with a lively curiosity and interest. When leaders are enthusiastic to keep on learning and growing, they inspire others. New ideas emerge and spread. Fresh energy to advance surges forth.” –Daisaku Ikeda
This is the true spirit of the one of the Ten Worlds of Existence. The highest of these is called Four Noble Worlds. It includes: Buddhahood, Bodhisattva, Realization and Learning.
I encourage all people to embrace the philosophy of learning at all times in life. It is the key to an enlightened state of being.
By Michelle Flowers (c) 2011, All rights reserved
19 Sep 2011 Leave a comment
–President Daisaku Ikeda
15 Sep 2011 Leave a comment
“Strength is happiness. Strength is itself victory. In weakness and cowardice there is no happiness. When you wage a struggle, you might win or you might lose. But regardless of the short-term outcome, the very fact of your continuing to struggle is proof of your victory as a human being. A strong spirit, strong faith and strong prayer—developing these is victory and the world of Buddhahood.” –President Ikeda
31 Jul 2011 4 Comments
I recently was honored to be a judge at the annual NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) in Los Angeles. The ACT-SO is an event that is designed to provide performance and presentation experience for youth ages 14-19. Regional NAACP offices oversee the regional competitions and the regional winners compete at the national ACT-SO.
I was one of five judges who presided over the national oratory or speech competition. We considered 42 teenage contestants during the event. They were an impressive group of orators who had prepared for months to perform in this competition.
There was one contestant who stood out from the rest. Sadly, he failed to make it to the competition when the other students did. We thought that he had gotten nervous and decided not to show up at the last minute. However, we learned that he had experienced a lot of challenges along his journey that he had no, or little control over, which prevented him from making it to the competition on time. This 17 year old was from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He did not make it to Los Angeles until three hours after the competition had ended because his family could not afford a plane tickets for him to make it. He was able to find a standby ticket for he and his mother. Unfortunately, they got separated on different flights. As an underage minor, he needed to arrive at the competition with his guardian, who in this case was his mother. They did not make it to the Los Angeles airport together until it was too late. Nonetheless, the young man found a way for he and his mother to travel from the Los Angeles airport to the Convention Center.
Despite his circumstances, he pressed on with a positive attitude and made it to the Convention Center. Once he arrived, he found the head of the NAACP ACT-SO upon his arrival to the convention center. He asked her politely if you can still compete. When he learned that he could not, he maintained his patience and persistence. He demonstrated what we as Nichiren Buddhist call ichinen. Ichinen is a Japanese term that means determination or will power. It represents that driving force within a person who is fixed on a goal.
This 17 year old demonstrated his ichinen by patiently waiting to perform for us. He was driven even though he realized that he would not be considered in the running for the competition as we had already turned in our list of winners. He was so mature and polite through it all. He sat and didn’t say anything as he just let us deliberate over the possibility of seeing him perform.
As judges, we were so moved by his patience, persistence and ichinen that we were happy to see him perform his speech for us. He performed it for us in a hotel room. We witnessed him give a very moving speech on the relevance of the NAACP to the lives of youth today. He performed it with an incredible amount of gratitude and sincerity. It was a very moving and special moment made more significant because of his ichinen. We also had the opportunity to sit and talk with the young man after he completed his speech. We learned about his personal goals and why he had written his speech. Although he did not win the competition he did have a victory that day. His victory was the result of his ichinen.
Further, his ichinen provided us all with a unique lesson. He taught us how to see challenges as an opportunities for even greater success. He was an inspiration for everyone who was involved in the competition. President Ikeda says, “Whether you will be victorious in life or not is all up to your ichinen. How you direct your mind is crucial. A victor in his or her ichinen is a true winner in life.” This ACT-SO contestant demonstrated his ichinen and proved to be the victor in the competition and in his life. We ought to all learn from him and show off our ichinen with any challenges that we may face.
By Michelle Flowers (c) 2011, All rights reserved
05 Jul 2011 Leave a comment
Just a little reminder about an online resource offered by the SGI-USA. If you are on the run and in need of daily encouragement, visit the SGI-USA web page at http://www.sgi-usa.org/encouragement/ The page is updated daily, and the material coincides with other SGI publications.
04 Jul 2011 Leave a comment
Happy Birthday to the United States of America. Today, we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. Barbecues are in full swing and fireworks will be bursting into the nighttime skies. On today, it only seems right to remember this quotation from President Ikeda:
Freedom doesn’t mean an absence of all restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction in the face of any obstacle. This is true freedom.
This is the kind of freedom that comes from chanting Daimoku while believing in the Mystic Law and the practice which supports it, the Soka Gakkai International.