About Buddhism

MIKE’S PERSONAL QUEST FOR HAPPINESS

If you have met Mike Townshend, either by attending one of his workshops or lectures, or even as a casual acquaintance, you may well wonder how he seems to be so happy and easy with himself. And the answer is quite simple: Mike is a practicing Buddhist for over 40 years and he knows without a doubt that his practice has allowed him to deeply enjoy his journey of life and every single person with whom he comes into contact. Contained below is some information about the practice that Mike follows every single day and there’s information at the bottom of this page that will allow you to learn more, if you so desire. Mike wishes you the very best days of your life, filled with wonder and joy. Remember what he tells every audience: “I no longer have the past, it is gone forever. The future just isn’t here yet. But, I have this very day, this very hour, and this very moment to take in all that surrounds me and to make the most of the day at hand.” “Carpe Diem!” [Latin – “Seize the Day”] is his motto and his greatest gift.

The Secret to Happiness

The secret is that there is no secret!
Buddhism teaches that a universal Law (dharma) underlies everything in the universe. This is the very essence of life. One could also think of it as the fundamental rhythm of life and the universe. The noted 13th Century Japanese Buddhist teacher Nichiren, identified this Law or essence as “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”. He taught that by correctly carrying out the practice of Buddhism everyone is able to bring his or her individual life into harmony with the greater life of the universe. The result of this is that one is able to experience greater wisdom, courage, life force and compassion (the qualities of this life-essence). This, practically, is what it means to manifest Buddhahood, or an enlightened life condition.

Practitioners of Nichiren’s Buddhism employ their daily practice to squarely confront and overcome the specific challenges of their lives. Through this process, one is able to appreciate and manifest the profound potential of one's life. Buddhist practice also means to realize and unfold one's unique life purpose. This process of inner spiritual transformation or "human revolution" not only leads to individual empowerment and constructive action but is the surest way to direct humankind's energies toward creating a peaceful and prosperous world.

History of Buddhism

Shakyamuni

The origins of modern Buddhism are traced to the teachings of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived some 2,500 years ago in what is modern-day Nepal. Born Gautama Siddhartha, he abandoned his sheltered, princely life and sought instead to understand the inescapable sufferings of every human being—birth, aging, sickness and death—and the means by which these sufferings could be overcome.

Following his enlightenment at age 30, he traveled throughout India for some 50 years, sharing the wisdom he had discovered. The term Buddha, or "enlightened one," is applied to any human being who realizes the eternity of life and the operation of cause and effect throughout the three existences of past, present and future.

Throughout Shakyamuni Buddha's life, he expounded many sutras, or teachings, the highest and most comprehensive being the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni stated that all of his teachings prior to the Lotus Sutra should be regarded as provisional; these teachings strove to awaken people to the impermanence of all phenomena in order to free them from the sufferings that arise from egoistic attachment to things that the passage of time will destroy or render meaningless.

As his essential teaching, , the Lotus Sutra teaches the existence of an innate and universal truth known as the Buddha nature, the manifestation of which enables one to enjoy absolute happiness and to act with boundless compassion. Rather than stressing impermanence and the consequent need to eliminate earthly desires and attachments, the Lotus Sutra asserts the ultimate reality of the Buddha nature inherent in all life. It is therefore a teaching that profoundly affirms the realities of daily life, and which naturally encourages an active engagement with others and with the whole of human society.

The Lotus Sutra is also unique among the teachings of Shakyamuni in that it makes the attainment of enlightenment a possibility open to all people—without distinction based on gender, race, social standing or education.

Nichiren Daishonin

After Shakyamuni's death, his teachings became splintered and increasingly misunderstood as they spread throughout Asia and beyond. In the 13th century, a Japanese Buddhist reformer, Nichiren Daishonin, declared the Lotus Sutra, taught during the final eight years of Shakyamuni's life, to be the highest and ultimate teaching of Buddhism. The Lotus Sutra most clearly shows Buddhism as a powerful, life-affirming, egalitarian and humanistic teaching.

Born the son of a fisherman in a time of social unrest and natural catastrophe, Nichiren became a religious acolyte and after a period of intensive study came to realize that the Lotus Sutra constitutes the heart of Buddhist teachings. His great gift to humanity was in giving concrete expression to this life-affirming philosophy by creating a simple yet profound daily practice accessible to all people. Nichiren first chanted the title of the Lotus Sutra Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on April 28, 1253, and later inscribed the mandala of the Gohonzon (the physical object of devotion for all humanity). It is the philosophy taught by Nichiren that forms the foundation of the modern lay organization of practitioners, The Soka Gakkai International (SGI).

The SGI
Based on the teachings and philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a lay Buddhist organization, seeks to promote the values of peace, culture and education. The practice of Buddhism exists for the happiness of each individual and the fostering of world peace.

What Is Buddhist Practice?

The workings of the universe are an expression of a single principle or Law, expressed as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (phonetically: “Nahm-Me-Oh-Ho-Ren-Gay-Key-Oh).

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo enables all people to perceive this Law in their own lives and to come into rhythm with it. By putting their lives in harmony with this Law, people can unlock their hidden potential and achieve harmony with the environment.

This is the ultimate expression of individual empowerment—that each person can transform the inevitable sufferings of life into sources of growth and fulfillment and become a positive influence in their family and community.

Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, studying Buddhist philosophy and taking action daily for the well being of others, we will establish a state of profound happiness and wisdom, as well as contribute to society.

To learn more about the SGI or to attend a meeting, please contact the Community Center nearest to you. A listing of Centers can be found at: www.SGI-USA.com. Or, send an email to Mike Townshend directly at miketownshend@aol.com.

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