How to beat your darkness and achieve great victories in life

A couple of weeks ago I decided it might be lovely to write a post about the constant battle we face with our Fundamental Darkness (FD) – the illusions and self-slander that stop us seeing our own and others’ Buddhahood (wisdom, courage, compassion and joy) and stop us achieving our goals. As a result my own negativity went into overdrive and the last thing I wanted to do was write this blog.

Daisaku Ikeda-Parque

I then came across some super-strict (and compassionate…) guidance from Daisaku Ikeda (you may have seen it on my Facebook page…). So, are you ready for some advice that removes all your excuses for unhappiness and helps you take responsibility for your whole life? Yes? Good, here goes then:

“Fearing hardships and bemoaning and resenting our environment is to live with the belief that the Law is outside our own life. So is losing confidence in our ability to overcome our circumstances and so is turning to others in the hope that they will save us. So is blaming others for our problems, or giving in to hopelessness and resignation. Irrespective of the obstacles we may encounter in the course of our practice, we must not retreat a single step. We must not be alarmed or startled by them. The power of the Mystic Law can triumph over anything. It’s important to be deeply confident in this.”

In a nutshell: “Don’t moan. Don’t lose confidence. Never blame other people. Don’t give up. Never retreat.” The thing is, when I’m gripped by my FD, this is exactly what I do. All of it. Every bit of it. To the letter. With great skill and commitment, I might add. So our FD is, it seems to me, an enemy worth knowing. For if we can recognise its ways and weapons, perhaps we can fight back more easily with our Buddhahood and create oodles of lovely stuff for ourselves and other people from all that negativity.

Your FD is powerful and versatile

How then does your FD attempt to defeat you? In a myriad of ways, including:

  1. pretending you’re useless but everyone else is amazing
  2. pretending you’re amazing but everyone else is useless
  3. activating your innate laziness
  4. sapping your courage
  5. playing bleak soundtracks in your head
  6. draining your energy
  7. turning you into a victim (or worse, an angry vicitm)

And then, just when you think you’ve got its number, your FD can suddenly change tack:

  1. showering you with buckets of relative happiness or
  2. wrapping you in arms of consolation

And change again:

  1. getting you to bitch, moan and whine
  2. getting you to try and control other people
  3. hiding the wise stuff in your head
  4. hiding your gratitude
  5. hiding your sense of responsibility
  6. making you think you will never win over your weaknesses

Illusions seem like the whole unchanging truth

And each of these feelings will seem to you – at the time – like the whole and unchanging truth. Like the only conceivable reality when it is happening. Amazingly versatile is your FD, a highly resourceful enemy. A master illusionist. An astute swordsman. Sly, seductive, almost impossible to spot sometimes, let alone defeat. Like a shadow, only more changeable and closer to home. Adept at fighting rearguard actions. Oh yes, and a very smooth talker too. Its sole purpose being to destroy your faith in your greater self, in your Buddhahood.

And now for the good news

sunset on a Bouddha statue (ayutaya)
sunset on a Buddha statue

Because you are a Buddha, you can beat your FD. And you can win. So, I will finish with some thoughts I have had over the last 28 years while chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to defeat my FD. I sincerely hope you may find them encouraging:

  • Life is a constant struggle between light and darkness. This is a fact. So the only decision you have to make is whether you make this struggle a joyful combat or a painful ordeal, whether you accept and enjoy it or refuse and endure it.
  • When faced with obstacles, learn to rejoice instead of retreating. Say YES when your life is asking to grow.
  • Face whatever it takes to fulfil your personal mission in life and to become the person you were born to become.
  • A mighty heart is forged only in the heat of battle with your own Fundamental Darkness. How, after all, can you fight for another’s happiness if you are not battling with your own demons?
  • As Nichiren Daishonin wrote, you must develop deep determination, “as if you are trying to strike fire from damp sticks or extract water from hard ground.”
  • There are times when I feel that all I have left is my determination. And in the end, that is always enough.
  • My Buddhahood is, ultimately, more powerful than my Fundamental Darkness. 

David x

46 thoughts on “How to beat your darkness and achieve great victories in life

  1. Hi David.
    Nice post. Thanks.
    Please tell me,,,HOW to develop Determination ?
    Also, how can one subscribe to this blog so one can access the previous posts and receive the new ones automatically ?
    I had written earlier too, on how I came across your wonderful book. Not sure if you saw that. I cant find your reply. May it be as is meant to be. From the Buddha in Me, to the Buddha in You, NAMASTE.

    1. Hi Pervez
      First of all, yes I did reply to your last comment, you should be able to see it in the comments section of the ‘My Buddhist Book’ page.
      As to HOW you develop determination, I think that probably comes down to developing a strong Vow for Kosen-Rufu, because this is the most lofty goal of all and requires very strong ichinen. All best wishes, David

  2. Hello
    Im at the momemt surrounded by fd .all the more traumatic when it is regarding ur only son.This post has given me th strength to believe in my faith in th gohonzon and im chanting with all th more vigour to come out victorious .

  3. Is there something wrong by feeling relative happiness? Even when you are strong enough not to be affected by the 8 winds? Im confused..pls clarify this matter, thank you adriana

    1. Hi Adriana, I don’t think there is anything ‘wrong’ with relative happiness as such. For a start, Buddhism doesn’t tend to use judgemental words such as ‘wrong’. Secondly, we all enjoy pleasure in our lives, whether through hobbies or interactions with friends, for example. All that Nichiren teaches is that relative happiness is more fragile than absolute happiness because it is based on temporary external factors. More here from Sensei on this topic – scroll down and it’s near the start of ‘Part 2’. Hope that helps… Best wishes, David
      http://www.sgi.org/about-us/president-ikedas-writings/on-practice.html

  4. Thank you so much for explaining.I too gone through fd 3 times.no one knows about this fd.whenever i am worried about anything am affected

  5. Thanks David, I posted a similar comment to one of your other threads recently. One thing, to be honest, I really hate the concept of the three obstacles and four devils or fundamental darkness. I hate when I can’t understand or can’t change myself. Someone said to me recently that if you believe in the three obstacles and four devils, then they will appear. Thus, implying that if you don’t, they will not appear. Didn’t know how to respond. In Christianity, there is original sin; we are flawed, but in Buddhism, we still have to tackle our negativity; our fundamental darkness which has some similarities to sin as well as differences. When I want to advance, I know I will have to confront some negative things, and to be honest, I hate this. Still, as I mentioned in another post, I have indeed received so many benefits that despite these doubts, I continue, but some aspects of our practice I dislike, if I am to be honest. Don’t know what to do about it though. I don’t like suffering. If I move forward, challenging my circumstances, I know I will have to suffer. Just don’t like it, and therefore it is hard for me to introduce others to this practice, though I still try.

  6. Thank you for this David, came at just the right time. I recently heard that when you recognise a devilish function as such, it loses its power. I just needed to see what was really going on. I guess it’s time to grow again….

    Mel

  7. thank you David. Sansho shima (3 obstacles & 4 devils) also reminds us of the deviousness of fundamental darkness. My fd (specifically 3rd demon (the hindrance of death, meaning one’s own untimely death obstructing one’s practice of Buddhism, or the premature death of another practitioner causing one to doubt) manifested on 11 of 1st (January) 2011, when (after 35 years of practice), my dear son Alex committed suicide. I’m only now thanks to your and many members encouragement & support, clawing my way back to a regular practice & remembering my vow as a bodhissatva to improve encourage young people between 16-25, to dare to believe in their dreams and strive to make them a reality.

    1. Dear Jill, that is a very moving story and as a father myself I have always thought that the death of a child would be the only thing that could stop me practising. Having said that, I cannot imagine what you must have gone through. How amazing though that you are transforming this karma into a noble mission to encourage young people, this is the way of a Buddha. I will chant for you to achieve your dream with these young people and perhaps you would consider sharing your victory one day – when the time is right – on this blog?
      With sincere daimoku,
      David

  8. You must have battled a lot with your negativities to be able to write with so much clarity on this complex issue. The explanation is easy to understand but as you know now little easier to practice! Thanks.

  9. Thanks David, good article, and right on target. I’ve been fighting my FD for awhile, and trying to realize it for the illusion that it is. I’ve battled it my whole life, and it gets tiring. After a year and a half of unemployment, its voice has gotten louder, but maybe if I can see it for the lie it is I can make progress. Thank you.

    1. Hi Linda, glad you found this useful 🙂 I have experienced around 3 years of unemployment (or underemployment) during my 28 years chanting. Very painful at the time each time but I can look back now on each experience as being really valuable and teaching me stuff I needed to understand such as treasures of the heart and making my conviction deeper than the recession. Keep going. You will win. D 🙂

  10. David, thanks for your encouragement. I was chanting to have the wisdom to realize my own problem before the 18 November and here its comes the answer. I am chanting to have the power and courage to override this FD .we are having exhibition in Sarawak, Malaysia in University of Malaysia Seeds of hope , target is 2500 people for the attendance. we starts from 15 – 17 November. today is last day..thank you

    1. Hey Shirley, glad to be of help. The power and courage is within you and in the support we get from our brothers and sisters in faith. All the very best for your magnificent event in Sarawak 🙂
      David

  11. Thank you SO much. Just as I was drowning in my fundamental darkness on the eve of Nov. 18th I saw this. Got to press forward, moment by moment. Thank you!

  12. Thank you so much David this was exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been besieged by my FD the last week after having so many victories towards November 18th. It seemed to come on full force without any warning, really disconcerting. It has helped enormously to read your article; shining a light on FD transforms it. Yes we have to know our enemy to defeat it. Then heal our sorrows to really be able to show compassion to others who are suffering. Thank you again. Nam myoho renge kyo

  13. The fundamental darkness in us is due to Satan’s will to lead us into his darkness: destroying our fundamental goodness, our confidence in ourselves and others, our hope, our love, our mission.
    Conceived,created and formed by God, we are ‘sent’ from the womb where we are bathed in His love, to make Him known through His son, Jesus Christ, and through His Holy Spirit.
    Recognising our weakness when faced with the darkness, calls for constant self-conversiıon and renewal. Last thoughts at night? How much did I give ın to the darkness today?

    1. Hi Christine, love your question at the end of your comment. Very thought-provoking :-). In Buddhist practice when we chant in the morning it can very much be seen as ‘constant self-conversion and renewal’ and in the evening as looking at how much we managed to beat our darkness (or not…) In Buddhism we would see ‘Satan’ and ‘God’ as being inside everyone, though we tend to use slightly different words to describe these negative and positive forces. Thank you for your insights. D x

  14. Thank you ! David,this is one of the most profound blogs you ve written.I ve been enlightened by each blog,but this one on FD is by far the most powerful.

    so close to Nov 18 …towards Victory,this blog helps me move ahead with more determination to overcome my FD.

  15. Hi, David
    Great to hear from you again and, as always, you’ve touched a button in me that needs touching and then some. My FD, as yours, shows itself in so many different ways and it is ever present, just better camoflouged at some times than others. I can most readily see my own FD when I catch myself acting out based on one of my “stories” – the ones that I tell myself and others as though they were true, when not so at all. They are like tiny tapes (you remember tapes) that just play over and over to take my attention away from my life’s mission to become happy and save others. I’m trying very hard to look at my tapes with an eye of authenticity and identify, then say, what is so, and what isn’t. All the while, I keep reminding myself that I am a great Buddha and that I am fully capable of changing absolutely anything that stands in the way of my happiness. Maybe this needs to be my newest tape and then I’ll hit the erase button for all that preceded. Anyway, I won’t stop until I have written my own best life’s story and that will be the tape to enjoy from lifetime to lifetime.
    Again, thank you for your continuing thoughfulness. I hope to meet you in person some day. All the best, Mike.

    1. Yes, I remember tapes LOL :-). They were a ‘provisional teaching.’ With NMHRK your karma/stories are on a re-recordable DVD and you are the scriptwriter, director and lead actor. Buddhas stand ready to applaud you from all 4 corners of the Universe. So you can ditch the tapes if you want to… Thank you for your support and I am sure we will meet in the future. D

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