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How much will you love your Life in 2014?

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And what are your goals for this coming year? Does the very question make you want to sigh with resignation? Or does it excite and inspire you? Are you carrying on your shoulders the weight of previous failures? Or are you determined to achieve even more in 2014 than you ever did before?

determination

My focus on goals improved dramatically when I first went on The Winning Edge personal development course where the inspirational trainer (Richard Jackson MBE) pointed out that in the average lifetime of 76 years, you only get 28,000 days. Twenty-eight thousand. How many do you have left? What will you do with them? Do the maths folks. Then decide.

In Nichiren Buddhism, we are encouraged to set determinations every year, to replace vague yearnings with concrete goals, to achieve benefits (both tangible and intangible), to discover and fulfill our missions and to carry out our human revolution. How lucky are we to get this sort of life training?

Life’s most important question

And of course at the end of gongyo (our twice daily chanting practice) are these wonderful words from the Lotus Sutra: Mai ji sa ze nen, I ga ryo shujo, Toku Nyu mu jo do, Soku joju busshin…” Translation: “At all times I think to myself, how can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?”

Let’s look at this incredible question more closely – to me there are six important points:

  1. This desire to connect everyone to their own Buddhahood is a constant thought – ‘at all times’ – rather than a spiritual experience you might engage in once a week;
  2. It encourages compassion for all living beings – not just the ones you personally like and love;
  3. It’s very significant that this sentence is a question. Not an order, a commandment, or a conclusion. But a question. And, an open question at that, rather than a closed ‘yes or no’ question. A question that begins with ‘How?’ which all means we can unlock the answers from within us;
  4. It is personal, “How can I [insert your name here] cause…”;
  5. Then there’s that little word ‘quickly’. Yes, there is a sense of urgency here too. Of every moment as well as every life being precious;
  6. It’s the last thing we recite in our morning and evening prayers, so it’s the thought that tops and tails the daily life of a Nichiren Buddhist.

If you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo but are not sure what you want to achieve in 2014, start with this question, because included in this prayer for world peace are all your own personal dreams. There was a period in my life when I went to sleep every night gently reciting this question. It became a very powerful experience. In fact it ultimately became this blog (soon to be a book.)

My amazing daughter Zofia also inspires me to set goals, here she is in very focused mood for her football team.

Zofia

Of course, action is essential to make our dreams come true and as Daisaku Ikeda explains, prayers “include the actions one takes to realise them. It is just like an arrow, drawn back, charged with energy and shot from a bow. Prayer without action is idealism, and action without prayer is futile.”

My experience of practising with the SGI Buddhist movement is that our monthly discussion meetings provide a place where we can share our goals and encourage each other. Indeed it seems to me that people often come to Buddhism to learn how to value and love their lives enough to start setting determinations.

Love your life more

So in 2014, let’s learn to love our lives even more. Love our families, our friends and the people who hold up a mirror to our flaws. Let’s love our achievements, our mistakes, our futures and, above all, our personal missions. Let’s give ourselves permission to honour our talents, gifts and values – perhaps for the first time ever, maybe for the first time in a long while. Let’s go to Buddhist meetings to confront the challenges of daily life. And come home with a sparkle in our eye, a joyful soundtrack in our minds, action plans for personal growth and the courage to achieve what we truly deserve. Let’s meet again a month later to inspire each other with the victories we have had, the differences we have made and the struggles we have still not given up on. Let’s treasure everyone. Let’s each find our own unique answer to that question at the end of gongyo.

Wishing you a magnificent 2014 with the Buddha in you.

Dx

PS. If you want to share your own determinations for 2014, I would love to read them, just add a comment below :-)

PPS. Ditto, if you have any questions on goal-setting.

PPPS. Several other posts on this blog touch on the topic of goals and determination, including:

Lose the labels that limit you

The ABC of success

Creating a truly amazing life

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shirley Tan
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 14:57:45

    Hi, I have not receiving any new post from your, Please update me with more guidance

    shirley

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Feb 28, 2014 @ 17:17:10

      Hi Shirley
      I have been very busy with work and family stuff for the last 3 weeks, but am planning to put up a new post this weekend :-)
      best wishes
      David

      Reply

  2. khaleel
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 00:20:36

    Happy New Year to you. This year I want to love myself more and have people like and appreciate me more. I want and need to build my spiritual being this year and subsequent ones; accept my mistakes, learn from them and move on; I want to be happier than I was before; I want to finally work in the healthcare industry in the financial, administration, or management sector. These are my wants and needs for this year and I have started praying more… I just need to add this chant to it.

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Jan 23, 2014 @ 15:16:32

      These are very beautiful goals and all these and more are achievable when you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Below is a quote about prayer in Buddhism, from my mentor Daisaku Ikeda. I think the essential point about chanting versus other types of prayer is that it is more about deciding and determining rather than asking and needing. “Prayer is the courage to persevere. It is the struggle to overcome our own weakness and lack of confidence in ourselves. It is the act of impressing in the very depths of our being the conviction that we can change the situation without fail. Prayer is the way to destroy all fear, the way to banish sorrow, the way to light a torch of hope. It is the revolution that rewrites the scenario of our destiny. Believe in yourself! Devaluing yourself is contrary to Buddhism, because it denigrates the Buddha state of being within you. Prayer is the effort to align the gears of our life with the movement of the universe. Prayer is the key that opens door after door to the full potential in each individual.”

      Reply

  3. tooda
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 19:52:50

    Will read this again after few days to see how I am doing with my determination. To feel more for others genuinely. To believe that peace can be brought around in the Middle East.

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Jan 02, 2014 @ 22:10:35

      A wise man once told me: “Believing is seeing…” in other words, if you believe strongly enough that something is possible, you will see the way forward. On Middle East matters, you may be interested in the work of SGI Buddhist & university lecturer Jason Hart: http://www.bath.ac.uk/sps/staff/jason-hart/ Feeling ‘more for others genuinely’ is perhaps the biggest battle of our Buddhist practice, but when we tear down the barriers that separate us and the darkness that makes us feel we are separate from each other, then compassion follows and that in itself makes the cause for peace in the world, including the Middle East.
      all best
      David

      Reply

  4. Prateek
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 06:44:07

    Really liked it .. thanks a lot … I will be able to make more focussed goals now.
    By the way , we are still waiting for your book :)…

    Happy New Year!!!
    Prateek

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Jan 02, 2014 @ 12:19:33

      Thank you Prateek, all the best with your goals, and, more importantly, your absolute happiness :-) Thanks for the nudge about my book – that is my biggest goal at the moment :-) I am aiming for Kindle version to be out by February…
      Best wishes
      David

      Reply

  5. Naren
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 17:26:48

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing wonderful thought to start with for year 2014.I had started few months back with this beautiful practice and now has a lifetime experience. There is one thought and for that I need your views. There are things that we can achieve (whatever it takes if we make firm determination to see it as a victory),but then there is something that can only be accomplished only through prayers. Will appreciate your thoughts on how one should make prayers accomplish…..

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Jan 01, 2014 @ 21:31:54

      Hello Uma
      thank you for your kind comment. I am not sure that I fully understand your question, however if you are wanting to understand the power of prayer compared to other ‘techniques’, then this post from September may answer your query: http://thankingthespoon.com/2013/09/29/nam-myoho-renge-kyo-because-it-takes-prayer-to-transform-a-heart/
      I hope this helps but please write again if not… please also seek answers from your local Buddhists so that they can benefit from your seeking spirit, this is very important for Kosen Rufu. Thank you.
      Congratulations on starting to chant and I wish you all the very best for 2014.

      David

      Reply

  6. Kaye Gabriel
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 13:22:55

    Thank you! “Loving our mistakes”?? That’s a hard one, but I determine in 2014 to forgive myself and others for mistakes made in the past and let go of the suffering that this causes. I determine to love everything about my life and in so doing open the way for real compassion for others. When I achieve this I am sure my district will grow beyond belief!!
    Mai ji sa ze nen. I ga ryo shujo. Toku nyu mu-jo do. Soku joju busshin.
    Happy New Year to you.

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Dec 31, 2013 @ 17:13:00

      Hiya Kaye
      Agree that it is hard and here is a quote you may find useful, another one that I learned on The Winning Edge course mentioned in the
      post: “You have always made the right decision at the time, based on the person you were and the information you had at the time. So if you are certain that the person you have now become would not make the same decision, then stop beating yourself up because you are condemning an innocent person.”
      Hope that helps
      D :-)

      Reply

  7. Lynette Hare
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 12:23:42

    Me, I’ve never made new year resolutions, I just take each day as it comes, giving thanks that I’m here, thanks for my wonderful family and for my friends.
    xxx

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Dec 31, 2013 @ 16:51:10

      Keep doing whatever makes you happy :-). D x

      Reply

  8. Amanda Aksel
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 01:11:32

    I reported my determination to Sensei to have a victorious 2014! My goal this year is to live authentic to myself, no matter what that means. To live an authentic life takes courage, and courage is the key to happiness. Thanks for sharing the gongyo translation. I didn’t know that. I will think of that now! Happy New Year!

    Reply

    • davidhare3000
      Dec 31, 2013 @ 23:16:53

      Authenticity – absolutely. Just be you, everyone else is taken! D :-)

      Reply

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