Winter always turns to spring – Buddhism and determination

What is the fundamental purpose of winning in our lives? Of course it is partly to achieve our own goals, overcome our limitations and become happier. But I feel that the biggest impact when we win is that we encourage others who are struggling. If we win today in our lives, if we defeat our darkness, our lesser self and our illusions, then people on the verge of victory will have a final breakthrough, people who are fighting will keep going, people who have given up will find the strength to start again and people who have never fought will discover the spark of hope. This is what happens when the Buddha in Me meets the Buddha in You.

Steve Williams OBE, determined...
Steve Williams OBE, Mr. Determination…

Of course personal development books are full of wonderful examples of determined people who never  gave up. For example, Thomas Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb and James Dyson’s 5,127 failures before his bagless vacuum cleaner worked. And I was inspired to hear a speech by former Team GB rower Steve Williams OBE, winner of two Olympic gold medals, who quoted the words of his coach Jurgen Grobler before the Athens 2004 final: “It will get so dark and hurt so much that you will cry out for your mother and your father, but you will win on the last stroke.” (And they did, by 0.08 of a second.) I love this image and often quote these words to my clients when they feel like giving up on their goals. And when I have a setback or failure myself, the first question I ask when I look in the mirror is: “How badly did you really really want it?”

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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:

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The Power of Pow (how to win the battle with your fundamental darkness)

I have just read a mesmerising novel called In Between Jobs. Written by Buddhist actor Duncan Pow. It is about a man called Harry Caldwell. The cover blurb says: ‘Harry is 26 years old. He is an actor. He is a son. He is a brother. He is a nephew. He is a drug addict. He is a sexual deviant. He is a lover. He is a fighter. He is good. He is bad. He is a Buddhist.’

The journey from first to final page is captivating. It is raw and enlightening. It is often explicit, sometimes disturbing; in places it is laugh out loud. Most of all it is lyrical and entrancing and hypnotic. The most hypnotic stream of consciousness I have experienced in a very long time. Think Trainspotting meets Ulysses meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Duncan Pow's novel
Duncan Pow’s novel

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The Undefeated Mind – a great new book about resilience…

… which, says the author encourages: “us to stop hoping for easy lives and instead to focus on finding the inner strength we need to enjoy the difficult lives we all have.” Wise counsel, don’t you think?  If you read nothing else from this book, read the 10 brilliant chapter titles listed below, even without the other 277 pages, the Contents page is very powerful…Image

The book’s author is my fellow SGI Nichiren Buddhist Alex Lickerman, MD. He is an assistant Vice President at Chicago University with student counselling a major part of his role. ‘The Undefeated Mind’ is a book about resilience and about cultivating joy no matter what is happening in our lives.

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Only the headwinds make you stronger….

This is a post about gratitude and determination, two massive themes in Nichiren Buddhism. I am currently trying to lose weight (or ‘gain slimness’ as we say in life coaching 🙂 ) and recently went out cycling around a lake in the Leicestershire countryside near my home. After 20 minutes I found myself on a really steep hill huffing and puffing against a cold strong headwind and wishing it was easier and that my legs would stop hurting. 🙁  Image

Then I saw a man walking towards me (someone I had never seen before) and he just smiled warmly and said: “Keep going mate!” Usually the people I come across on this bike route only say ‘hello’ (if they say anything at all…) so this was a lovely surprise and made me reflect on the kindness of strangers who encourage us but expect nothing in return. Continue reading “Only the headwinds make you stronger….”