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BIONA Books Proudly Presents:

The Search Within
By Carlton Carr

Other BIONA Books:

"Introduction To Buddhism"
"Day By Day"
"Inside The Lotus Sutra"
"The Loving Heart"
"Buddha Smile"
"A House On Fire"
"Walking On The Path"
"Dream World"
"American Jataka Tales"
"The Anapanasati Sutta: A Practical Guide to Mindfulness of
Breathing and Tranquil Wisdom Meditation"

"The Search Within"

Author's Preface
I first became interested in spiritual matters at the age of twelve. I had
begun to question the Christian beliefs that I was brought up on
speculations and doubts filled my mind. By the age of fourteen and
with the guidance of a good friend of mine, Winston Brooks, I set out
on a journey that would last me a lifetime. It was to be a journey of
spiritual exploration, as vast as time, as unimaginable as space.
I had read about many different religions but again, it was my friend
Winston that led me to discover key insights into the true nature of
human spirituality. My most important realizations, however, came
from searching within myself. On this journey I was often challenged
mentally, physically, and especially spiritually. Through perseverance I
have overcome each in turn. After many of these spiritual trials I had
built a foundation of understanding that allowed me to obtain a
fundamental belief system.
Years before I had been mired in Christian theology, which I had been
taught to think of as pure, undeniable truth even though I realized at
the time that it was nothing more than a rigid indoctrination in an
irrational belief system. Whenever someone asked me, "Why do you
believe in Christianity" I could give only two answers: The first was, "I
don't know," and the second was simply, " because I was raised that
way!" After a time, as I matured, this began to seem to me absurd. So I
eventually stopped labeling myself as a "Christian" and I kept only the
beliefs that I felt to be true within my heart, and everything else I left
behind. I cleansed my mind and spirit from the indoctrination of so
many years and struggled to remove the chains of linear thought that I
had been bound by.
I set out on a quest for spiritual truth, something I could believe in that
did not directly contradict what I already knew to be scientifically
proven about the universe I lived in. I began this process at a young
age so my study habits were often erratic but as I grew older my
search began to intensify. I found myself taking elements that I found
to be true and incorporated them into my personal belief system.
Winston had discussed various Buddhist concepts with me but I had
never really studied it in any depth.
It wasn't until I made contact with a Buddhist group called Buddhist
Information Of North America (BIONA) that I found a spiritual path that
worked for me. The director of this center was Stephen L. Klick, who
would become my wonderful teacher and who compassionately helped
me grow and develop. He sent me numerous texts and helped by

explaining the meanings of the ones I had trouble understanding. Since
then I have gone through numerous amounts of material and have
become a strong Buddhist believer. My growth was so rapid that it
even astonished my wonderful teacher. Not only am I a lifelong
student, but I am also one of the BIONA teachers. I have written one
book and you are holding the second one in your hand. I have found
my path in life.
As my journey continues and as I explore the huge subject of Buddhism
I learn new aspects of myself and of the nature of the world. This
journey will last my whole life, and I look forward to each day and
continue to develop the eyes of wisdom. May what I learn become a
teaching for others! May your own spirituality blossom like a thousand
Lotus Flowers!
I dedicate this book to Winston for pointing me in the direction of Life's
Purpose, and to Stephen for showing me the path that leads to

Since man has been able to communicate abstract thoughts, he has
asked questions like; "Where do we come from?" - "Why are we here?"
"Is there life after death?" From the eternal past up until the very
present moment, countless men and women have raised these and
similar questions about the nature of existence. From these types of
questions many theories and conceptions about the nature of man
have arisen, briefly flourished and then faded into obscurity.
Groups of men and women have gathered together in religious
organizations to search for answers to these questions. Some set out
by themselves in search for answers, seeking for truth in solitude.
Some cast their gaze up to the sky looking for the truth in the starsothers sought answers within nature, and still others decided that they
would find what they were looking for in the vast, mysterious ocean
They invented rituals and innumerable practices trying to find a way to
escape from the endless toils and sufferings of every day life.
With the human goal of spiritual peace came men and women who
excelled in the religious field, wise and holy sages, from countless
origins and lineages. Religions were formed from the insights provided
by these great men-from as obvious an example as Jesus and Buddha
to more subtle ones, like Plato and Socrates. These religions were vital
parts of every society that history is aware of.
Many of us were raised with a predetermined set of beliefs and values
handed down from the previous generation. Whatever these beliefs
might be, it is still quiet possible that you are left 'hungry' for spiritual

answers, and that, despite being raised 'religious,' you find yourself
with more problems then solutions. In all honesty some of these
spiritual organizations resort to confusing its members on purpose,
using mystery to explain lifes problems and generating emotions to
make them feel better. As far back as I can remember, I posed
questions about the belief system that I had been taught, but I found
very few answers: nothing that would calm the waters of my anxious
mind. I was raised Christian, and clergy ran strong in our bloodlines;
my grandparents and uncles were all pastors, and the rest of us were
considered strong churchgoers. We went to every meeting and
activity, and never missed a day of Church or Sunday school. When I
was twelve, I was made a Deacon of the Church, and I was rabidly
strong in my beliefs.
I also belonged to a Boy Scout Troop, which was sponsored and run by
our church and often during our outings we would discuss religion. One
boy in particular stands out in my memory, he had a lot of doubt about
the Christian faith. He was very opened minded, and liked to debate
with the other boys. At the time I was very closed minded, believing
that other religious systems existed simply to cast people into hell.
This boy, however, stirred my mind with his openness to other ideas,
and soon I found myself questioning my own faith. However, it
wouldn't be until my family had moved to Washington State that this
spiritual openness would become a focal point in my life.
We moved to Anasortes, Washington, where I met Winston. A few
months after I moved there, Winston and I became quite close, and we
would go fishing and camping whenever we weren't working. Winston,
as well as being a friend, acted as my spiritual teacher for some time his own beliefs being rooted in many different religions. He was a very
open minded man, and he was always studying various different
spiritual traditions. Being around him was very good for me, and
contributed a lot to my quest for spiritual happiness. Through him I
learned about a plethora of different spiritual paths as well as various
different philosophical ways of thinking.
A key event in my life occurred when I was visiting him in his trailer,
where he showed me a book of compiled koans entitled, "Zen Flesh,
Zen Bones." He asked me to read the book, and then return to tell him
what I thought the various Koans meant. I spent a couple of days
reading it, and then we had a very memorable discussion about its
contents. I asked Winston to tell me more about Zen, and I learned that
it was a sect of Buddhism. At this point I absorbed some of the basic
Buddhistic teachings, and saw that they were parallel to many of the
beliefs that I had already realized. I believed that all the wisdom of the
ages, all the secrets of life, could be unlocked within our own minds if
we could but destroy the mental barriers that stopped us from reaching
this higher potential. I wasn't sure why I believed this, or even where I

had gotten the notion, but something deep inside of me assured me
that it was true.
Upon studying Buddhism I found that this notion is a core teaching of
all Schools and is called Enlightenment.
My mother had convinced me that our sins could, and very often did
return to us in our own lifetime. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap!" I could
never convince myself that our lives were predetermined by fate, or be
controlled by the stars. Buddhism taught what is called the law of
"Karma" or Cause and Effect and when I discovered this I had no
remaining doubts in my mind that Buddhism would be the path I would
follow. It wouldn't be until a few years after that, however, that I would
devote myself to Buddhist practice on a full time basis.
We are born knowing certain things: pieces of intrinsic knowledge that
are a part of who we are and who we have been for many lifetimes;
Mozart is a good example of this - he came with a preexisting
knowledge about music, and expressed it very eloquently. Now, we do
not all have such dramatic examples as this in our own lives, but we
are all born with some spiritual knowledge left over from previous lives.
I find it sad that some people have become so closed minded about
religious views that they can forget this inherent knowledge, and lose
sight of this simple fact about human spirituality: that it is supposed to
open your mind to new possibilities, and above all else, make you
Our goal in being spiritual is to come to a clearer understanding of
ourselves that we may better comprehend the world around us and
thus bring as much benefit to as many beings as possible. Once we
understand the meaning of life, we can begin to help ourselves, and
from there we can change our environment, and benefit all the beings
that live around us. All people in this world are similar in nature- we
may have different appearances, various personas, and diverse belief
systems but regardless of this, we are inherently equal. If we label
other people around us as "different" in any way then we create duality
in our minds and we begin to arbitrarily put things into separate
categories: "I'm Black, he's white, she's Hispanic, he's Zany, she's gay,
this is good, that is evil," and so on then this may lead us even further
away from the truth than where we started from.
Take as an example a man who has been raised to be Catholic. He
grows up with a single faith, a strong set of ideals and he considers
that this belief system is the only possible truth. It's wonderful to have
such strong faith in your religion that you have absolute trust in its
accuracy, but what is this faith built on? Is it built on direct experience
and rational truth or is it based on blind trust and the idea that "this
belief system was good enough for my ancestors so it's good enough
for me?" Does this man know enough about the other religions around
him to say, with any sort of reliability, "They are incorrect and
inaccurate? If he does not, he is like a man who places his trust blindly

into the word of a used car salesman. The car salesman might say,
"This car is perfect for you!" - but that does not make it true. In the
same way, everyone around you might say, "This religion is exactly
what you need!" - but this may not be the case. Just as we would be
wise to examine the other cars for sale in the city before making a
selection, we would be wise to study the religions around us before we
decide that they are all erroneous.
Spiritual exploration is the same as any other type of investigation. If
we spend our entire life in a single city, and never read or see stories
about the places beyond our own back yard, then we will walk through
life with the ill conceived notion that our backyard is the world - and
that no matter where you go, it will be like your backyard. If you are
brought up in Christianity but never even read a word concerning
Buddhism or Taoism or even Voodoo, then you will walk around
thinking that these religions are all the same as whatever it is that you
happen to believe.
My Teacher, Nichiren, wrote "All the non-Buddhist scriptures and
writings are themselves Buddhist teachings, not non-Buddhist
This does not imply that all of the non-Buddhist teachings derive from
Buddhism, but rather, it means that all good religions contain in
common one thing: an element of truth. The similarities of the other
religions in society, the fact that they all have truth in them, means
that we, as Buddhists, should not consider the Christians and the
others around us as strange or different, but rather as fellow members
of our Sangha. Our Sangha is not just on our block, or in our
neighborhood, or even in our own city. Our genuine Sangha covers the
world. Everything is empty and non-duel, and as such, there is no
distinction between an honest, spiritual Christian, Muslim or Buddhist.
Emptiness is a difficult concept to grasp: it means that nothing in this
world contains a permanent characteristic, and that no object or being
now alive will remain the same forever. One of the intrinsic laws of
nature is that all things must eventually come to an end. Since there
are no inherent characteristics in anything, everything is 'empty,'
devoid of a true nature. Everything from the chair we are sitting in to
global warming is destined to change and die. What is it I mean,
exactly, by "no inherent characteristics?" This means that, if you take
apart a person piece by piece, you will never find his essence. People
are all dependent on various things: we need food and water to
survive, parents to be born of, a steady supply of air, and dozens of
other things -- if you take any of these things away, we cease to exist
in our current form.
There are dozens of teachings on emptiness available for us to read,
most of them far more comprehensive than the short explanation
given above. Many of us will need to read a lot more on this subject to
even come close to fully understanding and appreciating exactly what

emptiness has to do with everyday life. Emptiness is such a vast topic,
in fact, that many of the Buddha's followers were under the impression
that to have grasped emptiness entirely was to have attained
The Buddha also taught us not to accept his own teachings, or any
other teachings blindly. It is good, therefore, for us to have doubts
when we encounter new teachings. (See "The Kalama Sutra"
provided in the Appendix) We should test these teachings to determine
that they are practical and to ascertain that they bring genuine value
to our lives. If they fail these tests then we are better off without them.
One of the more subtle applications of emptiness in everyday life is
that once we have realized it, we understand that the entire universe is
empty, which will subsequently lead us to not become overly attached
to any material objects. Becoming attached to things only leads to
grief when we are forced to watch them exit from our lives.
Buddha is simply a word meaning, "Enlightened man." The Buddha, all
the Buddhas were this and nothing more: men who had reached the
apex of humanity. They were not gods, the sons of gods, or the
messengers of gods. They lack any and all claim to divinity, and any
connection to it. Why am I emphasizing this? By not claiming to be
divine the Buddhas give us hope to attain what they themselves
attained. If they had been gods, what use would this have been to us?
We will not be able to achieve godhood in this lifetime but we can
attain enlightenment. This is a message of hope. If one human being
can do it, and so can another.
We can attain any goal we set for ourselves, so long as we have the
tenacity to persevere. I used to believe that if I prayed to god, he
would grant me the power to overcome my problems. Now I realize
that this power I was occasionally drawing off of to achieve my goals
was none other than Buddha Nature. We all have within us the
potential to become an enlightened master, and we can draw upon it
any time we wish, once we have the proper training. Jesus Christ said,
"Be a lamp unto your selves." The Buddha stated, "Be refuges unto
yourselves." This means that we should turn to the pureness within us,
whether you wish to call it god or Buddha Nature to solve our
This is also an example of two different spiritual teachers saying the
same thing. There are numerous cases where spiritual teachers from
various traditions have preached the same truth so why do people
continue to make the claim that one religion is true and all the others
are false or distorted? Spirituality should not have arbitrary boundaries
like "Christianity" and "Buddhism." The teachings of Jesus can have
value in everyday life, just as the teachings of the Buddha do. A
Buddhist who says that the Christian teachings have no value simply
does not understand. There is nothing wrong with the morals of the
Christian religion, and if a man needs a god to worship to feel better

about things, no harm will come of it. These boundaries within our
mind that separate one set of morals from another can only hinder us
in our quest to attain enlightenment. "Leave no stone unturned" when
you are searching for the truth. "Seek and you will find." The boundary
between Buddhism and Christianity, between Taoism and Confucianism
is an ethereal one: with the same significance as lines scribbled onto a
map. Hong Kong is no less magnificent now that it is within that line
marking the inside of China. The pyramids will still contain all of their
mystery and wonder if Egypt as a country loses possession of them.
Universal truth is just as profound under the flag of Christ as they are
under the banner of "Buddhism."

Chapter One
The Mysterious Mind
While the physical aspect of the human mind is mysterious indeed,
raising questions as to where it is located and why it works in the
manner that it does, the functional aspect of it is quite the opposite.
The mind exists for the purpose of determining things for the body, in
fact, all of the sense data gathered from the other five cognitive
organs. It processes pain and pleasure, misery and joy. It divides and
categorizes, and attempts to understand the universe by compressing
information into the most linear manner possible. Having categories is
a great shortcut and can be helpful in a way but ultimately it is not
When we begin to seek reality these shortcuts dont work very well
because the universe is not really divided into any sort of categories,
thus making linear thinking next to useless when trying to figure things
out. The spiritual world is to the modern everyday human what the
subatomic world is to a physicist. The subatomic universe functions on
such a different level then the world a physicist is used to that he must
abandon the most simple of linear thought processes. He cannot even
watch a molecule on the subatomic plane without having an impact on
it - thus changing his role from one of observer to that of participant. If
he tried to apply the physics he is used to on this plane of reality, he
would be completely baffled and confused by even the most simple of
occurrences. Thus, if you claim to understand the subatomic world, you
simply do not know enough about it.
What has all of this to do with human spirituality? In a non-spiritual life,
if someone punches you, the immediate and normal reaction for us is
to return the favor until your attacker is no longer capable of delivering
blows. However, in the spiritual plane, such a reaction would have dire

consequences. In some philosophies, a god would see your action,
frown on you, and condemn you to hell, while in others, your own
action will return to you just like an up-cast ball will always return to
the earth.
Our normal linear thought processes cannot see things as they truly
are: We may understand that a desk consists of hundreds of trillions of
atoms, but we cannot actually see this, making it seem like some
remote thing in the back of our mind that we almost never apply to
'real life.' We possess bits and pieces of knowledge about the nature of
reality, but we find them almost impossible to use in any non-abstract
application in our every day life.
There is no difference between seeking liberation and seeking a proper
understanding of emptiness. The reality of emptiness or the truth of
Enlightenment can only be found within yourself. We build up this wall
of what we perceive ourselves to be, and we hide behind it for as long
as possible. What are we hiding from? Reality. We have this mythical
image of ourselves, and we hide behind intellectual concepts. The
human race is more highly educated now then ever before in history
but instead of bringing us closer to reality it has simply given us
different tools to use to mess up our own minds. Modern psychology is
the new superstition! We slap labels on things and believe that we
understand when we are actually farther away from truth then ever
We simply do not want to accept who we are because that is not
dramatic or romantic enough for us. The farmer in his field two
hundred years ago was closer to the reality of nature then modern man
is today. This farmer believed in many things that were simply not
possible or true and we laugh at the quaint beliefs that he held but I
suspect that two hundred years from now people will be laughing at
the incredibly silly things that we believe to be true today! So, nothing
much has really changed in that regard! However, the farmer of two
hundred years ago knew where his food came from because he
produced much of it himself. If your society collapsed tomorrow could
you feed yourself? Would you even know how to go about starting to
do so? You are a part of nature; you belong to this eco-system that you
live in so this is not a trivial question!
Our world is going mad around us for various reasons and were simply
forced to watch it happen. Since were talking about food at the
moment I would like to make the point that what you eat has a big
impact on how you behave. Livestock used to be raised in a natural
manner and the meat produced was a reasonably healthy part of our
diet. This is not true anymore. Farmers want cattle to grow as large as
possible as quickly as possible so they fill their herds full of growth
hormones to maximize profits. If you actually cook the food that you
eat it is impossible not to notice the difference in beef over the last few
years. Now when you eat that wonderful steak you are also ingesting

many other substances that have a negative effect on your body, mind
and behavior.
Chickens are now raised in areas so small that they go mad at an early
age and tear at each other with their beaks. Instead of going back to
free range poultry farmers simply cut the beaks off of the birds so their
"product" isnt damaged. These birds do not eat the same food that
they used to; they are also fed growth hormones. Can you taste the
difference? I know that I can, and I can also see the difference when I
cook one of these "modern" birds. We are filling our bodies with
chemicals that have to have an impact on us in many different ways!
The government tells us that everything is just fine and that this food
is perfectly safe and yet many countries in the world will not take free
food from us even when they are starving.
We are also the leading producer of various hybrid grains that other
countries will not take from us at any price, even when we try to give it
to famine stricken people. Im not trying to be an alarmist about this,
maybe the United States government is absolutely correct! Maybe
these foods are "safe" for us to eat in the sense that we wont drop
dead after eating them for many years and yet it is absurd to claim
that ingesting these substances has no effect on us.
Have you noticed that most homes do not drink water from their
faucets anymore? People have become accustomed to buying drinking
water because the sad truth is that municipal water purification
systems simply do not work adequately anymore. While many kinds of
filth are removed the average cities water when tested shows large
trace elements of all kinds of commonly used-pharmaceuticals, like
Our fruit and produce are heavily "protected" against insects and
disease, which do reduce the profit margin of the yearly crop for the
struggling farmer. However, this protection is commonly achieved by
spraying the fruit or produce repeatedly with various poisons. These
poisons end up in our bodies either by direct consumption or by
running off into our water supply where we unknowingly drink it.
Still another example is the common lawn, which certainly seems
innocent enough doesnt it? It used to amuse me that people would
rake the leaves from their lawns all through the fall season and then
spend money buying artificial, chemical fertilizer so that the grass
would have enough food to keep it alive and healthy-looking the rest of
the year. If they simply left the leaves where they fell the lawn would
be very happy with the organic food supply and I always thought that
the fallen leaves looked very attractive where they were. Instead,
people bag them up in plastic bags that go into landfills. The plastic
bags are not biodegradable so they last a long time and put nothing
positive back into the environment. The chemical fertilizer comes back
to haunt us by entering our water supply.

Its also true that people now use food products that are simply loaded
with still other chemicals to preserve their flavor and freshness. When
everything we eat and drink comes loaded with all of these different
drugs it is small wonder that we have so much trouble controlling our
mind and behaving like human beings.
If you have ever read an elementary psychology book then you are
already aware of what happens to animals when they are packed into
overcrowded environmentsthey become insane! Our social
surroundings stopped being "normal" for our species when cities first
became popular and this process was dramatically sped up with the
advent of the industrial revolution. The result is deviant behavior,
sometimes in rather spectacular ways. Most of us do not become
"Boston Stranglers" or "Jack-the-Rippers" but we all feel the pressure
and we all suffer from the problem. Under these circumstances how do
we go about finding peace of mind or personal enlightenment?
We can free our bodies from some of the poisons we ingest by careful
consumption of food and drink. It is a good idea to limit your intake of
carbonated sodas and other fast food nonsense. Drink tea made with
clean water or even just water! Most of this is simply common sense
and you dont need me to point these things out to you. If you change
what you put into your body you will clearly see the result in just a few
Most of us live in cities and this trend will no doubt continue for some
time to come. This does not have to be a problem if we learn how to
cope with the environment that we find ourselves in. While I do not live
in a city now, (see my next book, "A Place Of Practice" for details)
the first problem that we must overcome is finding a place that is quiet
or where quiet is available to us when we need it. My teacher, Steve
Klick, has made it a point to live in places that are heavily
soundproofed so that it doesnt matter what is going on around him in
the immediate environment. This is an important point to consider
when looking for a new place to live.
Of course, a quiet environment is not enough to assure us of acquiring
mental peace. Quiet only has value to us if our mind is already stable.
At this point it would be a good idea for us to examine the actual
workings of the mind as taught to us by the three historical Buddhas.
Shakyamuni Buddha revealed these truths to the Indian people in a
very symbolic way in the text of "The Threefold Lotus Sutra." This
was appropriate for the time, place and mindset of the people he was
teaching but during the Middle period of the law Chih-i had to make
these same teachings clear to the Chinese people, who had very
analytical minds.
The concept of Ichinen Sanzen teaches us exactly how the mind
works: there are ten basic world states that we all inhabit during every
moment of our lives. These ten worlds are:

Hell: the lowest possible life condition and a state of extreme
Hunger: The life condition where our desires are dominant and never
Animality: As my teacher, Steve Klick explains it, "if you eat when you
are hungry, sleep when you are tired, amuse yourself when you are
bored and have sex when you feel the urge to do so then you are living
the life of an animal."
Anger: The three lower worlds are all blind states, driven by relatively
simply urges. Anger is driven by the human ego and can be very
subtle. People can seem to be leading a good life and still be driven by
Humanity (Tranquility): This is a neutral state that is often enjoyed
by people who simply want to be free of the four lower realms. Many
Dharma students find this realm fairly quickly and enjoy returning to it.
Unfortunately, they mistakenly make this a goal of their practice and
miss the opportunity to progress further on the path to Enlightenment.
Heaven: The world of heaven is also called rapture and is the state of
extreme bliss that we experience when our goals are fulfilled. This is
another world that entraps the unwary Dharma practitioner who
experiences great happiness in this state and then seeks to return to it
again and again.
Learning: This often specifically refers to the knowledge we obtain
when we study the Dharma; it also is the world of Shoman. The most
famous Dharma student to attain this state was Shariputra, who stayed
in this world most of his adult practice life. He did not break through to
the upper world of Bodhisattva until "The Lotus Sutra" was preached.
Many people spend much of their lives in this state and it is very
unhealthy for them to do so, it is better to spend your time in the
lowest realm because you do far less damage to yourself and others.
Many people who live in the world of learning seem to be good people;
they are often doctors, lawyers or even professors. They seem to be
dedicated to helping others but they are supremely arrogant, serenely
confident of their own superiority. This is the exact opposite of the
message of equality taught by the Buddhas and very harmful to the
misguided individuals caught in the trap of their own making.
Realization: Learning and Realization are usually considered together.
When you learn from the dharma and practice properly eventually you
will see the truth for yourself. This is a realization. This can also refer to
the world called Engaku. A Pratyekabuddha is a self-realized being that
is noted for his solitary ways. Again, he is quite convinced of his own
superiority! He realized whatever truth he has comprehended on his
own and sees no reason why other people cant simply do the same. To
him it is pointless to teach others, if they want to know badly enough,
they can devote themselves to practice and study the same way he

did. Really, if people werent inherently lazy everyone would be just as
superior as he is!
Bodhisattva: The bodhisattva is a being who lives in a state of
intense compassion. His driving force is to bring benefit to as many
beings as possible. He is a Buddha-in-training. People usually have
ridiculously romantic or glamorous ideas about what a bodhisattva
should be like and so they never realize that they frequently live
around the real thing. A being doesnt have to walk on pink clouds or
have fifty-seven arms to actually be a bodhisattva! Bodhisattvas may
not even be very well liked people. In fact, another word for
bodhisattva is "saint" (although this can be said about people in the
world of Shoman and Engaku as well, depending upon the tradition).
Saints are usually loved best when theyre safely dead because theyre
often very uncomfortable people to be around. Saints are driven
people with a mission to accomplish and little patience with those that
do not want to help or who fail to understand the importance of the job
to be done. Of course, they love all beings, but love can be expressed
in many different ways depending upon the need of the recipient. I
doubt that there ever was a bodhisattva who spent his or her time
gushing about how much they loved everyone because this kind of
nonsense would have little practical value.
Buddhahood: A Buddha is a human being that sees things just the
way they are. They spend their time bringing benefit to all beings by
teaching others as much truth as they can understand at the present
moment. The only difference between a bodhisattva and a Buddha is
the level of personal realization achieved.
Most people who do not have some form of meditative practice spend
their time bouncing around the six lower worlds because they do not
have access to the four higher realms of spiritual existence. As I point
out in the list above, many Dharma students reach the world of
Tranquility or Heaven through their meditative practice and become
attached to the results. They struggle with meditation for a while,
reach a state of mellow tranquility and feel that they attained
something wonderful. Then they want to reach that same state every
time that they practice and become frustrated when they fail to do so.
If you persevere through the stage of great tranquility then you
possibly discover the state of magnificent bliss known as the world of
heaven. It doesnt have to occur that way, the list above is not
something that you experience consecutively, and it might be that you
will encounter the state of heaven before tranquility. You must also
realize that we have been limiting this discussion to dharma
practitioners. The six lower worlds are states that every person exists
within unless they practice and study the Dharma. Of course, some
scholarly people can attain certain unpleasant aspects of learning and
realization on their own but they will not attain the benefits these
states provide unless they are on the path to liberation.

The only way to visit the four higher realms and stay in them is to
practice the Dharma properly. By this I mean practice and study, you
cannot simply practice daily and receive these benefits you must study
as well. After a short time of doing both you must also reach out and
work to benefit as many beings as possible.
However, the human mind is far more complex then the ten world
states we have mentioned so far. All of the ten worlds contain the ten
worlds within them so it is possible to experience a subtle mixture of
combined world states at any given moment. This is the inner nature of
our mental reality but we dont exist simply within our own mind. There
are ten other factors to take into consideration:
The first is our Appearance, which is the way we look to other people.
The second factor is our Nature, and while as I pointed out in my first
book it is true that all beings are inherently empty, it is also true that
people have distinct personalities. Entity has existed from the
beginning-less past and will continue eternally into the future. Power
is the ability you possess to effect the environment. Influence is
simply the product of power. Internal Causes are the karmic causes
we have created and they are bought into play in our lives by the
External Causes that we encounter in our environment. Latent
Effect is the dormant karmic seed that is waiting to sprout and
Manifest Effect is the karmic event that results when the latent
karmic effect is produced. Finally, the tenth factor is Their
Consistency from Beginning To End, which means that these
factors always work together in harmony.
These are the internal and external factors that make up the individual
human being. However, each person exists in a society and is
surrounded by an environment. These last three components are (1)
the individuals Self, which is composed of five aggregates (or
Skandhas in other Buddhist traditions). These aggregates are the form
of the body, the perception of each beings individual senses (sight,
touch, hearing, smell, and taste) conception, which is how the
individual perceives their environment, volition, or the decisions this
being makes based on his individual conceptions, and consciousness,
the state of awareness or awake-ness that the person experiences
when these factors all come together.
The second external component (2) is the Society that the individual
inhabits. Even people born into similar circumstances or who live in the
same neighborhood often have very different perceptions of the
society that they inhabit. The final component (3) is the Environment
and by environment I am not talking about just the ecosphere,
(though that is certainly a part of it). What I am talking about is
everyone and everything around us, from the dirt and trees to the
insects and politicians. This factor also includes ourselves, since we
have a major impact on our surroundings. What the environment
actually consists of, and how we see it, is more-often-than-not radically

different for each person because it is dependent on where you are in
the ten worlds. You and another person can be at the foot of a
mountain and both look at it quite differently. A person in the upper
realms might see the mountain as a beautiful sculpture of nature
waiting to be climbed, while another individual in the lower world of
anger or hell might feel that it is a large, ugly hunk of stone.
All of these components combine together in each life moment to
make up the essence of each individual. The concept of Ichinen Sanzen
means that there are three thousand possible combinations in every
single instant of every beings life. The purpose of Dharma practice is to
elevate our life condition so that we live in the four higher realms.
Actually, we want to spend our time in the two highest realms because
while Learning and Realization are very necessary for growth they
are not healthy worlds to live in.
We practice on a daily basis because people who dont follow this
simple discipline spend their time in the lower six worlds responding to
whatever occurs in their environment. When you enter the upper
worlds you discover mental peace and tranquility.
Since we live in a society that assails us with dangerous chemicals in
our food and beverage and also bombards us with endless noise it is
important that we find a place where we can go for refuge to escape
from this incommodious mental turbulence.
Shakyamuni expressed the reality of human consciousness in a
symbolic way to satisfy the Indian practitioners of his time in the text
of "The Threefold Lotus Sutra." Chih-i described these ideas in a
rational way to the Chinese people during the Middle period of the Law,
calling this principle Ichinen Sanzen. Both of these Teachers worked
with small groups of people because it was to be the period of time
called The Latter Day of the Law when these teachings would be
utilized by large numbers of Buddhist students.
It was the Teacher Nichiren who would take these intellectualized
concepts and apply a single, simple form of vipassana meditation
practice based on the chanting of the mantra "Nam-Myoho-RengeKyo," which had the effect of making this practice available to all
people who want to lift themselves from a life spent in the suffering of
the six lower realms.
As I pointed out in the beginning of this chapter, the subatomic world
and the physical world are not two different places; they are part of the
same universal system. In a like manner, proper spiritual practice must
co-exist alongside our normal daily routine if we are to regain our
sanity as a species. Religion is not some abstract concept that we only
apply to life while we are within the four walls of a temple, or in front of
an altar. Religion is something you live, not something you do only on
special occasions.
It is quite likely that your mind has already put religion into a category
separate from the "real" world, simply because of its somewhat

abstract nature. We must destroy this boundary by proving to our mind
that spirituality actually has an impact on what we do in our daily life,
for only then will the real benefit of dharma practice begin to take
effect. It is a matter of building up faith through direct experience.
Faith isn't something you can just "have." Most religions call for
immediate faith in certain unperceivable beings, giving many of us a
rather distorted view of what the word faith actually means. Faith
should not mean to blindly trust in something, whether or not it has
ever proved its own existence. The word faith indicates a certain level
of trust in something that you can only really have through direct
We can rationalize things in our mind all day long, but we are never
really sure about things until we have put them to some kind of
practical test. This takes the idea out of the category of 'theory' in our
minds, and makes it a perceivable fact. It is how the human mind
works: until such time as something has been proven to you, you will
have doubts about it.
When Eastern and Western thought started to mesh, people from both
regions had a great deal of trouble understanding the new ideas that
were presented to each side. Briefly, Western science had focused
entirely on the physical aspect of the mind and body, whereas Eastern
thought focused on expanding the boundaries of the human mind
through attaining advanced meditative states.
Western doctors, for instance, are just now starting to accept herbal
curatives, whereas Eastern doctors had been using them for thousands
of years. Western thinkers, almost as a whole, discarded many of the
Eastern ideas about the one-ness of mind and body, karma, and
rebirth, until such time as science started to reach similar conclusions.
Then, it didn't seem so ludicrous, and westerners began to test some
of the Eastern theories. The number of books on Eastern thought
written by Westerners, including this one, speaks volumes about the
This isn't to say that western science had an incorrect view about the
mind - it was just ultra-linear: so linear in fact that it had closed itself
off to any ideas that did not sprout from it's own roots. Western
thought has an interesting way of describing the effects of reciting
mantras as a meditative technique: "The monotone chantingcreates
a momentum that overloads the left-brain neurons, making them flow
over to the right brain. As the development of the whole brain
becomes activated, a quantum leap into a higher state of awareness
becomes more feasible."
Whether you prefer the Eastern explanation for meditation practice or
the Western, scientific one provided above the fact remains that
chanting the mantra Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo as taught by Nichiren will
change your life condition in a positive way. I hope that this chapter

has served to make the human mind somewhat less "mysterious" to

Karma and Rebirth

Chapter Two
As with many religious beliefs, people look at the concepts of Karma
and Rebirth and demand evidence of them. At first glance they must
appear to be another set of abstract, non-applicable spiritual
hypothesishowever, with a little thought and some common sense, it
can become quite clear that karma and rebirth not only exist, but that
they are always functional.
History repeats itself, as we have no doubt learned from reflecting on
what we have learned by studying the history of our species. Take for
example the period when Cortez was attacking the Incan nation: he
ordered his men to close the walls to the native cities, and slaughter
everyone within. Now look at any other instance of attempted or
reasonably successful genocide in historyNazi Germany during world
war two, for instancethey killed the Gypsies and the Jews in an
alarmingly similar fashion. The actual weapons had changed due to the
advancement of technology but it was still the same situation: helpless
people being rounded up inside inescapable walls then killed.
Modern science and numerous enlightened spiritual teachers have told
us that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Can
it then be considered absurd to say that one instance of genocide
could be the reaction, or the cause, for another instance of genocide?
We do know that it is impossible for anyone to experience a cause
without creating a corresponding effect. If you do not practice violent
behavior then violence will never appear in your own life.
On a more personal level, we all know of people who live good lives but
get caught in bad circumstances. When asked, "Why do bad things
happen to good people," the archetypical Buddhist or Hindu response
is, "because they did something bad in this or a previous lifetime to
deserve it." While this statement is true enough, it doesnt really
answer the question the way wed like it to. It isnt quiteprecise
enough. The only really specific answer to this question is that good
people suffer because they were born. Birth conditions us for events;
making our conceptions the cause of every problem we have. In other
words, if we did not label things problems they would never appear to
us to be something evil or harmful.
Let us first examine the negative aspect of Karma. We know of many
"bad" people who live in the proverbial lap of luxury, and seeing this,
we have to ask ourselves, "Where is their karmic punishment?" We

have all probably done things that we regret so look back at one of
those unpleasant experiences and consider it for a moment. It may
make you feel uncomfortable, maybe even a little sad or angry. For this
very reason we never dwell on our past bad behavior for very long
although the more recent the event was, the harder it will be to put it
out of our mind. If you are not doing a practice connected to "The
Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue" (The
concluding Sutra of "The Threefold Lotus Sutra") then there is not
much you can do to alleviate this feeling of guilt, except to cover it up
by hiding in your daily activitiesand keeping busy only helps for a
very short time.
Everyone has to deal with guilt in this lifetime unless you have the
serious misfortune to be born psychotic. Negative Karma does not just
sit idly by after you acquire itit is always at work. Bad memories,
nightmares, anxiety and guilt are among the possible responses you
might experience when you have a guilty conscience. If we gossip a
lot, then we will always be worried about what people say behind our
backs. If we steal, we will always be fearful about our possessions. If
we lie, we think that everyone else is lying as well. If we kill, we worry
about our victims friends and families discovering the truth and
exacting revenge. This is part of the suffering you must endure when
you practice immorality.
Since most of us will not kill another human being in this lifetime lets
use stealing as an example that were all, to some extent, familiar
with. Wealth that we acquire dishonestly isnt really wealthwe arent
entitled to it, and it will vanish like a mist in the hot morning sun.
Stealing is the act of trying to acquire wealth where very little cause
for wealth exists. The money that thieves make is very insubstantialit
will change hands very quickly.
Wealth earned through hard work, however, is different. Hard work
combined with generosity will inevitably lead to a life free from poverty.
Thievery is never an option when you want to acquire something: it
may seem like a way to get what you want, but it will eventually cause
a lot of trouble, and it will never lead to happiness.
You will never see a wealthy thief. Even entire countries, like Spain
during the 1700s, could not prosper for long by wholesale theft. Spain
acquired a massive fortune from the gold plundered from Native
Americans. For a short time they were an incredibly rich culture, but
the gold ran through their fingers like sand, and they became
impoverished very quickly. The money that they obtained was not
"real" wealth and it did not benefit them for long. Genuine riches
always produce more prosperity but to do so this capitol must be
earned or deserved.
If you are anything like myself you have things that you regret but
youre probably not making your living from immoral behavior on a
large scale so you might be thinking that living in the lap of luxury by

committing the "perfect" crime wouldnt be so bad. Keep in mind
however that criminals never lead happy, wealthy, carefree long lives.
The ones that do seem to prosper are reaping the benefits of past
generosity, and this will soon be dispersed by their current lifestyle.
Also, living a life based on negative actions leads to results a lot more
severe than anything you or I have experienced. That pang of guilt or
regret that we feel from minor immoral deeds such as telling a lie or
gossiping about a friend is only a minute fraction of a percentage of
what a successful millionaire corporate executive level thief, who
currently lives in good circumstances will be going through now and
later. Magnify your negative feelings a thousand times and then apply
them to each and every object that this man has acquireddo you still
think he has it so good?
By contrast, honest people also get a constant flow of effect from their
positive karma: They will be able to remember the smile they put on a
complete strangers face through their generosity, and it will make
them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. They can look at an object that
they acquired through their own hard work, and be filled with a feeling
of accomplishment.
So, Karma is rational and it makes sense But what about rebirth?
After all, if rebirth cannot be validated, then saying that we have
Karma from previous lives is an irrational statement.
The fact is, though, that we live and die every day. If you get bored
with what you are doing, get up, and walk away, well, youve just died,
in a manner of speaking. You are trying to escape a fate worse than
death to many: boredom. Being a modern person, we might just very
well migrate to the kitchen for a snack. Therefore, weve died out of
our old activity, went through the Bardo state of boredom, and then
were reborn into some food.
Each activity we engage in is a new life. We must eventually quit, and
when we do, it is a kind of death. It can be a pleasant death reaching
the end of a wonderful book, or it can be a rough one say, being
pulled out of the middle of a conversation with your girlfriend to go
clean up your pet dogs vomit.
The boredom in-between these different lives can be filled with
pleasant thoughts, like dwelling on the ending of an excellent book, or
it can be filled with anger and misery, like grumbling about cleaning up
the dog vomit. Our spirit functions on a constant level of fluctuationit
is always migrating. Therefore, it is only natural that when you die your
consciousness will follow the same pattern as it did throughout life.
The time you spend in-between lives is seriously influenced by the
state of mind you occupied when you died. Whether it is an incarnation
into a new life or simply picking up a new book, the mood that you
inhabit when you end your current existence will follow you into the
Bardoso if you die screaming in pain, or simply throw down your

book in disgust, you will exist in a state of misery until you are reborn
or simply find something else to do.
The reason people have difficulty accepting the idea of Karma or
Rebirth is because they are often presented in exotic, esoteric terms. It
is pointless to speculate about who you might have been in your last
existence. Even if you were Cleopatra, it has no impact on this lifetime:
it simply is not important. There is no difference between this life and
the last one; the present moment is all that matters, and anything in
the past is only a memory.
Many people who understand rebirth often want to know who they
were in their "other" lives and speculate about whom they might
become in future existences. There are even people who can see their
other lives and predict their future ones, but there is nothing special or
necessary about either of these abilities. The past cannot be affected
and the future does not yet exist. The life you lead now is no different
than any other lifein fact, no matter how many times you are born
and die, no aspect of the ultimate essence of "you" will ever change.
Your entity should not be confused with the concept of a soul. It is the
entity, not the ego that goes from life to life and inherits the karma
that we create.

Chapter Three
Buddha, Dharma And The Importance Of Sangha
Sometime around 600 B. C. E, a child by the name of Siddhartha
Gautama was born in a royal grove near Kapilavastu. He was a prince
of the Shakya clan, a small kingdom in Northern India near the modern
region of Nepal. Siddhartha was the son of King Sudhana and Queen
Maha-Maya. His mother died a short time after giving birth to him, and
Pajapati, her cousin, raised the child in her place. While growing up the
young man had every luxury and pleasure that was to be expected for
a prince of that era, women to serve him, fine clothes, the best of food,
palaces for each of the seasons, as well as training in the various
princely arts. When he was sixteen, Siddhartha married one of his
distant cousins, a young woman named Yashodhara.
Shortly after the marriage, Siddhartha and Yashodhara had a son, who
was named Rahula, which means fetter (or chain) in the English
language. Once the kingdom was assured of an heir to the throne
Prince Siddhartha felt free to seek answers to the questions that had
plagued him all of his life. Why are men born only to grow old, get sick
and then die? Is it possible to live in this world and not suffer
continuously? The Prince left his kingdom and devoted himself to

religious practices, which in time led to his Enlightenment and gave
him the title of Shakyamuni, or wise man of the Shaka tribe.
The Buddha realized that all life could be analyzed as suffering. It is
common for people to desire things that they believe will bring them
happiness. However, it is never the case that acquiring these things
will ever bring about the desired result. Obtaining material objects will
never bring anyone peace of mind. Achieving certain levels of social
status or power will change the nature of the problems that you have
but rich or powerful people are not automatically happy. Many women,
for example, believe that they must be married to be successful beings
but the numbers of marriages that actually succeed are tragically
Mental peace can only be found from within your own consciousness
and if you dont go looking for it, if youre not prepared to work hard to
acquire it then you will never know the true joy that is only
experienced by the enlightened human mind. The unhappiness people
experience is never a result of a "bad" personality, nor is it a
consequence of bad habits. People can have unpleasant personalities
and bad habits but these are merely reflections of where that person
exists within the ten world states. The best proof there is that this
practice we teach actually works can be found in the changes a person
makes in his or her life simply by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
Without any other effort a person can change all of the problem
conditions that exist in his life simply by doing this meditation.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Buddha. It is important to
demonstrate filial respect. This is something sorely lacking in our
modern society and we suffer for it accordingly. I have great respect for
my various teachers because I would be locked into a state of
perpetual suffering without their kindness and consideration.
It is essential that we demonstrate gratitude and respect to our
teachers because if we dont do this now, we wont encounter the
same kind of beings in the next lifetime. Therefore I have the greatest
respect for Shakyamuni Buddha who blazed the trail that we must all
follow if we are to become successful Dharma Practitioners. I also have
a great deal of respect for Chih-i because he made the truths taught in
"The Lotus Sutra" possible for me to comprehend. I stand in awe before
the brilliance of the mind of Nichiren, who took these extremely
profound, complex ideas and reduced them to a practice that even a
small child can learn to do, and yet it works for everyone!
I am also grateful to the beings that I have direct karmic connections
to; this includes the BIONA Organization, the Prison Sangha Movement,
and all the authors of all the books that I have been fortunate enough
to read.
Being filial also means that we show respect to our parents and elders.
If we do not exhibit proper respect for these people then we are not
even successful animals, let alone human beings.

Since it is essential that we pay respect to our teachers, it is equally
important that we display respect to what it is they taught: the sacred
Dharma. The Dharma that they have taught is the teachings that will
enable us to attain enlightenment, and also to become a beneficial
member of society.
One of the earliest Dharma teachings is that of The Four Noble Truths.
The first of these truths says that we live in a world inherently filled
with suffering. Everything we do has the potential to cause suffering in
ourselves and in others. There is always something out there in our
environment trying to shake our peace of mindbut the second noble
truth tells us where this suffering actually comes from. It does not
come from our environment, though it can certainly seem like it,
instead it comes from our own minds. Fundamental ignorance is the
cause of our suffering and it can be correctly understood only by
understanding the Twelve Link Chain of Causation. Ignorance, the first
link, causes us to create Karmic ties to the world, which is the second
link. The Karmic ties are expressed through the creation of a dualistic
consciousness (the third link) which, in turn leads to the fourth linka
sense of "self." This sense of self is provided by the fifth link, the
individual sense organs, which cause number six, contact with the
world, which in turn leads to seven, sensations. Sensations create the
desire to keep having more sensations (the eighth link) and this leads
to attachment, clinging to sense pleasures (the ninth link.) This
continuous grasping creates a will to be, a sense of becoming (ten)
which gives rise to a physical incarnation. Once our mind has a
physical entity, we must experience birth (eleven) and birth leads us to
experience all of the cycles of human life (twelve) including sickness
and inevitably death. Upon dying, the mind is immersed in ignorance
again, and the cycle repeats itself.
The first two truths deal with Suffering and its origins, while the latter
two can deal with a more positive aspect. While torment arises from
ignorance, enlightened peace of mind comes from awareness.
However, this awareness is difficult to cultivate, which is why we need
Dharma. It helps us to achieve the awareness we need to combat the
situations we label as problems and working towards the state where
we see the reality of non-duality is the entire point of Dharma Practice.
The Cultivation of our awareness is accomplished through positive
actions and taking refuge in the triple gem. The triple gem is Buddha,
Dharma, and Sangha, the three tools that we must use to cultivate our
awareness. The Buddha and our teachers are the sole reason that we
have this method to save ourselves from the eternal cycle of suffering.
The Dharma is the tool they left behind for us to use to attain the state
of awareness that they themselves achieved, and the Sangha, the
community of fellow practitioners, are those who will practice and work
towards the enlightened mind side by side with us.

These three things are our refuges from the storm of suffering that we
live in. The third noble truth is that there is an end of suffering, which
means that we do not have to live in a perpetual state of mental
turmoil. The fourth noble truth is the path that leads to enlightened
awareness. The path is, of course, taking refuge and practicing. It is
also living a correct life, and abiding by a proper code of moral
The Dharma that we should practice in the Latter Day of the Law is
that found in Shakyamunis highest teaching, "The Lotus Sutra." ("Now
I, joyful and fearless, in the midst of the bodhisattvas, honestly
discarding expedient means, will preach only the unsurpassed way."
See Chapter Two, "Expedient Means" of "The Lotus Sutra") Nichiren
invented an efficacious chanting technique for us, called Daimoku, or
chanting the mantra "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo." This meditative
technique is designed for the people in our era, and is therefore the
best method we can practice to quickly achieve the goal of
A Sangha is, by definition, a group of people sharing the dharma
together. People often have this exotic image in their minds of what a
Sangha has to be: A head monk giving teachings to all the other
monks, while the lay people give offerings to them or a monastery with
a solemn group of people meditating we often have very rigid ideas
of what constitutes a "proper" Sangha.
The first Sangha consisted of Shakyamuni and a young girl who fed
him rice milk and listened to him talk about Dharma. A Sangha can
actually be very flexible! It could be composed of a bowling team,
which meets every Thursday night and also happens to discuss the
Dharma between frames or it could be inmates in a prison reading the
dharma to each other between the cell bars. A Sangha is not simply a
group of people who just happen to be Buddhist; they are friends and
comrades that are there for each other when someone has a question
or needs help. Therefore, the Sangha is the third pillar of any
successful Dharma practice.
To have a Sangha you do not need to donate to monks, or large lay
organizations; you merely have to contribute to a Dharma group with
your presence. Part of the practice of Buddhism is dealing with the
people around you, and that quite naturally includes your Sangha as
well. The people in your Sangha, no matter who they are, are only
human they are just like you, searching for happiness and striving for
the shared goal of enlightenment. If one of the members of your
Sangha commits a crime against you, you should be quick to forgive
On that same note, your enemies are also a dear and close part of your
Sangha. People we mistakenly perceive as enemies are actually our
best friends; they burn off negative karma for us and give us a chance
to practice the virtues that make us who we want to become.

Our fellow Sangha members are all a part of our spiritual family whom
we are linked to by the deepest of roots. If we support and protect this
family, they will act as positive forces in our environment, supporting
us and guarding us for lifetime after lifetime. This is one of the most
profound principles to be found within Buddhism.

Chapter Four
"Preparing The Mind For Awakening"
"It is easy to embrace the shallow, but difficult to embrace the
profound." When the Buddha taught, he always gave teachings that
were appropriate for the present assembly. He never talked over his
students heads, or under themhe judged where they were on the
path, and then gave a discourse that was at the level of the
practitioner. He taught simple doctrines, at first, but he was always
pushing his students to reach further and to strive to grasp the more
complex ones.
In the modern era, the Latter Day of the Law, the appropriate
teachings are Mahayana, as they are the most complex, and aimed
towards the layperson. Theravada texts still have value but ultimate
Enlightenment can only be attained through the Mahayana teachings
because there are many things not discussed in the early teachings
that are necessary for success.
This is not to say that the Theravada teachings have no value but
consider this, there used to be a gigantic Theravada movement.
However, as these teachings usefulness decreased, so did the amount
of people who followed them. The movement once known as
Hinayana used to have many schools but today there is only one left.
This school, called Theravada or The Teachings of the Elders is vital,
as people new to the Buddhist practice need simple teachings to begin
with. They are based on developing the qualities of the individual and
while that is necessary it can never lead to enlightenment by itself.
Mahayana, however, deals with much broader principles.
In order to eradicate our sufferings and to swiftly progress on the path,
we must take up certain practices, by which our defilements, our
negative karma will dissipate, clearing our mind so that awareness can
be cultivated.
In the "Discourse on Ten Wholesome Actions" we find this list of
moral conducts:
1. Refraining from Killing
2. Refraining from Stealing
3. Refraining from Sexual Misconduct
4. Refraining from Lying

5. Refraining from Abusive Language
6. Refraining from Defaming
7. Refraining from Duplicity
8. Refraining from Greed
9. Refraining from Anger
10. Refraining from Mistaken Views.
The first five of these are very straightforward, and are usually
enforced in society by pain of imprisonment. Little clarification should
be needed, except in a few instances. To refrain from killing does not
mean that you let insects eat you out of house and home, or that you
let some maniac destroy a building full of people with explosives. If
your house is infested with roaches, and your children are suffering
from them, then setting poison out to get rid of them would be a
reasonable action. Also if you have head lice you do not want to give
them to other people. Stopping one person or even a group of people
from killing others by killing them is an act that the Buddha himself
committed in a previous life so the morality of this action is also pretty
Please refrain from stealing at all times. Reclaiming stolen property,
however, is not the same as stealing. For instance, if an old mans cow
gets stolen, and you ride out and get it back for him, you would not be
stealing. That would be a meritorious action, since the cow was always
the property of the old man and never properly belonged to the thief.
To refrain from lying means that you do not make up stories, tell lies in
order to confuse someone, or attempt to hide some mistake that you
have made. However, if someones life were at stake, lying to protect
his welfare would be a good action, not a bad one. If a gang is looking
for someone you have hidden, and you tell them you do not know
where they are then you have saved the victim from suffering and
prevented the gang from making a heavy negative cause.
Refraining from duplicity or treachery should be observed at all times,
except in the case where you realize that an organization you belong
to, or a person you are helping is working towards bad goals; for
example a corporation cheating their employees out of wages or a
friend planning to commit murder. However, you should not engage in
any negative activity toward the people involved aside from alerting
the appropriate authorities but you should avoid their company.
Refraining from Sexual Misconduct should always be observed. Never
engage in sexual intercourse of any kind out of some misguided sense
of sympathy or in the belief that it will bring the person involved with
you closer to the Dharmait wont ever have that effect. Many
Dharma practitioners live chaste lives and then go sadly astray by
becoming involved in "advanced" Tantra practices. Teachers who
misguide their students in this way open themselves up to terrible
sufferings and truly deserve them.

You should also always refrain from abusive language, greed, and
anger. Greed and anger both cloud your thoughts, while abusive
language is never appropriate. If you have a thought to express and it
isnt a kind one and wont bring benefit to others, please practice
mett. Angry words are like throwing fuel onto an already raging fire. If
you are having problems with greed, then spend more time reading the
emptiness teachings, like "The Heart Sutra," The Diamond Sutra"
or "The Vimalakirti Sutra." Defaming, or gossiping about others is
another activity that should never be engaged in, as slander, especially
of good people, is a very bad cause.
To refrain from mistaken views means, quite simply, to study everyday,
and strive to constantly learn more from the Dharma.
Our Life Condition is the state we experience all throughout the day. It
is a combination of three aspectsour spiritual, mental, and physical
state. These three states must be in balance for us to lead happy,
meaningful lives. Spirituality without a healthy body and mind can lead
to the sort of crisis we are undergoing now with terrorism. An
intellectual person without any spiritual development becomes
snobbish and perceives that he is somehow more intelligent then the
people around him. A person who has an incredibly well developed
body, but no spirituality or intelligence is sadly misguided because the
brain is one of the most important muscles in our body and must be
used or it becomes flabby. To live a balanced life we must have all of
these elements in harmony with each other. We must study dharma
but we shouldnt ignore other kinds of books that we might find of
interest or we will become very dull company indeed.
If we succeed in practicing and upholding a correct code of moral
conduct then we will develop virtue and this contributes greatly to our
spiritual practice.
The Buddha described a to us six perfections of practice that lead to
attaining Buddhahood. They are to be used as an outline for our
spiritual training. They are widely known in the Mahayana movement
as the six paramitas. They are:
1. Dana Paramita or the perfection of giving:
a. We must understand who to give to; we must make sure that we are
not contributing to bad people, such as terrorists, criminals, or false
religious teachers.
b. We must understand what is appropriate to give; we must take care
not to give the wrong thing to someone; giving an alcoholic strong
drink, for example, is not an act of kindness.
c. We must understand how to give; we must not be stingy or
begrudging of our gift, or it loses all merit. Also, when someone is
unkind to you please respond by giving him or her a thoughtful gift
that they will enjoy. This breaks the bad karma, clears your mind and
restores harmony to the community.

d. We must understand why we give to others; we must give from the
desire to benefit the being we are giving to. It should be an act of love.
Never give a gift with the intention of embarrassing or harming others.
This is a serious form of mental perversion
e. We must develop universal compassion; we need to have
compassion for all things everywhere, and consider each and every
person as a potential recipient of Dana. Of course, as my teacher
points out in one of his books, it is easier to like humanity in a general
way and much more difficult to like specific beings, especially when
they do not like us. (See the writings of Stephen L. Klick)
f. We must develop the habit of transferring merit; we should always
dedicate the merit that we receive for Dana practice so that it can work
in the manner we want it to.
2. Sla Paramita or the perfection of virtuous or moral conduct:
We must practice being helpful to others whenever we can be. Taking
in a stray animal out of the bad weather, helping an elderly person
keep his dwelling clean or spending your time doing beneficial
activities is one example. Since we have already examined the ten
unwholesome actions this is probably pretty clear in our minds.
3. Kshanti Paramita or the perfection of forbearance, endurance,
and bearing up patiently under hardship and oppression:
We must be tolerant of the results of unskillful behavior that occurs in
our life, so that you do not feed back into the endless cycle of evil.
Remember, you cannot ever receive an effect without first making the
4.Virya Paramita or the perfection of the diligence of practice:
We must meditate and pray on a consistent, daily basis, or else your
religious practice will crumble, and the merits that you receive will
decrease and suffering will increase.
5. Dhyana Paramita or the perfection of meditative concentration:
We must undertake, develop, and train in mindfulness and
concentration if we are ever to see the face of reality.
a. Tranquility and fixedness of mind equals concentration; we must
lead a tranquil life, even if there is chaos around us, and our mind must
be held firmly in place with good roots, so that we can concentrate on
things that are important for spiritual development.
b. Introspection and perception equals insight; we must be able to
observe both our environment and ourselves clearly to be able to truly
6. Prajna Paramita or the perfection of wisdom; this means that we
increase transcendent comprehension and understanding for
Enlightenment by studying and developing roots of wisdom so that we
eventually attain enlightenment. (See "The Loving Heart" By
Bartholomew M. Klick)
The Six paramitas also correlates with the Threefold Training, which is
also associated with the eightfold path. It comprises of the training in

Sla (virtuous conduct developing higher morality,) Samadhi,
(concentrative absorption causing higher thought,) and Prajna,
(transcendent comprehension and understanding for the cultivation of
enlightenment.) This provides instructions and guidance for those
wishing to attain the nirvana of ultimate enlightenment. When this
threefold training is applied to the Six Paramitas it comprises of:
1. Higher Ethics: generosity, virtuous and moral conduct, patience and
2. Higher Thought: meditative concentration
3. Deeper Understanding: transcendental comprehension through
diligent practice.
Applying this threefold training to our practice of the six paramitas
provides us with greater guidelines in our goal to attain enlightenment.

There are also the Five Guidelines:

1. Following the Three Conditions:
a. Being filial and respectful to ones parents and Teachers, being
compassionate, observing the Ten Wholesome Conducts, and refraining
from killing.
b. Following the Three Refuges, the Precepts, laws, and customs of
Mahayana and conducting oneself in a proper and dignified manner.
c. Generating the Bodhi Mind, deeply believing in the law of cause and
effect, reciting and upholding Mahayana sutras and doctrines, and
encouraging others to advance on the path to enlightenment.
2. Following the Six Principles of Harmony:
a. To share the same views, points, and goals.
b. To observe the same precepts.
c. To live and practice together in harmony.
d. To not quarrel.
e. To experience the inner peace and happiness from practicing
together harmoniously.
f. To share benefits equally.
3. Following the Three Learnings:
a. Self Discipline
b. Concentration
c. Wisdom
4. Following the Six Paramitas: (Shown Above)
5. Following Samantabhadra Bodhisattvas Ten Great Vows:
a. Pay Respect to all Buddhas
b. Praise the Thus Come One (Shakyamuni)
c. Make Offerings Extensively
d. Repent of Karmic Obstacles
e. To be joyful over others meritorious deeds
f. Appeal to the Buddha to turn the Dharma Wheel
g. Request the Buddha to reside in this world

h. Constantly be diligent followers of the Buddhas teaching
i. Accord with all sentient beings
j. Dedicate all merits
By incorporating the five guidelines into our training, our practice
becomes even broader and we will advance dramatically. It may seem,
at first, that combining all of these into our practice will be
overwhelmingly difficult but this is in no way true; the path to
enlightenment is based on simplicity and once we begin to follow these
guidelines they will come quite naturally to us. Of course, we will be
stronger in some of these practices then in others so it is up to us to
ascertain our weaknesses and devote ourselves to improving over time
through daily practice and prayer.
This is the basic practice of a Mahayana Buddhist. No matter which
sect we belong to, these basic moral guidelines apply to us and should
be followed in our every day life. This is the path that leads to
tranquility, happiness and enlightenment.

Chapter Five
Non Dualism
In order to achieve the higher states in our life condition we must
remain aware at all times of what our goal is. If we only remember to
work for enlightenment when we are praying or meditating then we are
badly misguided. There are many different types of Bodhisattvas in the
Mahayana movement and they utilize many different kinds of
subsidiary practices. My teacher, Stephen Klick, continuously offers
incense along with prayers all throughout the day. The method I use is
to make the following vow three times when I awaken, and when I
retire, as well as once every hour:
"Until I have attained enlightenment I take refuge in the Buddha, the
Dharma, and the Noble Sangha. By performing acts of liberality and
practicing other virtues may I realize Buddhahood for the benefit of the
world! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho
Renge Kyo."
On the surface, these practices seem to be radically different, but in
actuality they both serve the same purpose. They are meant to keep
us mindful and alert all day, so that the dharma is always in the
forefront of our mind. Taking refuge in the triple gem is a practice used
by every school of Buddhism including Theravada and Mahayana.
Many people believe that the only way to attain enlightenment is to
totally eradicate negative karma. This is absurd. Since life is eternal,
we have an infinite amount of karmic energy, all of which could be
divided up into "good" and "bad." Shakyamuni certainly didnt lead a

life filled with nothing but good things: people were always competing
with him, trying to tarnish his reputation, or even kill him. However,
"what is sin? What is blessedness?" These things are all relativetheir
status of "good" or "evil" depends on the environment that they occur
in. We have three historical examples of Buddhas lives that we can
examine. We have already noted that Shakyamuni had problems,
though they are only problems if you choose to look at them in that
manner. The same can be said of the life of Chih-i, and Nichiren was
absolutely loathed by many of the people in his society because they
did not understand what it was he was doing, even though his heart
was filled with compassion for all the beings in the universe.
If you take a dualistic point of view about things, you can see that even
the Buddhas have their fair share of "negative" karma. If you learn
nothing else from this book, please take with you the idea that karma
cannot be divided into "positive" and "negative." This is dualistic
nonsense. Karma simply is.
If you do not label something as negative, harmful, or a problem, then
it does not appear as harmful energy to trouble your mind. We can look
at a river in any number of dualistic waysa raging torrent that we
have to cross or a beautiful example of natures handiworkbut
neither of these is reality. The river is just water running through a
channelno more and no less, no matter what kind of extra baggage
our mind tries to add onto it. Karma is the same way. We can look at it
any way we want, but it is not really good or bad.

Concluding Thoughts
"The Lotus Sutra" is the most profound teaching that the Buddha ever
gave. Without the mantra of "The Lotus Sutra" the people in the Latter
Day of the Law cannot easily break through their mental barriers into
the four higher states. The other practices in this period of the Law will
not bring us to the state of ultimate enlightenment in this lifetime. The
other practices have value and we study the teachings connected to
them because a true follower of Nichiren studies all of the Dharma
taught by Shakyamuni. ("Persons of wisdom of course devote
themselves to the study of all the eighty thousand doctrines of
Buddhism, and should become familiar with all the twelve divisions of
the scriptures." From the Gosho entitled "The Tripitaka Master ShanWu-Wei": Also: please read the Gosho entitled "The Opening Of The
Eyes.") These other practices exist as entryways into Buddhism for
people who do not have connections to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
A Bodhisattva of the Earth is a being who has studied and practiced for
myriad lifetimes; they are Shakyamunis original students.
Theravada exists as a gateway for people to come into Buddhism who
have no previous connection to it at all but it also has value to the
Mahayana student because it helps us to develop our individual

spiritual practice and develop morality. Mid-Level Mahayana teachings
exist for people who have advanced in previous lifetimes from the
Theravada teachings, but who do not yet have the karma to become
connected to Shakyamunis highest teachings. Their destinies lie
elsewhere. Shariputra became a Bodhisattva from hearing "The Lotus
Sutra," so did Pajapati and all of the other followers of Shakyamuni.
However, they did not receive the mission of spreading the teachings
of "The Lotus Sutra" in this Latter Day Of The Law.
It is clear that some form of human society will eventually develop into
Utopia. The Buddha predicted that the Earth would become a Pure
Land. Our movement works towards an objective that we are presently
calling Kosen Rufu, or spiritual development and eventual
Enlightenment for all Beings. We are the pioneers of this movement.
Long after we are forgotten our work will live on bringing benefit to the
entire human species. My earnest hope is that you choose to join us in
this noble effort.