I came across this tweet the other day on one of those silly listicles about hilarious tweets, and honestly, it didn’t make me laugh more than it made me pretty sad:
I’ve never understood the mentality that “I was raised like this, so you’ll be raised like this, and you’ll raise your children like this, into eternity,” when something makes you miserable. We’ve finally understood that hitting our children does more harm than good, so why do we insist on forcing children (and ourselves) to follow rituals that bore us to tears? Why do we bring ourselves into institutions of harm for the sake of tradition?
If church is so boring that you’re falling asleep in the pews, why are you going? Maybe it’s just that you have a real snooze of a pastor – ok, go to a different church. But if you simply can’t stand going to church, and hate being there … don’t go.
We are only given so many twirls around the sun before we have to bid this life goodbye, with all its joys and sorrows. Why would we spend any more time than we truly must in situations that bring us anything less than real happiness?
Many of the world’s religions – including Buddhism – predict a time where the world will come into intense conflict, with environmental destruction, political strife, and immense suffering. Nichiren predicts these occurrences, writing, “In recent years, there have been unusual disturbances in the heavens, strange occurrences on earth, famine and pestilence, all affecting every corner of the empire and spreading throughout the land” and claiming that before it was over, “there is hardly a single person who does not grieve.”
Given today’s current climate, we can see that we are living in this period, the Latter Day of the Law, where “quarrels and disputes” are tantamount, and the world is filled with lost people unsure of the way.
For me, Nichiren Buddhism provides me with strength, encouragement, and comfort. Nichiren read the Lotus Sutra with his life, and imbued his teachings with the same passion he felt as a sacred keeper of the Mystic Law. In creating the Gohonzon, the object of worship for Nichiren Buddhists, he “felt like a lion king,” and encourages his followers to “roar like lions,” summoning courage in all aspects of their lives.
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Mystic Law that encapsulates the Daishonen’s teachings, is a powerful chant that helps to center one’s mind and draw up that inner courage to face all difficulties. When I chant, I feel like I can achieve all my dreams and move forward without fear.
Your path may not be Nichiren Buddhism, and that’s ok. But if your spiritual practice isn’t providing you the same strength and courage, why are you filling a pew every Sunday?
You are not bound to the religion of your mother or father: you are free to make your own way. Explore, learn, and find what sings to your heart.
If you, like the author of this tweet, find yourself falling asleep in the pews, I encourage you to try some mantras, learn more about world religions, and listen to the quiet voice within you that will lead you to your path.
I wish you the greatest happiness and hope you will find the same joy and strength I have found in the Mystic Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, wherever your journey takes you.