Friday, November 19, 2010

november 18, 2010

Got real excited that we would be seeing each other real soon, and then had to wait again.

I have a silly horoscope app that is pretty accurate and this is what it said on the morning of November 18, 2010.

You may be unwilling to seek common ground with a friend or partner today, even if it has the potential to make your life simpler. However, you aren't interested in compromising away your integrity. And although it appears that the other person is being difficult, it may be you who is being more stubborn at this time. Keep in mind that the outcome of a disagreement now is not as important as it seems. The health of a relationship is what ultimately matters most.

I am proud of all of us that we were able to articulate to the universe what we wanted, and be gracious about what the universe wanted of us too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Light of Festivals

Time to squeeze in some crackers and some fireworks, as we move from Id to Christmas, with Dussehra and Thanksgiving rubbing shoulders with Laxmi puja and Dhan Teras.

The way the fumes from the fireworks cleanse the air for winter, the light from it too shall shine into our lives like the sun.  Drop in and we will light the diya together.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What's that you're wearing?

In India, as of 2010, a small percentage of even the urban population dress up like they were going to be on Michael Jackson's Thriller remake for Halloween, but a good number do too.  And it is not like every one needs to come in star wars slave costumes either.  Flavors change from year to year and it is fun to get ready for.

You can dress me up as a robber, but I won't be in disguise.  Only love is a robber, and he lives within your eyes, ooh ee ooh.

You can dress me up as a sailor but I'll never run to sea.  As long as your love is available to me, what do I do with a sea of blue.  Ooh ee ooh.

You can dress me up as a soldier, but I wouldn't know what for.  I was the one who told you he loved you, don't want to go to another war.  No, no, no.

Paul McCartney, Dress Me Up As A Robber from Tug Of War. (released 1982, work started on it 1980)

Today the pumpkin patch, tomorrow the turkey!!

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of trick, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, to earn their treats.

I usually end up watching reruns of my childhood horror classics if there are any good ones on tv.  Trash like Moustapha Akkad or the Jason series.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don McLean's Vincent

 American Pie (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl)

A bitter/sweet romance of Vincent Van Gogh with his life painted by Don McLean and his acoustic guitar. Released in October 1971, Vincent is a stanza out of the poetic album (American Pie). From the introductory track (American Pie) that swoops you over with the jive-friendly beat and an easy strumming guitar , the album simmers down to an embracing silence with a heartfelt emotion making its way out of the shell. The smooth varnish of Don’s vocals follows the shy notes played on his mystic treasure. The song journeys through the different shades of Van Gogh’s painted life. From his paintings to his traumas, from the people around him to his state of disbelief.

Van Gogh and the Colors of the NightRavensburger Van Gogh, Café Terrace at Night - 1500 Piece PuzzleVincent Van Gogh (Vase with Twelve Sunflowers ) Art Poster Print - 13x19Vincent Van Gogh (Cypresses) Art Poster Print - 13x19Self-Portrait 11 By Vincent Van Gogh Tile TrivetVincent Van Gogh Self Portrait Decorative Switchplate CoverVincent Willem van Gogh (Self-Portrait with Straw Hat) Art Poster Print - 11x17

This is a must hear song, and the lines above are from sundry anna over at not just junk by the bay and his excellent writing on mumbai music.  The Vincent post is here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Dazu Rock Carvings

The Dazu Rock Carvings, located in the southeast portion of the Sichuan Basin in China, is a stunning example of grotto art dating back to the 7th century. Containing more than 50,000 statues and over 100,000 other figures, it is one of the most fabulous examples of archaeological treasure listed as a World Heritage Site, and beautifully illustrate the daily life of 9th to 13th century China.


Read More about The Dazu Rock Carvings

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nichiren Daishonin

Nichiren Daishonin (February 16, 1222 – October 13, 1282) with his life and work, established the simple truth that access to the means of attaining enlightenment was public domain and needed no priests or organization or commission agents.

Through his early years, he studied the Buddhist commentaries available to him, and in the face of hostility to his disagreements with the prevailing schools of buddhism in the 13th century, he established what we now know as Nichiren buddhism, spearheaded globally today by the SGI with about 20 million practitioners.

While commenting at length on the correct teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha as contained in the Lotus Sutra, he focused on Buddhahood not only being accessible but contained by default within all living beings.  My having been able to encounter his writing in this lifetime is the greatest benefit I can ever imagine receiving.  I trust you will find out more about him, a lot of my references to him are scattered in my writing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Omar Mukhtar: The Lion of The Desert

Moustapha Akkad was working on his next big project, The Lion of the Desert when he teamed up with director John Carpenter in 1977 to produce Halloween, a low budget babysitter meets slasher film with a difference, a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (including Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh who starred in Psycho). No one could have imagined the success that this film would have at the box office. The franchise generated seven sequels, none of them notable for artistic excellence or social relevance, but all of them making money.

While often dismissed as inconsequential pandering to teenage pop sensibilities, the Halloween series does address some basic issues about interpretation of morality and gender politics.

Omar Mukhtar: The Lion of the Desert was released in 1981. This film will remain one that made a major impression on me as a teenager whose role models were from the 60s and who had to fit into the senseless consumerism of the 80s and 90s.  Read more about the film by clicking here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Janis Joplin, a Blue deeper

When I first got hold of the Cheap Thrills album, I had never seen any album art that came close to it.  For those not familiar with LPs, these were large hard board sleeves, often with additional sleeves, printed or plain, paper or polythene, inside, and within that lay the black vinyl record, with its label which also was often used as part of the artists creative expression.  Like CD covers and booklets, these albums were another avenue to express what the band or singer wanted to convey through the album itself.  During the 60s and 70s, these album covers often became very strong statements of personal belief.  We had seen the likes of Sticky Fingers and Bitches Brew, but this was something else.  Straight out of pages of EC Comics, the cover art by Robert Crumb of Fritz the Cat fame (Harvey Kurtzman actually published Crumb’s work at one point), set the tone by demolishing any expectation that one might have had.  The music set out as standard 60s psychedelic rock till Janis sang.  
 
John Lennon received Janis Joplin’s gift for his 30th birthday after she died on October 4, 1970.  Along with Mercedes Benz, her recording of Happy Trails to send to Lennon for his birthday about a week away, was the last song she would sing.  Forever plagued with a poor self image and filled with distrust and doubt, she died without knowing that her songs would live on, to be discovered and re-discovered, to be revered and imitated, for generations to come. 

Read more about Joplin.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ramzan and Eid Ul Fitr, Repentance and a New Beginning

All religious festivals carry great wisdom and learning for all of us, regardless of our religion or lack of religion. Precisely because we, as a race and not as religions, are looking at a future overrun by our excesses of greed and ignorance is it essential that we resolve to leave intolerance and anger aside and imbibe the wisdom that life offers to us. All the strife that we have been witness to in the name of religions and gods and righteousness should only make our determination to build a peaceful future stronger.

The Quran says, "O, ye who believe, strengthen yourselves with resolution and prayer, for Allah is with those who persevere in adversity." Mankind today is dealing with adversity most specifically from religious and spiritual intolerance. Frequently, this intolerance builds up to the point of hatred and desire for vengeance. It is easy to understand this on a personal level when we look at personal friendships and enmities, and then the global perspective becomes clearer as we try and multiply our hatred and love several billion times over.

Ramzan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar commemorating the revelation of the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet. On the Gregorian calendar, this kind of slides backwards a little every year; the last couple of years, Ramzan has been the August-September month.

Like all religious festivals, there are various interpretations of the meaning of the name Ramzan, various spellings, and various ways of celebrating it.  Some say that the name Ramzan is derived from the Arabic root word 'ramida' or 'arramad' that means intense heat and dryness. Ramzan is so called to indicate the heating sensation in the stomach as a result of thirst. Others said it is so called because Ramzan or Ramadan scorches out the sins as it burns the ground. Some said it is so called because the hearts and souls are more readily receptive to the admonition and remembrance of Allah during Ramzan, as the sand and stones are receptive to the sun's heat.

During Ramzan, practicing muslims fast from dawn (sehri) to dusk (iftar), and attempt to keep their thoughts focused on the teachings in their scriptures, and refrain from harboring negative thoughts, and as the wikipedia says, ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.

In Hyderabad, as in many parts of India, Ramzan is a major festive month, ending in Eid Ul Fitr.   This Eid is not the Eid which is Bakr Eid, which you can read about here.  The night bazar for festive shoppers in the old city is a major attraction as it sets out after the break of fast, and builds up not only through the night as sehri preparations beckon, but also as the month progresses towards Eid. Some of the finest glassware, attars, imitation jewelry, and clothes are up for sale and real cool bargains are the highlights for the diligent shopper. It is very crowded and you should take great care not to get separated from your companions. As you move from Madina Bazaar to Machli Kaman on Pathergatti Road, you will find shops set up on carts, spilling out of the sidewalks into the street, consuming two thirds of the road, the remaining one third is for pedestrians and vehicles to find harmony in. On the last couple of days before Eid, vehicles are not allowed, since the crowds grow too large.

Ramzan is also the time when haleem is prepared and sold at numerous outlets across the city as a sustaining food for the fasting. However, for the religionless foodie in me, it is a major attraction that makes Ramzan all the more sacred. You will want to find out more about haleem, the variations of it (vegetable, chicken, mutton, beef) and harees, and how tasty it is!! While Pista House has acquired a lot of fame, I like the ones at Shadaab, Sarvi, Garden, and Bawarchi too. The chicken harees stall at the mosque opposite Bajaj Electronics at Punjagutta is one of my favorites over years, as is the Kalyani Haleem set up just outside the mosque in the lane beside Y2K restaurant at the Punjagutta junction.

All religions are ways of disciplining ourselves to find that which we were created for, to be able to live and express ourselves to our fullest potential. As we have evolved, we have learned to question, and religions are also an attempt to provide us with workable and satisfactory answers. However, with this attempt to provide answers came the temptation of control and power, and that is how Men of God or Godmen came into being. In simple terms, these are priests, pujaris, padres, maulvis, acharyas and all other such people who claim to be intermediaries or representatives of the divine. The divine, whether you call him God, Thakur, Allah, Buddha, nothingness, whatever, has neither appointed these commission agents nor has the need to. It is merely our ignorance and our fear that give these men power to claim to be intermediaries.  To know more about how similar we are even in our festivities, read this post by Sridhar Patel.

But this post is about enjoying festivals, so take out your shiny new clothes, put on your dancing shoes, and let the music play!! And as for Pastor Jones' and his Quran burning, that was all a huge misunderstanding, it appears, he only meant to burn the Quran on to DVD so that it could be made available to people easily!!
Other traditions make music too.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Let us sing together, nicely, now!

You will have learned about 9/11 and how it changed our world. Different people see things differently and respond differently to them. That in itself does not make one response right and another wrong. Human beings largely have a very accurate sense of wrong and right, and it is only when they lose their connection with their spirit that they allow themselves to be influenced by others who may be driven by desires other than what is life enhancing an life sustaining.

Many people who were deeply pained by 9/11 used it as a springboard for their own human revolution. Yet others chose to use it as a tool to arouse further hatred and divisive thinking among peoples. This year a group of people chose to burn the Quran to protest what happened and what is happening. Here is something I wrote elsewhere about this.

Two important things, one, books are living things, they do not die, not even if you burn them, and two, people are life - to judge them or condemn them is easy, to accept and understand and love them is difficult. Do not choose a path just because it is the easier one.

(title unknown): "Fahrenheit 451

I am as apolitical and a-religious as one can be living in society, which is as good as saying nothing, since policy governs each and every breath we take, whether we acknowledge it or not. Religion, patriotism, passion, beliefs are nothing but expressions of our own politics, and as we interface with the rest of existence, these give birth to a complex new animal. Even close relationships are ultimately governed by politics, perhaps very personal ones, but politics all the same.

What happened with WTC on 9/11 is deplorable and is universally condemned by all sane people. The why's and the wherefore's can be debated endlessly and are best left to those who have nothing better to do. What we can do is to determine that we learn from what happened and never let it repeat. We don't have the luxury of adding to our woes as a civilization facing the threats posed by an environment we ourselves have ravaged to the point of being dealt merciless retribution.

Men of God have repeatedly proven themselves to be more desirous of being Gods of Men rather than seeking the divine will (or whatever it is called in your neck of the woods), that of harmonious and creative coexistence. Most Men of God who have not done so have also repeatedly refused to identify themselves as Men of God, choosing instead to do what they perceived to be their task in an intelligent design.

The movement to burn the Quran violates everything that 9/11 violated. It is a classic instance of being compelled to repeat history if we do not learn from it. May the God of these people show them that all of us need to heal and not hurt any one any more. It is sad that an entire community has to carry the shame brought upon it by a few misguided members, just as the perpetrators of 9/11 did for their community.

Let us join our voices to let sanity prevail. You can sign an online petition by clicking here.
"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Your Jethu, Bicchu!

My closest friend as I was growing up into my teens was Bicchu.  We made detergent and radio receivers, ring modulators and hexadecimal poetry.  We made a lot of music together, he on his mandolin and keyboards, me on my guitar.  We also used cups, saucers, buckets, steel dinner plates, pretty much anything we could use to make “noise” with.  Mom's knitting needles would be our drumsticks, and we would hide when we realized we had dented all the utensils in the kitchen with our banging.  We would experiment with everything, from substances that made you feel and perceive differently to how classic love songs sounded when speeded up to three times their pace.

Bicchu is my Jethu’s elder son, and that makes him, I guess, your Jethu.  I have never solved the riddle of bengali names for relatives.  For me all elder males who were not brothers or cousins were Kaku, and all elder females were Mashi.  So I had these several married couples who were Kakus and Mashi’s, much to the disapproval of everyone, since Kaku’s wife is Kakima, and Mashi’s husband is Mesho.  Life is terribly complicated.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the sun and sunspots that Bicchu took ten years back.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mia's birthday song for you

Mia has turned 3, and is an endless ball, not an inch of squareness at any time.  Tipu (Kaku!!) and Chandreyee (Kakima!!) dont have to worry about staying fit.  Here is Mia singing you Happy Birthday Hardyk Dada.



And here is a more recent picture of she and me being ourselves!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mama'r bari

What a breakthrough!  Your Mama (as in mom's brother) came to visit me on the 5th of August after three long years.  It was a pleasant surprise that brought tears to my eyes which I couldnt let anyone see (he had a couple of friends with him whom I didnt know).  After a long day, I too was able to go to my mama'r bari, where I stayed as a guest for five most instructive and life-changing days.

You will be happy and proud to know that I emerged from my stay at my mama'r bari strengthened in faith and determination, freed from several delusions, and with greater clarity about the mystic law of the simultaneity of cause and effect.  You may have felt an unknown anxiety during those days, and you might be fretting as you read this, but I was unharmed bodily and mentally, though the experience left me with emotions that were largely at variance with the values that I subscribe to, but I am certain that this will pass.

Your Dadu and Thammi, as of now, also have a standing invitation to mama'r bari by those who took me there, but they are neither as trusting nor as silly as I am, so they have decided to not go.  I totally agree with their point of view.

I also know that you will have a struggle to figure out what happened and that you will seek and find the truth.  Know that the struggles you face are part of your own chosen mission, though you might not easily see that in the context of your present lifetime.  Always be grateful to those who persecute you for they are helping you achieve your ultimate mission of expiating all the negative karma that you may have created by slandering the law in this lifetime and in the past, and that they are helping you (sometimes forcing you) to come closer to the ultimate object of devotion, life itself, the Gohonzon!

Do not give in to anger, arrogance or ingratitude towards those responsible for these experiences.  All of creation is obliged to fulfill the desires of life to know and express itself, and we often do not get to see that we are nothing but agents of that desire.  Remember to always be full of gratitude to those that enable you to undergo persecutions and false allegations, pray for their protection if you can, since the law of cause and effect is absolute and noone can escape it.  Retribution takes places regardless of our active intention.  We as believers in  the ultimate truth are protected through all such persecutions, but those who slander it willfully and act out of anger, greed and ignorance, by virtue of their actions, thoughts and words, expose themselves to great retribution.  As entities of the mystic law, we can hope that they will encounter the correct teaching in this lifetime, and join us on this wondrous journey that we committed to in the inconceivable remote past.

Do take care and have a great birthday!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hotter than Hell

This is really about how to cut a pineapple.  I tend to go around in spirals taking entire rows (or spirals) of eyes out.  But this seems to be a good one too.  There is a lot of rant before you get to the link about how to cut pineapple but all of that rant is not only for you, but good for you.

Click here to read about it.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Today is Cousin Mia's Birthday

Dear Hardykdada, My Joyberry,

Today is April 23, Mia's third birthday!! Happy Birthday Mia!

You might have already called and wished her but when I spoke to her in the morning, she had just woken up and kept asking about Hardykdada in perfectly accented Bengali.

You will surely remember your time with her at Thammi's and Dadu's (it is our good fortune that they should have been my parents, and I, their child) place at Kolkata from some time back.  You can read about it here.

She has grown into a lovely little girl, just as you have grown into a lovely little boy, and you will meet her soon and we will have a lot of fun together.

Till we meet again, do you know why Kolkata is called the City of Joy?  Because every second person is a Bijoy, Ajoy, or a Sanjoy!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

think thinking thunk

Words from Paulo Coelho or anyone else

In the name of truth, the human race has committed its worst crimes. Men and women have been burned. The culture of whole civilizations has been destroyed. Those who sought a different path have been marginalized.

One specific human, on behalf of "truth", was crucified. But, before dying, he left behind a great definition of Truth.

It is not what gives us certainty. It is not what gives us depth. Is not what makes us better than others. It is not what keeps us in the prison of prejudice.

The truth is what gives us freedom.

Several biological studies have shown that a frog placed in a container along with water from his pond, he will remain alive while you heat the water. The toad does not react to the gradual increase of temperature (change of environment) and only dies when the water boils, swollen and happy.

On the other hand, if a toad is thrown into that same container when the water is already boiling, he will immediately jump out. He will be a little singed, but alive!

Sometimes we can be like the boiled toads. We do not notice changes. We think everything is good, or that whatever is evil will pass, it's just a matter of time. We are about to die, but we are floating, stable and apathetic as the water warms up every minute. We are dying, fat and happy, without having noticed the changes around us.

There are boiled toads who still believe that the key is obedience, not competence: might is right, and obey whoever is sensible. From all this, where is the real life? It is better to emerge from a situation, maybe a little singed from time to time, but alive and ready to act.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tipu Uncle

Tipu Uncle writes very grown up stuff. But that is because he is Mia's dad and also because he is a teacher at a school. It is difficult to be a teacher at a school and not be really grown up grown up.

Stuff like...

A dancer lived in me, grew and blossomed with all the accolades he got when he was young, pleasingly performing for one and all! A logical mind also dwells in me, that went on clamouring for a life more practical, not one surviving merely on chunks of passion and creative juices. It craved for money, social recognition, a family and bit by bit, day by day, isolated the dancer. One bell at a time, the dancer's joyous foot work grew softer and softer. Till it turned to the stick of a dance teacher. Drawing new found vigour from the experience of sharing the dancer within, the hard sound of the hard stick, became the only soft mellow that echoed the past rythmic beating of the bells. But the mind wanted more and more for itself, claiming the conventional its sole raison d'aitre. Racing fast ahead, it grabbed for money and fame! None of which it really got, as the artist in me never valued it too much!

You can read more of his writing if you go to Tipu Uncles blog post at http://conversingwiththebuddha.spaces.live.com/

If you want to read the rest of this post that he wrote, you will find it by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

two sides of the same coin

Buro,

This is an article By Shin Yatomi, based in part on Yasashii Kyogaku (Easy Buddhist Study) published by Seikyo Press in 1994. Do bookmark this page and come back to it when you realize you already know what you know you don't. It wont harm you to read it any time, so there!

The evil of destruction is like a shadow cast by the good of creation. Nature gives and takes life. Even on the cellular level of the human body, the evil of decay and death exists side by side with the good of growth and health.

For example, while the precise mechanism of cancer remains unknown, research has demonstrated that the malignant transformation of a cell is linked to cancer-causing genes called oncogenes. In normal cells, oncogenes are called proto-oncogenes, which promote cellular growth and are regulated by cellular genes called tumor-suppressor genes. Tumor suppressor genes, in other words, control growth-promoting genes, which could potentially turn malignant. (“Cancer: Causation.” “The Cause of Disease: Abnormal Growth of Cells.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, CD 1999). Thus, the potential for cancer not only exists in every cell of the body, but also supports the cell's growth and health.

Concerning the nature of good and evil, Nichiren Daishonin states: “Good and evil have been inherent in life since time without beginning…The heart of the Lotus school is the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, which reveals that both good and evil are inherent even in those at the highest stage of perfect enlightenment. The fundamental nature of enlightenment manifests itself as Brahma and Shakra, whereas the fundamental darkness manifests itself as the devil king of the sixth heaven” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 1113). The Daishonin explains that all people are endowed with supreme good and evil, as well as all the possible life states in between. We can be either as godly as “Brahma and Shakra” or as devilish as the “devil king.”

Good and evil, in other words, are innate, inseparable aspects of life. This Buddhist concept is called the “oneness of good and evil.” This teaching, however, does not mean that evil is good, nor does it imply that the distinction between good and evil is irrelevant. Instead, it teaches us to perceive and triumph over evil inside—thereby conquering evil on the outside— through faith in the universal goodness of life.In the context of the Daishonin's teaching, good means the “fundamental nature of enlightenment,” or absolute freedom and happiness resulting from profound self-knowledge. Evil indicates the “fundamental darkness,” or life's innate delusion negating the potential of enlightenment and causing suffering for oneself and others. This inner darkness echoes with the despair that our lives are ugly and meaningless; it drives a wedge of fear that splits the hearts of people into “us” and “them.” The Daishonin's concept of good and evil, in this sense, may be better understood as the dynamic, innate workings of life that become manifest or dormant, rather than the external moral codes determined by cultural and social conditions.

A Buddha is someone who has the courage to acknowledge those two fundamental aspects of life. As the Daishonin states, “One who is thoroughly awakened to the nature of good and evil from their roots to their branches and leaves is called a Buddha” (WND, 1121). Buddhas accept their innate goodness without arrogance because they know all people share the same Buddha nature. Buddhas also recognize their innate evil without despair because they know they have the strength to overcome and control their negativity. Buddhas understand the hearts of people in myriad conditions and circumstances. Buddhas are capable of guiding others to their own awakening. This is because Buddhas share the same conditions as others, yet have the strength and wisdom to control their own evil.

Much of our difficulty in discerning the workings of good and evil is due to our unwillingness to acknowledge the potential of both supreme good and evil within our own lives. We don't want to see ourselves as either very good or very bad, hiding instead behind a collective moral mediocrity that requires neither the responsibility of goodness nor the guilt of evil. To flee from the responsibility to realize the full potential of our innate goodness, we say, “I can't be as good as….” To avoid a sense of guilt, we say, “I can't be as bad as….” (Fill in the blanks with the names of those whom you think supremely good and bad respectively, or “Buddha” in the former blank and “devil” in the latter.

For some of us, our moral ambiguity of the self, however, seems to demand quick judgment of others—those who serve our interest as “good people” and those whom we dislike as “bad people”— as if to counterbalance our inner confusion with our forced clarity outside. Others seem unable to denounce the clearly manifest evil of humanity for fear of being judged in return. Such people fear the judgment of others because they themselves lack the courage to see their own potential for good and evil. As a result, our view of the world becomes narrow, if not distorted.

Paul Tillich, a noted philosopher and theologian of the last century, said, “The courage to affirm oneself must include the courage to affirm one's own demonic depth” (The Courage to Be, p. 122)

In the same regard, Carl Jung said, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is” (Psychology and Religion, p. 93). Jung also made the following observation of a person who develops the courage to face the potential of evil within: “Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow then he has done something real for the world” (ibid pp. 101–02).

The Daishonin had the courage to see his own “demonic depth,” as he candidly wrote: “Although I, Nichiren, am not a man of wisdom, the devil king of the sixth heaven has attempted to take possession of my body. But I have for some time been taking such great care that he now no longer comes near me” (WND, 310). The Daishonin had the courage to see his own fundamental darkness. In spite of this sober reality, he summoned forth faith in his innate Buddhahood and thus overcame life's tendency to deny its own highest reality. As he said, “A sharp sword to cut through the fundamental darkness is to be found in faith alone” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 751).

The faith that enables us to experience the freedom and happiness of Buddhahood is synonymous with the courage to see our potential for both good and evil. The process of accepting and challenging our fundamental darkness is necessarily the process of revealing our innate enlightenment. Likewise, our efforts to help others become aware of their own self-negating delusion must be accompanied by our efforts to help them become aware of their own self-affirming power of enlightenment. Without one, another is impossible.

To see our innate good and evil is to experience the joy of accepting our whole being. As Tillich said, “Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one's own true being” (The Courage to Be, p. 14). Such honest and courageous acceptance of the self also marks the beginning of the essential transformation of our lives and the world around us.

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