Why We Should Go After Impossible Goals

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Our student debt, conflicts at home or wars in other parts of the world. It’s easy to feel stuck when looking at the reality of life or the state of the world. Some issues are so huge that they feel out of our control. But Buddhism is all about taking inspired action and making the impossible possible through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Trying to make the impossible possible may seem at first a contradiction in Buddhist teachings, since so much of Buddhism is about being grounded in reality. But Buddhism stresses that much of what we consider “impossible” is more a state of mind than the actual reality of our lives.

But Buddhism stresses that much of what we consider “impossible” is more a state of mind than the actual reality of our lives.

In fact, psychologist David L. Clark writes that what we think of as “impossible” is in fact result of Repetitive Negative Thought (RNT). He writes, “Worry and rumination are the two most common types of RNT. In worry we get stuck in the future, going over and over again the “what ifs” that could happen. What if I get terribly sick, what if I can’t find a better job, what if my child gets in trouble with the law, what if my partner leaves me, etc. These worries become ‘our impossible’ … ”

Buddhism teaches that all people have some form of fundamental negativity within. In the end this negativity is nothing more than the ignorance of our inherent Buddhability or enlightened self. Often, it is this ever-present negativity that clouds the way we see the world and makes our most cherished goals seem “impossible.”

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is how Buddhists battle this negativity or fundamental ignorance each day. Chanting is a declaration that the wisdom, courage and compassion to overcome any problem has always existed within our life. Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes of this process:

Prayer is an ongoing battle against fundamental ignorance, the ultimate form of delusion. Faith means having complete conviction in the indisputable law of life, even though we may not be able to perceive it directly. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, employing the ‘strategy of the Lotus Sutra’ (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1001), we can conquer fundamental ignorance.

In fact, this is why 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin writes that we should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo “as if to produce fire from damp wood.” This mindset inspires us to challenge those problems and dreams that seem impossible so we can defeat our inner delusion.

Members of the Buddhability community have countless stories of achieving seemingly impossible goals through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Cory Moses was riding his bike around his Brooklyn neighborhood when a car door flung open, sending him tumbling into the street. As he lay injured, another car ran over him, severely injuring his spinal cord. It looked as if he wouldn’t be able to walk again, but through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day, he found a deep sense of hope and resilience. Because he refused to see his recovery as “impossible,” there was no limit to the great progress he could make each day. Eventual he was able to walk again and found joy in challenging the impossible each day.

Ikeda writes:

You mustn’t put yourselves down or sell yourselves short. Human potential is a funny thing. If you tell yourselves that you’re not smart, your brain really will grow sluggish. Instead, tell yourselves with conviction: “My brain is asleep because I’m hardly using it. So if I just make some effort, I can do anything.” This is, in fact, the truth. The more you use your brain, the brighter you will become. Especially for those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and continue to make efforts, nothing is impossible.

Discussion on Youth, p. 39

Once we defeat our inner negativity through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo we find the motivation to make the tenacious efforts that turn the impossible into the possible. We stop simply wishing for our lives to change, we become the change we wish to see.

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