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What am I doing with my life? How do I know if I’m on the right path? What am I going to do after graduation? Will I feel this way forever? Do I need to put a pause on my dreams until I feel more stable?
And the list goes on. It can sometimes feel like there’s no end to the worries and fears we can have about the future. But it doesn’t mean those doubts or fears have to control us.
It’s natural to feel uncertain about your future. After all, it’s the future so how could we possibly know the outcome in this moment?
The Present = The Future
The 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin famously shared:
If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.
“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 279
From the Buddhist perspective, the most important moment is right now. Clinging to our past or constantly worrying about our future, can leave us feeling powerless. If we want to see a different future than the one we are currently experiencing, the important moment to place our energy is the present. Why? Because the future will always be determined by what we do today.
Each Day Is a Fresh Start
So, rather than allowing our fear about our future or our past consume us, practicing Buddhism is how we learn to have confidence in our ability to make an impact in the here and now.
Part of a Buddhist’s daily practice is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the name of each person’s Buddha nature and a way to experience the best version of yourself.
When we wake up in the morning, we could be feeling many things: concerned about what we have to do that day, consumed by something we need to handle from the day before or exhausted in general. But starting off the day by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is how we determine how the day will go. Rather than feeling like we have no control.
Find the Best Example of What You Want to Be
It’s not easy to trust ourselves or have confidence in our decisions. That’s where having a mentor or someone you can learn from comes in.
For example, Michael Jordan (the G.O.A.T.) not only became one of the best basketball players in the world, but he also became a mentor to another player, the late Kobe Bryant. In a recent docuseries on Netflix, The Last Dance, Kobe shares about the impact Michael had on his career:
I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one. You heard fans saying, “Hey Kobe, you’d beat Michael one-on-one,” and I feel like, Yo, what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him. ‘Cause he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.
Being able to have someone who you can learn from is how people for generations have come into their own. Consider Michael and Kobe: They are two different basketball players with unique styles, but Kobe transformed into the player he became by having the humility to learn from his predecessor.
In Buddhism, mentors are not idols; they are fellow human beings who inspire us with what’s possible when we truly apply Buddhist practice in our lives. In other words, they help us see the greatness of our own lives.
In Buddhism, mentors are not idols; they are fellow human beings who inspire us with what’s possible when we truly apply Buddhist practice in our lives.
In this way learning from the writings of Nichiren Daishonin and Daisaku Ikeda is how we experience the full benefits of practicing Buddhism as they show us how to practice it in the best way. Then, we can confidently move forward in a way that best suits us and that grounds our daily actions.
If we recognize that each day we take action we are creating the future that we want, then we won’t be worrying about our future at each moment. Having a mentor that reminds us of our inherent power and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to believe in that power ourselves, is how we can always keep moving forward regardless of the circumstances.