This is a post about gratitude and determination, two massive themes in Nichiren Buddhism. I am currently trying to lose weight (or ‘gain slimness’ as we say in life coaching 🙂 ) and recently went out cycling around a lake in the Leicestershire countryside near my home. After 20 minutes I found myself on a really steep hill huffing and puffing against a cold strong headwind and wishing it was easier and that my legs would stop hurting. 😦  Image

Then I saw a man walking towards me (someone I had never seen before) and he just smiled warmly and said: “Keep going mate!” Usually the people I come across on this bike route only say ‘hello’ (if they say anything at all…) so this was a lovely surprise and made me reflect on the kindness of strangers who encourage us but expect nothing in return.

I carried on up the hill, went around a sharp corner and suddenly was no longer cycling into the wind. In fact the wind was now at my back, pushing me along. It was only then that I realised the wind had already been behind me for the first 3km of the bike ride… I just hadn’t realised it. Chanting daimoku later that day I reflected on the fact that in my daily life I often do not notice, let alone appreciate, the support I get from the Universe and from other people.

And then I realised that I must also be grateful, instead of moaning, when the wind is against me, either on a bike ride or in the shape of challenges in my business or personal life. For while the tailwind might be lovely, it is only the headwinds that make us stronger (and hopefully a little slimmer… 🙂 )

I will write about resilience / stickability another time, but for now I leave you with these words from Nichiren Daishonin who in 1273 wrote a letter to Shijo Kingo – one of his most famous disciples who battled many a ‘strong headwind’ in his life. He urges Kingo to develop deep determination, “praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground.” This is a line I now call to mind when I am cycling up a steep hill…

So, today I redetermine once more to become a person who earnestly wants to gain slimness, appreciate strangers, cherish tailwinds and, most of all… thank the headwinds that make me stronger…

PS. This post also inspired by fellow Buddhist blogger Alex Lickerman’s fab new book, The Undefeated Mind.

PPS. If adverts for weight loss (or anything else) are appearing on this post, please be assured that it is WordPress putting them there, not me…