A common criticism I hear of Nichiren Buddhists, and of Soka Gakkai International members in particular, is that we practice Buddhism for material gain, to get stuff. Well, we do, but it’s a good thing. Really.

I was raised a Buddhist and, as such, have a pretty good grasp on the idea of the impermanence of all things. I try to look beneath the surface and identify deeper significance and the connections between things.

But even with this perspective, I still live in human society. I am still a human being, subject to all the potential emotional entanglements and flare-ups that brings. Try as I may to focus on the fact that the jerk who cut me off on the freeway is really a manifestation of my own sense of helplessness about my environment, on a bad day he remains the jerk who cut me off.

The same could be said of desire. I can convince my brain that attachment to desire is bad, but desires still occur to me. So I can spend my energy fighting and trying to ignore those things, or I can do my best to harmonize with these natural tendencies and see the value in them.

I believe one of the reasons Americans are losing touch with a spiritual lifestyle is that religions have, for the most part, lost the ability to help people with the problems of daily life. The average person is no longer willing to accept a philosophy that merely preaches what appear to be coping mechanisms to deal with the fact that he or she can’t pay the rent this month or put food on the table.

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