Worry is our basic human need to fret over things. Buddhists acknowledge this universal expression of our anxiety or uneasiness in our lives. We are not called upon to deny the world or escape from it. Instead, we make peace with all that is. Root yourself in faith no matter what conditions you find yourself in at the present moment. It is this great faith that grounds us like an unmovable tree even in the face of the strongest gale.
How do we find steadiness in the midst of it all? For Buddhists, the practice of taking refuge is trusting in the three treasures, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. That unwavering belief in Buddha, his teachings and community ensures that our practice moves forward in realizing our true nature. We all have the capacity to be awakened beings. This state of being is within us all. Discovering the Buddha within takes determination and a great resolve. When deep faith and unbounded practice are present, we are face to face with our original selves.
For many practitioners, the mala beads are a tangible way to engage in an ancient tradition. Picking up the 108 beads allow us to touch an age old practice. Wearing the mala beads is an effective way of calming the mind and body. Running the hands over each bead in a repetitive way, engages the user in a way that soothes. This wordless message is, “Don’t worry about things; worry about the fact that you are worried all the time and address the root of that.” The mala is the teaching itself. The act of a Buddhist monk putting on his/her robe and mala beads is a kin to clothing oneself in the truth of the Buddha.
Often times, practitioners would recite a mantra or chant, “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.” Namu Amida Butsu, is a heartfelt recitation that praises the Buddha’s love and light. Saying Nembutsu sets the minds of those who practice it directly in the presence of the Amida Buddha. It means to think of Buddha. When you are mindful of the Buddha, the Buddha is mindful of you. So it is best not to worry. Buddha will hear you wherever you are, in whatever condition you find yourself.
Mala are our delusions. There are six kinds of delusion experienced through the senses. We know them through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, mind and body and perceive them in the past, present and future. Sensing them with the two conditions of the heart (pure and impure) add another dimension as well as with the mind (likes, dislikes and indifference). When multiplied together, we have the 108 mala which is our source of worry. The Buddhists must care for them as if they were a precious robe or sutra. The string of mala beads contain a guru bead which is returned to each time you circle around in one direction and then backwards in the other. It is the teacher and the teaching that keep us coming back with every cycle we pray. There is no beginning or end to our delusions as they are inexhaustible. But we vow to vanquish them all. Living in this realm of delusion, we can never arrive in the Buddha’s state of enlightenment. But we still strive to reach it, ending on the threshold of Buddhahood, only to begin again. It is not a fatalistic practice. We receive the teachings of the Buddha with every mala that we say. There is deep wisdom in this simple ritual, as we live in peace in this imperfect world. For every moment of delusion, every act of greed, folly or confusion, there is Amida right beside us, embracing us as we are. Whether we pick up the mala or join our palms together, this is an act of simple faith. All is taken care of and the Buddha embraces us on the spot.
Walk like the Buddha, even in the most difficult situation. The Buddha is in you. Have faith in the Buddha within. Take a step for peace and the happiness of all humankind. Take breaths in harmony with your steps and the mind becomes at ease. Each step reinforces your joy and allows for the calm energy of the Buddha to flow through you. Keep that relaxed smile on your lips. Enjoy each step walking not to arrive but to be present and mindful of everything along the way. There is no strain or struggle. It is without effort and attainment. This is freedom from worry and expectations. Everyone can do it.