Nichiren advised us in May 1273, “The most important thing in practising the Buddhist teachings is to follow and uphold the Buddha’s golden words, not the opinions of others.”
I have taken this to mean that one should follow one’s heart, not what the world may say. As ‘Buddhahood’ is about demonstrating your highest potential, one can be assured that if one bases herself or himself on the most positive thoughts, their actions are bound to be positive too. This is similar to many of the world’s religions, cultures and thinkers- “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Christianity); “Allah sees you, and is with you, wherever you are, whatever you do” (the Koran); “Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here” (Pueblo saying); “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray” (Rumi); and from Steve Jobs-
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition”
I am a very sensitive person and brought up to listen to others, so this journey has been difficult to follow. Further, being a woman has its own problems in trying to express yourself, even in the 21st C! So my strategy has been to-
1. Keep a list- I have a list of inspirational men and women who are my ‘spiritual buddies’- people who have followed their hearts and succeeded. I read about them often- right now I am reading about Helen Keller.
2. Listen- to advice but listen to yourself- by listening to yourself I do not refer to the ‘inner critic’ but the ‘inner mother’ who nurtures your soul and your ‘inner father’ who guides you along. By being true to yourself, you can shine in your life’s work and all critics will be silenced!
3. Reflect- critical people attract critics (whether inner critics or external critics), so take a good look at yourself. Surround yourself with positive and caring people. I sound out ideas with my close friends but in the end make my own decisions and take responsibility for these decisions.