Sunday, May 1, 2016

What is Success in Life?


"What is success in life? 
Who are the truly successful? 
There are famous and powerful people who become pitiful figures in their old age. 
There are people who die alone, feeling empty and desolate inside. 
Just what is success? 
The English thinker Walter Pater (1839-94) wrote: 

"To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, 
to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life." 

The person who lives life fully, 
glowing with life's energy, 
is the person who lives a successful life."

Daisaku Ikeda, For Today and Tomorrow, page 131
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is it that makes us burn with this hard, gemlike flame? What is it that drives each one of us? 

For almost seven years writing this blog has been something that makes me incredibly happy. I have overcome each and every challenge with a "turning poison into medicine" attitude. Lately I've been listening to some interesting audios and just learned that psychology calls this a "Thriving Mentality." Exactly. We all get this! 

We know that our practice has not quite hit the mainstream yet. We know how unique we are. And look at us, ahead of the game in so many ways. Living lives turning poison into medicine is the best, most fulfilling way to live. 

I'm still in the midst of turning the biggest poison into medicine. I'm not done yet. We shall see it all unfold. And the most important thing is this: I am not giving up. I can never give up. And we all possess the greatest treasure...Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and our Soka Gakkai International. 

There is a prospective member in Mumbai, India in the Juhu area. Her name is Pujita Saraf and her email is sweetpujita@email.com. Could someone please contact her and help her chant? Thanks!




Thursday, April 28, 2016

This Day Changed Our Lives Forever!



On this day in 1253 Nichiren Daishonin chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time and reclaimed the practice of Buddhism for the happiness of us all. 

It's fascinating to imagine what it would have been like for him that day. I wonder what he felt when he was pondering the true practice for the age. Remember, he'd made a vow at the age of twelve to be the wisest man in Japan. He'd traveled to Buddhist temples all over reading the sacred scrolls and asking himself the same question over and over: 

"What is the REAL practice for this age? What will lead people to happiness? What is the true lifeblood of Buddhism NOW?" 

He put every cell of his body into finding the answer to this question. There were many forms of Buddhism at the time. All of them promised rewards in the future, but no fulfillment right now. The Pure Land sect said the only happiness you could ever have came only after death when you were born again in the Pure Land. Other sects said you had to attone for every single negative cause you had ever made and after many, many lifetimes attain Buddhahood. Others said you had to be reborn as a man. 

But NONE said that Happiness exists in the here and now, and you can attain Buddhahood, happiness, enlightenment, right here right now in your present form. 

And THAT school was the one Nichiren founded, beginning 760 years ago today by chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra for the first time. I can just imagine the shivers going through his body. I can just imagine the responses of the people around him who were all attached to their own particular beliefs. It took an amazing amount of energy and strength. 

And he continued his religious revolution every day from then on. In the face of multiple persecutions, attacks, hatred...you name it. But he KNEW. He KNEW that one day you and I would be chanting this phrase and changing the world by infusing our lives with the energy of this vibration, and advancing, step by step with Nichiren and our mentor in faith Daisaku Ikeda. 

What courage. What strength. 

Those of us who have read the writings Nichiren wrote to his followers know what he went through...being exiled to a gardener's hut with holes in the walls and the ceiling with no provisions in the cold of winter in a graveyard no less...not even a graveyard actually, a place where dead bodies were just left on Sado Island. People were told not to go near the hut or help this man or they would be killed. And it was from this hut where he wrote the Opening of the Eyes and many of his most important letters "Gosho" saying "I am the happiest man in all japan!" Why was he so happy? Because his persecutions confirmed that this was the correct teachings. We can learn so much through his actions and attitude. I could go on and on. 

Today marks the first time he chanted. Today marks the establishment of Practical Buddhism for the Latter Day of the Law. Breathtaking really. 


The following passage is largely taken from the SGI website on Nichiren's Life. 


"While Nichiren demonstrated a severely critical stance toward what he regarded as distortion or corruption of the core message of Buddhism, his letters of guidance and encouragement to his followers record a tender concern for people who were disregarded within medieval Japanese society."

Nichiren (1222-1282), the priest who established the form of Buddhism practiced by the members of the SGI, is a unique figure in Japanese social and religious history. In a society where great emphasis has often been placed on keeping conflict hidden from sight, Nichiren was outspoken in his criticism of the established Buddhist sects and secular authorities. His chosen method of propagation was "shakubuku"--a sharp and relentless dialectic between different perspectives in quest of truth...

For instance, he wrote many letters to female lay believers in which he showed a remarkable understanding of their sufferings and emphasized the Lotus Sutra's message that all people can become enlightened as they are, men and women.

Nichiren's sympathy for the downtrodden in society is related to the circumstances of his birth. His father was a fisherman on the seacoast to the east of what is now Tokyo, and as such Nichiren identified himself as "the son of a chandala [untouchable caste] family." Life in feudal Japan was harsh and brutal, especially for the masses at the bottom of the strict social hierarchy. Experiencing firsthand the misery of the common people, Nichiren had from an early age been driven by a powerful desire to find a way of resolving the problem of human suffering.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has noted that the wisdom we are able to unleash from within is proportionate to our sense of responsibility. The young Nichiren was moved by a burning sense of responsibility to alleviate the enormous misery he saw about him, and it was this that enabled him to gain insight into the essential nature of human life and reality.

Nichiren began an exhaustive study of the multitude of often contradictory teachings and sutras of Buddhism. From age 16 to 32, Nichiren traveled to Kamakura and Kyoto, visiting the major centers of Buddhism, studying the massive volume of sutras, treatises and commentaries. The conclusion he reached was that the heart of Shakyamuni's enlightenment is to be found in the Lotus Sutra and that the principle or law to which all Buddhas are enlightened is expressed in the phrase "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo," from the title, or daimoku, of that sutra.

At the same time, he understood clearly that to promote faith in the Lotus Sutra as the exclusive vehicle for enlightenment would be to engage in public criticism of existing schools of Buddhism, many of which taught that access to the Buddha Land was only possible after death. While Nichiren advocated using Buddhist practice to challenge one's circumstances and develop inner strength, the traditional schools encouraged resignation and passivity. A strong counterreaction could be anticipated, and Nichiren writes of his own inner struggle over the question of whether or not to speak out.

Persecution

Deciding that to remain silent would be to lack compassion, on the 28th day of the fourth month (according to the lunar calendar) of 1253, Nichiren made a public declaration of his beliefs. As anticipated, his insistence on the sole efficacy of the Lotus Sutra--with its core tenet that all people are in fact Buddhas--in the present era of confusion and corruption was met with disbelief and hostility. The steward of the region, a devout follower of the Pure Land school, took steps to have Nichiren arrested. And from this point on, Nichiren's life would be a succession of harassment, persecution and abuse.

One reason for this is that the authorities recognized Nichiren's uncompromising insistence on the equality of all people as a direct threat to the established power structure, which victimized the impoverished majority. The established schools of Buddhism had been incorporated into this structure, providing an effective means for the feudal authorities to strengthen and extend their power over the populace. Priests of these schools, who occupied a privileged position within the social hierarchy, were deeply implicated in this exploitative system and had no reason to challenge the status quo. This is a further reason why Nichiren was able to attract a significant following despite the risks that such allegiance would entail.

The Lotus Sutra predicts that those who attempt to spread its teachings in the corrupt latter days will meet severe trials. Nichiren interpreted the persecutions that befell him as evidence that he was fulfilling his mission in life.

In 1260, in the wake of a series of devastating natural disasters, Nichiren wrote his most famous tract, the Rissho ankoku ron (On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land). In it, he developed the idea that only by reviving a spirit of reverence for the sanctity and perfectibility of human life through faith in the Lotus Sutra could a truly peaceful order be restored and further disaster forestalled. He presented this treatise to the highest political authorities of Japan and urged them to sponsor a public debate with representatives of other schools of Buddhism. The call for public debate--which Nichiren would repeat throughout his life--was ignored, and he was banished to the Izu Peninsula.

The years that followed brought further banishment and the decisive crisis of his life--an attempt to execute him on the beach of Tatsunokuchi. By his account, moments before the executioner's sword was to fall, a luminous object--perhaps a meteor--traversed the sky with such brilliance that the terrified officials called off the execution. Nichiren was banished to Sado Island where, amidst extreme deprivation, he continued to make converts and write treatises and letters.

In part because the predictions he had made in the Rissho ankoku ron had come true, after almost two and a half years on Sado, Nichiren was pardoned and returned to the political center of Kamakura. It is said he was offered a temple and official patronage if he would desist from his criticism of other schools of Buddhism, but he refused. Nichiren retreated to Mount Minobu, and there he wrote copiously and trained his successors.

Transmission

During this period, the priest Nikko, who had accompanied Nichiren throughout his tumultuous career and would inherit the teachings, was gaining converts in nearby Atsuhara village. The priests of a Tendai temple in the area, angered at this, began harassing the converts. Eventually, they instigated an attack by samurai against unarmed peasant converts and their arrest on false charges of theft. Twenty of the peasants were arrested and tortured, and three were executed in 1279.

Where earlier persecutions had targeted Nichiren himself, this time it was the lay believers who were the victims. Despite their lack of an in-depth theoretical knowledge of their newly adopted faith, these peasant followers remained steadfast in the face of the ultimate threat. For Nichiren, this signaled a crucial turning point, inspiring his confidence that his teachings would be maintained and practiced after his own passing. Where he had to date inscribed sacred mandalas (Gohonzon) for individual believers, he now inscribed the mandala explicitly dedicated to the happiness and enlightenment of all humankind. This symbolized the establishment of Nichiren Buddhism as a universal faith. Nichiren died of old age three years later, his mission complete. Transmission of his teachings and the fulfillment of his vision of peace founded on respect for the sanctity of life is the central inspiration for SGI members worldwide.

[Courtesy October 2004 SGI Quarterly]

Monday, April 25, 2016

We Made the Cover of the Newspaper ~


Ben's Memorial Mile is June 11th, 2016. Last week my sister Alison and I were on the cover of the local newspaper. Here's the link. 
http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/2016/04/13/bens-memorial-run-remembers-downers-grove-athlete-raises-money-for-mental-illness-research/abos9sj/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Daily Guidance from "For Today and Tomorrow" by Daisaku Ikeda, April 25th, Page 127:

"Adversity gives birth to greatness. 
The greater the challenges and difficulties we face, 
the greater opportunity we have to grow as people. 
A life without adversity, 
a life of ease and comfort, 
produces nothing and leaves us with nothing. 
This is one of the indisputable facts of life." 

   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yes,  I think we know adversity gives rise to greatness...or at least it CAN give rise to greatness. What is the formula for making this happen? For me, it is consistency to the best of my ability. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the secret to continual forward movement. Every morning when we chant...we advance. 

This year has been a real journey for me...chanting through my tears and wonderment...and here we are, just a month away from Ben's Memorial Mile. And even though it has been difficult at times...I keep forging ahead. 

I've produced Ben's Memorial Mile posters, postcards, sponsor letters...and it's all coming together. Check out the website at BensMemorialMile.com
and you can sign up to run or walk, or donate to find a cure for schizophrenia. All proceeds are going to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Dupage, Illinois, and the Body and Behavior Institute. 

Right now I'm working on sponsorships and donations to Ben's Memorial Mile, and making sure everyone who wants to attend knows about it. I just secured a film team to film people telling their stories about Ben. You don't have to have known Ben to be part of his story. Many of you have chanted for him...some have chanted hours a day. YOU are part of Ben's story too. If you film yourself telling your Ben story, it can be included. Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com if you're interested in doing this. 

Right now I'm busy chanting and tapping. I completed two levels of training as an EFT practitioner. This is such powerful work. I am calmer, happier, and more serene through tapping. For my certification I'll be completing 50 individual tapping sessions with people. Let me know by email if you are interested: chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 22, 2016

How to Chant for Kosen-Rufu - Happiness and Fulfillment for all


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"When we are aware 
that each moment of each day, 
each gesture and step we take, 
is truly mystical 
and full of wonder, 
we will live our lives 
with greater thought and care. 
We will also have greater respect 
and appreciation 
for the lives of others." 

Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhism By Day, Wisdom for Modern Life, page 135
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many ways to chant for Kosen-Rufu - a world of respect for all. We all chant in the most natural way possible. This is one idea for you:

This morning, this PowerPrayer came to mind. I'm experiencing the blooming of Ben's Memorial Mile all around me...it is growing and expanding every day. My life feels truly mystical. I've been learning and practicing EFT, and I feel calm. This morning this short Kosen-Rufu prayer came to me to tell you: 

Short PowerPrayer for Kosen-Rufu
By Jamie Lee Silver, Chantforhappiness.com
Powerprayers are for inspiration - to fuel our determination. We allow them to come into our minds when chanting...and see how they feel when we chant with them in mind. 

I chant for the FULL EXPRESSION of all my talents to flow through me for the greatest good of all...

For this moment, as I'm chanting, I don't have to figure anything out...I don't have to decide anything.

As I am chanting I am connecting with Daisaku Ikeda's heart, and flow of purest energy. We are all chanting for our best, highest good to flow through us throughout the world...

For this moment, I chant purely for the flow, the full flow of kosen-rufu...the best good for everything...the highest possible source of all energy, all thought, all action to flow freely through me for the greatest good of all! 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Internet Wizard Needed!


Hello readers!

Are you a wizard on the WEB? 
Chantforhappiness.com 
seeks a paypal/web design/webinar intern.

Let's work together for mutual success!

Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com



4 Keys to Starting a Gratitude Journal for Absolute Happiness




Studies are showing that summoning and expressing feelings of Gratitude leads to Happiness. Gratitude is a MUSCLE we can all exercise. We exercise the muscle of faith by chanting, and we exercise the muscle of Gratitude by focusing on it! 

I have a challenge for you. 

Start a gratitude journal and share with others on this blog how it feels and how it has changed your life. (Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com to submit your writings)

And express gratitude more and more each day. 
How can you express gratitude to today? 

3 Tips for Starting a Gratitude Journal - A Rampage of Appreciation! 

Tip #1 ~ 
Fill your heart with gratitude while you are chanting. Before you start chanting, sit with your hand over your heart and focus on gratitude. Fill your heart with this feeling. And chant from this place. If it's difficult to summon gratitude, think "What COULD I feel grateful for?" and build your feeling of gratitude from that place. 

Tip #2 ~
Start a "Rampage of Appreciation Journal" 
for everything in your life. 
Take a journal or spiral notebook 
and put headings on the top: 

Your body ~ 
Write a list of all you appreciate, and usually take for granted...everything from the five senses to whatever you can think of...go slowly, throughout your whole body starting from the top and write what you appreciate:

Sample journal entry:
I appreciate that I can see colors, I appreciate that I can see 3D, I appreciate that I can remember, that I can sing, that I can laugh. 

Little details add up. We are wondrous in so many ways. Gratitude draws more thing to be grateful for! And keep going ~ you get the picture. See if you can fill a whole page. 

Your Family ~ what do you appreciate? What could you appreciate?

Your friends ~ what do you appreciate in the past and the present about your friends. 

Your Beloved ~ if you don't have a beloved at the moment fill this page with things you have loved about past loves in your life...only the positive things.

Your practice and the SGI ~ What brings you joy? Our daily practice, our living mentor, the Gosho, our SGI friends, meetings, laughter, songs...

Your Work/Career ~ what do you appreciate, what can you appreciate? 

Your home: you get the idea

Our wonderful planet:

Your Country: 

Your possessions: 
Car...clothes...furniture...this is a RAMPAGE of appreciation...keep going!

Other Categories? What would you add? 

Tip #3
Write in this Gratitude Journal Frequently. One friend said he began a gratitude journal last year and writes every day. He has had the best year of his life. If you focus on the good - well, it focuses back to you! 

Tip # 4
Express this gratitude every day! Who can you express gratitude to today? I now carry thank you notes wherever I go. My goal is to give out one a day. 

Email me your stories to share!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today as I sat down to chant, and go into dialogue with my own life, I thought "What do I want to chant for?" and gratitude came flooding into my thoughts...

I am full of Gratitude that I live an absolutely fearless life ~

Because I chant ~

I am confident that I will always have everything I need. I am not worried or afraid of anything. I do not live in fear of anything. I know the resources for ALL I need are within my own life, within my own Daimoku. I am the Mystic Law...and so are YOU!

I am not worried about whether or not my dreams will come true - as long as I keep steadily advancing, I know that everything I dream will be possible.
I am grateful for having time and a great space to chant!
I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do public speaking and inspire people. Today I addressing a women's group and they will be starting their own gratitude journals. 
I am grateful for my health, and that I look so much younger and healthier than I did ten years ago...aaaahhh the youthening power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (and eating well, exercising and drinking LOTS of water!)

I am grateful for the committee putting on Ben's Memorial Mile. Their commitment, their swift action, and the beautiful way this event is coming together is mystic. Ben is eternal, and Ben's Memorial Mile will deepen people's friendships, and create community while it raises funds for mental illness awareness. 

I am grateful for this practice, and for my friends in faith. I always know where to turn when I am seeking encouragement.
I am grateful to YOU, my readers, who send me encouragment, appreciation, insights, questions, experiences and guestblogs. 

Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com.  

Share your experiences of faith Please keep your journals if you can, and write brilliant perspectives on your victories. The world awaits your words of wisdom. Let me share them for you with the 55,000 readers of this blog.
I am also grateful for YOU for sending links to this blog and sharing it with others. I write it from my heart to share what I have learned with others, and to connect us all together.
I am grateful for Kate, and Georgine and the SGI
I am grateful for my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda. 
Enjoy and have a great day ~ Jamie 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

12 Ways Nichiren Buddhism Rocks! Please share!



(You can now subscribe to this blog by putting your email in the box to the right)

Why do we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and what makes this practice different than any other form of Buddhism? 


1. The goal of this practice is RESULTS, also called actual proof, or benefits. In other words - you get what you chant for- or something better - as long as you do not give up. 

2. In this practice, each person is a Buddha and possesses the entire power of the universe within their own lives. This is the awakening that the original Buddha experienced under the Bodhi tree. 
We all possess the potential for bringing forth our own Buddhahood (happiness and strength) through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, right now, in this lifetime  ~ without having to focus on making other changes in our lives. 

3. We have a Living Mentor ~ 
Daisaku Ikeda is the President of the Soka Gakkai International. I write about him often. Several of the posts last week were on the mentor and disciple relationship. Daisaku Ikeda is an extraordinary human being that we connect  with through his writings, his speeches, his actions and through our own hearts. 

4.There are no lifestyle, diets, rules of behavior or “paths” to memorize or carefully trod. There is the keen awareness that life operates under the strict law of cause and effect, and at each moment WE are creating our lives, but most of us knew that already! 

5. Desire is not the enemy. Your desires lead you to chant...when you chant you change your karma. Each person chants for their desires from their heart. Alleviation of desire is not the goal of this practice. Neither is mindlessness. We focus when we chant.  

6. There are no clergy, no robes and no temples. YOU have direct access to the power of the universe, your own Buddha power within. No intermediaries are needed. We SGI members practice together because we grow and learn together. There are SGI (Soka Gakkai - Value Creating Organization) community centers, and many smaller meetings are held in people’s homes. We are all normal people in the world living extraordinarily happy lives.  

7. We are changing our karma every time we chant. We can change our karma. Karma is not immutable. Suffering is not "Noble", but it is part of life. The goal of chanting is HAPPINESS, not to learn to be better sufferers. 

8. We do not chant “to” anything outside of us. There is no Higher Power in this practice. When we are chanting we access our own wisdom and power as a the Buddha, or awakened one. We are chanting to our own lives. 

9. The main practice is reciting the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo over and over and over. Everyone on earth recites the same phrase. It means: "I fuse my life with the mystic (unfathomable) law of cause and effect through sound vibration"

10. The SGI does not discriminate for any reason. All people...ALL people have the right to access the Mystic Law within their own lives. We are all Buddhas. 

11. There is no guilt, there is only the awareness of the law of cause and effect. 

12. You do not need to convert to try this practice. Anyone can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo regardless of religion. Test it. See how you feel, and watch what happens. When you see the results, you want to learn more...and you increase results and happiness as you go. 

And it's easy to start chanting. You can start with only 5 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening, and see results. If you click on the SGI Portal link to the right you can find members in your area. 

Jamie Lee Silver ~ chantforhappiness@gmail.com