Monday, May 15, 2017

The Joy of Teaching Gongyo - 10 Keys for making it fun and easy ~ please share

I'm teaching my new young friend how to do gongyo, and we are having a blast. Yes, it's challenging, but she is determined to master it, and I'm happy to help her. I am eternally grateful for the leaders who helped me when I was youth division. I made it my goal to do perfect gongyo and to chant at any speed.

Teaching Gongyo has been one of my greatest treasures. One youth member had a revelation while she was learning. I'll never forget it. She realized she wanted to switch majors from marketing to education. She just completed her degree this December! These are golden moments we shared! 

How do I do it? I'll share my tips and you can write me and let me know your tips at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 

10 Keys for teaching Gongyo  ~  
Making it fun and easy!

1. Set aside at least an hour. 
2. Meet in front of the Gohonzon.
3. Chant some Daimoku Together. 
4. Read the first part of the introduction from the Sutra book together. 
5. Read about how the vowels and the consonants are supposed to sound. 
6. Discuss the beats above the words
7. Explain that breathing is okay! Just breathe and hop back in! 

Then...

8. I recite a short phrase and the they repeat it until they get it. Some phrases are trickier than others. 

9. When we get to the bottom of a page we do the whole page at least once, usually more. My new student is incredibly willing to learn. I let her decide when she feels ready to move to the next page. 

10. When I get to the end of part one, we do the whole thing together again. 

It's okay to have fun. It's okay to laugh at mistakes! Enjoy this sacred rite! 



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lighting the Lamp of Hope! The Joy of Fostering Youth!



Ahhhh the brilliance of introducing youth to this practice! Some of my golden memories are of the youth I took under my wing. They are living the lives of their dreams with the ultimate tool for creating happiness and value for themselves and others...this practice!

The other day someone magical...seeking...young and vibrant came happily into my life. I was at a restaurant with  my new friend Mari Beth whom I'd just introduced to chanting. She came up to my apartment and chanted with me for the first time. 

Our server was this delightful, beautiful young woman...she looked like she couldn't possibly have a care in the world. We had some laughs with her and a great time. At the end of the dinner I said "I have something for you!" and took out my card and wrote Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on it and the connection was INSTANT. 

It was as if she had been seeking this her whole life. She said "Oh! I really need this right now, my Mom's in the hospital in pain and I'm all alone caring for her!" I asked her if she wanted to come over to chant after she got off - my apartment was right across the street and she said SURE! 

She said she'd get our by about 10:30, but she got some last minute customers and was able to come around midnight (!!!)...and I was waiting for her and so happy to see her! She told me the story of her young life (she just turned 20), and I could see what a fighter she is, against all odds. She's faced extreme challenges and is intent on fulfilling her dream of helping people with artifical limbs. She is such a Bodhisattva already. 

We sat in front of the Gohonzon. I put the bell in front of her, taught her how to chant, and told her she could ring the bell when she was finished. She chanted almost half and hour!  

Yesterday her Mom was released from the hospital! Last night she came over at 10:30 pm and we chanted and talked. She is so grateful to be embraced into this practice and my life. There is nothing better than having experience, knowledge and HOPE to give someone who is soaking it up! She is my Mother's Day gift! Last night we watched the Ben videos and she got to know and love my boy. What a wonderful life I lead! 

I am dedicated to raising her. I am dedicated to helping her achieve each of her dreams. I see her as a leader of our bright, positive movement that will attract 50,000 youth and more!  

I am grateful for all your Daimoku for the youth. We can feel the groundswell... feel them arising...and RISE to meet them! We all have determination to raise capable, happy, bright beacons of hope. And introducing her has brought ME such happiness...a new vibrancy in my step...a fresh determination to live as a brilliant beacon of hope, to overcome my sufferings and achieve my dreams. 

It is time for our youth to find relief and stop suffering. It is time for them to gain human connection...and hope. It is time to stop losing so many to despair! It is up to us to reach out and be available. And it is the greatest joy to watch them blossom like flowers! 

As Daisaku Ikeda writes in the May 2017 Living Buddhism study material on Fostering Successors, (page 44):

"The right time 
is not something one waits for; 
one creates it!"

Now is the time! We can carry cards everywhere we go. 
Introducing people who work close to where I live is now a focus for me. I live on the beach. There are countless restaurants and stores close by. If I meet someone who is receptive they can pop on over before or after they work to learn to chant! 

So happy to be sharing this journey with YOU! 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

PowerPrayer to Make Each Moment Count!

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How do we approach our lives powerfully? 
How do we make each moment count? 
How do we generate "earnest resolve"?

We KNOW that each moment contains the seed and power of the entire universe within our lives (ichinen sanzen) We KNOW THIS MOMENT is important. What do we need to harness and activate and use this knowledge with every fiber of our being? Here are some insights from the September Gosho study on the Gift of Rice:

The Gosho, the Gift of Rice states: 
"When we carefully consider what exactly "earnest resolve" refers to, it is the doctrine of observing the mind." 
(From the Gift of Rice by Nichiren Daishonin, Living Buddhism September 2015, page 29)

President Ikeda states "Everything is determined by the direction in which our "earnest resolve" orients our minds. When we focus our "earnest resolve" on our Buddhist practice, believing and practicing the Mystic Law that enables all people to attain enlightenment, our inner Buddhahood reveals itself, pervading our lives and the environment." 
LB, 9/15, page 38

How powerfully can earnest resolve work in our lives? 

Akeymi Bailey Haynie, our National SGI Leader said one day she heard her mother cry out from a nightmare, and realized that her mother had been having nightmares every night. (Her mother is a survivor of the WWII bombings in Japan). Akeymi developed a deep resolve in her heart and sat down and chanted 15 minutes of focused Daimoku that her mother would NEVER AGAIN have another nightmare. She reached that level of "now or never" or "NO WAY!" that is so powerful, and her Mom never had another nightmare. 

We all have this power in our lives. Sensei tells us this every day. When we are in front of the Gohonzon it is up to us to summon this resolve, and to focus our minds.

We all have this power! Today I offer you: 

PowerPrayer to Ignite and Focus
Our Inner Resolve
by Jamie Lee Silver from ChantforHappiness.com

LIFE! 
Now it the crucial moment! 
THIS MOMENT 
While I am chanting I am drawing a line in the sand! 
I am changing this KARMA Forever - 
I am rooting the cause from my life now! 
This shall happen:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
and/or THIS shall STOP happening:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I NOW summon all the power vested in me as a worthy votary of the Lotus Sutra. 
My life is Powerful!
I am turning my attention and focus to this powerful intention:
__________________________________________________
My daimoku is Powerful

Shoten Zenjin activate your forces NOW! 
Each Daimoku summons my power!
Each Daimoku has an effect NOW
For the sake of World Peace, I ignite my vow!
I will show actual proof -  inspire myself, inspire others, 
and change the world! 
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! 






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Does Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Mean and Why Do We Chant it?


What does Nam-myoho-renge-kyo mean, 
and why do we chant it? 

By Jamie Lee Silver of ChantforHappiness.com - 
Not an official SGI site
(Subscribe by putting your email in the box to the right. 
Translate button is at the top right.)

The literal translation is:


"I fuse my life 
with the mystic law of cause and effect 
through sound vibration (or sutra)." 

It is the title of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha's highest teaching that declares that ALL people possess the Buddha Nature...all people ARE Buddhas...and we can access this nature by calling it forth in our lives using this phrase. 

Being a Buddha - 
is tapping the river of life that runs through ALL life - summoning the mystic law 
by realizing 
we ARE the Mystic Law. 
We not only chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ~ 
we ARE Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ~the Mystic Law. 

I like to think of it as "I am one with the rhythm of all life." It is the rhythm that exists within all of life...the reason for the turning of the tides...the reason for the seasons...the atoms that exist within every single cell...from an elephant to a spec of dust...to the cells in our hearts and minds. Everything possesses this connectedness...this rhythm.  
It is all encompassing and contains the wisdom and energy of all of life itself...the whole universe. 

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo we tap into that energy and access it for our lives...directed towards our desires and for the fulfillment of happiness for all. In this practice, it's okay to have desires. More than okay! We don't have to alleviate them. Desires make us who we are and lead us to chant. 

When we chant we change the internal life within our lives. We change the core and fiber of our lives. We change our karma. And when we make that internal change, our ENVIRONMENT (meaning everything that is not within our own skin, our jobs, our relationships, our sense of self, everything we experience and think) ALL of that changes to reflect our internal change. We call this "Human Revolution."

When we chant we harness the energy that is our birthright. And we chant twice a day, every single day, to get and keep our lives in rhythm. 

When we are in rhythm we are in the right place at the right time... to find out about and get the job...or to meet the man of our dreams...or to protect our child from danger. When we are in rhythm life isn't so much of a struggle as it is a joy...we see the beauty in everything and we feel our lives overflowing with appreciation. 

We chant for something and get it or something better. We get access to internal happiness and strength that cannot be blown away by any event or obstacles. 

In fact we view obstacles themselves as benefits, as strange as that may sound....because obstacles make us chant more, and when we chant more we draw even higher life conditions and deeper satisfaction into our lives. 

What can we chant FOR? Anything. We chant for others, we chant for our planet, our countries, and ourselves. 
We can chant for whatever our desire may be...even if it might not be the "right" desire for us. In the act of chanting, we will change our karma and our desires themselves will naturally begin to shift. We will open our lives to the deeper wisdom within...the deeper yearning, the REAL desires that we have forgotten or given up on. We will grow. We will prosper and we will blossom. 

We will gain the wisdom of the right action to take - because ACTION springs from wisdom. 

The challenge is...we need to DO it. We have to chant to bring all this rhythm and harmony out. And that's why we practice together as an organization, the SGI, The Soka Gakkai, our fellowship of friends who support each other, chant for each other, and create a new Soka family for each practitioner. We are so fortunate. 

I hear from people all over the world, and some have strong SGI groups in their towns and others are completely alone. I love that we can connect through the power of the internet. From the moment I began chanting 32 years ago I have had the deep desire to share this practice, this practice that WORKS, with everyone who is looking for the real, practical means of creating happiness and results in their lives. 

We are in this life together...sharing our challenges and our successes. If you are not yet connected to the SGI please go to sgi-usa.com and find your local members. You will be so glad you did. 

Some Powerful Quotes from Daisaku Ikeda from Ikedaquotes.org:

THIS moment, this instant, is important, 
not some unknown time in the future. 
Today, this very day is what matters. 
You must put your whole being 
into the time that exists now. 
For future victory rests in the present moment.

BUDDHISM holds that 

everything is in a constant state of flux. 
Thus, the question is 
whether we are to accept change passively 
and be swept away by it, 
or whether we are to take the lead 
and create positive changes on our own initiative. 
While conservatism and self-protection
might be likened to winter, night and death, 

the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize 
the ideals evokes the images of spring,
morning and birth.

DO gongyo and chant daimoku with a fresh spirit. 

And, filled with renewed vitality, 


build a history of accumulating fresh benefit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Overcoming Challenges and Accessing the Power of Our Own Lives!



Hello! Here I am in paradise...and life has come along with me. I still have the same types of challenges within myself and I still have to overcome them no matter what. I am a Buddha. I made my vow, (and remake my vow daily) to show actual proof so that I can rid the world of suffering through my own life. I live to inspire others. If I (this common mortal) can be happy, then so can anyone. Anyone. I use my practice of Buddhism, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every morning and evening to accomplish my goals and rid my life of negativity. 

I am a regular person. I am no better than anyone else. But maybe, because of my deep suffering, because of the depression I have battled throughout my life, and the great loss I experienced when my precious son Ben died, I feel that I HAVE to prove the power of this law through my life now more than ever. I prove this power over and over and over! The power of my own life, my own Buddha Nature through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon never stops! I can access happiness anytime, anywhere. 

And it's not easy is it? We all have our devils, our demons, they are the voices in our heads that say negative things like "See, you are a total failure," or "There you go, messing up again!" Or..."Why chant? It's no use anyway!"

We all have these voices in our heads. Linda Johnson calls those voices our "Evil Twin," and she says they NEVER TAKE A VACATION! I love that. So we must chant every day!

And the main thing is to keep going. I've had some challenges to overcome...and it's easy to go down that slippery slope where you chant less and less, and then it is next to impossible to chant. That's when we have to say "Enough!" That's when we need to put our cell phones in the other room, set a daimoku (chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) target for ourselves and fulfill it. 

One of my challenges has been nights of not sleeping. I've had insomnia in various forms all my life, and it affects how I function during the day, and it effects my mood a lot! Last night I DID sleep, and woke up this morning and chanted for two hours. 

My prayer today was to bring back the spring in my step. Bring back the hopeful feeling of anticipation. Lighten my heavy thoughts and bring me sunshine in my mind. 

I chanted for all of you, and for Kate's brain. I pictured her brain glowing in health. (Many of you are familiar with Kate Randolph, my Buddhist mentor through this blog. She is my best Buddha Buddy, my inspiration, my heart. This is her 40th year of practice, and she was recently diagnosed with a glioma brain tumor. Thank you for chanting for her!) 

And now, here I am writing to you, and feeling like a breath of fresh air just came from within my own life. 

This is the power of Daimoku. THIS is the spirit to stand alone and not give up. THIS is what brings on kosen-rufu and will bring 50,000 youth together in the US on November 18th, 2018. 

Whatever you are going through, please don't despair. Please use this practice to bring light and life and happiness to yourself, and your loved ones. Please VOW to show actual proof through your life and inspire others to chant and to be happy. You can be happy, your families can be happy. YOU are the Buddha creating Kosen-rufu (a world of peace and respect for all) and YOU make a difference every single day!

Go Buddha Go! 

If you'd like to submit an experience for this blog, please email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 




Saturday, April 15, 2017

"At That Time" Our Determination Changes Everything!


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I wrote this blog two years ago. I look at this writing now, and think back to what I was going through at the time. My life, and practice were up against a wall. 

(I write this blog to share my journey, and use my life as an example that anything is possible throuch chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I've been practicing Buddhism for 32 years with the SGI, but these writings, this blog, are from my heart to yours and not officially endorsed by any organization) 

Two years ago my 22 year-old son was so sick. He was suffering. And I was fighting with all my light for his life. As many of you know, Ben did not keep his "life" here on earth. 

On July 2nd, 2015, he left this plane and became "Our Forever Ben," a voice from beyond that encourages many. No, Ben is not alive here on earth...but he did "win" and continues to win. 

Soon after his "death" I began reading the translation of the Sutra in the back of every Gongyo Book. Over and over the Buddha says "I appear to be gone, but I am always here preaching the law." 

And I thought "I'm a Buddha, Ben's a Buddha, he is still right here." And I began writing to him and listening for his reply, then writing what I heard. It's so easy...so natural. Anyone can do it. It is Ben's gift to the world and he offers it in the book we wrote together called "Our Forever Ben, One Mom's Letters to her son-in-spirit and his poetic replies" available on Amazon. His words are so beautiful. He is always right here...and everywhere! We still write each other often. I hope our story brings light to many dark hearts. 

Here is what I wrote two years ago. Enjoy: 

Deciding to "Stand Up and Fight" Changes Everything!

The beginning of the "Expedient Means" chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which we recite during morning and evening Gongyo begins with the phrase "At that time the World Honored One calmly arose from his samadhi and addressed Shariputra"

In "The Heart of the Lotus Sutra" Daisaku Ikeda states: 

"In terms of our practice, therefore, I would like to stress that "that time" exists only when we pray to the Gohonzon and manifest determination and awareness of our mission for kosen-rufu. (World peace through our own human revolution - using our problems to FUEL our happiness and light the way of inspiration for all by showing the impossible is possible through our lives, notes mine, js) 

We have to make a determination, 
pray and take action. 
Unless we do so, 
our environment will not change in the least, 
though five or ten years may pass, 
that time" will never arrive.

Our single minded determination for kosen rufu, 
(a world of respect for all beings ~ JS) 
and that alone, 
creates the "time." 
"That time" is 
when we set our lives in motion, 
when we stand up 
of our own volition and by our own will and strength. "That time
is when we summon forth strong faith 
and take our place on the grand stage of kosen-rufu.

Goethe writes, 
"The moment alone is decisive; 
Fixes the life of man, 
and his further destiny settles." 
"That time" is the moment you resolve 
from the depths of your heart: 
"Now I will stand up and fight!" 
From that moment, 
your destiny changes. 
Your life develops. 
History begins. "

(note from Jamie: When I sit in front of my Gohonzon, and look into the mirror of my life... I chant in appreciation for my problems and VOW to show actual proof to others that the impossible is possible, and that each one of my problems leads us closer to a world of happiness for all...because one more woman stood up and said "NO WAY!" "I will WIN!" I picture the outcome already secure and chant in happiness.) 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lighting the Lamp of Hope ~ From Florida!



Hello my friends. Yes, I am here in St. Pete proving the power of the Gohonzon -  the power of my own life.

Our POWER is LIMITLESS. We are life itself...more and more we are knowing and experiencing this great truth. 

I have been reading "On Attaining Buddhahood," by Nichiren Daishonin, the reformist monk, who founded this practice and realized that chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra, is the key to life, happiness, strength and fulfillment. I have been reading his words for 32 years, and "On Attaining Buddhahood" is one of my favorites. 

"If you wish to free yourself 
from the sufferings of birth and death 
you have endured through eternity 
and attain supreme enlightenment in this lifetime, 
you must awaken 
to the mystic truth which has always been 
within your life. 
This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. 
Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo 
will therefore enable you 
to grasp the mystic truth within you. 
Its words are the reality of life 
and the reality of life is the Mystic Law (myoho). 
It is called the Mystic Law because 
it explains the mutually inclusive 
relationship of life and all phenomena. 
That is why this sutra is the wisdom of all Buddhas.

"Life at each moment 
encompasses both body and spirit 
and both self and environment 
of all sentient beings 
in every condition of life, 
as well as insentient beings - 
plants. sky and earth, 
on down to the most minute particles of dust. 
Life at each moment permeates the universe 
and is revealed in all aspects of phenomena. 
One awakened to this truth embodies this relationship. However, 
even if you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, 
if you think the law is outside yourself, 
you are embracing not the mystic law, 
but some inferior teaching." 
From The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 1, page 3

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

I like to read the Gosho by inscribing its words upon my heart...and repeating them over and over. The LAW IS WITHIN US. It's our birthright. And chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is our key to realizing and tapping into that truth. We are true microcosms of the universe. We are Buddhas. 

We are deep into the planning stages of the second annual Ben's Memorial Mile. As I've mentioned, last year we 
(a small committee consisting of family and friends) raised $22,000 for Schizophrenia research and mental illness  This year Ben's Memorial Mile will be June 17th in Downers Grove, Illinois, and more exciting than ever. 

Check out BensMemorialMile.com to take a look at what we are doing. (I don't mention this as a solicitation, only as some insight into my life, and what I have been doing to honor Ben's legacy to turn poison into medicine.) It's a pretty cool website with some of Ben's videos (He was a singer/songwriter) and pictures of last year's event. 

I hope this post finds you well - and happy. And no matter what - persevering!