Saturday, June 25, 2016

We Make Everything Magical and Every Moment Count!



"Know you, I salute the air, the ocean and the land, 
Every day at sundown for your dear sake my love."

From Walt Whitman's poem "Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd"
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I'm doing it! 
I am blessing most of my possessions 
and offering them to people who will love them and appreciate them just like I did, 
so I can travel to my next home. 

Every morning I am chanting in appreciation that I have become this brave person ready to take on this great adventure of going to live on the beach. 
Alone...with all the new friends I am going to make...and all my treasured friends available by technology, including you!  
I was meant to live in the beach in the warmth. 
It is time to begin my new life. 
I'm one of those people that loves hot and humid weather. 
I always have. And I adore the ocean/water. 
Will I love Florida? I embrace it with an open heart...and we'll take it from there. 

Every morning I chant to be where I can be my happiest self and make the biggest difference in the world. I will host a book launch for the book I just wrote with Ben called "Our Forever Ben." It's the poetry he and I have been writing back and forth since last summer. I just put my pen to the paper and write to him, keep my pen on the paper and he writes back to me. Incredible messages. Every time. I am working on this for you. I'll let you know when it's available! I'll publish some excerpts for you, too. 
Ben's last two lines of the book are: 
"Close your eyes.
I'll still be right here." 

Chanting brings such fortune. I'm mostly calm, happy, enjoying every moment of the goodbyes, and staying centered on my Gohonzon...on my life and the depth of my prayer. I'm bringing forth every ounce of power through chanting the name of the Mystic Law of the Universe, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I feel it. 
Yesterday morning I chanted for 2 hours washing my worries away and feeling great. When I get to St. Pete Beach I plan on having a long daimoku toso on Saturday the 2nd of July, the anniversary of Ben becoming eternal. I am chanting for the state of the world as well. Shoten Zenjin, protective forces of the universe...NOW IS YOUR TIME! 

I'm chanting with Daisaku Ikeda's words below in mind:

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

"Pray that instead of devils or negative, 
destructive forces infiltrating your being, 
Brahma, (Bonten in Japanese), 
Shakra, (Taishaku in Japanese) 
and the gods of the Sun and the Moon - 
~ the positive, protective forces of the universe - 
will enter your life! 
Pray that they will enter the lives 
of all the members in your region 
and the entire membership of the SGI, as well. 
If you do this, 
your strength will multiply a hundredfold, a thousandfold. 
With such prayer, 
with such faith, 
you will realize a fundamental transformation 
in the very depths of your life. 
This is the secret to achieving your human revolution." 

Daisaku Ikeda World Tribune, 9/8/2000


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

My greatest good fortune is that my friend Tracy is helping me almost every day. Fortune, as you know, is the precious treasure that money can't buy. Having Tracy show up happily and willingly to help me now is a my great, great fortune, and a further sign that I am not alone in this. The protective forces of the universe, and our eternal Ben are right here with me. 

Last Monday I called Tracy right after I gave notice at work. And she said unexpectedly said: 

"Wow! I just downsized and sold my 3 bedroom, 2 bath house so I know just what to do to support you. Everything is fresh in my mind. I'm free till after the fourth of July so I can come right over and give you a hand." 

And she has taken over the managing of the move in a way that makes me feel the deepest appreciation imaginable. We are laughing, working, enjoying each other's company. She is patiently listening to the stories I tell when I see a picture of Ben, Aaron...my whole life, and listening to my various stories as I sort through all of my possessions and find the "treasures." These I keep, the rest is going.  
And when I ask her "Should I keep this thing or give it away?" she answers: "Well...I don't think it will fit in your backpack when you travel around the world." And I think "She does have a point," and bless it on its way. 

My goal is to put all I need into my wonderful 2000 Lexus Rx 3000 - my new car I call "Champagne," and drive to St. Pete Beach in Florida (with Tracy, bless her heart) where I am renting a furnished studio overlooking the vast waters of the Gulf of Mexico and every single sunset. Ben and I are going to love this! All I'm taking is will fit inside or on top of my car. I feel like Louise Hay. She left everything behind when she left the east coast to find her incredible fortune and happiness. She inspires us all as the founder of the Hay House Publishing empire. I love you Louise! She's in her 80's saying "EVERY decade of my life is the best decade EVER!" 

Did I tell you we raised over $21,000 for Schizophrenia research (less expenses) in the glorious Ben's Memorial Mile? We are still accepting donations at BensMemorialMile.com through the month of July, when we will close out this year's books and begin to work on next year. My personal goal is to have it net $22,000, which is the age he became eternal, and my favorite number since I was born on September 22nd. It looks like we will have it at Downers Grove North High School on June 10th, 2017, but we are waiting for confirmation from the school. I will let you know. 

Goodness, I have to go to bed so I can enjoy my last few days here in Chicago making every moment count!  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Becoming a Brilliant Beacon of Happiness!

Me and my friend Michelle out on her boat in Lake Michigan yesterday ~ 
taken by her husband Gary

By Daisaku Ikeda, 
From For Today and Tomorrow, page 256

"It is not a question of your environment 
or those around you, 
nor what the organization or leaders may be like. 
To be swayed by such externals is pointless. 
It all comes down to one person: you. 
What matters is that you become a brilliant beacon, 
shining with joy and happiness, 
and live your life with confidence and courage. 
If you shine with a radiant light, 
there can be no darkness in your life." 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
YES! 
A resounding yes! 

Every morning when we chant we have the brilliant opportunity to tap into the power that exists within our lives and focus it for the day. Every evening when we chant we can seize the moment, stay focused and continue to shine the light of appreciation and love into our lives. 

I have never felt more powerful or creative. Each moment is flowing with appreciation and rich with possibility. 

I chant to open my life to the best possible person I can be, and that my moments in front of the Gohonzon bring my life to even greater purpose...and to bring all my skills, talents and loves to the forefront so I can inspire every single person with my life and through my happiness! 

It is happening. 

By two weekends from now I will be living on the beach in St. Pete's Beach on the 5th floor overlooking the water and the sunset. I'll tell you, when the benefits come in...when we don't give up...everything flows. 

When I got back from my visit to Florida in February, I spent the next week chanting three hours a day for it all come together perfectly for my move...for everything I needed to present itself at the perfect time. Then I took the bold move of giving the required 60 day notice on my apartment. 

And I keep chanting ~  

Every day I chant to be that brilliant beacon Daisaku Ikeda talks about in this quote. 

I radiate love and light, smiling and loving everyone I see...even those that are harder to love...even those who don't smile back. In my heart I bless them. 

Immediately after Ben's Memorial Mile (where we raised $20k for schizophrenia research and mental health awareness - see BensMemorialMile.com or like us on Facebook) my friends helped me start packing.  We went through a closet and seeing Ben's sock drawer just broke my heart. But the shoten zenjin are surrounding me at all times. 

I have the incredible fortune to have a friend dedicating herself to helping me move. She's helping me find new homes for all my furniture, donate what I don't love, and bring or store my treasures. She's even going to drive with me to St. Pete's Beach from here! THAT is fortune. Money cannot buy this! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!

And along the way, I'm sharing my story of turning poison into medicine. I KNOW my son Ben is cheering me on, because every time I pick up my pen to write him he writes me right back. Now I carry around my book "Our Forever Ben," and people are buying it right out of my hands. 

It touches a chord. 

Soon I will have a book launch and make it available for you. It is a story of such hope and eternity. 
I still occasionally get sad that Ben is not here in person, but more often I feel the appreciation that I HAD that bright light with me for 22 years! He was a Buddha in life and he is an eternal Buddha, just like your eternal loved ones. 

I am so grateful to be sharing this journey with you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ben's Memorial Mile Victory!

My great fortune is as vast as the sky. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo absolutely works. Whatever you are facing - don't give up. Keep chanting to the best of your ability and keep moving forward! 

This weekend was Ben's Memorial Mile and it was one huge benefit after another. I am in awe of the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo - I can feel it in every moment of my life. 

I have more photos to share, and you can friend Ben's Memorial Mile on Facebook and Instagram to see more. We had PERFECT Ben weather, and a stunning sunset. I could feel him every moment, as I do now.  

It was held at the outdoor track of Downers North High School and there were over 400 people there. We raised over $20,000 gross, but we have some expenses to pay...still, for a first year event it was a rousing success. 
$1100 of that was due to sales of my book - "Our Forever Ben." I will offer that to you as soon as I can! 

And the best thing is everyone was happy, there were smiles all around. People came to walk and run in Ben's honor. It was a thrill to cheer for them all! 
We have photos in the paper today. It was a pure victory!

And now - I am packing up and have 2 weeks until I'm in Florida - at St. Pete's Beach - right on the beach with a view of the sunset every day and the beach at my feet. I'm taking a huge leap of faith and just going for it. I have a furnished apartment that I found through a family member. 

It's a new beginning! The anniversary of Ben entering his eternal life is coming up on July 2nd. I plan to be in my new apartment chanting by then. Join me in chanting if you can!  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Have No Fear!



"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 
enables us 
to make any hardship or setback 
the source of our new advancement 
and our treasure for the future. 
Therefore, 
you don't have to be afraid of making a mistake or encountering an obstacle. 
In short, 
as long as you are devoted 
to staying in the correct orbit of faith, 
you won't ever cease to advance toward your victory, 
even if you may go through 
some twists and turns in life." 

Daisaku Ikeda
Buddhism Day by Day, June 7, page 85
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was the perfect wisdom for me today. 
I don't know about you, but I am one of those people who can be afraid to make a mistake. I feel like it's "part of who I am." Sometimes I'm bold...but also I can be afraid.

And, as we all know, we don't practice Buddhism to just settle...to just say "Oh well...that's just me." If we are going to have that kind of attitude, we might as well not even practice Buddhism.  

This quote just says it all. 

We don't have to be afraid of making a mistake because there are no mistakes if we keep our practice strong and stay in the orbit of faith. We can turn any "mistake" into a benefit. ANYTHING. So we can put it all on the line and forge fearlessly on. 

Even if we've made a "wrong turn" if we keep chanting to turn poison into medicine...keep chanting for kosen rufu every morning and evening...DO our practice...we will keep winning! 

As we know... 

We practice Buddhism to break through the shell of our lesser selves...to become people we never thought we could be...and to practice expansion in all we desire. 

This is the Year of EXPANSION! 

I'm making some huge and fearless goals. I'm chanting for strength, wisdom, and to live every breath of my life as an inspiration to others that anything is possible. Let's expand together! 


Monday, June 6, 2016

4 ways to Keeping a High Life Condition While on Vacation



I just got back from a whirlwind of activities and travels. Aaron graduated medical school. This weekend  is Ben's Memorial Mile at Downers Grove North High School (in Illinois, USA)  ~ Check out BensMemorialMile.com if you want to donate to the exceptional cause of finding a cure for schizophrenia. It looks like we'll have at least 400 runners and walkers gathering in the name of my sweet son, Benjamin Lee Silver. Many of you are part of his story!

During my my travels my schedule has been crazy. And we all know that keeping a high life-condition is especially important while on vacation. How can we do that while still "vacating?"

(As always, these are my personal reflections as a 31 year practicing Buddhist. I don't represent the SGI, although I am a devoted member.)  

SO how can we do it? 
How can we keep the our life conditions high when we are traveling? 
Here are my

1. We can give ourselves a little room for variance, and not be too worried about it. I think we need to realize not everyone we are traveling with chants, and know that being a little off our normal schedule is not the worst thing in the world. In other words - we can relax and enjoy our vacation. 

2. Chant whenever possible.
While I was on my travels, I visited the Phoenix SGI center with my son Aaron who will be doing his medical residency in Phoenix. We chanted in the center's Gohonzon room, and I bought him a beautiful new bell. We shopped for a new altar/table for him....and found the perfect thing. Whenever we could, we chanted sincere daimoku and did gongyo...but we also slept a little later, and ran out to the golf course really early. 

3. We can make every daimoku count. When we chanted, we kept our cell phones far, far away. It is so EASY to be distracted. But while on vacation every single Nam-myoho-renge-kyo matters more than ever! Concentration counts. 

4. We can do shakubuku! We can keep our Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards close, and give them out often. On this last plane ride I sat next to the mom of an olympic skater and she was really interested in hearing about chanting. I always bring a huge stack and see how many I can give out. believe me, it makes travel go smoothly! And planting seeds is how we make our garden grow. One of the people I visited is a person who finally started chanting after knowing me for over 20 years. She recently bought a large tract of land in California to form an intentional cohousing community. 

Daimoku works, and can make all our dreams come true!  

Friday, May 27, 2016

What if You Don't Have "Clear Targets?"

Do you ever sit down to chant, and have no idea what to chant for?

What do you do at that point? 

Sometimes my mind is just a jumble of things, and I can't seem to sort anything out. 

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. My son Aaron Michael Silver became a doctor last weekend. It was non-stop festivities for three days. 
And I leave for California and Arizona (where Aaron will live for the next 4 years) tomorrow. Whew. When I get back to Chicago it's Ben's Memorial Mile on June 11th. You can check out Bensmemorialmile.com to see what we are doing or to contribute to the cause of ending Schizophrenia. 

We have almost 300 people signed up to walk or run so far. That is truly amazing!

These last few weeks I haven't been writing a lot. There have been times I am just amazed that I have been able to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. One week I presented to 5 groups about Ben's Memorial Mile, and I stopped sleeping well, and became so, so sad. And even though I'm happy about Aaron beginning his residency, and his new life...it felt like losing him too. 

It was so dark inside my head that I didn't know what to write. But I kept chanting, kept going, and most of all, I kept taking care of myself to the best of my ability...going to my chiropractor, seeing my energy healer, emceeing at my SGI meeting, writing in my journal, going to my therapist, and chanting.

And there have been a few times my mind was so full that I didn't even know where to start. 

So, instead of worrying about having clear targets 
I chanted for:
Peace of Mind
Clarity
To "breathe in" every moment
To see the good in everything
To be my best self
and to realize that I am the Buddha, no matter what, and that somehow...even in my pain I can be the Buddha, and I can get through this tough time.

....and enjoy what there is to enjoy. 

We know the important thing is to keep chanting every day - every morning and evening. As long as we do that we are winning! 

Let's win together! Don't give up no matter what! 


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

12 Incredible Buddhist Quotes for Overcoming Illness ~ Please share



For any of you who are facing illness - this should raise your spirits! 
The person who originally compiled these quotes 
was able to use this practice and modern medicine 
to overcome breast cancer completely. 
Please feel free to forward the link to this post 
to anyone who is suffering from illness. 


From President Ikeda's Lecture series "The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin: On Prolonging One's Life Span - Faith for Leading a Long and healthy Life" in the July-August 08 Living Buddhism. (Thank you to my friend Melissa Bradford for compiling these great quotes!)

1. “Suffering from illness is a means by which you can eradicate your negative karma.”  
President Toda, as quoted by President Ikeda. - pg 70 

2. “To see illness as an opportunity to transform our karma – this strong spirit and resolve can break through all obstacles and devilish functions and open wide the path to happiness.  Like a rocket blasting out of the earth’s atmosphere, the passionate conviction of faith that comes from viewing illness as an opportunity to transform our karma can become a powerful engine propelling us forward not only in this existence but throughout eternity, enabling us to freely savor everlasting happiness.”  Pg 74


3. “Becoming ill in itself is certainly not a sign of defeat.  Even the Buddha, who is said to have ‘few ills and few worries’ (LS, 214), struggles with sickness from time to time.  Accordingly, there will be times when we are confronted with illness.  The important point above all is not to be defeated mentally or emotionally by the prospect of being ill.  Faith is the source of the fighting spirit to stand up to illness.  Therefore, as we noted earlier, Nichiren Daishonin first of all talks about the ‘treasure of faith’.  Pg 77


4. “As Nichiren says, ‘Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way’ (The Good Medicine for All Ills, WND-1, 937).  If a practitioner who upholds faith in the Mystic Law becomes ill, it definitely has some profound meaning.  It could be said that confronting illness is one route to awakening to the eternity of life.  President Toda often said, ‘A person who has overcome a major illness knows how to deeply savor life.’” Pg78


5. From Matilda Buck’s guidance, World Tribune 4/27/01 pg 10 “When We Face Disappointment” – regarding SGI leaders who overcame cancer and chanted this way:  


Through this experience, I will become someone who does not doubt the Gohonzon (my life), no matter what happens.

As a Bodhisattva of the Earth, I have the mission to experience this, and as a Bodhisattva of the Earth, I have the mission to create a victory.
I will share the power of Buddhism with others, even as I grapple with this experience.
I won’t let my spirits stay down.  I won’t make a place in my life for negativity to settle.

6.From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra Volume 6:  “Praying with doubt is like trying to keep water in a bathtub with the plug pulled.  Our good fortune and benefit will drain away.  A passage from the ‘Perceiver of the World’s Sounds’ chapter reads, ‘from thought to thought never entertaining doubt!’  A confident prayer will reverberate powerfully throughout the entire universe.”  Pg 88


From Buddhism Day by Day:


7. “Buddhism views illness as an opportunity to attain a higher, nobler state of life.  It teaches that, instead of agonizing over a serious disease, or despairing of ever overcoming it, we should use illness as a means to build a strong, compassionate self, which in turn will make it possible for us to be truly victorious.”  pg 300


8. “The expansive world lies not in some distant place; it exists right where you are.  That is why you need to win where you are right now.  Today’s victory is linked to your eternal victory.”  Page 314


9, “No matter what the circumstances, you should never concede defeat.  Never conclude that you’ve reached a dead end, that everything is finished.  You possess a glorious future.  And precisely because of that, you must persevere and study.  Life is eternal.  We need to focus on the two existences of the present and the future and not get caught up in the past.  We must always have the spirit to begin anew ‘from this moment,’ to initiate a new struggle each day.” Pg 315


10. “The air around us is filled with radio waves of various frequencies.  While these are invisible, a television set can collect them and turn them into visible images.  The practice of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo aligns the rhythm of our own lives with the world of Buddhahood in the universe.  It ‘tunes’ our lives, so to speak, so that we can manifest the power of Buddhahood in our very beings.”  Pg 314




11. From For Today and Tomorrow Daily Encouragement by Daisaku Ikeda: Sept 20 pg 288:  When your determination changes, everything else will begin to move in the direction you desire.  The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success.  On the other hand, if you think “This is never going to work out,” then at that instant every cell in your being will be deflated and give up the fight, and then everything really will move in the direction of failure.

12. Aug 15 pg 249:  The first thing is to pray.  From the moment we begin to pray, things start moving.  The darker the night, the closer the dawn.  From the moment we chant daimoku with a deep and powerful resolve, the sun begins to rise in our hearts.  Hope – prayer is the sun of hope.  To chant daimoku each time we face a problem, overcoming it and elevating our life-condition as a result – this is the path of “changing earthly desires into enlightenment,” taught in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.