Saturday, June 24, 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 - 

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Translate button is at the top right.)

The literal translation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 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 historical Buddha's highest teaching 
that declares  
ALL people possess the Buddha Nature...
all people ARE Buddhas...
and we can access  
our own Buddhahood ~ our inherent wisdom, determination, power to take the best action for our lives while benefiting others, sense of vitality, ability to make a difference, find fulfillment and happiness, and the strength to turn 
EVERY POISON INTO MEDICINE 
~by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

That's it. We don't need to change our diets, memorize lists of paths, change our lifestyles, shave our heads, wear robes, or "purify our desires." This form of Buddhism is radically different than most forms you may have encountered. SGI (Soka Gakkai Buddhism is accessible to ALL. 

AND the most important aspect of our prayer is to do our own human revolution...to master our lives...and write the beautiful script of our own lives. We chant for "Kosen-Rufu," a world of respect for all life, and for all who are suffering to be happy. Through our own happiness, we create happiness for all. We can all win in life together. 

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. 


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. Make sure to write your list, and rewrite it when you achieve those goals.

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. 

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. 
If you live in or around St. Pete Beach Florida you can connect with me through chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Some Powerful Quotes from Daisaku Ikeda:

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.



All quotes from Ikedaquotes.org

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Apartment Finding Victory!

Here's the View from my apartment!

Hello from rainy Chicago. It's green. It's beautiful. But the rain has to stop by Ben's Memorial Mile on Saturday. Check it out at Bensmemorialmile.com. So exciting. Costume mile! Children's activities, fast runners, slower runners, and walkers...all raising money for schizophrenia research and suicide prevention, in the name of my sweet son. 

Continuing from the last blog post...
Here's how I got those walls to turn into little pebbles at my feet. In the last blog I wrote about getting guidance, and chanting to change myself in ways that felt unchangeable. This prayer lead me to breaking through. 

For the past few weeks, apartment hunting has been my full time job. The owner of my apartment wants to move back in after June. The housing market is incredibly hot where I live in Florida. It's been tough! Many apartments were rented already when I called...and what was available was, for the most part, not so great. Every day I woke up to scale this mountain, and every day I was frustrated!

I had a deadline. I had to find my new place before I left for Ben's Memorial Mile on the 13th. It felt impossible. But I'm a Buddha, just like YOU are! We practice to make the impossible happen. We have the ultimate tool for changing our lives - Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

So, I got guidance, started chanting three hours a day...and deepening my prayer. What does this mean? I told the Gohonzon...my life...that I had the courage to see what I didn't have the courage to see before...to change my basic life tendencies that are holding me back.

And on Monday...(the day before I was to leave for Chicago) I finished my three hours of chanting and the phone rang. It was my friend Mikaela. She told me she'd been outside her apartment (not far from where I live) and a couple came by on their bikes. They told her they live in the building I live in. (It's an historic building right on the beach). They said they live on the first floor and have been trying to sell a one bedroom apartment on the fourth floor.

Boom. I knew exactly what would happen. I knew their fourth floor apartment was going to be mine! I contacted them. They showed me their gorgeous place, but weren't sure they wanted to rent it. I connected them with the person I'm renting from now, so he could give me a glowing reference...and I chanted another three hours the next morning.  

And...

We signed the lease agreement half an hour before I left for the airport for Ben's Memorial Mile. The apartment is so beautiful! All updated...bigger than where I live, and unfurnished so I will have a fun project when I get back. The view is just like mine...overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. I took off for Chicago relieved...happy...victorious! 

Whatever your walls are...you can break through them too. You can seek guidance from your seniors in faith. You can grow in ways you can't even imagine. 

Never give up hope!







Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How to Break Through Those Walls!

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Have you ever felt like you were stopped at every turn? That, somehow there were thick walls between you and everything you want? Have you ever been making positive causes, chanting, and still the walls getting higher and higher? 

I have felt walled in lately - and I am in the process of breaking through - I know it. I know there's a bright expanse on the other side of these walls! 

Here's how I am turning these walls into tiny little pebbles that I will just step over. 

This week I made a call to one of my treasured friends in faith, and she had some wise words for me. 

She said that when she was experiencing walls, she learned that there was something deep in her life, and in her character...at the very depths of her human revolution that needed to change. She asked me some questions and I could clearly see the action I needed to take, and the Daimoku I needed to chant. 
I went to the Gohonzon and chanted to learn what I needed to change. Some things came to mind...my tendency to get defensive in the face of criticism, and the need to develop the skill of understanding the other person's point of view and not letting my emotions overrun my brain. In front of the Gohonzon I chanted with all my heart to have the courage to see my shortcomings...and the courage to change them. 

As James Hermann in Chicago once said: "We don't chant so we can say "That's just the way I am." We chant to CHANGE the what we see needs to be changed! 

So, for the past few days I've been chanting three hours a day and I am on the verge of a huge breakthrough! I know this because three of my good friends are coming to the meeting on Tuesday when I will be giving my experience.
I also uncovered something important about my finances, and made two new dear friends. Treasures of the heart! 

It's not complete yet, but I'll tell you all about it when it's done! 

Today I fly off for Ben's Memorial Mile! It will be Saturday the 17th of June at Downers Grove North Illinois High School's outdoor track at 5:00. Join us if you can! Here's the link: Bensmemorialmile.com

This week I'll see my whole family and around 500 wonderful friends in Downers Grove. Hope for the Day, National Alliance of Mental Illness, Your Story Counseling and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will all have booths. There are children's events and a costume mile, great music, laughter, cheers and fun. Al Carius, the coach of the century will be speaking. 

It's hard to believe it has been almost two years since my precious boy became eternal! 

I can hardly breathe I'm so excited! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! 




Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Inspiring Shakubuku Story!

Sam!

Here's a story to inspire YOU!

Doing shakubuku is my greatest joy. There is NOTHING that makes me happier. And I, along with all of you, have been chanting to introduce our youth to this life-affirming, practical practice. When I was at FNCC (SGI's Florida Nature Culture Center) they said: "The youth will teach us how to shakubuku the youth." And I thought, "How wise." Here's Sam's story:

A few weeks ago I planned some time with a new friend who lives in my building. We went swimming, and she came upstairs and learned to chant with me, then we walked down the street for dinner. We had a great time with our beautiful and vivacious server. I thought to myself "This young woman is so beautiful and warm and energetic. She exudes happiness...maybe she doesn't need the Gohonzon." But, of course, at the end of the meal I told her about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I didn't have a NMRK card with me so I wrote the words out on one of my business cards, and told her chanting was a means to tap into our highest life potential.

When she heard this she said "Boy do I need this! My Mom's in the hospital crying in pain and the doctors can't help her and I'm her main caretaker, all alone!" So I said, "When do you get off work? Want to come over and chant with me tonight?" And she said "Yes!" 

At 11:30pm, Sam came over and we chanted and talked until 1:00am. She came over the next night too! Sam told me her life story. She's a resilient young woman who has had many challenges, and has a great dream to be a prosthetics practitioner. She believes anyone with a prosthetic has a story, and she wants to help them. 

For various reasons, she wasn't able to finish High School, and wanted to take her High School equivalency exam, but the thought of taking that exam filled her with fear. She told me "I'm going to schedule that exam and use chanting to help me pass it!" Less than a week after beginning to chant, she passed the GED and got her High School Diploma! When she took the exam her usual anxiety was gone, and she could just feel the right answers throughout the test. What a great accomplishment! 

Also, her Mom was released from the Hospital two days after Sam came over to chant with me, and has now had surgery to help her. Sam and I continue to chant for her Mom. 

And right after she began chanting she lost her job. I, of course, said "Congratulations!" and knew she'd get a better one right away. (She already has) 

I had to go to Chicago for Ben's Memorial Mile prep, so I encouraged her to go to the Buddhist meeting without me, and she went. That night I was out to dinner in Chicago with my wonderful son Aaron, and my "wusband" (ex-husband) Paul, feeling emotional about our family being three, not four...happy to be with them, but missing my Ben (who died almost two years ago now). In the middle of dinner Sam called and told me she'd applied to get her Gohonzon! I thought "My family is growing! Look at all the benefits I have!" 

On Sunday, Sam received her Gohonzon and we enshrined it for her. Her bright smile and life condition is going to help lead more and more youth to chant. She's telling everyone about her new practice! Kosen Rufu in action. That's what it's all about. Sam is now applying to college...working on fulfilling her dream. 

Each of us makes a difference! Don't hold back! Tell everyone about this practice with all the love in your heart! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!   


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lighting the Lamp of HOPE from Florida (How to be HAPPY after great loss)


My sons, Aaron and Ben

I spent the last week and a half promoting Ben's Memorial Mile. As always, every morning and evening, I chanted with deep appreciation for my life, and for everyone in it. I chanted to connect, heart-to-heart, with everyone I met, and to make this fun event a huge success with many people having fun and raising money for a good cause. 

Ben's Memorial Mile is my fundraiser/festival that raises money for Schizophrenia Research and Suicide Prevention. It will be held on June 17th, 2017 at 5:00pm at the Downers Grove North High School's Outdoor Track in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. You can register or donate at Bensmemorialmile.com. If you donate, please drop me a line at chantforhappiness@gmail.com so I can thank you. All proceeds go to our 501(c)(3).

As many of you know, My sweet son passed into the non-physical world almost two years ago when he was 22. He developed a mental illness at 19, was in and out of hospitals for almost three years, and finally ended his life when he was stuck in the hospital and there was no place that would take him, no halfway house...no place for him to go. This country's mental health system is broken. I tell his story in the hopes of making a difference in the world of mental Health. 

Right after he died, I could feel the release of his soul. I could feel the mental illness was gone. Poof. I could feel his spirit soar. And I read the translation of Gongyo in the back of the sutra book every morning. I was just drawn to it every day. And it opened the door to my constant communication with my Ben, which is natural, and easy. Anyone can communicate in this way. I can teach you. 

Here's the story:

The Lotus Sutra, our gongyo book, states on page 21 of the The Liturgy of the Soka Gakkai International (this is the translation of what we recite twice a day): 

"In order to save living beings,
as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana
but in truth I do not pass into extinction.
I am always here, preaching the law...
At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings 
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly attain the body of a Buddha?"

It's a longer passage. You can read it yourself in the back of every sutra book. 
The meaning is clear. We are Buddhas. We live eternally. We are always here preaching the law. 
We are not just Buddhists...we are Buddhas, right here, preaching the law, showing actual proof for our "assemblies," (friends, family, everyone), and when we recite the Lotus Sutra we are Buddhas speaking the words of the Buddha. And, as these words state...our missions do not end when our life on earth ends. We are always here preaching the law. 

Ben had, and HAS a great mission...otherwise, he wouldn't have been born to me. Right now we are helping people go from grief to relief by teaching how to communicate with our loved ones-in-spirit. Is this a Nichiren Buddhist concept? President Ikeda talks about communicating with Josei Toda every day. That's the only example I know of in our writings. I know it's my thing. And my gift to teach others. 

Do you have to believe in this concept to practice and get benefit from chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo? No. I share this because it has helped me, not because it is officially part of our practice. If it doesn't appeal to you, please continue practicing, studying, doing shakubuku and getting benefit from this wonderful practice. 

So I sat down and wrote to my boy. And he wrote back through my hand, as he does every single time I write to him. 
Here is an excerpt from my book "Our Forever Ben. One Mom's Letters to her Son-in-Spirit and his Poetic Replies." (Available on Amazon.com)

Dear Ben, 
  
Soaring above us all 
free and flying 
you got your way 
you ended your torturous road 
you are released 
you are released. 
And now, you will have all of us
chanting for you 
as your mission continues, 
right here, 
right now, forever. 
  
I will cry until I run out of tears. 
  
I cry in gratitude that you came to me 
that we shared these twenty-two years 
that we had all those laughs, 
and all those tears, 
and all those laughs. 
  
Oh Ben, 
Write through me 
laugh through me 
live your happiness all around me. 
  
My dear boy, I know you never meant to hurt me. Not ever. 
  
Ben, maybe you’re sitting right next to me on this Friday ~ 
right here by the pool. 
What do you have to say?

Your Loving Mom 
   
Mom, 
  
I did it. 
  
I meant to do it. 
~ at the time ~ 
and I knew it would make you sad, 
but somehow I still had to do it. 
I had to obey my mind, my legs, my feet, 
my incredible surge
of strength and courage. 
I could not say no. 
It had to happen. 

And this story is not yet written,
is not yet told ~ 
but will be. 

My life, and death 
HAVE meaning, 
Not HAD. 

Dearest Mom, my closest friend, 
my absolute love, don’t despair. 
I know you,  
you,  
you 
will create a life of meaning, 
of love, 
of warmth and creativity. 
  
  
Together we will live on 
Together 
    we will always live on 
  
Enjoy the sun 
  
    Enjoy this day 
  
            Enjoy your life. 
  
                            Your Forever Ben 

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

Beautiful. Everyone can do this. It's natural. Easy. And, when I'm missing Ben, he's right there at the end of my pen. His words are a constant source of encouragement for me.  

All last week I spoke in front of groups of people about Ben's Memorial Mile...about Ben...about suicide prevention and mental health. My determination to turn poison into medicine is coming true at every moment. Ben's life and death HAVE meaning, not HAD! Soon I'll have an online course to teach everyone how to do this. If I can do it, so can you! Have a great day! 

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo !
  
  
  
  

  


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!