Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How do we Fight With The Heart of the Lion King?

I wanted to write to you all about how Ric and I are renting an RV and heading to South Carolina to see the total eclipse of the sun. It is so exciting! 
Then I got home and heard the latest news and did some studying and want to share this: 

The youth are studying "The Opening of the Eyes" so I picked up a copy to study along with them. 

From the Opening of the Eyes, chapter entitled
"Why the Votary Encounters Persecutions", page 121. 

By Daisaku Ikeda, 

"In my mind I can hear the Daishonin 
calling out vigorously to his followers: 
"If you are not going to fight now, when will you fight? 
My followers, stand up with courage! 
If you fight with the heart of the lion king, 
you will expiate all past offenses 
and transform your karma!
Let us lead to enlightenment even the icchantikas 
(persons of incorrigible disbelief), 
and help free humankind from fundamental darkness!
(illusion, xenophobia (fear of people from other countries)hatred, fear, prejudice and the forces that stop us from practicing, notes from me)
Let us establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land and construct a world where we can all live together happily and peacefully."

What does it take to "fight with the heart of a lion king?" Well, as I always mention, I am not employed by the SGI and don't speak for them, but I do practice this Buddhism as hard as I can to change my karma, and change the karma of the world. So I will tell you what this means to me. 

Fighting with the heart of a lion king means looking fearlessly at our own lives, making the deepest vow possible as votaries of the Lotus Sutra to change ourselves, change our karma, SEE ourselves, and chant to change all illusion, all self-slander, all doubt, all in the name of being happy, and in creating a happy world for ourselves and others. It means vowing to have victory in our lives, not just for ourselves, but for kosen-rufu - to show others what is possible.
And it means chanting for the youth. Chanting hard for the youth. In a few seconds, I'll be joining my district's toso to spend an hour chanting for the youth. They are our beacons of hope and they need our daimoku more than ever. They need our prayers more than ever...they are searching for this practice. NOW is the time! 

Let's all be fearless. Let's all join together and chant for the sake of our youth, for the sake of our country and for the sake of our beautiful world! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Overcoming Problems Through Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo


Yesterday I went to the Tampa bay Region's Kosen-rufu Gongyo and it featured the film of Sensei where he says "Write! Keep Writing! Speak out! Keep speaking!" (paraphrased) and I thought "Yes!" That is Sensei speaking to me, and to all of us. 

This morning I was studying for the Sophia group study meeting on Thursday and I read this about overcoming challenges: 

From the August 2017 Living Buddhism, The New Human Revolution Volume 27, chapter 3, installments 9-12, page 53:

"We can't understand others' hardships if we haven't experiences suffering ourselves. If leaders who lack such empathy come to hold sway over society, it will be a great misfortune for its citizens. That's why I'm always encouraging the youth, our future leaders, to take on challenges and hardships..."

"Struggling with problems is essential to our growth as human beings. It forges our spirit and becomes a source of creativity for opening new ways forward. It is no exaggeration to say that our real abilities are born from our capacity to grapple with problems. Cultivating this capacity, therefore is vital to realizing our full potential as human beings."

Recently I received an email from someone who was looking for a job and considering turning their Gohonzon back in because they hadn't found one yet. And I suggested they go to speak with their senior leaders, because I thought that was the best course of action. Getting guidance can be one of the best things you ever do your yourself. Being open to guidance is being open to life...open to improvement. 

And in reflecting on this email I might think: "You are mistaking the point of this practice." YOU are the Gohonzon. Your power to overcome this suffering rests with you and you alone. Giving back the Gohonzon won't help. Only you can help your life by biting into this problem, not complaining and challenging your life to turn poison into medicine."

Early in my practice I had a terrible boss, and I spent a full hour every morning chanting fiercely and vowing to change this karma and never have a terrible boss again! The boss changed, I changed, and I left that job for a wonderful job I loved for almost 10 years. 

When my son Ben got sick in August of 2013, I never railed "What? My son is sick? Obviously this practice doesn't work!"
No, as documented in this blog, I chanted to overcome this source of suffering. I chanted for him to live a life that he was proud of...I chanted for his happiness, and that this challenge would bring poison into medicine, and create happiness for all. 

Over the next few years I fought valiantly with my practice...chanting two, three, four, five hours a day. Doing shakubuku, studying, having meetings every week at my house. 

And yes, the outcome wasn't what I was chanting for...and then again it was. Right now, I'm leading people who are grieving to happiness through my Grief Relief workshops and individual sessions. I connect people to their loved-ones-in-spirit, just as Ben and I are connected, through the written word.  Ben is helping me. Life is eternal. And he is free of sickness. And I am more grateful than ever for this practice. 

So when we have challenges, let's not erode our fortune by complaining. Let's say "YES! I get it! Another chance for me to challenge my life, build my compassion, and make myself a stronger, wiser fighter for kosen-rufu, my happiness, and the happiness of all!" Rooooaaaaaaarrrr like the lions we are! Go get "em!  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lighting the Lamp of Hope from Florida

With Melanie Warner, Author of Defining Moments: Coping with the Loss of a Child

I've just returned from the Compassionate Friends Conference, where I met many other parents who've discovered new missions after the loss of a child. Compassionate Friends is an international organization dedicated to bringing grieving parents and siblings together to learn and be inspired. 

 With Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of Compassionate Friends, holding my book "Our Forever Ben, One Mom's Letters to her Son-in-Spirit and his Poetic Replies" 

                                  With Mitch Carmody who presented various kinds of after death                                                                communications (ADC)

With Jeralyn Glass, who plays crystal singing bowls

I keep moving forward, looking for more people to reach, more lives to touch. Every morning and every evening I center myself on chanting to reach the most people and to help them alleviate the deepest of grief by connection to their loved-ones-in spirit through the written word. I chant for kosen rufu, and I pass out Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards wherever I go. We are, all of us, making the human revolution we need to make to make this world a better place. 

Now, I'm following up on the leads to write articles and speak at conferences...and to keep doing my Grief to Relief work. I'm not sure where my journey will lead...but I keep chanting, keep studying, keep taking action...keep my eyes open to make a difference. 

I've received some emails from those of you who are suffering, and frustrated. And the wisest words I can give to you are the same words our mentor Daisaku Ikeda repeats often: "Don't Give Up!" Whatever you are going through, GO THROUGH IT, and get to the other side. Don't eradicate your fortune by complaining. Replace "WHY ME?" With "Why Not?" and get moving, take action! Keep chanting, and realize you are chanting TO your life, not begging for favors from something outside yourself. YOU are the Buddha. YOU are the Buddha. We are all here to lead the world to happiness through our own actual proof. If you're not getting actual proof right now, demand it in your prayers. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion, what sickness can therefore be an obstacle? Chant, study the Gosho, en-courage others, chant every morning and evening! Do Not Give Up!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Poison Into Medicine! Karma Into Mission!


"Chanting Daimoku 
is the foundation of the Daishonin's Buddhism. 
When we chant sonorous daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo)
the sun rises in our hearts. 
We are filled with power. 
Compassion wells forth. 
Our lives are lit with joy. 
Our wisdom shines. 
All Buddhas and Buddhist deities throughout the universe 
go to work on our behalf. 
Life becomes exhilarating. 

Daisaku Ikeda, For Today and Tomorrow, p. 182


When faced with a life challenge we would NEVER have chosen for ourselves - what do we do? 

How can Practicing Buddhism help? 
What is the REAL power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo? How can it help in practical terms? 

We can turn POISON into Medicine and truly live meaningful lives. 

As you know, my beloved son Ben died July 2nd, 2015 from Schizophrenia which caused him to take his own life. 

Every day I am using Buddhism to fuel my life as I transform my personal tragedy into a personal triumph. Or, as we Buddhists say, "Turning Karma into Mission."

Now, I don't know why my karma included this experience of having my son die, but I don't have to know the reason. All I need is the determination to change it into mission. 

Along the way, I have joined a club I never wanted to be a member of - the club no one wants to be a member of, the Suicide Survivor's club. And, as anyone would expect, I am meeting people who are at various stages of the grieving journey. Guilt, sadness, peace...

Because of my practice, I am not tormented like I was right after it happened. At that time, I was wracked with thoughts of what I could have done differently. Even though I knew I'd done my best, I felt like I had failed at my most important mission in life...being a Mom. And I chanted about these thoughts...and I realized they were my own fundamental darkness. I'm a Buddhist! I know I can fight fundamental darkness with my prayer by facing it and saying NO! 

I chanted to alleviate this feeling of guilt and to turn my pain into something I could use to help others. And through chanting, I am free from these tormenting feelings. 

I continue to write to Ben and he writes back to me through my own hand. Life is eternal. This is natural. Have any of you tried this? I can teach you how. Let me know if you are interested. I'm now leading Grief Relief Workshops and doing individual sessions. 

I'm grateful for all I've been through, and all I'm going through right now. I feel a deep connection to Ben...and to all who are suffering. My son Ben answers my questions. He reassures me in all the things I am doing. And he encourages me daily. 

Because of my daily Buddhist practice, I'm protected. I'm safe, secure, learning about myself.

Today I'm heading to the Compassionate Friends Convention in Orlando (driving distance!) It's an organization to support people who've lost children. It ought to be very interesting. I'm going to explore ways I can further expand my mission to help people who are grieving.  

Thank YOU for your notes. Dear friends, we share the noblest of missions! WhatEVER you are facing - you can turn YOUR karma into mission! We are the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, reading the words of our mentor Daisaku Ikeda, joining together with our SGI friends, and introducing others to this victorious way of life...we can overcome any challenges! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Victory for Sam! Taking Action!

Sam has been chanting for only two months and has had many obstacles. And NOW, through perseverance and Daimoku, Sam is about to be the first person from her family to enter college! She is on her way to fulfilling her dream of being a prosthetics professional.

When Sam starting chanting changes came swiftly - and they didn't look like they were good changes. She went through a break-up and lost her job. I told her these were benefits, and not to give up! And over time, they've shown that they were the steps her life had to take to get to the next level.  

And here she is! She took all the required tests...and she's starting college in a few weeks. 

Remember, I almost didn't shakubuku her. She was our server at a restaurant down the block. I thought, "Oh, she's way too pretty and lively to need this practice." And that's total bunk of course. No matter how pretty, how rich, how anything we are, we can all benefit from the mystic law, we ARE they mystic law. 

So don't hold back. Carry those Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards around and give them out! Just as I have changed Sam's life, she has changed mine. I have chanted a ton for her, and I love her so dearly. 
When we shakubuku someone they shakubuku us right back! The youth of our age are starving for Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! Don't hold back!

And giving my "Go From Grief to Relief" workshop last night was fascinating, fulfilling, poignant, touching. Each person connected with their loved one in spirit, and received a letter from them, through their own hand. It was amazing. And it's still sinking in. I'm reading their testimonials about how this workshop touched their lives, and I'm thinking "How can I do this again and again!" My prayer for each one of them was realized last night, and will keep revealing itself in their lives. 

This morning I took time to let the emotion of last night wash over me. I took it easy. I looked at pictures of my boy and I basked in appreciation that he came to me, and we shared those 22 years together. 
Poison into medicine. 
Regret into appreciation. 
There it is. 

Here's our message:
Keep chanting and taking action!

Action! GO for it. 
Go Buddha Go! 
Never give up

Note to readers: I was just going through some comments on the blog, and there were several questions and requests for guidance. If you want guidance please go to your local leaders, It will be much better for you. If you have questions please email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Going From Grief to Relief!

Here's a picture of me and my son Ben. Many of you know him, or chanted for him when he was sick, and when he became eternal on July 2nd, 2015, when he was 22.  

Ever since I got back from Ben's Memorial Mile in June,  I've been preparing for tonight's talk at First Unity Spiritual Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. Go From Grief to Relief. Chanting three hours a day for everyone who attends to have some kind of permanent relief!  

It will be my first talk in my new city. 

It's amazing how fast a year flies. This time last year I was here in Florida finishing my book "Our Forever Ben, One Mom's Letters to her Son-in-Spirit and his poetic replies." (Available on Amazon).  It was difficult to write the book because I had to overcome all the thoughts of not being good enough. One day I thought I could write the book, the next day I was sure I could never write it....but I kept chanting and kept writing to Ben and somehow gave birth to this book. Right now it's helping people with grief all over the world. 

Being a Buddhist isn't easy, is it? We HAVE to turn poison into medicine. But when you think about it, isn't that what we want to do anyway? Take anything bad and make it great? We have that power when we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with all our hearts. Then, as my son Aaron says, when we've really chanted and taken action, we know we are at our best. We know we are doing the best we can do. And that feels good. 

I've been hearing from you to post more often so I'm going to do my best to more frequently. 
Just don't give up. 
Get guidance from your local leaders. Study. Chant. Take action. Do shakubuku. That's the formula for happiness. And chant for kosen-rufu! 

Tonight I will teach people to write letters to their loved ones, and have their loved ones write back to them through their own hand (or imagining that their loved ones are writing back to them). This is something I developed. It's not part of Buddhism, but the belief that life is eternal fits.
It's not necessary that you believe this is possible, or you do it to be a Buddhist. This is my gift, and talent to teach.    

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, no matter how dark it seems ~ DO Not Give UP! 
Sending love, Jamie

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Every Day is New Year's Day!

Every single day we get the chance to remake our determinations...review how far we've come, and make a fresh step towards our dreams. Our term "Hon-nin-myo" means "from this moment forth." The past does not matter. What matters is this moment. 
Our failures...the things we regret...none of this matters at this very moment. What matters is our determination. 
My friend in faith Amos used to say: 
"How many times do you get to make a new determination? How many times do you get to not live up to that determination, and to remake it the next day? An infinite amount of times! Just keep making that determination every day, chanting about it, and not giving up! That's where your power lies!" 
WE are the Buddha. We embody Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is our life...and everything else. Nothing is NOT Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Our sincere prayer to raise our life conditions, strengthen our lives, shakubuku others, work for kosen-rufu and be the absolute proof that this practice works bring US happiness, and makes the world a better place. 

This week was a blast for me. I did a ton of networking...meeting new people...doing shakubuku. My prayers come true every day. I chant to change myself...and see the truth at every moment....and to enjoy my life! 

"Hon-nin-myo" is a profound part of the teachings of this practice. Every moment begins anew. Our past brought us to where we are but does not determine the future. 

I just passed a milestone, as I mentioned. I passed the second anniversary of the "death" of my son Ben. I put "death" in quotes because I don't like the word. BEN didn't die. His body died. But he is very much alive in spirit. He and I converse every day, or whenever I want to talk with him, he's there, ready to talk with me. 

This Tuesday will be the first "From Grief to Relief" workshop I've given. I hope to do many more because I know I have something to teach that can bring people comfort. The workshop will be very interactive. 
Everyone will share about the main person they are grieving. And everyone will process the pain, the guilt, the sadness using EFT techniques, and then we'll move on to the writing section. It will be so much fun. We'll also chant for each person as I introduce the Buddhist concepts that allow me to be open to the eternity of life. 

I'm preparing for this the same way I prepare for every Buddhist meeting...by chanting for each person. Each person will experience permanent change. They'll leave with tools to use. And, they will have the opportunity to choose to work with me one-on-one at a later date if they desire. 

New Year's Day. This week I began a new exercise routine, a new visualization exercise, and I started doing Dahn yoga again at home. This week was my New Year's Eve. Any day can be New Year's Ever for us. ANY DAY. It doesn't have to be a milestone. All it takes is a fresh determination! Do you want to start something anew? Go for it. Happy New Years. Every single day!