Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chant Just as We Are

On Chanting:
"Chanting is a process of polishing and forging our lives, 
which is why our faith is so important. 
Consequently, the benefit of chanting Nam Myoho Renge 
Kyo is absolutely not dependent on the amount we chant. 
What matters is that we chant to our own heart's content, 
the amount that feels right and satisfying for us. 
Nowhere in his writings does the Daishonin say we should
chant a specific quantity. 
The efficacy of our prayers is influenced by the
strength and depth of our faith, 
and by our determination and attitude. 
At the same time, 
sincerely resolving to chant a specific amount is also an
expression of faith. 
We can chant the amount we've decided on each day,
while continually renewing and deepening our resolve. 
It's also important that we chant honestly and openly, just as we are. 
All of us face times of worry, anguish and sadness in our lives. 
When we do, we can feel free to go
straight to the Gohonzon with our suffering and chant about it
wholeheartedly, just like a child seeking its mother's warm embrace."
Daisaku Ikeda, Living Buddhism, Sep./Oct. 2011
pg. 74 & 75

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Be the Sun! Encouragement from Daisaku Ikeda, Nichiren and Josei Toda

The Gosho for January 2014 was called "The Bow and Arrow." In it, Nichiren Daishonin encourages the Lay Nun Toki Jonin with all his heart. My favorite passage says:

"There is nothing to lament 
when we consider that we will surely become Buddhas. 
Even if one were to become an emperor's consort, 
of what use would it be? 
Even if one were to be reborn in heaven, 
what end would it serve? 
Instead you will follow the way 
of the Dragon King's daughter 
and rank with the nun Mahaprajapati. 
How Wonderful! 
How Wonderful! 
Please chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, 

With my deep respect, 
(WND-1, 657)

In the commentary, Daisaku Ikeda writes that Nichiren Daishonin is assuring Toki:

"We cannot fail to attain Buddhahood. No matter how painful things are now, we are certain to triumph in the end. We will enjoy ourselves freely in the realm of life that is eternal throughout the three existences of past, present and future. When you are sure of that, what reason do you have to lament?"
He goes on to say:
"Nichiren's encouragement in this passage is a deeply moving expression of his compassionate wish to dispel the anxiety plaguing the lay nun Toki's heart and free her from her sorrow. 
"And the words. "How wonderful! How wonderful! (WND-1657) articulate the joy one experiences when one emerges from the clouds of sorrow to savor a state of being where all clouds have disappeared and one's heart is serene like a clear blue sky. It is a state of hope, optimism and delight.
There may be many difficult and painful events in the course of one's life. But those who remain steadfast in their practice of the Mystic Law need never sink into the more of suffering. Instead of feeling depressed and sad, their spirits are buoyant and their hearts light as they look to the future. 
"The key is to chant resonantly with joy and courage. The lives of those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo embody the principle of "earthly desires leading to enlightenment." They are already victorious. They have triumphed, rising above all suffering." 
And, as people who achieved this state of life, we naturally encourage others. 
"Mr. Toda said that the essence of guidance is encouragement. He personally continued to make energetic efforts to encourage those who came to see him for guidance, until they had roused courage to stand up and face life's challenges again."

Daisaku Ikeda wraps up this essay with this bold, encouraging declatation:

"If you are without hope now, create hope! 
If you are unhappy now, create your own happiness.  
You be the sun, imparting sunshine to all around you!

"The heavenly dieties and all Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the ten directions and three existences will safeguard and protect the members of the SGI, who are striving for kosen-rufu as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, just as Nichiren teaches. The entire universe is our ally. We have nothing to fear.

"Our lives are wellsprings of infinite value creation. We are entities of everlasting hope, dispelling the darkness of despair." 
(All quotes are from the January 2014 issue of Living Buddhism, pages 30-32) 

And I will add we are all so much more important than we may know. We are unusual. People are watching us. Our practice is the key to tapping into the vast life-source of the universe. We live bold and noble lives. Whatever we are struggling with - we can create value, and encourage others.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 Things I tell Every Shakubuku and a PowerPrayer for Shakubuku

Our lives blossom when we introduce others to this practice. (Shakubuku) When we introduce others we are doing the work of the Buddha. 
We are the Buddha after all. 

As my friend Kate says: 

The Gohonzon cannot get down off the wall 
and tell people about chanting. 
Only we can do it. 
And THIS is one of the main reasons 
we are worthy votaries of the Lotus Sutra. 
When we help others learn to practice 
our lives expand and we change our karma. 

And an observation of my own is:
whatever is stopping us from doing shakubuku 
may also be stopping us in life. 
When we break through in shakubuku 
we break through in life!

Think about it. If we are too scared to do shakubuku (tell others about the benefits of chanting) chances are there are a lot of other things we are also too scared to do, right? When we overcome this fear...we become stronger and more courageous in all things. Don't take my word for it, try it yourself. And, like all other starts with determined Daimoku. We can break through any obstacle in life with daimoku, study and ACTION. We can break through whatever is stopping us. 

Shakubuku is easy, not hard. There are so many people who are seeking the solution to their problems. There are so many who are suffering with no solution, but look at us... We know we can transform any poison into medicine. We are changing our karma right here, right now. I do shakubuku out of compassion for those who are still searching.

Five Things I Tell People About Chanting:

1. You can chant for whatever you want. And if you don't get exactly what you want, you will get something better. You get to KEEP your Desires! In this practice desires are NOT the cause of your suffering. They are the fuel for your happiness. How refreshing!  (Life is long. Patience is important. Not giving up is KEY.) 

2. You don't have to convert. It's like meditation. Anyone can do it. 

3. You don't have to believe it will work. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the law of cause and effect. We don't have to understand it. When we turn on the light do we UNDERSTAND why electricity works? I don't. But it works. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a law. The law of the universe. You can these words and you will see an effect in your life. It will work. 

4. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo means "I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration.It is the name of the rhythm of life itself. If you intone the name of the rhythm of life itself while focusing on your desires you tap into the energy of the universe...your highest make your dreams come true. Internal change is where it starts. Chanting works because chanting creates an effect on the INSIDE of your life. And because we are connected to our environment our environment HAS to change. It HAS to. And it will. 

5. Chanting has No rules. No paths to memorize. No uncomfortable positions or clothing. All people regardless of race or sexual orientation are welcome. 

If people have time to talk I also discuss the SGI, President Ikeda and the benefits of being part of this incredible organization. 

As many of you know, I looked for this practice for the first half of my life. I knew it HAD to exist. I kept finding practices that said my desires were the cause of my suffering.... Somehow I KNEW that my desires weren't bad...that they were a part of me, a lovely, beautiful part of me. So I kept searching until I found this practice. I know others are out there...just like I was...searching. That's why I write this blog! And I have been so grateful for the last 30 years to be able to chant and sing the story ~ CREATE the story of my life.

So everywhere I go I bring cards. I made them myself but you can usually buy them at the SGI Centers. I have the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the phonetic pronunciation. They also say: Chant these words and become happier than you ever imagined, and my blog and the contact info for the Chicago Center are on them.

I hand people a card, even if I've just met them for a moment at a store, or in line somewhere. 

I say "I just have to let you know about this- Have you ever heard of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo? This is truly amazing. When you chant these words and think about what you want you become happier than you ever imagined."

Everyone says Thank You!
Almost NEVER does anyone respond negatively. 
And with each person I am planting a seed. It might not sprout now, but it might sprout when the NEXT person tells them, or when a family member starts chanting.  At any rate it it a great cause for YOUR life too!

It all starts with Daimoku.
I chant this PowerPrayer to meet the people who are seeking this practice.
I firmly believe that there are Bodhisattvas out there who made the vow to return at this time to prove the power of this law, but they haven't found it yet. YOU can be the one who helps them live out their vow.

PowerPrayer for Shakubuku 
(to introduce others to this practice) 
When you are experiencing benefits and your life is glowing like the sun, you will naturally want to share your secret with other people. 
Simply put, Shakubuku means sharing Nichiren Buddhism with others. From the Japanese, it means “to clear away illusions that prevent one from recognizing the ultimate truth or reality.” This truth is that we are all Buddhas. Every time you share Nichiren Buddhism with others you are doing the work of the Buddha, in helping others to attain happiness by realizing that they are Buddhas, too. Each time, you bring people one important step closer to knowing who they are and their absolute happiness. Please do not cut and paster this PowerPrayer. If you want to share please use the buttons at the bottom of this post. 


Let me meet the people who want to practice right now!
Give me the courage to tell them about it
and the heart and wisdom to touch their lives.
Increase my level to really CARE about others, and to be articulate in sharing this practice. 
Give me the confidence and 
let my life SHINE with BENEFITS and ACTUAL PROOF 
so that people want to know my secret! 
Let my life SHINE! 

Do you have any shakubuku tips for the readers of this blog? Email me at Also send your experiences with a picture and a bio so you can share your inspiring practice on the blog! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

What a Week - 7 Tips to Rising Above Trying Times in the World

Sometimes the world just has a really rough week...I feel like collectively we have all been through the mill this week from the incredible Robins Williams taking his own life to the Furguson Mo nightmare and all the challenges and wars all over the world. 
I don't know about you, but sometimes it is hard not to let some of that sink in through my pores. 

Having Robin Williams die of depression was so sad and jarring to all of us, and I think may have also hit me, and others who have loved ones who suffer from depression and various other mental challenges particularly hard. I was just on edge all week...struggling to catch my breath. 

What can we, as Buddhists do when we get agitated, and when everything in the world seems to day "cower in fear"? 

I started a survival plan of my own. Here are some of the things I've done.

1. I moved myself even closer to my Butsudan and sat up as straight as I possibly could. I shined a brighter light on the Gohonzon. And I had my phone in the other room for each hour as I chanted. I am sticking with my determination from earlier this year to not let anything interrupt my Gongyo from start to finish. And if I do get interrupted I begin again and do another complete Gongyo. I can see how this is having an effect on my life every day. 

2. I spent time with my family. 

3. I read the Gosho every day, even the confusing parts. I chanted to understand with my life - and to feel Nichiren's spirit with every word I read. 

4. I turned my focus on taking care of my physical body. 
I drank more least 4  24 oz bottles a day. 
I walked vigorously as often as I could. 
I ate more fruits and vegetables and drank less caffeine. 

5. I did some mirror work. You know, Louise Hay, one of my favorite mentors, talks about looking yourself in the eye in the mirror and giving yourself the words that you would give to your best friend. So this week I was my own cheerleader and biggest supporter. It feels really good to look myself in the eye and tell myself that I can achieve anything, look what I've done so far. 

6. I chanted specifically for strength and to realize I am the Buddha at every moment. I am determined to live a life without fear. I chanted to raise my life condition and once again embrace my mission and my choice to be born at this time, in this country with this faith. 

7. I talked to my friends all over the country - reconnected with some people I haven't talked to in awhile. 

And tonight I am going out with a new group of people to see a Philharmonic concert...
This week I also worked hard at work and on my book. I will have some questions to ask you soon about the title. 

All my best to you! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

PowerPrayer for Rising Above Our Problems and Having Joy ~ No Matter What!

I read some guidance that said 
"When you chant you should 
take a vacation from your troubles." 
Great idea

And today while I was chanting that's exactly what I did. I chanted to lift my life condition so I could see over and above my troubles...and to experience this day in a state of elevation through Daimoku. 
I chanted to release all feelings of having to be in control at every single moment, because, as we all know, control at every moment is impossible anyway! 

I think sometimes we think "I'm a Buddha so I should be able to command every single moment of every single day. I'm a Buddha, right?" But I don't think that's exactly how it works, 

The only things we can really be in control of are our reactions to what's going on. That's not to say that we can't change our lives through chanting. WE CAN. But the process of doing so doesn't always go as quickly as we'd want it to. We are not like Samantha on the TV show Bewitched. We can't just wiggle our noses and make everything change. 

for Rising Above Our Troubles 
and Having Joy - No Matter What!
by Jamie Lee Silver of

Today while chanting 
I am seeing my life and my spirits 
rising above my worries. 
As I am chanting I am seeing my life rise above. 
I am focusing on joining the ceremony in the air. 
I am joining with all the Buddhas on the Gohonzon, 
and knowing that 
This is the life I chose for Kosen-rufu, 
and I will keep my life condition HIGH no matter what. 
I see through the eyes of the Buddha. 
I shine for all those around me as a beacon of hope. 
I am the Buddha at every moment today...
fully aware and focusing on all that is right in my world! 
I am going to float above my worries and chant in the world of gratitude and appreciation. 
I am so grateful for:__________________________
And I release this day to my prayers! 

(I wrote this in the Spring, but based on some of the emails I've been getting I think this is a good time to run it again. All my best, Jamie)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

3 Buddhist Victories in Finding Lost or Stolen Items - A Job for Daimoku!

Chanting to find lost items - or stolen items can work. 
Here are a few success stories. 

Years ago in San Francisco my backpack was stolen out of my car. I didn't care about the backpack but I DID care about my walkman (that shows how long ago it was!) I chanted to get that Walkman back. It was my constant musical companion and had a really cool equalizer on it. I'd listen while I was walking the 2 miles to work every day. I just yelled at those shoten zenjin in my prayer! "Bring my walkman back to me!" I just chanted on faith alone. That's all. 
The next day when I went into work the walkman was sitting in the breakroom just waiting for me. It didn't make any sense at all, none at all, but I chanted in deep appreciation. 

A few years ago one of my district members was introducing a friend to this Buddhism and the friend's wallet was lost. We all chanted for the wallet to be found, intact, and after a few days it was returned completely to him. Her certainty made us all certain. She KNEW Daimoku could return his wallet to him. 

Right after that, my son Aaron lost his entire backpack. He had put it in a locked locker at the Armory (gym) at the University of Illinois and when he returned for it, it was gone. He was so upset. That day he had carried EVERYTHING - his laptop, wallet, name it, all his valuable items. He felt it was stolen and that recovery was impossible. 

I told him about the walkman incident and the recent wallet incident and we all just chanted "Some kind of way! He will get his backpack back!" We kept chanting and he left his name with he attendants, and took every action he could think of to find it. Nothing happened for a few days and then I got a call from the Armory.(He had given them my number because his phone was lost). They found the backpack in another locker...totally complete...nothing missing. It made no sense but we didn't care! We didn't have to figure it out- we just chanted in appreciation. 

My friend Morag in the UK just emailed me that her family's van with all of their sporting equipment AND her children's passports has been stolen. I encouraged her to tell those shoten zenjin that this is unacceptable and she HAS to get that van back. Please join me in chanting to get Morag's van back! 

Do you have similar stories to share? 

Email me at

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Special Blog for my Loyal Readers

Today is a special day for me. 

It has been a year since my son Ben first got sick. Some of you have followed his progress closely both through this blog and through emailing me directly to voice your concern. Many of you have been chanting for Ben. 

My appreciation for YOU knows no bounds. Surely we have all been friends lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. You are my cherished friends. 

This is a photo I took this weekend of Aaron (left) and Ben (right) joking together. It makes me so happy to see this. 
This year has changed me. I have chanted more daimoku than I've ever chanted in one year. I have summoned appreciation for having an obstacle SO BIG that made me chant so much~! And Ben is doing great. 

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo WORKS! It absolutely works. 

Whatever you are dealing with just do not give up. Do not give up!