(You can now subscribe to this blog by putting your email in the box to the right)
Recently, I've received emails from several people saying "I've chanted for many years, but I just don't know if it works anymore, and I feel discouraged. What can I do?"
And, even though I don't speak for the SGI, our wonderful organization, I can tell you what I do when I'm feeling dis-couraged.
I reach out to my fellow friends in faith to find a chanting buddy. And I propose we have the same chanting goal (one hour, two hours or more) and "chant together" in front of the Gohonzon with specific determinations. We text each other when we begin.
But that's just part of it. Somehow, from deep within our lives we must, as Nichiren Daishonin writes, "SUMMON" our faith. Make our faith happen. SGI Buddhism is for strong lions, and we can each become the lions we are by summoning our faith.
What does this really mean for me? I chant in front of the Gohonzon until I can feel the connection, and can feel the faith welling forth. I chant with the thought that THIS Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is changing my life right this very second, and since I am connected to all of life, it is changing the world. We need this now more than ever, don't you think?
It helps to have clear determinations...even if our determination is to FIND our determination. We can chant that way. At the beginning of my practice I chanted to FIND my mission, to FIND my determination. We need to start somewhere with a strong desire. What do you really want, for yourself, for your loved ones, for the world?
Remember! We turn poison into medicine. So whatever you are facing ~ WHATEVER you are facing, you can turn poison into medicine. How? Embrace your problem and delve into the depths of your heart thinking "I am the Buddha. I wouldn't have this problem if I couldn't turn it into something extraordinary."
You may remember, when my son died, I wrote a blog post on July 4th, 2015, saying SINCE Ben died, that I would create the biggest benefit for all, because I had the biggest obstacle of all. And I chanted like this this day after day, through my tears. My book "Our Forever Ben, One Mom's Letters to Her Son-in-spirit, and his Poetic Replies" has just been published by Hope for The Day. It's available on Amazon and kindle. I'm living in paradise. I'm happy, and about to give my experience at an SGI meeting this week. This practice has the power to transform our lives, and WE are the ones to do it.
And we base our prayer on Kosen Rufu. What does that mean? That means our deepest determination is based on the vow of the Buddha....to change our lives to the deepest core, change our karma and innate tendencies so that we can, by changing ourselves, create a world where suffering doesn't exist, a world of respect for all of life. And we take the actions to make this happen. We are kind, cheerful, we smile at others. We know that chanting keeps our life conditions high, so we don't have to explode over little things.
We carry Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards and hand them out. When we are on the phone with service people, from the bank, or insurance, or hotels...whatever the call, we can ask "Have you ever heard of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?" and share a bit about it, directing them to the SGI-USA.org website. I've done this three times this week and each person was really receptive and grateful. WE ARE THE BUDDHA. The Gohonzon can't get down off the wall and shakubuku people. We have to do it!
And you might think "I can't do shakubuku if my faith isn't strong," and I say "Do it all the time! It will strengthen your faith. It is a deep cause for your own happiness and the happiness of the world."
Remember we are all interconnected in the great web of life. Dependent Origination means we are all interconnected in every way. Every cause you make for another is a cause for you as well.
So, to regain faith:
1. Write your goals and determination.
2. Make yourself a shakubuku and daimoku goal.
3. Connect with your friends in faith, find a chant buddy if you can.
4. Go for guidance with a senior leader.
5. Study, study, study President Ikeda and the Gosho (writings of Nichiren Daishonin). Make sure you get your local SGI publications and read them.
6. Chant every day, twice a day, EVERY day!
7. Encourage people. Encourage your fellow members, encourage your friends. Tell them about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Invite them to meetings.
8. Don't give up!
9. GO to your SGI meetings.
10. Chant to turn your problems into benefits for all. Realize you are the Buddha doing the Buddha's work!
Like the ocean that remains calm in its depths
even when waves rage over its surface,
and like the sun that continues shining on high
even during storms,
we can at each moment create value
and develop our state of life,
enjoying our existence to the fullest
in times of both suffering and joy.
Daisaku Ikeda, Ikedaquotes.org Self-Mastery