Monday, October 20, 2014

Thoughts on Beginning My 30th Year


Entering 30 years? 30 Years of Chanting. 
I have a lifetime of chanting now.  

In 29 years..

I have given birth to two wonderful and sweet baby boys. 
I have watched them grow into men, 
behind them all the while, 
looking to do what could be done to support them, 
what only I, as their Mommy can do. 
I have shared their wins, and shared their losses. 
I beam with pride to see two such fine young men...
men who did not exist until I (and their father) walked on this planet. 
...Men who came from my Daimoku for their lives and their mission. 

I have helped many learn to chant, and learn to get results and not give up! 

I have overcome depression.
I have brought my life to one of fulfillment and happiness. 
I have owned houses, and sold houses and traveled all over the world. 
I have gone from feeling alone to feeling rich with friendships. 
I can gone from feeling unloved to feeling loved. 
I have built my treasures of the heart and live a life of gratitude. 

I have had a fine and fun career, and am currently giving my speech "Growing Bolder - Tools for Thriving at Every Age." all over. I present the latest research that shows that life gets BETTER as we grow older - as long as we remain optimistic and fill our lives with optimism, strength and vigor! 

I have had many kind Buddhists "raise" me in this practice. 
Kate Randolph, Dolores Hepburn, Gene O'Connell, Amos Snell, Terri Wong, John Doskow - and many more...all helped me lay the foundation for my life. 
They helped me lay a foundation so strong that nothing, not even my worst nightmares could shake. 

And I owe my heart, my spirit and my breath to my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda.
I know many people can be confused about the mentor/disciple relationship, 
but I have my own understanding. 
Daisaku Ikeda is the example of the person I want to be, 
the person I am inside. 
He is ME when I do not feel fear. 
ME when I am not held back by my own doubts. 
ME when I am healthy and shining in all my glory. 
ME when I am wise and have studied and am thinking of others, not just myself. 
He is not a God.  
He is an example of a fully-expressed MAN. 
A man who has lived every day with wisdom. 
A man who has given his all...and continues to give his all even in his later years. 

When I chant to see through his eyes, and feel with his heart, and think with his mind ~  I am really chanting to awaken my OWN highest potential. 
That, for me is the key to the Master Disciple Relationship. It is simple. It is one of love and connection. And even if I never sit by his side, if we never share a smile again, I know that my prayers to connect with his spirit, and with his deep desire for peace and happiness on the planet, I know that we are together in heart...in this...and in every lifetime. And I know these prayers, and this connection help make me a better and more fully-expressed person. 

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

16 Secrets and A PowerPrayer to Rid Your Life of Despair!



You Can Do it!
16 Tips and a PowerPrayer for overcoming despair

It is possible to permanently change your basic state of life. I know. I did it. And I know countless other Buddhists  who have. Occasionally I may still feel sad. But I never, ever experience the sadness I used to live with most of my life. And I am not on any medication. (Not that you should just stop taking yours. Buddhism is common sense. Please chant for the wisdom to know what to do, and work with your medical practitioner if you are on medications)

Jamie’s 16 tips to rid your life of Despair:
by Jamie Lee Silver from ChantforHappiness.com

Tip #1
Chant as much as you can. 
Ask someone to chant with you!
Get support! 

Tip #2:
Study Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. 
There are a few quotes from the Gosho I've embedded in my life: 
"Suffer what there is to suffer and enjoy what there is to enjoy, and continue chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo no matter what happens...then you will experience boundless joy from the law."
From Happiness in This World, Writings of Nichiren Daishonin 

One of my favorite quotes from Daisaku Ikeda (from the book Learning from the writings. The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. Page 277:

"Seen from the perspective of Buddhism, 
everything has profound meaning. 
There is no need whatsoever to vacillate 
between elation and despair at each turn of events. 
There is no such thing as a storm that will 
continue blowing and wreaking havoc without end. 
In the same way, 
there is no hardship that will continue forever. 
There are clear days and there are rainy days. 
If we are swayed by our environment, 
rejoicing one moment and despairing the next 
amid ever-changing circumstances, 
then we will not be able to accomplish 
a true revolution in our state of life.
The important thing 
is to always believe in the mystic law 
and to enter the powerful orbit of faith, 
practice and study. 
Entering the orbit - the orbit of human revolution 
and of changing our karma - 
is the way to construct a life 
of good fortune and happiness 
that will endure throughout eternity. 
No matter what happens, 
we will enjoy the unerring protection of the Gohonzon. 
Instead of drawing conclusions about the world of faith 
from a superficial viewpoint, 
we need to calmly discern 
the true reality and significance of things 
and keep pressing forward. 
With the passage of time, 
it will definitely become clear
 that everything has unfolded 
in the best possible manner." 
When I feel despair ~ I write. I write all the sadness out. Sometimes I write to my Mom who died several years ago. I just write what I am feeling and it makes me feel better. 

Tip #3:
I take plenty of Vitamin D. For me, sometimes I just need more Vitamin D. 
Also I drink a LOT of water! 

Tip #4:
Encourage someone else! Give a stranger a Nam-myoho-renge-kyo card. Talk to someone you know about past benefits you've had. Doing this will remind you of how you've broken through in the past, and you'll gain more hope for the present. 

Tip #5:
Take a bath with salt in it...the more salt the better! 

Tip #6: 
Clean your Butsudan and altar area. The altar in your home is a reflection of your own life. When you treat it with respect, your environment and all the people in it treat you with respect. If you do not yet have a Gohonzon you can still set up an altar where you chant with offerings to your life...fruit, water, a plant, candles, and incense if you like. 

Tip #7: 
Call a true friend. And if you don't have one, see the PowerPrayer for making friends. 
This is how I made so many friends. 

Tip #8: 
As soon as you can, get back in front of the altar to chant. And don't be afraid to cry in front of the Gohonzon or while you are chanting. heck, for the first couple of years I cried a lot when I chanted. It was as if my life had to release years and years of  emotion. 

Tip #9: 
Move your body. Go for a walk! Get your energy and your blood flowing! 

Tip #10:
Study~
Read the Gosho or President Ikeda's writings! When you read these things - read them with your life. Choose a phrase or a passage and chant to realize its deeper meaning with your life. Chant to share the heart of Daisaku Ikeda. He has a heart beating with the fervent drum of Kosen Rufu (World Peace and the happiness of all beings). 

Tip #11:
Write! I write everything. It helps to clear my mind. I write fresh determinations. I write letters to my loved ones. I write poetry. 


Tip #12:
Change “Why me?” to “Yes me!”
Change what you are saying to yourself, and the questions you are asking yourself in your mind. If your constant refrain is "Why me? How can this be happening to me again?" it is important to change that thought. Replace it with a more positive thought. You chose that thought, you have the power to choose a better one! How about "Things are getting better and better for me, I just know it...sometimes it is hard to see, but I am definitely on my way!" or "Don't give up (insert your name) it's always darkest before the dawn!" 

Tip #13:
Breathe deeply. When we are feeling low we tend to breathe in a really shallow way, and it adds to our depression to breathe this way. Sit down and focus on your breathing. Fill your body with air. Picture that air as a bright light coming down from the top of your head...slowly moving down your body as your grey depressive mood seeps out your fingers and toes. Try this. It really does work! 

Tip #14:
Smile! Go look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Look in your eyes and smile. Did you know it is almost impossible to be depressed when you are smiling?

Tip #15: 
Look up! That's right, look up. Tony Robbins, the inspirational success coach and mentor says that looking down has been proven to actually bring people down, while looking up has the opposite effect. 

Tip #16:
PowerPrayer to Rid your Life of Despair
by Jamie Lee Silver, Chantforhappiness.com 
Read before chanting to fuel your mind!

"Gohonzon (my life itself!) 
Now is the time for me to rise from these emotions 
so I can show actual proof of the power of this law. 
NOW is the time for me 
to vanquish these feelings of hopelessness. 
I will NO LONGER allow these feelings to run my life. 
NOW I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! 
I am a precious child of the Buddha, 
I will not stand for these feelings anymore. I
 vow to win in all aspects of my life. 
I vow to win!" 








Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Falling in Love with the Gohonzon - Our Life Itself!



A few weeks ago I wrote that I got guidance for love, and was told to chant to the Gohonzon as if it's a lover...to fall in love with the Gohonzon. This made so much sense to me. The Gohonzon, the scroll we focus on, is, after all a representation of our own highest life condition. My Gohonzon is my life itself. All my life I have been working towards falling more and more in love with my own life. I know that our lives are a reflection of who we are inside, and doesn't it make sense to focus our energies on deeply, deeply loving ourselves. 

So I have been chanting this way for a few weeks and I feel it reflected everywhere in my life. I am loving myself and taking good care of my self. I am speaking kinder words to myself. I am encouraging myself in my mind, more than ever before. I am talking to myself like I would to my best friend.  

So I feel better than ever. Even as the gloom of November approaches - it is very gloomy here in Chicago today. I feel a bright light burning in my heart...a heart of hopefulness, a heart of love, a bright spark burning brighter and stronger than ever before. 

Yesterday as I was chanting I was just pouring out my love for the Gohonzon. I was thinking as I was chanting "Gohonzon, I love you so much! You have been with me these past 30 years! It is almost our 30th year together. Thank you MY LIFE! I love MY LIFE! I love you Gohonzon. I love you my life." 

It is for each of us to take this journey alone. How deeply can we summon and generate love and appreciation for our own lives? What will change in our lives and in the world when we do? 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Great News! Actual Proof!

"Under My Wings!" 

This has been quite an amazing week. Thursday morning's hour of daimoku was really focused and right on. I'm sure you know what I mean. 

I didn't look away from the Gohonzon the whole time, and I stayed focused on what I want to create. 
I mean I did not spend time musing about present circumstances. I focused on having the energy of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo flowing through my life. I focused on using my life as an outlet for kosen rufu, and for Daisaku Ikeda's spirit, and Nichiren Daishonin's certainty to flow through me. 

I chanted in appreciation for being a Buddha, knowing I'm a Buddha, and having the joy of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while feeling my power and love overflowing. The hour felt like 5 minutes. I also chanted to feel the effects of that Daimoku all day, and to just float on the pillow of Daimoku no matter what happened. It was to be a full day with the speech, another meeting and an event in downtown Chicago in the evening. I love Chicago, I love downtown, but going downtown on a week night is not always my thing. The logistics can be daunting. But I decided to take the train and enjoy it. 

While I was downtown at my event I got a call from my son Ben. "Can I come stay with you?" he asked. "Of course!" I said. And I thought about the deepness of my Daimoku and just knew that this was the result of my prayers that day and my everyday prayers for his happiness and fulfillment. 

Those of you who read this blog know that last year was a tough year for Ben. He was in the hospital for about 6 months on and off. My practice deepened; my faith and appreciation deepened. I chanted two, three hours a day and more...as much as I possibly could. Ben's illness was the biggest obstacle I have faced in thirty years of practice. I reached out to SGI members everywhere who had experienced similar challenges. They gave me great guidance. Because of them I chanted in appreciation for having a son who made me chant so much. I watched myself take decisive actions and become a stronger person through the course of the year. 

While still at the event I texted him "You can stay with me for as long as you'd like. My home will always be your home." And I knew then, that he was coming to stay. I don't know for how long, but I do know I will do my best to feed him, to give him love and encouragement and give him the space to breathe and BE. He's at a new phase in his almost 22 year old life. 

Now he's been out of the hospital for 6 months, he has a job, and he is on the right track. He came over later that night with a suitcase  and we've spent the time since then clearing out space for him to put his things. I've gathered many things to go to Goodwill. I love clearing space! 

This is actual proof, such actual proof. Even when things were the toughest for us last year, when my heart was breaking in sadness, and I wanted him to be able to chant, I was told that whenever I am chanting he is connected to the Gohonzon. The treashured pioneer, Mrs. Liebman, told me this. How comforting. How comforting. I'm not worried about encouraging him to chant for now. I know I am chanting FOR him. He is chanting when I am chanting. His life right now is proof of that! 

Thank you to all of my dear friends who have chanted for Ben. Thank you with all my heart! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Focusing on The Positive Brings Results

Noriyo's Sunset Over Tokyo 
(Noriyo is my friend from YWD days in San Francisco)

My speech yesterday went very well. 

There was an 88 year old man in the audience who had such wise words for us. He said, 

"No matter what's going on in your life 
there is a bright spot in it, 
and as long as you focus on that bright spot 
the brightness will increase 
and take over the darkness." 

What a beautiful way to express what I talk about in my speech - "What we focus on increases." We have the power to bring more joy, and love and light into our lives if we focus on the positive. 
It works the opposite way too, doesn't it? 
I have known people who constantly complain...constantly complain and don't even realize they are doing it. 
I saw a meme yesterday that said 

"If you constantly complain, 
you will always have something to complain about." 

Isn't that the truth? 
We need to steadily focus on the light, on the positive ~ 
and keep chanting to elevate our life condition. 

I chanted strong and focused Daimoku yesterday. I poured my heart into chanting for my mission for kosen-rufu and the light coming through me to touch other's lives, and to not be deterred by anything or anyone. 
And I had a great and uplifting day. 

Sensei's guidance for October 11th is: 


"It is important 
to have a sufficiently elevated life-condition 
so that you will be able 
to calmly accept whatever happens in life, 
striving to put problems into perspective 
and solving them with a positive attitude.
Happiness blossoms forth 
from such a strong and all-encompassing life-condition."


There is light in all our lives, there is a silver lining in every cloud. Just as my 88 year old friend said yesterday, focus on the light and it will grow. Every time we chant we are focusing on the light. We are all making steady, continual progress!  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We Are So Much More Powerful Than We Know~ !


Tomorrow at 10:30am I'm giving a free speech at the Riverside Public Library. (In Riverside Illinois) 
All are welcome! 
The title is:

Growing Bolder
Tools and Techniques for Thriving at Every Age
Presenting the Latest Research that 
PROVES life gets better as we age,  
and our attitudes, actions and language 
all play a part in living with more 
Happiness, Strength and Vigor 
than ever before!

This speech encapsulates what I truly believe, and have researched and lived my entire life ~ that we are responsible for creating our own happiness, and that OUR HAPPINESS IS IMPORTANT. When we thrive ~ when we live fulfilling, happy contributive lives, our energy is contagious. And now there's scientific evidence that this is true. 
Science is really coming a long way to support the things that I have long believed, but had no evidence to support. 

Science now proves that emotions are contagious, and we really ARE as old as we think. People who embrace getting older with a spirit of optimism live longer, happier and healthier lives. I also present my own insights on how our language determines our lives, not just describes our lives. 

Our WORDS MATTER! 

I tell a story about a time when I was in the car with my babies and the car just stopped in the highway...in the cold rain in San Francisco. At that moment I had a decision to make. Were we going to have a "disaster" or an "adventure"? I chose adventure! And me and my two little boys aged 4 and 2 at the time had so much fun that we even got to ride in a tow truck! We laughed and laughed. We have the choice to frame our lives by our language every single day. 

We can be "overwhelmed" and a victim of our lives, or we can be "in demand" and important. The choice is up to us! 

I've been giving this speech quite often lately, and I weave stories about the wonderful senior living community that I represent into the speech. 

I prepare for every speech just like I do every Buddhist meeting. I chant that every single participant will hear something that changes their life and outlook forever...I chant that they leave with their cells rearranged and with more hope and vigor than ever before! 

All my Buddhist training as a youth division member, a meeting Emcee and a District Leader are being put to good use in the world. 

I owe so much to my practice and the SGI!  


Monday, October 6, 2014

PowerPrayer to Demand your Results! You are the Buddha!


Sometimes we have to get mad when we chant! 
Lions ROAR! Lions ROAR! 

When we are chanting we are chanting 
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to our own life, and sometimes we have to chant with this thought:

 "Life! Enough is enough! I am changing this karma NOW."

Some of you have written me that you are feeling hopeless and controlled by others. 

RISE UP to your life in front of the Gohonzon (scroll that reflect our highest life potential) and DEMAND results now. 

We are all noble Boddhisatvas of the earth. 

In The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, Daisaku Ikeda writes:

When we do gongyo "we are in effect vowing to advance kosen-rufu in accord with the spirit of the original Buddha. Every day we pledge to the Daishonin, "Without fail, I will believe in and spread the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and help lead all people to enlightenment." 
page 150

And to fulfill this vow, we have to win in our lives. 
  
Each of us has some negative tendency that happens over and over, don't we? For me, I struggled for years with a feeling that would just overcome me, and wash over me like a wave. Out of nowhere I would feel unloved, unlovable and hopeless. The voices in my head were penetrating and awful!
And when I got this feeling sometimes I would think it was real...that I really was unloved and hopeless, and then I'd pick up the phone to call Kate (my dear friend in faith) and she would remind me that this was my fundamental darkness arising once again. This feeling was a function of the fundamental darkness within my life and within all of life, and this was AGAIN my time to summon up the power of my faith. 

That's why I say BE FUELED BY YOUR OBSTACLES, not FOOLED BY THEM! 

"Get MAD at the shoten zenjin!" Kate would say. 
(Shoten Zenjin are the protective forces that counterbalance fundamental darkness. We use our practice to increase the shoten zenjin and banish fundamental darkness.) 
And I would generate some angry energy, roar like a lion and use this PowerPrayer inspired by Kate - it totally changed my life:

PowerPrayer to say, 
"No More! Enough is enough!”
I change this negative function NOW! 
By Jamie Lee Silver from ChantforHappiness.com

I am chanting with 
absolute conviction in the power of my life to declare and demand:

No more of this karma 
of feeling insecure and doubting myself.

No more of this karma 
of being abused or disrespected by anyone or any thing!

No more doubting my own Buddha Nature!

No more living in fear!

No more feeling unloved or hopeless.

No more ________________ (you fill in the blank.)

I now create _________________________________in my life starting now.

I don't CARE how many times I have to chant about this. I don't CARE how many times you try to bring me down. 

I MUST Win because I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra. I am living my life to prove that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo works and to help others become happy. 

I will win!!!

I am the Buddha.
I am roaring with power in my life!
I now determine with all the power vested in me that I will___________________________.

The wisdom to take the actions to create this breakthrough comes to me now!