Friday, November 28, 2014

"Difficulties are an HONOR" Daisaku Ikeda


Benjamin Lee Silver - Champion

As I write this, my son Ben (who just turned 23 on Sunday) is in the hospital and very sick - but he's ALIVE - so I have hope! 
When I look at this picture I see Ben's Championship essence. 
This picture was taken in 2009 after Ben won the St.Charles Leavy Invitational Cross Country race during his senior year of high school. When he crossed the finish line you couldn't even SEE the closest competitor behind him. He was that far ahead.

Right now, in the hospital, he doesn't feel like a champion. And we are all helping him fight to get back to himself. 

I am chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and roaring like the lion I am! I chant with strong faith everyday, and Soka Gakkai members all over the world are chanting for Ben. Thank you with all my heart...my heart as a mother. 

I am also chanting for you, and for all of us to overcome our own challenges and shine like bright beacons of hope for all who are suffering. 

This morning before chanting, I picked up the World Tribune and felt that Daisaku Ikeda had written the following words just for me, and for all of us who are forging our lives through faith. Right now the heat is extreme for many of us...but we will come out of it stronger, more golden, more inspired than ever before.

I offer you these words from our mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, to help you overcome whatever you are facing today: 

"The brilliant physicist, Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) once said, "There is only one road to human greatness: the road through suffering." This is a profound insight. I have endured attacks and persecution for decades. My life has been a continuous series of trying obstacles. 

Leonardo ca Vinci (1452-1519), the great Italian Renaissance artist, writer and inventor, wrote in one of his notebooks, "Bars of gold are refined in fire." And, on another occasion, he observed, "No perfect talent without great suffering." He is saying that without experiencing various tests and trials, one cannot become a fine human being and realize one's full potential.  The lives of Soka Gakkai presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda attest to these words. My life was also forged through countless hardships. I was thoroughly trained by Mr. Toda, and I have overcome numerous momentous challenges. And that is also why the Soka Gakkai now spans the globe. 

It is by overcoming difficulties 
that one becomes a Buddha. 
To a Buddhist, difficulties are an honor. "

Daisaku Ikeda, World Tribune, 
November 14th, 2014, page 4. 

Let's all forge on ahead, with hope lighting our hearts - no matter what we are facing! Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the states...heralding the start of the "Holiday Season" when golden twinkly lights appear all over, and in the midst of cold weather, our hearts shine on. Sending you love from the Chicago area, and the hope that you never give up  - no matter what. 



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Live in a Way that is Full of Life!



Live in a way that is full of life...YES!!!!

Living a life of hope and energy is the key. Daimoku is where it starts! 

As Buddhas we impart hope to everyone we meet. Our abundant Daimoku in the face of ALL our obstacles is the fuel that keeps us smiling...keeps our life conditions high and spreads our light to the person right next to us...and ripples throughout the world. 

Every morning I am chanting for an hour...two hours...three hours  - Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! And even though the illness that my son is experiencing is still very bad, I have hope in my heart and see the puzzle pieces coming together. AND I feel appreciation for the problem itself. 

BECAUSE of my son's illness the benefit is ALREADY revealing itself. Our Buddhist concept of Turning Poison Into Medicine is already manifesting! 

Every day I chant in appreciation for having a son who makes me chant so much! Every day I chant in appreciation for his life! 

Last weekend Ben's uncles from Los Angeles and Connecticut came to visit and offer support. It was a wonderful reunion for us all. 
My Dad and Jan (my stepmom) are in town and it is great to have them here. 
And of course, I am sharing this practice with all of the professionals working to help Ben. It is my bright smile and high life condition in the midst of all of this that surprises them and encourages THEM in the difficult (and often hopeless) work that they are doing. 

At every moment, we are all the Buddha. We have our practice every day that raises our life condition. Every morning we can ask ourselves: "Do I want to be the Buddha today?" and through our morning prayers we reawaken to our mission. Every day. In "The Heart of the Lotus Sutra" by Daisaku Ikeda, he writes about how we all have our "assembly",  just like the Buddha did..because we are Buddhas! The world is watching us! The world is waiting for our voices of hope and encouragement! 

As we in the United States head into the holiday weekend of Thanksgiving let's all fill our hearts with appreciation. As I was chanting this morning the appreciation in my heart was overflowing. 

The more we are thankful...the more we have to be thankful FOR! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

PowerPrayer for a Harmonious Family


PowerPrayer for a harmonious Family
By JamieLee Silver

As Nichiren Buddhists, we know that wars begin and end within our own hearts. and I know from personal experience that we sometimes turn against the ones we love when we are really stressed and challenged. But we know, we really know, that the answer lies in our determination to create a harmonious family, and to change our own, and our family's karma with our determined Daimoku. (Chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo). 

Daisaku Ikeda states: 

A person who respects others is respected by others in return. Those who treat others with compassion and concern are protected and supported by others. Our environment is essentially a reflection of ourselves.
From Ikedaquotes.org

Daimoku can change ANYTHING. It can change inharmonious relationships, and give us the courage and wisdom we need to make changes in our lives. 

With that in mind, I offer you the PowerPrayer for a Harmonious Family. Usually we read PowerPrayers before chanting so that we can keep our determinations and prayers fresh in our minds while sonorously chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra and the name of the rhythm of life itself. Chanting allows us to tap into the vast resources our lives already possess, raise our life conditions and become absolutely happy...possessing the type of happiness that is not swayed by daily changes in our lives.  Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the most powerful cause we can make for our lives. 

That's it! 

Please do not copy and past the PowerPrayer. You can share it by emailing the url chantforhappiness.com or using the sharing buttons at the bottom of the post. Thanks! 

PowerPrayer for a Harmonious Family
by Jamie Lee Silver, chantforhappiness.com

Life!
I am Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!
I have the power to chant happiness and harmony for my whole family

With every daimoku I am picturing us happy
I am erasing years of karma with every Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

With every Daimoku I am summoning appreciation for my loved ones. I appreciate them more and more. 

For every fault, sickness, sadness, problem I see in my family ~
I chant to change this in MYSELF so that the karma of the whole family is changed! 

I am chanting happiness and harmony into my family

My prayer is enough!

I will not give up

I am tearing every bit of karma that makes any of my family members suffer - I am tearing that karma out by the roots. 
My family will never be the same. 

I will not give up!

I will have a happy family that will shine as a beacon of hope to all who are suffering. 

My chanting gives me the wisdom to communicate with composure and compassion. 

I am the Buddha!

I chant specifically for these outcomes:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________





Don't Give Up No Matter What!


My two sons, Aaron on the left, Ben on the right. 

It has been a really...interesting time...
My son Ben has been quite sick and I've been chanting and chanting...

We are so fortunate to have encountered the Mystic Law. We KNOW that are accessing the deepest part of our consciousness when we chant...the part that connects us to all of life. We have this access through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! 

And my prayers have worked. 

Today he begins a new form of treatment that I have high hopes for. I am sending him loads of Daimoku and healing energy. 

Earlier this week I received guidance from a very wise friend. He told me I need to expand my capacity to understand the oneness of good and evil. (I know it's good guidance when I can barely understand it! - I have to go to the Gohonzon to chant to understand it with my life) He told me there is good and evil on the Gohonzon and in all of life, and that the two have to exist simultaneously. 

So all week I've been chanting to understand the oneness of good and evil. And, coincidentally (hah!) the theme of this week's district meeting was "Turning Poison into Medicine" a concept I find this very easy to grasp. And that's really what's at the heart of the oneness of good and evil. I feel my life and understanding opening somehow, but at this moment it's still a bit difficult to put it into words. 

Also, I have been busy shakubukuing everyone in my vicinity. I've chanted with nursing students and other health professionals. One morning I chanted in his hospital room and watched his heartbeat go down to a deep resting/healing place as I chanted. 

And now I feel hopeful the result is near. I have hope for this new treatment. I have more hope than ever. There have been times this week that I'be almost lost hope, and days where it was very hard to chant no matter what my intentions. When I've felt this way I've opened my Living Buddhism and read Daisaku Ikeda's words for encouragement. 

I know I will be the victor. I know Ben will win and have a quality life. 

Our trials make us stronger. We know this. But sometimes it doesn't feel true. Especially in times of real trial like this week has been for me. But we must go forward, keep chanting and doing shakubuku and studying!
I hope all of you are greeting your challenges like the roaring lions you are! 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

4 Secrets for Strengthening Your Muscle of Appreciation


A reader requested I write a blog giving tips for generating more gratitude and appreciation in her life. 

Daisaku Ikeda writes in Faith into Action, page 7 (under Appreciation)
"To "enjoy what there is to enjoy" means to cause the "mystic lotus of the heart" to blossom brightly with a sense of appreciation and joy. Someone who can find joy, who can feel appreciation, experiences a snowballing exhilaration and joy in life. Such is the heart's function."

So here you go. Thanks so much for writing in! 

4 Secrets for Strengthening 

Your Muscle of Appreciation! 
By Jamie Lee Silver of ChantforHappiness.com

Gratitude is attitude. It starts with YOU. It is a muscle you can build. And once you build it....ahhh the benefits that begin to flow! 

Tip #1
Before you get out of bed think about ten things you are grateful for that very day. They can be ANYTHING. You can be grateful for sight, hearing, feeling. You can be grateful to be alive...grateful to have woken up! Lie there and think of ten things. I've mentioned before that when my Mom was feeling depressed I gave her this tip and everyday after that she did this, and her depression lifted. She always told me it was this one action that changed her life. 

Tip #2
SMILE! 
Smiling is a cause not an affect. 
The more you smile, 
the more reasons you will have to smile!
Make your smile light your day. 

I like to think of the song by Carol King:
You've got to get up every morning
And show the world
All the love in your heart!
When you smile you physically create a happiness hormone in your body. There have been studies done recently about this. Also, when you smile at another person, they automatically feel better...their brain registers happiness even if they do not smile back at you. Isn't that cool? Smile! 

Tip #3
Write a Rampage of Appreciation
Take a notebook and put titles as the top of each page. Titles could be:
My body
My work
My relationship with _______
My parents
My children
My home
My car
My self
My practice
My________
...and on an on...you get the idea. 

Then list all the things you ARE grateful for under each heading...or all the things you COULD BE grateful for. 

I promise you that you will feel happier after doing this! 

4. Chant in Gratitude
While chanting  ~ generate these feelings of gratitude and happiness. Your gratitude will amplify and spread.

What do you do to build the muscle of appreciation into your life? Write me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com


Saturday, November 15, 2014

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

The literal translation is:


"I fuse my life 
with the mystic law of cause and effect 
through sound vibration." 

It is the title of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha's highest teaching that declares that ALL people possess the Buddha Nature...all people ARE Buddhas...and we can access this nature by calling it forth in our lives using this phrase. 

Being a Buddha - 
is tapping the river of life that runs through ALL life - summoning the mystic law 
by 
realizing we ARE the Mystic Law. 
We not only chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ~ we ARE Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ~the Mystic Law. 

I like to think of it as "I am one with the rhythm of all life." It is the rhythm that exists within all of life...the reason for the turning of the tides...the reason for the seasons...the atoms that exist within every single cell...from an elephant to a spec of dust. Everything possesses this connectedness...this rhythm.  
It is all encompassing and contains the wisdom and energy of all of life itself...the whole universe. 

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo we tap into that energy and access it for our lives...directed towards our desires. In this practice it's okay to have desires. More than okay! We don't have to alleviate them. Desires make us who we are and lead us to chant. 

When we chant we change the internal life within our lives. We change the core and fiber of our lives. We change our karma. And when we make that internal change, our ENVIRONMENT (meaning everything that is not within our own skin, our jobs, our relationships, our sense of self, everything we experience and think) ALL of that changes to reflect our internal change. We call this "Human Revolution."

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. 

We chant for something and get it or something better. We get access to internal happiness and strength that cannot be blown away by any event or obstacles. 

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. That's right, anything. 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 have to DO it. We have to chant to bring all this rhythm and harmony about. 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. 

I hear from people all over the world, and some have strong SGI groups in their towns and others are completely alone. I love that we can connect through the power of the internet. From the moment I began chanting almost 30 years ago I have had the deep desire to share this practice, this practice that WORKS, with everyone who is looking for the real, practical means of creating happiness and results in their lives. 

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. 

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.

When Problems Come Remember "I Summoned This Storm!" and Turn Poison into Medicine!

Ben

Sorry it's been so long since I wrote. 
You know I talk about the Buddhist life philosophy here, and how everything that happens is part of our karma, and we need to somehow embrace it and say 


"Yes! I summoned this storm! 
This karma is mine to change!
And I will make poison transform into medicine!" 

And sometimes, sometimes, life throws us a curveball and we think "No way...there is no way this is my karma! This has to be someone else's karma!" But no, if it's in our lives it's ours. Harsh reality. Ouch.

I had one of those curveballs last Sunday. My sweet son Ben is very sick. But he is alive. Thank you Shoten Zenjin (protective forces within all life). He was in the hospital and now is in another hospital for a week or so.

I admit, it is difficult for me to boldly say "I summoned this storm!" But I have to. This does not mean that it's my fault. It is in my life and part of my karma, and therefore mine to change and reap the benefit from having changed - for me, for my son, for my ancestors, for my heirs. 

Today I am hosting a 6 hour toso (chanting session)for his life from 8am until 2pm United States Central time. Join us from wherever you are. 

I am chanting for him to live a life of value that he loves. 

And I am chanting this prayer:

"Pray that instead of devils 
or negative, destructive forces 
infiltrating your (his - everyone's) being, 
Brahma ("Bonten"in Japanese),
Shakra ("Taishaku" in Japanese),
and the gods of the Sun and the Moon
~ the positive, protective forces of the universe ~
will enter your life!
Pray that they will enter the lives 
of all members in your region
and the entire membership of the SGI, as well.
If you do this, 
your strength will multiply 
a hundredfold, a thousandfold.
With such prayer,
with such faith, 
you will realize a fundamental transformation
in the depths of your life. 
This is the secret to achieving your human revolution."

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, World Tribune, 9/8/2000