Sunday, January 15, 2017

When You're Losing Faith...or Have a Big Problem



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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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Friday, January 6, 2017

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 - 

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Translate button is at the top right.)

The literal translation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is:


"I fuse my life 
with the Mystic Law of cause and effect 
through sound vibration (or sutra)." 

It is the title of the Lotus Sutra, 
the Buddha's highest teaching 
that declares  
ALL people possess the Buddha Nature...
all people ARE Buddhas...
and we can access our own Buddhahood ~ our inherent wisdom, determination, power to take the best action for our lives while benefiting others, sense of vitality, ability to make a difference, find fulfillment and happiness, and the strength to turn 
EVERY POISON INTO MEDICINE 
~by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

That's it. We don't need to change our diets, memorize lists of paths, change our lifestyles, shave our heads, wear robes, or "purify our desires." This form of Buddhism is radically different than most forms you may have encountered. SGI (Soka Gakkai Buddhism is accessible to ALL. 

AND the most important aspect of our prayer is to do our own human revolution...to change the very core of our lives...change our karma, and by doing so, change the world around us as well. 
We chant for "Kosen-Rufu," a world of respect for all life, and for all who are suffering to be happy. Through our own happiness, we create happiness for all. We can all win in life together. 

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. 

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. Make sure to write your list, and rewrite it when you achieve those goals. Ultimately, our goal is to change our own selves...to overcome our doubt and negativity, and to experience life as the Buddhas we are. When WE change, our environment changes. We are all interconnected. 

We chant for others, we chant for our planet, our countries, and ourselves. 
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 need to DO it. We have to chant to bring all this rhythm and harmony out. 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. 

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. 
If you live in or around St. Pete Beach Florida you can connect with me through chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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.



All quotes from Ikedaquotes.org

Monday, January 2, 2017

Easiest Goal Setting Ever!


My view as I write! 
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I'm writing from my beautiful apartment overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and St. Pete Beach. This weekend I brought in the new year dancing (my foot is almost entirely healed) with Ric, and yesterday he set up this great writing space and helped me make this space my own. Thank you!

My appreciation for my life is boundless. Every time I sit down to chant I start with a sincere THANK YOU for all the benefits, protection, fun and happiness I am experiencing right now. 

Since it's a new year, I thought I'd share what I'm doing for goal setting this year. 
First of all, as you know, I'm chanting three hours a day, but don't let that discourage you. Every moment you spend chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is important. Every moment connects you to the deepest, best and most magnificent essence of YOU in rhythm with the entire cosmos. Every single Nam-myoho-rnge-kyo makes a difference. 

Over the last few hours of chanting I kept my journals close, and every time I connected with a goal/desire/determination I wrote it down in one place. 

One of my goals for this year is to be more organized in my goal setting/life creation. I will read and redetermine my goals every day. 

It may take a few days to get my fresh determinations all written out, but that's okay. One of the keys is not to get down on myself for anything I haven't accomplished yet.

Sure, there are a ton of things on my list that have been there for years and have not yet been accomplished. But, so what? Every time I rewrite them, and redetermine to accomplish them I strengthen my muscle of faith. 

Getting down on myself - self slandering is not useful. Let's be gentle with ourselves and really determined. Let's continue to know that we are striving to achieve our goals because we are wayfarers for others...we are the lights that shine with the brilliance of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Everything I chant for, I chant with the mind of: I will accomplish THIS so I can light the way for others and show them the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

Let me meet the people who are wanting to learn about this practice...every day I have Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards with hand out to people. Every day I ask myself what else can I do to relieve people's sufferings in the world. How can I help? 

SGI President Ikeda's New Year's Message is lighting the way for me. From the January 1st World Tribune, page 2 he states:

"Whatever the time or place, 
those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 
can bring the sun of time without beginning 
- the brilliance of their innate Buddhahood - 
to shine in their lives. 
Therefore, no matter what our age, 
we can always live in a way that is true to ourselves 
with a fresh and completely rejuvenated life force.
Nichiren assures us, 
"You will grow younger, 
and your good fortune will accumulate" 
(The Unity of Husband and Wife," 
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 1, page 464). 
For us, each passing year 
brings greater joy and fulfillment 
as we strive with a youthful spirit 
to vibrantly expand our state of life, 
heighten our efforts to connect others to Buddhism 
and increase our good fortune."

Thank you for writing to me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. I love hearing about your victories, and sharing your struggles. Sometimes I get behind in replying, or emails just get lost. Please send another email if I haven't replied. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Year of Developing Youth in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu!


As I write this I am here in my new apartment overlooking the glorious Gulf of Mexico on St. Pete Beach. I just talked to Kate Randolph who recently had a brain tumor removed, but will have to undergo further treatment because it was an aggressive tumor. She and her family are chanting up a storm. She's chanting four hours a day. And she sounds great. And happy. 
She and her family are determined to create unprecedented victory in their lives, and for the world. They are chanting for every single person who is chanting for Kate to have incredible breakthroughs as well. I am joining her on her Daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) journey. I invite you to join me. 

The January 1st SGI World Tribune came today and a paragraph of President Ikeda's jumped right off the page for me. 

On page two he says:

"Change is occurring at an ever-accelerating pace. 
That's what makes it so important 
to chant strongly on a daily basis 
to summon forth the 
"wisdom of the truth 
that functions in accordance 
with changing circumstances" 
(The Record of Orally Transmitted Teachings, p.10). 
Based on that wisdom, 
we can then rise boldly to every challenge 
and enact our own hope-filled dramas 
of human revolution 
and help others do the same."

Daisaku Ikeda

I will be chanting to summon forth the wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances! 
What a great prayer. 

My determinations are many. I'm chanting to be fearless, and to believe in my Buddhahood more than I believe in my faults and fears. I'm chanting to find a job for kosen-rufu - one where I can bring all my talents to the forefront, and continue doing shakubuku and public speaking...a job where I am involved, meeting new people, laying the foundation for my new life in my new city...a job where I am happy and looking forward to each new day.
I'm chanting for friends, and for the SGI here...for the YOUTH, and to meet the people who really want to hear about this great practice. I'm chanting to be filled with appreciation and joy, and to spread joy everywhere I go...while telling people about the great power of the mystic law. 

I am happy. I love my life. 

I wish all of you an incredibly victorious new year...taking each of your challenges and creating lives of overflowing benefit, in the SGI, along with our mentor Daisaku Ikeda...moving boldly forth every day advancing with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the rhythm of the universe that flows through all life. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Everything - 7 Keys to Having Hearts Full of Gratitude

Aaron was just visiting from Phoenix. He said "Mom St. Pete's is a new home for me now, because wherever you are, that is home." I am so grateful for my boy!
This photo was taken in Johns Pass. I can see Ben right alongside Aaron. Can you? 

"People whose hearts are full of gratitude and appreciation are truly beautiful. A humble heart is the wellspring of great growth and development."


Daisaku Ikeda, Ikedaquotes.org


Good morning! Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy EVERYTHING! I am grateful for YOU. 


Many of you have been reading this blog from the beginning...the summer of 2009 when I first declared that I was going to end my life-long depression and take the rest of the world with me on this journey. Since then, countless people have found out about this glorious practical Buddhism and joined the SGI through chantforhappiness.com. Others have gotten reconnected, and many have been inspired.


My themes are many: 


1. Chant every day - twice a day (and if you are not yet doing this you will be amazed by the difference it makes once you start). Don't take my word for it. Just do it! 


2. Stay close to the SGI - make friends, overcome your own negativity, and use the organization as a place where you can expand your state of life while working alongside others to make the world a better place through our own transformation. 


3. Read president Ikeda's guidance with your life. Chant to understand it with your whole being.


4. Take the vow of the Bodhisattva. We have the opportunity to do this every time we chant....we chant for our own dream to be fulfilled so that we can show actual proof of the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and inspire others to chant...inspire others through our lives as we go about our daily lives being a bright beacon of hope and telling people about Nam-myohh-renge-kyo. Taking the vow of the Bodhisattva will naturally lead you to: 


5. Do shakubuku. Let people know the source of your smile. Last night at a party I was talking with two really lovely people and they each said Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with me three times. At the last District meeting I had two guests. You can chant for shakubuku. Chant to meet people who are seeking this practice, and for the courage wand wisdom to introduce them.


6. Study the Gosho. The letters of Nichiren Daishonin are our great fortune. We have the actual letters of this great sage and way-shower. Find a phrase that inspires you and engrave it into your heart. 
My favorite for many years was: 
"Suffer what there is to suffer, and enjoy what there is to enjoy, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo no matter what. Then you will experience boundless joy from the law." 
(From Happiness in this World.)

I also love:

"Like a lantern in the dark, like a strong guide and porter on a treacherous mountain path, the Gohonzon will guard and protect you, Nichinyo, wherever you go."
From "The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon) 

And number 7 is to have a grateful heart, and be a bright, cheerful person. Spread your light far and wide! 


As you know, I'm living on St. Pete Beach. And I need to leave my apartment for 4 months because another renter was already signed up to come here. Because of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I have been able to arrange to move right next door into another lovely apartment overlooking the Gulf of Mexica. (For even less money) Total benefit. But I still woke up a few days ago thinking of all the work...all the cleaning...all the ugh of moving. But I said to myself "From this moment on, I am grateful for this opportunity. I'm going to have fun with this and FEEL all the gratitude for this easy move. So I did. At that moment I changed my focus. And it makes all the difference. 


So for today, is there something you COULD feel grateful for if you just decided to? Is there someone you could express your gratitude to? The person it will most change is you!


(And for all who are chanting for Kate, please keep chanting. She is starting further treatment)







Sunday, December 18, 2016

You Possess a Glorious Future - Have the Spirit to Begin Anew!



A bad day doesn't mean a bad practice. We all have them...days when we feel we really can't connect to our source of strength via chanting and using the ultimate tool, the Gohonzon. (Scroll which represents our highest life condition. See sgi-usa.org for more explanation.) 

Do you ever sit down with clear intention to chant, but then get interrupted, or just not be able to really give it your all? This happens to the best of believers...to every single one of us. (If it NEVER happens to you, please write me and tell me your secret.) 

And the important thing is not to think "oh, this really doesn't work...or I should just give up...what's the use anyway? I can't chant this morning, so I won't try tonight", and suddenly tomorrow comes and it's too hard to chant that day too?

Here's the slippery slope. 

And the antidote, I believe, is to treat every gongyo as the sacred session with your own life that it truly is. If you can't do it in the morning, or you don't feel like you were able to feel that connection...well, in the evening, make another determination and don't fall off the bandwagon as they say. And if that doesn't work, make the determination to start the next day with a bright and fresh gongyo and daimoku.

Aahhhh, when you do this continually, and never concede defeat, your life will shine!

Daisaku Ikeda says, in Faith Into Action, page 146, under "Perseverance":

"No matter what the circumstances, 
you should never concede defeat. 
Never conclude that you've reached a dead end, 
that everything is finished. 
You possess a glorious future. 
Precisely because of that, 
you must persevere and study. 
Life is eternal. 
We need to focus on the two existences 
of the present and the future, 
and not get caught up in worry about the past. 
We must always have the spirit to begin anew 
"from this moment,"
to initiate a new struggle each day."

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Our Forever Ben" and the Secret to Achieving Your Human Revolution



Breaking news! 
Hope for the Day published "Our Forever Ben, One Mom's Letters to her son-in-spirit and his poetic replies."

Our Forever Ben is the story of turning poison into medicine. The book has two main goals: 
1. By telling Ben's story I hope to find a way to fix the sad state of mental health care in this country. 
2. And by sharing Ben and my writings since he "died," I hope to help those who are currently grieving see how easy it is to connect with their loved ones in spirit. 

I am chanting to continue to open to my mission to help others.  

Every day I am chanting the prayer that Daisaku Ikeda says is the key to our Human Revolution.

The Secret 
to Achieving Your Human Revolution

"Pray that instead of devils 
or negative, destructive forces 
infiltrating your 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