Sunday, November 29, 2009

Life Celebration

Well, I can tell you one thing. I don't think anyone who attended the Life Celebration for my Mom has ever been to anything CLOSE to what this was...and I'll be willing to bet they've told at least a few people about it!
It was a total success.
I started chanting with this prayer a the beginning of the week: I VOW to achieve VICTORY in ALL areas of my life...together with my mentor...chanting with his spirit.
And Mannnn what we did. We had a beautiful room full of twinkly lights.
We started with Gongyo and daimoku and had an altar all set up for her at the front. It generated so much energy. Each person came up to the front and places powdered incence on the burner and said Nam Myoho Renge Kyo three times and said a prayer for her.

Then we had a table all set up with her jewelry on it. Mom's big thing was giving gifts...she gave all kinds of wacky things...and she had a huge collection of jewelry. So she was able to give away some of her jewelry to her friends.

It was awesome...inspiring. But somehow I just haven't been able to blog since then. I'll pick it up in the new year. Promise.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Today is the day

SO today is the day of my Mom's Life Celebration. All week I have been so excited about it...writing the beautiful life story...getting twinkly lights for the atmosphere...inviting all our friends...planning the food and finding Hawaiian Leis for everyone. And right now...after holding Thanksgiving here...I am so bushed. I think I'll go back to bed for a bit...already chanted an hour and a half and cleaned more of the kitchen. Everything is in place...for 2 ceremonies...one Buddhist, one a life celebration.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mom's Life Celebration!

Life is continuing on! And I'm OK. I actually feel so calm today. I am in the midst of planning two ceremonies for my Mom. First we'll do a Buddhist one at 4:00 on Friday, then at 6:00 we'll do one without the chanting, but incorporating Buddhist themes. I'm writing and officiating each one, and that's what I love to do...it's the other details that go into it that make me appreciative for my sister and my family and all who are helping!
I'm also back and work, I have Buddhist study meeting tomorrow night at my house...and Thanksgiving here on Thursday...woohoo!!!!!
Thank goodness I'm chanting two hours a day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

After she died

Life is getting back to normal..only I just keep tearing up. I guess that is normal. Losing a parent is something everyone goes through (unless of course they die first, and losing a child would be the worst thing of all).

So, we carry on, appreciating those days at her bedside...appreciating having her for a mother...appreciating the fact that all three granschildren were able to hang out with her non her last lucid day...Veteran's Day. Ben played his guitar, and Aaron and Tyler talked with her and stayed with her. I had gone in early on Wednesday to chant for her and watch the sun rise. Yesterday was a very exciting Buddhist meeting here at the house. I made a huge vat of very colorful chili and had 20 people over. Next...my Dad comes in and we plan her Life Celebration!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Goodbye my sweet Mommy

Goodbye my sweet Mommy.
May your journey be beautiful
may you continue to shed light, laughter and happiness
everywhere you go.

May your sunshine continue to shine here for all you touched,
and may all the people you touched smile
remembering your warmth and special touch

May you have a rejuvenating rest...
and emerge raring to go
into your next life...
shedding all of the difficult karma you dealt with here...
in your next life...
no more broken and bruised heart,
no more damaged lungs,
no more teeny tiny veins!

I wish you
plenty of fortune in so many ways...
abundant good, vibrant HEALTH,
an incredible family to be born into...
...with incredibly loving, prosperous and Buddhist parents, so you can start chanting again right away, and recognize and love this practice again, just as you did in this lifetime,
...to have dear, dear friends and wonderful adventures,
and for all your dreams,
forever and ever
to come true

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Strength in adversity...that is what it is all about right now...
We took Mom off of the respirator on Monday...and all of us were gathered like angels around her bed. Aaron found an immediate bus ride from Champaign, I called Ben out of High School and Tyler left a full school day at Lewis. We were all there for that brief moment when they take her off of sedation, take the tubes out of her mouth and she is lucid for awhile. It really was awesome. When she realized what was happening, and that she wasn't going to get better she rolled her eyes at us, shook her head and said clearly "shit!" And we said "right on Mommy! Right on!"
We all hung on her every word and even had some laughs. We told some stories and shed some tears. We said our goodbyes and expected her to go on her journey soon...and she is still here! We spent the entire last two days at her side. We know she knows we are there, but she can't talk. She is on comfort care. Today Ben has been playing music for hours.
Every morning I have been chanting for two hours for her...for my sister...for Mom's wonderful grandchildren...and to somehow have something so beautiful, so rare, so sweet~sweet Jan come from this experience. How can I, as a Buddhist have this experience be an encouraging one? We Buddhists believe in turning every poison into medicine.
How will that happen? I honestly don't know. All I see for the moment is my aching, aching heart. But stay tuned. And please, if you can, chant for her, and for all of us who are already missing her so much.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Keep Chanting

Well, there's really no change in Mom's condition right now...she is still on the respirator. More and more people are telling me stories about loved ones they had on a respirator who went on to live really great lives once they came off. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Mommy!
I'm not stopping chanting for you, and so many of you have joined in. Keep Chanting ! It's too early to give up!

This morning Sam and I went to the Illinois Area Activity Center and chanted for two hours. He's a brand new member and he chanted the full two hours. He told me the first half hour he was focused on what he desired and the second half hour was a war in his mind...I know exactly what he means.
When you chant you bring it all out! Go SAM! Go all of you!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chanting for my Mom

Well, it is, as they say in this practice...the crucial moment. We've been trying since Thursday morning to get my sweet Mommy off the ventilator ans she is just not strong enough...and now she's developed a mrsa infection in her lungs. Oh no.
Ben just competed in the state Cross Country meet. He ran a great race...was in 2nd the whole race and ended up in the end at 18th.
It's been a long day.
I'm headed back to the hospital to chant for her at 8:00. They won't let you in between 7:00 and 8:00 because they are changing shifts in the ICU. Chanting, chanting, chanting, working to keep my life condition so high...if you can, please chant with me!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chanting for my Mom

Such challenges! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!
My Mom is in the hospital. Yesterday was a really frightening day...Last night they had to put her on a ventilator in the middle of the night. I am sooo grateful to be a Buddhist! I woke up this morning and chanted for an hour and a half for my Mom's health. I pictured all her cells working in harmony, and saw her beautiful smiling face! Then I emailed my friends and asked them to chant for her too.
She's stable on the ventilator, and the goal is to gradually wean her off, and strengthen her. ICU is a wonderful place for her to be. She's sedated and well taken care of.
As I was chanting I kept thinking of Nichiren Daishonin. Through his prayers he extended his mother's life by seven years. I was digging deep to muster all my faith, to summon forth my determination. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Determinations!

Hello! We're still chanting two hours a day!
Melissa and I, we're not stopping.
It's just too wonderful floating on this cloud of daimoku.
Tomorrow I officially end my million diamoku campaign...and start my next one.
I still have goals to be met...and we have the state meet coming up for Ben.
My determination for the Downers Grove District is so clear...I am determined that the district grow into the most vibrant and happy district anywhere. I'm chanting for strong, courageous youth to join us...
and for people whose hearts are yearning for solutions to come out of the woodwork, hear what we have to say and decide to try chanting for themselves.
We already have one wonderful and courageous person starting to chant...I can't wait to hear his results. Tomorrow night, he gets his Gohonzon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Obstacles = Great Benefits!!!

Wow! Suddenly I have lots of challenges! Congratulations to me! That's what we Buddhists sometimes say to each other when we are faced with huge obstacles: Congratulations! Huge obstacles mean HUGE BENEFITS!!! Without obstacles we could never break through!

Great benefits are already happening. I got two deposits for move ins today at my retirement center...and, best of all, a friend came tonight to the Buddhist meeting and decided to start chanting. He's going to get his Gohonzon next week. It was such a beautiful meeting...so honest...so heartfelt...so full of what this practice is about...the power to draw the power of the universe right into your life. It rocks! The members who came tonight rock! Daimoku Rocks!!!!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well, it's the evening of the first day of my 25th year of chanting.

Have I accomplished my goals for this day? Mostly yes...and for the ones I have not accomplished I am working on creating fresh determinations.

I am happier, much happier than when I began the blog and chanting 2 hours a day. I feel stronger...less afraid...more determined. I AM rooting out the unhappiness that has always been plaguing me...I am setting my emotions on a higher level of happiness. I have raised my life condition.

That's huge.

My professional life is flourishing...I am embarking on a new project to help students spend 10 minutes with 10 professionals asking them questions and doing career research in an afternoon. (I'm working on a catchier title...it's basically speed networking, but I don't want to call it that) I wish I had this kind of opportunity as a student! I never knew what I wanted to be. I was lucky that I received such wonderful sales training in my first job..."Just be their friend" Al told me, and suddenly I was a record breaking sales person! Phew, at least I could do that! And I'm glad I majored in Creative Writing...I use that skill in business every day.

My kids are great...my life is so good.

But I still have challenges and I am still keeping up the 2 hours of daimoku and the blog.

As of today, I have chanted for more than half the time I have been alive! And my dear friend Kindred started chanting today! YAAAAYYY that's the best "birthday" gift ever!


Monday, October 19, 2009

"Erev" Jamie's Gohonzon Birthday!

I've been studying and chanting...and preparing my home and my life physically...clearing my cabinets in my Butsudan room...clearing my bedroom,,,for tomorrow...my Gohonzon Birthday.

Honoring my Gohonzon Birthday is the same as honoring myself. My Gohonzon is a representation of my own highest life condition. I celebrate my life!

Today I gloried in the Arboretum...taking my time...looking at the brilliant blue sky (yaaaayyy!) through golden leaves...watching the ripples of the breeze on Lake Marmo. It was a perfect fall day. The first of the season. I felt like the entire world was celebrating my birthday with me.

What else will I do on my Gohonzon Birthday? Call the people who helped "raise" me as a baby Buddhist...Delores Hepburn, Dianne Douglas, Amos Snell, Gene O'Connell, and Kate Randolph. Yes, it does take a village to raise...a Buddhist! Each person in my Buddhist "family" mirrors my own life...shows me what is possible...and goes and proves it. Dolores came over to my house every day in the morning to help me get in the habit of doing morning gongyo, and always inspired me with her brilliant life. I watched Gene O'Connell raise herself from a nurse to the CEO of San Francisco General Hospital...we took turns supporting each other, that's the way it is with true friendships, isn't it? Kate and I talk almost every other week...I flew out to LA to see her one woman tour-de-force performance as Emily Dickinson...and Amos and Dianne were my first chapter leaders in the mid eighties. They made sure I had a solid foundation in faith. Others helped so much as well, John and Terri Doskow, Marge Richards, and all the members I was helping to raise. We all increase the power of the vibration of Kosen Rufu together!


Tomorrow I look forward to writing, reflecting, chanting, making new determinations and taking new steps in my one, precious life!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Appreciation

Such memorable times in our lives...Ben running so well...so fast...so strongly. At conference today he was in the lead most of the race and ended up in third...he was happy.

Last night was the Cross Country banquet where all the coaches (2 paid, 7 volunteer) and many of the runners get to express their appreciation for this magnificent program.

We stayed out very late and had such a great time...life itself...being sooo inspiring. Each one of the coaches appreciates having the opportunity to make a positive difference in these boys' lives. Just incredible. A real community of teamwork between the coaches, students, parents and families!

This morning's daimoku centered entirely on appreciation for my life, for this practice, and for several friends fighting illnesses.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Winning in the Morning means you win ALL DAY!

Amazing day!
This morning I was fighting my own sadness and negativity big time...I mean...I really hate this rainy weather..it gets inside my bones and my emotions...and I literally cried through the first hour and a half of my two hours of chanting. Really. I took a brief inspiration break and read from the book ~ Lectures on "On Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime" by Daisaku Ikeda. I read: "We should above all strive to SUMMON FORTH COURAGEOUS FAITH to overcome illusion without being defeated..." and I sat back down and pictured myself in the last leg of one of Aaron or Ben's races and as I was chanting I said to my life:

"I don't care how many times I feel hopeless...I don't care how many times I feel defeated...I KNOW these feelings are not the true me! I KNOW that I am the Buddha, and I will continue to SUMMON my faith until I no longer have doubts...until I no longer feel this intense sadness...I AM DETERMINED TO BRING FORTH MY OWN BUDDHA NATURE>>>>I AM THE BUDDHA!!! I am determined to see the results of this prayer in my day today...I am determined to WIN over my own negativity!!!!"

And by the time I got to my first event of the day I was sailing!!! It was a collaborative event that I had arranged between my company and our most important partner...and the presentation was terrific and spawned a series of other cool collaborative events that will benefit many people and take place over the next year! We gave birth to some cool stuff!

Then I stopped into a store for lunch and found out something I bought had gone on sale and they gave me a $60 refund! Perfect timing...chanting puts you in rhythm....

After that I attended a networking event sponsored by my university. We did speed networking with students talking about our careers, and sharing our experiences with them. It was awesome...and I came away with the determination to put together a program like this at my son's high school. I know exactly the steps to take to accomplish this. I am passionate about people doing what they love, and helping teenagers research their futures by meeting people in business...forming connections and learning about different fields. Woohoo!!

Then I picked up my Mom and we went to the Cross Country Banquet and a party after that. I just got home. (It's about 1:30am my time...pretty late for this early riser!) I'll save that story for another post! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...tomorrow is conference for our runners! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!!!!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Do I have to be a Buddhist to try chanting?

Can you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and be a Catholic, or a Jew, or any other religion?

YES!

Just think of chanting like you'd think of Meditation...it supplements your life, it doesn't tell you what to think...it's a tool.

That's what chanting is....a tool to a become happy, and to make your dreams and goals come true.

Just chant and see what happens in your life. But make sure to hook up to the Soka Gakkai and find some friends to help you. We act as mirrors to help and encourage each other.

GO to SGI-USA.org, or email me and I'll help you connect!

The Three Proofs

Just finished an awesome Buddhist meeting at my house! How do I know it was awesome? Everyone participated in the discussion...everyone left enthusiastically...everyone enjoyed it.

There were six people here. All of them are Soka Gakkai members. Next week we have a District meeting, and we've all prepared interesting thins to tell the guests. One member is explaining Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and the Gohonzon. Another is giving her personal experience of chanting.

We started chanting at 7:00, and finished a little after 8:30. Then we did some studying. We talked about the three proofs.

Each religion is verifyable by several proofs:

1. Does it go back to the original documents of its founders?

(Our practice goes back to the original Buddha's highest teaching ~ the Lotus Sutra.)

2. Does it make sense?

(Very important in life! The more you know about this practice, the more sense it makes. Yes, you are the universe itself, yes, all life really is interconnected, yes, making good causes creates good results...etc)

and....
the most important one of all....

3. Actual Proof!
Does it work?
Can you see and feel the RESULTS of practice in your life.

According to Nichiren Daishonin, that is the most crucial of all proofs. And doesn't that make sense? Why would we practice if we didn't see the results? What is the point of a practice if it cannot create results?

We all challenge our practice to show us actual proof...
how do we do this? By chanting with goals in mind. That is why I say over and over...make your list...be specific...what do you really want? Make your list now!

This morning I was reading a journal from a year ago and was really struck by how much more emotionally stable I am now. I AM achieving my goal of inner happiness no matter what the circumstances. I really am becoming the Buddha of Absolute happiness! I am achieving one of my most important goals.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2 hours already done by 10am today!

Just finished chanting two hours at the Illinois Activity Center on Irving Park Rd. I led the daimoku for half an hour. It felt so good! As always I chanted for us to join prayers with Daisaku Ikeda for world peace...and for each person in the room to have a breakthrough during our time of chanting today.

At the moment the cause is made ~ the victory is assured!


I chanted to expand my speaking about this practice...and received several ideas for speeches and organizations to contact. I have such a passion for public speaking. I enjoy it so much and the room full of people just lights up.

I chanted for so many people and for my family...and I feel taller and stronger and hardier. I chanted for friends of the present and friends of the past and for our President Barack Obama. I feel he needs our prayers now more than ever. It is so easy for people to criticize and deride. Chanting for peace in our land and our world is something Nichiren Daishonin recommended in the Gosho...and it really makes so much sense. Whether we agree with our leader or not, chanting for their health and wisdom is a wise choice!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Everyone is Chanting

One of the best things about practicing Buddhism is chanting together as a family. Chanting together literally puts you in rhythm with the others. Even though Ben is a 16 year old teenager we have a great relationship and we chant together almost every day. When Aaron lived at home (he's at U of Illinois now) the three of us chanted regularly.

Today, Ben won a huge race. There were hundreds of kids in this race and dozens of teams. It was the West Aurora Stampede. Seeing him come in so strong at the end reminds me of how I feel when I'm nearing the end of my 2 hours of daimoku every day....I like to finish strong...really strong, and I picture Ben running into the finish line before anyone else...he always has to finish strong. Last week he had his picture in the Sun Times for coming in second...this week it was first!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chanting 2 hours a day!

Wonderful!
I have just completed my 68th straight day of chanting Nam Myoho renge Kyo for 2 hours every day.

Why am I doing this?

I am about to enter my 25th year of Buddhist practice.

The Buddhism I practice is based on showing actual proof in your life...in other words...you get results from chanting. It is each practitioner's responsibility to achieve whatever results they want. We practice together in an organization called the SGI-USA...the Soka Gakkai (value creating society).

Each one of our prayers is a VOW to achieve our dreams.

Does everyone HAVE to chant 2 hours a day? Nooooooo!

I decided to do it because I'm about to start my 25th year of practice and wanted to use this event to really change some karma!

Over the years so many benefits have flowed from my practice...wonderful jobs, an invigorating career, my passion for public speaking (now I am loving speaking on Buddhism - let me know and I'll come to your group!) my wonderful children Aaron and Ben and the great family we have. I have chanted for so many friends, and seen the effects in their lives...I have bought houses and cars...

and the most important thing of all is that I can chant for other people and see the effects in their lives...and we can grow closer. I have reseolved all kinds of challenges in the work place, and on the home front, and within my own mind!

Every time I chant for someone's happiness I see a result. It's a wonderful thing to be able to chant for others!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Successful Event

Today I hosted a Health Fair at the Retirement Community where I work.

And tonight, in a few minutes, I will be hosting a Buddhist Meeting at my house.

I chanted my hour and a half this morning with so much energy!

I realized my goals for the two events today were similar...I chanted for everyone involved in the fair today to benefit from being there...for all the attendees and exhibitors to have a positive experience.

And I chanted for all who come to the meeting to leave invigorated in their Buddhist practice and ready to take on whatever problems they are facing head on...and challenge them...and overcome them with their practice. Not just overcome them...but produce a sparkling benefit where the problem used to be! We call this "turning poison into medicine."

I know that no problems are more powerful than chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Chanting unleashes the power of the universe you already possess!!! You just have to do it! And help others to the best of your ability, and learn about why it works. Then...YOU ARE THE BUDDHA! You always were the Buddha anyway. But NOW you get to experience it! Go YOU!

Surprise Benefits

You know, sometimes benefits come when you least expect them...and you may even fight against them. I experienced that yesterday.
I have a really busy week, today I ran a huge event at my retirement home and tonight I have a Buddhist meeting in Downers Grove Illinois - all are welcome!

Yesterday my husband came home and said he wanted to buy a car...had it all picked out and everything...he'd done his shopping. He asked me to go with him to buy it and I just felt so pushed to my limits!
"Why now?" I asked..."I'm too busy...tomorrow is my huge event!! Noooo."

But he convinced me and I headed out with him. It turns out he'd found a great deal on a car that has On Star, it plays my ipod over the speakers, it has XM radio, and the seats actually raise up so I can see over the steering wheel. It really is perfect. In the end I am very happy and this really is a benefit, but mannnn, I was kicking and screaming!

Sometimes, when you're chanting a lot, you just have to trust and go with the flow and not kick and scream so much!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

This is another term we use in the practice of this Buddhism.

"The oneness of Mentor and Disciple"

Now, I don't know about you, I love the term "mentor", but I'm not so crazy about the term "disciple".
What could be a better word for disciple? I haven't thought of one yet. Maybe you will. Let me know...

I really want to explain the concept to you because it is actually very, very cool.
I've mentioned Daisaku Ikeda several times on this blog. He is the President of the Soka Gakkai, the worldwide organization dedicated to education, peace and culture. He is dedicating his life to Kosen Rufu (a world that honors and respects the dignity of life - a world without war and prejudice ~ a peaceful world). And when I say dedicating his life, I really mean that. He works every single moment toward this goal. He has written more than 200 books, lofty tomes, not light reading. He has met with world leaders everywhere...He has received over 250 honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He has founded Soka grade schools, high schools and universities. We have our own Soka University in Alisa Viejo California...built from the ground up ~ dedicated to the education of World Citizens...its goal is to produce people of the highest caliber who want to make a positive difference in the world.
And the way I personally think of Daisaku Ikeda is like this:
he is like a motor spinning faster than I can imagine. When I connect my ichinen, my intention, my prayer, to his energy...I can move that much faster.
This morning as I was leading the daimoku (chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) in the Illinois Area Activity Center in Woodale (on Irving Park Rd.) I asked for Daisaku Ikeda to come and join me in my prayers...I chanted that he be with us the whole time I was chanting...and that each person chanting with me experience a closer connection to their own life than ever before...that they connect so powerfully to who they really are...that they experience a huge breakthrough from this half hour of chanting. I was chanting for President Ikeda's energy to be right there in the room with us. I know I was glowing...I know we were all chanting very strongly...I know it was what we like to call "FIGHTING DAIMOKU!" when you're chanting so strongly that the energy of it all just makes you sweat!!!! Man.....it is so worth doing! You can do it alone or with others...it is so much fun with others!
I hope everyone reading this gets to experience this feeling.
When you chant this way you KNOW, deep in your bones, and with every fiber of your being that no matter what you are facing - you will win!!!!! And then you see the results of it in your life. No kidding! Woohoo!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Great Benefits - Practice for Oneself and Others

Practitioners of this Buddhism live by several outstanding ideals. One o them is "Practice for Oneself and Others"

Our lives are the most filled with benefits when we are chanting and encouraging each other...in fact...it is essential to our own happiness to be also working toward the happiness of others.

Here are some recent highlights and benefits surrounding my life and Daimoku Campaign:

Birthday week! Such a great week! I got two really unexpected surprises on my birthday that touched my heart!

One is the start of a whole new friendship that will bring me great joy!

The other was a magnificent arrangement of flowers...from someone so dear in my heart...the most beautiful flowers I have ever received...with sunflowers that look as striking right now as they did four days ago.

And I'm not the only one with great things happening. Every week I've been getting together with three friends to chant. Tonight we met again. These great friends are having benefits all over the place.

Jenny's about to go to a nine week Bikram Yoga teacher training...and is also buying a new condo "in heaven" on the 14th floor really close to where I live...she also had some realizations that have made a huge difference in her life.

Mary's about to go on a Wisdom course single's cruise and she's lost 8 pounds and looks better than ever!

Melissa has such cool benefits in the works that will be shared at a later time.

And me...well...my Mom had to have a procedure done today to help stabilize her heart rhythm and she's in great shape. I chanted my daimoku for her this morning and she truly had angels around her for the whole procedure...angels in the form of incredible nurses and Doctors at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. Tomorrow Ben goes to Homecoming, I go to Bikram Yoga for the first time and my friend Eddie Lee comes into town!
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Birthday notes

This morning I chanted an hour and a half with determination for this year in my life. I thought of a year from now...an important birthday...and where I want to be then...and how many people I want to have chanting along with me in Downers District!

I had a great birthday...with so much love in my life...
so many wonderful friends...and such great family...only my Mommy fell and hit her head and I spent the afternoon with her in the ER. They kept her overnight, but I was there for the crucial time...when they were trying to put in IV in. I have to demand a paramedic for her and her tiny little veins. Then I have to chant while he puts it in...they've blown so many of her veins...but all was well...
Then my sister came for the evening and I was off to see Jersey Boys. I know, I know...I'm probably the last person in the world to see this play. It was all they said it was and more. What a wonderful show.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Responsibilities!

Hello!
Wonderful Weekend! Wonderful day!
Today I took on the reponsibility of supporting a district of the SGI.
I will be hosting meetings every Wednesday night in Downers Grove Illinois. They will be filled with the excitement of tapping into our own inner strength. Each one of us will leave feeling excited and ready to take on new challenges. We'll chant, we'll study, we'll make new friends. Each meeting begins at 7 and lasts until 8:30.

You know...problems don't stop when you start chanting...but you develop an unshakable spirit...knowing you have all the power of the Universe right in your hand...no problem can possibly defeat you.
If you're anywhere near Downers and want to attend just send me a comment.
By the way...I moved my exercise bike up into my living room and believe it or not you barely even notice it...and I'm biking away. I'm not giving up...I'm not giving up!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Prayer in Buddhism

Prayer in this practice is very different than most forms of prayer.
While we are chanting we are busy focusing our thoughts like a laser beam cutting through our karma.
We are not "asking" anyone for anything...
We are instead making a vow or a determination
to accomplish something.
That's so different, isn't it?
We are chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
and at the same time vowing to win in whatever endeavor we desire.

Daisaku Ikeda says it best:

When your determination changes,
everything else will begin to move
in the direction you desire.
The moment you resolve to be victorious,
every nerve and fiber in your being
will immediately orient itself
toward your success.
On the other hand, if you think
"This is never going to work out,"
then at that instant
every cell in your being
will be deflated and give up the fight,
and then,
everything really WILL move
in the direction of failure.

For Today and Tomorrow
Daily Encoragement
for September 20th
Daisaku Ikeda




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Delicious Daimoku! Chanting from my heart!

I just finished the most delicious daimoku (chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo)! I have to share it with you quickly before I head off to my wonderful job.

I chanted and hour and a half straight...only stopping to fill my mug of Earl Grey tea and milk!

I could feel the power welling from within my body...chanting from the "bottom of my heart" felt even more like chanting from deep within my body.

I chanted in appreciation for my life, I chanted to fulfill my mission for Kosen Rufu (a world that DIGNIFIES all of life), I chanted to be an inspiration to people...and to somehow strengthen my faith that I can accomplish my goals...I will be healthy, and pain free, I will be able to wear size 8 clothing, I will fulfill my goals, I chanted with faith in my own power to create my own life...in other words...enlightenment! I chanted for all the people I have on the wall by my altar...for all of them to be incredibly happy, I chanted for my family ...for my sons to RUN FREE and be strong and have great Cross Country seasons and create life-long memories. I chanted for the Community I work in, and the town I live in! I chanted for the leaders of our country to have wisdom and make the best decisions. And I chanted for my own sparkling day today...that I be bright and productive and that I appreciate and enjoy every minute. I chanted for this blog to inspire and reach people everywhere! I chanted for you!

You can see why I never wanted this daimoku to end!

I hope you have an exhilarating and magnificent day!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Chanting 5 minutes can be enough for a breakthrough!!!

Would you be interested in knowing that chanting only five minutes has the power to turn your whole life around?
I know, I know...it sounds too good to be true, but I have seen it happen!

The first 5 minute experience happened with a dear friend when I lived in San Francisco. Her daughter had been going through numerous challenges ever since she was quite young. Now she was a troubled teenager. She couldn't seem to fit in anywhere...she couldn't seem to save herself and my friend was really at a loss.

My friend is an intellectual...sometimes the smartest people have the hardest time chanting! Their brains just won't stop telling them that they are too smart for all of this! They want to figure it all out...but you can't figure this out...it's experiential! You have to do it!

However...this one time...at the end of her rope...my friend chanted.

Her daughter was in jail...again...and my friend came over. I said "what do you have to lose?" and she chanted FIVE minutes with me. She was chanting for her daughter to be allowed back into the place she had just been. I'll never forget chanting with her.
After that, she went to visit her daughter in jail and they chanted 20 minutes together!! OMG!

The daughter did not get back into the place they had hoped for...she ended up in a much better place...a place that saved her life. It was a place in Colorado that WOULD NOT kick her out if she ran away...and they had a beauty school, something my friend's daughter really wanted to learn. It set her on the right course. It was life changing.

It all started with 5 minutes.

Whenever you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo it's as if you are reciting the entire Lotus Sutra. You are, in a way...speaking the words of the Buddha that you REALLY are...and accessing the power that has always been yours!

Chanting is a tool to access your own Buddhahood.

Rock and roll!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Buddhist Meetings

Soka Gakkai Buddhist Meetings are so cool.

Many are held just in normal people's homes. Some are held at the many culture centers throughout the world. They are all conducted by lay people like myself. All of us are equals and there are no priests.

They take many forms...discussion meetings...study meetings...tozos (chanting meetings) and other types of lectures etc.

I love hosting them at my house.

They usually last an hour and a half. In a discussion meeting half an hour is chanting, then the rest of the time is made up of study and experiences.
There is also a time where we discuss some aspects of the practice...an overview for guests.
We talk about why we started practicing...and what we have achieved.
Then someone gives an experience. Experiences detail a challenge someone has had...how they've chanted about it...and how they've overcome it and triumphed.

If one of my readers wants to share an experience let me know! I would love to include you in this blog.

Have you aver attended an event that fundamentally changed your life forever? Your eyes were opened and you never saw things the same way again? That's how I chant for every attendee at my meetings.
I chant for the success of the meeting...for every single person to be a different person as they leave the meeting...more inspired than ever...seeing themselves in a whole different light...Ready to take on each adn every challenge they're facing...I chant for each and every person to never be the same after a meeting! In an awe inspiring way. And I chant for all my Buddhist friends and all people chanting every where to really GET how awesome the power is in their own lives!

Remember : Dream Big...chanting is to make the impossible come true!



Great Weekend

What a weekend!
I've had a cold since Friday, but have had some fun this weekend anyway. The weather has been perfect weather for me...bright sun...warm! Yaaay!
Yesterday was such a highlight!

My son Ben ran in the Lake Park meet. I picked up my Mom from her Assisted Living (OPH she calls it "Old People's Home"!) and brought her up to Lake Park by the Medinah Country Club to watch Ben's Cross Country meet. It was an amazing day. There were over 1100 high school runners there, both boys and girls. Ben ran in first place for the entire race...until they came onto the track and he ended up coming in second...but it was still such a victory for him. He PR'd at 13:48 for the three mile race and was in great shape at the end of the race...(not gasping for air or lying on the ground!) he was interviewed by the Daily Herald. It was so exciting!

After dropping my Mom back off in Bolingbrook I stopped at the library and found a fabulous book that I have already finished today. It's called Foreign Tongue...A Novel of Life and Love in Paris and it's written in the first person (my absolute favorite style) about a woman who was raised in LA and in Paris. In the book she moves back to Paris to cure her broken heart and ends up translating a French romantic novel. It had everything, romance, humor, and the fascinating study of words in two languages. I love the idea of untranslatable concepts...it opens a whole world of how Americans and other cultures think. Loved it! Vanina Marsot is the author and it's her first book. Thank you Vanina! You made a weekend with a bad cold fly by! And it brought me back to my french roots. Both my grandparents were French Canadian on my mother's side. I love the language.

I also took out all the CD's of Vaughn Williams, my favorite composer. His music has the power to transport me to magical lands...I am so looking forward to listening...over and over!

Even though I've been sick I've still managed to chant.
Tomorrow night is the first Buddhist meeting at my house in a long time.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quote from Daisaku Ikeda

Nothing can match the strength
of those whose lives have been shaped and forged
through challenging and overcoming hardships.
Such people fear nothing.
The purpose of our Buddhist practice
is to develop such strength and fortitude.
To cultivate such an invincible core
is in itself a victory.
It is also the greatest benefit.
Those who can succeed in this endeavor
will savor unsurpassed happiness;
they can manifest the state of Buddhahood.

Daisaku Ikeda
For Today and Tomorrow

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Human Revolution

I have told you exactly what I'm chanting for...to free my life from the undercurrent of suffering that has always been within my life and awaken to my true Buddha nature.
I am chanting two hours every day, I am chanting with my friends and encouraging them...I am making every cause every day to have this break through in my life.

What does is feel like?

It feels like the center of my life is some hot volcano...it underlies everything...sometimes it's dormant...sometimes I can quiet it with food or other diversions...and sometimes it just boils up and over!

I'll just bet you know what I mean. I really think we all have this in some form...and all find ways to tamp it down...deal with it...ignore it...and it's probably at the heart of illness itself.

Yesterday I awakened into the reality of the pain all fresh and new.

Now, I know I can summon happiness from within my life...I KNOW this intellectually, and I KNOW the only real love comes from within. Of course, of course.

But the knowledge of this doesn't help when I wake up with tears already in my eyes and a longing and regret that won't just be pushed away. I was thinking about how long I've had this pain...this longing...this insatiable hunger. I've attributed it to many things...in High School it was "caused" by my longing for a boy I couldn't have, in college it was just general sadness, and since then it's been longing for one thing or person after another...just a sense of never having enough.

Don't get me wrong, I have a great life, I have a wonderful career, I have an inspiring and dedicated family, I have many dear, dear friends, and feel great appreciation much of the time...but there has been this sadness under it forever. Probably for many lifetimes.

And among my Buddhist friends there are so many excellent roll models who have conquered their sadness and overcome great obstacles...I know that I can too.

So, I called my friend Kate Randolph, the incredibly talented actress, producer and director...and also the person who introduced me to this practice 25 years ago. She has had this breakthrough for herself. Here is what she said:

First she said that my victory is assured.
I will experience the happiness that comes from accessing my own Buddhahood.
I will bring the love I wish to feel from within my life. I will stop looking for it to come from somewhere else. I will accomplish my goal. I am chanting two hours a day, I am focusing on my happiness and the happiness of others. I am joined in heart with my mentor Daisaku Ikeda.
And I must go through it to the end. As it says in the Gosho "the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat." She said I must realize that I am turning around years...lifetimes...of devaluing my life. I must praise it instead!
I must realize that I'm waging this battle not only for myself, and see it for the noble fight it is. Face it, MOST people think their happiness and suffering lie OUTSIDE of themselves.
That's the world we live in.
If I can break through that illusion in my own life, I can raise the vibration of the whole planet. That is what we mean by the Term Human Revolution...any real change on the planet is affected by each of us being strong and brave enough to do what it takes to break through.
Since we are all interconnected to everything else...all part of the web of life...human revolution MUST effect everything in the environment.

She said Kosen Rufu (world peace) means having a planet that fundamentally dignifies life. Imagine that!

We Buddhas, all of us, everyone, can be deeply, profoundly, limitlessly happy right now, right where we are, just as we are.

Bring it on!

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!!!!


Monday, September 7, 2009

What does Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Mean?

So glad you asked!

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo means:
"I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration".
I like to think of it as "I am one with the flow of life" because that's what it does...it puts you right in rhythm with your own life and everything around you.

It's a law. It works whether you believe in it or not.

People all over the world chant this phrase with the Sokka Gakkai International. The Website link is sgi-usa.org. I've posted it next to the copy of this blog. I encourage you to go there. Call the center nearest you and get the name of someone who practices near you. It doesn't cost anything...you don't have to "do" anything to chant. Just try!

It's truly a practice for anyone...no rules...no dues...no eating restrictions...just chant!
And practice. Chant every morning and evening...then you'll be writing me to tell me your results! Remember...dream big...go for the impossible!

The Three Proofs in Buddhism

Sunday's two hour tozo (chanting two hours) at the center was really challenging! I lead the chanting (the microphone was given to me, so I set the pace and the rhythm) from 8:30 until 9:00 am and it seemed like a very long time! Time is so funny, isn't it...sometimes I can chant a whole two hours or more and barely look at the clock, other times a half hour feels like forever!
When I first started chanting I was determined to chant 5 minutes every morning and evening. Sometimes that 5 minutes seemed like an eternity. I'm sure I stopped at 4 and 1/2 minutes sometimes! But the effort was worth it...I started to see results so soon. I started to feel lighter, I got a job, I met John Denver for the first time...so many things began to happen when I started chanting.

Now, I am digging so deep in my prayer. I am determined to rid my life of the underlying suffering that has always been in my life. I am determined to be aware of my own Buddha nature, to feel it, see it, appreciate it all the time...or as much as possible! I want to feel the love that is all around me all the time. I want to access an even deeper love for my own self...I know this transformation is possible.

And as I mentioned a few blogs ago, I am also chanting to get these thoughts of regret and sadness OUT of my brain!

I am chanting for so many people. I keep pictures of everyone up on my wall by my altar, and chant for them!

I am also chanting to know which foods are best for my body, to actually want to eat healthy foods and to be more beautiful, more radiant, more healthy than ever before! I am chanting to be an example, and to show actual proof of the power of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I am chanting to inspire people...many people to try chanting to see for themselves!

There are three proofs in Buddhism:

1) Is the practice rooted in original Buddhist doctrine?
The answer is YES, this practice goes back to the Lotus Sutra, expounded by Shakyamuni Buddha.

2) Does it accord with common sense?
The answer is YES, and that's one of the best things about this practice. It all just makes sense. OF COURSE you are the universe! OF COURSE you don't need a priest or interpreter to access that power. What you need is a tool. That tool is chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

3) Is there actual proof of this practice? ~ Does it work? Does it get results? This is the most important of the three proofs.
The answer is YES, but please don't take my word for it!
I hope you'll prove to yourself that the answer is YES. It is purely experiential. I dare you to have the courage it takes to chant and see for yourself! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Glorious Family Day

This weekend has been wonderful. Aaron, my precious older son came home from U of I to watch his brother run in the Leavy Invite Cross Country meet in St Charles. It was a perfect day. I was only able to chant an hour and fifteen minutes before the race because I use my phone as my alarm and I'd turned my phone off the night before while I was in the theater watching Julie and Julia. Loved the show.

Anyway, back to glorious Saturday. The best thing was my Mom. Last year at this time she was sick...her sister was sick...she couldn't attend the race. This year she not only attended, but after the race we went to the Oak Brook art fair and met the boys at the Clubhouse for dinner...and Mom stayed out till almost eight pm. She did all this with multiple oxygen tanks and her wonderful purple rolling walker with the seat! We laughed...and enjoyed each other's company...and when I dropped her off at her assisted living community we both chanted to HER Gohonzon for a full 8 minutes - she was in full voice with plenty of breath ~ and she was so excited when we ended..."Did you hear that?" she said! "Did you hear how strong I was? I chanted with no problem!. Maybe I'll be off this oxygen soon!".
There is nothing on earth better than chanting with your dear loved ones. You can feel the power blooming in their lives! Go Mom!

The race itself was amazing. Last year Ben (my son) came in first, and it was very exciting, but he was wasted at the end. It took him a long time to recover his breathing and his color. He was chanting last year too. He was running ahead of everyone, and in cross country races you run into the woods. At one point he started to go dowm the wrong path, and the boy behind him (who would have won the race if Ben had lost his way) corrected him. Isn't that something? I thanked that outstanding young gentleman and took a picture of the two of them togehter with their medals around their necks after the award ceremony.

This year Ben had a breakthrough. He came in fourth, He came in strong. He had a kick at the end. His first time to really get a kick! He was elated!! He chanted all week with me. I got him on film in all his glowing happiness. I love being a Mom. I adore my life!
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Making the Impossible Possible

We chant to accomplish the Impossible!

"You have to chase your dreams,
no matter what.
The impossible
just takes a little longer.
One stroke at a time,
one step at a time,
the impossible
is easy to achieve."
Toni Murden

Raising Amazing Kids

Where should I start?
Being a Buddhist parent is so USEFUL.
Practical Buddhism helps with everything parenting related.

When I was pregnant I chanted a million Daimoku for my child.
I chanted for maturity...wisdom...for my child's health and good karma. I chanted that my prayers would bring him into this world with so much of his karma already taken care of. I chanted for him to have a dream and pursue it.,..not wander aimlessly like I did for so long...learning the hard way! I chanted for prosperity and a beautiful home....and all of it came true.

He has been a beacon of good sense, wisdom, leadership, intelligence and heart since the day he was born.
He has been a leader in every endeavor. The honors at graduation from high school just kept coming and coming...and the scholarships too (he applied for them all by himself). He is in college now and chants in his fraternity. We are very close.

My second child is amazing in so many ways. He is a natural musician and composer, and has the knack of perfect comic timing. He's an actor and an athlete and is totally committed to his sport of running.
He is a joy to be around. He challenges himself at every turn.
He and his brother are very close.

Both of my guys started chanting when they were around two years old and wanted to stop having bad dreams. We chanted 5 minutes together and the bad dreams went away. Occasionally the dreams would reappear and we'd chant again and they'd be gone.
Both children have had sports careers that have kept them chanting, they have so much to be proud of.
I have trusted them both, and urged them to trust themselves always.
I've always encouraged them to listen to their inner wisdom and it never lets them down. They are also fortunate to have a wonderful, loving, attentive father.

I always have trusted my kids and they have never betrayed that trust. They don't drink or smoke or eat junk food....but they do leave their stuff in the living room so they aren't perfect! When we chant together it is like the angels singing together.

They have each had many other experiences with chanting...I'll share some others as time goes on.

Do you have parenting questions? Let me know, I'd love to help!



Great Week!

What a great week...so busy. Do you ever have times that time just speeds up? This week was like that for me...fun...productive. It's amazing how life goes when you are entirely in rhythm. You can barely even make a mistake. No kidding.
That's the power of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Friday morning I THOUGHT I had an appointment at 10:00am...it turned out it was at 11:30 and I had another set up at 1:00...leaving only an hour and a half for the first tour. I was a little concerned when I reallized I'd booked them a little too closely, then I thought "you're chanting two hours of daimoku a day...everything will work out". And it so happened that the first tour came early and the second was arranged easily for 15 minutes later and it all worked out great!

What are some of my other results from chanting recently?
I'm happier...calmer...less depressed.
I haven't felt anxiety in quite a while.
My Mom is doing so well!
She's getting healthier and happier every day.
My friends are chanting!
My boys are amazing ...more on them to come!
Business is great...I'm having a blast and being so productive!
I'm appreciating so many more moments in each day.

One of my closest friends is just glowing. We're chanting together every Sunday morning for two hours and when she is ready she will launch one of the most popular children's books of all time. Her relationship with her family is better than ever. She had many breakthroughs this week. That makes me so happy!!!!
What else...I had a breakthrough regarding a certain deep pain I've been chanting to release. I had a realization that is helping me on my way to healing it forever. I still have a certain refrain that goes through my head about it..."if only I hadn't...if I could just turn back time...if only I hadn't been so emotional..." and I'm getting so bored with this refrain. I'm really going to chant to replace these words with something empowering in my mind instead. I am determined to stop going down that road in my mind...it always makes me sad. Believe me, I know I should learn from my mistakes...and I have learned. There's really no reason to keep going to the same sorry place in my mind. I know that's not productive! It won't help anything. Voice be gone!!
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I can chant for anything I want!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Best Quote on Happiness Ever!

Happiness
by Daisaku Ikeda

The purpose of life is to attain happiness.
Happiness is something you have to feel inside.
It is something you have to build for yourself.
It is something that lives within you.
That is why the state of your inner realm, your life,
is so crucial to your being happy.
Happiness is not in some far off place.
Happiness exists within your own life.
It is within a single thought in your mind.
You, yourself are the most precious of all.
You have no need to be envious of anyone
or to long for things far away.
Faith and one's single minded desire
to achieve Kosen Rufu (world peace)
are what makes this self of yours shine its brightest
and develop its highest potential;
they are what fill you with good fortune,
satisfaction and eternal joy.
This is the essence of true happiness,
A palace exists within your own life.
When you open that palace
you can be happy wherever you are.






Monday, August 31, 2009

Quote from Daisaku Ikeda


"There are no hardships or sufferings in life
that we cannot overcome,
and there is no way
we will fail to become happy."
Daisaku Ikeda

Who or what are you Chanting "to"?

A wise friend of mine once asked me this...
Who or what am I chanting to?

I told him this:

When you chant, you are chanting to the ALL, your highest self, the universe, the law that exists within your own life and within all of life...you are accessing your OWN Buddhahood.

You don't have to be reborn lifetime after lifetime to realize your Buddhahood. Chanting right now brings it right out of your own life!

That may sound like gobledygook to you, and that's ok.
Chanting is experiential...you don't know until you try!
It's hard to explain. The only way to really feel it is to chant!

See for yourself.

My friend Amos started chanting to prove to his wife that she was wasting her time chanting.
He chanted to PROVE it didn't work.
40 years later he is still chanting! And he's one of the most inspiring people I know!
It doesn't matter if you "believe it".
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is a law.
It doesn't have opinions.
Remember it means "I fuse my life with the mystic (unfathomable) law of cause and effect sutra (or through sound vibration)."
Give yourself a number of days to try it...100 is good, and chant every morning and evening, and look up your city in the SGI website (the link is on this blog) and go to a meetings...then write me and let me know what happens!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Human Revolution Day 33!

It's day 33 of my million daimoku campaign and I continue to chant two hours every day...whether I want to or not! This morning I chanted an hour and 45 minutes before I went in to work...and had a really great conversation with Melissa mid day. Both of us are chanting 2 hours a day and are about to enter year 25 of our practice....both of us are using this practice to do our Human Revolution. It helps so much that we can encourage each other!
What do we mean by Human Revolution?
It means that through our own transformation our world and the greater world will be transformed. REAL change is effected by our own courage to grow. I sit in front of the Gohonzon and pray to change in any way necessary to make the sadness I feel be gone forever, and to experience ongoing happiness and serenity.
I know of many Buddhists who have experienced just this sort of "revolution" in their lives.
I'm a work in progress. There's a term we use called "Esho Funi" it is the oneness of life and its environment. It LOOKS like me and my environment are two different things, In actuality we are connected in every way. When I make a fundamental change by chanting daimoku my environment HAS to change to reflect it.
As an example: when I chanted for a house in San Francisco, I didn't just chant for a house. I chanted for a house to do Kosen Rufu (world peace) in...I chanted for a house to show the proof of this practice. When the movers took my furniture and boxes out of the tiny apartment on "lower Nob Hill" and brought them to our beautiful new home with a view on the top of Excelsior Heights, they could not believe their eyes. I was showing actual proof of this practice. That's why I like to call this practice PRACTICAL BUDDHISM. It works! It doesn't matter if you believe in it or not!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Successful Speech !

What's it like to chant two hours of daimoku a day? It's amazing how much time I actually have in a day. Chanting makes every thing overall take less time, because I'm in RHYTHM with the universe. It's almost counterintuitive...I have doubled the amount I'm chanting, but I have more time. I also need less sleep!

This week I gave my speech called "Change Your Words, Change Your Life" to a very important audience. I was able to give continuing education credits to the participants. That was an achievement I've been working towards for quite some time!
It went so well. I felt confident, the audience was into the message I give.
I talk about the importance of the language we use...and how it frames our experience. We can either be "Overwhelmed" or "In Demand". If we are overwhelmed we are helpless victims. If we are in demand we are important. The truth is ~ it's up to us...how do we want to frame our experience? It is entirely up to us and the language we choose to use!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some great results!

This weekend we went to a Bar Mitzva in LA. It was incredible. I continued chanting two hours a day and found myself so calm and happy all the time. I didn't stress about timing...I knew everything would be in rhythm,,,and it was!

My prayer for each day was to appreciate every moment and every person there. It was wonderful!

We spent one day at a beautiful and spiritual Bar Mitzva. They are such great ceremonies. I would like to develop a a cool coming of age ceremony for all young adults!
My nephew prepared for more than six months for the ceremony...learning Hebrew and how to read the Torah. He gave a really moving speech and so did both of his parents. It was so loving and profound.
I love learning about Judaism. I'm always learning more. This time I learned that they read a different part of the Torah every day...and this day marked the beginning of personal preparations for the new year coming next month.

I love to prepare for the new year myself. I always take inventory of the year and make a new list of determinations. New Years brings great Buddhist gatherings at Culture Centers around the country. The daimoku is off the charts with energy! One year my list had more than 200 things on it. That was the year Danny Nagashima was the leader in San Francisco. He has such enthusiasm ~ it's contagious. He's now the national SGI-USA leader, along with Linda Johnson, a VERY inspiring person! If you get a chance to hear either of these people speak GO! Remember, in this practice all of us are equal...all of us are Buddhas. There is no one holier than you and me. Our leaders exist for our encouragement alone. They help us refresh our faith!

On the trip...I felt the effects of all my daimoku the whole time I was away...really appreciating everything and everyone. I got to chant for two hours at the Burbank Culture Center with my dear friend Kate. She introduced me to this practice 25 years ago...and it was her 32nd Gohonzon birthday! (Anniversary of the day she received the Gohonzon) We encourage and inspire each other!
That's another great thing about this practice...we all chant together...we need each other to grow, learn and study!

On Sunday the whole family went to Zuma beach and watched the incredibly high surf. It was Sunny...Warm...Perfect!
When it was time to leave we were flying out over the ocean and I saw a huge pod of what looked like dolphins jumping out of the water. I could actually see them jumping through the waves. It was so beautiful!

The Hard Part!

OK, I'm not going to try and make this seem any easier than it is. Sometimes chanting is so darn hard. There have been times over the last week that I've just had to force myself to sit down and chant.

Why is it hard? Because I'm getting at the core suffering of my life. I am getting down to the real basis of sthe pain to bring it out and release it forever.

I don't even know why it's there...sure I can say it comes from this thought, or that thought...or a certain thing going on in my life, but really I know it is deeper than that. Buddhism calls it fundamental darkness and everyone has it, I may have mentioned it in this blog before, but it deserves to be repeated. We all come into this world with karma...both good and bad...and when we chant a lot we get to come face to face with it.

So this last week there were many days I just made myself sit and chant and I didn't even worry or think about the thoughts in my head...I just chanted. My prayer wasn't even important at that moment...but I knew I was connecting and changing something deep in my life. I persevered!

Once I moved through that really hard part I was able to resume my prayers for my friends, and for our leaders - I chant for them to have wisdom. I chant again and again from the bottom of my heart to be able to change in any way necessary for me to be happy and to be an example that this practice works...to break through the hard shell of the lesser self and reveal who I REALLY am in all my Buddha glory!

I am moving my life onward and upward!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is Karma anyway?

Karma is different in this practice.

With Practical Buddhism you can change any negative karma in your life!

What is karma? It's the sum total of all the causes you have ever made in every existence you have lived...some causes were good, some bad. You are not at "fault" you do not have "original sin"...but you do have some fundamental darkness...and so does everyone else. Chanting is the ultimate cause for eradicating negative karma...pulling it out by its roots.

Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo changes your karma. Forever.
It is the law of life. It doesn't matter whether you believe it or not.

This is a revolutionary idea. In other forms of Buddhism and in many other religions you are "learning lessons" over and over till you get them right. Not in this practice. All you have to do is chant. Sounds easy, but it's not. Chanting is not for wimps! It takes courage!

What a week!

What a week! I am floating on a cloud of Daimoku. I don't have to figure everything out at every minute...I just keep chanting and delightful things are happening. I am always in the right time and place.
This week I chanted with friends on two differnet nights. Each time it was like a party. It is so cool to see this chant working in the lives of my friends! I have some friends who are on fire with excitement for their lives!
And I had other fun event this week as well! Melissa Bradford and I went to see Jason Mraz in concert on Thursday night. Open "seating" was open "standing"! We stood in the midst of a sweet, fresh and young crowd for four hours! I kept thinking "Thank you body!"
Jason's words were fresh, his spirit so wonderful. His first song was "Ray of Sunshine". I'd never heard it before and it really moved me. It was wonderful! Exciting!
And my work is so exciting. (Can you tell I love this word?) I had five move ins this week. I find my work very fulfilling, and moving people in to the retirement community where I work is my great joy! I love to see how our community positively affects the entire families of the person who has moved in. It's a very loving place. FIVE move ins is great success!! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!
Chanting also brings the parts of my life that are not so great into greater view.
This morning I was overflowing with anger at the parts of my life that aren't where I want them to be yet. It was sooo hard to chant. I decided to list everything I'm angry about...kind of impressed that I could even realize them all. I think my tendency is just to push anger down...down...down. Listing them was a helpful exercise. The list DID end! It wasn't such a long list...but resoving them feels impossible.

Thank goodness I have this determination to chant - or I might have just skipped chanting today. But skipping chanting won't change anything...it will just keep me putting up with those things I don't like in my life. I know that I have to be the one to change inside ~ for change to occur in my life. I've seen it happen over and over.

Doing Daimoku with a buddy (thanks Melissa!) and a goal (2 hours a day until the 20th of October) keeps me going. I know...really know...that if I keep looking in the mirror that is my life (through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to the Gohonzon) that I will change the negative karma of my life. I will shed light on the darkness. I will have my most impossible desires realized!
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Make your own list!

If you want to start chanting make a list of what you want!

You will be amazed at the changes you see, but you may forget where they came from if you don't make your list. I often look back on my journal writings from the fall of 1985 and wish I'd written in more detail about the early days of chanting. My main wish was "Get me out of this! I've been happy before I can be happy again! Get me out of this" and after a very short time I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel...I got a job...and so much more. I'll give you the full story later, but until then --- make your list!

What do you want?
What are your real desires?
What do you believe is impossible?

Buddhism is for everything!

It's okay to chant for anything...

"Earthly Desires are Enlightenment"


Go for it!

Make your list!
Dream big...dream small! Give detail! Put your list by your altar. Share it with me if you want! I'll be chanting for you too!

Benefits! Benefits! Benefits!

WOW! Such breakthroughs! You know how it feels on those days when the stars just seem to be aligned in your favor? I'm just feeling like that all the time! After my two hours of chanting in the morning yesterday I was thinking
" Man! It's finally warm in Chicago! I would love to go to the beach...but which one?"
and then Ben had an invitation to go to the beach and I went along with the kids and parents and discovered a whole new beach at 31st and Lake Michigan. There was no traffic getting there...and from the beach the clouds were amazing. I'm teaching Ben to see the billowing of the clouds. Have you ever seen it? Only certain clouds actually billow - the huge thunderheads. When you look at the top the clouds rise up from the back and cascade down the front. Honest. Years of sunbathing taught me this. It's so awesome to see! Yesterday ended up being one of my favorite days of the summer...hanging out with my sixteen year old son and watching the clouds billow! Life is good!
Earlier in the morning I had chanted to purify my desires...I chanted to yearn for the things and events that are best for my life, and for those I
love...and I chanted to appreciate each moment! So I ended up with a glorious, glorious day! Thank you my life!!!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How to start chanting

OK, so I'm back to the blue type! Sorry about that. It was such a busy week. I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted. Fitting two hours of Daimoku into my life is a challenge...but not impossible!

It's not even noon and already I have chanted 2 hours today.

What does it look like to chant?
Well, all practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism have an altar in their home.
Everyone has a "Gohonzon". The Gohonzon is a scroll that we focus our eyes on when we chant. I'll talk more about that later. When you accept a Gohonzon into your home, you celebrate a new birthday...you have a new life...that is yours to discover.
Usually you get a Gohonzon after you've decided you really want to challenge your life with this practice...but you can try it out right now, even without the scroll.
This part is easy:
Pick a place in your home where you feeel comfortable...where no one will disturb you. Sit comfortably (another reason why I like this practice - no pain is required!)
Focus on something in front of you. I was chanting to a moon in a poster of Mono Lake when I first started. Hold your hands together in front of your heart and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo three times slowly (we call that doing "sansho"...we begin and end every chanting session with sansho) then chant the words over and over again. Place the picture you are focusing on a little bit above you...so you are looking up and into your life! Onward and upward! Strive for 5 minutes every morning and evening. That was hard for me at the beginning!
And look at the SGI-USA website to connect with people who chant in your area.We need to practice together. We make new friends...and we all support each other.

Deeper Realizations and Healing

It's just amazing how it works when you flood your life with Daimoku.

I am having so many realizations ~ and I am working on healing my pain!

Check this out:
I'm currently seeing three practitioners to relieve the pain that his been in the right side of my body for several years. I have assembled a team of professionals to help me. One of them is working with me on emotional release (for I do believe that pain has an emotional component) I'm working on that with Jaja...of Sky Thai Massage. She's helping me so much! As I've mentioned before, releasing emotional pain is one of my determinations. She helps me to be "curious" within the pain...and to set it free.

I go to a Physical Therapist called Mary Lou Savino, owner of Be Fit Physical Therapy. She does "manual physical therapy"...she manually stretches the muscles. She helps to relieve the pain. The muscles need to be stretched and trained into operating together so they don't pull at each other.
I am determined to heal this pain!
I haven't been able to walk as much as I like in way too long! But I am determined! I will move freely! I will be pain free! I will hike again! No doubt about it! I have a Gohonzon and I can chat. I will not give up.

So, I had an interesting incident at yoga. The leader had us do "partner yoga" - which I have never liked. I had to drape my body over the sweaty body of a man I don't know. Then we did some partner stretching exercises that left me in pain and limping for several days. A few days later I talked to the yoga instructor about this, and he jumped all over me......he was very upset when I told him I wasn't going to do partner yoga again. I listened, I talked, I made my point and let it go. In this conversation I realized my life is becoming stronger in unexpected ways.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

YOUR DESIRES ARE GOOD ! You heard me!

OK, what am I talking about now?
This is the REAL reasaon I started chanting:

This form of Buddhism says that "Earthly Desires ARE Enlightenment" and
you
can chant for anything you want!

Nooooo....Yessssss!!!!!

Believe it or not!

I know people who have begun this practice to PROVE that it didn't work...and 30 or more years later they are still practicing because they accessed the power of their own lives...even while chanting for it not to work! Hello Amos Snell! Amos helped me really learn this practice by telling me it was way too hard for me, and that I'd never do it...way back when I was a baby Buddhist in San Francisco. Thank you so much Amos! No one's going to tell ME what I cannot do, no way!

Others have chanted for all sorts of "unenlightened" things...yes...even those types of things...and ended up with huge benefits when after a while...their desires began to change! And all they had to do was chant.

What CAN'T you chant for? NOTHING!

You can chant, and should chant...for whatever is in your heart. These days I mostly chant for World Peace (we call it Kosen Rufu). I chant to share my prayers with those of my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda. And I chant for the people I love...and for business success and family happiness. And there are other dreams I share when I chant.
Here's the thing: when you chant you change your Karma...and any reason for chanting is good! What would you chant for?

What does it mean to be a Buddha?

What is the experience of accessing your own Buddha Nature -
of BEING a Buddha?

I'll tell you a little about how I use this practice. First of all, I'm a person who has pretty extremes of highs and lows. I have always had these extremes...and of course they are GREAT when I'm high, and terrible when I'm low.
When I chant through my lows I can always see the light at the end of the tunnel...and I turn them around faster. My goal through this daimoku campaign is to raise the level of my lows!

Practicing Buddhism does not mean that you never have problems. But there is something about practicing that gives me fresh determination to conquer those problems. I know FOR SURE that not only will I overturn a problem, but I will create a benefit from them.

Let me give you an example.
Since I've begun this Daimoku campaign:

I feel more confident about my future.
I am experiencing a little less anxiety.
Some of the sadness has lifted...
I have a list of what I want to see happen in my life but I no longer have to "figure it out".
I know that every step I take is leading me closer and closer to what I want to see and experience in my life.

I feel more in rhythm with my surroundings. I'm sure you know the feeling of being in the right place at the right time...it is more consistent when I'm chanting this much.
I'm in less of a hurry.

I appreciate each moment more. I'm more "present"...not thinking of the past and the future.

I'm appreciating every person...I'm feeling more open to learning from others.

Each moment is a time to be appreciated...to be basking in...to have its own delights.


These last few days I have:

Learned more about some new dear friends...(and found out one of my new friends shares my exact birthdate and YEAR!)

Enjoyed myself at several fun parties...

Learned more about oil painting in my class...
Added a wonderful new person to my network who will help me give my speeches more often...
Laughed with my sons and my family... and enjoyed every minute.
I had a great time with my Mom, and am working out the kinks in her new living arrangement. More about that later...maybe.
And my Dad and Stepmom are here for a visit so we are all enjoying their company! (Thank you Alison (my sister) for hosting the party today!)

I even found the perfect purse ~ and that is no mean feat! It didn't cost a bundle and it will last a long, long time!
Some of these things were easy...others more surprising...some people might be able to relate to finding the purse. I am not kidding you when I say that I look at purses about once a month and never buy one. They are all too expensive or too big, or too ugly. Finding the right one is an art form. And no, I don't need a dozen...just one that feels right to me! And now, I'm good for a long time! Whoohoo!

The chanting itself has been such a delight. I get to sit and spill my heart and my love and my determination for two hours EVERY DAY! It brings me into such vibrational harmony that I am literally "walking on air". Now, don't get me wrong, but you don't have to chant two hours a day to experience benefits from chanting. When I first started I was chanting 5 minutes a day every morning and evening and immediately I felt my spirits lifting from that amount of chanting.
And I started because I leaned "Earthly Desires are Enlightenment!" See next post!

Your own Buddha Nature~You Buddha YOU!

When you're chanting daimoku (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) so many great things happen...you're just in rhythm with the universe and every moment is a miracle. Of course, many Buddhists would say "There are no "miracles" in Buddhism ! it is cause and effect. You make the cause and you get the effect...and they would be right!

Since I've begun this chanting so many of my dreams have come true...I have a career I love, and absolutely amazing children...and every day I have a breakthrough or a realization of some kind...
Just this last week I worked with the therapists on my hip (where I have some pain I am releasing) and it's getting better and better all the time, and I KNOW I will conquer this pain. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Enlightenment and Buddhahood

First I want to tell you some basics of Buddhism:
Every person is a BUDDHA.
You can all access that Buddha nature or Buddhahood right here and right now. What is Buddhahood anyway?


Here's my favorite definition, from the first book of the Gosho, (letters of Nichiren Daishonin's) published in 1979:

"Enlightenment (Buddhahood) is not a mystical or transcendental state, as many might assume. Rather it is a condition of highest wisdom, vitality and good fortune wherein the individual can shape his or her own destiny, find fulfillment in daily activities, and come to understand his or her purpose in being alive."

This is pretty amazing stuff.

Wait! You mean I don't have to be reborn a man? (As all the other forms of Buddhism at the time asserted) Wait, you mean I don't have to be reborn in lifetime after lifetime and suffer many austerities before attaining Buddhahood? (Also a very common belief ) I can attain Buddhahood without suffering? OMG!!!

This amazing practice, based on Nichiren Daishonin's writings, and the guidance of Daisaku Ikeda, which I like to call "Practical Buddhism" says that:

YOU, just as YOU ARE, can attain Buddhahood right now. All you have to do is chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. It's very simple...yet complex. You may think "What's complex about that? It sounds so easy...just chant that one phrase over and over again. Big deal." That's right. It's simple. The first day...and the second...but the more you chant, the deeper you look into the mirror of your life ~ and you may not like what you see...but if you keep chanting...oh the amazing results you'll begin to see!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Million Daimoku...chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Join me!
I chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (pronounced Nahm Meeyoho Raingay Kyo)
It means - I fuse my life with the law of cause and effect through sound vibration, or I am one with the flow of life, or I am the Buddha myself! Chanting these words has a profound and practical impact on my life....and it can on anyone's life.
When you chant these words you tap into the eternal universe that's already inside you...the one you know is there, that you've always known is there. Chanting these words allows you to tap the great power you have always had.
On October 20th of 2009 I will have been chanting these words every day...twice a day for 25 years! Between now and October 20th I will be chanting two hours every single day. By October 20th I will have chanted a million daimoku (pron: diemoku, and it means chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo over and over) with a goal to accomplish many dreams:

Here are my determinations:
I wish to inspire others through sharing my heart, my struggles and my successes.
I wish to share the heart of my mentor Daisaku Ikeda (President of the Soka Gakkai International) with the world.
I will release my life from the underlying sadness I have always felt...the sadness that has no name and no real cause. I believe I was born with this sadness, and that it is my mission in this life to free myself from it.
I will have a body that is pain free! I will be able to move in any way I want. For several years I have been battling with a painful right leg. I believe it is arthritis, but I keep thinking I can solve the pain through some other means than surgery. I have never had surgery and never want to have it!
I will be on the way to losing the rest of the weight I've been challenged with my entire life. (I've already lost 50 pounds).
I will naturally attract opportunities that delight me!
I will make lots of new friends and connections!
I will become a published author!