Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year - Hon Nim Myo!

Happy New Year!



What a great opportunity to change our lives. 

On New Years we celebrate with "Hon Nim Myo" spirit. "Hon Nim Myo" means "from this moment forth." This moment is the only moment that counts. Anything we did in the past, and anything we WILL do in the future mean nothing next to "Hon Nim Myo." We can access the power of this exact moment. You have it. I have it. We all access it any time we chant. 

There is a Gosho called "The New Year's Gosho written by Nichiren Daishonin. I quote from the Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume One, 1985. 

     "A person who celebrates this day will gain virtue and be loved by all, just as the moon becomes full gradually, moving from west to east, and the sun shines more brightly traveling from west to east. 
      First of all, as to the question of where exactly hell and the Buddha exist, one sutra states that hell exists underground and another sutra states that the Buddha is in the west. However closer examination reveals that both exist on our five-foot body. The reason I think so is that hell is in the heart of of a man who despises his father and disregards his mother, just like the lotus seed, which contains both flower and fruit at the same time. In the same way, the Buddha dwells inside our hearts. For example, flint can produce fire and gems possess value in themselves. We common mortals can see neither our eyebrows, which are so close, nor heaven in the distance. Likewise, we do not see that the Buddha exists in our own hearts."

Many years ago, 1987 to be exact, I attended a Gosho lecture by a brilliant SGI leader called Pete Cranock. Here's what he told us that touched my heart:

He said that if making up our minds could have changed our lives, it would have already changed them. In many cases we can't make things happen by changing our minds alone because there is karma. Karma is created by lifetimes of causes we have made, and causes we are still making. Every thought, every action is a cause. These causes create momentum that make it hard to reverse the motion of our lives. Our habits are hard to change. That is why we practice Buddhism. We chant to change the momentum of our habits, and we chant to make the changes that we haven't been able to make by changing our minds alone. That is why we chant. 
By chanting we access the power to change our karma. And we CAN do it. Starting right now. We don't have to wait. He said that our prayer on New Year's Day is deeper because we make it so. We can use the momentum of New Year's Day to deepen our prayer and really CHANGE what we want to change. Now is the time to take the opportunity. He said it is good to plan out our prayer for New year's Day. It's good to make our lists and take a long, hard look at our lives. We all know that sometimes looking at our lives is painful. But we have the greatest tool, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and we have the Gosho and Daisaku Ikeda and our friends in the SGI to support us.

He said: 
"If you feel stale, chant for the type of actual proof that will really help you to be excited abou this practice." 

He stressed that knowledge about Buddhism isn't enough. Yes, we all KNOW that Buddhahood is within our lives, but it is only through daily concentrated practice that we can actually experience this state of life within ourselves.

It is difficult to chant. It is difficult to chant every day. 

We might as well have the attitude "I am going to make the most of this practice. I am going to give it all I've got." You have to jump in all the way if you want the best results. Practicing with enthusiasm is important. Think of it like ringing the bell. If you ring the bell softly you will get a soft sound. If you ring it with harder with conviction you can feel its sound echoing through your body. Chant to ring the bell with conviction.

When you go to an activity, think "I am here to get the MOST out of this activity." You gain benefit when you are doing something with joy. 
Refresh our practice. Deepen our sincerity and live lives of joy and appreciation. 
And as I always say: "Tell your life what you want. Do not pray to anyone or anything - except your life itself. 

Happy, Happy New Year. May this be the year that we ALL make our dreams come true, and show our friends and families the way to happiness. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Power Prayers - Determinations for the New Year



I am working on my determinations for the New Year. 
They are not done yet, but when they are I will share them with you. I know for sure that there are aspects of my current life situation that I am determined not to take into the new year, and other things I want to create.  

I also know that there are so many things I have to appreciate about my life and my progress so far. 

As some of you know, for the past year and a half I have lived in my first apartment. This is a great feat for me - one I felt was almost impossible a few years ago. I am learning how to take care of myself in all areas of my life. I am financially responsible. I have totally changed to a healthy plant-based whole food way of life that has alleviated many of the health problems I experienced my whole life. My health is continuing to improve. 

I'm planning on having a session with myself where I write down all my accomplishments from the past year....everything I can appreciate from the last year. Then I will set about creating new determinations for every area. 

Determinations are different from goals, although they are goal oriented. 

A sample determination - or Power Prayer would be:

I am determined to increase health and happiness in all areas of my life. All the resources and people I need to achieve this goal flow seamlessly into my life. All I need is provided for right away. Every day I feel healthier, more awake and more vibrant than ever. I am determined to show actual proof of this practice by radiating health, happiness and peace of mind.

That's one sample Power Prayer - 
Would you like to share yours with the other readers? 
Send your power prayers to me at silversunsinger@gmail.com.

I can publish with your name or anonymously. Your choice.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

When it's Hard to Chant...

Sometimes it is difficult to chant. 
It happens to me too. Sometimes I sit in front of my Gohonzon and I keep getting distracted, or I feel unconnected to my prayer, or I feel defeated and hopeless or tired. 
This is natural. We all experience doubt and negativity  from time to time. Life is full of ebbs and flows and highs and lows. How can we chant when we feel this way? What prayer will impact our lives? 

Here in Chicago we have beautiful snow falling this morning, and I am thinking of you all, and chanting for you to not give up hope, and to keep going no matter what. 

I am chanting to appreciate my life and to love myself. I truly believe that if each of us really loved ourselves and cherished our own hearts we could make an even bigger difference in the lives of others and in our own happiness. I am chanting to raise my life condition and to be happy this moment. 

On this full moon and snowy day I am saying:

Chant to experience love for yourself and recognize your own Buddha nature and Buddha self. Chant to appreciate your own loving heart. Chant to raise your life condition so that you can see and feel how wonderful YOU are. 

We are each so precious. We need to summon the knowledge and feeling from within ourselves of how precious, how loving, how wonderful we all are. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Great Health Experience






I was introduced to the practice by my sister's friend three years back.  I felt protected instantly  after chanting during some of the darkest moments . Initally like most of us, I chanted 5-10 minutes and then didn't for weeks. Thanks to some of the critical situations in life and the leaders' persistence I continued and became more active.

I have overcome a number of obstacles both from within and without during these years and have experienced many benefits (which I'll share with all of you soon).

This year in August my father, who suffers from chronic pancreatitus, suddenly got another acute attack on august 15th. After getting admitted to the hospital, his condition worsened and he was shifted to Fortis ICU for respiratory distress syndrome and acute pancreatitus. His serum amylase and lipase (indicator of pancreas) were above 1600 and the normal level is below 200. The normal PO2 level(indicator of lung function) is above 80 and his was 50. In such cases they put patients on ventilators but the doctors negligence turned out to be a benefit for us. His face used to be almost blue during those days.

This was a few days after I recieved my gohonzon and I just had complete faith that it has to be a benefit so that he has an even healthier life. Also On the same day I got an oppurtunity to be the MC for the August SGI meeting and I joyfully accepted it chanting through the night for a vibrant zadankai (meeting) and all members to be inspired. I determined to do my own human revolution by not panicing in such crisis instead giving faith and courage to my sister and mother who were clearly in utter panic.

Whenever I was in doubt, I read sensei's lecture on the gosho "The good medicine for all ills".  Josei Toda wrote,"Dont let anything shake you. Just chant with your whole life. Never lose heart. Activate the positive forces of the universe.  I chanted sincerely to change the poison in his pancreas to amrita . I visualised waving a sword of nam myoho renge kyo in his pancreas .

Papa's serum amylase and lipase- an indicator of pancreas dropped back to below 200 which is normal by august 19th i.e. within 4-5 days which was extremely remarkable .

We received protection in the form of my doctor aunt who dropped everything and came to our city  and instructed the low skilled staff of "a hospital in india " to handle his lungs better .
My sister also started chanting more seriously and started seeing results herself. His lung condition was still very weak. She chanted for papa to do spirometery exercises every hour as instructed  even though he was very weak. She chanted for him to want to get better and not give up even in the extreme condition of the ICU .

However, the infection in his body i.e. the TLC counts kept shooting up. In spite of that,  he started looking and feeling better. By the end of the week his TLC was as high as 30,000 (normal is below 11000) and the doctor in fortis said it's unbelievable that he doesn't look as sick as his reports say he is. I smiled, of course.

I read the gosho again and again. At the risk of sounding stupid to my family full of doctors, I encouraged them to read it. Sensei says, " The Buddha is likened to a physician because he teaches people the "medicine of immortality. " The medicine of immortality is "amrita". Elsewhere Nichiren daishonin says," Amrita is nam myoho renge kyo " .

Meanwhile The doctor insisted for him to get neckline since all his other veins were swollen. Now, the neckline can cause many more infections for a lung patient esp in the ICU and by then he had developed hospital aided pnuemonia. The doctor gave us one hour to decide and sign the consent form. I started chanting very strongly and within minutes one of the male nurse found a perfect vein in the arm somewhere which lasted three days.

Because of staying calm and being in a high life condition, we could decide immediately without even our mom to take him out of "A hospital in our city" to " Hospital in another city " where my aunt is an HOD. I was chanting all throughout the way. We met with many obstacles , the ambulance met with an accident , the ac didnt work  but papa's vitals didn't change a bit throughout the journey and he safely shifted to a private ward. Again, he didn't see us frown when any of this was happening, rather all he heard was Nam myoho renge kyo .

We met the best of doctors in the other city. The doctor again suggested a neck line but my sister had determined by then to not let that happen and well it didn't. His TLC i.e. the infection count came down to normal within 3-4 days. And within a week he was out of the hospital walking, talking a bit, urinating, defecating all by himself. His pancreas is damaged 40-50% but he can have a normal life with even half the pancreas. There is no damage to any other vital organ which is very good after an acute attack like this. His lung capacity is actually better than before now.  He has been a chain smoker since 50 years and he has not smoked since over a month now and has no intention of doing so. Like I said, his face is way brighter than before, and he walks twice a day by himself, eats healthy meals, has breakfast and is on the road to full recovery. My mother remarked yesterday that it was impossible to think that we'll all have a lifestyle where  no one smokes in the house and we have have fruits and breakfast on the dinner table. She said life has actually become 180 degrees better.

All this while I chanted for the medicine king buddha to manifest in his life. Leaders told me to read out the gosho" actual proof " to him during our stay and I did. I chanted for all our relatives to see actual proof through this experience. I chanted for my human revolution and to stay calm through it all. We (my sister, me and mom ) had just three small arguments through such high stress period and managed to be  encouraging and always smiling around papa. My sister and brother in law have started chanting and my brother in law already has had an experience.
I determine to keep showing actual proof through this practice and encourage each and everyone who's watching my life.

How to Chant about Health - a question to you


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 
from the Silver Boys, Aaron and Ben, 
and me.

It's been a busy few days since Ben and I got back from our Caribbean cruise. The room is still feeling a little like a moving ship. The first few days I felt more dizzy than I felt onboard the ship. 

So we're between holidays now. Christmas was yesterday, New Years is next week, and it's been cloudy here since we got back...

A new reader and new practitioner emailed me yesterday. She has a serious illness and is asking how to chant. Do you have any experiences to share? I am going to send her some experiences, but I would also like to hear from you. Does anyone have an experience to share? 



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thanks for your emails

It's hard to post from a cruise ship...
I can't even post a picture at this point, but I wish I could show you the sunrise I chanted to this morning. I thought of all of you, and am grateful that yesterday I was able to download some messages from you, but didn't have time to respond. 

Thank you!

I should be able to start posting regularly on Monday. 

Thank you for your patience. I hope you are enjoying some of the "best of" posts on this blog. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Change ANY Problem into a benefit by chanting


If you've been chanting to change things in your life...if you've been chanting about relationships, your career etc...consider looking inward and chanting to change yourself. Changing your SELF - doing your human revolution is vital to your successfull practice. 

What is the process?


1. Own the problem...realize that whatever you want to change may LOOK like it is outside yourself...but its roots are within your life. That means that you cannot complain or say "WHY ME?". Really you have to own it...not BLAME yourself for it...not feel guilty about it. But you CAN change it. It's okay to get a little angry and make a fierce and roaring declaration to change whatever you need to change.


2. Turn your prayer INWARD. Chant to change YOURSELF. Chant to have the courage to make the changes you need to make in order to generate the results you want to create in your life. Remember that all change starts from within. And your environment will change to reflect the inner changes you have made. 


A Power Prayer to accomplish this could be:


"I am determined to make any changes I need to make in my thoughts, my actions, my chanting, to make continual positive causes that will result in rooting the cause of my negative karma OUT OF MY LIFE!  I am determined to make the changes inside myself...to do my own human revolution and raise my life condition! I am determined to change in any way I need to change to attract the .......(you fill in the blank) into my life. Life! I am bringing the determination, wisdom and fire I need to create the life of my dreams. AM NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO! I AM ROARING LIKE A LION IN MY OWN LIFE! I WILL CREATE MY LIFE! I do this not only for me, but for everyone who is suffering. I am determined to glow within my own life. I am determined to be a shining light for all who are suffering. I am determined to be the beacon of hope that ANYONE can solve their problems by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I am ready to meet people who are ready to hear about this practice!  I chant to have the most inspiring life. Gohonzon (my life) I need to see these results now!"


You can do this! You Buddha YOU!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Great Quotes from President Ikeda about focusing our minds


Sunrise from the Ship Today


I am really looking forward to chanting in appreciation this morning. 

It is so easy to blame our environment for our unhappiness and discontent. But as President Ikeda says in "On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime"

"Grumbling and complaining are the principle gateways leading to general doubt and disbelief. Even if we know that such behavior is wrong, we may find ourselves doing it in spite of ourselves. Should grumbling and complaining become habitual it will act as a constant brake on our growth and cause us to forget about advancing and improving ourselves. When that happens, we effectively close off our own potential, falling into the path of seeking the law outside of us." 

Grumbling and complaining take many forms. For some it is a form of hopelessness, and looking at what is NOT working. When all you see is what is not working, or changing, and you continually focus on the care and troubles of life, that is all you see. That is what is in your radar screen. What you DON'T life amplifies. When you focus on what you DO like, and what IS working, no matter how small, you get more of what you want, and you start seeing the positive everywhere. And you're happier!
You get more benefits and happiness from focusing on what IS working. I promise. Try it.  

Please remember that whatever is going on in your world is YOUR OPPORTUNITY to grow. 
The things you think of as problems that come at you from the environment can be fuel for your growth, fuel for your determination to reveal your own Buddhahood and create your own happiness. It is up to you though, to determine this for your own life...

Putting the fault on your environment is easy. But not helpful! You are a Buddha. Dig deeper. Get to the root source of your suffering. You do not have to figure it out. Just chant to change it. 

President Ikeda also says:

"Because our practice of faith is aimed at attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime, it is absolutely essential that we have a solidly focused mind or attitude when chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is like trying to shoot an arrow: without a clear target, we will not draw the bow with any real energy or determination. In the same way, our prayers can only be realized when we replace vague yearnings with concrete determinations and confident daimoku to definitely accomplish what we hope to achieve."

The Key to Happiness - Experiencing Life as a Buddha


Here I am cruising the Caribbean with my son. Our first day. It was great...starting at 4:00am Sunday and now it’s 1:00am on Monday morning. And I am so content. I love my life. I am happy in so many ways. I know that it is through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo that I am this happy, and I have true peace of mind. I don’t worry about anything. I am no longer in hell in the world of hunger. I am in the world of Buddhahood in the world of hunger.  

Let me explain. I lived in the world of hunger, the hellish world of hunger, from earliest memory. It seemed that all I truly longed for was just beyond my reach. I thought I was either too  fat or not smart enough, or I didn’t have the right clothes, or I just couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t have enough friends and I was always longing for more. I lived in the world of “just beyond my reach.” And I agonized over it. I thought “If only I could lose those 50 pounds... or If only I could get that boy to like me...or if only I could get better grades and have better clothes.” and those thought HURT. 

There are some things I still want in life...I have many goals I intend to reach, but there is nothing I am hungering for that brings me pain. I have chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to rise above the world of hunger, to raise my life condition and live as a Buddha, and that is my daily experience.

If you are ever wondering “What should I chant about today?” Chant to raise your life condition and experience life as a Buddha. Chant to realize with your life that you are a Buddha. Chant to see the golden diamond shining forth from your heart and chant to praise your life. 

Chanting this way will bring you to the world of contentment...peace of mind...true indestructible happiness. 

 Today I focus on the members on my SGI district, my family and all of the readers of this blog. I think about you, and chant to say the right words at the right time to light your enthusiasm and have you sit down in front of your Gohonzon totally refreshed and with new determination. 

I want you, and everyone else who is searching for happiness to know that is all of our birthrights to be happy. We can be completely and unshakably happy through our own determination and chanting of the name of the rhythm of life itself. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. 

And each person who becomes happy has a profound effect on all those around them. This is the very essence of Human Revolution. Through my own transformation shall the world be transformed. 

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dreams do Come True

We're headed off to swim with the manta rays, the puppies of the sea. Here's a picture of the sandbar off Grand Cayman Island where the rays come to hang out with people. They are big and friendly. When I came here in 2011 I vowed I would bring my son Ben back with me because I knew this was just the kind of thing he would adore. And here I am, setting out in a few minutes. I feel great! I've been eating a plant-based whole food diet since November 14th and I feel healthy, vibrant and alive. Not to mention all my clothes either fit or are a little big. That's the way I like to begin a cruise. I'm taking my computer and will continue blogging.
This trip is actual proof. 
We can be happy and make our dreams come true. 
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Be Happy Now! Root Suffering from your life.


Many of the world's religions say that there is something to be gained from suffering. Not Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. 

Yes. Suffering is part of life, for sure. But it is not something to "be born" and we are not here to "master suffering." No. We are here to be happy. The purpose of life is happiness, and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo can tap into your happiness and bring it into reality. 

When the original Buddha back in 500 B.C. was on his search for enlightenment, he tried living the ascetic life. He went around begging and was poor and cold and hungry. He realized this was not the way of Buddhism. Suffering is not innately virtuous, and he was no closer to enlightenment. When he sat under the Bodhi tree he realized he possessed the entire universe within. He had the realization of that fact. And he spent the rest of his life working to help others gain that experience. But he did not see suffering as an end in itself. 

So...
If you are suffering. 
Make a determination to change whatever it is that is making you suffer. This blog was born out of heartbreak more than three years ago. I determined to chant to CHANGE forever the suffering I was experiencing. I knew I could do it. And I did. 

My Power Prayer was :

I am determined to experience my brilliant Buddha self. I am determined to raise my life condition. I am determined to develop a strong, strong core of life so that NOTHING will bring me to this state of unhappiness ever again. I am determined to strengthen my life from deep within and to shed happiness wherever I go. I don't CARE if the sadness keeps rearing its ugly face along the way. I WILL WIN and I will defeat it forever. I am determined to become happy so that I can inspire others to be happy. If I can become happy, anyone can become happy"

And I kept chanting that way. It did not change the first time I chanted that way. But I kept making the determination over and over again. Along the way I realized that I often felt sorry for myself..."Why me?" I would ask in my head. When I saw that tendency I decided to root it out of my life and never feel sorry for myself again. It came back again and again and every time it did I said in my head while I was chanting "Be gone with you! Sadness, feeling sorry for myself, BE GONE! My higher self will win. I will be incredibly happy and spend every waking moment helping other people realize that they can be happy too."

That is how this blog was born. Out of unhappiness into happiness. Today I may still have challenges of a different sort, and no one is ever going to be perfect. I am a Buddha and a human being, just like you. But I have an indestructible feeling, a solid sense of self and appreciation that flows from me at every moment for my wonderful life, this incredible practice, all of you readers, and for Daisaku Ikeda. I smile all day long and so can you. 

I believe in you, and your strength and determination will make you shine! 

Sunrise Here We Come!


Vacation Tomorrow

But not a vacation from chanting... 

I know better than to stop chanting on vacation. Vacations are fun but they can also be challenging. It's still important to be connecting with the power within while vacationing.


My best vacations are ones where I maintain my level of Daimoku no matter what! Then everything flows like magic every single second! 

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo IS the rhythm of the universe.
On vacation it is really important to be in the right place at the right time. Especially on a cruise.  

On the few occasions when I can't chant for a long time I tell my life while chanting "I am now tapping into the vast Daimoku bank I have accumulated through years of chanting. My Daimoku today is a MILLION times more powerful than it has ever been!"

There is so much that can go wrong. But it won't. That's my determination! My home will be protected while I'm away because I have a friend staying here.  I'm traveling with my son Ben. And I am about to chant this morning's Gongyo. 

I will be chanting for this blog and all its readers to continue to grow. I am always chanting to write meaningful posts and encourage and inspire each of you to return to your Gohonzons refreshed and excited to once again, commune with your universe within. I am chanting for more and more people to read chantforhappiness.com and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and see their lives move int eh direction of happiness. 
I am chanting for ease of travel, a great day today when I am packing and getting ready, perfect connections, incredibly warm weather and sun, for me to bring everything I need, to feel and look my best at all times, and to introduce as many people as possible to this incredible practice. I'll plant seeds as always. Yesterday I picked up my Nam Myoho Renge Kyo cards to give out. 

At this time tomorrow, Ben and I will be on a plane bound for Tampa, and from there we'll board the Carnival Legend to exotic ports of call. 

I adore cruising. I adore hanging out with they sky and the sunset and the incredible blue water. I enjoy meeting new friends and dancing late at night and walking back to my room. I love ordering food and not getting a bill at the end. I love the live entertainment and getting dressed up for dinner. Yes, I adore cruising. 

And I love the fact that Ben, my 20 year old son and I are going on this cruise together. 
As you may know, the older your children get, the more time is at a premium. This is a golden moment for us. We'll be making music and laughing and exploring the world and making friends. Carnival "Legend" indeed. 


Friday, December 14, 2012

My Power Prayer Poem for Today


Today the world is weeping
America is wondering
the world is wondering...
Why? 
Why? 
Why? 

Once again I am determined that through my own connection to the power of the universe, 
through the power that is truly my own, 
and the power everyone possesses, 
but may not know, 
and may know, 
but may not practice, 
that I will raise my life condition every single moment 
I will heartily chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo 
summoning the name of the rhythm of life itself, 
and drawing forth the power of my soul 
that 
every single moment I will ascend to what is true, and right and just
and that as I do this, so shall we all
in our interconnected web 
rise higher and higher and higher. 
until finally, sooner, rather than later, 
the urge to destroy, 
the urge to hurt, 
the urge to lash out
lifts. 
Lifts and departs this fair planet, 
and is replaced by the deeper yearning within all of our hearts
for fellowship, 
for connection
for love. 
May each moment be imbued with higher meaning. 
Positive higher meaning. 
A time for all of us to reach out to all we love, 
and to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for all others, 
no matter what. 
I am determined through the strength of my own life force, 
that is the life force within us ALL,
that every step I take, and every breath I breathe will lift us ALL higher. 

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
The name of the rhythm of life itself...
the sound we all rise up while chanting, 
the vibration that unites and lifts us all. 

Jamie Lee Silver
chantforhappiness.com

Power Prayers For a Great New Job!


I know I am not the only one looking for a job. Many of you are also looking, and have family members who are searching too. Here are some of the Power Prayers I am using right now. What is a Power Prayer? As most of you know, the THOUGHTS and DETERMINATIONs that our minds are focusing on when we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo are very important. 

We chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (the name of the rhythm of the universe) with a purpose in mind. This purpose is contained in our directed thoughts. These directed thoughts are messages to our own lives. 

Power Prayers:

All the Best is coming to me now. 
I am confident that this layoff is creating the best job of my life to joyfully emerge. 

I am a noble bodhisatva of the earth and votary of the Lotus Sutra. 
I now attract all that I need to find the perfect job. 
All the right people, resources, connections and opportunities are flowing my way now, at just the right time and I am ready for them! 

I have confidence in my own life
I have confidence 
I am confident, 

I am determined to keep my spirits up. 
I am determined to stop any negativity from coming into my mind. 

All the info I need to find the job, and the job to find me emerges immediately. 
I will find a job that uses all my favorite talents, and pays a great salary with benefits. 
I am determined to be around people whom I appreciate and respect and who appreciate and respect me!

I am determined to show actual proof of the power of this practice through my own life!

I also have my list of specifics regarding my next job. 

I have many other ways I am focusing my chanting as well.
I chant for my members and family and friends. 

I am always chanting for people to discover this blog, and for it to touch everyone's heart and help them to really access the power within their own lives through chanting. I am also here to answer your questions and love to receive your emails at chantforhappiness.com. 
I am writing a book to teach people the basics for beginning chanting and plan on writing many more. Thank you so much for passing along links to this blog. You can choose your favorite post and copy and paste the url into an email to send to someone. You never know when just the right words will make all the difference in someone's life. Your words mean the world to me! 


Daisaku Ikeda's words on Parenting

I love to see the growth of young people, as they are straight and true, and full of promise.  Their whole lives lie ahead of them. And it is they who are entrusted with the future.  That’s why I take them very seriously. 

I feel that “treasures of the heart” are the greatest possible gift from parents to their children. Some parents may wish to guarantee their children’s happiness by giving them material wealth. Yet, no matter how wealthy they are, without good health and physical strength, children will not be able to lead truly happy lives. And above all, I believe that it is the “treasures of the heart”—inner qualities such as spiritual strength, character and humanity—that will ensure the true happiness of a child.

I see childraising as a process of leading a young adult to develop the strength to stand and walk on his own feet. Every time I meet a child, I always offer my respect to him or her as an independent person. A child is an individual with a distinct personality, and even the bond between parent and child is ultimately a relationship between two individuals.

Some children are very considerate and always deep in thought. Others may be looking for someone to fight with. One child cannot resist scribbling on everything in sight. Another is always running to the kitchen for something to eat. There are a thousand different character types and each has different interests. Parents can try to anticipate the different directions in which a child’s individuality might lead them and then do everything possible to provide the environment best suited for their development.  

Children are very sensitive; I always feel it is unkind to make comparisons among them.  Buddhism teaches that just as cherry blossoms are cherry blossoms, and plum blossoms are plum blossoms, each person has a totally unique character. Children need to each grow at their own rate and in a way that is true to themselves. 

Nothing encourages the growth of children more than knowing they are understood and trusted by their parents, as a story about the great French writer and poet Victor Hugo illustrates. The man who lived next door to the young Hugo’s family had a huge apple tree, and he decided to build a fence around it so that children couldn’t pick the apples. Hugo’s mother told him, “If you’re building that fence to keep my son away, you needn’t bother.” The man continued to watch, but the boy never came near the tree. I am impressed that Hugo’s mother knew her son’s character so well. 

In order for a child to develop an independent self, it may be necessary at times to discipline him, while at other times the child needs to follow his own way. 

I don’t think children are weak and fragile from the beginning. I believe that even a newborn baby possesses vast untapped potential. I’ve heard that a baby, even without any swimming lessons, can instinctively swim when put in water. Perhaps it is parents’ overprotectiveness that actually suppresses the potential of a child, making him or her feeble to the point where the child loses the once-possessed skill and strength needed to swim in the vast ocean called “life.”

Fearing their child may become wet from a small wave, some parents would make sure that she will not even go near the water, and others may try to shield and protect her by getting wet themselves. Imagine how shocked and helpless such a child may become when suddenly thrown into the vast ocean. What will happen to her after she grows up and is swept away by the crushing waves of life and finds that no one is there to intervene on her behalf?

Parenting, to me, means helping a child to develop his or her own strength to strive, to challenge and to live. “If you love your child, help him stand on his own feet and send him off on a journey of learning,” was a concept popular in old Japan. This is how parents back then educated their children. If the ability to face life’s difficulties is made the focus of their upbringing, there is no need to worry whether or not one’s children will handle their lives well.

Sadly, however, some parents try to use their children as a means to give expression to their own vanity and pride, trying to force them into some preconceived mold they consider desirable. This is not a pretty sight, and they run a grave risk of destroying the individuality of their child entirely. If a parent thinks not of the child’s dreams but of his or her own, the result will be something as artificial as the dwarfed trees in abonsai arrangement.

I feel it is crucial that parents understand the way children’s minds work.  When he asks the all-important question, “Why?” and is scolded, or a nonsensical answer is made up to quiet him, a child’s purity of spirit will be sullied. 

One of the most crucial aspects of childraising is how to answer this frequent question. In the beginning children expect their parents to teach them about everything. However, rather than responding immediately, maybe the mother or father can take the time to work out together with the child what the answer might be. This can help cultivate the child’s power of reasoning.

If parents can raise their children in a way that discourages self-absorption and fosters open-mindedness, such openness of spirit will naturally develop into a warmheartedness directed toward others, toward nature and toward the universe. And with such young people in it, I am confident that the world will become a better place.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Parenting Wisdom

This week my son Ben and I spent many hours together when I went to bring him home from college. He was filled with appreciation for me. His eyes are opening up to how much he appreciates  having me as a Mom, and Paul as a Dad.

Buddhist parenting is such a joy! It is so reassuring to be able to use this practice to gain insight and wisdom in how to raise children. Like many parents, my two boys are the great loves of my life. I adore them, and it has been the most-fulfilling work of my life to have the honor of mentoring and protecting these two precious souls. I have many questions coming from readers about parenting, so I will be posting about parenting from time to time, and creating material for a book for you.

First - some basics:
What has been my goal in parenting?

My parenting goals - my children should :

Have a strong sense of self and know their own power
Be Happy
Be Fulfilled
Be Socially and academically successful
For them to have goals for their lives and follow their dreams
For them to KNOW they have the ultimate tool to solve their problems: Daimoku
Be Healthy
Be Filled with hope and vitality
Practice this Buddhism to create the life of their dreams
For them to believe in themselves!

First things first:

Before my first child was born I chanted a million daimoku to be financially successful enough to be able to spend time with him. I ended up having a substantial income and working only 4 days a week so I could have a "Mommy and Baby Day" every Wednesday.
I also chanted to be mature and have wisdom as a mother.

I chanted for their karma while they were in the womb.
I thought about all the suffering I had gone through as a child (I mentioned before that I didn't have many friends and was very lonely) and chanted for their karma to be changed by the time they were born.
I chanted for their health and for their dreams to come true.

After they were born the real fun began.
I loved having babies. And I loved them at every stage of growth. I was always on the floor playing with them whenever I could.
I knew this time was fleeting...I knew that before I knew it these two precious babies would be all grown. And in the blink of an eye they are now in their twenties. I was right.

They began chanting right away...just after they started talking.
One day they came to me saying they'd had bad dreams and I said "Oh that's easy! Let's sit down and chant about this and the bad dreams will go away immediately!" And the bad dreams vanished. 

We had one important rule we always stuck by: "Stop Means Stop." The rule was just as it says...if you are playing with someone and they want you to stop doing something "stop means stop." They shouldn't have to plead or beg or fight. Stop means stop. This rule was perfect. It worked from the very beginning. My children learned respect for each other. Stop means stop!

I knew that I could never allow them to physically fight with each other. I saw families where physical fighting was the norm. Stop Means Stop was really helpful! 

One day, they began to get into their first real fight over some toy. I stayed calm. I called them into the Gohonzon room and I said, "Common guys! We're going to sit down and chant to never fight again and to really love your brother." And I know this sounds almost impossible but they just said "Okay Mommy!" and sat down and chanted. And they never fought again. This is the truth. They have always been very close, and supported each other. 

Throughout their High School years they were always saying "We don't know anyone as close to their brothers as we are." 

I always look for the good in them. Always. My theory is that each child already thinks they are somehow inherently BAD. I know I felt that way. I had terrible self-esteem, and people were always picking on me, just like they pick on everyone it seems. So I felt it was my mission as a mother to reinforce how GOOD my boys were...to always comment on the good things they were doing, and to not focus on anything else. What you focus on increases. I increased the GOOD by saying "I am so proud of you. You ALWAYS know what is best for your life. You have so much wisdom inside you, just listen to your own heart. It knows what to do." 

One time Ben made a bad decision. He followed his friends and took a key off a computer, and was caught. He felt such remorse, he was sobbing in sadness and so mad at himself. I brought him into a hug and told him about the time I was caught taking a flower from a woman's garden on the way to school. She called the school, and the Principle found me and I had to go apologize to the woman. It wasn't pleasant, but I did it. And it was over and done with. I reinforced to Ben that all people make mistakes from time to time, but that doesn't mean they are starting a downward spiral, and that doesn't mean he is BAD to the core. The very fact that he was upset was enough punishment. He did not keep doing bad things. And I continued to look for the good. The other day he mentioned this to me, and said it was just an amazing moment for him. I helped him to turn the whole incident around. I constantly reinforced his OWN wisdom. 

There is so much more....every time they had challenges with friendships or anything else we headed to the Gohonzon. 

I will write more about parenting. 

In the meantime I hope you are enjoying the sights and sounds of the season. Tonight I went to see my songbird sing in her High School Concert. Lovely! 




Passion


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Young People Rock!

Tonight's District Meeting had 6 youth!

I am once again blown away by the level of fortune in my life. Every day is so full and flowing with fortune and benefit...even now when I have been laid off and am looking for a job. 

On Monday I drove 5 hours each way to get my son Ben from college for winter break, and we had an incredible time together. He is going through a real life awakening (as his poem I posted here in September shows), and he is really grateful for me and his practice of Buddhism. He is discovering his mission in life and exploring the realm of alternative education. 

My older son Aaron is enjoying every moment of Medical School, feeling that he is absolutely in the right place a the right time. It's a perfect fit. The culture of his Medical School, his fellow students, his housemates, his daily practice of Buddhism, the classes...everything is perfect. 

All week I've been thinking how nice it would be if they came to the meeting tonight, but I didn't want to push them. I know they are both really busy; Ben is completing a paper for school and Aaron is in the middle of testing. 

Mid-day Ben called to tell me he was planning on coming to the meeting and performing, and when I let Aaron know Ben was coming, Aaron found the time to come. We also had Zara (our songbird) and her friend Yammy. Alex came to lend his special brand of wisdom and Deb's daughter Kirsten came for the very first time! We even had a future division member, little Andy with us tonight. 

The room was filled with energy. President Ikeda talks about the youth leading the way for Kosen Rufu (World Peace) in the 21st century and he is absolutely right! These young people who grasp the power of the mystic law are unstoppable. They are developing and showing actual proof and ready to inspire and lead. 

All the members in the meeting benefited from the youthful presence. We did Gongyo together and discussed key aspects of Buddhism. Afterwards we had chili and cake. 

Everyone left invigorated and inspired by the strength of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. 

Once again I encourage you to join your fellow SGI members. Contact your local SGI organization by searching on SGI International and join your fellow members. It's the only way to get the full benefit from chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Coming together to study and share experiences amplifies all our benefits. 

I would love to hear your SGI meeting experiences. Have any of you connected for the first time, or reconnected? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hope is Life's Treasure


The purpose of this blog is to give you hope....to keep that fire burning in you --- even when it seems like everything is rising up against you. Hope is the most important thing. It is important for me. It is important for you. It is important for all those around you that you maintain hope!
I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do.
I am reading it over and over as I face the challenges in my life!
Enjoy!

Daisaku Ikeda wrote this for us on January 2nd, 2012...his 84th birthday.

Hope Is Life's Treasure

Hope is
life's treasure.

Those
who have hope
are always happy.

One can have
all the wealth, power and fame
in the world,
but if one loses hope,
one will falter and stumble
in life.

The ancient Roman orator
Cicero wrote:
"Our capital is invested in hope
rather than in money;
if that hope be abandoned,
all else will be amassed
only to be lost later on."

The arrogant
who ridicule the hopeful
invariably fall in defeat,
left with naught but regret.

On no account
must we ruin
our lives,
which shine with such promise!

Hope is
a jewel that inspires and uplifts.
As long as we have hope,
we will never be deadlocked.

Victory always awaits
and happy smiles spread
where there is hope.

In the words of
the admirable Wangari Maathai,
the Kenyan environmental activist
and friend whom my wife and I
will never forget:
"Hope is like a flower,
which, when it blooms,
does so no matter
what mood it's in
or who is watching.
It always gives its best.
We can too."

Hope is
a flower that blossoms
in effort and perseverance.
Hope is
the noble visible reward
of those who accumulate unseen virtue.

People who live out their lives
with hope
never become jaded
or apathetic.

A contributive life
of giving hope
to those who are suffering
is a source of growth,
fulfillment,
learning,
creativity
and solidarity.

The great Spanish author
Miguel de Cervantes wrote,
"Just as light shines
more brightly in darkness,
so hope should be
more steadfast in trials."

Hope is the hallmark
of invincible fortitude.
Life is a struggle -
hence, our challenge is to live
with optimism and strength,
year after year.

InazoNitobe,
the great Tohoku-born educator,
friend of first Soka Gakkai president
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi,
declared that hope
can be found
even in the darkest gloom.

Such hope, he said,
is "visible only
to the eye of
faith and courage."

Even while imprisones dor his beliefs,
President Makiguchi wrote serenely,
"Depending on one's frame of mind,
even hell can be enjoyable."

Josei Toda later said
in gratitude to his martyred mentor,
"In your vast and boundless compassion,
you let me accompany you
even to prison."

As the third Soka Gakkai president,
I have steadfastly walked
the profoundly solemn
path of selfless dedication
of mentor and disciple.

I have given my life
to realizing all
the cherished hopes of
my mentor.
My heart is clear and bright,
without a cloud of regret.

As Nichiren Daishonin writes,
"The sun breaks through
the pitch-black dark."
Courageous faith is
the sun of limitless hope.

Mentor and disciple
committed to the noblest cause
will rise above all trials and adversity;
the unsurpassed brilliance of their lives
shining on forever.

Infinite hope!
The mystic law is the source.
A boundless state of life!
Faith and practice are the key.

In the Lotus Sutra,
we find these truly generous words:
"We beg that the merit (we have) gained...
may be spread far and wide to everyone,
so that we and other beings
all together may attain the Buddha way."

Kosen-rufu us
the supreme and colossal hope
of elevating
all humanity
to a vast life-state
of peace and happiness.

Ah---
Hope! Hope! Hope!
Hope is life's treasure.

At the start of a new year,
a new day,
let us set forth,
brimming with bright hope,
the sun of time without beginning
brimming in our hearts!

Let us boldly break through
even the deepest turmoil
of these troubled times,
and be the ones to create new hope!

Let us advance in triumph,
imparting the hope
of absolute victory
to one person after another!

The French writer and activist
Romain Rolland said,
"The last hope of our day
lies in youth."

I now wish to declare for all to hear:
"The greatest hope for the future lies in Soka youth."

My young friends,
never be defeated!

No matter what trials and hardships
may befall you,
never lose sight of
the golden light of hope!

Oh my friends,
my beloved friends
whom I trust with all my heart,
live out your lives with hope!
Be victorious without fail!

Daisaku Ikeda
--on my 84th birthday,
January 2nd, 2012