Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why Do I Chant? Why do We Chant?

Enjoying every moment in Ojai, and Venture. 

Here's Etjen, my friend of 30+ years (who lives in Seattle) and me at the beach in Ventura. 

Why do I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo? 

Why do we chant? 

I am speaking for myself when I say 
I chant because it works. 
I chant to make my dreams come true. 
I chant to continue to bring forth all the creative, 
beautiful universe that lies within me, 
and within everyone. 
I chant for all those who are still suffering like I was, 
before I found the tool of chanting. 

I chant for the end of suffering ~ everywhere 
I chant for all to realize their dreams.
I chant for us all to be happy, and live in a world of respect. Kosen-rufu, as we call it.   

I chant, as Nichiren Daishonin and Daisaku Ikeda say 

"To discard the transient and reveal the true."

What does that mean? 
What is the transient? 
The transient is self doubt
The transient is fear
The transient is any part of me that doesn't see the vast potential of my life. 
The transient is any part of my identity that lingers from any painful experience I have ever felt. 
The transient is any part of me that believes that the impossible is impossible. 

What is the true? 
The true is strength of spirit
the wisdom to make the best decisions for my life
and to be able to act upon them
as I write, direct and act in the beautiful story that is the life of Jamie Lee Silver, 
who sought and found the Mystic Law, 
the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that is the deepest rhythm, 
my heart, any heart, has ever know. 

And now, because I chant, 
because I encourage 
and am encouraged 
by my wonderful friends in the Soka Gakkai, 
and wonderful friends all over, 
I have the pleasure of living my life 
sharing this incredible law, 
sharing Daisaku Ikeda's heart, 
and making friends all around the world. 

If you want to connect email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com 



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Demand Your Results! Tell Your Life What You want. PowerPrayer to Say Enough is Enough!

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

When we are chanting we are chanting to our own life, and sometimes we have to chant with the feeling
 "Life! Enough is enough! I am changing this karma NOW."

I hear from many of you who are in bad situations where you are feeling hopeless and controlled by others. RISE UP to your life in front of the Gohonzon and DEMAND results now. 

We are all noble Boddhisatvas of the earth. In The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, Daisaku Ikeda writes:
When we do gongyo "we are in effect vowing to advance kosen-rufu in accord with the spirit of the original Buddha. Every day we pledge to the Daishonin, "Without fail, I will believe in and spread the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and help lead all people to enlightenment." page 150

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

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

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

PowerPrayer to say, 
"No More! Enough is enough!”

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

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

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

No more doubting my own Buddha Nature!

No more living in fear!

No more feeling unloved or hopeless.

No more ________________ (you fill in the blank.)

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

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

I will win!!!

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






Friday, June 27, 2014

Practicing Buddhism = Banishing Fear


Embracing Buddhism gives us access to living a fearless life. 
I can personally say that chanting the name of the mystic law - Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has been my key to tapping into the vital life resources that has sprung me depression and unhappiness into a life of never ending wonder and happiness. 

As Daisaku Ikeda writes in Faith into Action, page 110:(available through the SGI website - see the link to the right) 

People who have strong faith are fearless,
they can overcome anything. 
There is no obstacle or adversity 
that they cannot surmount. 
In the very depths of their lives, 
no matter what happens 
they lead lives of "the greatest of all joys." (6/10/96) 

When I first started this blog - almost 5 years ago, I was frequently crushingly depressed. There were days I had to just put one foot in front of the other and struggle not to cry all day. 
I began writing this blog with the determination to practice harder than I ever had before, and to prove through my efforts and results - through my life itself that ANYTHING was possible. If I could free myself from the depression I'd had my whole life, and that my mother also experienced...I would show that the impossible is possible, and be able to inspire countless others. Now the depression is gone and close to 35,000 people see this blog every month! 

Thank you so much for passing the chantforhappiness.com link to your friends. Countless people have joined or reconnected to the SGI through this humble portal! chantforhappiness.com
Many have accessed the SGI thorough the SGI link to the right: sgi-usa.org

And now, I will soon enter my 30th year of practice and I see this fearlessness blooming in my life like never before. 

We talk about conspicuous and inconspicuous benefits. We can SEE conspicuous benefits. They are all around us. We get the job, we make the money, we fall in love etc. But inconspicuous benefits are the treasures of the heart we build day after day after day as we sit in front of the Gohonzon (the scroll that is the mirror of our lives) and chant to bring forth our Buddha nature, chant to do our human revolution, chant to strengthen our lives. 

THAT is where the true fortune lies. For what is a new house, a new car, a new job or a new relationship when we are cowering in fear...we are afraid it is ephemeral...we're afraid we'll lose it, we're afraid of death, of life, of rejection etc. 

This practice gives us the keys to the inner kingdom where the real treasure lies. 
Strength
Security
Faith
Fresh Determination

This week I received some interesting news. I went to a doctor and was referred to a surgeon, and just took a test early this morning to find out more. And I remain relentlessly cheerful, happy and unafraid. I am a new Jamie that I barely recognize. I haven't cried or been sad. I just feel in my life "I summoned this storm! Bring it on! I know through this adventure that I will be stronger and healthier and happier than ever before!" Because that is what I have been chanting for. I am at the mid point of this precious life and I am determined to bring 100x more vigor, more enthusiasm, more power to help other people and more results into my life! 
So if some type of medical procedure has to come first, well then it is a stepping stone to achieving all my goals...not an obstacle that stands in the way of achieving them. 

I need to be well to travel the world and meet all of my readers and fellow members!  

Today, and every day is a day of great benefits! Ben starts a new job! Thank you for all your Daimoku! And tomorrow I fly to California and meet my dear friend Etjen at LAX and drive to visit her sister in beautiful Ojai! On Wednesday I go to LA to see Kate, my mentor and friend. Who knows what the future will bring. 

Every day on this trip I will be chanting to open my life to new possibilities and to discover in myself new capabilities for experiencing love, light and happiness. I will be bringing my computer and continuing to blog ~ and I'll post some pictures for you. 

Whatever is troubling you, 
whatever you are desiring, 
whatever you do 
KEEP CHANTING every day twice a day, 
KEEP STUDYING Daisaku Ikeda and the Gosho 
with your life!
KEEP CONNECTED TO YOUR SGI FRIENDS IN FAITH
and ATTENDING SGI MEETINGS 
KEEP ENCOURAGING OTHERS and
DOING SHAKUBUKU 
and your life will unfold 
into a beautiful chapter you have written...
with every tear...with every smile...and with every effort you've made to sit down, face your life and chant!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

11 Tips for Terrific Tosos (How to Chant Joyfully for Longer Times)


Sometimes SGI Buddhists like to chant for longer times. No one has to do this, or is expected to chant a toso. But sometimes we just want to! No one will ever judge you if you don't want to join in, but we will support you if you do. 
A group of us are gathering at my house to chant from 5:00 until 8:00 tomorrow evening. Wonderful! 

When I first began chanting a leader told me our lives and our karma can be compared to a glass with dirt at the bottom. The dirt represents the karma that exists inside our lives. She said when you start to chant you stir up that dirt and see it swirling around...and if you want to really dig deep and clear it out, you might want to chant a Daimoku Toso (chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for an hour or longer) and to set a goal with specific time targets to chant per day...to do a Million Daimoku Campaign we call it. 

A reader requested I share some ideas about chanting joyfully, and with concentration - especially since so many of you are challenging yourselves to chant for longer periods of time. Thank you for asking.

Please do not copy and paste the 11 Powerful Tips. Please share by sending the chantforhappiness.com url or using the share buttons at the bottom of the post. Thank you! Jamie

11 Powerful tips:
How to Joyfully Chant for Longer Times.
Toso Power! 
From Chantforhappiness.com by Jamie Lee Silver

1. Realize that what you are about to do...chanting longer than usual ~ doing a Daimoku Toso (The word "Toso" is usually used for chanting periods of one hour or longer)  - has profound significance for your life. Give yourself credit for this worthy goal.  

2. Write your goal or goals. (Some of these goals may occur to you naturally as you're chanting) Write yourself a Power Prayer (fresh determination) connected to the greater good...to the real difference you want to make in the world. 

Remember that you are a precious votary of the Lotus Sutra and when you break through, the energy is forever changed. You are paving the way for others to break through ~ Your Happiness is IMPORTANT! 

So address that in your goals and in your chanting For example: 

"I am determined to have the most beautiful, loving relationship so that I can totally inspire other people that great relationships are possible ...I can show actual proof with my life, and be able to introduce others to this practice!

President Ikeda's guidance says you can chant to have 10,000 times more power in your prayer. So I usually dedicate some time to chanting to increase the power of my daimoku by 10,000 times! 

3. Have your favorite drinks close by...tea...water...soft drinks...whatever you like. 

4. DEMAND your results! YOU are the Buddha! Do not beg favors from a 'higher power." Remember the Gohonzon cannot get down off the scroll and do the Buddha's work in the world. YOU actually are the Gohonzon; it is inside your life. The scroll is a reflection of the highest life condition that exists within your own life. So when you are chanting CLAIM what is yours! Yes, the Gohonzon consists of the functions in the universe that are in our lives. Tell your life what you want. 

5. All change comes from within. Take responsibility for your life...not blame. Realize whatever you are going through, whatever is causing you to chant...it's your karma..not your FAULT. Chant to reach the very core of that karma and root it out forever. THEN your life circumstances and environment will change to reflect it. You don't have to figure out the deeper cause, don't worry about getting it right. Chanting is experiential, not an intellectual exercise.  

6. Keep your favorite study material close by...whatever touches your heart when you read it. And if you find yourself losing focus open it up to any page you want. I have "For Today and Tomorrow" next to me right now. I just opened it for you right now...I read "When we chant sonorous daimoku, the sun rises in our hearts. We are filled with power. Compassion wells forth. Our lives are lit with joy. Our wisdom shines. All Buddhas and Buddhist deities throughout the universe go to work on our behalf. Life becomes exhilarating." Read your passage and get right back to chanting!!!

7. Invite others to chant with you!

8. Have pen and paper handy. You'll want to write down those brilliant ideas that come into your mind while you're chanting. You'll also want to write down some of those pesky thoughts and reminders that keep coming back...things like "remember to buy dog food." Just write it down and eject it from your brain so you can focus on what really matters.

9. Put your telephone away. Tell people you are busy. 

10. After you chant write in your journal. Write to me too. I love to hear your successes and your challenges. I will only share your victories with your permission! Write me at Chantforhappiness.@gmail.com. 

11. Some obstacles might arise after your toso. And just say "Hello obstacles! I was expecting you!" When you take on the mission to change your karma for yourself and others you can compare it to turning your speedboat to HIGH. The faster you go, the more resistance you feel. 

Above all - Don't give up! You CAN change your problems into benefits. You ARE the Buddha! 

I am chanting for you to accomplish your goals and shine with happiness. 

If you are using the PowerPrayers please let me know how they are working for you! Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com

I'd love to hear from those of you who have connected to the SGI through my blog!
I am sharing your stories with Daisaku Ikeda, Sensei.


Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

PowerPrayer for a Harmonious Family


PowerPrayer for a harmonious Family
By JamieLee Silver
From ChantforHappiness.com and the upcoming book:
PowerPrayers for Chanting Your Way to Absolute Happiness and Success

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

Daisaku Ikeda states: 

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

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

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

That's it! 

The following PowerPrayer is an excerpt from the upcoming book PowerPrayers for Chanting Your Way to Absolute Happiness and Success by Jamie Lee Silver and Julia Landis 
Please do not copy and past the PowerPrayer. You can share it by emailing the url chantforhappiness.com or using the sharing buttons at the bottom of the post. Thanks! 


PowerPrayer for a Harmonious Family

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

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

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

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

I am chanting happiness and harmony into my family

My prayer is enough!

I will not give up

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

I will not give up!

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

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

I am the Buddha!

I chant specifically for these outcomes:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________




Thursday, June 19, 2014

3 Benefits of Consistent Practice, and 4 Dynamic Tips to Make it Easier!


I received a letter from a reader recently. She wrote that she chants consistently for one week, and then stops chanting for a week and her anxiety and depression immediately comes back. Every other week she forces herself to chant again, and then stops. This is a very difficult way to practice. It is much easier to establish a twice a day practice and stick with it. But how do we do this? And what are the benefits if we accomplish a consistent practice? 

How can we reinforce our determination to practice twice a day every day, strengthen our lives and create unshakable benefit? 

3 Benefits of Consistent Practice 
(Doing morning and evening gongyo and chanting daimoku consistently)
By Jamie Lee Silver of Chantforhappiness.com I share this as a fellow practicing SGI Nichiren Buddhist

1. It's easier. Once you establish the practice you just greet your life twice a day in front of the Gohonzon without having to force yourself to do it. It just becomes part of your life. 

2. Benefits flow more consistently, 

3. It WORKS! We change your karma, embrace our challenges and win over any challenges we face. We get what you want and so much more. I like to think of all my problems as a great wall in front of me. When my practice is consistent I rise higher and higher in life condition and look down on that wall - it has now become a tiny little thing. Nothing is impossible! The only way to experience this is to chant consistently. 

As Daisaku Ikeda says:


"A stone wall that seems infinitely high when seen from the ground, is no more than a slightly raised boundary line when viewed from an airplane. Similarly (by earnestly chanting), if your life-condition changes for the better, so will the way you view and respond to things. You'll find yourself surmounting every adversity with composure and thoroughly enjoying the drama of life."
New Human Revolution, Volume 7, page 103

4 Dynamic ways 
to establish a consistent practice

1. Determine that you want to use this practice to the best of your ability and STUDY. Remake your list of what you want in your life. Read the Gosho or President Ikeda's guidance every day. Chant to understand the magnificence OF your life WITH your life! Chanting consistently means winning the battle over your lesser self. Make your list of determinations and goals. What have you decided is impossible in your life? We chant to make the impossible possible. Why no really go for it? 

2. Embrace your friends in the SGI. (You can click on the SGI Portal to the right to find your local SGI, if you're not connected yet. Remember there are no dues or rules or priests. The SGI is an organization of people working together for their own happiness and the sake of others.) 

3. Establish a "Chanting Buddy" to chant with you.
Our friends in the SGI are our friends in faith. When I was first chanting 28 years ago my mentor came to my house every morning for a few weeks to help me generate Activation Energy for my practice. Today I still have several chanting buddies, and Oh! How it helps! 

4. Establish a Tele-Toso Chanting Buddy
If you can't chant together in person you can do it by telephone, or by text. Just establish a time and contact each other before and after. If you want, you can keep the telephone connection while you chant. (It's better if one person turns the volume down.) Or you can just call or text before and after. 

A Dynamic Experience in Chanting Consistently: 

Chanting consistently must be experienced to be understood. 
My dear "Baby Buddha" (the nickname she chose for herself) heard me tell her for two years to chant every morning and evening, and she replied that she doesn't do ANYTHING consistently and wasn't going to do this. No way. I kept chanting for her and inviting her to chant. And one day, she just made the decision to try chanting twice a day to see how it felt. She couldn't believe how different she felt. She also realized a deep desire and began to chant for it to happen. Now she lives in Colorado - and loves it! - she got what she was chanting for! THIS is why we practice. Our desires are worth chanting for! 


You may have other ways of creating and maintaining your consistent practice. Please share them with me and I'll share them with the other readers of this blog. Email me at chantforhappiness.com with your ideas, questions, suggestions, victories and challenges. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

4 Tips for Strengthening Your Muscle of Appreciation!


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

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

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

4 Tips for More Appreciation in Your Life! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tip of the Day for Outstanding Gongyo/Outstanding Life!



Gongyo Tip of the Day!

Daisaku Ikeda writes in For Today and Tomorrow, page 81:

"Gongyo and chanting daimoku are like starting an automobile's engine every day and driving in the direction of happiness and truth. By doing so day after day, you will gradually attain perfect unity with the universe and the law. That state is the state of the Buddha."

Perfect unity with the universe and the law!

For me, this translates into wisdom, ~ the wisdom to know what action to take at every moment that will create the most value in my life and others ~ based on my own strong prayer through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting the Lotus Sutra every day, twice a day (gongyo!). 

To develop and hone this wisdom I am challenging myself to do a perfect Gongyo twice a day...using my focus and concentration during this sacred act to bring about even more rhythm, results, happiness and success in my daily life. I know Gongyo and Daimoku is where it starts. I've known this since the early days of my practice when I worked so hard at gongyo and saw the rest of my life begin to flow more easily in the direction of my desires. 

As always, I write as a practitioner of the law, an enthusiastic SGI member, practicing since 1985. My views do not represent the SGI in an official capacity - they are from my heart to inspire. 

Tip of the day for perfecting Gongyo:
from Jamie Lee Silver of Chantforhappiness.com. 

Read the Silent Prayers over and over until you feel them. When you finish reading each prayer ask yourself "Did I feel it? Did I actually send forth that prayer? Did I feel it?", and if you didn't, keep reading it until you do. Take a moment to rephrase it in your own heart if you need to. FEEL it. PRAY it. Don't just read the words. 
It may take longer, but for many of us, our daily practice is a solo act. 
Of course, if we are chanting with others, and following a leader, we will adjust our timing to be in perfect rhythm with that leader, and not linger on the silent prayers. But we can also focus on feeling the prayer at that time. Just more quickly! Feel each one! 

This morning's gongyo took real focus. I had vivid dreams last night. (I usually do when it's a full moon). This morning I had to read the first prayer to the Shoten Zenjin over and over and over because the dream was sticking stubbornly in my mind. I kept asking myself "Did I FEEL that silent prayer? Am I really praying to the Shoten Zenjin or am I just reading words and "getting it done"? 

So I went over that prayer many times. And it felt good. When I finally really prayed to the Shoten Zenjin I also felt as if I had blessed this Gongyo...I felt as if the Shoten Zenjin inside my life were now awakened for THIS Gongyo to be THE Gongyo that would help me break through in all areas of my life. Living in the moment. Being aware. This is what the word "mind-full-ness" really means, isn't it? 

And when I got to the end of Gongyo, before the silent prayers, I had the urge to get up and do something before I read the silent prayers and I realized once more how powerful it is to resist that urge, and to STICK to my determination to begin and end every Gongyo with full concentration and no interruptions. I completed the silent prayers before getting up. 

As far as results for the week - well it has been a great week! I had excellent and heartwarming results at work...I made interesting new friends...I had many laughs at the zoo with my son Ben, and I'm returning my car to its original beauty (huge impossible thing for me!).  This weekend I am looking forward to Dahn Yoga, an art fair, and moving forward on the book this weekend.

How is gongyo going for you? 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

3 Gongyo Tips from Morag in the UK


Continuing on the theme of perfecting our Gongyo and breaking though in our lives, I offer you this guest post from my dear friend and reader - Morag in the UK:

I recently posted an essay by Ted Morino regarding Gongyo - Morag comments on what she got from reading the post: 

At the end of the guidance from Ted Morino, he says: 

Positive thoughts, 
Strong prayer and 
Clear daimoku.  

If you look at the Gohonzon, the central NMRK , the top character looks like a plus + sign (positivity), the myo looks like a swept off heart sign (strong faith and prayer from the heart) and I look to Nichiren's signature for the strong daimoku to always remind myself of the buddha life state and that it applies TO ME!

After reading Ted's guidance I took down all the extraneous prayers, lowered my Butsudan, de-cluttered the altar and had a thorough clean at the same time.  I know it made a difference.

Much love and gratitude to you for your guidance and encouragement.                       Morag  xx

Thank you Morag! 

Great Gongyo = Immediate Great Results!

This looks like my car!

Creating financial benefits through donations is not a new concept. I first learned about it through the great Unity Minister Catherine ponder in her many books on the power of the word and the power of tithing. Giving away a portion of earnings seems to be a widely knows spiritual principle. As of this May contribution campaign I decided I would donate a percentage of my income after every paycheck. 

As you know, the SGI is a unique organization. There are no dues to pay and no suggested amounts. But some of us choose to show our appreciation for this practice through financial contributions...knowing that making this financial cause also creates a profound financial cause in our lives. I am not telling anyone to donate, or presenting the SGI as any kind of pay-for-benefit organization. That's not the way it works. Donations come from the heart. I just live my life to be an example that the impossible is possible! 

Last week after I got my paycheck I computed the portion to donate and immediately went to the SGI website and sent it. Then I began perfecting Gongyo as I mentioned in the previous posts. I now read each silent prayer until I feel it in my heart, and I start and complete Gongyo with NO interruptions (if I get interrupted I start again). I'm also chanting as much Daimoku as I can!  

All I can say is the benefits are coming and they keep on coming!

As we all know, some things are harder for some people. One of my challenges has had to do with my car. I have the sweetest car, a white Acura that my wise Stepmom Janis originally bought in 2001. It has a sun roof, a great radio, and is super reliable. I've loved this sweet little car since the day I bought it from her in 2007. It marked the day I went from a mini-van to a coup. I entered a new phase of my life. 

After 2007 I went through some challenging times, had a few anxiety attacks, and put messed up the front bumper pretty badly. The anxiety attacks are gone now...but the bumper has looked bad ever since. Fixing it has been a daunting financial challenge. Suddenly, with my new financial determination and the new way I'm concentrating on Gongyo - Boom - tomorrow or Saturday I will leave the shop with a brand new car. 

Without going into details I will just say that this came about through a bunch of things happening in the right way at the right time - and here I am - in rhythm with what I really desire. And it was easy. It had a few bumps that were really humorous too.  The estimator called and told me it would be more than he'd thought and I got so upset I locked my keys in the car with the trunk open. I actually had to crawl into the trunk to get my car unlocked....laughing all the while. And when I told the estimator what had happened (still laughing - I never got mad) he brought the price down, then my Dad and Jan offered to help with the cost!  And I have a replacement car to drive while the car is in the shop (that, of course, was one of the reasons I hadn't gotten it fixed a while ago)

So once again I see actual proof of this practice. Even something as hard for me as a car repair can "magically" happen. (I know, some people find this easy...but for me it was almost impossible) But we all know it's not magic. It's a result that has a cause. It starts every day...every single day...with morning Gongyo and fresh determinations! 

If I can make the impossible possible so can you! 




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2 Tips for a Powerful Gongyo ~ Powerful Gongyo = Powerful Life!


From the early days of my practice I learned that the energy I put into doing the practice made the rest of my life flow more easily. 

Perfecting the daily recitation of Gongyo and Daimoku is the spiritual work out for the interior of our lives, so that our environments (our world at every moment, and all the people and things and EVERYTHING in it) flows smoothly...we can accomplish our goals and live fulfilling lives.  

This morning I was thinking about Shakyamuni meditating under the Bodhi Tree. He was assailed by many inner demons to make him stop or to throw off his meditation. Our practice of Gongyo every day is just like this. We are the Buddha! We must win! Our concentration will pay off! 

As I mentioned the other day, there are some unfinished things in my life (publishing my book for you is highest on my list!) so I've been reflecting and acting upon doing a more focused daily Gongyo and Daimoku. 

(As always ~ these opinions are mine, and come from my heart to yours. They do not reflect official SGI viewpoints, just those of Jamie Lee Silver at chantforhappiness.com!)

That being said, here are 2 Gongyo tips for today  ~ two ways I have changed doing Gongyo since I made my determination on Sunday:

2 Tips for a Powerful Gongyo
Don't just "do" Gongyo. Feel it. Experience it.
by Jamie Lee Silver at chantforhappiness.com 

1. Read each silent prayer over and over until I can actual feel them, and feel the appreciation. Right now I am reading each prayer three times ~ or more ~  until it sinks in. It's amazing how fresh each prayer can feel when I pay close attention. (Yesterday's poem in the World Tribune also refreshed my appreciation for Tsunesaburu Makiguchi - practice and study, practice and study!)  

2. Begin and end Gongyo with no interruptions. I now recite the silent prayers at the end of Gongyo soon after the recitation...not after finishing all my daimoku for the morning. This makes it easier to do a complete gongyo before I get up to do something else, or refresh my drink or whatever. I start and complete Gongyo. Boom. Then I can do as much daimoku as I want, with Gongyo done. Complete. With no interruptions. If I get interrupted, as I did this morning with an important call from a business associate, I begin again!

I already saw the effects of my new determination yesterday. I began the process of publishing the book and stepped through a bunch of doors in that journey. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

And I easily booked my trip to Ojai and LA at the end of the month. (Booking trips is always an act of faith, right? Pressing that "submit" button is always time for a little prayer of appreciation to my own life for having so much courage!) I'll be visiting the gorgeous city of Ojai, California with my dear friend Etjen, then staying in the LA area for a few more days (until July 5th) with Kate, my dear mentor and friend. 
I will have my own car and plenty of time to visit meetings, so if you live in that area and want to get together shoot me an email at chantforhappiness.com. I'd like to see the new Laguna Beach SGI center too! 

I'm interested in hearing how you are perfecting your gongyo! 
Doing Gongyo is like lifting spiritual weights. how strong can we make our lives? That's what we are talking about! 
Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com


Sunday, June 8, 2014

How to Change the Core of Your Life ~ Guidance From Ted Morino, SGI-USA Study Department Chief

How to Change the Core of Your Life


By Ted Morino, SGI-USA Study Department Chief.


First of all, before you begin – RELAX. CLEAR YOUR HEAD. CLEAR YOUR HEART! But especially your head – your mind. Relax emotionally, mentally, physically. It is important to be very natural.

Second, when you chant, you really need to use your eyes. FOCUS ON THE GOHONZON. Then listen to your voice. Focus on the centre part of the Gohonzon, "myoho" – mystical. You have to use your eyes. This is extremely important.

When you really use your eyes, your mind stops. Clear your mind by strongly focusing your eyes. Let your thoughts rest by using your eyes. When you're busy thinking all the time, your mind is sucking energy. This means your mind is taking over (which isn't healthy) but your core isn't changing because the energy isn't being directed there. What you really have to do is look at the Gohonzon with power and let your mind relax.

The Gohonzon in your life already knows your worries and desires. Come from your heart – JUST CHANT WITH YOUR EYES LOCKED ON THE GOHONZON. Then when Nam Myoho Renge Kyo comes into tune with the core of your life, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo will melt away and dissolve karma. It will change into strength so you can become strong and clear-minded enough to accomplish your desires.

In this way, you come to enjoy the act of chanting because you're feeling the core of your life, [Buddhahood]. You're fusing with the highest potential in your life, represented by the Gohonzon. WHEN YOU'RE THINKING STRATEGIES, YOU'RE NOT CHANGING YOUR KARMA.

Question: When I chant I often imagine what I want. I picture it in my mind. I see it happening in my mind. Is that okay?

Answer: Positive imaginings are a good thing, but not strategies. If you are imagining ‘how to make it happen,’ instead of the images of it, then you are strategizing.

Prayer should come from the heart! The Gohonzon knows your worries and desires. Keep them in your heart, focus on the Gohonzon and simply chant. If you can do simple good daimoku and gongyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo goes stronger, deeper, to expand you, dissolve difficult karma and generate positive results. Daimoku should come from your core. If it comes from the mind the mind becomes stronger and so does the confusion.

When you close your eyes or avert them from the Gohonzon, the power to fuse the core of your life with the Gohonzon weakens and the mind plays around. Chant clearly, confidently, comfortably. We need to keep checking ourselves. It's easy to get carried away by force of old habits and chant emotionally or while uptight.

DON'T READ WHILE YOU CHANT! DON'T DO ANYTHING WHILE YOU CHANT! JUST CHANT. When you read, read. When you chant, chant. After good daimoku, you may read, or your schedule may require you to get right to work or do things you need to do. You may have a busy life, but don't have busy daimoku. Don't be busy while you chant – FOCUS! Through focused daimoku, you can melt away negative karma. Karma is going to be dissolved.

Chanting is a time to cultivate your life, not think about your strategies. Daimoku is the time to enrich your Buddha nature, not the time to have a planning meeting for your life or day.

In my head: Positive imaginings
In my heart: Deep prayer
In my mouth: Clear chanting 

4 Steps to Improving Our Gongyo and improving our lives


Here are a few of my favorite quotes about Gongyo from Faith into Action, one of my favorite books of quotes by Daisaku Ikeda, arranged by category. 

"Gongyo is a practice that calls forth and activates 
the infinite power the microcosm inherently possesses. 
It transforms your fate, 
breaks through any apparent dead end 
and converts suffering into happiness. 
It creates a transformation, 
a revolution of the microcosm. 
It is a diagram in miniature of kosen-rufu in our lives." 
Page 116

"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion," 

the Daishonin says (MW-1,119). 
It is by chanting powerful daimoku like a lion's roar 
that we can move the Buddhist deities, 
the protective forces of the universe. 
The voice is very important ~ it has profound power. 
While naturally being careful not to disturb your neighbors, I hope that you will endeavor 
to chant cheerful and powerful daimoku 
that reaches all the Buddhist deities 
and Buddhas throughout the ten directions." 
Page 119

As always, the words I write here are mine alone. I do not represent the Soka Gakkai although I am an active and enthusiastic member. Jamie Lee Silver, Chantforhappiness.com

Nichiren Buddhism is called a "practice" because we are constantly improving and honing our daily life by using our daily practice. We see the results of our daily practice every single day.

We do "Gongyo" our recitation of the Lotus Sutra twice a day. The recent book called "The Heart of the Lotus Sutra" gives us great insight into the meaning of gongyo in our lives. I really recommend this book. You can get it using the SGI link on the right or going to sgiusa.org. When I do Gongyo I am aware that I am speaking the words of the Buddha...and I AM the Buddha. Each of us IS the Buddha! 


Most of us have experienced that when we skip gongyo it takes more energy to do things in life. The flow fades away. Happiness seems to fade away too.  So we make a determination to do gongyo twice a day and stick to it with just the occasional recitation of sansho (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo recited three times) when gongyo just cannot be done in entirety.

This is a practice for our whole lives. We can't get all upset about an occasional slip up. AND we can focus on continual self improvement in our lives and in our practice. 

So --- 
Today I am going to focus on one aspect of improving Gongyo and thereby improving our lives...

A FRESH DETERMINATION TO start and complete Gongyo without interruption. 

I know, I know. We live in an interruptive society. In America we are constantly interrupted by just about everything...texts, calls, people...and our own restlessness!

The other day I was reflecting on some things in my life that are unfinished. Not long after that I realized that sometimes I step up to do something before reciting the four prayers at the end of Gongyo. Hmmm. Life is cause and effect, right? 

So I'm issuing all of us a challenge. 
Every day, twice a day, let's focus on starting and completing gongyo without interruption. We can do it! We can put away our cell phones. We can complete the silent prayers at the end before we get up to make more tea. Then if we still want to chant we can return to chant. But we will have completed gongyo. 

4 steps for improving Gongyo

1. Make the determination to do it! 
2. Put the phone away
3. Chant Gongyo from beginning to end
4. Don't get up until after the last prayer

Can we do it? Yes! 

Do you have some tips for completing gongyo for us? 

Write me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com