Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jamie's Experience - How to Turn Poison Into Medicine ~ Feel Free to Share

Jamie and Ben


I’m a Mom, and a writer. Being a MOM has been the best thing I’ve ever done. I embraced it wholeheartedly, raised my two Buddha Boys with the Gohonzon (the scroll we focus on when we chant that brings allows us to bring forth our highest life condition from within. It is a mirror of our inner lives, and our Buddhahood.) as their focus for creating happiness, and enjoyed every moment of Mommyhood from singing Tura Lura Lura to them as I tucked them in at night, and waking them up singing You are my Sunshine. I loved them with all my heart. My children chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as soon as they could talk. (NMRK means: I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration and is the title of the Lotus Sutra)

Before my first child was born I chanted a million daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyos) for him NOT to have the same karma as me. I grew up having trouble fitting in. I had few real friends and always felt that happiness lay somewhere outside my grasp. I was determined, through my prayer, for my child to be self-assured…have friends and have a goal in life that he was passionate about.  Everyday, I read “On Attaining Buddhahood” to him while I was carrying him. Aaron Michael Silver came out raring to go…self directed…a leader in every way…a boy who had confidence, wisdom, poise. He made friends and has been elected to leadership everywhere he goes. He is now a doctor in Phoenix, practicing Buddhism.
Aaron and me in Phoenix
Aaron was the most loving and compassionate brother to Benjamin Lee Silver, who came along when Aaron was almost three.
Ben was highly creative...a writer, poet, singer, songwriter, boy with whom I laughed and laughed, he had perfect and natural comic timing.
Ben found his passion and success in running. He was the ONLY student ever to represent his high school three times at the Cross Country state meet. He was adored by all of our town, Downers Grove…people came from everywhere to watch him. College coaches were coming out to see him when he was only in 7th grade. He was what they call a running phenom.  And he was practicing Buddhism his whole life. Ever year he gave a talk on SGI Buddhism during civics class in High School. Both my sons chanted with me, and got their omamories when they went to college.
Ben’s goal during High School was to get a full scholarship for running to college. He accomplished this goal.
BUT, when he got there, to a school 5 hours away from me, his ankle was injured from running, and he could never get back to his star running days…he could not run at all.
Of course I was worried about him…but I never could have predicted that the anxiety that started coming on would lead to a full blown mental illness..and cause him to descend into paranoid schizophrenia…a brain disease with no real cure. It was as if someone had removed my sweet son’s head, and put the head of a stranger on it.
I fought with all my might. I chanted one, two, three four hours a day…sometimes more. I carried the words of President Ikeda and the Gosho in my heart at all times.
I had a fierce determination to turn poison into medicine, and I continually chanted to see through sensei’s eyes, hear through his ears and have daimoku as strong as his! I always chanted to show actual proof no matter what.
I had a job where I was totally protected…years of building fortune through chanting rose to protect me. I gave motivational speeches throughout the hospital system and to communities everywhere. I set my own hours and had a wonderful boss who didn't micromanage me. It was perfect, since I had time to chant and go to all the doctor's appointments as I focussed on helping my son stay alive and get well.

I returned to this quote from Sensei in For Today and Tomorrow over and over:
"Faith is light.
The hearts of those with strong faith are filled with light.
A radiance envelopes their lives.
People with unshakable conviction in faith enjoy a happiness that is as luminous as the full moon on a dark night, as dazzling as the sun on a clear day."
I chanted to be that sun as I went about giving motivation speeches and brightening people’s lives.
I responded, like the fierce disciple I am. I determined to WIN. NO MATTER WHAT. And I determined to create value from this in a big huge way. As a disciple of Sensei, Daisaku Ikeda, I chanted to WIN, to continue to prove that this practice works. No matter what. I vowed to win in every aspect of my life…my job…my health…my relationships…BECAUSE of this obstacle, not in spite of it, so I could encourage others. 
AND I chanted every day for Ben to live a life of value that he loved!
And even though he kept trying to take his life…I thought Ben would live, and speak in front of young people urging them to stay alive. I thought THAT was his mission.

But no. He got stuck in the hospital…and stuck in our broken mental health system. There was nowhere for him to go, no one would take a young man who had had so many attempts to take his life. And July 2nd of 2015 he left his physical body to begin a new journey…and set me on a new journey myself…as a grieving mother…as a “suicide loss survivor” a club no one wants to belong to..
Daisaku Ikeda states, in Ikedaquotes.org, that:

"Buddhism identifies the pain of parting from one’s loved ones as one of life’s inevitable sufferings. It is certainly true that we cannot avoid experiencing the sadness of separation in this life. 
In the Buddhist view, the bonds that link people are not a matter of this lifetime alone. And because those who have died in a sense live on within us, our happiness is naturally shared with those who have passed away. So, the most important thing is for those of us who are alive at this moment to live with hope and strive to become happy. 
By becoming happy ourselves, we can send invisible “waves” of happiness to those who have passed away. But if we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by sorrow, the deceased will feel this sorrow too, as we are always together, inseparable."  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
In those first few days after Ben “became eternal” I could feel his release. I could feel his eternal life. It had not disappeared. There is no DEATH.
I could see him in the birds, the wind, the sunshine.
The deep connection I shared with my son opened this world to me in a whole new way…just like the death of Josei Toda did with President Ikeda...as you know, in his heart, President Ikeda converses ceaselessly withhis mentor Josei Toda.

I chanted with all my heart to make the biggest medicine of this horrible nightmare of losing my beloved son. I posted on chantforhappiness.com "My Dear Friends, About My Ben" on July 4th, 2015. Here's the link: http://chantforhappiness.blogspot.com/2015/07/to-my-dear-friends-about-my-ben.html
My determination was for not one person to be discouraged. My readers, my dear friends, went through Ben's illness with me. I cherish all of them, all of you, with all my heart. 

Linda Johnson came to visit me. She said I would create meaning from this, and there was no need to rush to figure it out, it would just happen with my continued strong practice. Thank you Linda!

All our lives, Ben and I had communicated through poetry.
I began writing to him.
And on a Friday, at the pool, I wrote and here’s the exciting thing…I kept my pen in my hand and heard his voice in my head and wrote what I heard him say so clearly:
Dear Ben,
Soaring above us all
free and flying
you got your way
you ended your torturous road
you are released
you are released.
And now, you will have all of us chanting for you
as your mission continues,
right here,
right now, forever.

Oh Ben,
Write through me
laugh through me
live your happiness all around me.

My dear boy, I know you never meant to hurt me. Not ever.

Ben, maybe you’re sitting right next to me on this Friday ~
right here by the pool.
What do you have to say?

Mom,

I did it.
I meant to do it.
~ at the time ~
and I knew it would make you sad,
but somehow I still had to do it.
I had to obey my mind, my legs, my feet,
my incredible surge of strength and courage.
I could not say no.
It had to happen.
And this story is not yet written, is not yet told ~
but will be.
My life, and death
HAVE meaning,
Not HAD.
Dearest Mom, my closest friend, 
my absolute love, 
don’t despair.
I know you, you, you
will create a life of meaning, of love, of warmth and creativity.

Together we will live on
Together
       we will always live on
Enjoy the sun
       Enjoy this day
              Enjoy your life.
                            Your Ben


Magnificent! I heard hi saying every word, and wrote as he was talking. I do not believe I am special. I believe life is eternal, and to be open to it is a gift we can give ourselves. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS BE open.

My grief therapist told me what I was doing could have a real impact on other people suffering from grief. And when I attended a suicide loss support group I realized something important…because I have constant communication with Ben, I am sad, but not tortured in the way that others are…wondering what would have been said in a note…tortured by thoughts that they could have done more…I got my note…a week later. 

And while chanting to turn poison into medicine I came to realize that I could teach others how to write to their “deceased” eternal loved ones in a way that they could also receive letters back. It’s easy. Anyone can do it. I have taught many. I can teach MORE.

Fast forward...
I knew it was time to make major changes.
I wanted to move…I had always longed for the heat
I traveled to Florida, where my wonderful nephew, Dr. Josh Silver lives, and decided to move to St. Pete by the anniversary of Ben’s “becoming eternal.” When I got home from visiting Florida I chanted 3 hours a day for a week for all the doors to open for me to come alone (I also finalized my divorce in 2015) to St. Pete.
Somewhere along the way, as I was chanting,  I decided as long as I’m moving to Florida, and as long as this Gohonzon and my life has power…I am moving to an apartment overlooking the beach! So I chanted for that.
Josh, his girlfriend Nikki and me 
at the St. Pete/Clearwater SGI center

Turns out my step Mom had a cousin who lived in St Pete Beach, in a building that’s almost impossible to get into…overlooking the water. This cousin found me an apartment that is not even usually rented, five stories above the gulf…with sunrises…sunsets…lightning..a spot of heaven. I took it! I set my goal…by the anniversary of Ben’s becoming eternal, by July 2nd, 2016, I’d be living on the beach!
Right before I came here, I managed to get my book into written form so I could have it for Ben’s Memorial Mile on June 11th. It was a huge success of an event! People of all ages came to Ben’s High School’s outdoor track for many different races, costume miles, mile walks, kids runs…with music, fun…and we and raised 22k for schizophrenia research.

RIght after that I gave away everything I owned, packed my car and drove to the beach! But that’s not all…Poison into medicine here we come!
As soon as I got here I reconnected with a young friend of my nephew’s and she got her Gohonzon just a few weeks ago! My mission continues!

My therapist Amy continued to tell me my book was important for others…and that my book actually follows the most revered grief therapy models, and takes them to the next level… because I was “integrating” Ben into my life through our writings, and that’s the most important piece of grief work. What’s more, I’m not writing like a medium, there’s no magic involved. It’s an easily teachable modality.
Senses states in Ikedaquotes.org:
"Through struggling to overcome the pain and sadness that accompanies death, we become more aware of the dignity of life and can come to share the sufferings of others as our own." 
Daisaku Ikeda
And in conclusion! 
This week, I got confirmation that the an organization devoted to mental illness awareness and suicide prevention is going to publish my book, and has invited me to host writing workshops for parents, siblings and friends of suicide loss survivors. I am now going to be a published author because of my sweet, sweet boy. And his eternal life goes on and on and on. My vision for our works together is vast. We are writing it all together.

Ben told me today:
Mom, this is easy. 
All these people can be helped. 
Everyone can be soothed by knowing their loved one is right here…and there is no “death.” 
I’m right here. 
I will always be right here. 
I’m your biggest cheerleader.
Your forever loving Benjamin Lee Silver. 
Forever. 
Your Forever Ben.

Poison into medicine? I’ll say. I’m living in paradise. I’m writing up a storm. I have my Ben and mission laid out.
Poison into Medicine! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! 




19 comments:

  1. Thank you so much. I can't imagine the pain. Life is not for sissies, and your buddhist practice is amazing. I sense your life shining through as I read your words. Many blessings to you and to your bright life.

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  2. So beautiful a writing, Jamie. Congratulations on the publishing of your book. I'm so excited for your happiness on the beach in Florida. I don't know how to select a profile. But I'm not anonymous. I'm your friend always, Joan

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  3. Thank you for such words of healing comfort.

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  4. You are ever so inspiring!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jamie!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. BEAUTIFUL PROFOUND AND AMAZING!

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  6. You have provided a lesson in living truth and demonstrating joy in a way that moves through grief. Thank you.

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  7. Truly inspirational, Jamie! More power to you and lots of love

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  8. Amazing!!! it is so encouraging and inspiring... all moms should read this.

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  9. So happy for you! I've been following your story and am thrilled at your amazing benefits. I have many personal and health challenges I'm trying to win over so am inspired by your continual efforts and victories. Thank you for sharing your work!

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  10. I am returning to Israel ,(an ambivalent decision) but I have been living with my oldest son here in Phoenix. I think I know your son here who I assume is also what we laughingly call a Bujew !!. I have been with you along your painful journey as I walked my own. I am so happy you turned your poison into medicine. With gratitude,Lynn Fux

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    1. Yes, he has always been proud to be a Bujew!

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  11. I'm sad to read this. What a brave mother you are!!

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  12. What I find so amazing is that everything I get from you appears so timely as well as profound. Like you know intuitively what kind of assurance I need.

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  13. Hi Jamie, thanks for sharing with us your touching story. I was recently introduced to SGI Buddhist in Singapore and while doing some reading up on my own...stumbled onto your blog.

    Can I know if you felt disappointed with what happened to Ben after your strong faith and fervent chanting?

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