Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lighting the Lamp of HOPE from Florida (How to be HAPPY after great loss)

My sons, Aaron and Ben

I spent the last week and a half promoting Ben's Memorial Mile. As always, every morning and evening, I chanted with deep appreciation for my life, and for everyone in it. I chanted to connect, heart-to-heart, with everyone I met, and to make this fun event a huge success with many people having fun and raising money for a good cause. 

Ben's Memorial Mile is my fundraiser/festival that raises money for Schizophrenia Research and Suicide Prevention. It will be held on June 17th, 2017 at 5:00pm at the Downers Grove North High School's Outdoor Track in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. You can register or donate at If you donate, please drop me a line at so I can thank you. All proceeds go to our 501(c)(3).

As many of you know, My sweet son passed into the non-physical world almost two years ago when he was 22. He developed a mental illness at 19, was in and out of hospitals for almost three years, and finally ended his life when he was stuck in the hospital and there was no place that would take him, no halfway place for him to go. This country's mental health system is broken. I tell his story in the hopes of making a difference in the world of mental Health. 

Right after he died, I could feel the release of his soul. I could feel the mental illness was gone. Poof. I could feel his spirit soar. And I read the translation of Gongyo in the back of the sutra book every morning. I was just drawn to it every day. And it opened the door to my constant communication with my Ben, which is natural, and easy. Anyone can communicate in this way. I can teach you. 

Here's the story:

The Lotus Sutra, our gongyo book, states on page 21 of the The Liturgy of the Soka Gakkai International (this is the translation of what we recite twice a day): 

"In order to save living beings,
as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana
but in truth I do not pass into extinction.
I am always here, preaching the law...
At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings 
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly attain the body of a Buddha?"

It's a longer passage. You can read it yourself in the back of every sutra book. 
The meaning is clear. We are Buddhas. We live eternally. We are always here preaching the law. 
We are not just Buddhists...we are Buddhas, right here, preaching the law, showing actual proof for our "assemblies," (friends, family, everyone), and when we recite the Lotus Sutra we are Buddhas speaking the words of the Buddha. And, as these words state...our missions do not end when our life on earth ends. We are always here preaching the law. 

Ben had, and HAS a great mission...otherwise, he wouldn't have been born to me. Right now we are helping people go from grief to relief by teaching how to communicate with our loved ones-in-spirit. Is this a Nichiren Buddhist concept? President Ikeda talks about communicating with Josei Toda every day. That's the only example I know of in our writings. I know it's my thing. And my gift to teach others. 

Do you have to believe in this concept to practice and get benefit from chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo? No. I share this because it has helped me, not because it is officially part of our practice. If it doesn't appeal to you, please continue practicing, studying, doing shakubuku and getting benefit from this wonderful practice. 

So I sat down and wrote to my boy. And he wrote back through my hand, as he does every single time I write to him. 
Here is an excerpt from my book "Our Forever Ben. One Mom's Letters to her Son-in-Spirit and his Poetic Replies." (Available on

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. 
I will cry until I run out of tears. 
I cry in gratitude that you came to me 
that we shared these twenty-two years 
that we had all those laughs, 
and all those tears, 
and all those laughs. 
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?

Your Loving 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,  
will create a life of meaning, 
of love, 
of warmth and creativity. 
Together we will live on 
    we will always live on 
Enjoy the sun 
    Enjoy this day 
            Enjoy your life. 
                            Your Forever Ben 


Beautiful. Everyone can do this. It's natural. Easy. And, when I'm missing Ben, he's right there at the end of my pen. His words are a constant source of encouragement for me.  

All last week I spoke in front of groups of people about Ben's Memorial Mile...about Ben...about suicide prevention and mental health. My determination to turn poison into medicine is coming true at every moment. Ben's life and death HAVE meaning, not HAD! Soon I'll have an online course to teach everyone how to do this. If I can do it, so can you! Have a great day! 

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo !


1 comment:

  1. Very inspiring.
    Your blog gives me strength to overcome all obstacles