Monday, August 31, 2009

Quote from Daisaku Ikeda

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

Who or what are you Chanting "to"?

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

I told him this:

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

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

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

See for yourself.

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Human Revolution Day 33!

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Successful Speech !

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

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some great results!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hard Part!

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

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

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

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

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

I am moving my life onward and upward!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is Karma anyway?

Karma is different in this practice.

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

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

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

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

What a week!

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

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

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Make your own list!

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

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

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

Buddhism is for everything!

It's okay to chant for anything...

"Earthly Desires are Enlightenment"

Go for it!

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

Benefits! Benefits! Benefits!

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

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How to start chanting

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

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

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

Deeper Realizations and Healing

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 2, 2009


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

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


Believe it or not!

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

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

What CAN'T you chant for? NOTHING!

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

What does it mean to be a Buddha?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These last few days I have:

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

Enjoyed myself at several fun parties...

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

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

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

Your own Buddha Nature~You Buddha YOU!

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

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

Enlightenment and Buddhahood

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

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

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

This is pretty amazing stuff.

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

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

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