Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dearest Friends and Brothers

Here are my boys Aaron and Ben. This is a golden moment in a wonderful time. Aaron is completing applications for Med School, and Ben is about to enter his first year at Miami of Ohio on a scholarship for running. Aaron and Ben are closer than any brothers I have ever seen. 

When they were little Buddha boys, and even before they were born, I made the determination that there would be no fighting in my house EVER. And I have a vivid memory of a time just after we moved from San Francisco to Chicago in 1999. Ben was 5, Aaron was 8. And I heard a scuffle in the other room. It wasn't severe by most people's standards but it was enough for me to put my Buddha foot down! 
I called them both in front of the Gohonzon and said we are going to chant for 5 minutes. We will chant to love our brother and never fight again. "Okay Mommy" they said and we all chanted together. 
They never fought again. 
Such is the power of the mystic law. 
It is that deep. 
They are incredibly close. 
I had one other rule. "Stop Means Stop." When someone is doing something the other doesn't like...they only have to say stop one time. This actually worked. Seriously. 
And I have heard other mothers say wistfully "If only I had a moment during the day when my boys weren't fighting." and I have seen little boys hurt each other on purpose while in stores or on the street with their mother....and the mother lets it happen because she doesn't think she can stop it. And my heart swells with appreciation for this practice. 
How wonderful to have a practice that solves real life problems!!!!
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!!! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

About Setting Deadlines for results...

I received a note from a reader about deadlines. They were wondering what to do when the deadline has passed, but the result has not happened. What does this mean...and what do you do next.

Since Kate is here I am going to ask her to address this:

We set deadlines to motivate OURSELVES into action. A deadline is not for the universe to respond to us. We chant. We take action. The deadline comes. We either win or we don't. If we don't we pick ourselves right up again and redetermine. The goal is to never be defeated. Sensei always says "To win in life is to never be defeated." That does not mean that we will never fail. It's our spirit that matters. The battle we fight is not with the universe. It's with our inner demons...the ones that say things like "obviously chanting doesn't work because I did not get my dream by my deadline...or...maybe I should have a different goal...maybe I wasn't MEANT to have that thing!....or what am I doing wrong? Maybe I wasn't chanting the RIGHT way!" It is at that juncture that we must recognize the opportunity to deepen our faith and our understanding of the profundity of Buddhism. ANYTHING that DRAINS OUR LIFE FORCE is the negative function. Any inner voice that causes us doubt and hopelessness IS the negative function. Once we decide we will win no matter what ~ we need only to continue. We've already won. The battle is with the negative function within. 
Ultimately, deadlines are irrelevant. Set them if you need them to motivate yourself. But decide from the onset that you will win no matter what. And hold YOURSELF accountable. Not the universe. If it is a crucial moment and you are in a dire predicament, financially, or health-wise, it is time to DEMAND the protection of the Shoten Zenjin. No prayer of a votary of the Lotus Sutra will go unanswered. If your prayer is going unanswered find out what it means to be a votary of the Lotus Sutra. And as you are chanting DEMAND the result that you want through your prayer. Awaken to your mission and realize that all your suffering is your opportunity to encourage other people. That is what is meant by turning Karma into Mission."

Enjoying Chicago in the days leading up to our presentation

Here i am with my dear friend Kate Randolph. 
We went out on an evening boat ride off of Navy Pier on Sunday with Aaron and Ben.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kate's Here!

This is our big week! 

Kate, my dear friend in faith is here from Los Angeles. She introduced me to this practice in 1985 when we were both volunteering for "The Great Peace March Across America" 
It was a grand vision we were a part of....hundreds of people were going to walk across America with support from various businesses and Hollywood stars. No one was going to have to carry their belongings...tents would arrive at your daily destination and be set up when you got would be made by volunteers in the various cities. In the was not a success...a small group did end up completing the walk on their own with no support, but most people gave up when the walkers got stranded in Barstow, California. The desert. And they realized the support was gone. 
Something about the vision, and the times, awakened a burning hope for peace in many people's hearts, and two of my life-long friendships were born at this time. I met Kate, and I met my dear friend Joan who lives in Emeryville, California...and who is brilliant and wonderful and insightful. 

Kate told me story after story about how her practice of Buddhism had changed her life. One of them really impressed me. She was already an actress at the time, and had met many famous people. She wasn't the type to be "star struck"...until she met Paul Newman. He had gotten behind the fundraising efforts for the walk, and she had some practical things to talk to him about as part of her volunteer role. She said she got in front of him, looked into those baby blues and her mind just melted. She couldn't communicate or think. She went home that night and chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for an hour...and from then on she was composed and could carry on a conversation with him. "WOW" I thought. Maybe I have found the thing I have been searching for...the practice that was PRACTICAL...where I could pick whatever problem I was having....focus my intentions in a direct way...and SOLVE those problems. I had been LOOKING for this solution for many years. I KNEW it had to exist. I looked for it everywhere...but had only uncovered the types of practices that truly annoyed me...ones where you had to be "initiated" or chosen, and ones that said your desires were the cause of your suffering. Kate told me that in THIS practice, your desires will lead you to happiness because they will make you chant and when you chant you change your karma. I started chanting and became a life-long Buddhist. 
Fast forward to today. Kate and I are giving a symposium on Friday at the American Alliance of Theater Educators Conference in Chicago. Our seminar is called "Reawakening the poetic Spirit" and is based on three things: Daisaku Ikeda's essay "The Poetic Spirit", The play "The Belle of Amherst" in which Kate BECOMES Emily Dickenson, and the book "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. This book is about how right brainers...those who see connections, can speak creatively and see the whole picture...those who didn't necessarily do well on their SATs...that their day has come...they are more needed and valuable than ever...and have a bright future. It's an amazing book. 

On Friday Kate will be presenting part of the play, and we'll bring the essay to life, and have people do exercises that reawaken their poetic spirits. 

We've been chanting about this for many months, and planning and writing and studying. On Friday it will all come together. 
Please send Daimoku for all the lives we can touch that day. We don't know the size of our audience....but we have been chanting to touch each and every one of them with our poetic spirits, and be by example, the essence and the spirit of Kosen Rufu in action. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Here I am

Just thought you might want to see me in my on my patio, enjoying an evening with a friend. It is inconceivable...yet incredibly real and wonderful to be living in this sweet apartment. Just to the right of me, inside, is my altar and Gohonzon. Last night's meeting here totally rocked! We have a new family joining! A sixteen year old sweetheart and both of her lovely parents. I am living the life of my dreams right this very minute. This very minute! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Ideas about Effective Chanting

As you know, attitude, thought and intention are very important while chanting. Don't get me wrong though, if you can't seem to muster the correct attitude,  it is still worthwhile to chant in front of your Gohonzon and have a blank mind, a wandering mind or an emotional soul. These are all fine too. Chanting is never wasted. I think sometimes we may spend too much time trying to be the first thing I'm going to say is you don't have to be perfect! Chant anyway! 
But here are a few more things that have helped me:
I was asked the question "What do you do when your mind wanders?" and I'll tell you this:
Sometimes I have a lot of things I need "to do" in my brain. It is for this reason that I keep a pen and a pad of paper by me in front of the Gohonzon. That way, when I am thinking "Oh goodness I need to call so and so back" I take the pen and paper and empty my brain of the task. Then it's on the paper and I don't have to think about it any more! 
Sometimes I'll also get on a roll with intention and think "Oh man, this is a great prayer I've tapped into...I want to write this one down so I can share it with others and remember to chant it again." and I write that down too. 
In the back of my journal I sometimes write the prayers I'm really focusing on right now. 
And the prayer that resonates most with me now is the prayer to do my human revolution and raise my life condition. We all know that all change comes from within right? And when we make a fundamental change in our life condition by chanting, our environment changes because of this. It has too. We are connected to our environment in every way. All desires are encompassed in this prayer. ALL DESIRES. 
I just picture my life spiraling upwards and everything around me spiraling upwards too. 
I also chant to join my spirit and my prayer with Daisaku Ikeda's. He is the President of the SGI as many of you know. He is a man, not a god. He is a man with fierce determination towards peace on this earth and the happiness of all people. I share his determination for peace and happiness. That's why I write this blog. I sincerely want YOU to be happy. I am here to help you and chant for you, and encourage you to chant courageously. Connect with what you TRULY desire. Don't ask for permission to chant for your desires. Just do it! Your desires are the fuel for your absolute happiness. You can do it!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How I know this chanting works

 I am an entirely different person than the Jamie who first began chanting in 1985.

First of all, I really COULD NOT experience or see my own self worth. All I could see was how I did not stack up to the other people around me. I compared myself to others and always came up short. I was frightened of so many things...and whenever my wonderful parents would tell me how great I was I would cry, because I was born with a sadness that could only come from karma...not from any circumstances this lifetime.

What is karma? The sum total of all the causes you've ever made over all the lifetimes you have ever lived. How do you know the results of those causes? Just look at your life at this moment and you will see them. And the beauty of THIS practice is that you can CHANGE ANY of that karma. Right here right now. You don't have to figure it out...all you have to do is chant. Yes! It is that easy!

One good thing about my childhood...and young adulthood...was that I somehow knew in my heart that I could find the release from my suffering. I KNEW this practice had to exist. I KNEW there would be a solution to the unhappiness in my life...and I searched high and low for it. I looked in all the major religions...all the minor ones...various metaphysical teachings (wow - you hardly even HEAR that word anymore) and I kept saying "no, this is not it and I kept looking". Many of them said only the "enlightened" ones could be enlightened and that just made me there was some key you had to find but they wouldn't give it to you. Not for me. Others said that the CAUSE of my suffering was my somehow I should just get rid of my desires. But I LOVE MY DESIRES...they make me who I am. I kept searching until I found the one practice that says "earthly desires ARE enlightenment" and you can follow your desires. Bingo. 

Now, at this time in my life....I have a deep feeling of the sacred, sweet, beauty and power that is my life. This feeling, this knowledge, goes WAY BEYOND "self esteem". I have faith in myself...I have faith in my life to deliver what I need. I KNOW my worth...and I live my life in happiness...contributing to others...being happy and spreading happiness. I bring it everywhere I go! 
I am not confused...or sad...I am CERTAIN now. And incredibly happy. You can be too! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Chant for what you want

I've had some more questions about techniques of chanting. 

First of all, remember that you are not chanting to something outside your are chanting to your very life itself...and the life of the entire universe.  Through chanting Daimoku you have the keys to access the power of the universe. There is no need to beg. There is a need to VOW, and DETERMINE...and to clearly tell your life that you want results from your chanting NOW!!!

That's the power of chanting Daimoku. And please, do not chant under your breath! Chant as if you mean it! You are speaking to the strong. Take deep breaths, remember to breathe. Breathe from your belly...feel the energy surging through your body. SIT UP STRAIGHT! Be STRONG! You're chanting! Chant strongly. 

And a question was asked about doing Gongyo. When you do Gongyo you are speaking the Buddha's words. YOU ARE THE BUDDHA. I believe that is the purpose of doing gongyo...and it puts you in rhythm. It is very important, and once you know how to do's fun! 

Do Gongyo and Daimoku every single day - twice a day...and make your list of what you want...and go for it! Take action! You can't just chant, you must also take action. Buddhism is common sense! 

If I can achieve my goals - so can you. You have the same tools! Go for it!

What do you think about when you chant?

I received this question this morning - it's a very important question. 

What do I think about when I chant? 

The answer is this:

FOCUS on your desires...your desires FUEL your strongest prayer. All of your desires are good...all are worthwhile. Chant for yourself...chant for others!
I also have a few suggestions for what to chant for as well:

Chant to do your HUMAN REVOLUTION! 

Chant to raise your life condition! 

I have been chanting this way a lot lately. I know that if my life condition is high....well, do to the interconnectivity of all life (we call this esho funi), then all will be well. 
When I do my human revolution I make the change necessary for ALL THE CHANGES I WANT TO SEE IN MY LIFE. We all know that change starts from within. When you chant you use the exact tool you need to make the inner change! 

Isn't that exciting? 

You hold the keys to your own happiness! 

And REMEMBER - chant when you are happy too. Continual chanting every single day is how to build your fortune. Daisaku Ikeda says it's like putting one piece of paper on your desk every day. At first it might not seem like much...but over the years you accumulate so much benefit - all you can do is smile and be happy! Everything just comes out beautifully and you trust the power within your own life like never before!!!

Just like Me!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Boundless Joy From the law!

Right now I am experiencing the longest string of continual happiness I can ever remember in my life.  I have permanently changed my life state. 
I have heard of this happening to many other Buddhists. 

A dark level of unhappiness has permanently left my life. I have, indeed "raised my life condition". 
We talk about this phrase all the time, and what I am experiencing right now is the proof of this phrase. 

I'll describe it like this: 

When you have a problem or sadness it's as if it is in front of you like a wall. When you "raise your life condition" you elevate yourself so high above that wall, that you look down on it thinking "I can't believe that wall ever loomed so large in my life...look at how tiny it is now."

That deep level of sadness and despair that I have battled my whole life has just gone poof. I have even made it through the usual cycle where I feel it again....and no...I'm still happy. 


Here I am, once again, living in paradise, paying my own bills, having my own life. I see my boys often   and have a great time with them. Ben and Aaron have both spent the night here at different times this week. I have something fun to do every single night...and when I don't, I've been going to yoga and I'm going to start really working out again with a trainer. I'm about to get in the best shape I've ever been. 

And I am so content. Some of you remember the reason I began this blog...and my sad, broken heart. Well...there has been the opportunity for that sadness to resurface lately...and it hasn't. I just keep chanting to continue opening my life to the happiness and appreciation I feel in my heart. I am chanting in appreciation for my health, my self...and of course to make a tremendous contribution at work...for all doors to open...and for all my precious fellow members and friends and YOU! 

Everything is possible. 

It's a gorgeous summer day here in the Chicago Area...if your'e HERE, enjoy the day. 

And wherever you are....enjoy each the Daishonin says: "Suffer what there is to suffer and enjoy what there is to enjoy, and continue chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo no matter what happens. Then you will experience boundless joy from the law."

I am experiencing Boundless joy from the law~~~!!! And so can YOU!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fireworks in Paradise

Let me again assure you that anything is possible. If I can sit here today writing you from my patio, at 11:00 at night, feeling totally safe and secure and happy....then there is NOTHING in your life you can't change.

This weekend was a full fourth of july weekend. I got to see my boys here at Versailles swimming...I went to a lovely art fair with a dear friend...I read a book...I chanted...I had my soon to be ex-husband over to swim...and all of us - the whole family...went to watch the fireworks together.

A HAPPY DIVORCE IS POSSIBLE. Not that I am trying to sell you or anyone else on the idea of divorce. no...I believe in HAPPINESS. I know that happiness is possible. I sit here in testament tp happiness.

All those years...I knew it wasn't the right time to split up the family...but I made the bold move to suggest my husband and I live as room mates (a year and a half ago) as we dated other people and prepared to split our lives. Meanwhile every day I could wake up with my son there to drive him home from there to remind him of certain things and feed him good food as often as I could...
And in that time I found this lovely place...I found a new job...I had my hip surgery. And now I look at my life and all I can do is chant with appreciation for how lovely it is!
My lifelong friend Eddie came by my apartment yesterday with a cool money tree plant...and he totally rearranged my bedroom so that it is cozy, sexy...and I can fit the chaise lounge I left behind in it.

I chant every morning and evening and want to shout from the rooftops....My VOW has come true. I have health, happiness...and a divorce that inspires everyone!!! My kids are happy...everyone is happy! I knew it could happen if I set my sights to is and chanted about it. I never listened to what anyone said about how it can't happen (and I don't keep those kinds of naysayers around me anyway) My friends are positive people who believe anything is possible...just like YOU my friends. Don't give up. Did deep in your prayer just like I did. Chant to change in anyway possible to make your dreams come true. I DID. And I am SOOOOO happy! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!!!!