Monday, October 31, 2011

An Answer

I received a question from a woman who wants to chant to get her boyfriend back. She asked how to chant and whether or not to put a date deadline on her prayer.

Dear friend:
The most important thing is to chant from the bottom of your heart for what you want.
Chant to strengthen your life. Really, I've found through personal experience that a life free of searing desire and pain is possible. I know this. and you can achieve it. When I was chanting to get reunited with someone... my constant prayer was to strengthen my life so that I would never suffer in this way again. Nothing was worse for me than heartache.
And you have to understand that it all ties in with what we call "Life Condition." When your life condition is high enough, you naturally attract all that you need into your life. Remember, it seems like this man is outside of your life, when in fact he is as deeply connected to you as everything else in the universe is. And the most powerful prayer you can have involves making the changes that you need to make internally so that all the changes you are looking for happen externally. We call this Human Revolution. Human Revolution triggers a revolution in all your surroundings...all the you feel...everything. It's important to remember that you are going through what  you are going through because of your karma. Not your FAULT, your karma! And chanting to do your human revolution will change your karma. Decide that you will not live in the world of hunger and heartache anymore!
And it shall be so. AND PLEASE...realize that you deserve to be happy! You deserve contentment. You deserve Love and all good things. Whether it is from this man or someone better for your deserve to be happy! You are an emissary of the Buddha. Read the blog post from a few days ago. Accept the powerful positive functions into your life. Banish all negative functions!
Chant with determination. Make your list of what you want.
When you chant remember that you are not asking anyone for are VOWING to be happy. You are summoning up your life force. It belongs to you! Claim it!!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Guidance! Don't let negativity defeat you!

When you're feeling hopeless... 
Remember that:

Our own negative patterns are always there...
ready to take over. 
When you are reprogramming your thoughts...
your karma...and your life...
you command the Buddhist Gods (functions) at your disposal. 
Remember, the Gohonzon cannot come down off the wall and do the Buddha's work. 
You yourself are the Buddha...
you are the Buddha doing the Buddha's work. 
You DESERVE the support of ALL the protective forces of the universe. Try chanting like this!  
"Pray that instead of devils or negative, destructive forces infiltrating your being, 
Brahma, Shakra, and the gods of the Sun and the Moon--positive, protective 
forces of the universe--will enter your life! 
Pray that they will enter the lives of all members in your district, 
your region and the entire membership of the SGI, as well. 
If you do this, your strength will multiply a hundredfold, a thousand fold. 
With such prayer, with such faith, 
you will be able to realize a fundamental transformation 
in the very depths of your life. It is the secret to 
achieving your human revolution."

World Tribune 2008

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Here's Our SGI District!

Here we are last Wednesday night! We're missing a few of our members, but you can tell we come from all over the world. The Downers Grove Illinois District of the SGI has members from China, Japan, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Trinidad, Oak Park, the South Side of Chicago and other parts of Chicago. 
Every Wednesday we join together to chant, to study, to learn, and to act as mirrors for each other. We've seen each other overcome job struggles, and we've helped each other through the death of a parent. We celebrate weddings and victories encourage each other every week. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

What is Enlightenment?

A reader posted a comment asking this question: What is enlightenment? And they asked...after you are enlightened can you still go in and out of being enlightened? 
And I'd love to give you the definition of enlightenment in this particular Buddhism.
This quote comes form the introduction to the first book of Nichiren Daishonin's writings published first in America in 1979:

"ENLIGHTENMENT is not a mystical or transcendental state, as many might assume. Rather, it is a condition of the 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 explains it so well...and I can feel these words with my life. I do understand my purpose in being alive....I know I am a Silver Sunbeam of light and encouragement, and I live my life with the constant thought of what I can be doing to help others have hope and be happy. The other day a Buddhist who had recently returned from Japan said "If you don't have any hope, you don't have any compassion." and that thought has been rolling around in my head...of course...hope is an essential to life and happiness of everyone. How can we help everyone have hope? Those who have a tool to solve their problems have hope!

 Think about the word itself "enLIGHTenment".
 And I know that every single morning when I sit in front of my Gohonzon and pray ernestly to meld my prayer with Daisaku Ikeda's and express his ichinen for the peace and happiness of everyone...I know I access the highest wisdom for my life. And whenever I feel stuck, or sad, or restless...I know just what to people...and I'll break out of that feeling right away. I also know that all my dreams and prayers and hopes are within my reach...for me and for others...because I have a tool to make them all come true. That does sound to me like enlightenment, and it is available to everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy Gohonzon Birthday to me!

What's a Gohonzon Birthday you ask?

It's the anniversary of the date I received the scroll originally inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin depicting the highest possible Life Condition.
It's the day that I decided to devote my life to practicing the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration...and chant every day, twice a day.
From the beginning I was committed. I really was.
I had so much hope in my heart...that this was it....this was what I had searched my whole life to find...something that I could put my energy into...that would come back channelled any direction I wanted it to go. I was born knowing that this sort of practice existed...that I could truly find a way to overcome the suffering I was experiencing. I was born with what we call in Buddhism "a seeking spirit".
I searched high and low for this practice. Mostly I found practices that said "Your attachments to your desire are the CAUSE of your suffering" and I thought "forget THAT!" I will keep my attachment to my desires, thank you...they are part of who I am.
So I kept searching for the practical means to increase my level of happiness and channel my energy.
In the fall of 1985 I met Kate Randolph through the "Great Peace March Across America" you probably never heard of it...but it was a really big deal at the time. A man had a vision of a traveling tent city of regular people who would walk across America from LA to Washington. A lot of celebrities got behind it, and it excited my imagination. I called LA and asked how I could help. I was living in San Francisco at the time...looking for a job and in a deep depression. I'd been laid off from my job working for Werner Erhard and Associates and was really bummed about my life and my future. I was 25 and deeply confused and scared.
Through the Great Peace March, I met Kate Randolph and she spent an entire day talking to me about chanting. She told me this one story that stays so vividly in my mind. She said she had to work with celebrities and she'd gotten all tongue tied around Paul Newman. He was a superstar...not just a star...and a great humanitarian as well. She said she chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for an hour and could then just talk to him like a normal person. She had a solution to her problems. That's just what I was looking for! So I found a wonderful local Buddhist Mentor, Dolores Hepburn, and was raised as a baby Buddhist by so many wise and loving Buddhist "parents". Kate remains my lifeline to wisdom and strength to this day!
And here I am....having raised two delightful Buddha boys...having had a great career...having had so many wonderful experiences fueled by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...and with so many more to come. And I have so much to look forward to. Every day is a delightful unfolding of revealing my own Buddha nature and making a difference with every breath I take!
Remember to view EVERY challenge as a benefit!!!! Every single one! You can turn each one of them into magic by chanting about them!!! Don't give up! Find a Buddhist parent in your neighborhood! And if you need extra help ask me....just DON"T GIVE UP and your life can be brilliant and sparkly and beautiful...and you can overcome ALL of your problems! I promise!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What to Chant when you're not sure...

If you are not sure that what you want is good for you - 
chant for wisdom...
chant for Strength, 
chant for happiness. 
Chant to reveal the Buddha you already are....
for the beautiful diamond life that you are to shine brilliantly forth. 
You deserve to be happy right now...
Chant to really FEEL how much you deserve to be happy! 
And study President Ikeda's Guidance, read the gosho and help others learn to chant. Then you can NOT go wrong!!!! 

Ask for Exactly What You want...and remember....

I just received the question...
"How do I chant to get my boyfriend back?" 

And the answer is "Chant for exactly what you want." If you want your boyfriend back...chant for it. Picture him coming to you. Chant for exactly what you want...

And Remember,,,,what I've been blogging about here for the last several days is a prayer that is deep enough that it truly encompasses all of your desires...and in fact...raises you out of the Hunger of always wanting more, into a higher elevated state. 

Try chanting to unite your prayer with Daisaku Ikeda's prayer for peace...chant to unite your heart with his heart for all of humanity...and watch how deeply THAT prayer affects your life!

And yes, go ahead and chant "Gohonzon! I want my boyfriend back!" Chant with your passion! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Universal Prayer for Peace

That's what I'm calling it...maybe someone else already called it that too. 

but now is the time I am totally devoting my prayer to the oneness of mentor and disciple. 

As I chant I am picturing Daisaku Ikeda with his hands together chanting...I am imagining what is in his mind and praying to share his feelings...share his heart...share his feel his deep, deep determination for all the people of this planet....I am chanting this way sincerely, and deeply, and watching our blue blue planet spin in my mind. 

Yesterday in the morning I was chanting this way and picked up my phone to read a headline and found out that the Occupy movement was now taking place in 952 cities all over the world.
I couldn't help but let my tears of joy and relief flow....

It is happening. 

Kosen Rufu is at hand. 

The people are rising up and saying No, not anymore my friend. 

Many of us remember when Al Gore was campaigning and he kept telling us about the richest 1%, and many of us knew what he was talking about... but all of us have felt stuck and uncertain about what to do. 

And now we see it happening. I don't know how all this will turn out. I don't have a crystal ball. 

I do know that for his entire life Daisaku Ikeda has been talking about the people....about how no one is more powerful or more important than the people...and that ultimately...they cannot be stopped. 

I am returning to the Gohonzon right now to pray for the people....for all of us...for all of them...for the 99% for the 1% for us all on our beautiful, dear planet!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spiritual Independence

Spiritual Independence

A Bold New Concept in your own Human Revolution ...taking responsibility for your own faith and Happiness!

This blogpost is taken from Kate Randoph's Lecture on 10/12/11. I've written about Kate before. She introduced me to this practice 27 years ago this month. She lives in Los Angeles, and gave this lecture to the Downers Grove District by phone. 

What is Spiritual Independence? 

The concept originally stems from the date of November 28th, 1991 when the entire lay organization of the Soka Gakkai was excommunicated from the Nichiren Shoshu sect by the Priesthood. The priests had come to believe that they were endowed with powers and rights that were somehow more important and valuable than the common person. For those of us who study the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and practice in the Soka Gakkai with President Ikeda, we know that this is an erroneous belief. We know that each person is a complete Buddha possessing all the power of the universe right within their own life. We tap into this power by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...the name of the Mystic law itself. 

So what does Spiritual Independence mean to us inside our lives? 

Ultimately it means standing up for the sake of your own happiness. Many of us still are "waiting for something in our lives to change" rather than feeding that change ourselves. 
Each of us in the Soka Gakkai can use the power of our determination to declare that by November 28th, 2011 we will all fully own our own DESTINY, and have the breakthrough we have been longing to have!!

We all know that the priesthood doesn't have anything that we don't have, but how exactly does that translate into our lives day to day? Most of us, raised in this culture, have some residue of Judeo Christian beliefs.  We tend to practice with some degree of belief in our own fundamental "badness" and that we must go through "suffering" to expunge that from our lives. Because of this, many of us live lives of "endless painful austerity." 

The idea that we have to chant for hours and hours and hours to create results is a residue of this belief. 
This does not mean we never need to chant, or shouldn't chant for hours on end if we want just means that we don't have to keep waiting for our lives to change...or chant as some form of punishment in pain. No! When we are chanting we can be celebrating our lives. Celebrating our inherent goodness...bringing forth our own Buddhahood! We need to do our daily practice of Gongyo twice a day to keep up the momentum in our lives. But we don't have to wait for the miracle to come from somewhere else. We can create it right now!

It is time for ourselves to free ourselves from that notion. 

Most of us spend our lives in one of the lower four our basic life tendency. 

The lowest world of Hell is a world of depression, hopelessness and lack of motivation. 

The world of Hunger is a world of never being satisfied...and always looking for something to fill the hole inside. 

The world of Animality is the world of forever bowing before those we consider more powerful, and stepping on those less powerful. It is a world ruled by greed and fear. 

The world of Anger is the world of "I am right and you are wrong." It is a world ruled by frustration and the urge to be in absolute control of everything and everybody. 

The higher ten worlds are: Tranquility, Rapture, Learning, Realization, Boddhisatva and Buddhahood. These are worlds you create in your life, the lower four worlds are worlds where you live in reaction most of the time. As Buddhists we can elevate our basic life state. That is what we call Human Revolution. And because of the interconnection of all of life, when we raise our fundamental life state, we simultaneously raise the life state of our home, our community, our workplace, our country, our planet and the entire universe. 

Because of the doctrine of the Mutual Possession of the ten worlds (the fact that each one of the ten worlds contains all the other ten) we can INSTANTANEOUSLY raise our life condition. 

When we chant from this realization we can change our minds this very second...change our states right here, right now...without having to hold the belief that "only when I chant three hours a day for a year can I change this" NO we can change it right now, then chant in appreciation and celebration. 

A Buddhist scripture talks about the singing of the caged when the caged bird sings, it attracts all the other birds to come flocking to it. When we chant in happiness we attract more happiness into our lives. 

We must stop thinking "Only when I can chant days on end without stopping can I change my horrible life!" NO ~~ We have to train our lives to be joyful right now! 

We must take responsibility for our lives. 
This does not mean we must take the blame. 
This does not mean that we are "GUILTY". 
Responsibility is objective. 
Responsibility doesn't have morality. 
Responsibility doesn't have emotions. 
Responsibility is just a fact. 
I take responsibility for my own I can change it! 

And instead of judging others...
ask yourself "how much do I care about that person?"
And instead of judging yourself  - ask yourself the same question: "How much am I valuing my own life?"

Whatever is the greatest source of your suffering ~ you can say "I'm DONE with that!" 
Then celebrate yourself in front of the Gohonzon and DEMAND that the Shoten Zenjin rise up in your life to support you. (The protective forces of the universe)

Bring forth the power of your own Spiritual Independence ~ ANYTIME ~ ANYPLACE ~ In ANY SITUATION...ON A DIME! 

Barbara Snyder recently returned from Japan. Ms. Marinaka (not sure of the spelling) told her the most important thing right now is for us to be VERY VIGOROUS in our prayer. 
Let's rise as the philosophers of JUSTICE. 
President Ikeda has said "Now I am watching over all my disciples."
 Bring forth 10,000 times more effort than before! Our Lives are LIMITLESS!! Catch how much more potential exists in YOUR Life! 
HAVE A BROADER VISION...then you will attract everything you are wanting. When your heart unites with the heart of a great teacher...Kosen Rufu is at hand. World Peace through individual transformation is happening. Can't you feel it? When you chant this way your strength will well forward and a path will come forth. 
Think to yourself "How is my life connected to the happiness of all? How can my breakthrough have a HUGE EFFECT on the world?
What does it mean "the happiness of all humanity"?
It means to treasure each other. Chant for each other to break through! You must realize your limitless capacity to be happy....happier than you ever dreamed possible! Limitlessly happy! Limitlessly ALIVE! That change is not somewhere over the rainbow!!! It is right here! Right Now! 
Make it happen. 
Say "I will do it! I will unite my heart with a great teacher for Kosen Rufu from this moment and I will manifest my unlimited power! I will tap more power than ever because I deserve it! I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra just like Nichiren Daishonin! 
It starts HERE! 
It starts NOW!
It starts with ME!"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fundamental Darkness You just can't see!

If you've read my last few blog posts you know I made some fierce determinations. I saw some things I knew I wanted to change inside my life.

Well....I have to be the one to inform you that when you make fierce determinations, it is inevitable that the fundamental darkness that is inside your life (the functions that hold you back) will rise up in your life. 

This happened to me last week, and I just couldn't see it for what it was...a function....I thought it was REAL! I started suffering from intense longing. 

You see, we all have a "world" that is our home world (meaning the one we return to most often...our karma). Mine is the world of HUNGER. And hunger can be a world of suffering, or it can be an enlightened world. I was suffering....longing for my sweet Mommy who died two years ago in November, longing for my boys away at college...longing for a special man....ouch...I was hurting so bad. 

So I called my dear friend and mentor in faith, Kate and she gave me great guidance. 

First of all she reminded me that this was a good thing...for the longing to resurface. It gives me another time to stare my basic life tendency in the face and scream back at it...and change this suffering forever! She said I could decide right here and right now that I was changing my life state forever....from the world of Hunger to the worlds of Boddhisatva (helping others) and Buddhahood - also helping others and chanting. Happiness. And I could continue to chant to raise my life condition and do my own human revolution....changing positively every day from the inside out. 

She talked about Spiritual Independence. She said this is the time for all SGI members, and every person on the planet to realize their own power. She said I didn't have to go back and chant three hours tonight...or do anything else radical. I just had to stare the hunger in the eyes and say no more! 

It all seems so simple doesn't it? And the funny thing is so simple. And I immediately felt freed from the grip this feeling had on me.

She said - change the feeling...then go back to the Gohonzon and celebrate your life. Awesome. I can do that. I can do that! And so can you! She said the SGI is centering on November 28th - spiritual independence day...the day that the SGI members were all excommunicated from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. Truly a day of rejoicing. Truly a day and a time to realize we ALL have the Buddha nature right within our lives, and the key to connecting with our every happiness. We need NOTHING to draw it forth. It is who we are. It is who YOU are. We need no blessings from priests or anyone else! All we need is to claim our own freedom! 

Claim your freedom today!

Look at your deepest it anger...hunger...hell...greed...and stare it down and declare your own happiness! EVEN IF IT RESURFACES...CONQUER IT AGAIN!!! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Remember Your Prayer is a VOW!

I have to say this over and over again because it is such a foreign concept for everyone. 

When you are chanting you are NOT ASKING ANYONE FOR ANYTHING. You are making a vow that YOU will succeed deep within your life. You can vow to be happy. Vow to be healthier than you've ever been...VOW that your family members will be happy. Vow to live a life that President Ikeda would be proud of. 

Vow to feel deep, deep appreciation for your own wonderful self...for you ARE THE BUDDHA. 

You are the Buddha. 

Enjoy your life! 

When you realize you are the Buddha you can access every joy in  life. Keep focused. You are the Buddha. Chant to believe it with all your heart and soul. 


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happiness is Possible at every moment!

I just want you to know that the most satisfying, and fulfilling happiness is possible now...and now...and now...and all the nows to come. 

This is how I live every single day. Really. Yes!!! 

I go from one lovely moment to another...and it all starts with morning Gongyo. President Ikeda says: "Win in the morning and you win in life" and he's right! 

Each day I go from one delicious moment to another. 
Here's a typical day for me. 
I wake up before the alarm. 
I lie in bed and list things in my life that I appreciate.
I get up, get dressed and go ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes, then do some weight machines if I have time. 
I come home, bathe and make some decaf coffee. 

Then I have my date with my life! 

Every morning I begin my day with an hour of Daimoku in front of my Gohonzon.. My goal during my prayers is to connect deeply with my life and encourage myself. I aim for the prayers that make me feel most energized and connected, and I am constantly writing new determinations and goals. 

I like to write these in narrative form and really feel how much I desire them and why. 
I sit comfortably in front of my Gohonzon and I pour out all the feelings, longings, happiness and sadness in my heart. I know that I am joining an ongoing ceremony by chanting in front of the Gohonzon.  I feel the pulse of my life. I say what I want to say. Sometimes I write insights into my journal. If I think of things on my to-do list, I jot them down so I can get them out of my brain. And I focus on what I want for myself and for others and for America and for the world. I chant for the mundane, and for the sublime. I VOW that each one of these prayers will come true. My prayers are a vow! The hour just flies by! 

One of my constant prayers is for YOUR happiness. you know I wasn't always happy, right? Oh Man, how I used to suffer from depression, and hopelessness...and a feeling of being unloved! And I was searching for a solution in life. Well, I found it, and I want as many people to find it and experience what I have as possible. I WANT people who are suffering to find my blog and feel hope. Then I want MORE people to find my blog and feel hope!!! And it is my deep desire to have each one of you connect with President Ikeda through the SGI, find your own SGI Tribe close to you, and carve a life of happiness. I want to reach people who are suffering through as many types of media as possible. My goal is to publish many books....books on parenting as a Buddhist, having a successful career, generating love in your life....and on and on. I welcome calls from publishers. I also love being on the radio. I was just on the radio this week (talking about Nam Myoho Renge Kyo of course!) and my friends who listened said I should be on the radio all the time. Wouldn't that be wonderful!!! I could reach even more people. Maybe I'd have "Jamie's Chanting Hour"! How's that sound? We could chant together and I could encourage everyone through various words of Nichiren Daishonin's and Daisaku Ikeda's and fellow members all over the world. If you're a person who knows how to make these things happen I invite your emails!

Then I get dressed and drive the five minutes to my work. What I do is so much fun that it doesn't feel like work at all. I greet all my friends and I set about creating wonderful things for my students to do through my connections in the community. Sometimes I call people I don't know and make them into new friends. And I make more connections and create more events. Last week I had thirty students attend a senior fair and do blood pressure checks, glucose testing and educate people on various health related topics. I helped them network and introduce themselves to other professionals. I took pictures of their smiling faces. It was a blast. 
During the day I usually have other networking meetings with people in person, to see if there are more ways we can work together. My life is this delicious flow of encouraging people and making new friends and cultivating old ones. I truly enjoy every moment in the day. 
After work I have friends to play with, or a date with a man, or I come home to my lovely apartment and am so happy here! I love reading your emails, and writing my blog posts. 
Every Wednesday night I host a rocking Buddhist meeting in my apartment.

....and each day....I begin anew...with happiness overflowing...and so can you!!