Monday, May 28, 2012

Back to Business...and blogging! And the Marvelous May Campaign!

I'm so sorry I could not write very much while I was in California. Now it's Memorial Day in America. I just put on a memorial day party on my first day back. My apartment is almost cleaned and I can take a few moments to write. 

This vacation was such a special time. It was the first time my boys and I have gone on a long vacation together. Ever. And it was so perfect. Every single morning we joined our voices in harmony by chanting and doing gongyo. It is impossible to describe the splendor of chanting with your children...through all of their lives. I remember their tiny little voices when they were little "OK Mommy" they'd say when I invited them to chant. Now, at the ages of 22 and 19 they are men, and their sonorous voices send chills down my spine when we chant together. And when you chant together like this...well, you just KNOW the day will hold wonderful tidings!

And our prayers gave us the most rhythmical and beautiful vacation ever. We never argued...we always agreed on what we wanted to do...and we went from one precious moment to the next. Since we have so many dear friends in California we spent almost every night in one of their homes. We stayed in San Anselmo, Benicia, Agoura Hills and Los Angeles. And we were on our own through Santa Cruz, Big Sur and Pismo Beach. 

And on Saturday night we were at a huge Buddhist leader's meeting in Santa Monica at the Ikeda Auditorium. The passion of the Taiko drummers was amazing. And I gained an even deeper understanding about the May Contribution Campaign. 
It really exists for us to challenge us ALL to change our karma regarding money and what we call "fortune". Most people do not come to this practice already rich. Most are struggling in some way. That is precisely why many begin the difficult practice of chanting. When we challenge ourselves to contribute a specific amount during the May contribution campaign we can use it as a cause to change something deep within our lives. We can choose what to change. We can change our financial karma forever. As Soka Gakkai Buddhists we MUST change our financial karma. We have the opportunity to inspire so many who are still suffering. 

And if we study and truly understand this practice we KNOW that the only way to change any of our circumstances starts with changing our lives on the INSIDE...doing our own Human Revolution...changing the core of our lives so that our circumstances can change to reflect our diamond-like selves. 

That is where the financial contribution campaign comes in. Every May we make determinations and goals. 

I heard many experiences about finances. Kate was chanting to be able to donate a certain amount and she didn't know exactly where it was going to come from. She got a call about a substitute teaching assignment. And they told her they had no money to give her for "prep" time. Ever teacher has to prep. If they don't pay you for prep, you still do it, and essentially work those extra prep hours for free. Kate said "No, I won't take it without prep time" and she said there was silence on the other end...then the person who wanted to hire her agreed to her price. 

Kate stressed that it's not just about the money. It is about how we value ourselves as people. It is about what we feel we deserve and standing up for ourselves. YES. I believe we all need to learn this more deeply...and put it into practice! 

We ALL need to really value our lives...our worth...ourselves as noble Boddhisatvas of the earth! 

I am still collecting your experiences! Let me hear from you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pismo Beach Sunset

Beautiful, isn't it? 
We spent 7 hours winding our way down Highway One, clinging to the coast. 
It was majestic, sunny, windy in some places...indescribably beautiful. 
We made friends with some adorable beach squirrels who clearly loved people (and bread!)

After making our way down Big Sur slowly, we landed at Pismo Beach and found the coolest hotel overlooking the beach. The waves were still big and the water was still the incredible indigo of the Big Sur Coast. We stayed at the Kon Tiki Inn and enjoyed every last minute of ocean view, ocean sound, ocean smell. I would love to return some day!
Now we're in Los Angeles and will be spending the weekend with Hal, Kate and Sarah. If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know that Kate introduced me to this practice and is my mentor. I will have lots of encouragement to share with you from this weekend. Today we'll be going to the Getty Museum. It's perched high above the LA Basin...has glorious views and incredible art. The structure IS the art, the setting, location and views are all a part of the art. 

We shall see...what will today hold. 
Now to chant! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Sur Today!

Aaron and Ben on Big Sur...making our way on a beautiful, sunny, spectacular day!
I chanted about this vacation for months...and we are having a great time! 

Big Sur

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Santa Cruz, California

Here we are in Santa Cruz California. 

What a beautiful place! 
This picture was taken from the wharf last night at sunset. 
Today we spent at the beach...playing in the water, hiking, running, climbing huge rocks. 

We had dinner tonight at Shadowbrook...the most romantic and interesting restaurant in the world...built into the side of a hill with huge tropical vegetation everywhere...just lovely. The boys liked it as much as I thought they would! 

It's great to just relax and enjoy ourselves together! 

Tomorrow we head down the coast to Big Sur. The boys have never seen that. I'll post more pictures! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo! 

We're on Vacation!

Here we are staying on the beach in Santa Cruz California! 

When we lived in San Francisco this was our favorite place to take a day excursion. I always longed to stay the night and wake up here on the beach. And now, with my two sons, we are waking up with this view this morning! (It will look like this in a few hours after the fog has burned off- right now I have a moment to write a blog!)

It has been a magical, music-filled vacation so far. We stayed with our friends Amy and Ian and their son Andrew for the first part of the trip in beautiful San Anselmo in Marin County. There is only one Marin County in the of hot tubs and hybrid cars at the base of Mt. Tamalpais! 

We spent Saturday up on the mountain playing music with our friends. We were there celebrating Julia and Cliff's thirteen years of marriage. This very event was a benefit of Julia's two-year practice of chanting! Ben sang some of his original songs, I sang John Denver songs, everyone played guitar and sang, then we came down the mountain...taking the Bolinas Fairfax road (! what a wild ride !) and Amy and Ian hosted a party for us in their redwood-decked home nestled on the mountain side. At one point in the party almost everyone there joined us for a few minutes of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo! And Danielle, and Julia and I did Gongyo together for the first time! 

Every morning the boys and I have done a rousing gongyo and chanted daimoku. It is incredible to chant with their low voices! 

On Sunday we headed to Donna, Peppino and Aleza's house in Benicia. We went to a benefit concert for Voena, the world-renowned children's choir out of Benicia. I wish I could go back in time and join this choir. Their costumes were colorful, flowy scarves and they moved freely in a joyous dance of life! They are headed to the London to sing for the Olympics this summer! Then Peppino played and Aleza sang. I wish everyone reading this blog could have been there!

The next morning we all chanted together and will reconnect for another of Peppino and Aleza's concerts in the LA area on Friday. 

There is nothing like friendship, is there? We have been friends with all these people since we lived in California from 1984-1998. And seeing them again it feels like no time has passed - except we don't have babies ~ we have grown children bursting with potential! We have raised young men and women who are poised to make their mark on the world! 

I received an email from a reader today who feels hopeless...she wonders how I made it through the times when I felt hopeless myself. And there were plenty of those times. 

And I say to my reader and to all of you ~  please don't give up. I look at my joyous life my sons who love spending time with me as much as I love spending time with them...we are traipsing though California laughing and joking and loving life! We are free to enjoy every moment as it passes! We are safe, we are happy, we are healthy. And every morning our voices rise in harmony as we fill our lives with the rhythm of the universe and chant Daimoku together. 

And I say...all of our happiness was BORN in those dark times when I did not give up. We've met with several of my Buddhist mentors so far this trip. One of them remembered me crying. A lot. But I kept chanting and didn't give up. I forged a new life through my tears. 

My prayer has always been  ~ I am determined to BE the BUDDHA OF ABSOLUTE HAPPINESS! I am determined to be happy and enjoy my life so that I can be an inspiration to those who are still suffering...and I can inspire them with my own life! I am determined that MY LIFE is an example that ANYONE can be happy! Let me use every moment, every chant, every word out of my mouth to make a cause for my happiness, and the happiness of others. 

This has worked for me! Look at me taking my wonderful boys on their victory lap! They are happy and successful and we are appreciating life together! Don't give up! happiness is yours to claim. 
Claim it THROUGH your tears, not despite them! Claim your happiness NOW!!! You are a Buddha!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Aaron and Amos in California

Amos Snell and Aaron at 
Amos's house in Vallejo California

We are celebrating Aaron's graduation from college, and his entry into medical school by going on "Aaron's Victory Lap" to visit all our dear friends in California. 

We're staying with our amazing friends in San Anslemo (Marin County) right now. Today was our day with one of my first Buddhist Mentors, Amos Snell. Amos was the leader of the first Buddhist meeting I ever attended. He told me "This practice is way too hard for'll never be able to do this." And, of course, I HAD to show him! I was so determined! 

At that time we had meetings every single night...and Amos had a way of putting things that totally inspired me. 
And he inspired me with his life. 
"You a Buddha! Dream BIG!" 

I've repeated Amos's words to many young practitioners! 

We spent the afternoon listening to his stories and encouragement. He told us about his daughter. When she lost her second set of teeth in an accident they both sat down and chanted for her third set of teeth, and she got them!

Amos encouraged Aaron to accept the challenge to live a limitless life. 

Amos told Aaron to think beyond his own everyday concerns and think about how much potential he could have if he practiced consistently everyday, and fully believed that he could take on ANYTHING with his practice. 
And if he doesn't chant sincerely he could be cheapening his ability to really help other people in the future. 
Amos said life can be like the frog at the bottom of the well who can see directly above him, and aim for the light, but there's so much more he can accomplish....there's a whole world beyond the well... Aaron compared that to an ant who has no idea how tall a building just aim for the impossible. Amos kept saying the word "limitless"...and asked Aaron to consider giving himself endless potential by practicing consistently and giving his all to the practice. 

Amos told Aaron about meeting Martin Luther King in Alabama when he was young. King told him "By the time you're sixteen, if you haven't found something worth dying for, you are not living your life." Amos was later imprisoned four times by joining MLK in his fight for civil rights for all. 

Then he moved to San Francisco and started his family. His grand daughter is now at Soka University where she know's Kate's daughter Sarah. I'll get to meet her when we go to Soka University next week! What a small world! 

Thanks for all the encouragement Amos!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another Awesome Benefit!

I remembered to get a shot of the sun to show you on Saturday!

This is the second time in my life I have influenced the weather.

I know, I know, it sounds impossible, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway.

The first time was on my wedding day.
December 20th 1987.
We woke up in Oakbrook Illinois and it was so overcast that the clouds were hanging so low that we felt we could touch them. It was a cold, cloudy and ugly day.
My good friend Etjen, who was in my wedding,  joined me and Paul and we chanted for an hour and a half and the sun came out and every single cloud went away. I even had a friend say "Jamie, I KNEW you couldn't be married on a cloudy day!"

Well, this Saturday, the day of Aaron's graduation from the University of illinois,  I looked up the weather for the weekend. Rainy...thunderstorms...not very many clouds...they didn't cover a wide expanse, but there was no wind to blow them away. They were predicted to make things awful all weekend. At least that's what it said on the weather app on my iphone. 

Well, I thought...just the challenge for this votary of the Lotus Sutra!

I chanted sincerely with full concentration for an hour and 15 minutes for the wind to blow the clouds away. I chanted by all the power vested in me as an honorable votary of the Lotus Sutra, just like Nichiren Daishonin, just like YOU. And I could feel my prayer working. I mean it!

And we had two beautiful days. No rain, perfect weather. We spent most of the weekend outside, walking around U of I's quad with Aaron and Ben and every other beautifully dressed family and graduate. It just would not have been the same in the rain!

Remember, Daimoku is for the impossible!! Make it happen!

Great Picture, and a New Financial Benefit!

Jumping into their future! 
My son Aaron and his friend Katie on their beloved quad 
at the University of Illinois.

A here's two very recent experiences I think you are going to love~!

You know it is true that you can chant for anything. Anything. 
My constant prayer day and night, (and even when I am not in front of my Gohonzon I have this prayer in my heart) that all the people who are suffering, hopeless and searching will find out about Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and have the opportunity to experience the power of chanting. My prayer is actually to END suffering in this world...through my transformation, my example, my prayer and my heart. THAT is my constant experience my life as the Buddha, being the Buddha, doing the work of the so many of us are! 

AND, along the way there are things I need to accomplish that. I must be happy. I must be financially self-sufficient. I must build upon the foundation of fortune in my life to be healthy and able to attract what I need when I need it.

So ~
Tomorrow Aaron and I embark on "Aaron's Victory Lap" to California. He was born in San Francisco and we have many friends to visit all up and down the coast of California...we have friends and memories, and new memories to make. Ben joins us after his test on Friday. He is in the midst of career research and this trip will be awesome for him! He's thinking of joining the world of education...and so many of our friends are educators. 

OKAY - the experience:
Last week I just decided that what I really need right now is $5000 out of the blue. A windfall. Right now. So that's how I chanted. I chanted in front of my Gohonzon, I chanted in my car. I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra and I need this now to accomplish my mission! I have made contributions to the SGI with every paycheck...putting money into my bank of financial fortune by helping the SGI grow. I contribute sincerely, from the heart. 

Last Wednesday the doorbell rings and my financial advisor, a wonderful friend is there. I forgot I made this appointment and run around tidying up. She shows me my "portfolio" of funds and accounts that are finally all in one place. WOW! I ended up finding $5000 that I didn't even know I had. The effect was  immediate! 

Thank you life! Thank you Gohonzon! 

Today I pack! Today I complete all I need to do to set forth on this journey free and clear...the Buddha of Absolute Freedom with my fabulous Buddha Boys! We are visiting my Buddhist mentors, and my two dear friends who began chanting after knowing me and the boys for 10 years. We are spending time with Hal, Kate and Sarah, and Donna and Peppino D'Agostino (the famous, talented guitarist) and their daughter Aleza! We are staying at the fabulous "Flynn Inn" with dear friends from my days at the Bay Guardian Newspaper in San Francisco. And we will be participating in an anniversary ceremony for our friends Cliff and Julia, along with Danielle, amazing earth mother and her family. We'll be soaking up the energy of Mt. Tamalpais and communing with the ocean...the powerful ocean...too cold usually for me to swim in, but so wonderful to soak in the energy!

California here we come!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Experience from a reader! Chanting brings many benefits and surprises!

Thank you to the reader who sent this in:

I will post my experiences: I had almost zero communication with my family and that is when I was suddenly introduced to Nam Myoho Renge Kyo last June. 

Within a week I was talking again to everyone and the relationship somehow solved and healed itself (when I thought impossible!). 

I also travelled for a job and before I travelled, exactly a few days before I received a surprise $5,000 check. This check hit my account literally as I landed in the country (staying for few months). 

Besides that check I received a surprise approved money transfer off of a commission, $2,000. Later this money came to protect me as the job fell through. 

I also had kind people that protected me. I have many stories of being protected and surprise gifts. 

For example my phone screen broke and was replaced by someone generous who had his friend let me borrow an extra phone until I left the country. When i left the country I had to use my broken screen phone again but surprise, the screen began working!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Filled With Gratitude for my Sons!

Me and my two wonderful sons. 

Aaron just graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He was graduated from the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the division of Molecular and Cellular Biology with Distinction. After this, as I've mentioned before, he goes on to Loyola Medical School at the end of July. 

My younger son Ben just finished his first year at Miami of Ohio. He's on a running scholarship there. 

On Wednesday we leave for California on what I am calling "Aaron's Victory Lap". We will see my Buddhist mentors and our dear friends. We will travel our whole stomping ground....from the Bay Area to LA to Aliso Viejo and Soka University. I am bringing my computer and will continue to blog from California...just like I did when I travelled there two years ago. 

What words can possibly describe the joys of motherhood? 

I, along with their father, brought these two beautiful, loving beings into existence. 

And from then on I have concentrated my daimoku and energy in the direction of their happiness, their development, their growing faith and their happiness. Yes. I said happiness twice. I think happiness is the most important of all. 
So many things flow from happiness! 

And right now my heart is filled with gratitude....
gratitude for knowing 
these these young men are kind, thoughtful men...
these young men know the law of cause and effect...
never bullied each other...
never bullied others...
they would never start a war...
they are sweet, loving...
know what they want...
and how to get it...
they can stand up for themselves
and for others...
they are intuitive...
talented in brain-power
mentors to others...
and wonderful and thoughtful and appreciative of their parents, and grandparents and all the goodness around them in the world. 
They can chant to make a better life...
and a better world for their children...
What could be better than this. 

Oh, Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unconditional Love and Appreciation

Today, May 10th is a great day to summon all the appreciation in your heart and chant to expand your capacity for feeling and expressing appreciation. 

Those who can fully appreciate, always attract more and more and more to appreciate. 

I believe developing appreciation is like developing every other spiritual muscle. The more you focus on it, the more it increases. 

Yesterday we had a powerful and wonderful meeting of Soka Gakkai members at my house. And I also received beautiful roses. I have so much to appreciate!

But I must focus on developing even deeper appreciation as well! 

Today I chanted once more to break my ties to my familiar sufferings and I vowed to increase my capacity for joy and appreciation! I vowed once again to be happy and joyful and to show every moment what is possible in life. 

We are Buddhas. 

Joy can be ours. 

Focus on bringing joy into your life. Do what makes you feel good. Bring smiles to people's faces and you will experience more and more joy. Remember, what we focus on increases. Let's all focus on joy and happiness today!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What if you get bored with your own prayer?

It happens. 

Sometimes you have a specific prayer...and for awhile you have so much fire behind that prayer and then suddenly POOF that prayer is no longer so firey and meaningful.... and your mind is thinking of other things when you sit down to chant.

What do you do? 

This is an awesome time to chant for others. 

Chant for your friends...for your family...for the members in your district, for the people you haven't even met who are suffering. Chant for the country...for the planet...for everyone you dislike and every one you love. use this time to chant for others and fire up your prayer. 

Time spent in front of the Gohonzon is so precious!

Don't waste a minute!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Experience! And do you have an experience to share?

I received a request from a reader to post some more experiences. My pleasure! 
I will post some of mine, and 
I would love to share YOUR experiences. 
Please send them - and send a picture if you can. 

Experience finding a job ~ and of changing career karma!:

As some of you know I have been practicing since 1985. I was living in San Francisco. I had a BA in Creative Writing from Drake University and a flair for communication, but other than that, no real job skills. One of my first prayers was to get a job. Within a few weeks of chanting I got a job I enjoyed, and over the next few years experimented with several different kinds of jobs. Then I got a job in a great location with what looked like nice people and it turned out the owner was kind of a monster. He constantly yelled at the lovely saleswoman, who was also his live-in girlfriend. It was truly a bizarre situation. He'd swear at her really abusively, using words I'd never heard anyone say out loud.

I realized I had a profound opportunity to change my karma. I knew that the only reason this was manifesting in my life was because of my own karma. I didn't try to analyse it...I just chanted a full hour every morning and poured my energy into doing shakubuku, going to meetings, helping new members learn to chant, studying about Buddhism and chanting strongly to to change this bad-boss karma forever. I also began  contributing financially to the Soka Gakkai as a way of showing my appreciation and a cause for building financial fortune. 

I chanted with determination that I was drawing a line in the sand...and NEVER AGAIN would bad-boss karma appear in my life. I chanted to show actual proof to everyone I knew that this practice works...and to have a tremendous breakthrough....and day after day he was still yelling and I was still chanting. It did not change overnight, but my determination remained rock solid. I knew I could change this karma because I had the ultimate tool to make it happen. I chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

And gradually I summoned the courage to confront this man and tell him how destructive his behavior was. There were a few moments where we were alone and I quietly told him his behavior really disturbed me and the others in the small office. And there were a few times I actually stopped him in the middle of his ranting. Gradually he stopped yelling.

I stayed there a few more months then left to get the best job I'd ever had. All the fortune I'd built by chanting to break this karma, and chanting for the happiness of all the people in the office manifested in my new job!

In July of 1987 I began working for the Bay Guardian Newspaper in San Francisco. I discovered that my "flair for communication" could bring in great financial fortune as I sold ad after ad after ad. I loved this job and bought my first house because my income kept increasing and increasing! When I decided to have my first child, I arranged to work only three days a week while earning the same high income (because I earned so much on commission) and I kept this job for many years. Both my boys were born while I had this job and worked only three days a week making a great living. 

I am certain that all the daimoku I chanted while on the job with the nasty boss went deep into my life to give me good job karma forever. Taking responsibility for what befalls us and chanting to cut it out at the roots is they key of this practice! That is how you change your karma!

Since then I've had many jobs I've loved. I moved back to Chicago to raise my Buddha Boys. I worked for the Chamber of Commerce and started the first Women in Business Roundtable group in the Western Suburbs. I decided I wanted to work with seniors and easily networked myself into a job with Sunrise Senior Living. Then I was recruited by another senior living community for three times what I was making at Sunrise. 

When the economy hit the senior living field I was laid off and went to California to visit my friends for almost a month. I returned to confront the fact that the pain in my leg was not going away by any of the healing techniques I had been trying for several years, and I had surgery. When I was ready to work again I had an explosive experience in finding a new one. 

On January 15th of 2010 I decided I would determine to get a job by February 27th, the Women's Victory Meetings. I chanted to the Gohonzon that I HAD to show actual proof to my blog readers, my district, my friends and my family. I had also decided to switch careers and work in the field of education...not easy to do in good times, much less in a recession. But I had Nam Myoho Renge Kyo! I began interviewing for several jobs in senior living I really didn't want...but I thought "this is a cause for my new job" and I kept chanting. 

On the weekend before the women's victory meeting my prayer rose to new heights. 

have always been inspired by the Gosho "On the Buddha's Behavior" where Nichiren Daishonin is being taken off to be beheaded and he stops at the statue of Hachiman and literally yells at the God. He tells him "YOU vowed to protect me! If I am beheaded I will report you when I die!" It is so powerful. 
So I chanted and I yelled in my head ~ to my life! To the Buddhist Gods on the Gohonzon which are in my life! I Chanted: 
It was the roar of the lion. It had to happen. 

That Monday I got an email from the woman who had eventually replaced me at my last position. Ironic. I know! It was for a job representing a health college in community outreach. Shazammm!!! I knew this was it! I had to jump through many hoops and design a presentation (which was a snap because I'd bought myself a sleek new Macbook Air). 

At the women's Victory meeting I reported my victory and I've enjoyed working for this system of colleges ever since. I have a wonderful boss. And I've had great bosses for many years...

You CAN change your karma! You just have to realize that it is yours to change and wield the great sword of your prayer!!!!

Nothign is more powerful than chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Commemorative Statue for Peace

Commemorating Daisaku's Experience in Lincoln Park in 1960

In October of 1960 Daisaku Ikeda set out from Japan with a mision to create world-wide Kosen Rufu. In October of that year he was in Chicago's Lincoln Park. He witnessed a scene that touched him and further solidified his commitment to world peace. There were a bunch of white boys playing ball, and an older white man looking on. A young African American boy watched for awhile then asked if he could join in.  The white kids and the adults made him clear he wan't welcome, just because of his skin color, and he ran off, sad. 

President Ikeda made this vow in his heart to the little boy:

"I promise you 
that I will build a society 
truly worthy 
of your love and pride." 

The original statue stands in Lincoln Park. It is of two boys, white and black, playing together happily. 

I can say for sure that within the Soka Gakkai we have accomplished Daisaku Ikeda's goal. Chicago used to be known as the most segregated city in America. I'm not sure if that is still the case, but I can tell you we are all one happy family of many races in the Buddhist Center. Here you will see people of all races, from many countries joining together to create peace on the planet. 

One day, it is all of our hope, that this same harmony can exist for all, everywhere. 

A few years ago the Mayor's Assistant came for a visit on a Sunday morning and could not believe what she was witnessing. She remarked that Sunday morning is the absolute most segregated time in Chicago, yet there we were, a rainbow of colors. She just stood on the stage looking out as us and did we do it? I'll never forget her visit, and how proud I was, and am to be part of an all-inclusive organization. 

How can a real organization aimed at peace, education and culture be anything but all inclusive? We include all lifestyles and sexual orientations as well. Why not? We are all people seeking peace and happiness for ourselves and others. Everyone is included in that. Everyone. 

The Soka Gakkai is a gathering of noble individuals dedicated to the happiness of each person bringing about the happiness of all. You can find the SGI center in all major cities. If you're not a part of it yet, do yourself a favor and call your local center. Your new friends, and new life awaits! (And do not have to give up your religion, or your beliefs to chant!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What if You are dealing with illness?

I received a question from a reader who's illness has gotten worse since she started chanting. 

She was asking for confirmation that she should keep chanting, even though facing these concerns. 

Today I atended a lecture at the Chicago Buddhist Center by Linda Johnson. She talked about many things, health included. I'll paraphrase a bit here. 

She said May is a time for us to reaffirm our mission to be able to demonstrate the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo in our own lives in order to encourage others. 

Transforming our own destiny has nothing to do with anyone or anything outside of our own lives. It is something that we have to change from within. 

Nichiren Daishonin was a revolutionary during his time, and he is still a revolutionary NOW because he tells us to look within to solve our problems, not to look outside ourselves. 

Everything operates on the strict law of cause and effect. Everything around us, all the people, the job, everything, no exception (including illness) is operating on the law of cause and effect. And we have to realize that we have caused the effects we see in our lives today. But don't get upset and close your computer and run away when I tell you this! Understanding this fact is the only way that you will get mastery over your life!

All you have to do is OWN that you, living lifetime after lifetime, made the causes that have you in the place you are right now....with whatever sadness, sickness, loneliness, etc. You need to own your karma....only THEN can you make the deep determination to change it. 

But! Very important to KNOW! ~
Owning your karma is not the same as BLAME, GUILT, SHAME. Do not think of it as your FAULT...and above all, do not waste your time analyzing it and trying to figure it out. DON'T DO IT! IT WON'T GET YOU ANYWHERE!!!

All you need to do is recognize the interconnectedness of life, and see that the one common denominator in all your problems is YOU. And with that knowledge and power...YOU can change it! There is nothing Nam Myoho Renge Kyo can't change!!!!

Chant to get to the core of your karma...chant to reach into your life and uproot the karmic cause of suffering by the roots and dash it out of your body!!! 

Shut off your brain. Stop analyzing it! 

Just chant to change it! 

Pray to change it from a place you can use to encourage others. Chant "I must change this so I can be happy and my happiness will encourage others!!!"

About illness ~ Linda said chant to wake up every one of your cells to the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo... and send it through your entire body! She told a story about a woman whose son had lymphoma and the doctors had said he only had a short time to live. The mother chanted this way...sending Nam Myoho Renge Kyo through his bloodstream and now he is cancer free. 

You are powerful! 
Summon up the faith to change your karma. 
Please realize that chanting brings forth all you need to change to become happy, and change every single thing until you are happy and don't give up!! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On this Auspicious Night

Hello Wonderful Readers!

I'm writing this blog tonight to tell you that all-time readership went over 40,000 today...
 I am told that this day is the actual start of the real 
"Age of Aquarius."

 "Thank You!"

As always, this blog is for your benefit and happiness, and the happiness of those you love. 
Thank you for passing it on.
 Thank you for writing me...asking me questions and asking me to keep writing. 
Thank you for sharing your concerns, your benefits and happiness with me! 
You are to me, all treasures of the heart!

At The Chicago Buddhist Center

Cassie, Jamie, Shazara and Hashmin last night!

Just look at those glowing young girls. 
It's hard to believe that just a few short months ago Shazara was incredibly unhappy about her inability to change the circumstances that were making her miserable. 

Then, as I've mentioned in the New Year's blog post, she ran away from home and 
landed right at my doorstep asking for water! 

Oh, I gave her water and a whole lot more. She immediately accepted my invitation to chant right then and there. We chanted for almost an hour because she could feel the happiness coming into her mind, body and spirit and she didn't want to stop! When I drove her home her Mom, Hashmin, got into my car and 
called me her angel. 
I said 

"The worst day of your life has now turned into the best day of your life. Your daughter has brought home with her the key to happiness for herself and your family." 

Two days later Hashmin and Shazara came over and chanted with me, and they, along with Shazara's father have been chanting ever since. 

In the car on the way home Shazara was effervescing with energy and enthusiasm about her exciting life (now free from bullying and brimming with hope!) and Hashmin said 

"I can't believe this is my daughter talking...
she's so different than she was a year ago!" 

That's the power of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

Last night's meeting with Linda Johnson our Territory Women's Division leader was very inspiring and Shazara even made a new friend, Cassie! Can you see how full of vibrant energy they are? They have so much in common already and will see each other Wednesday night at the meeting at my house. 

Tomorrow morning (Sunday) is a exciting meeting commemorating May 3rd at the Chicago Buddhist Center. If you live in the Chicago area feel free to join us. It's at 10:00 at the center, 1455 S. Wabash, but I always arrive an hour earlier. 
Send me an email or post a comment and we will welcome you! 

Happy May Third! 

What a wonderful life we live where we can become happy and help others to become happy too! I am so appreciative to all my mentors in faith who continue to help me 
learn how to use this tool for happiness: 
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Great SGI Meetings this weekend!

This weekend is the perfect time to attend a high-energy SGI meeting. All over the world SGI members are celebrating Master and Disciple day. 
The meetings are filled with music, laughter, encouraging experiences and new friends. 
Meetings to commemorate May third are some of my favorite meetings of the year. Today I'm going to the youth meeting and bringing one of the youth in my District. On Sunday I'll go to the one for my area in Chicago. 
To find out about the meeting in your area call the SGI Center closest to you. SGI-USA.ORG will have that info. Ask them the schedule and just show up. Or, better yet, if you're not connected to the SGI yet, ask the person  at the center for the name of the person in your area who can introduce you to your local SGI leader. It's easy to get connected. 

My words of encouragement for you today:

From Nichiren Daishonin's Gosho  "Reply to Kyo'o"

"Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will turn into fortune. 
Muster your faith and pray to this Gohonzon.
Then what is there that cannot be achieved?
You should believe the Lotus Sutra when it says. 
"This sutra fulfills one's desires. 
It is the pond's cool, clear water that quenches thirst."
and "They will have peace and security in this life and good circumstances in the next." 
When I am pardoned from exile to this province, I will hasten to Kamakura where we will meet.
If one considers the power of the Lotus Sutra, he will find perpetual youth 
and eternal life before his eyes."

I love the whole passage, but "muster your faith" is so important. Summon up the conviction that YOU CAN overcome anything with Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Nichiren Daishonin was talking to YOU! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Happy May 3rd!

Happy Day of Master and Disciple!!

Happy Day to once again renew your faith...set your determinations and together with Daisaku Ikeda and all the members of the Soka Gakkai, work together towards Kosen Rufu (World Peace). 

What is the significance of this day you ask? 

May Third is when Josei Toda, second President of the Soka Gakkai took on the mantle of Kosen Rufu by accepting responsibility for this organization. He was already in a weakened state from having been in prison for refusing to give in to the Japanese Government by not supporting the war effort in WWII. He devoted the rest of his life to teaching and lecturing and leading people to happiness one by one. And later, his disciple, Daisaku Ikeda also took the reigns of Worldwide Kosen Rufu on this date. 

It is a significant time for all of us to say"YES! I will do my OWN Human Revolution. 2012 is a year I will never forget! It is the year I won over my__________(you fill in the blank!) It is the year I got to the core of my suffering and tore it out by the roots! It is the year my environment started reflecting the real, true, diamond-like, brilliant and shining me! It is the year I accomplished________!!!
I will chant with even more strength and regularity (EVERY morning and evening!!!) I will take the opportunity to use the May  contribution campaign as a springboard for my happiness, and the happiness of others! I am determined to win in every aspect of my life!!! YES" 

Please take the opportunity to attend your local SGI meeting commemorating May Third! Find your local center at, or search on Soka Gakkai followed by the name of your country! These meetings are fun and inspiring!!!

I start this day with strong prayers of appreciation towards my mentor Daisaku Ikeda, and Josei Toda and Tunesaburo Makiguchi. Without them dedicating their ENTIRE lives to this practice, I would never have encountered this teaching, and I would still be suffering...knowing SOMEHOW there must be a practice I could use to build my own happiness...and continuing to look for it. 

I mean, when you really think about it, the facts just blow you away. Ever since Daisaku Ikeda first encountered Josei Toda, at the age of 19, he has devoted every waking second to ensuring the correct propagation of this that all of us could have the tools to create our own happiness and build this world into a world that respects life itself. It is truly something to appreciate. 

Thank you Daisaku Ikeda. I will do everything in my power to help people find out about this great practice, and to teach people to practice correctly so that their lives will be OVERFLOWING with mine is! Like all the members of my District! 

The purpose of this blog, as you know,  is to reach the people who sit at their computers every day and think "The secret to happiness in life must be somewhere on the web!" 
And it is! Chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo! Join the Soka Gakkai and make the best friends you have ever had in your life!!! VOW with all your heart to create the happiest of lives so that you can be an example for other people...and it shall be so!!!!
Write out your vision of your life...write out your dreams in narrative form...and make them come true!!!
It is also to reach people who are already practicing and needing that extra boost of energy to keep persevering through the hard times and to NOT GIVE UP! This blog is for YOU!

As Daisaku Ikeda quotes Josei Toda in the May Licing Buddhism, 

"Don't let anything shake you. Just chant with your whole life. Never lose heart. Activate the powerful forces of the universe!"

This May Third I am full of gratitude to YOU, my readers. Thank you for your words of encouragement, and for telling me what this blog means in your life. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt questions and concerns with me. Thank you for encouraging me in my publishing aspirations, and thank you, thank you, thank you, for passing the link to chantforhappiness,com to others. By doing so, you are also making a profound cause for your own life. And thank you for sharing your successes with me. 
You all touch my heart!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What to do when you are in despair

This post is in answer to a question I got from a reader yesterday. 

She asked if I ever feel despair, and what do I do when I sink into that feeling? And the truth is I have come so far and received sooooo many benefits, and yes, every once in a while I do feel the pull of that old sadness I used to feel most of the time. 

The timing of the question was, of course, perfect, because just that day I had formed a new resolve in this area. 

And yes, even Buddhas who have been chanting for many years still get occasional moments of despair!  Every time I feel a moment of sadness I think of all of you, and my district members, and I make a new VOW to my life to overcome my karma (and propensity toward depression) once and for all by ripping it out at the roots. This is Human Revolution. I must pave the way for others, just as YOU are paving the way for others through every one of YOUR FRESH DETERMINATIONS!!

MAY is the perfect time to determine to change the karma that is bringing you down forever! (More about that in tomorrow's blog for May 3rd)

There are several steps I recommend for when you are battling to WIN over your own despair!
1. Chant
2. Call someone who encourages you
3. Make a fresh determination and a new vow
4. Chant again and win! 

Here is my response to the question:

Thank you for asking! 

First of all I woke up Monday feeling sadness and anxiety and chanted for two hours as sincerely as I could. Then I called Kate, my mentor in faith, and she explained to me (again!) that I was going through this pain because I am making so many positive causes, (with the writing of this blog and chanting for you and my members) that my karma has shown itself to me anew so that I can once again determine to root it out forever. 

More than 4000 people read this blog last month! That is 1000 more than the month before...and I want to increase and increase and increase. Please send the link to everyone you can think of!!! If you can think of ways to increase readership and to fulfill my mission (our shared mission) send me an email! If you know of a publisher or agent searching for a bold new voice send them a link to this blog! I am almost ready to send out my book proposal but when I sit down to write I always write this blog first! I appreciate the tips I've received from you so far. My email is

She also pointed out that at the core of my suffering is that fact that many aspects of my environment reflect my own deep seated feelings of self doubt and not being good enough. She said my environment does not yet truly reflect the amazing and wonderfully shining, worthy person I am. And she attributed that to my deep seated doubts somewhere in my life. (karma, of course). And I have been suffering over some of the same things for my entire life.  She said Human Revolution is HARD because you have to break the ties to your own unhappiness. Those grooves are familiar, and hard to break. Hmmm. That really gave me something to think about! 

I sat down and chanted another hour with FIERCE DETERMINATION to change this karma forever, and to break the ties to my own unhappiness.

As many of you know, my goal is to be a published author with many fine books, audios and videos that help people everyday, to reach everyone who is suffering and looking for a solution to their problems, and to connect them with the Soka Gakkai and President Ikeda!  My goal is to reach out to everyone who is suffering....EVERYONE! And help them learn to chant to be happy! In order to accomplish this goal my life has to be a vibrant, living example that this practice works! I HAVE to achieve happiness in all areas of my life!

I woke up the next morning with a battle going on in my head. Okay!

I chanted: I DEMAND that all my circumstances in life appreciate me!  I DEMAND that my environment reflect who I really am, not my fears or doubts of who I am. I DEMAND that I have the courage to do Human Revolution and to FOREVER break those ties to my own unhappiness. I determined to stop making causes that bring me pain! I determined to make causes that bring me happiness! Not just for me, but for YOU, and for every person who reads this blog and comes to my house for meetings! And for every person I want to encourage. I MUST succeed I told the Gohonzon! (My LIFE) No matter what! 

Later that day as I was driving home I felt those same familiar feelings of sadness, anger and longing. I chose to claim victory at that moment...not wait until I got home in front of the Gohonzon!  I yelled out "I choose to be happy!!! I choose to be happy!" Over and over again. And I chanted. And the feeling lifted! Immediately. 

I will master my mind through my determination and practice. I will master my emotions too! I use the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and you can too!

Today I am calm, and I am writing and I am happy. 

If I can raise my precious life out of familiar suffering YOU CAN TOO! If I can change this nagging and familiar karma and suffering, YOU CAN TOO! 

We are all Buddhas and we are all equal. Everyone can summon the faith to change...especially during the month of May! 
May is the month all Soka Gakkai members make new determinations for victory. Please think of what you want and take this wonderful opportunity to change. 
Tomorrow is master and disciple day, May Third! What a great time to redetermine to win!!!!