Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 10 Breaths Challenge - A Great Idea for the New Year

Photo credit Gary Seronick

The Ten Breaths Challenge 
Excerpted from Health and Spirituality Magazine (link at the bottom)

Glen Schneider
The first time I tried the complete 10 breaths practice, I was out in my garden on a crisp February evening. I was walking along a path when I looked up and saw the crescent moon framed by the bare branches of our buckeye tree. I stopped to take in this lovely scene, and I decided to take 10 conscious breaths while looking at the moon in the branches. During those 10 breaths, I noticed that somewhere in my chest I felt nourished in a way that was new. It was a small, pleasant feeling. Then I continued on my way.
The following night, I went outside on an errand to the garage. I happened to look up and there was that crescent moon again, a little higher now, in the open sky. I stopped for just a moment—I don’t know why—and as I did, I felt a rush of feeling, as if I were greeting a dear old friend, and these words bubbled up from deep inside: “Oh, yeah. You and me, we go way back.”
That surprised me, because I had never felt such a familiar connection with the moon. Then I remembered my experience of the night before.
The 10 breaths practice is a simple way to use conscious, rhythmic breathing to help us savor life and live more fully. It is quite simple. When something good and wonderful touches us—be it a sight, a sound, or a feeling—we stop and offer it our full presence for the length of 10 breaths, so that we can really taste the experience of the moment.
If we pay close attention, we can see that opportunities for happiness, for touching life’s magnificence, present themselves many times each day. Something catches our eye; something touches our heart. Good feelings arise.
Gradually, I have trained myself to stop and experience more and more of these moments while breathing in and out 10 times. Trees, birds, flowers, even my own body have all become good friends. I have rediscovered feelings of love and wonder that had been dormant in me since childhood. I have learned ways to deepen my connections with other people. My reverence for life has grown immeasurably, and so has my gratitude.
By happiness, I am speaking of the deep, abiding happiness of contentment, connection, and fulfillment, of dwelling happily in the present moment. This is the experience of opening to the goodness and wonders of life, enjoying life deeply, and feeling viscerally connected to others, the whole of creation, and the spiritual dimension.
Many people I talk with share a deep fear that they are somehow missing life, that they are alive but are not fully experiencing life. They feel that they are getting only glimpses of life’s promise. 


Practicing 10 breaths has shown me how to stop, open my heart, and savor what I love in the world—to let in the good. My life has blossomed in ways I would never have thought possible.

The 10 Breaths Practice

Stop whatever you are doing.
Close your eyes, put your dominant hand on your belly, and begin to pay attention to your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your hand on your belly as you breathe. Take three deep breaths to settle and clear your mind.
When you feel more present, open your eyes and look at the object of your concentration. Take a deep, slow breath in and out. That is “one.” Continue counting each breath: “two,” “three,” “four.” Let your encounter unfold naturally. Just behold the object of your concentration and observe it without mental commentary or judgment as you count. Notice its color, shape, sound, or smell.
While counting, become aware of your body and any sensations or emotions that may arise. Allow every cell of your body to open up to the encounter. Allow the experience to be as full as possible. Don’t hold back.
When you have reached “10,” rest in the feeling of the moment. Then, if you’d like, take 10 more breaths in the same way.
The 10 breaths practice is very simple in concept but can sometimes be challenging in practice. It takes getting used to and requires focus and courage. Often, it is hard simply to stop what we’re doing and make space to enjoy life more fully.
One way I learned to stop was by setting a goal of doing 10 breaths at least once a day. At first, I chafed a bit at this, but now it’s second nature. I look forward to each day’s new encounter. It’s so much fun. What will call me, what will touch my heart, what will be my treat for the day? The important thing in practicing 10 breaths is to get started and set your intention to keep on counting with your breath all the way to “10.” When you do this, you create new neural pathways that help anchor your habit of happiness.
The 10 breaths practice engages the teacher within. What catches your attention is entirely, uniquely up to you. How you behold your experience and how it unfolds is completely yours. You can practice this anywhere, anytime. When something speaks to you, give it your full respect and the time it deserves. You will be richly rewarded.

Ushering in the New Year as Dancing Bodhisattvas of the Earth!

In the December 20th World Tribune, Daisaku Ikeda writes:

"There is a passage from Nichiren Daishonin's writings that I would like to share with you today:

When great evil occurs, great good follows...(T)he great correct Law will spread without fail. What could any of you (my disciples) have to lament? Even if you are not the Venerable Mahakashapa, you should all perform a dance. Even if you are not Shariputra, you should leap up and dance. When Bodhisattva Superior Practices emerged from the earth, did he not emerge dancing? 
(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol.1. p. 119)

We have been born into this world as Bodhisattvas of the Earth to take our place on the stage of our respective missions and then perform the joyous dance of fulfilling our vow for kosen-rufu. Not even the most terrible calamity can discourage or deter us.

We powerfully chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo - the "greatest of all joys" (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212) - infusing our lives with a vibrant energy that virtually compels us to leap up and dance. We challenge ourselves to confront and battle obstacles, do our utmost to transform great evil or disaster into great good and spread the supreme teaching of the mystic law. 

By bringing the forth the power of faith and practice of Bodhisattvas of the Earth dedicated to realizing the great vow for the widespread propagation of the mystic law, we can manifest the boundless and immeasurable power of the Buddha and the Law, and transform this suffering filled saha world into the Land of Tranquil Light. This is the Daishonin's promise.

(December 20, World Tribune, from the essay Setting Sail Into the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, page 3.)

Today the New Year dawns in a different city all day long! All of us are forever united in Daimoku with our mentor. Let's make this the most meaningful New Years filled with our boundless fresh determination! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

7 Power-full Questions for Reflecting on 2013 and Launching 2014

Challenging the Future...the time is NOW! 

I just finished my hour of Daimoku, (chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) with my phone turned off, concentrating on how to make the writings surrounding the New Year as meaningful and powerful as possible. 

I write the New Year in. I use words to focus on what I learned the previous year, and what I will launch in the year to come. Today I am sharing with you some of the thought processes that you may like to use to launch your powerful year. 

As I mention frequently, these are my thoughts and my methods. They do not reflect any official Buddhist stance or opinion and are not guidelines of the SGI. They are thoughts I share personally with you, as a fellow practitioner in this glorious practice. 

Reflecting on 2013, 
and launching 2014. 

This are the writings and lists I will create:

For 2013 ~ 

1. What, and who, am I grateful for in 2013? 
2. How can I express that gratitude in meaningful ways? ~         What concrete actions will I take? 
3. What am I proud of? 
4. What do I wish I had done differently? 
5. What have I learned? 
6. What is still "in the works" and what will I redetermine for 
7. What will I leave behind in this year? Are there habits I no longer want to have? Negative tendencies I am committed to changing? 

For 2014 

1. How can I dream bigger and brighter than ever before? This week I make my list for the New Year, and for the next 10 years. 
2. What do I need to focus on, in my Daimoku, and in my life, to be more productive, more happy, more of an asset to others than ever before? 
3. What else can I do, in my prayer and actions, to welcome in the week ahead...the New year...in the highest possible life condition so that this year is the best year of my life. 
4. Who can I encourage? And what actions do I need to take to encourage them? How can I chant the most powerfully, and take the wisest actions for the happiness of every member of my SGI district? 
5. What PowerPrayer can I write that will encompass my fresh determination and vow for the New year. 
6. What words of Daisaku Ikeda will I engrave in my life as a guiding light for this year? 
7. What new positive habits will I establish as I go about starting my new job and changing the rhythm of my life? (Some people call these habits resolutions - I prefer to think of them as guidelines) 

I know there are more...and this list will grow...

How do you begin the New year powerfully? 
Do you have any thoughts to share with the readers of chantforhappiness.com? Email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Are Microcosms of the Universe

Buddhist thought holds that we are microcosms of the universe. Science is moving closer to Buddhist thought all the time. This picture really intrigues me. It's just mesmerizing isn't it? And we access the power of the entire universe every time we chant. 

And when we look around our lives we see that our lives actually do reflect how we feel, what we see, and how we experience the world. 

Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (it means: I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration) we can set our entire lives right. 

We can change ANY poison into medicine. 
We can change anything. 
Life is eternal. 
Some things take longer than others, 
I know, we all know. 
But the important thing, as Daisaku Ikeda says, 
is to keep chanting until we DO change it. 

The important thing is to not give up, and to take every challenge and make fresh determinations around it.

ANY experience can be a catalyst for greater happiness when we meet it right in front of the Gohonzon, and don't run from it! The key is to keep chanting for human revolution, doing shakubuku and studying. 

How much Daimoku should you chant? We can only answer that question for ourselves. We each have a minimum amount that makes us feel good. Some of my friends chant at least two hours a day...others chant 15 minutes in the morning and the evening and make every second count. There is no prescription for this practice. It is for our own lives.  
How much we chant sometimes depends on our goals, our state of life, and as many have pointed out - we DO need to sleep! So ~ we chant as much as we need to keep our life conditions elevated! Only we know how long that is. And whatever we do ~ when confronted by obstacles and "problems" meet them head on in front of the Gohonzon and say 

"Life! I summoned this storm and I will USE it to revolutionalize (my word!) MY LIFE! I will use this as fuel for my life and the lives of others! I will prove the power of my life and this practice right here. RIGHT NOW!" 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year with Fresh Determinations!

The sun has given us an exclamation point to start our day! 

We are about to usher in the mid teens of this century, what will we each create in our lives? What will our determinations be? I'm on vacation right now, so will be writing brief posts for a few days. Please feel free to browse through the previous posts to find more. 

As Nichiren Daishonin says in the New Year's Gosho that we have studied every year since 1985 when I began chanting: :

"A person who celebrates this day will accumulate virtue and be loved by all, just as the moon becomes full gradually, moving from west to east, and as the sun shines more brightly, traveling from east to west." WND

So every year I celebrate the New Year in many ways. I write my evaluation of the previous year. I write the highlights and the challenges and what I learned. Many years I write a poem to sum up the year. 

Then I get to the really fun part of bringing in the new year. I make my list. In 1993 when I was practicing with Danny Nagashima in San Francisco he told us his list had over 200 things on it for the year. So I challenged myself to write a list with over 200 goals for the year. THAT was a truly memorable year. 

The list is not only a list of goals...it is also a list of who I want to be, how I want to feel, what I want to release and what I will bring into my life. It is a list of declarations. As I mentioned, I am on vacation through the next week and will have plenty of time to write. I am looking forward to this process! 

Enjoy making your lists! You are a Buddha! Dream Big!!! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to Summon Fathomless Wisdom

The following is a Passage from Julia Landis' and Jamie Lee Silver's upcoming book, 

The BuddhaZone, 
PowerPrayers for Chanting Your Way to 
Absolute Happiness:

"As Nichiren (SGI) Buddhists we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to summon up our fathomless wisdom while steering our life-craft in the direction of our innermost desires. We chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo over and over and over again. We call this chanting Daimoku 
(Die-MOH-Koo). Daimoku means title and the title of the Lotus Sutra is  Myoho-Renge-Kyo.  The founder of this practice, Nichiren Daishonin, added to Myoho-renge-kyo  the syllable Nam which means “I devote my life to.” 

So, a brief translation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is, 

“I devote my life to the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration,” or, “I am one with the very rhythm of life.” It is the title of the Buddha's highest teaching, The Lotus Sutra. 

“Myoho-renge-kyo is the name of the ultimate mystic truth, and Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo  is the name of the life state of Buddhas who embody and reveal this truth.” 
p.28 On Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

It actually becomes very natural over time to focus on a personal PowerPrayer while chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  It is nothing more than putting your deepest fundamental wish into action. By chanting and focusing on our most cherished desire, we come to steer our lives with confidence in the direction of Buddhahood. Our lives become lives of immense creativity, wisdom and value, and most of all Love. For as we chant, rhythmically and powerfully, we exude into our environment a music that evokes our deepest, innermost  capacity and transforms any manner of poison (problem) into a medicine (benefit), and further, into a nectar (deep and absolute happiness). 

Love's Got to do with it

Chanting is infused with love. That's the source of its power. When we chant for what we really want it comes from a real love for ourselves...and love for others. When we begin with love for ourselves, that love exudes from us, and changed all we touch. All love begins with self love. However, you don't have to come to this practice in a state of self-love. This practice will take you there. Chanting Daimoku will itself bring about this state in your life. As the well known writer in the personal growth movement, Louise Hay, has said at the age eighty-two, “self love is the most important thing of all.” When you love yourself, everything in your environment loves you back. Your environment is a reflection of your own state of life and connection to the source of all happiness. 

Sadly, in general, Human beings tend to project this source outside of themselves. In fact, we are most comfortable, it seems in today's spiritual culture, when we project both the source of our mystical power and, also, its recipient outside of our lives. (Everyone seems to be praying to a power outside of themselves for a person who isn't them!) A great majority of souls, and you, yourself, we imagine, have prayed with love in your heart for the happiness of someone else, invoking a power that you have come to believe is “higher” than your own life. It has become commonplace.

But how often have you prayed with immense love...
for your own life, 
for your own happiness, 
for your own well-being? 
And more importantly, how often have you prayed...
from your own life
to your own life 
for the very best things 
and experiences for you
in short, for your own happiness?
And through your own happiness...
to bring happiness to ALL? 

We have found that, as it has been written, if we intone our voice with Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can summon up great love, the kind of love that is required of us if we want to awaken to our true potential. And that is another name for Buddhas: Beings who have realized their infinitely positive wise and loving potentials.

It is our PowerPrayer that as you are reading, these words are activating within you the curiosity and courage it will take to sustain you on this journey. 

Listen to the secret we whisper into your ear:

You are the Buddha of Infinite Potential. Yes, YOU are the Buddha. Your life story is one of awakening. Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo you will be able to solve your problems and awaken to your own Buddhahood that has always been your birthright." 

The above passage is part of the preface to the book Julia and I wrote for you. I'm in the process of figuring out how to best publish it for you and offer it for sale right here. It is packed with PowerPrayers to strengthen your life and your practice. 
On this blog I have written many posts for people who are interested in chanting, and I invite your questions and comments. You may email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Daisaku Ikeda's 10 Powerful Quotes on Prayer

Sensei's 10 Powerful Quotes on Prayer 

1. Prayer entails an intense challenge to believe in yourself and stop diminishing yourself. To belittle yourself is to disparage Buddhism and the Buddha within your life. 

2. Prayer is the way to destroy all fear. It is the way to banish sorrow, the way to light a torch of hope. It is the revolution that rewrites the scenario of our destiny.

3. Prayers are invisible, but if we pray steadfastly they will definitely effect clear results in our lives and surroundings over time. This is the principle of the true entity of all phenomena. Faith means having confidence in this invisible realm.

5. Prayer is not a feeble consolation; it is a powerful, unyielding conviction. And prayer must become manifest in action. To put it another way, if our prayers are in earnest, they will definitely give rise to action. 

6. Prayer is the courage to persevere. It is the struggle to overcome our own weakness and lack on confidence in ourselves. It is the act of impressing in the very depths of our being the conviction that we can change the situation without fail. 

7. Prayer is an attempt to merge the inner workings of our life with the rhythm of the universe. 
When we pray in such a way, all the workings of the universe will function to protect us and the endless cycle of painful reality will be transformed into a cycle of victory and happiness. Prayer is the key to open the door to unleach that infinite human potential within our lives. 

8. The important thing is to firmly fix our gaze on our own weaknesses, not run away from them, but to battle them head-on and establish a solid self that nothing can sway. Hardships forge and polish our lives, so that eventually they shine with brilliant fortune and benefit. If left in its raw, unpolished form, even the most magnificent gem will not sparkle. The same applies to our lives. 

9. Prayer is not of the realm of logic or intellect. It transcends these. 

10. Prayer is an act of which we give expression to the pressing and powerful wishes in the depths of our being and yearn for their fulfillment. 

"What kind of future do I envision for myself? What kind of self and I trying to develop? What do I want to accomplish in my life?" The thing is to paint this vision of your life in your heart as specifically as possible. That "painting" itself becomes the design of your future. The power of the heart enables us to actually create with our lives a wonderful masterpiece in accordance with that design. 

It is not about others. It is about you winning, and winning over yourself. By doing so, you will provide inspiration and encouragement to all around you. 

From Ikedaquotes.org

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Be the Sun! Encouragement from Daisaku Ikeda

Last night after chanting I studied the Gosho in January's Living Buddhism. I sincerely hope all of you subscribe to the SGI publications in your country. They are the letters our mentor in faith is sending to you.

The Gosho for January is called "The Bow and Arrow." In it, Nichiren Daishonin encourages the Lay Nun Toki Jonin with all his heart. My favorite passage says:

"There is nothing to lament 
when we consider that we will surely become Buddhas. 
Even if one were to become an emperor's consort, 
of what use would it be? 
Even if one were to be reborn in heaven, 
what end would it serve? 
Instead you will follow the way 
of the Dragon King's daughter 
and rank with the nun Mahaprajapati. 
How Wonderful! 
How Wonderful! 
Please chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, 

With my deep respect, 
(WND-1, 657)

In the commentary, Daisaku Ikeda writes that Nichiren Daishonin is assuring Toki:

"We cannot fail to attain Buddhahood. No matter how painful things are now, we are certain to triumph in the end. We will enjoy ourselves freely in the realm of life that is eternal throughout the three existences of past, present and future. When you are sure of that, what reason do you have to lament?"
He goes on to say:
"Nichiren's encouragement in this passage is a deeply moving expression of his compassionate wish to dispel the anxiety plaguing the lay nun Toki's heart and free her from her sorrow. 
"And the words. "How wonderful! How wonderful! (WND-1657) articulate the joy one experiences when one emerges from the clouds of sorrow to savor a state of being where all clouds have disappeared and one's heart is serene like a clear blue sky. It is a state of hope, optimism and delight.
There may be many difficult and painful events in the course of one's life. But those who remain steadfast in their practice of the Mystic Law need never sink into the more of suffering. Instead of feeling depressed and sad, their spirits are buoyant and their hearts light as they look to the future. 
"The key is to chant resonantly with joy and courage. The lives of those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo embody the principle of "earthly desires leading to enlightenment." They are already victorious. They have triumphed, rising above all suffering." 
And, as people who achieved this state of life, we naturally encourage others. 
"Mr. Toda said that the essence of guidance is encouragement. He personally continued to make energetic efforts to encourage those who came to see him for guidance, until they had roused courage to stand up and face life's challenges again."

Daisaku Ikeda wraps up this essay with this bold, encouraging declatation:

"If you are without hope now, create hope! 
If you are unhappy now, create your own happiness.  
You be the sun, imparting sunshine to all around you!

"The heavenly dieties and all Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the ten directions and three existences will safeguard and protect the members of the SGI, who are striving for kosen-rufu as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, just as Nichiren teaches. The entire universe is our ally. We have nothing to fear.

"Our lives are wellsprings of infinite value creation. We are entities of everlasting hope, dispelling the darkness of despair." 
(All quotes are from the January 2014 issue of Living Buddhism, pages 30-32) 

And I will add we are all so much more important than we may know. We are unusual. People are watching us. Our practice is the key to tapping into the vast life-source of the universe. We live bold and noble lives. Whatever we are struggling with - we can create value, and encourage others.  

It is Christmas eve here, and as I write this the sky is bright and I see sunshine, and lovely snowflakes coming down. How beautiful! A White Christmas. I hope we can all fill our hearts with joy!

As always, you can email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Mood-Lifting, Doubt-Busting Power-Prayer!

Recently I've changed the way I chant. Now I totally turn off my phone (Yes!) and I never leave my chair until I have chanted all my Daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) and finished Gongyo. (Morning and evening chanting - the recitation of parts of the Lotus Sutra). 
I keep my focus on the Gohonzon (scroll that represents the power of my life itself) as much as possible, although I do occasionally write something down that I want to share with you. And when I get to the prayers at the end, I take my time. I really concentrate on what they are saying and FEEL the gratitude in each prayer. 

And today, I just woke up out of sorts. As my friend in the UK would say "In the glums." (Hi Morag!) And this morning a fellow member came over and chanted an hour with me, and I still felt a bit impatient and agitated. 

Christmas is this week, and it is really, really cold here. It is 2 degrees as I write this. Bitter cold. Scary cold. Many people are also feeling some holiday stress. During the last few days before the holiday emotions get a bit magnified. Traffic gets snarled. Lines at stores can be long. People are rushing to have gifts bought and wrapped. And, of course, many of us think back to Christmases in the past, and loved ones who are no longer with us. 

Today I went out and did some last minute errands and still felt this agitation. So this evening I sat down to chant a really powerful hour of Daimoku. 

During this Daimoku I had the following prayers in my head.
Read this before chanting and enjoy your Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! (Please do not copy and paste this prayer, but feel free to share the blog's address: chantforhappiness.com)

Holiday Mood-Lifting ~ Doubt-Busting PowerPrayer!

I am determined that for my prayer 
to be as expansive as the entire universe...
for the power of my Daimoku 
to reach into the heart of every single person 
who is feeling like I feel right now, 
and for their hearts to be lightened. 
I chant for every person in front of their Gohonzons 
to chant the most powerful prayer 
and to really connect with their lives. 
I chant for every single reader of this blog, 
and every member of the SGI, 
and all those who don't practice. 
I chant for everyone who is seeking this practice to find it, 
as I did, almost 30 years ago. 
I now rip every thread of self pity and doubt out of my life.
Make my life 
and the power of my prayer 
as expansive as the entire universe. 
Let my prayer's energy uplift everyone who is suffering. 
And I chant for everyone who is chanting to shed their doubts and strengthen their determination and happiness too. 

And Wow do I feel great! Here's to you! Here's to the strength of your practice and to your happiness!

I want to make it clear that this blog is written by me, Jamie Lee Silver, and I have been practicing with the incredible SGI organization since the fall of 1985. My mentor in life is Daisaku Ikeda. Every day I chant to realize his dream for kosen-rufu, a world of respect and peace for all. I am a District Leader in the SGI and devote much of my time to chanting with members everywhere. Every blogpost is my own interpretation of this practice and is not an official representation of the Soka Gakkai Organization. It's personal. This blog came from my determination to change my karma, and to be an example for others that the impossible is possible. If I can alleviate depression and anxiety, lose 70 pounds, and live almost every moment with no fear - then ANYONE can do it. I am not special.
 I am devoted to revealing the power inherent in my life through this practice.
 I have found that practicing within the embrace of the Soka Gakkai is the only way to go. I cherish my leaders and my members and all my friends in faith. I wholeheartedly encourage you to connect with your friends in faith through the SGI. You can click on the portal to the right to find your local organization. Or email me at chantforhappiness@gmail.com and I can help you connect with the SGI
Write me about anything at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. 

Hope is Life's Treasure

Hope Is Life's Treasure

Hope is
life's treasure.

who have hope
are always happy.

One can have
all the wealth, power and fame
in the world,
but if one loses hope,
one will falter and stumble
in life.

The ancient Roman orator
Cicero wrote:
"Our capital is invested in hope
rather than in money;
if that hope be abandoned,
all else will be amassed
only to be lost later on."

The arrogant
who ridicule the hopeful
invariably fall in defeat,
left with naught but regret.

On no account
must we ruin
our lives,
which shine with such promise!

Hope is
a jewel that inspires and uplifts.
As long as we have hope,
we will never be deadlocked.

Victory always awaits
and happy smiles spread
where there is hope.

In the words of
the admirable Wangari Maathai,
the Kenyan environmental activist
and friend whom my wife and I
will never forget:
"Hope is like a flower,
which, when it blooms,
does so no matter
what mood it's in
or who is watching.
It always gives its best.
We can too."

Hope is
a flower that blossoms
in effort and perseverance.
Hope is
the noble visible reward
of those who accumulate unseen virtue.

People who live out their lives
with hope
never become jaded
or apathetic.

A contributive life
of giving hope
to those who are suffering
is a source of growth,
and solidarity.

The great Spanish author
Miguel de Cervantes wrote,
"Just as light shines
more brightly in darkness,
so hope should be
more steadfast in trials."

Hope is the hallmark
of invincible fortitude.
Life is a struggle -
hence, our challenge is to live
with optimism and strength,
year after year.

the great Tohoku-born educator,
friend of first Soka Gakkai president
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi,
declared that hope
can be found
even in the darkest gloom.

Such hope, he said,
is "visible only
to the eye of
faith and courage."

Even while imprisones dor his beliefs,
President Makiguchi wrote serenely,
"Depending on one's frame of mind,
even hell can be enjoyable."

Josei Toda later said
in gratitude to his martyred mentor,
"In your vast and boundless compassion,
you let me accompany you
even to prison."

As the third Soka Gakkai president,
I have steadfastly walked
the profoundly solemn
path of selfless dedication
of mentor and disciple.

I have given my life
to realizing all
the cherished hopes of
my mentor.
My heart is clear and bright,
without a cloud of regret.

As Nichiren Daishonin writes,
"The sun breaks through
the pitch-black dark."
Courageous faith is
the sun of limitless hope.

Mentor and disciple
committed to the noblest cause
will rise above all trials and adversity;
the unsurpassed brilliance of their lives
shining on forever.

Infinite hope!
The mystic law is the source.
A boundless state of life!
Faith and practice are the key.

In the Lotus Sutra,
we find these truly generous words:
"We beg that the merit (we have) gained...
may be spread far and wide to everyone,
so that we and other beings
all together may attain the Buddha way."

Kosen-rufu us
the supreme and colossal hope
of elevating
all humanity
to a vast life-state
of peace and happiness.

Hope! Hope! Hope!
Hope is life's treasure.

At the start of a new year,
a new day,
let us set forth,
brimming with bright hope,
the sun of time without beginning
brimming in our hearts!

Let us boldly break through
even the deepest turmoil
of these troubled times,
and be the ones to create new hope!

Let us advance in triumph,
imparting the hope
of absolute victory
to one person after another!

The French writer and activist
Romain Rolland said,
"The last hope of our day
lies in youth."

I now wish to declare for all to hear:
"The greatest hope for the future lies in Soka youth."

My young friends,
never be defeated!

No matter what trials and hardships
may befall you,
never lose sight of
the golden light of hope!

Oh my friends,
my beloved friends
whom I trust with all my heart,
live out your lives with hope!
Be victorious without fail!

Daisaku Ikeda
--on my 84th birthday,

January 2nd, 2012