Thursday, January 31, 2013

Write Your Own Story

We are so fortunate to be practicing this Buddhism. 

Today I am filled with joy in knowing there is NOTHING I need to be worried about, and NOTHING I need to fear. 

Every single day I strengthen my resilience, increase the level of my inner strength and roar like a lion from the depths of my own life...the same place we are all connected. 

I connected with a reader this morning and she said that sometimes when she chants she can feel me chanting too. We are all connected together in the deepest rhythm of life, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. We are all chanting for each other and for Kosen Rufu (the happiness and fulfillment of all). 

I begin this day filled with gratitude for sharing this life with you and with our mentor Daisaku Ikeda. 

It is very, very cold here in Chicago. I hope you are all warm and safe. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Commanding your life. A Great Gosho Passage

The February Living Buddhism Magazine( published by the SGI and available by calling 800-835-4558) has one of my favorite Gosho passages of all time. In it, Nichiren Daishonin has been persecuted by the government and is being taken away to Tatsunokuchi Beach to be beheaded. On the way, he sees a stature of Hachiman, one of the Buddhist Deities which are functions within our own lives. 

He makes the entourage stop so he can address the statue. 

What I love about this is that he basically yells at the Buddhist God and says you had better show your support to me RIGHT NOW because that is the pledge you made. If I die I will report you! Of course, when Nichiren is taken to the beach to be beheaded, a huge orb comes out of the sky lighting up the faces of his would-be assassins, they all run scared, and he is saved from death. 

The point I like to make is Nichiren's indignant attitude when he adresses the statue. I have prayed like this in front of my own Gohonzon with fury and with fire. We can all summon this fiery attitude at the crucial moment - we are ALL dignified votaries of the Lotus Sutra, we can all command the fundamental forces that are within our lives and represented on the Gohonzon. 

Here is the passage: 

'Great Boddhisatva Hachiman, are you truly a god?...Now I, Nichiren, and the foremost votary of the Lotus Sutra in all of Japan, and am entirely without guilt. I have expounded the doctrine to save all the people of Japan from falling into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering for slandering the LotusSutra....When Shakyamuni Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra, Many Treasures Buddha and the Buddhas and Boddhisatvas of the ten-directions gathered, shining like so many suns and moons, stars and mirrors. Int he presence of the countless heavenly gods as well as the benevolent deities and sages of India, China and Japan. Shakyamuni Buddha urged each one to submit a written pledge to protect the votary of the Lotus Sutra at all times. Each and every one of you gods made this pledge. I should not have to remind you. Why do you not appear at once to fulfill your solemn oath? ....If I am executed tonight and go to the pure land of Eagle Peak, I will dare to report to Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, that the Sun Goddess and Great Boddhisatva Hachiman are the deities who have broken their oath to him. If you feel this will go hard with you, you had better do something about it right away!' (WND - 1, 766-67)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lighting a candle for others lights our own way

Our SGI Chapter leader is fond of saying "When you light a candle for another, you light it for yourself as well." In last week's meeting she shared this passage with us:

As many of you know, we practice for ourselves and we practice for others. 

While talking to a new practitioner Daisaku Ikeda states: (from page 42 of January 2013 Living Buddhism, The New Human Revolution)

"...If you truly want to transform your karma and become happy, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo alone isn't enough. This is a practice for oneself and for others, so in addition to reciting the sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we need to share this Buddhism with others. If you only pray for your own happiness, your faith will be selfish and self-centered."
The woman he was addressing told him she hadn't solved her problems yet, and she said she'd help others once she solved her own problems. It's easy to think this way, isn't it? 
Daisaku Ikeda continued:
"No, that's not the way it works. If you were sick, would you avoid going to the hospital because you don't feel well enough to get out of bed and go there? Or would you hurry to the hospital in order to do so?...The same is true of this Buddhism. If you want to overcome your present sufferings you shouldn't put off making the effort, but take action right away. Of course if you are too physically ill, you don't need to push yourself.
"You can share this Buddhism without traveling far. Just talk about Buddhism to those who come to your house, or to your neighbors. The important thing is to earnestly share Nichiren Buddhism motivated by your determination for everyone to become happy."

When the person he was talking to said she didn't know what to say, another member said: "Start with what you know...Sharing why you decided to start this practice yourself is an excellent method."

The passage goes on to say that: "Josei Toda declared: "I will make a promise to all of you here today. I'd like you to make a commitment to do gongyo every morning and evening, without skipping, and introduce one person to the practice every two months. 
"All of you here with problems, make a vow. Buddhism is an earnest struggle. I'll bet my life that if you faithfully carry out the practice described above, your problems will be resolved."

Those are strong words, and true. Josei Toda stood behind his every word. We can all benefit from his sage advice. Chanting, propagating and studying are the keys to happiness. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Keys to Practicing Correctly

You have all the power to make it happen...but...
No one else can change your karma and change your life. You are the only one. You have all the tools you need! You are one of the lucky ones! You have found the practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo that allows you to tap into the vast power you possess. It's your time to take this practice and make the changes you want...and really become happy! 

I have always said that practicing Buddhism is not easy. It requires courage. It not only requires courage but it helps to BUILD courage and a strong sense of self. When you practice as I've outlined here you will be strong. You can take on ANYTHING. You will be happy. It takes perseverance, but I am here to tell you that you can achieve whatever you want. You can be happier than you ever imagined possible. But it takes work! And your life and happiness is WORTH IT!

There are 6 KEY aspects to a correct practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

And when we are activating them ALL we are all HAPPIER in every possible way. Until you have activated these actions in your life you will never really know your own full will be able to ROAR LIKE A LION. You will have power in your own precious life! 

1. Chant every morning and evening. Chanting twice a day PUTS YOUR LIFE IN RHYTHM TO WIN. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THIS. It sounds hard, but it is really the easy way. Chanting is MUCH HARDER when you do it every once in a while...and your results are less consistent too. You decide how long you will chant. I know that the more effort I put into my daily practice, the harder I work to stay focused, the MORE I connect with the Gohonzon (which is my life itself) the easier the rest of my life goes. I chant a minimum of an hour in my "laboratory of my life" every morning. I often find I chant more when I have a lot of challenges, (more logs on the fire) and the more I chant the more I WANT TO chant. Try it.

2. Study with the intention of deepening your faith.  In Nichiren Buddhism FAITH IS A VERB and a MUSCLE! Chant to strengthen  your faith. Chant to have the kind of benefit that makes you truly believe your own power. And do this again and again! THIS is exercising the muscle of FAITH. It is the power you muster while you are chanting to activate the power of your prayer. Studying is like working the muscle of faith. It will help you produce results. It will strengthen your faith. Studying the Gosho by Nichiren Daishonin, and the words of our mentor, Daisaku Ikeda will help you become happier and healthier and stronger in every way!

3. MAKE A STRONG DETERMINATION. Write it down. Really, writing it down is powerful! What do you want? What do you really want? How do you want to feel? What do you want to make happen? Who do you want to BE? Avoid the tendency to blame your environment. Blaming the people, things, jobs etc. is not useful. Instead, accept that your karma is your karma and vow to change it! That is where your power lies! Not in complaint! Chant to root your suffering out of your life. I visualize the roots of a tree inside my body and literally pull them out in my mind while I am chanting. Chant to expand the power within your own life. Chant to raise your life condition and be the strong Buddha you are meant to be! 

4. Remember that you are not chanting to anyone or anything. You are not asking for favors or saying "please". No, you are having a dialogue with your own life and telling it what you want. The determinations and vows you make are to your own life. You are the Buddha. Remind yourself every day. 

5. It is important to be in the ORBIT OF FAITH! Attending SGI meetings is crucial. We really can't practice adequately alone. We all act as mirrors for each other. Our meetings serve to deepen our ties to each other and our ties to the world. If there is something you don't like about your meetings, chant about them. Use the power of your own prayer. Become a leader. How you feel about your Buddhist meetings is really a reflection of your own tendencies. If you "look down" on all the people at the meetings, you also "look down" on people everywhere. Have patience with yourself. See if you can summon the Ichinen (will put into action) to make a difference. Many of us have struggled with this at some time. I love being a leader because I infuse each meeting with energy. I chant at least an hour for the success of each meeting...I chant for every member to have a deep and meaningful experience at every meeting - refreshed in faith, more determined, happier. If you haven't connected already, Search for Soka Gakkai International to find the center closest to you. Call them and ask for the meeting closest to you, 

6. Help others. 

Encouraging fellow members in faith is crucial. And telling others about chanting is crucial too...even just giving them a Nam Myoho Renge card. I give out cards every single day. I have to. I feel I have discovered the key to absolute happiness and it fills me with joy to pass it on to others. I always give cards to people who help me in stores. They are always happy to get them. I have introduced countless strangers to this practice and planted many seeds.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Attack Doubt with the fierceness of the Lion you are!

Doubt is part of life. It is normal. It is one of the functions of the innate darkness of life. 

What do we do with it? How can we harness our power so doubt does not stop us? 

What if the first thing you think the minute you sit down to chant is "This will never work, I don't even know why I am spending my time chanting?" 

That's doubt. 

Please remember to see doubt for what it really is: an obstacle and a tool for you to strengthen your practice - for us to all strengthen our lives and our resolve! 

When you see it in your prayer don't feel bad, don't feel angry and don't think "I must be doing something wrong!" Attack the doubt with Daimoku. Say "I KNOW you for what you are and I'm NOT afraid of you! I vanquish you from my thoughts!" 

Yesterday I talked with Kate...I told her there are so many options ahead of do I choose which way to go? I know many of you have felt this way, as well. 

Kate is a living example of the power of this practice. A few years back she was in the same place I am now...many options...and chanting each day with solid resolve. 

Yesterday she gave me some words which may help you too:

Kate said every morning she chanted and told the Shoten Zenjin (protective forces of the universe) to arise and have her back at every moment. She chanted to bring forth the full power of the Gohonzon and see kosen Rufu in this world in her lifetime, and to have her every action bring forth Kosen Rufu in the land. Then she went about her day taking the action that occurred to her at the time, and didn't spend too much time strategizing. She just took action and trusted that somehow the pieces of her life would come together in a meaningful way for her to earn money doing what she loves. Yesterday she told me she had over $3,000 in checks in the mailbox for the great work she is doing, and enjoying right now. She is not worried at all about the future and she's in the total flow of life. Business is coming to her...which was her determination. She said chant to be confident. Yes. 

She really inspired me. Today I woke up and rewrote my vision for my life. Now I go to chant, and later I'll spend more time on my vision and taking action. 

It's a snowy and treacherous day in Chicago. My friend called me at 7:30 and said her car had spun out three times just going a few miles. She turned around and went home. I am grateful that I am here, in my cozy apartment with time to write and time to chant! 

We had an amazing SGI meeting here Wednesday with 20 people - more than half of them were youths. I hope you are all part of this incredible group of people dedicated to changing the world through individual happiness and transformation! Fortune is overflowing in my life. I wish the same for all of you! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It is really cold in Chicago right feels like this picture, only we have no snow...

Powerful Power Prayer

We are all so much more powerful than we know. 

I'm chanting this Power Prayer:

I now unleash the unlimited power of the Gohonzon in my life for the good of all. 
I'm experiencing clarity of vision and easily knowing exactly which steps to take for the ultimate happiness of all. 
I am determined to increase my levels of strength and fortitude...for the positive energy within my life to continue to overpower my fear and negativity. 
Each day I am moving closer and closer to my goal. 

I also chant for every member in my District and each and every reader of this blog. 

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Monday, January 21, 2013

An Important Day for the States ~ Strength and determination in life

"Strength is happiness. Strength is itself victory. 
In weakness and cowardice there is no happiness. 
When you wage a struggle, 
you might win or you might lose. 
But regardless of the short-term outcome, 
the very fact of your continuing to struggle 
is proof of your victory as a human being. 
A strong spirit, strong faith and strong prayer—
developing these is victory and the world of Buddhahood."  
Daisaku Ikeda

Today is Martin Luther King Day. And inauguration day for President Barack Obama. It is a day of hope and new beginnings.

When we practice Buddhism every day is a day of hope and new beginnings. We embrace the "Hon Nim Myo" spirit, meaning "from this moment forth." The past is inconsequential, the future becons, and the point of power is right now, right here, sitting in front of our Gohonzons dialoguing with the source of our lives, directing our energy and vitality.

Each moment we spend chanting and creating our lives is eternal. Every Daimoku we chant goes deep into our lives for all eternity. Every chant holds meaning for our lives seven generation in the past and seven generation in the future. It is this realization of eternity and the expansiveness of each one of our lives that brings us power. Remember we each chose to have the karma we have and be born with our challenges in order to prove the validity of the law, strengthen our life and raise the life condition - vibration of us all.

We are all true Boddhisatvas. When we embrace our challenges, rather than running from them, we can change them. As President Ikeda says "It is important to take a long range view." What you are chanting about may not change today, tomorrow, or for months to come. But every time you wake up, chant and challenge it you strengthen your life. Strengthening our lives is happiness itself. Whatever your challenge - make a fresh determination every single day and you will win. What is strength? Resiliency. Determination. Resolve. Courage. Hope. Victory. 

"Strength is happiness. Strength is itself victory. 
In weakness and cowardice there is no happiness. 
When you wage a struggle, 
you might win or you might lose. 
But regardless of the short-term outcome, 
the very fact of your continuing to struggle 
is proof of your victory as a human being. 
A strong spirit, strong faith and strong prayer—
developing these is victory and the world of Buddhahood."  
Daisaku Ikeda

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Personal Professional Power Prayer. Casting-off the transient and revealing the true.

There's a very interesting quote in the March Living Buddhism Magazine (published by the SGI-USA, go to for subscription information.) 

On Page 21 the lecture by Daisaku Ikeda on the Gosho "The Actions nof the Votary of the Lotus Sutra" states: 

     "On May 3, 1951, Josei Toda was inaugurated as the second Soka Gakkai president. He regarded that event as signifying "casting off the transient and revealing the true" by the Soka Gakkai, as an organization of believers directly connected in faith to Nichiren Daishonin. 

     "Mr. Toda explained that his mentor and first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi often used to say that the Soka Gakkai must "cast-off the transient and reveal the true" - referring to the Buddhist concept that means to discard one's transient status and show one's true identity or highest potential. Mr. Toda said he had asked himself what that meant in terms of the Soka Gakkai. None of the other members knew what Makiguchi meant, either. But after spending two years in prison for his beliefs, Mr. Toda said, he finally had a realization that led him to proclaim to his deceased mentor: "Our lives are eternal...We (the members of the Soka Gakkai) are Bodhisatvas of the earth with the great mission to propagate the seven-character Lotus Sutra (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) in the Latter Day of the Law." This awareness gradually spread through the entire organization, with members gradually  coming to understand that they shared this lofty mission as the true followers of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day. Mr. Toda declared that his inauguration was proof of his own personal awareness and commitment in this regard, and thus marked the moment of the Soka Gakkai's casting off the transient and revealing the true, which Mr. Makiguchi had longed to see." 

That's it. We ARE the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. We have inherited the direct line of Buddhahood by chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." Now is our time. Now is the time for us to have more benefits, bring forth more power and be absolutely incredibly happy for the sake of the world, for the sake of hope and for the sake of peace. We can do it. 

In other words, we can all "Cast-off the transient and reveal the true" within our own lives. 
How can we do this, and why would we want to?

For me, "Casting off the transient and revealing the true" means bringing forth my own Buddhahood and claiming my responsibility and honor as a Boddhisatva of the earth. The more I can activate the power of my true self...the true self that lies beyond my mind, beyond my heart, and is the power of the universe itself, the more my environment will change to reflect my truest desires. 

This quote, and a wonderful conversation with my mentor Kate, led me to chant a new Power Prayer today. I chanted three hours this morning of absolutely focused and targeted Daimoku. 

Power Prayer to Reveal my True Self and create the Profession that uses ALL my talents:

I chant to discard the transient and reveal the true in all aspects of my life. Today I am willing to discard everything that no longer serves me. I discard all doubt, all negativity and any feelings of not being good enough or not knowing what I should do.

I am determined for my profession (whether working for myself or with others) to be fulfilling in every possible way, and to utilize every single one of my skills, and joys and potential. 

I am richly compensated and prove the power of a human being realizing her true potential. 

I am in an organization that is thriving with self-fulfilled individuals living their passion every day.  My professional environment reflects my true identity, my real, magnificent self, and is filled with appreciation and love. 

I am DONE with the karma of being unappreciated. I permanently root that karma from my life.

I permanently wash doubt and negativity from my life. I don't care how many times it arises. Each time I feel doubt I will chant and chase it our of my brain like the fierce lioness I am. 

Everything I need right now to achieve my goals comes to me immediately and my mind is cleared of confusion. I easily make decisions and move forward in all areas of my life. 

My power to help people is inexhaustible and unlimited and I trust myself to let it flow. 

I surround myself with trusted, wise and loyal advisors in all areas, law, health, accounting, and technology etc. 

All that I need flows to me effortlessly. I easily make choices and move forward. I tap into my deepest and most trustworthy wisdom right now. President Ikeda's spirit runs through me and I chant to live a brilliant, sparkling, dedicated life that would make him proud.

I now release the full, unlimited power of the Gohonzon in my life. I access the full power of my conscious and subconscious mind to create the reality of all I desire. I tap into the vast resources of my life and help others to do the same.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Persistence WORKS. Chronicle of a Victory in life.

I have achieved VICTORY in one area of my life. 

I'm telling you about it to serve as an example of how you can create a victory in your own life. 

I have triumphed over something that caused me great suffering, and outlining the steps I took towards that victory. You can apply this to any problem or challenge that feels impossible to you. I share this with you in the hopes that you can use this outline to create your own victory. This is my experience and not any official advice from anyone besides my own heart for your happiness. 

When I was six years old I realized that my thighs were bigger than the rest of the skinny girls in school. In third grade I had to go on medications for asthma and had to stop running around, because I stopped breathing when I ran. Back then we didn't go to the hospital, or have inhalers. I would spend hours just gasping for air. It was even scarier than it sounds. Anyway...I was soon much heavier than the other kids, at least most of them. 

Being overweight is a terrible way of suffering here in America. It leaves you free to be tormented by any kid who wants to show off and prove his own self worth. I went on my first diet in fourth grade, but I was always hungry ALL the time. I knew it wouldn't work. Our houeshold diet consisted of the standard American diet at the time...lots of processed foods. 

In High School and College I went from diet to diet and lost and gained weight more times than I can count. But I could not fix the problem. When I became a Buddhist after college I chanted sincerely about this problem, and every year at New Years I would determine to lose fifty pounds by my birthday. I did lose the weight a few times, but it always came back. 

OK, here's the encouraging part. 

Every year I determined to lose the weight. Every day I determined to do it. And even when I felt hopeless and a failure I determined to lose the weight. A few years ago I made a book of pictures of what I wanted to look like, and I visualized myself walking into my favorite clothing store and buying anything I wanted. I also wrote a list of why I wanted to be thin. I put every sentence in the present tense. And I kept chanting, encouraging others and introducing people to this practice.  

I chanted that "No matter what, I am going to be victorious in this endeavor so that I can help others who are also suffering." Even when I felt discouraged I did not stop. I found one diet that helped, and I gained back some of the weight. I found another that brought me down further. I was living at a lower weight but had more to go. I incorporated walking vigorously into almost every day. Yet, I still lived in fear that one day I would gain back all the weight. And every day was a struggle with myself. I was hungry all the time. I was mad at myself most of the time. 

Then came the real breakthrough.  In 2012 I chanted to be more healthy than I'd ever been. I chanted for more energy in my body, a quicker, more resilient mind, and to develop strength. I chanted to discover what I did not know that could help me. I chanted to bring to me the resources and people who would know just what I needed to do to live in absolute health. I chanted to change in any way possible to make this dream a reality in my life. I chanted to release myself from the torturous world of hunger, fear and doubt once and for all. And every time doubt and depression arose in my mind I vanquished it by saying "I don't CARE how many times you rise to defeat me, I WILL WIN! I will keep chanting until doubt, depression and defeat are out of my life forever." 

One day in the fall a friend told me about a professional she had consulted who had known exactly what foods and supplements she needed, and she was following this professional's advice and felt better than ever. I asked for her name and called her. She basically told me everything I was eating was wrong, and that I had to change everything. Everything. I couldn't phase the new way of eating in. I had to do it all at once. It took a few days for this to sink in. 

Then I connected with my dear friend Julia who had been eating a plant-based, whole food diet for three months and was so excited about it. She told me about all the great foods I could eat, and introduced me to many new ways of cooking and buying and seasoning food. 

See, that's the way it works. When we keep our determinations, eventually the universe conspires (breathes with us) to provide all we need to make the victory real. That night I saw a doctor on TV saying that the average American diet makes people hungry all the time, and that telling someone on the average American diet not to eat when they are hungry is like telling them not to breathe when they need air. That really made sense to me. 

The minute I started this new way of eating my intense hunger just evaporated. I felt free of hunger for the first time in my life. I have now been eating this way since November 14th. I feel better than ever. My clothes fit better than ever. And the fear of gaining the weight back has vanished. It's not going to happen. It is gone. I have changed a deep suffering. I am out of fear. I am enjoying food more than ever and cooking incredibly delicious soups and stir frys. I have replaced almost everything in my kitchen. 

So whatever it is that is your deepest, most troublesome karma...whatever is impossible in your life. You can change it too. You can gain victory over it. No, it might not happen over night. I had to develop to the point that I could handle making a transition easily and with no suffering. I had to change something deep within my life, and now my environment is changing to reflect the change in side my life. 

My great desire is for my experience to help you in some way.

If I can do THIS, you can do ANYTHING.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Powerful Prayers create Powerful Connection

Ben and I enjoying the 96th of the John Hancock Center together. 

This morning I was sad about my son going back to college. 

I woke up very early. We had one last hug and he left. 

I put my phone away, made some tea, got some water and put my pen and journal next to me. 

For the next two hours I chanted with my full heart and attention. 

I chanted to expand my capacity in every possible expand my capacity for love, 
to expand my capacity for excellent health, to strengthen my mind's thought processes so I can continue to create the life of my dreams, 
to strengthen my life from the inside and raise my life condition, 
to change internally so I can create change externally.
I chanted to break through my doubt and my fear and unleash the limitless power of the Gohonzon in my life. 

I chanted for every single reader of this blog to be encouraged, strong, and resolved, and that no matter what, you do not stop chanting or give up hope. 

I chanted for all the members of my district and for all my friends and family. 

I chanted for Chicago Zone and for the meeting at the Chicago Buddhist Center today to be amazing and unifying. 

I chanted for our country and our world. 

I chanted to show actual proof with every fiber of my being, and to be able to inspire people. 

I chanted for peace of mind. 

I chanted to rise above my own doubts and to connect with President Ikeda's heart every moment of every day.  

I only looked up from the Gohonzon a couple of times. Two hours of chanting felt like ten minutes. 

Tonight as I write this I am filled with the energy from this Daimoku. I have been laughing and enjoying every moment of this day. The meeting at the Chicago Buddhist Center was wonderful and filled with joy. I just watched the Golden Globes and laughed and cried. I am looking forward to tomorrow's new day. 

I am hoping this inspires you to dig deep, leave your cell phone in the other room and connect with your own life force in front of the Gohonzon. Sometimes it takes some sadness to generate this kind of Daimoku. 

I am so grateful to have this tool in my life. So grateful for every moment I spend connecting to my life, to all of life, through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Michael's Encouraging Experience

I am a former foster kid and I was born with drugs in my system.  I had a very tough life growing up. I ended up in the foster care system at 11, emancipated and ended up homeless at 19. I lived place to place and ended up in a homeless shelter for youth 18-24 years old. I stayed there for about a year and got into some legal issues and went to jail. I had a fight and was defending myself but the legal system does not always work in favor of young black men. They attempted to have me accept 5 years in prison my first time ever in-trouble with the law. 

I found my way to a non-profit organization called The Alliance for Children's Rights who help former foster kids find housing and a variety of other legal issues. The CEO of this organization just happens to be Buddhist and she introduced me to the practice and chanting nam myoho renge kyo. I didn't delve into it then. I was very standoffish about chanting. I thought I was evoking some evil demons lol superstitions can get the best of you and keep you close minded.  I had christian beliefs when entering this practice so I didn't want to burn in hell for all eternity lol. I finally got through that legal issue and I still had to serve time in jail. 

When I got out I was homeless again and I was 21 years old. I found my way into a living situation where I meet my first district in California. I was told I could chant for anything and what I needed at that time was a better living situation. I was living in a roach infested apartment with mold and a disgusting roommate who always had people over. So I chanted for the perfect living situation. Not only did I find the perfect living situation but the non profit orginization that was helping me through my legal issues offered me an internship working for them. At this time I was barely chanting and not really that into it. I worked this internship position for 6months and decided I wanted to go back to college. 

I started my first semester of college and upon looking for my African american studies class on the first day I was really early and started talking to my teacher about Egypt and past lives and I found out that coincidentally she was Buddhist as-well so she is the person who helped give me the encouragement to go all the way in the practice. I continued chanting and overcame homelessness. I also joined a mentor-ship and now I have a support system. 

One of the benefits was that my mentor was a surgeon and I had recently found out I had a tumor on my back. This mentor was able to help me get the tumor removed with no cost to me at all. I also received student of the year and a few other scholarships including one sponsored by Jay-Z the rapper who put a scholarship out there for economically disadvantaged youth. I was able to purchase a car and I have not been homeless since I started chanting. 

Chanting brought me a support system and positive perspective. I can now control my anger. I am able to forgive my relatives who I had resented. No one else in my family is Buddhist and I caught so much crap.  But through my own actual proof and chanting I have been able to introduce friends and close people in my life who have seen such a drastic change in me.  This practice is real and it helped and is still helping me each and every single day.

Have Limitless Faith in the Power of Your Own Life

This is a great visual of human revolution. Inside all of us is incredible power. When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo facing the Gohonzon with all our heart we bring out the lion within. 

Nichiren Daishonin says in the Gosho "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the Roar of a Lion what sickness can therefore be an obstacle?" (From Reply to Kyo'o, The Collected Writings of Nichiren Daishonin) 

"Sickness" can be anything. It can be illness, depression, abuse. It can be the negativity in our own hearts and heads. It can be anything in our lives that we don't want. Our chanting can take care of that sickness, and rid it from our lives completely. It starts with a strong practice. 
The beginning of the year is an excellent time to resolve to strengthen your practice. It's a great time to resolve "I am going to practice harder than ever this year, and I will finally overcome_______(you fill in the blank). That is how you make the impossible possible. 
Continually remaking this determination is how I fulfilled a lifetime goal of mine. It's how I lost the weight I'd carried my whole life. After continually making this determination, year after year, I finally found out that the foods I was eating were actually making me more hungry and making it impossible to reach my goals. By this time I had developed the inner strength it too to totally change my diet. I'd also gotten the fortune to have friends who could guide me on the path by showing me all the new and exciting foods I could eat. This enabled me to switch my focus from what I couldn't eat to what I could eat. (Thank you dear Julia!) I developed healthy habits that now come easily to me. I feel and look better than ever. But this did not come the very first time I made the determination. I had to make it  over and over and over and after continual practice I achieved my goal. I didn't give up although some years I did feel discouraged. But I persisted. And I won. This was a goal that for many years felt absolutely impossible. And I won. 

In "My Dear Friends in America, Collected U.S.Addresses 1990-1996" Daisaku Ikeda says in the essay "Buddhism is the Clear Mirror that Reflects our Lives" 
       "If you practice faith while doubting its effects, you will get results that are, at  best, unsatisfactory. This is the reflection of your own weak faith in the mirror of the cosmos.
      "On the other hand, when you stand up with strong conviction, you will accumulate limitless blessings. While controlling your mind, which is at once both extremely subtle and solemnly profound, you should strive to elevate your faith with freshness and vigor." When you do so, both your life and your surroundings will open wide before you and every action you take will become a source of benefit. Understanding the subtle workings of one's mind is the key to faith and to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime..."

And, as Daisaku Ikeda repeatedly says: "Don't Give Up!" 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Financial Determination by a reader to get out of Debt

Here's a note from a blog reader friend in England:

"Just a quick note to say thanks to your blog; I was chanting yesterday morning and had a realization, a fundamental shift in my attitude and wrote it down on my prayer; I determined to lose the FEAR of debt that has dominated my life for so long.  I was determined to work to pay them off and have made great progress there (action) but my attitude had stayed the same. I start thinking about one debt and all the others crown in to try and overwhelm me.    I am about halfway thru my million daimoku on this subject and finally 'got' it.   And today, I was reading a lecture by Sensei.  I substitute the word debt for sickness and it's like he's talking to me:  ...'there is no reason to allow yourself to be controlled by illness (debt), for it to fill your life with suffering and distress.  From the standpoint of eternal life through the three existences, your fundamentally happy self is incontrovertibly established.' 
 I vowed to feel financially secure.  My months goal is to pay my £4'622.06 tax bill in full and on time at the end of this month.
It's just such a remarkable start to the year.  I have one insight, raise my ichinen and have a stonking business day. No coincidence."

Awesome! We can all use this idea to overcome anything! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You can change ANYTHING through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

I have gotten many emails lately, and I have not been able to respond to every single one. The guidelines I give below are for everyone. These are my suggestions alone. I do not represent anyone or anything except my own experience. It works for me! 

If you've been chanting to change things in your life...if you've been chanting about relationships, your career etc...consider looking inward and chanting to change yourself. Changing your SELF - doing your human revolution is vital to your successfull practice. 

What is the process?

1. Own the problem...realize that whatever you want to change may LOOK like it is outside yourself...but it's roots are within your life. That means that you cannot complain or say "WHY ME?". Really you have to own it...not BLAME yourself for it...not feel guilty about it. It's okay to get a little angry and make a fierce and roaring declaration to change whatever you need to change.

2. Turn your prayer INWARD. Chant to change YOURSELF. Chant to have the courage to make the changes you need to make in order to generate the results you want to create in your life. Remember that all change starts from within. And your environment will change to reflect the inner changes you have made. 

A SuperPrayers to accomplish this could be:

"I am determined to make any changes I need in my thoughts, my actions, my chanting, to make continual positive causes that will result in rooting the cause of -____________(fill in the blank with your challenge here) my negative karma OUT OF MY LIFE!  I am determined to make the changes inside do my own human revolution and raise my life condition! I am determined to change in any way I need to change to attract the .......(you fill in the blank) into my life. Life! I am bringing the determination, wisdom and fire I need to create the life of my dreams. AM NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO! I AM ROARING LIKE A LION IN MY OWN LIFE! I WILL CREATE MY LIFE! I do this not only for me, but for everyone who is suffering. I will lead the way for fellow sufferers. I am determined to glow within my own life. I am determined to be a shining light for all who are suffering. I am determined to be the beacon of hope that ANYONE can solve their problems by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I am ready to meet people who are ready to hear about this practice!  I chant to have the most inspiring life. Gohonzon (my life) I need to see these results now!"

I also advise: 

1. Chant one hour every single morning to the absolute best of your ability. And do evening Gongyo every day too. 

2. Encourage others who practice, and tell everyone about the power of this practice. I plant seeds everywhere I go by giving out Nam Myoho Renge Kyo cards. Planting seeds is a tremendous cause for your life, for their life and for our shared peace and happiness together, Kosen Rufu. Chant for others. 

3. Study President Ikeda's guidance and the Gosho with your life. Chant to understand his words with your life. Chant to understand the master and disciple relationship with your life. 

4. Go to SGI activities with joy in your heart and an aim to contribute as much as you can and make the most of every meeting. Your spirit while attending these meetings makes a difference. 

5. Every morning before you get up think of at least 10 things you appreciate about your life. My mother took my advice when she was feeling sad, and it changed her whole outlook she says. 

You can do this! You Buddha YOU!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Beginning

Hello, welcome to the first full work week of the new year.

This weekend I rearranged my entire living room. I added a couch and moved my TV into the corner where it belongs and put my altar in the center of the living room. Now all the members will be able to see it better. I also finally found the perfect altar light. I know that this change will have a profound effect on my life, and the lives of the precious members who come to my house to chant. I look forward to sharing many victories with you. 

I'm set for the New Year.

Have you written your new determinations for the new year yet? If not, it is not too late.

This morning I am focusing on creating a beautiful future and appreciating the wonderful life I have. I am chanting to join spirits with Daisaku Ikeda and for my life to be a living example of the power of this practice. 

I am working on a great benefit to be able to report to you. It's not ready yet, and I am not sure how long it will take. The important thing when going through any challenge is to keep your head high, keep chanting strong daimoku, keep encouraging other people and don't stop chanting until you get the benefit. Not giving up is the most important thing.

Have a great day. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Trust Your Prayer

I just talked to one of the members of my SGI District. 

I will post her whole experience as soon as she has finished writing it...but in the meantime here is a synopsis. 

My young friend received her Gohonzon on New Year's Day two years ago. She got some immediate benefits and really appreciated the Gohonzon, but could never really chant twice a day and she was only able to make about 3 meetings a year. 

Right before Christmas she lost her job. She came over and we spent a lot of time together. her background was traditional Buddhism and she was taught to appreciate her life, but to never ask for anything specific in her prayer. As you know this practice advises us to chant for exactly what we want. 

She went away on a vacation she'd planned and chanted twice a day the whole time. She chanted for a job to be waiting for her when she returned, and boom ~ she got her new job within two days of returning home. And it's a job that will give her the time to come to meetings. She'll be coming to the youth Division kick-off meeting in Chicago at 10:00 this Sunday. 

She said she chanted for it to be easy, and she trusted her prayer. 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Power Prayers for the New Year

Ahhh, great sunset. I wish I were still on my cruise! Instead I am with my family visiting Cleveland where it is very wintery here...snowbanks and everything.

I am still focusing on chanting about my New Year's Determinations and Power Prayers. I know the moment of power is now. There are, as always, many things left unfinished from last year's goals and it's important not to get feel too bad about them. The other day I made a list of all the accomplishments I made last year, and all the things I feel good about. That is a great place to start!

At the New Year it is time to:

Make a new determination
Make a fresh determination
Make a bold determination!

What  does this mean?

Making a determination sets your course. It's like a compass. It can move your life. It is a powerful tool. It is a cry of the heart. Once you make a determination your life begins to move in the direction you have set! 

So how do you do it?

It starts with your desire. Some of my best determinations come when I am in front of the Gohonzon chanting. That's why I always have pen and paper handy.

What's the difference between a goal and a determination?

Goals are usually short and set in time. "I will lose 20 pounds by my birthday." Sound familiar? "I will get straight "A"s this year. Get the idea?

A determination goes deeper. It can make many changes at once. Here are a few examples of mine.

"I vow to create VICTORY in every aspect of my life! 

Determination for strong faith:

I am determined to use this faith to the best of my ability. Every moment I learn and deepen my prayer. I study and deepen my faith so I can encourage others. I  do morning and evening Gongyo every day and live my life to help others discover this practice. My life is a shining example that this practice works. I live my life as a joyful response to my mentor and an affirmation that I can do anything I desire. 

Some of you know I lost 70 pounds. 

Here is my determination: 

For my Body: I am determined to be healthier, happier, and more fit than I have ever been. I'm determined to find the right practitioners and who will guide me in my path to vibrant health! I feel better and better every single day! I am determined to know which food choices contribute to my overall good health, and to use this knowledge to the best of my ability! 

(Note: since I made this determination I have found exactly what I need to be healthier than ever, and I am putting it into practice)

And when I knew it was time to move on from my marriage I determined to have the kind of divorce that was so positive and uplifting that people would be inspired to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. And two of my friends who saw us going through the divorce process were so inspired they began chanting and have since changed their lives in amazing ways. 

(Note: today, January 3rd I am in Cleveland Ohio with my entire family, Paul and Aaron and Ben - and we are spending time with Julia and Cliff. Julia started chanting when she saw us together two summers ago. Now she is enjoying all the benefits from two years of chanting with determination: her health has returned and she is experiencing love for her husband in a whole new way)

I have a vow for my love life too: 

"I VOW to create Victory in every aspect of my life! I will have the kind of love relationship that brings us both absolute joy! It will grow every day and we will spend our time together delighting in each other's happiness and having fun exploring this wonderful world! Both of us have passion and drive and We will appreciate each other in ways I have never experienced in a relationship, and our love and appreciation will grow and deepen through the years.

(This one has yet to manifest, but I know it will!)

I have determinations for many areas of my life. I believe this is very important for creating the life of my dreams and being happier than I ever thought possible! And all of this is possible for you! That's why I write this blog!!!

You can make a strong determination in every area of your life. And while you are chanting, you can focus on expressing these determinations to your life!

It's the right time to move your life! It's the right time to dig deep! Please share your determinations with me, and share your successes. I am actively gathering material for the book I am writing for you and everyone you wish to inspire. Wouldn't you love to have YOUR story in it? Join me!