Friday, May 31, 2013

thank you * Thank You * THANK YOU!

I'm sending the sunshine in my heart 
to your heart. 

As of right now, has reached 21,000 readers for the month of May. 

Thank you for being my companions, spreading the great practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and helping people connect with the heart of our mentor and the noble SGI. 

Thank you for taking action every day to create a world of kosen-rufu like Daisaku Ikeda describes in the post below. 

Thank you for your courage in confronting your fundamental darkness and roaring it away so the sun inside your life will shine. 

And most of all, thank you for your emails and your connection with me. I cherish all of your friendships and hope to travel and meet you all. Some of your emails have come at precisely the right time! 

Please continue to send your victories, your comments, your questions and messages to

Sending love ~ * Jamie *

The Twenty-First Century ~ The Century of Life

Lenticular clouds over Mt. Hood 
on Tuesday of this week.

In Conversations with Youth, Daisaku Ikeda writes of his hopes for this century. On Page 375 he addresses us all:

"This is your time. 

The future is in your hands. 

I hope you will make the twenty-first century wonderful. 

Please make it a century 
in which the life of each individual is cherished 
and respected to the utmost.

A Century 
without discrimination, 
without bullying, 
or murder. 

A Century in which 
no child cries from hunger, 
in which no mothers or children 
take their own lives in despair. 

A Century without environmental destruction.

A Century free of academic elitism, greed and materialism. 

A Century in which 
human rights are upheld as the most precious of treasures. 

A Century of true democracy, 
in which people hold corrupt political leaders to account.

A Century in which 
the people exercise sound judgement 
and pay no heed to misinformation spread in the media. 

I hope you will make it a Century in which each of your precious dreams comes true and your unique individuality blossoms to the fullest. 

To realize these goals, 
it is vital that each of you achieve victory, 
that each of you 
grow into people of philosophy and compassion, 
into people who possess both real ability 
and the sincerity to understand others' hearts. 

Your victory will be the victory of the twenty-first century. 

You are our only hope. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quote from Daisaku Ikeda

ROAR! Be Fearless and Bold in the Face of Your Obstacles

You and I are very similar. I am not a better Buddha than you. My prayers are not any more powerful. We are all Buddhas. I started this blog to use my life as an example for you - that anything is possible, so I use every moment to expand my capacity and show more and more actual proof. I know you are doing the same in your own sphere of influence, because that is one of the keys to becoming absolutely happy. We don't become happy just for ourselves, because absolute happiness just for ourselves isn't possible. We strive for the happiness of all beings, those we love and those we don't love. We are all interconnected. That is why this Buddhism is so powerful. We are all rising together in happiness, and you and me, we are Buddhas leading the way. 

You know I am writing the book 
The Buddha Zone, 
Power Prayers for Chanting Your Way to Absolute Happiness. 
This book is my life's dream - this book and the ones that will follow. I think the first book is the biggest challenge, don't you think? This is the book that forces me to believe in the power of my own life. This book is making the impossible possible in my life. I see you holding this book in your hands and saying "YES! I can't wait to share this passage with my mother, and friends, and fellow members." I imagine you saying "Now I really want to read more of President Ikeda's and Nichiren Daishonin's Writings, and I want to attend SGI meetings and really get involved. I am going to dig into this practice and change my karma once and for all. I KNOW I can do it!" 

That really is the point. If I can change my own karma, and stand up to my fundamental darkness and feelings of "Who am I to do this?" ~ you can accomplish anything too. 

So what do I do in the face of obstacles? I do the same thing you do. I study SGI publications. I encourage members. I chant. Here are some of the gems I've gleaned from my study lately. Check it out. 

At last night's meeting I pulled out an exam study guide for us to discuss and envision kosen-rufu. (I am really interested in hearing your thoughts on what you believe kosen-rufu looks like.) And this morning I want to share a passage with you. 

The following passage is from the 2011 Essentials of Nichiren Buddhism Exam, from President Ikeda's lecture on Nichiren Daishonin's Gosho "The Three Kinds of Treasure" page 32. 
It was written to Shijo Kingo. I call him the "everyman" of feudal Japan. He was a staunch follower of the Daishonin, a samurai who worked for a man called Lord Ema. In feudal Japan in the 1200s your lord was very powerful in your life. He was your source of income, your source of where you lived and could easily ruin everything for you. Lord Ema tried to get Shijo Kingo to give up his practice of Buddhism, and threatened to take away his lands if he didn't. Nichiren Daishonin instructed Shijo Kingo very carefully in many aspects of his life. He told him to be careful on the roads because fellow samurai were out to get him, he told him to be modest and keep his hot temper under control, he even told him "when you drink sake stay at home with your wife," and, of course, he told him to never stop chanting no matter what obstacles arose. Eventually Lord Ema fell sick, and Shijo Kingo was the powerful healer who cured him. Shijo Kingo achieved total victory in his life through this practice. We can learn from every one of the Gosho written to him. He is so much like us...working in the world...having obstacles arise, and continuing to chant no matter what. 

On page 32 Daisaku Ikeda states: 

"Another piece of advice Nichiren gave Shijo Kingo was to not be fawning or servile. Servility is tantamount to destroying one's own dignity or self-esteem. Even worse, behaving in a cowardly or servile manner toward devilish functions will prevent one's Buddhahood from shining forth.

"We must firmly stand up to devilish functions that bring misery to people. When confronted by people of dignity and integrity, devilish functions will always make a fast retreat. This is just like foxes fleeing when they hear the roar of the lion king, or like darkness vanishing the instant the sun comes out. 

"Let us live with unshakable confidence and pride, and without the least servility. The Daishonin repeatedly teaches his followers that is where the true brilliance of human dignity is found."

I just love the imagery in this piece. I love the thought of me, the Lion King, looking at the forest filled with all my obstacles...all my devilish functions that appear as people telling me I can't accomplish my dreams, or my own doubt and negative voice arising in my head, and opening my mouth and ROARING Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ~ and seeing my doubts and fears high-tailing it into the forest once again. I know they will be back, but I will roar again, and roar again and roar again! THAT is the beauty of this practice. ROAR with all the power in your soul and don't confuse obstacles for the truth. Be fueled, not fooled! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Request for Your Experiences of Victory

Hi Readers! 
Please send me your pictures and experiences of Victory in faith. I can publish them with or without your pictures and identifying you. When you share your victory you make a great cause! Pelase include quotes and guidance that encouraged you. Send them to

Become a Person of Unlimited Self Esteem

….How to become Men/Women of Unlimited Self Esteem….
By Danny Nagashima, SGI General Director (USA)

You can analyze your situation all you want. You have to get to the root of why “I don’t believe in the greatness of my life”. You have to grab it by the roots and yank it out of your life. The answer is probably so simple, but we tend to over-analyze, it gets complicated and the solution seems far away. Your mission as a Buddhist is to become happy – not to master suffering. We have the negative and positive sides of us – one says, “who are you kidding”, the other, “you can do it”. You have to fight to not to give in to your negativity. This is not about being a writer, an artist, an actor, etc. It is about becoming the man or woman that you always wanted to become, a man or woman who really values his/her life.

The obstacles you face are the answer to your prayer.

Those feelings of self-doubt, those feelings that “I am a failure” – those are the feelings that you have to face and to address. How you feel about yourself, that feeling of self-loathing, of not being good enough, of being a sham. Those are the feelings you have to face. Your talent is not being questioned; it is about how you feel about yourself. That is the karma. You have to value your own life, to appreciate that it has nothing to do with anybody else validating you. Follow your heart; follow your Buddhahood and the effect from that, the benefit from that will be massive.

You need to follow your heart, truly treasure your life. When Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon, he was already chanting daimoku out of the greatness of his life, his Buddhahood, his enlightened state; he inscribed the Gohonzon for all humanity so that everyone could relieve his or her suffering. When you sit in front of the Gohonzon and chant, you have to have the most reverence for your life, the same as the Daishonin’s; therefore your life deserves that kind of reverence.

If you chant for two weeks to really be a person of unlimited self-esteem and to really, truly appreciate your life including your flaws, your accomplishments, your defeats and your losses, your victories, all that you have created and to truly appreciate your talent as XYZ for two weeks, everything will change.

Forget about the past garbage. Put it away. That will only make you feel impotent. From today on, really chant about being that man/woman of unlimited self-esteem. Really appreciate everything about your life; all the things that make you incredibly unique and wonderful. All your sufferings, problems, heartaches, will be the stuff you need, in order to share your experience, to encourage and to inspire others. Focus on really, truly awakening to your greatness. This is the opportunity (sufferings, obstacles, lack of self-esteem) you needed to go through in order to become outrageously successful – so you can fulfill your dream. If you focus on this – really valuing your life now, then everything will fall into place in a much bigger way. This is something no one can give you; the universe is showing you what you need to tackle. When you first chant this way, a lot of garbage may come out of your life, a lot of negativity, awful feelings may surface. We always bring into our lives what matches our life condition. So chant to feel incredible joy about your worth and you will feel and know self worth and greatness.

You not being able to do whatever you determine is a manifestation deep down of your feeling of fear, that you are not good enough, that you do not have it in you. You must get yourself to a place where there is the greatness of your life, then everything will be transformed. We have to believe in our Buddhahood. When we face the Gohonzon, we should say, “I am going to praise my wonderful life”. It is important to awaken to your own greatness. Your life is the Gohonzon. Now is the time for you to start over.

When you pray to a deity, your prayer becomes passive. Our voice is the Mystic Law. This law is not outside of you. When you get a benefit, it was you who created it. You must awaken to your greatness, appreciate and value your own life. It is no different to the enlightened life of Nichiren Daishonin, embodied in the Gohonzon.

Just as a beautiful piece of art elicits a response, or a great book touches your life in a certain way, we must elicit the Buddha nature from our own lives. It is right here, and the Gohonzon is the perfect vehicle to bring out that strength, joy and vibrant life condition; then you take that to the world and change the environment. 

We are not necessarily chanting for the house, the car, the job, the relationship, but we are chanting to elevate our life condition to attract that happiness. The results that we see in our lives are a reflection of our life condition. 

Every day as you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo consciously call forth your Buddhahood to manifest itself consistently. 

Chant to rise above your basic tendency of disbelief, or continually thinking that you are a common mortal who does not deserve good fortune in this life. Do not negate your life when you sit in front of the Gohonzon. Do not beg. Do not scream. Do not berate the Gohonzon. Believe in the greatness of your life; manifest the extraordinary side of you. The Gohonzon is the tool we need to bring out our Buddhahood. "My life is the Gohonzon." Do not slander your life. The doubt is necessary to prove to myself that “I am a Buddha. I will fulfill every one of my dreams for myself”.

We already possess something incredible – our Buddha nature, the Gohonzon. But we do not believe that the good fortune, the “million dollars” is truly mine. I will not be able to get it, or to enjoy it. Trust that the Gohonzon, your prayer, is the absolute means for you to transform your life. Trust and faith are the key words.

Chant with the expectation that every one of your wildest dreams will be fulfilled beyond your wildest imagination. Chant to believe in your Buddhahood. Trust in the greatness of your life. 

In “On Attaining Buddhahood”, Nichiren Daishonin made a primary point: to free ourselves from the suffering of birth and death which we have endured in lifetime after lifetime, and to attain absolute happiness, we need to awaken to the mystic truth that has always been within our lives. That truth is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. That truth is “I am a Buddha”. Trust that you have everything you need for your happiness.


1. Chant to become a person of unlimited self-esteem
2. Chant to awaken to your own greatness
3. Chant to appreciate your life, including flaws, accomplishments, defeats, losses, and victories and truly appreciate all that makes you a unique and wonderful person
4. Chant to make the impossible possible
5. Chant to consistently manifest your Buddha nature and rise above your basic tendencies and overcome your inherent negativities in your life
6. Believe that you are a Buddha and create all the benefits for yourself
7. Believe you are the Gohonzon
8. Trust that in the Gohonzon, (your life itself) you have the means to fulfill each and every desire to become extraordinarily happy
9. Chant to display your Buddhahood and to bring forth that strength, joy, vibrant life condition
10. And then take it to the world and change the environment.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Friendship from Daisaku Ikeda

Your Words Create Your Life

Choose Your Words carefully. 

Speak positive words
 to yourself and others
 and you will see the difference 
your positive  words make. 
What you focus on increases. 
Do you want to focus on the 
negative in your life or the positive? 
What you focus on increases...which would you rather have...more things you don't want or more things you do? 
It's up to you! 

Our Lives are Our Own - Power Prayer for Increasing Confidence

How do we gain confidence in the power of our own lives? 
On what do we base our decisions? 

Practicing Buddhism is a process that enables us to better know our desires and continue to refine them day after day after day. Our continual process helps us to hone who we really are and instills in us the confidence that we CAN HAVE what we truly desire. 

President Ikeda says in Faith and Action (in the Self-Reliance section), page 65:

"Our Lives are our own. 
It is not for someone else to dictate to us 
how we should live. 
All that awaits those who allow themselves to be continually swayed by what other people say or do 
is unhappiness. 
We simply need to have the self-belief to be able to say: This is right. 
This is the path I will follow. 
I am content." 
Happiness is born from such inner fortitude. 
Moreover, those who earnestly devote themselves in accord with the mystic law 
cannot fail to realize lives of total fulfillment." 

How do we develop this core of self belief? 
We can chant for it:

Power Prayer for Increasing Confidence:

Life! I am determined to increase my confidence in my own life. I am determined to tap into the core and essence of my life itself, and bring the full wisdom and power of my life into everything I do. I am determined to know exactly what I want and chant to fulfill it. I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra and I will make my life shine like the sun! I am determined to use every breath of my life as a beacon for good, and to be a light for others along the path of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo."

Monday, May 27, 2013

What is Success in Life?

Daisaku Ikeda states:

"Just what is success? 
The English thinker Walter Pater (1839-94) wrote: 

"To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life." 

The person who lives like fully, 
glowing with life's energy, 
is the person who lives a successful life." 

From Faith in Action, page 68. 

Power Prayer for Overcoming Depression and Hopelessness

Those of us who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 
are the lights of our families, 
our neighborhoods 
and our countries. 
We are able to tap into the vast source of life itself every single day, every morning, and every evening. And if we can continue to have hope and continue to draw on our higher nature...continue to see ourselves as the Buddhas we are and not give in to feelings of hopelessness and despair...we can make the impossible possible in our lives...there is nothing we can't do. 

"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion, what sickness can therefore be an obstacle?"
Nichiren Daishonin, Letter to Niike. 

"A sword is useless in the hands of a coward."
Nichiren Daishonin, Reply to Kyo'o

So we must be brave and forge ahead, even when we feel darkness in our hearts. 

My goal is to inspire you with my life, and for you to actively seek out Daisaku Ikeda and Nichiren Daishonin's heart, and for all of you to make good friends in the SGI, the organization full of regular people awakened to their Buddhahood who are dedicating their lives to helping others become happy through this practice.  

It is because of my mentors, and the heart-to-heart guidance I have received from my friends in the Soka Gakkai - my "good friends in faith," that I have been able to vanquish depression and anxiety from my life. 
And I am telling you this for sure - if I can do it so can you. My depression was a deep-seated karmic depression. My mother had it and it runs deep within her side of the family.  I'd wake up in the morning encased on a veil of sadness. I knew the moment my eyes opened that it was back. And every day, in my morning Gongyo I learned to face it down and chase it out of my life. 

My friend-in-faith Kate got rid of her own depression and counseled me to chant with fierce determination in my heart and to create this power prayer:

Power Prayer for Vanquishing Depression

While chanting, have this determination:

"I don't CARE how many times you rear your ugly head depression. I WILL defeat you! I will defeat you to show actual proof for kosen-rufu, so I can encourage others.  I will come back and chant time and time again until you are gone from my life forever. You are no match for me hopelessness and depression! I reveal my life state as the life of the Buddha. I embrace my mission to encourage others. I will win!" 

And I won. It's over. I no longer feel depressed. I no longer wake up into darkness for no reason. 

Prayer and action are the key. Because of my prayer I stopped trying to escape into bad habits that just made the depression worse. I began working out vigorously 20 minutes each morning. I also changed my eating habits and lost weight. Earnest prayer gives rise to positive action. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Aaron Leaves for Bolivia Today

Aaron Silver and Meg Groom

It's a big day here at the Silver household.
Aaron and Meg, his wonderful new friend, 
are taking off to do medical duties 
in Bolivia through a program at their medical school. 

They really don't know exactly what the trip will hold, 
only that it is a grand adventure.  

It is at times like this that I am especially grateful to be able to be at home chanting for Aaron and Meg. 
I will take every fear, and all of my love and happiness and put it into my Daimoku 
for the next month for them both, 
and for the whole group. 

Oh heart, that hold us all together, I send my prayer today
For happiness, protection and all good fortune. 
May all their timing be perfect. may their flights be uneventful and easy, and may they work hard, laugh hard and appreciate every moment, even the difficult ones. 
May they create memories 
of golden moments and cherished friends. 
May their hearts be even further opened 
and their missions give them vision, 
purpose, enthusiasm and hope. 
May they be absolutely inspired by the beauty that exists inside each and every human heart. 
May their lives shine like the sun. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

What Does Nam-myoho-renge-kyo mean?

~ And why does chanting these words have such a profound effect on each person?  

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, to those of us who wake each day and chant these words, is the means to put our lives in rhythm with the universe and bring out our own highest and best qualities. Life itself is a duality, and each one of us has choices to make at every moment of the day. Chanting these words help us to "true" our choices in a way that leads us to greater happiness.  

It is a law, the mystic (unfathomable) law. And it works whether we believe it or not. But please, don't take my words for it. If you're new to chanting I have several blogposts on how to chant. You can find them in the archive section. The link to the SGI-USA Portal (to the right) has listings of centers in your area where there are wonderful SGI members who would love to answer your questions and help you learn this practice.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

We are Connected

"When we have a genuine sense that, 
no matter how difficult 
our present circumstances, 
we are not alone—
that we are vitally connected with others
and with the world—
we will, without fail, 
rise up to the challenge of living again."

Daisaku Ikeda

Chanting for kosen-rufu and taking action for world peace unlocks our own happiness

Do you realize how strong and capable we all are? 

All of us who chant Daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) have the power to ROAR LIKE LIONS and create the lives of our dreams! 
All we have to do is realize it, and when we chant...demand results from our own life. 
When we chant we are connecting with our own life, so we are not asking anyone or anything for "favors." 
No, we are connecting with our highest life power...that of the entire life and power of the whole universe. 
Nam-myoho renge-kyo is the name of the rhythm of life itself. It is already inside you. 
Please chant with the knowledge that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is your life itself. And claim your birthright. Claim your power. Don't settle for a life of suffering. 

We also need to understand the shared struggle of mentor and disciple. It is essential to our Buddhist Practice. 

In the May Living Buddhism (SGI-USA publication) President Ikeda states "Therefore, when we embrace faith in the GOhonzon it is important that we wholeheartedly believe in the justice of Nichiren Daishonin's struggle. Unless we have the resolve to share in this struggle and participate in widely propagating the mystic law, the supremely noble life state of  Buddhahood will not manifest powerfully within us. The essence of faith in Nichiren Buddhism is for disciples to strive for kosen-rufu with the same spirit as their mentor. (May, 2013 Living Buddhism page 20)

"What is kosen-rufu? According to the same edition of Living Buddhism the definition is as follows: Literally "to widely declare and spread." Nichiren Daishonin defines Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the Law to be widely declared and spread throughout the world. Kosen-rufu refers to the process of securing lasting peace and happiness for all humanity bt establishing the humanistic ideals of Nichiren Buddhism in society." May 2013 Living Buddhism, page 3. 

I have also heard kosen-rufu described as a world with respect for all of life. 

All of us, striving every day for kosen-rufu will create a world of fulfillment and happiness for all people, through our own happiness. Our own Human Revolution and happiness is where it starts.  

"Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of a lion, what sickness can therefore be an obstacle?" Nichiren Daishonin, Letter to Niike

"Sickness" in the above quote means any problem, any challenge, any trouble ~ from illness to relationships, to depression...ANYTHING. 
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...and your chanting can break through anything. You just have to dig deep and realize Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is your life itself, and chant with conviction. 

You are an honorable Buddha - you deserve the absolute best. 

Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with happiness and conviction. Write a list of what you want for your life. 
Chant to have the kind of benefit that will strengthen your faith. 
Chant to strengthen your faith! When you chant with the faith that you know your prayers will have an impact - they will. Every determination should have the greater prayer of kosen-rufu as part of its fulfillment. Such as: "I am determined to win in all aspects of my life so that I can show actual proof of this practice and inspire others to chant."

I know you have heard me say these things over and over, but I repeat them so that we can all be reminded of the correct way of practice to become true victors in our lives. 

Chanting takes courage. You can do it. You can make any change you want to see for yourself and others. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Power of Prayer

"Prayer is the courage to persevere. 
It is the struggle 
to overcome our own weakness 
and lack of 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."

Daisaku Ikeda

Power Prayer for Overcoming Obstacles

Obstacles are part of the journey. 
And they can either FUEL us of FOOL us. 

It is up to us. We choose by our attitude and resolve. When an obstacle arises we can say "This obstacle is making my resolve stronger! This is a log on the fire! I will chant even harder and take a million times more action. I will help others chant. I will study more. I will share President Ikeda's spirit and I WILL MOVE FORWARD. Or we can say "This obstacle means I shouldn't be doing this right now. I wasn't meant to have this dream come true. This is a sign I should give up." If this is our response to obstacles then the obstacles have won. They have FOOLED us into thinking we aren't powerful, and that we are not Buddhas. 

As many of you know I am spending my days writing a book for all of you. My vision is that this book be infused with Sensei's spirit, and filled with Nichiren Daishonin's resolve. My goal is for this book to introduce people who are suffering to the wonderful world of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. ..the world where real dreams, small and large can be brought to life...the world of vitality and purpose....aliveness and connectedness where we are all living in happiness and all helping others become happy...the world of Kosen Rufu. 

This, and many other books are my life's dream...not to "attain notoriety  or be famous or live in a mansion. No. My vision is to reach people who are searching for the most practical solution to their problems, and lead them to the SGI and a world of new friends, happiness and success. 

Along the way, and specifically right now, I am experiencing many obstacles. How I view them is the key to winning or failing, right? This will be a work of actual proof for you, my readers. This book will be  proof that the impossible can become possible. I've already made many impossible things happen in my life ~ losing 50 pounds - becoming healthy - helping many people receive the Gohonzon - and reaching you through the magic of the internet and inspiring you to connect with the SGI and President Ikeda's heart ~ these  things were impossible. And this book has been an impossible dream all of my life. 

At first I was beset with my own doubts, and those took years to overcome. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote parts of the book. When I read them over I knew they were not good. Now, as I am deeply into the process, have a brilliant writing partner, I've honed my own writing skills, a fresh batch of obstacles have arisen. But I have a power prayer for overcoming obstacles that is written in my heart and I'll share it with you now:

Power Prayer for Overcoming Obstacles on the way to my dream 

I am determined to use every obstacle, every doubt, every criticism, to fuel my resolve and solidify my determination. I am the Buddha and the determination for the happiness of all beings is alive within my heart. Every obstacle is a log that makes the flames of my desire burn higher. I will chant with 10,000 times more determination, and take resolute action every day towards the realization of my goal. I will study, introduce and encourage others with all my heart every single day. My karma is my mission. I dedicate my life to proving the power of this practice with every breath I take, and inspiring countless others to chant and become absolutely happy. I resolve to accomplish: _________________________________________(you fill in the blank)

And this morning I found some quotes by President Ikeda from the book Conversations with Youth for you. I have given away countless copies of this book. You can find it in the bookstore through the SGI portal to the right on this page. 

"If the power of your faith and practice 
is a force of 10,000 
then it will elicit that degree of corresponding power." 
P. 299

There is nothing extraordinary about prayer. 
It is simply wishing for something with all your heart, 
and our heart is what matters most. 
It is important to chant with deep faith, reverence and love for the Gohonzon in our heart." p. 303

"If you summon your courage to challenge something 
you will never be left with regret. 
How sad it is to spend your life wishing 
"If only I'd had a little more courage."
Whatever the outcome may be, 
it is important to take a step forward 
on the path you believe is right. 
There is no need to worry about what others may think. 
Be true to yourself. 
It's your life after all."

All quotes by Daisaku Ikeda from Conversations with Youth.  

Encouragement to have Courage and Faith

A Guest blogger provides this encouragement: 

I am feeling very inspired, the SGI meeting I went to was about courage and faith.  

Really it's in times where we feel that we cannot go on where we feel like giving up, that's when we call forward our courage and faith to go on. 

When we are chanting it is not about thinking through our problems "how will this work out?", but just deciding how we want things to be and letting go and enjoying our daimoku and allowing the buddha nature within us to come forth. 

Our strategizing in front of the Gohonzon, (thinking and analyzing) blocks the way for our innate wisdom to shine through. 

Here is a quote from President Ikeda's lectures on The One Essential Phrase:

'Daimoku is like light. 
As the Daishonin says, "A candle can light up a place that has been dark for billions of years." Similarly, the moment we offer prayers based on daimoku, the darkness in our lives vanishes. This is the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect. At that very instant, in the depths of our lives our prayer has been answered.
The inherent cause (nyo ze in) of a deep prayer simultaneously produces a latent effect (nyo ze ka). While it takes time for this effect to become manifest, in the depths of our lives our prayers are immediately realized. So at that moment light shines forth. The lotus flower (renge), in blooming and seeding at the same time, illustrates this principle of simultaneity of cause and effect.
Therefore, it is important that we offer prayers with great confidence. The powers of the Buddha and the Law are activated in direct proportion to the strength of our faith and practice. Strong faith is like a high voltage-it turns on a brilliant light in our lives.
Prayers are invisible, but if we pray steadfastly they will definitely effect clear results in our lives and surroundings in time. This is the principle of the true entity of all phenomena. Faith means having confidence in this invisible realm. Those who impatiently pursue only visible gains, who put on airs, or who are caught up in vanity and formalism will definitely become deadlocked.
People who base themselves on prayer are sincere. Prayer cleanses and expands the heart, and instills character.
Daimoku is also like fire. When you burn the firewood of earthly desires, then the fire of happiness-that is, of enlightenment-burns brightly. Sufferings thus become the raw material for constructing happiness. For someone who does not have faith in the Mystic Law, sufferings may be only sufferings. But for a person with strong faith, sufferings function to enable him or her to become happier still.
Faith is inextinguishable hope. The practice of faith is a struggle to realize our desires. And the basis of this practice is prayer. Through prayer, hope turns into confidence. This spirit of confidence unfolds in 3,000 ways, finally resulting in the attainment of our hopes. Therefore, we must never give up.
Even places that have been shrouded in darkness for billions of years can be illuminated. Even a stone from the bottom of a river can be used to produce fire. Our present sufferings, no matter how dark, have certainly not continued for billions of years-nor will they linger forever. The sun will definitely rise. In fact, its ascent has already begun.
To put yourself down is to denigrate the world of Buddhahood in your life. It is tantamount to slandering the Gohonzon. The same is true of setting your mind that absolutely nothing can be done about some particular problem or suffering.
Also, we must not decide in advance that a particular person or a particular area is a lost cause. It is precisely when faced with challenging circumstances that we need to pray. The key is to offer concrete prayers and take action-until results are produced.
Prayers based on the Mystic Law are not abstract. They are a concrete reality in our lives. To offer prayers is to conduct a dialogue, an exchange, with the universe. When we pray, we embrace the universe with our lives, our determination. Prayer is a struggle to expand our lives.
So 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.'

Daisaku Ikeda

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daisaku Ikeda on Creating Happiness ~

What is Happiness?

by Daisaku Ikeda

What is the purpose of life? It is to become happy. Whatever country or society people live in, they all have the same deep desire: to become happy.

Yet, there are few ideals as difficult to grasp as that of happiness. In our daily life we constantly experience happiness and unhappiness, but we are still quite ignorant as to what happiness really is. 

A young friend of mine once spent a long time trying to work out what happiness was, particularly happiness for women. When she first thought about happiness, she saw it as a matter of becoming financially secure or getting married. (The view in Japanese society then was that happiness for a woman was only to be found in marriage.) But looking at friends who were married, she realized that marriage didn’t necessarily guarantee happiness. 

She saw couples who had been passionately in love suffering from discord soon after their wedding. She saw women who had married men with money or status but who fought constantly with their husbands. 

Gradually, she realized that the secret of happiness lay in building a strong inner self that no trial or hardship could ruin. She saw that happiness for anyone—man or woman—does not come simply from having a formal education, from wealth or from marriage. It begins with having the strength to confront and conquer one’s own weaknesses. Only then does it become possible to lead a truly happy life and enjoy a successful marriage. 

She finally told me, “Now I can say with confidence that happiness doesn’t exist in the past or in the future. It only exists within our state of life right now, here in the present, as we face the challenges of daily life.” 

I agree entirely. You yourself know best whether you are feeling joy or struggling with suffering. These things are not known to other people. Even a man who has great wealth, social recognition and many awards may still be shadowed by indescribable suffering deep in his heart. On the other hand, an elderly woman who is not fortunate financially, leading a simple life alone, may feel the sun of joy and happiness rising in her heart each day. 

Happiness is not a life without problems, but rather the strength to overcome the problems that come our way. There is no such thing as a problem-free life; difficulties are unavoidable. But how we experience and react to our problems depends on us. 

Buddhism teaches that we are each responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness. Our vitality—the amount of energy or “life-force” we have—is in fact the single most important factor in determining whether or not we are happy. 

True happiness is to be found within, in the state of our hearts. It does not exist on the far side of some distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. However much you try, you can never run away from yourself. And if you are weak, suffering will follow you wherever you go. You will never find happiness if you don’t challenge your weaknesses and change yourself from within. 

Happiness is to be found in the dynamism and energy of your own life as you struggle to overcome one obstacle after another. This is why I believe that a person who is active and free from fear is truly happy. 

The challenges we face in life can be compared to a tall mountain, rising before a mountain climber. For someone who has not trained properly, whose muscles and reflexes are weak and slow, every inch of the climb will be filled with terror and pain. The exact same climb, however, will be a thrilling journey for someone who is prepared, whose legs and arms have been strengthened by constant training. With each step forward and up, beautiful new views will come into sight. 

My teacher used to talk about two kinds of happiness—“relative” and “absolute” happiness. Relative happiness is happiness that depends on things outside ourselves: friends and family, surroundings, the size of our home or family income. 

This is what we feel when a desire is fulfilled, or when something we have longed for is obtained. While the happiness such things bring us is certainly real, the fact is that none of this lasts forever. Things change. People change. This kind of happiness shatters easily when external conditions alter. 

Relative happiness is also based on comparison with others. We may feel this kind of happiness at having a newer or bigger home than our neighbors. But that feeling turns to misery the moment they start making new additions to theirs! 

Absolute happiness, on the other hand, is something we must find within. It means establishing a state of life in which we are never defeated by trials, and where just being alive is a source of great joy. This persists no matter what we might be lacking, or what might happen around us. A deep sense of joy is something that can only exist in the innermost reaches of our life, and which cannot be destroyed by any external forces. It is eternal and inexhaustible. 

This kind of satisfaction is to be found in consistent and repeated effort, so that we can say, “Today, again, I did my very best. Today, again, I have no regrets. Today, again, I won.” The accumulated result of such efforts is a life of great victory. 

What we should compare is not ourselves against others. We should compare who we are today against who we were yesterday, who we are today against who we will be tomorrow. While this may seem simple and obvious, true happiness is found in a life of constant advancement. And, the same worries that could have made us miserable, can actually be a source of growth when we approach them with courage and wisdom. 

One friend whose dramatic life proved this was Natalia Sats, who founded the first children’s theater in Moscow. In the 1930s, she and her husband were marked by the Soviet Union’s secret police. Even though they were guilty of no crime, her husband was arrested and executed and she was sent to a prison camp in the frozen depths of Siberia. 

After she recovered from the initial shock, she started looking at her situation, not with despair, but for opportunity. She realized that many of her fellow prisoners had special skills and talents. She began organizing a “university,” encouraging the prisoners to share their knowledge. “You. You are a scientist. Teach us about science. You are an artist. Talk to us about art.” 

In this way, the boredom and terror of the prison camp were transformed into the joy of learning and teaching. Eventually, Mrs. Sats even made use of her own unique talents to organize a theater group. She survived the five-year prison sentence, and dedicated the rest of her long life to creating children’s theater. When we met for the first time in Moscow in 1981, she was already in her eighties. She was as radiant and buoyant as a young girl. Her smile was the smile of someone who has triumphed over the hardships of life. Hers is the kind of spirit I had in mind when I wrote the following poem on happiness: 

A person with a vast heart is happy.
Such a person lives each day with a broad and embracing spirit.
A person with a strong will is happy.
Such a person can confidently enjoy life, never defeated by suffering.
A person with a profound spirit is happy.
Such a person can savor life’s depths
while creating meaning and value that will last for eternity.
A person with a pure mind is happy.
Such a person is always surrounded by refreshing breezes of joy.