Saturday, August 31, 2013

How to Chant Joyfully for Longer Times

I know many of us are challenging ourselves to chant more than ever...aiming towards November 18th and the opening of the WorldWide SGI headquarters. I wrote this a while ago and repost it from time to time.

When I first began chanting a leader told me our lives and our karma can be compared to a glass with dirt at the bottom...the dirt represents the karma that exists inside our lives. She said when you start to chant you stir up that dirt and see it swirling around...and if you want to really dig deep and clear it out, you might want to chant for a really long period of do a Daimoku Tozo as we call it. 

(Now, none of us ever HAS to chant for a long period of time. This is something that is entirely optional and comes from your deep desire. It's perfectly okay if you don't choose to do a long tozo. As long as you are chanting every day, studying, attending as many meetings as you can, you will definitely change your life for the better.) 

A reader requested I share some ideas about chanting joyfully, especially since so many of you are challenging yourselves to chant for longer periods of time. Thank you for asking.

How to joyfully chant for longer times.

1. Realize that what you are about to extended chant...a tozo...has profound significance for your life. Give  yourself credit for this worthy goal, and set a chanting time goal for yourself. 

2. Write your goal or goals for the tozo. (Some of these goals may occur to you naturally as you're chanting) Write yourself a Power Prayer connected to the greater the real difference you want to make in the world. Remember that you are a precious votary of the Lotus Sutra and when you break through, the energy is forever changed. You are paving the way for others to break through. So address that in your goals and in your chanting For instance: 
"I am determined to have the most beautiful, loving relationship so that I can totally inspire other people that great relationships are possible ...I can show actual proof with my life, and be able to introduce others to this practice!" In one of the tozos I chanted, I'd read President Ikeda's guidance saying you can chant to have 10,000 times more power in your prayer. So I spent the first hour chanting to increase the power of my daimoku by 10,000 times! That hour flew!

3. Have your favorite drinks close by...tea...water...soft drinks...whatever you like. 

4. DEMAND your results! YOU are the Buddha! Do not beg favors from a 'higher power." Remember the Gohonzon cannot get down off the scroll and do the Buddha's work in the world. YOU actually are the Gohonzon; it is inside your life. The scroll is a reflection of the highest life condition that exists within your own life. So when you are chanting CLAIM what is yours! Yes, the Gohonzon consists of the functions in the universe that are in our lives. Tell your life what you want. And know that all real change comes from within.

5. All change comes from within. Take responsibility for your life...not blame. Realize whatever you are going through, whatever is causing you to's your karma..not your FAULT. Chant to reach the very core of that karma and change it forever. THEN your life circumstances and environment will change to reflect it. You don't have to figure out the deeper cause, don't worry about getting it right. Chanting is experiential, not an intellectual exercise.  

6. Keep your favorite study material close by...whatever touches your heart when you read it. And if you find yourself losing focus open it up to any page you want. I have "For Today and Tomorrow" next to me right now. I just opened it for you right now...I read "When we chant sonorous daimoku, the sun rises in our hearts. We are filled with power. Compassion wells forth. Our lives are lit with joy. Our wisdom shines. All Buddhas and Buddhist deities throughout the universe go to work on our behalf. Life becomes exhilarating." Read your passage and get right back to chanting!!!

7. Invite others for all or part of your tozo. 

8. Have pen and paper handy. You'll want to write down those brilliant ideas that come into your mind while you're chanting. You'll also want to write down some of those pesky thoughts and reminders that keep coming back...things like "remember to buy dog food." Just write it down and eject it from your brain so you can focus on what really matters.

9. Put your telephone away. Tell people you are busy. 

10. After the tozo write in your journal. You never want to forget this day. Write to me too. I love to hear your successes and your challenges. 

11. Expect some obstacles to arise after your tozo. And just say "Hello obstacles! I was expecting you!" When you chant for an extended time you can compare it to turning your speedboat to HIGH. The faster you go, the more resistance you feel. Sometimes after a tozo I experience some obstacles, sometimes I don't. But if you do, please remember obstacles are fuel for your happiness and not to be feared. Face them and chant them away. 

I am chanting for you to accomplish your goals and shine with happiness!
I am chanting for you to connect with the SGI and President Ikeda and all your Soka Gakkai friends. 
I'd love to hear from those of you who have connected to the SGI through my blog. I am sharing your stories with Daisaku Ikeda, Sensei. Send your experiences to

Friday, August 30, 2013


Happiness - The Purpose of Life ~ by Daisaku Ikeda


by Daisaku Ikeda

The purpose of life is to attain happiness.
Happiness is something you have to feel inside.
It is something you have to build for yourself.
It is something that lives within you.
That is why the state of your inner realm, your life,
is so crucial to your being happy.
Happiness is not in some far off place.
Happiness exists within your own life.
It is within a single thought in your mind.
You, yourself are the most precious of all.
You have no need to be envious of anyone
or to long for things far away.
Faith and one's single minded desire
to achieve Kosen Rufu (world peace)
are what makes this self of yours shine its brightest
and develop its highest potential;
they are what fill you with good fortune,
satisfaction and eternal joy.
This is the essence of true happiness,
A palace exists within your own life.
When you open that palace
you can be happy wherever you are.

"'Just as flowers open up and bear fruit, just as the moon appears and invariably grows full, just as a lamp becomes brighter when oil is added, and just as plants and trees flourish with rain, so will human beings never fail to prosper when they make good causes.'
From “The Third Day of the New Year” (WND-1, 1013).

"Those who make the best possible causes in their lives through working for kosen-rufu will never fail to enjoy immeasurable good fortune and benefit. Such are the workings of the law of cause and effect in life.
"How admirable are the efforts of those who strive tirelessly day after day for the happiness of others and the peace and prosperity of society! They are certain to achieve lives of brilliant victory." Daisaku Ikeda

Win in the Morning and You Win in Life~! 10 tips for Overcoming Stress

Be Good to YourSELF!

Here are 10 tips for sailing through stress:

Win in the Morning and you WIN in LIFE! 

1. Get some exercise! Walk if you can. Fill your lungs with air, and oxygenate your body. It is always amazing to me how my mood is affected by moving my body. Yoga is great too. Find something you makes you feel great!

2. Drink lots of water. I drink about 100 ounces of water a day. It helps me in so many ways. I feel so much better. I take out four 24 ounce bottles and put them on my counter and make it a goal to drink them all each day.

3. To keep myself from anxiety I stay away from most forms of caffeine. Your body may handle caffeine just fine. But if you have anxiety I recommend cutting out the caffeine for a few days and seeing how you feel. I do drink tea.

4. Take loving care of your body. Get a massage. Massage is healing. It literally helps to drain the toxins from your body.
And get enough sleep! Studies are coming out every day about how important sleep is to overall health, mood, even weight loss. 

5. Take your vitamins. I found a reliable person to help me understand what my body needs, and I follow the regime. I take a lot of vitamin D3. I can feel the difference if I don't take it. Even if it's sunny I need my Vitamin D!

6. Chant as much Daimoku as you can. I know sometimes my voice gets tired and raspy. But I am keeping up my two-hour a day campaign. I have to. I am skyping with friends all over to chant and get and give support.

7. Study Buddhism to get perspective and re-fire your faith. When you are studying you can tap into your deepest and most powerful prayer.

8. Laugh! Have some fun with your friends. Make room for spontaneity. This week I ended up on a sunset boat cruise on Lake Michigan viewing my favorite skyline with the sun going down behind it, and the lights of the city coming up. Truly a magical moment. Or watch something that makes you laugh. Most of us have heard about Norman Cousins who healed himself of cancer by watching old funny TV shows. Laughter fills your body with oxygen. 

9. Be grateful for all you DO have. When I am really stressed I write down all the things I am grateful eyes, my ears, my sense of smell, the fact that I can walk, and sleep, and all my close friends.

10. Do something for others. Doing shakubuku is the highest cause you can make for your own happiness. Give out Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards, invite people to your house to chant. Call up a fellow member and say "How are you?" 

Of course, chanting a lot of daimoku is the cornerstone to handling stress, but the other things I mentioned here are also important to me. I hope they are helpful to you. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Courage, Strength and Wisdom!

Words of a VICTOR in Life

Overcoming HUGE Challenges!


Here we are chanting in the Worldwide Million Daimoku Campaign. Many of you have emailed me saying you have huge goals, and are chanting 300 hours (a Million Nam-myoho-renge-kyos) to make them happen. 

You know what that means, right? YES! It means that your karma, my karma, all of our karma will come out so we can change it forever through chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Although this is really the best, most invigorating way to live, it can also be daunting. Today's post is from my heart, because I am totally sharing in a great challenge in my own life.

Many of you write me facing Huge challenges...HUGE CHALLENGES. As you know, I love hearing from you and am always happy to answer your emails that you send to I am now offering chanting coaching over the phone or skype. You can tell me what is happening in your life and I will really hear you. I can help you write your own personal PowerPrayer, and move your life forward with new courage, vigor and determination. If you are interested in finding out more about speaking with me personally, please send me an email at  

Whatever you are facing ~ YOU have the power to change your situation. It starts with chanting to do your own HUMAN REVOLUTION. Your life is the shadow of your inner life. When you change your inner life, you will also change the shadow ~ your whole environment will change. This will absolutely happen. 

I think of karma as being in the garden hose of life...the water is coming through the hose, but it also has mud and dirt in it. As the dirt (karma) washes out through Daimoku, sometimes it gets clogged with problems, and that's when I have to chant more, study more, chant with others more, do shakubuku more and challenge myself more to change my karma. 

I can't give up. No problem is bigger that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! Let's not give up! 

I know I can use my victory over this problem to inspire others and build my own unshakable faith. I MUST use all the resources of my faith, my mind, my courage and my compassion to light the way for all of us. 

When you have this sort of feeling, that "I, _______(your name here), will overcome ALL my suffering and use my experience to inspire others" your feeling of suffering will change. You will understand and challenge your life in a new way. You will chant with more strength in front of the Gohonzon! See if you can do this!  

You must generate and create the conviction that you are suffering for a greater purpose: to help others, and that you WILL achieve victory so you can inspire others. And your suffering will end immediately when you grasp that you have a deep mission. But we are not here to master suffering, not we who practice Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism with our mentor Daisaku Ikeda! We are here to master happiness! And forging courageously through our suffering, and using it as the fuel to create our happiness...that is the highest and best state of life. 

We are so lucky to be able to chant to overcome our problems! We can change everything! We can't back down. We must make strong determinations! We have to go the distance and say "No matter how long it takes...I WILL change this! I am THE BUDDHA! I AM NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO! NO devilish function, no "bad karma" can defeat me! No WAY! 

"Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the Roar of A Lion - What Sickness Can Therefore be an Obstacle!"

"A Coward cannot have any of his prayers answered" Nichiren

Summon Courage! 

Make a strong determination!

Quote from Daisaku Ikeda - Strive to Elevate Your Faith With Freshness and Vigor

IT is certain that those who maintain an immovable determination 
never to discard faith will receive the protection of all Buddhas.
WHILE controlling your mind, which is both extremely subtle and awesomely 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.
THE actions we take for others, for the Law, for society and for kosen-rufu ultimately bring blessings to our own lives. To the extent that we exert ourselves in this way, our lives become polished. We become like magnets, drawing benefits into our lives. People who continue to chant daimoku throughout their lives, naturally become a “cluster of fortune and blessings” themselves.
IF you fall down seven times, get up on the eighth. In other words, do not give up when you feel discouraged, just pick yourself up and renew your determination each time.
WE have truly entered the age in which the great philosophy of Buddhism will lead the world. Many thoughtful, discerning leaders around the globe are focusing intently on the wisdom of Buddhism and enthusiastically endorse the humanistic principles upheld by the SGI. Let us proudly work to expand our network dedicated to bringing peace to the world through the propagation of the correct teaching of Buddhism.

Daisaku Ikeda

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Words Spoken From the Heart

The "I Have A Dream" Speech by Martin Luther King, delivered 50 years ago today

Martin Luther King delivering the "I Have a Dream" speech

50 Years ago today, on a Wednesday just like today, history was made. I know it is STILL the dream of you, and me, and all the world's people, for us to be untied as one family in peace. Today, I pay homage to the great Dr. King...the great, courageous man, by posting the complete speech. Here is a little background first:

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was partly intended to demonstrate mass support for the civil rights legislation proposed by President Kennedy in June. King and other leaders therefore agreed to keep their speeches calm, also, to avoid provoking the civil disobedience which had become the hallmark of the civil rights movement. King originally designed his speech as a homage to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, timed to correspond with the 100-year centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.[5]

I Have a Dream
August 28, 1963
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daisaku Ikeda Greeting Gandhi

PowerPrayers for Busting Through Obstacles! TWO PowerPrayers today!

Those of us who are challenging our lives through strong Daimoku (the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which means "I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration") are summoning up obstacles in our lives. This is part of the practice and part of life. As I've said many times, we can use these obstacles to FUEL our lives and our happiness, and provide us with the fire to change our karma forever, or we can have these obstacles FOOL us into thinking we are not strong, not capable and not wise, and give up. 

The choice is up to us!
Here is a passage from my upcoming book: 
The BuddhaZone, PowerPrayers for Chanting Your Way to Absolute Happiness. (The actual PowerPrayer is at the end)

Recognizing Obstacles for What they are!

“When devilish functions are recognized for what they are they lose their power.” Daisaku Ikeda, Living Buddhism June 2013 p 23

In the words of Nichiren Daishonin in his letter to Niike:
“There is definitely something extraordinary in the ebb and flow of the tide, 
the rising and setting of the moon, 
and the way in which summer, autumn, winter, and spring 
give way to each other. 
Something uncommon also occurs 
when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. 
At such a time, the three obstacles and four devils 
will invariably appear, 
and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat. 
I have long been waiting to tell you this, 
either through my own messenger or by some other means.

PowerPrayer for Recognizing 
and Removing Obstacles 

Hello, Sansho Shima, 
I was expecting you.
I recognize you for what you are.
Sansho Shima, I see you for what you are! 

No way!
Not this time!
Not any more!

I'm in charge now.
I AM Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
and I am roaring like a lion.

You  are not real, you  have no power here.
On the contrary, 
I take your pure energy now, and 
through my Daimoku I make you my ally, instead. 
I turn Sansho Shima into Shoten Zenjin 
(protective functions in life and the environment)
Shoten Zenjin
Get my back!

I now use you to refuel my determination
and I will chant _________number of hours
every day until I have ultimate victory.

I will encourage others with this victory, 
and by my strong faith while facing this challenge!

I transform you now. 

PowerPrayer to say, 
"No More! Enough is enough!”

I am chanting with 
absolute conviction in the power of my life to declare and demand:

No more of this karma 
of feeling insecure and doubting myself.

No more of this karma 
of being abused by anyone or any thing!

No more doubting my own Buddha Nature!

No more living in fear!

No more feeling unloved or hopeless.

No more struggling in a job I hate, or any other terrible situation.

No more ________________ (you fill in the blank.)

I am the Buddha.
I am roaring with power in my life!
I now determine with all the power vested in me that I will___________________________.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It is senseless to blame others or your environment

How is Our Practice Different from the "Law of Attraction" or The Secret?

I received a question from a reader asking how our Buddhist practice is different from the law of attraction, and wanting more clarification about the Gohonzon. 

I am very familiar with the law of attraction. I have read the Secret and I attended many talks by Abraham (Esther and Jerry Hicks) and I DO believe that what we focus on is very important. 

We need to focus on what is positive, and what we want to bring into our lives. The thing the Secret is missing is any recognition of karma, and a consistent practice to elevate each person's vibration. Every day, by chanting, we elevating our life-condition. We intone the rhythm of the name of the universe itself, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, meaning: I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration.

Let's face it, some things are easier to change than others, right? For some things you can just focus on them, watch how others are accomplishing them and just make the change and make it happen. Other things, well...they could take years; they are more embedded karma, but they CAN be changed with this practice. 

Without the tool to tap into the source vibration itself and elevate our life condition, some of the things we want to change may never change. This is why we chant. And we receive actual proof every day that this practice works! 

We know that changing our karma is not easy. That's why we chant twice a day - every day! We fight to change our karma. We know that we must not just change our own karma and become happy for ourselves ~ but we also are in the daily process of helping others achieve happiness too, and spreading the word of the mystic law. If the law of attraction by itself really worked for all people, wouldn't everyone who focuses on what they want already have achieved their goals? 

As we know, Karma is the sum total of all our past deeds of every lifetime we have ever lived. Karma is not our FAULT, we are not bad people for having karma. We all have karma. SGI Buddhism tells us we don't have to spend lifetime after lifetime paying our karmic debt. We can change it right here, right now by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and challenging ourselves in faith, practice and study. 

What does this mean? It means that we get out of chanting what we put into it. The Gohonzon is a mirror of our lives. It is the vast sonic mirror that reflects the highest potential life condition, the life condition of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha who was predicted to be born in the Latter Day of the Law and teach us all the correct Buddhist practice for our time. After studying and researching for years, Nichiren realized that the title of Shakyamumi's highest teaching, the Lotus Sutra, was the correct practice and he began chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the 1200s in Japan. He inscribed the Gohonzon to enable people to bring out the highest state of life within each person. 

Even though the Gohonzon, the scroll we face when we chant, is our object of worship, we are not praying TO it. Since the Gohonzon is depicting our highest life condition, it is actually within all of us. We chant to bring forth the wisdom, the energy, the Buddhahood we ALREADY possess. 

When we chant we are chanting to our own life, our own essence, our own Buddha nature. We don't chant to Buddha! We chant to our own highest selves...deeper than our subconscious minds...the part of us that is connected to the whole universe. It is, of course, impossible to explain and must be experienced. If you are reading this blog and haven't experienced chanting you need to chant to feel it. 

When I started, I chanted 5 minutes every morning and 5 minutes every evening, and I went to SGI meetings to learn more.  I had a "seeking spirit" and felt I was onto something. 28 year later I am still "onto something" and live my life to help others tap into the power within themselves. When we live this way life is an incredible joy...and all our problems FUEL our happiness! To find a meeting in your area, click the SGI Portal on the right. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gongyo is a Grand and Noble Rite, by Daisaku Ikeda

This is one of the many speeches of Daisaku Ikeda I read over and over again. We are truly microcosms of the macrocosm of the Universe. This speech resonated for me. It also corresponds with the blog from a few days back comparing the irises of our eyes with the nebulae in the universe. Enjoy!

Gongyo is a Grand and Noble Rite: 

I would like to take the opportunity provided by today’s training session of the youth division to present a succinct and easily comprehensible discussion of the significance of gongyo. Because of the limitations of time I cannot pursue the subject in all its details, so I would like all of you to consider and explore this topic on your own afterwards as well. 

Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches that our existence is identical to the universe as a whole, and the universe as a whole is identical to our existence. Each individual human life is a microcosm. 

The practice of gongyo is a grand and noble rite to achieve the vital communication to the microcosm of each person’s existence with the universe, based on the Gohonzon. 

The correspondence of each part of our bodies to parts of the universe is proof that our existence is a microcosm. Our heads are round like the heavens above us are round, and our eyes are like the sun and the moon. We close them and open them, like day and night. Our hair shines like the sparkling stars. Our eyebrows are like the seven stars of the Big Dipper. 
Our breath is the wind, 
and the quiet breathing from our nostrils is like the still air of the valleys and dales. 

There are some 360 joints in the human body
 and they stand for the days of the year. 
The twelve major joints signify the twelve months. 

The warm, front side of our body — our abdomen and stomach — is spring and summer. The cold hard back is fall and winter. 

Our blood vessels and arteries are streams and rivers. 
When we suffer a cerebral hemorrhage, it is as if a dam or dike has burst. 
Our bones are stones, and our skin and muscle are like the earth. 
Our body hair is a forest. 
Buddhist scriptures discuss in detail these correspondences i
ncluding each of the internal organs, 
teaching that our body is indeed a universe in miniature. 

There are clouds in the heavens. The wind blows, the stars twinkle. There are oceans on earth. The rivers flow. Volcanoes erupt. And great quantities of metals and minerals — gold, silver, copper, potassium, calcium — lie in the earth’s depths. 

The activities and qualities of all these materials are also incorporated in our bodies. 

The infinite elementary particles of the cosmos — atoms, protons, photons, electrons, neutrons, and all the rest — microscopic animals such as bacteria, the activities of good and evil, and the laws of gravity, the conservation of mass and energy, and all other laws of the universe also apply in almost the same fashion to the microcosm of our bodies. 

A look at the operation of our bodies suggests that they are great pharmaceutical plants. They have the capability to produce the drugs we need to preserve our health. They take in food and transform it into nourishment and energy. 

The human brain has the capability of a giant computer — even though we may not always be able to use it! 

The sixty trillion cells of our bodies work together 
in their established order in a perfect biorhythm. This is the original order of things. 

The Great Law That Pervades Individual Existence and the Universe 
Our existence is the universe, and its life processes are sublime. A slight change in the heat of the sun will enormously affect not only the Earth but all the other planets. If the Earth’s rotation were to stop for the briefest instant, or if its axis were to tilt the slightest degree, all living things would be threatened with extinction. 

That is how subtle the natural order is. And further, a firm and irrevocable law of the universe exists. This holds true for the microcosm as well. 

It is science that pursues this invisible but truly existent law, and technology is the invention of machines and other devices based on the fruits of scientific research. 

Nichiren Daishonin discovered and awoke to the great law of all existence that underlies all the partial laws governing all spiritual and physical phenomena, and it was he who revealed that law to humanity as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This Mystic Law applies equally to the universe as a whole and to each and every individual human existence. The universe and the individual are one in this Mystic Law. 

Under certain circumstances, an invisible law takes form as a visible existence. The individual human existence, for example, emerges out of its state of fusion with the rest of the universe by taking shape in the womb and being born in the world. 

A ship can be regarded as a tangible representation of the law of buoyancy, just as an airplane is a representation of the laws of aerodynamics, a radio or television program a representation of the law of electromagnetic waves. All of these objects give shape to invisible laws. 

The fundamental law of the universe and individual existence is also invisible. The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon as a visual representation of that Mystic Law for the people of the world. The Lotus Sutra and other Buddhist scriptures are the instruction manuals for the Gohonzon. 

Josei Toda, my teacher and the second president of the Soka Gakkai, explained the Gohonzon in an easily comprehensible way as "a machine to produce happiness." 

When we practice gongyo and chant daimoku before the Gohonzon, our individual existence is perfectly harmonized with the universe. 

Both the universe and our individual existence are the concrete manifestation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as is the Gohonzon. That is why when we practice gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon, our existence and the universe mesh as perfectly as two gears, and with an initial creak begin to work together. 

The single life-moment (ichinen) of the individual becomes one with the three thousand (sanzen) factors and realms of the universe and begins to produce great value. This is the concrete practice of ichinen sanzen. 

Through that practice we can acquire wisdom and good fortune, and glow with the energy to overcome any obstacle throughout the four seasons, three hundred sixty-five days a year; we can enter the way to the eternal happiness and attain eternity, joy, true self and purity (jo raku ga jo). 

Gongyo is a practice which calls forth and activates the infinite power that the microcosm inherently possesses. It transforms your fate, breaks through any apparent dead end and converts sufferings into happiness. It creates a transformation, a revolution of the microcosm. It is a diagram in miniature of kosen-rufu in our lives. 

The kosen-rufu that is our aim is a movement to transform the universe, the Earth and human society into a world of peace, comfort and harmony in accord with the rhythm of the Mystic Law. 

The Practice of Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime, Which Leads to Eternal Happiness 
If you let an automobile or any other machine fall into disuse, it will rust and stop working correctly. You have to use it and maintain it regularly and properly. Why, the same thing is even true of the hair on our heads: If we don’t wash it regularly we’ll be encrusted with dandruff! 

Gongyo and chanting daimoku are like starting the automobile’s engine every day and driving in the direction of happiness and truth. 

By doing so day after day, you will gradually attain perfect unity with the universe and the Law. That state is the state of the Buddha. 

Once that has happened, you will be able to enjoy yourself with complete freedom for all eternity. Your existence will be a diamond that will never perish throughout the three existences. 

To attain Buddhahood in this life, the Daishonin warns us with firm concern that we must never retreat in our practice. 

Even though we may experience a period of sadness or depression, the principle that earthly desires are enlightenment teaches us that great sufferings are bound to be transformed into equally great joy, progress and value. There is nothing to fear, since the Gohonzon possesses the infinite power of the Law and the Buddha. 

We often say that strong faith, valiant and untiring practice and courageous acts are important. This is an expression of the truth that without a strong will and courageous practice it is impossible to achieve great things. 

You will not be able to communicate in a discussion with another unless you are clear and direct. If you lack the courage of your convictions and mumble vague things, you won’t make any impression on your listener. Nor can you strike a chord in his heart. And of course you will not be able to move or convince him. To do that you need to be very determined and sure.

Isn’t the same thing true of love? 

It’s certainly true in a job interview. Unless you present your thoughts clearly and forcefully, you won’t make any impression on the interviewer. In other words, mental determination and courageous actions can change any situation and they possess a critical capability to produce happiness. 

The Victory Song of Life Is to Be Found in Action 
To fly, a plane needs the extra push it gets by acceleration down a runway. To get good grades in school, you need the extra push of study before a test. 

Whatever you do, to achieve something better, to reach a higher level, you need a push. 

Buddhism teaches practice for oneself and practice for others. If either one is lacking, you cannot practice properly. 

The Gohonzon is the concrete manifestation of the very existence of Nichiren Daishonin, who taught kosen-rufu. Because of that, if you only practice gongyo and chant the daimoku and don’t take any other action for the sake of kosen rufu or improving your own life, the Gohonzon will not have its true, full effect. 

If, however, you take actions to achieve kosen-rufu, they will serve as that extra push for your own life and help you leap to higher and higher states of mind in your gongyo and chanting as well. 

And it is only natural that the energy you acquire through the gongyo practice for yourself will be channeled back into your activities for others, for kosen-rufu. 

The fact is that the practice of gongyo and your actions in service of kosen-rufu will become one, and together they will unlock the infinite power of the Mystic Law in your life. 

In Buddhism, practice is faith. That means action is faith, and without action there can be no true faith. The action I speak of is the way of practice for oneself and for others that is taught in Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. 

Action is the source of blessings and merits. In propagating the teachings, for example, whether the person you are presenting the teachings to arouses faith or not is his problem. The effects of our action of propagating will vary, depending on the person’s capacities and other conditions. 

There is no need at all to rejoice or lament over each effect. You can be proud that you have practiced the truest, most wonderful law of life in the universe to the best of your ability and go forward with your head held high. One who has acted for the sake of kosen-rufu is already a great victor in life. 

The words "the heads of those who cause affliction will be split in seven pieces" are written on the Gohonzon. 

This is a warning that it is wrong to seek to harm this law of your own being. 

Abandoning the teachings or slandering them are self-destructive actions that are bound to split you apart. 

We also find the words "those who make offerings will acquire blessings surpassing the Buddha’s ten names." 
This forceful statement tells us that the merits of one who make offerings to the Gohonzon and spreads the teaching will be far greater than the magnificent merits of the one who makes offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha. This is a promise that our personal microcosm will absorb the nourishment of all the blessings in the macrocosm, the whole universe, and be elevated to a state of existence of the highest happiness itself. 

Thus we know that the children of the Buddha who strive for kosen-rufu are each guaranteed to attain the ultimate degree of happiness. There is no one who will be more blessed. 

Faith in Present and Future 
"For both the present and the future" is also written on the Gohonzon. For present and future. That is what faith is for, what the Buddhist Law is for. 

When we worship the Gohonzon, the eternal life of time without beginning wells up within us. Our faith is that every day, every instant begins from time without beginning. 

We are always setting out, full of hope, from today to the future, from this moment to eternal happiness. We are always young, always beginning. 

My message to you is that you must be absolutely certain of this and live your wonderful lives without regret, with joy and brightness, always moving forward.  

What is the Gohonzon?

This is from the Website. I am posting this in answer to a question I got today about the Gohonzon. More clarification is in the next post as well:

The Gohonzon is the object of devotion, in the form of a scroll, that practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism enshrine in their homes and is the focal point of their daily practice of morning and evening sutra recitation and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. (Go means "honorable" and honzon, "object of devotion.")
"This Gohonzon is the essence of the Lotus Sutra and the eye of all the scriptures," Nichiren Daishonin states. "It is like the sun and the moon in the heavens, a great ruler on earth, the heart in a human being, the wish-granting jewel among treasures, and the pillar of a house" ("On Upholding Faith in the Gohonzon," The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 624).
In the center column of the Gohonzon are the characters "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" and under that, "Nichiren," surrounded by various other Chinese and Sanskrit characters that depict historical and mythological Buddhist figures. Together they represent profound philosophical principles and conditions of life.
Like a musical piece or a painting that reflects the life-state of the person who created it, the Gohonzon reflects Nichiren's life-state: Buddhahood. It is not merely a symbol, or something to focus on while chanting. Since it embodies the state of enlightenment, Nichiren's life, it is the actual reality of the Buddha's life. It is the link between the Buddha state within ourselves and in the environment. It is an instrument to see our true potential and use it. Therefore, by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, we call forth our own Buddhahood, tapping our inherent wisdom, compassion and life force. Gradually, day after day, our own life-state is influenced and strengthened through our daily practice to the Gohonzon.

SGI President Ikeda states, "Just as a mirror is indispensable for putting your face and hair in order, you need a mirror that reveals the depths of your life if you are to lead a happier and more beautiful existence" (My Dear Friends in America, p. 94).
Nichiren cautions: "Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" ("The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon," WND-1, 832). In other words, our faith and practice make the Gohonzon an external stimulus to awaken our internal life of Buddhahood.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Experience from a Reader

Hi Jamie,

I wish to share an experience with you which happened just yesterday. It was 11:30 am and I was in the middle of my morning gongyo followed by daimoku, when I suddenly heard a big noise outside. It's been raining continuously since the last 3 days in my city so I thought it was probably thunder. However I continued to chant... After a few minutes my helper came running to me saying that the tree in front of our house had been uprooted and it fell right on our building... 
The tree was huge, and I got really worried for a moment. My mother was away from home and father at work. 
But when I went to check, with the protection of the Gohonzon my building was untouched. The tree fell just a few inches away, without damaging any of our windows or the walls. Two trees that had grown on their own right in front of my house held that huge tree for hours and prevented it from falling further till the local corporation people came and removed the tree...

The consequences of this could have been a lot worse, but I am so grateful to the Gohonzon and god for protecting all of us, and all those people who were outside on the street at the time when this incident took place. I chanted in the evening expressing deep gratitude for being so kind to us and looking over us... I thought I must share this with you as well... We realized yesterday, once again how blessed we are and how powerful this practice is :)

(Thank you so much for sending this in! Email your experiences to me at and encourage others!)