Thursday, April 30, 2015

Great Guidance to Share - Going from Victim to Victor

As you know, I am in the middle of a week of chanting two hours a day towards May 3rd.  My friend Mary and I are chanting twice a day together and we've joined hearts with many of you who have written me to say you're on board - we are all chanting together to create our Human Revolution - out total turn arounds! 

In the SGI, our wonderful organization, as you know, we have something called guidance. Guidance is a bit of a paradox, because sometimes when we need it most our life conditions are so low that we can't seem to find it. That's one reason I have cultivated so many inspiring friends in faith to help me along the way. Real guidance is something that can change our outlook and help us face the Gohonzon with renewed vigor, strength and determination. For me, it is not just a matter of passively receiving it. I chant before guidance to be able to really hear be open to it, and to let it transform my life and propel my daimoku and my life. And I write down every word of guidance.  

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get guidance with a senior leader. I connected with her through a leader I speak with often. My heart is full of gratitude. 

All along, throughout my son's illness I have known that his illness was my karma, not just his karma. It would not be in my life if it wasn't part of my karma, but part of me still could not grasp this concept with my life. It's hard to explain to you. I knew it, but I couldn't own it. Does that make sense to you? 

What the senior leader said to me helped me to really own this karma, and by owning it - I can make a fresh determination to change it. 

She said that no doctor is going to "fix" Ben until I irradicate my karma of having a schizophrenic son...until I tear it out by the roots. She said it wasn't a matter of "upping my practice" or chanting more Daimoku. She said I couldn't rely on anything but Daimoku through the 9th level of consciousness...there the wisdom lies. 

She said to use my Daimoku to create the call to the Universe to surround and protect Ben and give him whatever tools he needs that are essential for his life. 

She said I need to go from Victim to Victor. She said it has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with me. She asked "How do you feel right now" Hopeless, frustrated, overwhelmed? I need to chant to change these feelings within myself. 

She asked me to ask myself - "How can I transform my life to transform the life of my child?" She said I have mental illness in the karmic storehouse of my life. I must turn from feeling Powerless to being Fearless, Courageous and Joyful. I cannot allow the feeling of Powerlessness. I must become Bodhisattva Fearless Joy. And not be swayed by the day to day turn of whatever is happening. And goodness knows she is right. Right? 

She also said to do shakubuku with the realization that I will help others...that I will open the door to let people tell me of their suffering. She said don't just pass out cards, really get to know people. 

And I need to chant the kind of Daimoku that can change this karma. and truly believe that my life is more powerful than his mental illness. This is something that I do know, but from time to time I have had difficulty summoning this know-ledge. 

I must turn karma into mission. 
I will not be swayed. I will not be swayed. 

She reminded me "Don't let anyone tell you it isn't possible." My life cannot be disconnected from the Gohonzon in any way. I must be focused on changing the karma in my own life...

She referenced the May 2012 Living Buddhism on page 24. (I'm not sure if I have that - I may have given it away) It said to chant with your whole life. Never lose heart. Activate the power of the Gohonzon. 

She also said his illness is not a reflection of my faith.  He has this karma because I have this karma. He chose to be born to me in this lifetime. 

This is the beauty of getting guidance. Many of these things I knew on some level, but speaking with her changed my awareness and ability to connect with my own prayer and determination. I am once more filled with hope that I can change myself and fully access the power of my faith. I am less focused on finding the right practitioner to help him, because I believe in my heart that once I make this fundamental transition - this Human Revolution, that whatever is right for him will be there. 

I share this guidance with you not as a prescription of any kind, but in the hopes that some nuggets here will help you transform your suffering. Last night I was able to summon forth a deeper resolve, a deeper prayer to make this turn from victim to dig even deeper to erradicate this karma from my life. 

May 3rd is fast approaching. I am chanting in solidarity with all of you...with every parent...with every person who is suffering. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Let's win together.

Aaron, Ben and me - 3 years ago

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Human Revolution Means "To Turn Things Around"

(You can now subscribe and get these posts in your email - see the box ar the right) This is the complete quote that Kate read to me last Friday. This quote lead me to determine to chant 2 hours a day this week to show victory by May 3rd. 
It is not too late to make your determination towards May 3rd! See if this inspires you. 
I especially like the part at the end.

From the April 2015 Living Buddhism Magazine, pages 54 - 55. Published by the SGI. This is from the section "Guidance Series" by Daisaku Ikeda. 

Human Revolution 
to Turn Things Around.

"Human revolution is not something unusual or special. For example, say that one day a boy who is always playing and never studies makes the decision, "From now on, I'm going to study" or tells himself, "I'm going to make efforts for the sake of my future." When he does that, he is engaging in Human Revolution...

In other words, 
human revolution is opening your eyes wide 
and looking beyond your ordinary concerns, 
smiling, and dedicating your actions 
to something higher, deeper, broader.

Someone who at first may seem to be a hopeless case can, by achieving a major self-realization, through their Buddhist practice, become an inspiration to countless others.

Also, times when you are suffering intensely, when you don't know what to do or which way to turn, can become important opportunities for making great strides in your human revolution. 

If you tend to be easily discouraged, 
just refresh your determination each time that happens. People who are resolved to see problems as opportunities and keep trying again and again, 
forging ahead with unflagging optimism, 
will definitely succeed in their human revolution...

Human revolution 
is a revolution in our actions and behavior. 
It means to purposefully engage in behavior 
that is grounded in compassion, 
in actions that break free from the cycle of the six paths (hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity and heaven - all based in response to our environment) 
and bring us to the worlds 
of Bodhisattva and Buddhahood...

"Revolution" means to turn things around. It signifies a sudden, radical change.

The natural process is for people to grow little by little, with the passage of time. 
Human revolution 
is a step beyond that gradual process, 
propelling us rapidly in a positive direction. 
And while there is rapid movement, 
it is also growth that continues throughout our lives. 
There is no end point. 
And our Buddhist practice is the engine, 
the driving force, for our human revolution."

Let's do our Human Revolution. Let's speed it up by making firm determinations to have a complete turn around by May 3rd. Why not? Join us! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Happy April 28th! The Day Nichiren Chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time

On April 28th, in 1253  
Nichiren Daishonin changed our lives forever. 
He chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 
and reclaimed the practice of Buddhism 
for the happiness of all. 

It's fascinating to imagine what it would have been like for him that day. I wonder what he felt when he was pondering the true practice for the age. Remember, he'd made a vow at the age of twelve to be the wisest man in Japan. He'd traveled to Buddhist temples all over reading the sacred scrolls and asking himself the same question over and over: 

"What is the REAL practice for this age? What will lead people to happiness? What is the true lifeblood of Buddhism NOW?" 

He put every cell of his body into finding the answer to this question. There were many forms of Buddhism at the time. All of them promised rewards in the future, but no fulfillment right now. The Pure Land sect focused on happiness after death in the Pure Land. Other sects said you had to atone for every single negative cause you had ever made and after many, many lifetimes attain Buddhahood. Others said you had to be reborn as a man. 

But NONE said that Happiness exists in the here and now, and you can attain Buddhahood, happiness, enlightenment, right here right now in your present form. 

And THAT school was the one Nichiren founded, beginning 762 years ago today by chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra for the first time. I can just imagine the shivers going through his body. I can just imagine the responses of the people around him who were all attached to their own particular beliefs. It took an amazing amount of energy and strength. 

And he continued his religious revolution every day from then on. In the face of multiple persecutions, attacks, name it. But he KNEW. He KNEW that one day you and I would be chanting this phrase and changing the world by infusing our lives with the energy of this vibration, advancing, dancing step by step with Nichiren and our mentor in faith Daisaku Ikeda. 

What courage. What strength. 

Those of us who have read the writings Nichiren wrote to his followers know what he went through...being exiled to a gardener's hut with holes in the walls and the ceiling with no provisions in the cold of winter ~ in a graveyard no less...not even a graveyard actually, a place where dead bodies were just left on Sado Island. People were told not to go near the hut or help Nichiren or they would be killed.

And it was from this hut where he wrote the Opening of the Eyes and many of his most important letters "Gosho" saying "I am the happiest man in all Japan!" 
Why was he so happy? Because his persecutions confirmed that this was the correct teaching. We can learn so much through his actions and attitude. 

Happy April 28th! 
We are the Buddhas of this new age! 
All of us are standing on that hill with Nichiren 
facing the rising sun...
boldly proclaiming Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
I CLAIM my life! 
I will live my life with the vow to accomplish a world of respect for all. I will show, through my own life what is possible as a human being.

My noble, noble friends! 
I look forward to hearing your victories on May Third!  

Monday, April 27, 2015

You are the Great Buddha! Every Single Moment...

When you go to bed, think “ ..great Buddha is going to sleep now” In the morning, as you wake up, no matter how you feel, think “ great Buddha is waking up” When you change clothes, when going to the bathroom, when washing your face, and making miso soup, think “This miso soup is made by a great Buddha. This is a great bowl of miso soup.” Live your life by praising your own life, enjoy whatever you do, and taste every bit of it.

Each morning wake up with the Buddha, and each evening go to sleep with the Buddha. (Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings) Live life with joy every moment ­ this is the true meaning of the practice of reading the Lotus Sutra with your life. 

This quote comes from this long, interesting essay: Enjoy!

Guidance by Dr. Tetsugai Obo
Chairman of Seminar Bureau of Doctor Division
April 23, 2000

This meeting consists of doctors, nurses, and medical staff of the
medical field that took place at Atsugi Peace Center.

How do you do!

This is the first time I came here. For all people in Kanagawa I gave this seminar in Kanagawa Culture Centre. Probably, for the majority of the people here, this is the first time we have met. So, please be kind to me. (Introduction from the chairman was not translated.)

A few years ago, around February, I went to give a seminar in Kashiwazaki where you can see Sado Island. This is also close to President Makiguchi’s birth home and Makiguchi Memorial Hall, It was Saturday. I saw my patients in the morning and took a bullet train in the afternoon in order to give a seminar in the evening. It was 10:30pm by the time the seminar was over. Since I was already there, I wanted to go see President Makiguchi’s birth house. I asked the YMD to take me there. There is only an empty lot as the house no longer exists.

Approximately 100 feet away is Arahama shore. It was very windy. Even though it was snowing there was no snow accumulation. The reason I am speaking about Arahama is the mystical connection of the time and place of the birth of President Makiguchi. From Arahama Shore you can see Sado Island to your right. When Nichiren Daishonin was exiled to Sado, he traveled from Kamakura north to Teradomari and from Teradamori to Sado. Two and a half years later he traveled back from Sado south to Bangin Cape in Kashiwazaki. This route represents an alphabetical character U shape. 

President Makiguchi was born directly at the bottom of this U, which is the half point of Nichiren Daishonin’s travel route. He was born in 1871 that is exactly 600 years after the Daishonin was exiled in 1271. How mystical the time and place! I had an impression that there should be something more to this. After
thinking about it, I could see more.

In Japan there are two different cultures: one is the culture of the village; and the other, the culture of the ocean. The mentality of the village culture is to go with the flow. This means that the people of the village culture are particularly concerned with what everyone else thinks about them. In essence, public opinion equals the village.

Therefore, when we Japanese leave the village, we have a tendency to act much more differently than we do at home. After all, there is no one that we know who is watching our actions. A good example is during World War II. Japanese soldiers raped women and massacred children in China. Since those soldiers were outside of their country (village), they had no problem with acting savagely. The lack of morals that the Japanese soldiers exhibited was the characteristic of the Japanese people. For the Japanese, the public means village. What the villagers think of you becomes most important. This is similar to the disorder of
agoraphobia. For people with agoraphobia meeting people who are familiar to them is most challenging to them. Instead, meeting strangers is less problematic. Thus, this is a disorder caused by the fear of the public immediately surrounding the individual. Strangers are not part of the public (village) therefore they are non-threatening. For many Japanese, the village-like mentality deeply lies in their consciousness. To be aware of peoples eyes means to be aware of the eyes of familiar people. In this culture, people are taught not to view things as black and white, not to take a position either way, not to be arrogant, or audacious, or meddlesome.

This year, I have been thinking about this. I see many psychiatric patients, patients with asthma, patients with sinus infection, patients with eczema, and patients with severe allergy. I have seen more than 10,000 patients so far in my practice. What I found in common with all these patients was their conformity. I hardly see non-conforming people. Imagine that out of 10,000 people the vast majority of them are conformists! How interesting! I can't help thinking that conformists are more susceptible to having an illness. The word conformist, in Japanese, majime, has changed its meaning over the past decades. It used to mean Serious or sincere, but now it means to go with the flow of custom or culture. Above all, Japanese culture is troublesome. It is a culture that promotes sickness.

Thus, modesty, the virtue of humbleness, being refined, males should say little, females should be one step behind, being considerate, being harmonious, suppressing yourself, not being audacious, not being over confident, and not being arrogant one word to kill yourself is Japanese culture. Therefore, the more conforming you are, the more devastated you will become. In general, conformists lack individuality and are passive. Leaders in society, such as presidents of companies, tend to be arrogant and aggressive and powerful. They also lack common sense and are authoritative in nature.

In this society, from the standpoint of Japanese culture, I have observed that bad people have more energy. Good people are not energetic and sickly after all. From a Buddhist viewpoint, one who is shining the true self of the entity of Myoho (mystic law) is in a sense audacious. Audacious people live according to the Mystic Law. On the other hand, conformists who suppress themselves actually kill the entity of Myoho. This is a slander.

The best example is the congressmen of the Japanese Democratic Party. After the elections they were interviewed and their attitude was only that of self-absorption.

It makes you wonder why they get elected but these people are truly energetic, powerful and have a lot of fortune.

On the other hand, conforming and serious people lack fortune. President Ikeda often says, Let's be audacious, bold and tough. Be confident and persuasive. After all, this is the correct way. The problem is not that bad people run the world but that good people are killing themselves.

If serious people, kindhearted people, good people, and warmhearted people speak up and stand up for justice and create momentum, selfish people will automatically feel uncomfortable and eventually vanish. President Makiguchi once said, only if we create this can we have the era of humanistic competition. In fact, this Japanese culture of being conforming and serious is the culture of the village. If you act differently you will become an outcast of the village. The village people do not like those people who speak clearly of black and white.

Another Japanese culture is called the culture of the ocean. Do you remember when the Japanese pitcher Nomo came to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers? At that time the major league was on strike. Many wondered what was going to happen to Nomo and questioned if he would make it in the major leagues. Many Japanese people and the mass media wrote bashing articles against Nomo. People asked him why are you going overseas. Yet, Nomo came to America without any hesitations. Before you knew it he was in the All-Star game as a rookie. Suddenly Japanese paparazzi were on his side and praising him. They wanted Nomo to say, “I will do my best for Japan.” However, he refused to say it. Instead he said, “I enjoy pitching.” We all thought Nomo must have been fluent in English but he could hardly speak English. In an interview after winning the game, Nomo had a translator with him. I was wondering if he was scared. By just looking at Nomo I felt that he doesn’t have a typical Japanese attitude. Later I found that he was born in Osaka but his parents were originally from an island off the coast of Japan. During the Muromachi period these islands were where pirates lived. These people started Japanese villages in Southeast Asia. These islands are still islands of many fishermen. Nomo’s parents had the culture of the ocean people. The ocean culture is very independent, energetic, and open.

On the other hand, village culture is very concerned with the opinion of the public, it is conservative and has a pattern of having two different sides: smiling on the surface but disagreeing inside. As I mentioned before there a two types of culture within Japanese society. It's fun to talk about these cultures when I travel from place to place. On the ocean side of Japan there is a strong tendency for ocean culture and on the mountain side there is the village culture.

If you visit a region which share both of these cultures the leaders of the Soka Gakkai ask why is it so different even in the same organization? After I explained the village and ocean culture they could understand the differences.

Many Japanese religions and philosophies are based on the village culture. Do you know the only religion based on the ocean culture? Yes, it’s the Daishonin’s Buddhism! Nichiren Daishonin called himself the son of the sendala, in other words the son of a fisherman. It is the ocean culture. In a time of strict class systems, the Daishonin called himself the son of the sendala, and the sendala means “chandala” in Sanskrit. It is the lowest of the caste system. It means the son of an untouchable, and he was proud of that. It was the time that you could do anything you wanted if you were born in a higher caste. The Daishonin placed himself within the lowest class of his time.

The Daishonin fought against the highest authority of the nation. The Daishonin fought the authority head-on without any support. I think that showed a great contrast between the Daishonin who had no class or authority and the other with all the power. As they clashed the Daishonin called authorities “The ruler of this little island country.” For people of the village culture this was inconceivable. Only the Daishonin, who truly was a man of the ocean culture, was capable of making such a bold statement. The Daishonin’s Buddhism is a philosophy of the ocean culture. That’s why it’s very independent, open, progressive and energetic.

Nevertheless, the Daishonin’s Buddhism eventually became influenced heavily by the village culture after his death. The Daishonin’s Buddhism became corrupted. As a result the high priest became absolute. Eventually lay followers were considered too unworthy to see the high priest. Another characteristic of the village culture was the class system. Old time villages consisted of landlords and tenants. Tenants had to crawl in the presence of landlords.

Seven hundred years passed and President Makiguchi was born as a son of a fisherman in Arahama. He was raised in the ocean culture, so despite the time period, he did not have a village mentality. President Toda was raised in Atsuta and born in Ishikawa prefecture. He also was the son of a fisherman. One of his ancestors was captain of a fishing boat. He truly was a man of the ocean. President Ikeda was a son of a seaweed maker. When looking at this, the Soka Gakkai entirely consists of the ocean culture. It is directly connected to the Daishonin except some areas that became village-like in the last 700 years.

Interestingly, my senior, Professor Miyata at Soka University, is doing a research on President Makiguchi. He suggested that if he ever directly encountered the priests from the Head Temple he wouldn’t have joined the Nichiren Shoshu sect. President Makiguchi was in search of a religion that could be the basis of his Soka educational system. 

In one word, Soka education means to open up a person’s possibilities, to view every student with a warm heart to help the student be independent and logical. He was searching for a religion that would lay a foundation for his educational system. Then he encountered Nichiren Shoshu. Priest Horigome had founded a temporary branch office in Nakano. Priest Horigome was studying a philosophy at Waseda University. He concluded that Buddhism can no longer contribute to society as long as it remained in the temple. He thought they needed to start a religious movement in which lay believers could play an active role. That’s why he founded that temporary branch. When Priest Horigome, who believed in the Buddhist movement of lay believers, and President Makiguchi, who believed in the Soka educational system met , a religious movement based on humanism started. Ironically, there was no such tradition within Nichiren Shoshu. Because of that, from the very beginning the priesthood thought that the Soka Gakkai was arrogant, and they also claimed that the lay believers shouldn’t be audacious. This is a good example of the confrontation between village culture and ocean culture. In the past there was the Tanuki festival incident and many other incidents that involved the priesthood and they all originated from the difference between those two cultures, village and ocean. I think that these differences became more evident in situations such as the current priesthood issues and the Soka Gakkai. Therefore, this situation could not have been avoided.


This is a prelude to what I really wanted to discuss. Let’s go back to the prime point and look at ourselves.

How many points could you give yourself out of 100 when looking at yourselves right now? Please raise your hand if you think you fall within the range of 0 to 60 points. Thank you very much. Now raise your hand if you think you fall between 61 to 99 points. 

Usually only a few people raise their hands here. Most people raised their hands with points 0 to 60. Oh, the doctors division is different because most of you raised your hands within the higher group. How about 100 points?

Oh, two people raised their hands. Thank you very much. Except these two, the rest of you are not practicing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. 

Can you believe it?

Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is the religion that teaches us that we are 100 points. As noted previously, the Daishonin’s Buddhism emphasizes living audaciously, boldly, and tough. It is hard to understand this. In Chinese characters shinjin (faith) means “Believe from the heart.” Then what is it you are going to believe in? 

It is the Gohonzon and also the Lotus Sutra. What does it mean to believe in the Lotus Sutra? 

It means to believe that oneself is the entity of the Mystic Law. The head is Myo, the throat is Ho, the chest is Ren, Ge is the stomach, and the legs are Kyo. We were taught that faith means to believe that your life itself is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the entity of the Mystic Law. Do you remember this? Would you rate
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Buddha at 60 points?

Well, it’s hard to understand, I’d like to make a comparison. I have written an article titled, “A Strange Principle” for the health section of the Seikyo Shimbun. In observation of many people, conformists, hard working, responsible, caring and altruistic people, mysteriously enough come to a deadlock. Those conforming to others while working hard cannot break through. These altruistic people often face rejection, refusal, being made fun of, and in extreme cases are despised. Have you seen these people? Serious conformists can’t advance.

On the contrary, irresponsible, arrogant, and shrewd people are successful in every attempt. Since everything goes well and they are targeted for flattery they become even more successful. This is a very popular phenomenon. While I have encountered various types of people and their lives, I have witnessed many of these cases. What is this all about? Earnest people are fooled and the villains get fattened up. 

I have pondered Why?-for a long time but I didn’t get an answer. I had an opportunity to research while still contemplating this issue. I began to see the mechanism of the strange principle little by little. Hesitantly, I wrote about it in the Seikyo Shimbun. I was afraid that it would be too controversial or that it would be cut, but I had to write it anyway because I thought there must have been some people bothered by the same thoughts. Luckily, the article made it to the final print, and some have responded.

One of the responses reads, as you have written I have done my best to do shakubuku up until last year, to promote the Seikyo Shimbun, did lots of zaimu, and fought with all my strength. But this year I am fighting illness and I’m on welfare. Why, despite my hard work are all of these things happening to me. I don’t understand. Even though it is written so, it lacks thorough explanation and I still don’t understand what you mean” Immediately I answered his questions via letter and he was really happy. Actually, there is another principle that causes such phenomena. I selfishly named the principle that lies beyond such superficial phenomena as “Strange principle” 

The principle means that, even if they are fighting for others in need, their families, SGI activities, Kosen-rufu, world peace and injustices in the world, those who kill themselves and who neglect themselves will eventually lose fortune. Therefore, this is a principle that as long as you neglect your own life, then others will neglect you. People say, as long as I persevere and endure someday my hardship will eventually pay off. Until then I must be patient. “Where there is unseen virtue, there will be visible reward” (WND page 907) The harder you endure the worse off you become. One after another you go through even more hardships. Thus you are not making any “unseen virtue”. Why? Because you are killing your life which is the entity of the Mystic Law. You accumulate fortune when you rejoice and enjoy whatever you do and when you allow your life to shine as it is. It will become your good fortune. Automatically, others will value your existence.

This month in the SGI Graphic President Ikeda talked about his wife and her smile. Mrs. Ikeda is always smiling. President Ikeda said, having a smile should not be a result of your happiness. Smiling becomes the cause to be happy. Smiling when you are happy or smiling as a result of your happiness is not the right way. No matter how hard your life is, you keep smiling. Within your life fortune will accumulate. This is what I mean by a “Strange principle” 

For instance, some say “You can overcome your problems if you do shakubuku, if you promote Seikyo Shimbun you can be happy; you can be happy if you try to do more zaimu.” This is a life condition of hunger. You are always expecting something in return so if you don’t overcome your problem you would resent it. It is different from the life condition of Bodhisattva. 

The Daishonin states, “Self and others rejoice together.”; That’s why there is a famous allegory of Tokusho Doji. He wanted to donate something to the Buddha because of watching others make their contributions. Since he didn’t have anything to give he made a mud pie. If he thought he could get something in return by giving the mud pie, such as getting a benefit later or being reborn as King Ashoka, if he did it as if he were trading using the mud pie, he would not have gained any benefit. 

One’s life gains benefit when one is delighted to do so. It is not “Give and take.” Neither is it the spirit of self-sacrifice. It is wrong to think, “As long as I do my best and work hard selflessly, I will somehow get benefits.” Which category do you think President Ikeda will fall into: a way to shine as you live, or to endure everything? Obviously, the first is the answer. President Ikeda is rejoicing, otherwise he cannot possible write such poems! If he is suffering he cannot take photographs like that. (Pointing at a photograph, taken by President Ikeda, of a field of flowers on the wall in the center)

Please look at the photograph taken by President Ikeda! Every time I look at his photographs I feel that it is like either YWD or Women’s Division are calling out for Sensei. Do you agree? If we attempt to take a picture of those flowers, it won’t always turn out like that. The flowers would look like they are just blooming there. But President Ikeda’s photographs seem to be communicating with you. I was really wondering why, then I realized that the Lotus sutra is a sutra of delight. President Ikeda is delightful and nature is responding to his joyous life. He takes a photo of nature in delight. That’s why he named his exhibit “ Dialogue with Nature.” The other day, I told this story to a member of the culture division. He said when he had dinner with him, President Ikeda said, “Although not everyone can comprehend, I can communicate with nature. The outcome of the dialogues are my photographs.” 

It surely is true. This is the “Strange Principle.” Strange means Myo and principle is Ho. Thus, people who neglect the entity of the Mystic Law lose fortune. People who shine their entity of the Mystic Law multiply fortune. The question is which way you are. Simply, it is either way. It is whether you shine in your life, and the direction in which you enjoy living, or a direction in which you disrespect yourself. The most important thing is which way the basis of your life is facing.

I would like to ask again, who would give themselves 100 points in this audience? There are a lot of honest people. Sorry for side tracking and making little sense.

We do Gongyo every morning and evening. Do you remember the second silent prayer? Yes, it is appreciation for the Gohonzon, I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon the entire world. 

Appreciation for the Gohonzon in the second prayer, do you all show appreciation to the Gohonzon and realize that it is also your life? Do you all think that the Gohonzon is just placed in your shrine? The Daishonin wrote to people like you, “If you think the Law is outside yourself, you are not embracing the Mystic Law.”

Accordingly, it’s not the Lotus Sutra. In another Gosho passage, 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. (WND page 832) Within your heart, within your life itself, “The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people.” We have studied this. Do you remember studying that? When we chant to the Gohonzon we actually put it outside ourselves. That’s strange. What we learn and what we do are completely different.

Why is this so? In fact we are all poisoned by the village culture previously mentioned and also by the Japanese culture. The village culture equals the Nembutsu culture. In the Nembutsu culture the Gohonzon is absolute and the Daishonin is absolute. While having no fortune, having a low life condition, and having no strength some of us need to appeal to the Gohonzon for mercy and for the Gohonzon to share benefit and wisdom with us. That is the Nembutsu culture. If you switch the Gohonzon with Amida Buddha, it makes sense. The mechanism is that we are so miserable let’s ask the Amida Buddha for its mercy.

The Lotus Sutra is different. President Ikeda over the period of four and a half years has taught us the Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. In the Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra he mentioned it most directly. The word Ken means to view, hotou means the Treasure Tower. This means to view the Treasure Tower. This Treasure Tower appears in the Lotus Sutra. The height of the Treasure Tower is a 500-yojun. If calculated, it would be more that 500 times the height of the Himalayas. Mount Fuji is pretty high but the Himalayas are twice the size of Mount Fuji. The Treasure Tower is more than 500 times that size. Well, that’s magnificent.

Nevertheless, it’s not a mountain of scraps but it’s a tower oftreasures. It is very majestic, splendid, and universal. This grand Treasure Tower actually Symbolises the greatness of our lives. In other words, to realise that our life and existence is universal, splendid, magnificent, and eternal is called Kenhotou. The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon using the ceremony of the Treasure Tower. Thus, the Daishonin clearly explained that the Gohonzon is the clear mirror used to view our bodies as the greatest Treasure Tower.

However, even if we study so, we worship the mirror and we find ourselves reflected in the mirror as unworthy. It shows us how poisoned we have been by the Nembutsu culture. That’s why as mentioned earlier in the strange principle, we tend to go to the direction, “As long as I endure.” We rejoice only in good times but we cannot rejoice or enjoy when we are down. We begin to say, “I’m not worthy.” 

The Lotus Sutra is a sutra that teaches us that even when our life condition is the worst, “I’m still great.” Did you know that? 

There is a difference between the Lotus Sutra and provisional teachings. It is called the Five - Fold comparison. The reason why the Lotus Sutra is superior to the provisional teachings is because theoretically, the Lotus Sutra preaches the attainment of enlightenment for the people of the two vehicles, evil people, and women. At that time, the public neglected those people. Therefore, the provisional teachings did not help them.

On the contrary, the Lotus Sutra taught that those people, who were discriminated against and neglected by the public, were truly great. This philosophy was revolutionary. It was truly humanistic. From the standpoint of life philosophy, people of the two vehicles, evil people, and women are in fact the life condition of yourselves when you are down. It is the most miserable self. In comparison with others you can’t help thinking that you are inferior, and within yourself, in such miserable circumstances, you need to believe that you are the entity of the Mystic Law; that is the true meaning of embracing the Lotus Sutra.

It is why it is difficult to believe and difficult to understand. (nanshin nange). It is not difficult to see yourself as great if you are healthy, in rhythm, and admired. Yet it is difficult to believe, and understand yourself as great when you face the biggest failure, face being ridiculed, and face depression. Believing yourself as great is the true meaning of embracing the Lotus Sutra.

We are called “Compassionate Doctors Division.” I was unable to understand the meaning of compassion (jihi). Although the Doctors Division was often called compassionate, the more I pondered, the less I comprehended. In Japanese ji means benevolence, which I understood, yet I could not understand the word hi which means sad. Some say jihi means to share suffering with others, another is to eliminate pain and give joy. Yet I still didn’t understand. 

At that time I read a passage in President Ikeda’s essay, “When your soul is victorious, your sadness becomes hi of the word jihi.” When I read that I had a revelation. I was reading jihi as a meaning to be benevolent and sad, which made me more confused. If read by the Chinese character, it reads to be benevolent in times of sadness. Thus, it means to embrace yourself with a warm heart ­ when you are at your lowest point, when you are in the midst of the worst suffering, or in the depths of your anxiety. Here lies the aspect of a victorious life. 

For those who are able to embrace themselves in the midst of suffering, their sadness is no longer sadness. Such sadness itself will be transformed into courage when embraced by one’s own compassionate heart. Despair will evolve into hope. The true meaning of an indestructible life lies only this way. Only those who embrace themselves can truly cherish others who are suffering as if it were their own. For example, when you are low you don’t like yourself. Later when you are feeling better and seeing others in the same situation you may say, “That a pity!” Yet, deep within yourself you judge them by thinking. “How weak, he is a failure after all” The way you judge yourself is exactly how you judge others. Only when embracing and respecting your lowest self with a compassionate heart like “I love me” or “I’m truly great” can you respect other people.

Gohonzon means the object of fundamental respect. President Ikeda’s guidance said, “What do we fundamentally respect? It is one’s life. Our life has the highest value. It is the foundation of respect. The respect of one’s life therefore, can not be based on whether one succeeds or fails. No matter what happens, we must start from respect. This is the meaning of embracing the Gohonzon.”

This is the guidance of twenty or thirty years ago. This is Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. So now, who is going to give 100 points to yourself? (laughter) Thank you very much. There are so many obedient people.

There are still a few people who could not raise their hand. I want to make one more point. In the Gosho, “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life” (WND page 216), it quotes Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, the Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realisation is to inherit the ultimate law of life and death. This is a matter of the utmost importance for Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters, and this is what it means to embrace the Lotus Sutra. This is the foundation of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. This is what it means to embrace the Lotus Sutra. This is the most important sentence of the Gosho. In this Gosho, “Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago” is Nichiren Daishonin. “The Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood” is the Gohonzon. “We ordinary human beings” means oneself. Nichiren Daishonin, the Gohonzon, and oneself are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realisation is to inherit the ultimate law of life and death.

Because of that, when we grade ourselves with 60 points we are grading Gohonzon 60 points and Nichiren Daishonin 60 points. Aren’t we? They are “In no way different or separate from one another.” Don’t we call this “Slander”? The person who said I grade the Gohonzon and the Daishonin 100 points but I grade myself 60 points doesn’t believe “No way different or separate from one another. We call this “disbelief”. People who do not grade themselves with 100 points, we call Slanderers and disbelievers.

In the same Gosho (page 217), it says, “Those who disbelieve and slander the Lotus Sutra will immediately destroy all the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world. Because they cut themselves off from the potential to attain enlightenment, they do not share the heritage of the ultimate law of life and death.” Those who disbelieve and slander the Lotus Sutra, those who cannot believe oneself 100 points “Will immediately destroy all the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world.” Concerning one who disbelieves the Lotus Sutra, because the sutra states, “When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avichi hell, the wardens of hell will surely come for one and take one away by the hand.” At the end of one’s life the warden will come and take your hand.

“For one who summons up one’s faith and chants Nam-myoho-rengy-kyo with the profound insight that “Now is the last moment of one’s life” the sutra proclaims, “When the lives of these persons come to an end, they will be received into the hands of a thousand Buddhas, who will free them from all fear and keep them from falling into the evil paths of existence.” How can we possibly hold back our tears at the inexpressible joy of knowing that not just one or two, not just one hundred or two hundred, but as many as a thousand Buddhas will come to greet us with open arms!”

Those who grade themselves a Buddha of 100 points, those who believe and enjoy it, live with the life condition of great security and are received and supported by a thousand Buddhas when they come to the end of their life. “How can we possibly hold back our tears.” Which one would you like? The warden of hell or a thousand Buddhas? If you can not raise your hand here, you will never be able to raise your hand. I will ask you once again. I am not threatening you. This is what the Daishonin says. 

This is the last time I will ask you. Do you grade yourself 100 points? (Big laughter) Thank you very much.

First you have to decide “I great Buddha is sitting.” Making this decision requires courage. This is, we call, courage of faith. You have to recognise from the bottom of your heart “I am the truly a great Buddha.” This means “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest joy among joys.” (from Ongi Kuden)

After this meeting, when you’re going home, please think, “The great Buddha is walking.” ”Great Buddha is looking at a mirror, reflecting a life and praising this life.” This is the true meaning of doing Gongyo and Daimoku. 

Probably, if I say this, some people will argue that this is arrogant. I have a concern that this is going back to the village culture. So, I want to talk about arrogance. Arrogance is the mind of oneself being superior to others. It means that arrogant people are always comparing themselves to others; I am doing more, I am fighting more. I am a bigger leader, I am richer, etc. Arrogant people feel secure by confirming their superiority. This function of life is called “Arrogance.”

The reason people feel more secure when they compare themselves with others is because they have anxiety in the depths of their lives. They have disbelief and inferiority thus they become anxious after short periods of relief. Later on, they catch others and need to be reassured that, “I’m more impressive, I’m greater!” These kinds of people, who continue to show off, are called arrogant. Deep within their arrogant heart they have inferiority and self-doubt. The best example is Nikken. He is a mass of inferiority. He can’t even say “Thank you for your hard work” to President Ikeda after being informed of President Ikeda’s contribution to the world. Why? Because Nikken feels inferior, he needs to be reminded that he is greater. Such a person cannot say words of appreciation.

On the other hand, the world’s greatest people, as an old Japanese proverb says “The riper the rice grain, the lower it hangs,” the greater the person the more humble he is. They respect other people because they have confidence and pride in themselves. Such confidence and pride does not come from the recognition of others. The world’s greatest people did not become the best because of recognition. The public recognises these people because they are the forerunners of the fields in which others paid no attention. Fundamentally the greatest way of living is to have confidence and pride in oneself. 

At a glance, to view yourself as I am a great Buddha, I rate myself a perfect 100 points seems arrogant. Actually, it equals the greatest way of living. Since it is similar to having an arrogant attitude, it is called “The arrogance of the Lotus Sutra.” The arrogance of the Lotus Sutra is the correct way because its meaning is fundamentally different from arrogance in attitude.

President Ikeda repeatedly says, “You are Buddhas, Don’t be deceived. Please believe that you are all Buddhas.” I bet we don’t really believe what our mentor says, do we? We think President Ikeda is just saying that to encourage us. We think he is saying “You are Buddhas” to encourage us, but the truth is different. We take our mentor’s words as encouragement, but we don’t really believe it. Such an attitude is arrogant.

It’s okay that we seem like we are arrogant, or audacious or bold although people might not like it. Yet, if we change our attitude this way, everything strangely starts to open up. I often realize that when I see such cases and people. Conformists are now deadlocked. The fundamental cause is Nembutsu mentality or “Village culture” The world will not take Japan seriously if Japanese people remain in the village culture. Finally, the time has come to spread the philosophy of the Lotus Sutra that possesses the independence of the ocean culture to the world. In a sense, the time has come for the Soka Gakkai to take the lead. It’s not a good idea that the Soka Gakkai remains like the village culture.

When you go to bed, think “ ..great Buddha is going to sleep now” In the morning, as you wake up, no matter how you feel, think “ great Buddha is waking up” When you change clothes, when going to the bathroom, when washing your face, and making miso soup, think “This miso soup is made by a great Buddha. This is a great bowl of miso soup.” Live your life by praising your own life, enjoy whatever you do, and taste every bit of it.

Each morning wake up with the Buddha, and each evening go to sleep with the Buddha. (Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings) Live life with joy every moment ­ this is the true meaning of the practice of reading the Lotus Sutra with your life. 

We chant three times at the end of this meeting. Let’s chant three times while remembering that this chanting praises our lives.

Thank you very much for today!

Friday, April 24, 2015

6 Point Plan for Achieving Our Goals By May 3rd! Human Revolution in a week!

I have had quite a week. Highs and lows. I've gotten more responsibility at work,  Ben is back in the hospital...and we need a viable plan for his life that will make him happy...and an end to his suffering.

And this week it all felt like too much. I had several "not that old karma again" moments this week...and by this morning I was done. 

I felt like giving up. I said I just can't do this anymore. 

And the beauty of our practice is this:
I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I took action. I went and walked on the treadmill to boost my spirits. 
After chanting I called for support from my girlfriends. I set an appointment for a massage.  I also arranged to get together with my friend of 33 years tonight. Little did I know this "home visit" was going to change my life. 

Throughout the day
my mood remained low. 
All day I felt hopeless. 
For one day. 
I talked to Kate Randolph, my dear friend and Buddhist sponsor in LA, and she read me a quote from the April Living Buddhism about how Human Revolution takes place in an instant...and changes EVERYTHING...and I started to feel the old me coming back. I will get that quote tomorrow and add it here. 

When I got to my friend's house she told me her cancerous tumor had grown. We both decided NOW is the time. May 3rd is a week away. We created this plan of success. 

Would you like to join us? Are you ready for a change? 
Would you like to create a ONE WEEK HUMAN REVOLUTION?

Join us! 

Here's Our 
6 Point Plan to Achieving Our Goals by May 3rd!
By Jamie Lee Silver of 

1. Clarify and write your goals. What do you HAVE to breakthrough to declare a victory on May 3rd? What are you willing to do to achieve it? Study? Encourage people? Chant more regularly? Clean your altar (always a life-changing thing to do) What goal would light your fire?
Mary wants to look and feel great for an event, and buy a new TV. I want certainty in a few areas, among other things. 

2. Decide how will you support your well being. I made a goal to walk for 20 minutes every day. "When there's movement in your body  - there's movement in your life."  

3. Set a chanting goal. I'm chanting 2 hours a day this week to accomplish my goals. Join me if you'd like - or set your own goal. 

4. You may want to find a chanting partner. The beauty of this is you encourage another while encouraging yourself. We shared our written goals and plans with each other. If you don't have a chanting partner you can share your goals and plans with me at

5. Make your schedule for success. 
We wrote out the days and times we will chant together and chant apart. You can find someone to do this with, or join me every morning and evening. 

6. Plan a celebration for your victory! We planned a celebration for Saturday night...we're not quite sure what we will do but it will be great! 

Join us!

May third is Sunday! 

Let's create Human Revolution by then. We can do it. 
What will you accomplish and what are you willing to do for it? How much does your life hurt? Enough to chant two hours a day with me? Enough to make your list, polish your gongyo? Do shakubuku? 

What's at stake and what do you have to gain? 

Let's go for it. Go Buddha Go!

The Power of Prayer, by Daisaku Ikeda

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

Prayer is the way to destroy all fear. 

It is the way to banish sorrow, 
the way to light a torch of hope. 
It is the revolution 
that rewrites the scenario of our destiny.
Prayers are neither light dreams nor vague wishes. 
They should be firm pledges of determination. 
Prayers made with such strong resolve 
invite clear results just as magnets attract iron.
Prayer entails an intense challenge 
to believe in oneself and stop diminishing yourself. 
To belittle yourself 
is to disparage Buddhism 
and the Buddha within your life.
Prayer is an attempt 
to merge the inner workings of our life 
with the rhythm of the universe. 
When we pray in such a way, 
all the workings of the universe 
will function to protect us 
and the endless cycle of painful reality 
will be transformed 
into a cycle of victory and happiness. 
Prayer is the key to open the door 
to unleash that infinite human potential within our lives.
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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

6 Steps for Reaching any Goal!

You can now subscribe to this blog by putting your email in the box to the right, and you can translate it using the button at the top right. Thanks for sharing! 

When SGI members want to accomplish something we wage a campaign. 

What do I mean by this? How do we do it? 

Here's an example. 

I would like to find another apartment. It's time to expand. 

So here are

4 Steps to Waging a Solid Campaign:
By Jamie Lee Silver of

1. Do the research. 
I'm looking on the web to research areas and prices. 

2. Set your goals. 
Write down what you want. 

3. Set some dates of when you want to accomplish your goal.

4. Keep kosen-rufu as a focus. Keep your practice strong! Tie your goals to your practice. For instance: I want to achieve these goals so I can be more effective at encouraging people through my actions and my life! I study the works of Daisaku Ikeda, go to SGI meetings and do shakubuku. 

5. Chant with certainty for a specified time each day!

6. Take action! 

What do you do to wage a campaign? Share your best ideas with me at

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PowerPrayer for Awakening Our Own Buddha Nature

(You can now get these posts delivered to your email by filling in the box to the right. Also you can translate this blog using the translate button at the top right of the blog.)

"The Heart of the Lotus Sutra" by Daisaku Ikeda, 
is truly the story of our lives. 
In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni reveals that he did not attain enlightenment in his present lifetime as so many people assume.  
In the Lotus Sutra Shakyaminu reveals he attained enlightenment in "beginningless time" and that we, as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism also attained enlightenment in beginningless time, and are fulfilling our vow to come to this world and show everyone the path to happiness by using the example of our own lives, never being defeated, and overcoming every obstacle.  

Once we are awakened to the fact that we are Buddhas equal to the original Buddha, we can embrace every challenge with fresh eyes, saying to ourselves 

"Yes! I chose this challenge. 
I chose this because I KNOW 
that I can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo 
and absolutely, without a doubt I can change this.
It is up to me. 
I have the power to tap into the vast resources within, 
as long as I stay focused on my mission for kosen-rufu." 

Each of us can awaken every day with the ability to access the reality that we are Boddhisatvas of the Earth ~ Dancing in happiness ~ assured of our own power to overcome anything in our lives, through reading President Ikeda's words, chanting, refreshing our determination and knowing, absolutely knowing that we chose this existence to manifest our highest potential. 

This might not be our first thought upon awakening - but we can access it in front of the Gohonzon every single morning!

What kind of PowerPrayer (thoughts in our minds while we are chanting) would be useful?  
Let's look at a few of Sensei's quotes from "The Heart of the Lotus Sutra,"

"The Buddha's original state of life is identical with all people's original state of life. They could not be in any way different. Fundamentally, all people are Buddhas. The only difference is that the Buddha understands this while others are ignorant of it. " p. 153

When we realize that we are Buddhas from beginningless time "We can attain a state of eternal happiness as indestructible as a diamond~that is, the true aspect of the Buddha ~ in our lives." and that "No matter how heavy our burden of karma, through tapping our inner life force, we can revolutionize our existence."  
"It enables us to address the reality of our situations with a fresh, forward-looking spirit, always basing ourselves on life's "original moment." p. 163

Sensei goes on to quote Josei Toda who talks about how we all dwelt together as Buddhas of absolute happiness before making our vows to return to this world and lead others to happiness. 

We are all here fulfilling our vow joyously together. 

What problem could stop us? 
Could financial difficulty stop us?...not unless we let it. 
How about heartbreak, a karma many of us are challenging? Every day I chip away at my karma right along with you. And every day I awaken refreshed...when I study, chant, encourage others and go to SGI meetings. We have such precious lives. People are depending on us to shine. 
We ARE the suns in our lives! 

As we are chanting we might use this PowerPrayer (read it before chanting) to infuse our spirit and focus our minds. 

PowerPrayer for
Awakening Our Own Buddha Nature!
By Jamie Lee Silver, from the Blog 

Once again I greet you in front of the Gohonzon! 
I appreciate one more day in this world of strife! 
Once again I strive at every moment 
to bring forth the world of Buddhahood within. 
Right now I am raising my life condition! 
I am determined to live in wisdom, 
tapping the highest potential in my life. 
I am determined to harmonize with my fellow humans 
in a way that makes a difference. 
I am determined to be all I can be, 
and fulfill my vow for kosen-rufu! 
(Happiness and respect for all of life - 
the raising of the life-condition of ALL)
I am determined to forge ahead 
with wisdom, happiness and composure. 
May I live this day fully and happily, 
and shine like the sun! 
I am determined to_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

as I joyously bring forth my Buddhahood!