Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lighting the Lamp of Hope from Florida !

This egret is walking along St. Pete Beach on a beautiful day recently. I think he was posing for me. 

On Sunday I went to my local SGI Center and chanted for 4 hours for the Lions of Justice Festival, 50K youth gathering across America on September 23rd. 
I chanted for the youth of the world to realize their power to make the world a better place...and to be happy...
I chanted...
...for all the youth who are going to the festival to have a breakthrough in their lives...
...for all who registered to overcome obstacles and be able to attend...
...for safety, great weather, and operations to go smoothly...
...for all who are supporting and chanting for this festival to have breakthroughs...
...for every member everywhere to feel an incredible connection to the power within their own lives when chanting to the Gohonzon...
...and to have conviction in my own Buddha Nature... 

It's been a while since I chanted that much daimoku at one time. I sat right up front and supported the people who were leading the chanting. I love doing that...listening to their rhythm, and expanding it.

And, of course, yesterday, Monday, I was energetic and focused. I launched a project at work involving teamwork and leadership...and it flowed naturally. Later this week, on my birthday, I'm going to my High School reunion feeling healthy and happy with that Florida Glow. 

When we chant for others we are also chanting for ourselves. We are all interconnected. We are all one being. When we chant for those who are giving us problems in life, we are opening our channels of compassion and expanding our capacity to feel joy, love, and happiness. Who can you chant for? How can we each expand our capacity to love and be loved? 

No matter where you are in life, or what's happening, you can always launch a new rocket of hope into your life. Chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo infused your life with the life of the universe...and chanting is YOURS. For FREE. 

Join with your fellow SGI members, make a fresh determination. Refuse to give in to ANYTHING that is getting you down. Your life IS the Buddha. Chant to feel this with your life at every moment. Let's all be radiantly happy and victorious together! 

"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?" 

Nichiren Daishonin. From the Gosho Reply to Kyo'o

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Inspiring Experience from Shara Gulati, YWD in India

From Shara Gulati: 

I am glad that I am able to share my delightful experience.
Chanting 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo' has worked like Magic.

I am a masters graduate from The University of Manchester. I currently live with my parents in India. After spending one and a half years in the UK, I came back to India this year in January, to live with my family.

Looking back at the past 6 months is a nightmare.
I was extremely depressed. I have never lived idle in my life. But the struggle to find the perfect job has its own repercussions. I stopped socializing, meeting friends or anyone else with the fear that people would ask me what I would do next and I would look like a failure. I used to chicken-out of any conversation that was related to my career. Long story short, I was miserable.

Then Buddhism came into my life and things started changing.
I met a distant relative who encouraged me (I am very grateful to her)  to start chanting. Not knowing what that meant, I started searching Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and SGI Buddhism on google and that very day I felt different, I felt good, I felt like myself after a long time.
That happened and then I have another relative who is an SGI district leader, who motivated me further more and sent me two books for more knowledge.
All this happened in late July and things started turning so much better in just a month's time. 

I found an amazing woman from Quora who has been there through my thick and thin, to motivate me and keep my Daimoku strong, so strong that I can conquer anything and come out victorious.

I started chanting for 5 minutes a day which has now changed to 2 hours a day.

I could feel that I started caring more about other people's happiness too.

I have now taken full charge of my life and have stopped blaming anyone for my condition.

My friend's grandmother got extremely ill and ghospitalized sed not once but thrice. I kept my faith strong and chanted for her everyday. I chanted with the aim that she should be healthy and should get discharged by 28th Aug. Mystically, she got discharged on the same day.
My niece got diagnosed with eczema and she is just three years old. It took 5 doctors to diagnose something like that until we found out what exactly appeared on her cheeks. I kept chanting for her and also prayed that her skin condition improves by 28th Aug and miraculously the skin ailment vanished completely by then.

I have also been considering to get help from a good recruitment agency for an overseas career. I found one. My family and I got in touch with them. It took us 10 days to have faith in them and be ready to pay the amount the next day.
I chanted to be saved from any fraudulent act. I chanted that 'if the company is not genuine, I should not pay the amount the next day'. Mystically, the very next day I got up late and I forgot to ask my father to get the amount deposited. 
In the evening, one of the employees of the company, who I had been in touch with, contacted me and to quote her exact words 'I believe in Karma. I believe if you do good to others, you get things back. So I would suggest you not to rely on this company as my other colleagues stop taking calls once the candidate has paid the amount.
So mystic, isnt it?
That's the power of daimoku, that is the power of our Gohonzon.
With this practise, I am determined to report four victories by the end of this year.

"Chant abundant Daimoku and pray to the Gohonzon. Ask the Gohonzon for whatever you need. Everything will come true as you wish, and the path of kosen-rufu will open up in front of you.

From Jamie: 

Thank you, Shara! Thank you for your enthusiasm and determination. Thank you for submitting your experience to me. 

And to the readers of ChantforHappiness.com, please have renewed hope that you can accomplish all your dreams. 
Chant for conviction in your Buddha Nature! Chant to realize your life as the beautiful Buddha you are! 

Today I am taking my pen in hand to write down as many goals as I can for my life. What number will I achieve? 100? 200? Danny Nagashima encouraged us to do this in 1993 in San Francisco when he was the center leader there. I wrote 200+ goals and met Sensei that year. Go for your goals! Live your beautiful lives! Sending love from sunny Florida, Jamie

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Great Insights from Kate Randolph

My Dear friend Kate

Hello, my friends! Thanks for all the emails prodding me back into writing. You have always been on my mind! 

I'm sitting here in paradise on St. Pete Beach with a few moments on my hands because I'm off work today. I have a great full-time job helping families go through the difficult maze of figuring out the best place for their loved one to live when they can no longer take care of themselves. I enjoy giving people hope, changing the lives of seniors, and infusing love into my community.

There's so much to share! Ben's Memorial Mile (Bensmemorialmile.com) took place in June with hundreds of attendees running, walking, playing and having fun in my son Ben's name. We are about to reach our goal of contributing $50,000 for research to cure schizophrenia, and taking concrete action to prevent suicide through "Hope for the Day." We're already planning an amazing event in Downers Grove, Illinois, USA next June. I'll keep you posted. 

And, many of you know that Kate Randolph is battling the same kind of cancer that just killed John McCain, a glioblastoma brain tumor. Kate was diagnosed right after we went to the Florida Nature Culture Center together in November of 2017. She's challenging three hours of daimoku (chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) a day, and is fighting a fierce battle. 

The other day I reached her in LA and she had important words for all for us when I told her about a goal I'm determined to reach. Kate said: 

"There's only one thing you need to do. 
There's only one prayer you need to have. Along with chanting for the youth of the world and the 50K Lions of Justice Festivals in America and around the world, 

Chant for 
absolute and total conviction
 in your Buddha Nature

and everything you want will fall in line. 
Don't keep searching for what you desire - 
use this prayer, use the power of your daimoku. 
Pray that THIS TIME you are changing your karma forever...for you, for your parents, 
for your descendants. 
Pray that THIS PRAYER changes your karma forever."

Let that sink in! 

I'll tell you it's a challenge. When I'm chanting I latch onto that prayer, and I'm quickly pulled off of it by some distraction (fundamental darkness) in my mind. But it's real. And powerful. It takes strong determination to stay on this prayer...and let other prayers bubble up...for my family, my coworkers, the youth of the world. It's a daily challenge to keep praying while chanting - not just letting my mind wander and wondering about stuff. But that's where the magic is...the sustained launching of our prayer on the wings of Daimoku.  

I hope this post finds you well...and that you keep strong determination. As Nichiren Daishonin states in the Gosho Letter to Nikke, 
"Chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can, therefore, be an obstacle?"

Whatever you are facing don't give up. Don't give up! We are here for a reason. We chose this life. We even chose our problems. In the August 17th World Tribune on page 7, Daisaku Ikeda, my mentor in life, quotes the words of the Argentine poet Almafuerte: 

"Sometimes a great destiny sleeps to be awakened by anguish."
He goes on to say: 
"Buddhism teaches that suffering is the springboard to enlightenment. No one is free from problems and worries - nor is any family or region. 
"Life is a struggle against problems. What's important is how we solve the problems that weigh down on us. We need to call forth all our wisdom and make repeated efforts to overcome those problems and reach the victory that lies beyond them. 
"Dreaming about what life might be like if only you didn't have any problems is just an escape from reality into a fantasy realm. It only leads to defeat in life. People who are always making positive efforts, thinking about how to overcome each problem and transform it into a source of value and victory are the winners in life. 
"Your resolve determines your life. I hope you will all be great actors in your own dramas of victory, brilliantly proving this truth, and be people who encourage and impart self-confidence to everyone around you."

Yes! Write that drama brilliantly! Smile and carry on! Chant and study and encourage your fellow members! Sending love to you!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Change Your Attitude ~ Change Your Life!

Greetings from St. Pete Beach Florida with another beautiful sunset.
Thank you so much for your patience! I know it's been ages since I wrote something new for you from the heart. 

And, you're probably asking, what IS the key to changing our lives, Jamie? We know to chant, we know to do shakubuku, we know to study and encourage others, but what if a problem is just staying stuck, and we can't find a way out through our determined prayer? 

I faced such a moment about a month ago, regarding a situation I was in, where I REALLY THOUGHT it was the other people's fault. I knew THEY were the ones causing my suffering. (Even though, as a Buddhist, I know I create my own life, and it's a reflection of me - it really felt as if THIS problem was coming from the outside) Exactly. 

Well, thank goodness for the Buddhist concept of getting guidance. I made a call to one of my local leaders and requested guidance. She, in all her wisdom, connected me to a region leader whom I'd not met yet, and we got together at the center. It was a good meeting and we established a friendship, and she said I could call anytime. 

Establishing friendships with our senior leaders right where we are is crucial. That's why, when you write to me for guidance, I ask you to consult with your local leaders. They are there for you! Please reach out to them. They can help you challenge your problems. 

We are responsible for building these relationships through daimoku and action. We can chant to connect with a leader who inspires us. 

So, when push came to shove and my suffering over this situation was growing, I reached out to this region leader and she gently reminded me that whatever I was feeling, any suffering and frustration, was already in my life due to causes I made in the past, and the ONLY way to change the situation was to chant to change my attitude. My attitude. Yikes. I've been chanting for 33 years, and I still need these reminders from time to time, right? 

So the next morning, I woke up and chanted as if to draw fire from wet stone. I chanted that this daimoku today was changing my attitude, and I pondered what the word attitude really means. I chanted to change my energy, and to turn all my anger into love and appreciation. I scanned my body in my mind and chanted to change every cell in my body...every attitude about this problem from within. I chanted to open myself to a new possibility, and for my daimoku to have immediate results as the people around me felt my new heart, my new attitude and I proved the power of this incredible law once again! 

And, from that moment forth (hon nim myo) everything changed. Daimoku is that powerful! They DID feel my heart. Everything improved. And I started winning again, not whining! 

So now, with every problem or challenge I face, I am chanting to change my attitude...and I feel the richness and the depth of the power of Chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo deepening more and more! 

I'm chanting, as we all are, for the youth of the world, and here in America I'm seeing the results. 

And May 3rd is only a few days away. Let's each challenge a breakthrough! Let me hear from you at chantforhappiness@gmail.com. Share your breakthroughs! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Experience from Neelam Kumar, author of "To Cancer, With Love"

Experience—March 2018, Zadenkai

(As I publish this blog tonight, Neelam's mother has been very ill. 
Please join me in chanting for Neelam's Mother's full recovery (Jamie) 

Two years back, I was at the peak of my life’s contentment. I had faced the struggles of 23 years of widowhood bravely; had completed my duties of getting my 2 children married off; had spent more than two decades in a top position in a top company and had written 5 popular fiction books. I was all set to sit back and heave a sigh of relief when Cancer struck me with a vengeance a 2nd time.
 I must admit, lying alone on that cold hospital stretcher, I asked myself whether there was really any purpose left to my life.  With my doting husband gone, nobody actually needed me anymore.
Under attack, my weak body collapsed, but my spirit, forged in the fire of 12 years of Buddhist practice soared high, bright and resilient. The first decision I made was an important one. I would live--joyously and meaningfully. The second decision: I would cling to the Gosho and chant daimoku with  “ a never-say-die attitude” to get clarity of why I had been spared.
Disappointed at not finding any “happy literature” on Cancer in India, I simply decided to write one to cheer myself up. To my surprise, that book, “To Cancer, With Love—My Journey of Joy” zoomed up to become a bestseller, emerging as India’s 1st joyous book on Cancer. More importantly, readers from all over the world began contacting me and telling me how my words had given them hope, courage and the strength to fight on.
I was taken aback by readers’ response. Cancer fighters began reaching out to me to say what a hellish state they felt they were in.
At that time I came across Sensei’s guidance: “The world of Hell is a state in which life is itself painful; where anything you see makes you feel miserable. Such people need someone—anyone—to be at their side. They need someone who will be there for them, to listen and offer even just a few words of encouragement.”  I decided I would be that person. And would use each dialogue as an opportunity to talk about Buddhism.
I had no hair, no eyelashes, no eyebrows, but to my surprise, at that juncture, I suddenly became famous! I began to be approached by newspapers and magazines for interviews. To my horror, even while I was shuddering inside like a coward at this wave of public adulation, people actually started celebrating me as a symbol of courage! I took a deep breath, chanted soundlessly and smiled. So, Gohonzon… this is the role you have in mind for me, I asked?  But I needed the strength of the strongest armor to cloak me.
So I plunged myself into my Practise. I launched on my 7th million daimoku; never missed my gongyo even on crazily busy days; woke up early to pack in at least an hour of chanting before leaving for work; home visited and shaku bukud with immense vigour, focused on winning in all the campaigns and targets Sensei set for us. I backed all this up with solid Study, not missing a single meeting. The Block in which I was earlier, became a Shinichi district and I began to be called “Shaku buku Queen.” I do not remember a day when I have missed reading the Gosho. I am now on the second reading of Gosho 1 and Gosho 2.
Emboldened by the success of my book, I decided to write India’s first Graphic Novel—comic book--on Cancer that would cater to our rushed, deadline-driven times of short attention spans. When I learnt that the funds to create it were unaffordable, I left it to Gohonzon. Sure enough, mystically, 2 Indian legends-Mr Ratan Tata and Mr Amitabh Bachchan stepped forward to praise my writing, to fund it and ensure that I wrote my comic book for these grim times when India is sitting on a Cancer time bomb. The funds were so generous that I wrote not one but 3 books on Cancer.
What was so special about them? The fact that in each book I have described how my faith in Nichiren Buddhism has helped me overcome the doctors’ diagnosis. This, I told Gohonzon are my kosen rufu books.
The Daishonin has assured us that when we concentrate on kosen rufu, benefits pour into our lives from thousands of miles away. 
Sure enough, benefits flooded in.
In October 2017, my 88 year old mother was handed back to me from ICU. I was told that I must take her home as her crater-like, pus filled bedsore was untreatable and would not make her last more than 48 hours. I nursed her at home, pouring daimoku into her wound. 5 months later, today, her bedsore is completely gone and she is better than ever.
I began to be invited to give Motivational Talks at hitherto unimaginable places—fancy corporates, institutes and organizations. And, pumped on the power of hours of daimoku, each time I would launch on my favorite topic,  Buddhism, the moment the audience asked me—So how did you get the courage to face it?
My big benefit was, receiving a personal message from Sensei for my books.
And then came the awards—all from unimaginable places.
1.The very Convent School that had labelled me as “Wood Sitting on Wood” and predicted I would never learn the English language honored me with a Trophy for being an Outstanding Alumni.
2. The Nargis Dutt Memorial Trophy for outstanding work in the field of creating cancer awareness through my books has been another surprise.
3. This month, 2 significant awards have come my way—the Inspiring Indian Woman Award 2018 from IIW, London as well as Glenmark’s  V Wash 2018 Woman of the Year award for changing the narrative of Cancer in India from grimness to hope.
I must admit, I asked Gohonzon one day, I wish I was my younger, pretty self. I would have looked nice receiving these awards. That day I read Sensei’s words, “There is no retirement age in faith.”  Nichiren Daishonin has said about those who embrace the Mystic Law, “You will grow younger and your good fortune will accumulate.”
That day, a big company approached me for a few shots they wanted to take of me on Madh Island. I embraced the excitement of being made up and clothed by a stylist, of being asked to pose on a boat and the beach. I sank into the warm feeling of being pampered like a star.
Last week I woke up to pictures of me perched atop Bangalore’s MG Road. The 30 by 20 hoarding says—“When Cancer visited me a second time, I pulled out the mightiest weapon—my pen”
Had I ever imagined that I would be modelling at my age? That people would actually look at my photo shopped face and say—you look so pretty. And better—so young!

My heart is filled with gratitude as I realize that actually this phase of my life is not mine at all. It is for those countless Indians who draw strength from just looking at me and label me as Inspirational. This phase of my life is my actual Kosen rufu phase. In these grim times when 1,500 Indians are succumbing to Cancer each day, I am so grateful for getting the opportunity to touch a million lives with my written and spoken words and shine the powerful beacon of hope, courage and joy embodied in Buddhism into their lives.
Finally, the hurt of my 3 younger devars dispossessing me of our ancestral home after I was widowed, is healing. Finally, I am NEEDED. The stage is my entire country; its inhabitants are my kosen rufu family.
Dear Cancer, thank you for visiting me twice and revealing to me my mission in this life.
Dear Gohonzon, now I realise why my life has been spared. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to turn “poison into medicine.”
Dear Sensei, as you turn 90, I realise the magnitude of the kosen rufu I must do through my life to become your worthy disciple.
I determine to use my pen, my words, my body and each remaining breath for the eternal honor of spreading kosen rufu.
Ikeda Sensei says, “May you live in such a way
That others will say,
“She is a woman who, though ordinary,
Somehow stands out,
And has a beautiful story to tell.”

Thank you!
Neelam Kumar

Monday, April 16, 2018

Wisdom For Our TIme ~ Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

News from Our Kate  
Thank you for writing to me. Thank you for telling me how much these posts mean to you. I am beginning to blog again. Remember you can always look through the archives for PowerPrayers and inspiration.  

I am about to return to St. Pete from a trip to see Aaron in Phoenix and Kate Randolph in LA. Kate is now a year and a half into her brain tumor diagnosis and she is doing great! Three hours of daimoku a day really is helping her life-condition and her health. I wrote the following blog post last year, but I promise I will write again soon!

Kate's 40 year anniversary of practicing was last August. She has reached many of her personal goals, producing and staring in many plays, creating a sought-after arts program within the Los Angeles County school district, and having a wonderful relationship with her husband Hal, (who is a brilliant teacher)  and daughter Sarah, who recently graduated from Soka University of America.  

Kate's life condition is sky high and she has this wisdom for you. 

Kate says: "NOW is the time to wake up to joy. Now, more than ever, SGI members need to summon joy, forget complaining about anything, and wear a radiant smile on our faces. She says our smiles must radiate so brightly that light comes out of our fingertips and we glow as beacons so people can learn of the mystic law, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo from us, and be moved to happiness just by being in our presence.
 She says we must have joy to show the possibilities of life...JOY is a REQUIREMENT, not an afterthought, and it comes from our determination to summon it from within our lives and express it in our smiles, the pep in our step, and our lives themselves. We can do this! We can do this for ourselves, and by doing this we change the world." 

Kate echoed something I've said for years,  "Our smile is a cause, not an effect." we can't sit around waiting for joy to come into our lives. We must be joyful, and invite more. That's how it works! 

She said: "Joy's the leading edge. Wake up and be joyful, smile at the person next to you in bed, smile at the person next to you at the store, in the elevator, and at other drivers. BE Kosen-rufu in action!" 

"It's gotta be real, but you can also fake it till you make it. Put that smile on your face and you will spark your happiness. Try to be sad with a huge grin. It doesn't work so well!

Kate said "We have to go deeper into our own lives, and into the Buddha we are every day. We've gotta do this NOW. This is it. This is our time. We're ALIVE! whether we are 17 or 95. Grab the moment for all it's got and say "I am creating the deepest value that's ever been created. NOW. Right this moment. There's no other moment. here's no other person. How are we influencing the person next to us...it is our SMILE...beaming with joy...Joy!"

She said: "Stop complaining. NOW. It must be replaced, even if it's phony at first. It may feel phony but it will cause a shift inside your life.  And we have to keep going deeper and deeper into joy. There can't be a place at which we stop. we need constant movement...constantly going deeper." 

President Ikeda says:

"The relationships we have with people are a direct reflection of our inner state of life. To extend and deepen our human relationships is to expand our state of life."

Daisaku Ikeda, from Ikedaquotes.org, under Relationships