It just occurred to me that we write together wonderful stories with our friends and with the people in our lives. These become forever implanted memories. And then we meet new friends. They create new stories that enhance the older ones. And we keep meeting new friends and write even more elaborate stories, tapestries of our ever growing friendships. How do we end up with the most beautiful tapestry of life and #friendship? By keeping our friendships alive with the friends we already have (my bad) and always meet with and talk to new people. Maybe circumstances will part some of us for a while but that’s okay. With these two ingredients, our lives will be the richest in the world. Those who neglect their friendships and stop making new friends are the saddest people in the world. Not to believe in others is not to believe in ourselves.
It is so hard for me to say what is truly in my heart because the language of the world, like the world itself, is very compromising. For this reason, I have the tool of writing which can convey what on-the-spot conversation makes very difficult, less because of the conversation itself than because I get nervous around people of telling them my inner truth because it has been my experience that they never understand so I’ve grown up and grown accustomed to “lying”, embellishing the truth with the common parlance of the day. That is also why reading is very helpful to all people, because it enables them to be exposed to the thoughts of people removed from what has to seem popular and acceptable. Of course, when it comes to best-sellers and money-making, then even literature is not safe from the harm of embellishment or outright distortion. But we try our best anyway.
I said to you “when I find ‘the secret’…”, but was that really “the secret”? And what did I mean anyway? And what did you think I meant? I suspect you thought I meant the secret to longevity. I meant the secret of love. But the real secret is the thing I mentioned in the course of conversation, not even thinking to speak of it in the right context, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. First, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo contains the key to unlocking all the other secrets to the mystery of life, of living well and happily. The chant unlocks within all people the ability they already have to attain supreme happiness in this life. Without it, we are fettered by chains and ties of karma. Karma is the collection of all the actions we have committed, positive and negative, since time without beginning, over countless lifetimes. While we are fundamentally free and therefore literally unfettered by anything, the reality as it is for all people in this world is that cause and effect is real, so that if the amount of causes is sufficient enough, it is like a heavy weight that a single human being cannot move no matter how hard he tries. So we end up bound and fettered by the accumulation of countless causes we have made in the past, positive and negative, such that we can’t overturn that karma and make different causes in this lifetime unless we have something very powerful like a lifting crane strong enough to lift that huge weight of causes we’ve made. It is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo which is that lifting crane strong enough of overturn the negative causes we’ve made in lifetime after lifetime, the karmic pattern we’ve tied ourselves up in by the causes we’ve made, so that we can make different causes starting this moment. For example, some people are born into this life to live a short life, and they live short lives lifetime after lifetime, while there are other people who have made good karmic causes that cause them to be born in each subsequent life with longevity. They do not need to chant to change their karma unless they hate years of being old. That is a different kind of negative karma, the kind where you get so sick and tired of tying your shoes, of hearing the same bad jokes told generation after generation, only in different form, of hearing the same bad love songs on the radio, only different as the style changes from decade to decade, until they get so fed up they just get sick so they can be released from this world. But it is not for long, for soon they find themselves repeating the same cycle in another life.
The same is true of love. Some have made causes such that they live their entire lives pining away for love yet nothing they do is able to change that karma whereas others spend their lives filled with love, yet still others live lifetime after lifetime in bad relationships suffocating eternity away wishing they could break free from the husband or wife they can’t stand yet unable to find any relief, even though they may go through ten marriages in each of their umpteen billions of lives. As you said, there is nothing you can do about it. That is your fate and you have to live with it. EXCEPT. EXCEPT if you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the secret and I have already found it. I am not old yet. Will I get old? Of course some day unless I die first. It is not longevity I want so much as love. I am one of those destined by my own past causes to suffer my lives alone. But now, as I was trying to tell you, that I have found Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I am changing that karma so I can enjoy love and companionship throughout my lives from this moment into the future. Already, I have won through my blood, sweat and toil, a wonderful marriage. Sure this marriage had problems, but I have so many wonderful memories with H____ that revolutionized my experience of living and changed my destiny forever. So even though it is tough now finding fulfillment of this change of destiny and my old karma, with tremendous and powerful angry venomous force, is fighting back with a vengeance, I will win and not stop fighting till I do. That is why I push myself up the stairs and down the street. I am sure I burn less calories in total than you do carrying Tutsie, though you seem to have a wonderful even-keel way that you do it. Which is a lesson I can learn from you and a help to helping me change my karma with more appreciation and acceptance.
But as for the secret, I have found it. The point is I am changing eons-long karma, something nobody does. Unless they chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I felt I had to not leave our conversation as it was but clarify why I understand. Please feel free to respond as you understand.
P.S. The bottom line for people, for life and for Buddhism is happiness. It is not longevity, not prosperity, not being loved. They are important but only insofar as they support ourselves to be happy. Buddhism, that is the Buddhism of Nichiren and the SGI, not other kinds, teaches that we already possess within us happiness; the work is in bringing it out so we can enjoy and savor it, just like billions of dollars worth of gold could be buried in the ground but it will be useless unless we do the work of finding it and bringing it out. It is for this purpose that the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo so we can naturally become aware of the happiness inside and not look for it on the outside. It is so that we can not have to resign ourselves to the limited happiness we are born with but fight to make full use of the unlimited reservoir of happiness that each human being contains as much as we all contain blood, a liver, a heart, two hands, two legs, two eyes….you get my drift. Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of the Buddhism of Nam-myoho-renge-=kyo stated, “We ordinary people can see neither our own eyelashes, which are so close, nor the heavens in the distance” (The Writings of Nichiren, vol I, p1137), and in this way explains why it is hard to see the happiness that already exists within each of us without exception. And SGI President Daisaku Ikeda states, “The fundamental causes of the emotions of happiness and suffering we experience are not something outside us, but exist ultimately in our hearts. The pain of hell and the limitless joy of Buddhahood (happiness) are nowhere but within the depths of our own lives” (The Teachings for Victory). He also states, “In early Buddhist scriptures, one of the many honorable titles by which Shakyamuni Buddha was known ws the ‘Happy One’” (ibid.)
“We ourselves embody happiness. No one can take that happiness away. No one can destroy it…..With the most powerful life force, one can stand surrounded by good fortune and dwell at ease in a beautiful ‘magnificent palace’ of happiness. Such happiness is not self-centered. Rather, it is an inexhaustible happiness, happiness that can embrace both oneself and others.” This is the secret I should have told you before, but part of what I said was true. By knowing this secret, I know that I don’t have to resign myself to fate but I can forge with undefeated determination the destiny I intend to create for myself in the future, always free, always increasingly happy, with such beautiful branches as longevity, youth that fades slowly and love deeper than the ocean.
I made a promise to myself to introduce one person to the great benefits of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day and after reading your blog this morning, I knew you were the one for today. Luckily or not, I worked overtime and so have 2 seconds to get this all done. But let’s consider this the start of an ongoing conversation.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (literally dedication of one’s life to the Mystic Law of the universe of the Lotus Flower Sutra (Myoho-renge-kyo) which is the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect through teaching or sound) is the sound that, when chanted, activates the power of the Law of the Universe which pulsates throughout it and inside each of us without exception. That means we can break through obstacles, attain unsurpassed wisdom and understanding, and even help others to turn their lives around and become happy, the ultimate benefit of which is human beings living together in peaceful and harmonious coexistence, supporting one another. The best way to gain a better understanding than simply reading my blog is to chant it and see what happens for yourself.
In your blog that I read you spoke of not wanting to apologize for doing the things you like. I understood exactly what you were saying because I have been plagued with the feeling that I have to explain or beg for pardon in order to have permission to do something. But, through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the past 26 years, I have come to understand that we are not in this world to gain permission from an authority greater than ourselves but rather to enjoy ourselves and, if anything, to contribute by sharing our joy, our love, our commitment and our efforts with others. Now, of course, the reality is that most people live an unenlightened existence either blaming others or themselves along the way, which pulls the life condition of humanity down. We are all intricately connected like a fine web. Isn’t it better to tug at it gently and to strive to raise us all up rather than pull it down?
I suspect you’ll say, “I’m fine, that’s okay” because I know you are sure of what feels right to you and what does not. Because what I am introducing you to is novel, you may be very wary, which, again I understand, having gone through that myself. Perhaps the best way to explain why NMRK is so wonderful is that it is the Middle Way, neither this nor that yet both. It does not demand you sacrifice yourself nor does it exist simply to indulge yourself. Rather it is the sword by which we face, grapple with and resolve the inevitable contradictions that life is always presenting before our path. It is knowing when to soak in that tub and relax and when to make the effort to expand our lives and attain our deepest and highest dreams, as well as to make the effort for the sake of others, for helping others is itself the greatest reward and happiness any one person can experience.
I hope, in the tiny bit of time I’ve been able to talk about it, it’s shed some light and attracted you to want to try it and check it out for yourself. Of course, as I said in my response to your other blog, I will totally love and respect you either way because you are a Buddha like everyone else, a person of the highest worth and respect.
Here’s a site to help you: http://www.sgi-uk.org/
Enjoy and let me know how it goes.
I have required of myself to speak to one person a day about the great beneficial power of Nam myoho renge kyo so that I don’t forget it myself. So what better people to dedicate today’s report than the ones I have started out closest to in life, the ones who are tied to me irrevocably by an invisible thread that cannot be broken, no matter how hard one would try.
You are probably all cringing now, thinking, “Why is he bothering me with this again? His organization must be having another massive recruitment campaign.” If I’ve pegged you wrong, then congratulations! You are an independent minded person who eludes predictability.
But all that doesn’t really matter because I am not writing this email to respond to anything you might be thinking. I am writing this email because I have hidden my tortured life from you most of these years (as best I could, at least), and now feel you deserve honest communication from me. But don’t worry, this isn’t going to be about you. It is going to be about me. (although, as you all well know, fortunately, or unfortunately, the two overlap).
In the SGI newspaper, the World Tribune, I came across an article entitled, “The Poetic Heart of Human Possibility”, which described a talk given by Colgate University Professor of English and women’s studies, Sarah Wider at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue in Cambridge, Mass. She was discussing her newly published book, “The Art of True Relations”, which is a dialogue between her and SGI Pres. Daisaku Ikeda. The article relates, “Dr. Wider also explored the image of the ‘kitchen table,’ which forms the heart of Joy Harjo’s poem ‘Perhaps the World Ends Here.’ It opens, ‘The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live./The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and will go on.’
“‘Because this table encompasses all of human experience, it too is the site where war has been brought into existence,’ Dr. Wider said. ‘Even our kitchen tables are not exempt, though I invite you to make them so,'”
I don’t have a kitchen table that I sit around at my one-person home these days. This laptop that I am typing this letter at is the centerpiece of my food intake. I pretend to share my food with my 3 stuffed animals so I can feel some semblance of of family after the 3 broken families my karma from the past brought me into in this life. But this is not about blame; it is about acknowledgement and communication of the reality of my life. I turned to Nam myoho renge kyo because I was very lonely and unable to connect with women to have either sexual or meaningful relations. Since chanting Nam myoho renge kyo, that prayer was fulfilled with 3 women who each had their own issues and problems. When it became clear that my wife was suffering from a mental illness, I was so swept up by the fact that I was experiencing a happiness my life had never known that such an issue seemed secondary. After all, I have been the king of mental disorder.
Fortunately, despite several warnings from SGI leaders and Helen’s neighbor before I got married, I received tremendous support from the man who was the central leader in the SGI in New York, David Kasahara, the man who performed our marriage ceremony that you all remember. He was confident that because we were chanting to the Gohonzon, we could overcome anything. And the fact that we didn’t, I am 100% certain in my blood, is not the deficiency of the Gohonzon but of the two of us. At some point, we allowed our negativity to get the upper hand. But because David witnessed in a guidance session back in 1993 how supportive Helen was, he could see the beautiful part of human beings and the love we shared as being more powerful than all the evils. As long as we exercised that love and that belief in ourselves, in our greater power. That greater power is what Nam myoho renge kyo means and what is summoned up from within the life of one who chants it. Our marriage lasted and even thrived until David started fell very ill, from which he eventually died at almost the same time Helen moved out. It was then that it became clear to me that this man never stopped chanting for our happiness together since that day in 1993. It was his prayer and his confidence in the Gohonzon’s power that was keeping us together, not our own.
What has been my biggest dilemma in terms of finding new love is whether I even want to get involved with anyone at this time. I don’t know the answer to this, whether I should continue as a loner, just look for sex, or really look for that amazing love, that one person who I can feel is a true partner, a true companion.
I believe from my prayer that the most important thing at this moment in time is to fix myself. Now I am facing the toughest challenge anyone can face, that most don’t even bother to consider a possibility, that of fixing my lifelong history of broken health, both mental and physical. It is going to require a great deal of vigilance to my enery levels, stamina, exercise, food intake as well as every thought that enters my head. Is this a habitual thought that will continue to lead me to a negative realm or is it positive, value creating thought that will send my life in a new, better direction? I don’t just want to survive. I could be a caterpillar and do that. Then, at least I’d have a life with wings. I should never have given into the fear that I cold never make it as a rock and roll musician. But it’s too late for that adolescent fantasy now. I have a different mission in life.
But the point is that I can change the karma which led me to abandon music, first in classical form, later in popular form, and end up with the miserable, day-to-day life I have now but…. I was going to say “but didn’t need to have”, but as Buddhism teaches, all life has meaning. I have lived among people with hardship so I can empathize with them, so I can show them what one person, afflicted and assaulted by financial and health obstacles big-time can still yet accomplish. But I have to change that course of thinking, of karma, that makes me give up on and abandon myself.
I know this is a lot and I have only three minutes before I have to go back to my prison sentence of a job that is unthinking and unfeeling where I follow orders. I have the uneasy feeling that after having said all this, I have left you as blind to the world of possibilities that are contained within a Nichiren Buddhist practice. Perhaps, living steeped in the dogma with which you were raised, the assumptions about life that your parents held, it may not be possible to see all the connections between things in life and the ineluctability of the law of cause and effect that is Nam myoho renge kyo. So I will try to give you the simple explanation. After college, I kind of dropped out of life and did drugs, as you know. Today, many of those friends I hung out with because I didn’t have all the uneasy feelings I would have around most people when I was around stoned people–today, many of them are dead. But I, despite a severe chronic illness, have managed to stay alive. Perhaps even that won’t explain it.
Alright, let me push my work a little and explain it with another story. For years, I held Dad’s father, A______ up as the one hero of the family because I thought he took responsibility for a bomb that went off and saved his family. But I recently learned, to my deep disappointment, that he had actually been working with a socialist group that hid the bomb in the synagogue but it went off accidentally. I also learned that he punched a cop once in the 1930s, totally shocking me.
I know perhaps to you those who pursue violent paths may be heroes. But if there’s any place to cringe, it is here. The meaning of my sharing the “kitchen table” is to say that the one thing Buddhism and Daisaku Ikeda has impressed me with (because I come from the same stock you do) is that a heart, a hearth full of love, warmth and peace is the most important thing in the world. And yes, the kitchen table, the home, is the place where peace and war potentially begin. I hope I can salvage what is left of the proverbial kitchen table we once ate around and inspire you to think along those lines. If we don’t reach out to each others’ hearts and remove the masks and walls of fear and mistrust, I think we can only expect we are contributing to a downward spiral in this world toward war and destruction. And that will make it worse for A__, for J__ and for A__’s new child. I hope we can make the causes in our hearts to make it a good future for them by being brave with ourselves and being honest with each other.
It has come to my attention that some of you are bothered by the fact that I have posted my fundraising efforts to get together with Susana on Facebook. The decision to even fundraise in the first place, let alone post it on any social network website was not one arrived at lightly. I met Susana not one, not two but three years ago on Facebook. I was certainly not looking for a long distance relationship but I was also certainly not going to close my options and make it that much harder for me to find someone. When things clicked between Susana and me, I felt really great and so did she. I thought it would be no problem to save up enough money to go and see her. Two years went by but due to two separate assaults with extremely high tax bills—which I also needed to ask help to pay—I never got to see Susana (except through the cold hard glass of the computer). Finally, with my tax assaults paid off and behind me, I was sure that 2013 would be the year I would save up enough money to see Susana. But 2013 came and went and took all money away with it again. It was clear that the salary I was making at my job—a hard thing to come by these days—I need to stay at due to very brittle type I diabetes and good medical coverage was never going to enable me to get together with the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.
In January 2014, Susana told me that she was determined that 2014 would be the year we would be together. Very touched by the fact that she made such an impossible determination with no idea on either of our parts how we would accomplish it, I decided that since many people raise money using Kickstarter to fund artistic projects, that I would do the same for this project of two people spending their lives together.
I am trying to be very polite in what I say in posting the news of this fundraiser on social networks as I am aware that many of you are getting notifications about this, perhaps in your email.
First, let me be clear that I am not asking any of you individually to contribute money. I am simply posting publicly that there is a wonderful fundraiser to help two people with obstacles come together in love if—AND ONLY IF—you would like to participate. There is nothing mean-spirited about this and whether or not you participate has nothing to do with how I will feel about you nor the status of my friendship with you. I will still continue to cherish you as much as a friend as I did before and as I would if you did contribute.
Second, there are some of you who feel this effort should be kept to myself and my girlfriend or abandoned altogether. It would take me too long to explain the flaws in the “self-made” delusion that many people, particularly the members of the Tea Party, have about how they got where they are and what everyone else should do to get where they want to be. The fact is that all of life is inherently interdependent. Nothing exists in isolation. The things we do every day contribute or take away from the well being of others. And our own well being exists thanks to the efforts of others, likewise our sufferings. The concept, “This belongs to me….You can’t have that….” is an arbitrary decision we, as imperfect human beings, not possibly knowing everything, make. I respect your right to your decision about what to do with whatever money you’ve come into in your life. But I ask in return that you respect my decision to politely request that you come to my aid in my time of need and do not hold it against you if you’re uncomfortable with it.
IF YOU DO NOT LIKE MY OPINION ON THIS MATTER, YOU ARE FREE TO DELETE ME AS YOUR FRIEND ON THE SOCIAL NETWORK YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS. I ONLY ASK THAT YOU AT LEAST TRY TO GIVE THIS MATTER SOME THOUGHT AND NOT REPORT ME TO THE SOCIAL NETWORK BECAUSE THIS REALLY IS A SMALL MATTER AND CERTAINLY NOT ONE OF FLAGRANT ABUSE OR VIOLATION OF YOUR PRIVILEGES ON THIS NETWORK.
Again, I’d like to remind you that, with the goal of $24,178.40 being what is necessary to enable me to come together and live with Susana (as you can refer to the original request), all it will take is 25,000 people contributing just $1 American, or 1,000 people (less than the number of all the Facebook friends I have) contributing $25, or 500 people contributing $50 to make this wonderful dream come true. So, while I hope