Never Give Up: Buddhism, Family & Schizophrenia

Memoirist & Children's Story Writer

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/making-change-happen/Making Change HappenI was a little out of sorts over this past weekend, and it took me a couple of days to recover. I had this expectation that on Friday, August 1st, the voices, the mafia, and all the people traipsing around after me would go away. When that didn’t happen, I became very upset. It is extremely difficult for me to accept the situation as it is, but when I went to my Buddhist study on Tuesday morning, I felt encourage by another woman’s experience. She too had also been feeling frustrated – as if nothing was changing in her life in spite of all the effort she was making. She eventually was able to achieve success and accomplish her goals that she had set for herself, and described how that even though we chant or pray and may not feel like anything is changing – somehow we have set the wheels in motion with our daimoku (Buddhist prayer). At the right time, we will see the results in our lives.

I was really encouraged by her experience because I have felt frustrated many, many times over this same issue. I have felt as if nothing was happening in terms of making progress with the people who are harassing me and stalking me. All too often I have felt deadlocked in my life for years, stuck in a place that I haven’t been able to get myself out of with nothing changing from one day to the next. John and I argued for awhile on Saturday morning. I told him I wake up every morning and listen to see if I can still hear “Loach” (the name I have given the mafia “thing” that yells constantly and follows me everywhere). I listen for the other soft, whispering voices as well, but every morning I wake up, and they are still there. I hate them. I wish they would go away and leave me alone forever. I asked John, “Who does this? What type of person? They are psychotic!”
Living in their own drug-induced, delusional world, a small pack of miserable leeches clings to me desperately. I have no idea why. There is no logical reason. Only insanity and their own miserable lives, rife with addiction, crime and who knows what else. In the end, their misery has little, if anything, to do with me. I became their focal point, their scapegoat, but none of them knows how or why – nor do they care.
What I realized yesterday morning after listening to my Buddhist friend’s experience, was that even though I do not see immediate changes in my life or my environment, the wheels have been set in motion. Change is happening and it will become apparent at the right time. I am sure of it. I just have to be patient. Unfortunately, patience is one thing I lack.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/making-change-happen/

Making Change Happen

I was a little out of sorts over this past weekend, and it took me a couple of days to recover. I had this expectation that on Friday, August 1st, the voices, the mafia, and all the people traipsing around after me would go away. When that didn’t happen, I became very upset. It is extremely difficult for me to accept the situation as it is, but when I went to my Buddhist study on Tuesday morning, I felt encourage by another woman’s experience. She too had also been feeling frustrated – as if nothing was changing in her life in spite of all the effort she was making. She eventually was able to achieve success and accomplish her goals that she had set for herself, and described how that even though we chant or pray and may not feel like anything is changing – somehow we have set the wheels in motion with our daimoku (Buddhist prayer). At the right time, we will see the results in our lives.

change, effort, buddhism, prayer, hope, encouragement, happiness

I was really encouraged by her experience because I have felt frustrated many, many times over this same issue. I have felt as if nothing was happening in terms of making progress with the people who are harassing me and stalking me. All too often I have felt deadlocked in my life for years, stuck in a place that I haven’t been able to get myself out of with nothing changing from one day to the next. John and I argued for awhile on Saturday morning. I told him I wake up every morning and listen to see if I can still hear “Loach” (the name I have given the mafia “thing” that yells constantly and follows me everywhere). I listen for the other soft, whispering voices as well, but every morning I wake up, and they are still there. I hate them. I wish they would go away and leave me alone forever. I asked John, “Who does this? What type of person? They are psychotic!”

Living in their own drug-induced, delusional world, a small pack of miserable leeches clings to me desperately. I have no idea why. There is no logical reason. Only insanity and their own miserable lives, rife with addiction, crime and who knows what else. In the end, their misery has little, if anything, to do with me. I became their focal point, their scapegoat, but none of them knows how or why – nor do they care.

What I realized yesterday morning after listening to my Buddhist friend’s experience, was that even though I do not see immediate changes in my life or my environment, the wheels have been set in motion. Change is happening and it will become apparent at the right time. I am sure of it. I just have to be patient. Unfortunately, patience is one thing I lack.

Beautiful art from Rosehill Design Studio.
New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/women-in-nature-adventure/Women In Nature - Adventure!I decided to enter a submission for an anthology titled Women In Nature. The first book in the Women In Nature series was published this May, and the publisher, Louis Grace Publishing, is currently accepting submissions for additional anthologies in their series. They are currently accepting submission for the following categories: adventure, children, healing, water, indigenous ways, food, and dwelling. These are short essays – only 750-2,000 words – and must be inspiring and uplifting for the reader.
When I read the submission guidelines on their website, I remembered the six-week backpacking trip I took in Montana the summer of my freshman year of college. I picked a few memorable events from my backpacking trip and wrote a brief essay titled “The Darkest, Starriest Skies.” I think I might have continued the “stars” theme from last week’s blog post, but I also discovered that I really enjoy writing about my past experiences – particularly the enjoyable ones.

I’ve found over and over that writing about my past experiences helps me tremendously to push the bad memories I have of the voices and the mafia into the background. Writing about, remembering, and not-quite reliving the fun times I’ve had, helps me rediscover all the positive, enjoyable experiences in my life. I’m starting to realize that the past twelve years I’ve spent battling these horrible people and relentless voices do not make up the sum total of my existence. I have plenty of great, positive, adventurous stories to share with my readers, and I plan to continue writing long into the future.
I even started a second memoir about the two years I spent in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am excited about writing this memoir as well, and I can’t wait to share my experience with others. I still face quite a bit of negativity on a daily basis – mostly in my own thoughts. It’s easy to be angry, and hard to be positive, but I make continuous efforts to keep happy thoughts. My Buddhist faith, my husband and my family help me tremendously. I can’t wait until it’s over.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/women-in-nature-adventure/

Women In Nature - Adventure!

I decided to enter a submission for an anthology titled Women In Nature. The first book in the Women In Nature series was published this May, and the publisher, Louis Grace Publishing, is currently accepting submissions for additional anthologies in their series. They are currently accepting submission for the following categories: adventure, children, healing, water, indigenous ways, food, and dwelling. These are short essays – only 750-2,000 words – and must be inspiring and uplifting for the reader.

When I read the submission guidelines on their website, I remembered the six-week backpacking trip I took in Montana the summer of my freshman year of college. I picked a few memorable events from my backpacking trip and wrote a brief essay titled “The Darkest, Starriest Skies.” I think I might have continued the “stars” theme from last week’s blog post, but I also discovered that I really enjoy writing about my past experiences – particularly the enjoyable ones.

women in nature, women, nature, healing, writing, adventure, happiness

I’ve found over and over that writing about my past experiences helps me tremendously to push the bad memories I have of the voices and the mafia into the background. Writing about, remembering, and not-quite reliving the fun times I’ve had, helps me rediscover all the positive, enjoyable experiences in my life. I’m starting to realize that the past twelve years I’ve spent battling these horrible people and relentless voices do not make up the sum total of my existence. I have plenty of great, positive, adventurous stories to share with my readers, and I plan to continue writing long into the future.

I even started a second memoir about the two years I spent in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am excited about writing this memoir as well, and I can’t wait to share my experience with others. I still face quite a bit of negativity on a daily basis – mostly in my own thoughts. It’s easy to be angry, and hard to be positive, but I make continuous efforts to keep happy thoughts. My Buddhist faith, my husband and my family help me tremendously. I can’t wait until it’s over.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/we-are-children-of-the-stars/We Are Children of the StarsSince there is no God in Buddhism, we cannot be said to be all God’s children. Instead, we are all children of the stars, of the universe. Our lives are one with the great life of the universe – what we see and what we don’t see. Much like people, stars also go through the cycle of birth and death. As they age and begin to die, stars like our sun cast off a shell of glowing gas forming intricate patterns in the night sky. These stellar fireworks form shapes similar to pinwheels, butterflies, spheres, balloons, lawn sprinklers, goblets and even rocket engine exhaust! NASA states in a 1997 press release that “…these outbursts provide a way for heavier elements – predominantly carbon – cooked in the star’s core, to be ejected into interstellar space as raw material for successive generations of stars, planets, and potentially, life.”
SGI President Ikeda states, “…matter that is scattered throughout the universe as a result of the death of a star will be used in the birth of new stars and in the bodies of biological organisms. The atoms making up our bodies, too, were once shining as part of a star somewhere.”
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion Vol V p 17 2003 Soka Gakkai World Tribune Press
I read a New York Times article last week titled “Stalking the Shadow Universe” by Dennis Overbye. The accompanying video fascinated me because the video depiction of the universe closely resembled a computer generated image of a human brain I had seen the February 2014 issue of National Geographic. In Overbye’s video, the image of the universe at :35 and also toward the end of the video, around minute 2:05, are similar to the brain images in the article “Secrets of the Brain,” on page 28 of the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.
What’s interesting is David Constantine’s brief article in the New York Times from August 15, 2006. The article “Science Illustrated,” compares two pictures, one of a mouse brain, and one a simulated image of the universe. They bear a striking resemblance.

Scientists are looking for patterns and order in the approximately 100,000 miles of nerve fibers that make up the human brain, and they are also attempting to understand the structure of the energy that makes up the universe. We truly are children of the stars.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/we-are-children-of-the-stars/

We Are Children of the Stars

Since there is no God in Buddhism, we cannot be said to be all God’s children. Instead, we are all children of the stars, of the universe. Our lives are one with the great life of the universe – what we see and what we don’t see. Much like people, stars also go through the cycle of birth and death. As they age and begin to die, stars like our sun cast off a shell of glowing gas forming intricate patterns in the night sky. These stellar fireworks form shapes similar to pinwheels, butterflies, spheres, balloons, lawn sprinklers, goblets and even rocket engine exhaust! NASA states in a 1997 press release that “…these outbursts provide a way for heavier elements – predominantly carbon – cooked in the star’s core, to be ejected into interstellar space as raw material for successive generations of stars, planets, and potentially, life.”

SGI President Ikeda states, “…matter that is scattered throughout the universe as a result of the death of a star will be used in the birth of new stars and in the bodies of biological organisms. The atoms making up our bodies, too, were once shining as part of a star somewhere.”

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion Vol V p 17 2003 Soka Gakkai World Tribune Press

I read a New York Times article last week titled “Stalking the Shadow Universe” by Dennis Overbye. The accompanying video fascinated me because the video depiction of the universe closely resembled a computer generated image of a human brain I had seen the February 2014 issue of National Geographic. In Overbye’s video, the image of the universe at :35 and also toward the end of the video, around minute 2:05, are similar to the brain images in the article “Secrets of the Brain,” on page 28 of the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.

What’s interesting is David Constantine’s brief article in the New York Times from August 15, 2006. The article “Science Illustrated,” compares two pictures, one of a mouse brain, and one a simulated image of the universe. They bear a striking resemblance.

human beings, stars, universe, children, brain

Scientists are looking for patterns and order in the approximately 100,000 miles of nerve fibers that make up the human brain, and they are also attempting to understand the structure of the energy that makes up the universe. We truly are children of the stars.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/magic-carpet-inspiration/Magic Carpet - Inspiration!Last year I bought a notecard with a drawing I liked at a bookstore in Sunnyvale, California. The inside is blank, but the picture on the front of the card shows five animals sitting atop a multi-colored, patchwork carpet with tassels at each of the four corners. The animals and the carpet are flying high above the mountains and city lights below, while a starry night sky and a C-shaped yellow moon are visible behind them. The drawing is a reproduction of a water-color painting titled “Magic Carpet,” by Anna Shuttlewood.
I liked the painting because it provided me with inspiration for a new children’s story. Three of the animals look like they might be wolves, and I’ve always loved wolves. There is also a small, brown hedgehog sitting near one corner of the carpet with an even smaller white mouse. Imagine the possibilities this painting provides for story ideas. All I needed was this one picture, and I immediately thought of a children’s story.

I also have a few other children’s stories in various stages of development. Over twenty years ago, I started writing a story titled, Caleb – The Vegetarian Dragon. This story is almost finished – the ending just needs a little work. The funny thing about the Caleb story is when I first sat down to write it, I wasn’t envisioning a story about a vegetarian dragon – or any type of dragon. My very first story inspiration came from a Charles Schultz Peanuts cartoon. The cartoon had Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse typing away on an old-fashioned typewriter. He starts his novel with the words, “It was a dark and stormy night,” yet he never seems to write any more than those first seven words. Anyway, those were the first words I wrote down on paper when I first started writing, and now of course they are long gone – replaced by a story about a vegetarian dragon.
Peanuts - Charles Schultz
I have a few other story ideas – a children’s series inspired by my dog Savannah, and a story titled The Pillow Thief, inspired by my husband John. I haven’t finished these either. One of these days I will publish all of my children’s stories, but until then, I remain inspired.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/magic-carpet-inspiration/

Magic Carpet - Inspiration!

Last year I bought a notecard with a drawing I liked at a bookstore in Sunnyvale, California. The inside is blank, but the picture on the front of the card shows five animals sitting atop a multi-colored, patchwork carpet with tassels at each of the four corners. The animals and the carpet are flying high above the mountains and city lights below, while a starry night sky and a C-shaped yellow moon are visible behind them. The drawing is a reproduction of a water-color painting titled “Magic Carpet,” by Anna Shuttlewood.

I liked the painting because it provided me with inspiration for a new children’s story. Three of the animals look like they might be wolves, and I’ve always loved wolves. There is also a small, brown hedgehog sitting near one corner of the carpet with an even smaller white mouse. Imagine the possibilities this painting provides for story ideas. All I needed was this one picture, and I immediately thought of a children’s story.

I also have a few other children’s stories in various stages of development. Over twenty years ago, I started writing a story titled, Caleb – The Vegetarian Dragon. This story is almost finished – the ending just needs a little work. The funny thing about the Caleb story is when I first sat down to write it, I wasn’t envisioning a story about a vegetarian dragon – or any type of dragon. My very first story inspiration came from a Charles Schultz Peanuts cartoon. The cartoon had Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse typing away on an old-fashioned typewriter. He starts his novel with the words, “It was a dark and stormy night,” yet he never seems to write any more than those first seven words. Anyway, those were the first words I wrote down on paper when I first started writing, and now of course they are long gone – replaced by a story about a vegetarian dragon.

peanuts, snoopy, charles schultzPeanuts - Charles Schultz

I have a few other story ideas – a children’s series inspired by my dog Savannah, and a story titled The Pillow Thief, inspired by my husband John. I haven’t finished these either. One of these days I will publish all of my children’s stories, but until then, I remain inspired.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/strength-and-softness-of-heart-the-cowgirl/Strength and Softness of Heart - The CowgirlMy mom sent me a package in the mail yesterday with a notecard and a soft, cottony navy blue scarf. The billowy scarf was a souvenir from Jackson Hole, and the notecard had a picture of a cowgirl reading a bedtime story to a grizzly bear. My mom had sent me a different cowgirl-themed notecard last week, but I really liked this particular painting and the caption below. The artist is Donna Howell Sickles and the captions are written by Peg Streep.

When I was eight or nine, I decided I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up. I didn’t want to have kids, and I wanted to live in Wyoming (or somewhere out West) spending my days on the back of a horse rounding up cattle and sleeping under the starry skies at night. I even had a black t-shirt my parents bought me in Jackson Hole with white lettering on the front that read: “I want to be a cowboy.” I did want to be a cowboy – at least for a few years when I was young.
What I like about this artist and these notecards are the captions, and how Donna Howell Sickles and Peg Streep incorporate myth and spirituality from other cultures, in addition to that of the American West. The caption on the back of this card explains the meaning of the artwork.
“Bedtime Stories”

Stretched out under a starry sky with the fish above her, symbolizing the feminine, the cowgirl reads from the bear’s book of wisdom with its paw print on the cover. The bear is a guardian animal of healing and the maternal but its outstretched claws remind us that it is fierce and wild too. Lying on the checkerboard blanket – an emblem of balance – the cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart. 
- Peg Streep

At first glance I thought the cowgirl was lying in bed in her room reading a story to the grizzly bear. I thought the fish was a picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Yet Peg Streep’s caption reads: “Stretched out under a starry sky…” When I looked at the card again, I saw how the cowgirl was lying on a blanket under a starry sky with a grizzly bear and a dog, or possibly a wolf, as companions. I had no idea a fish symbolized the feminine.
What struck me the most was the way every element fit together. The cowgirl is reading from the bear’s book of wisdom, and while the grizzly is fierce and wild, it also protects her. “The cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart.” This is so true, and not just for cowgirls! It is true for girls and women everywhere. We must be strong enough to fight for justice, have compassion toward those who are suffering, and the wisdom to know good from evil.
I used to think it was important to be ‘nice’ to everyone. I could not have been more wrong. Being nice is not the same as having compassion and it doesn’t help us fight injustice. Just as the checkerboard blanket is “an emblem of balance,” I have had to find a balance between kindness and courage, between strength and softness of heart.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/strength-and-softness-of-heart-the-cowgirl/

Strength and Softness of Heart - The Cowgirl

My mom sent me a package in the mail yesterday with a notecard and a soft, cottony navy blue scarf. The billowy scarf was a souvenir from Jackson Hole, and the notecard had a picture of a cowgirl reading a bedtime story to a grizzly bear. My mom had sent me a different cowgirl-themed notecard last week, but I really liked this particular painting and the caption below. The artist is Donna Howell Sickles and the captions are written by Peg Streep.

strength, softness, heart, cowgirl, dreams, girls, women

When I was eight or nine, I decided I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up. I didn’t want to have kids, and I wanted to live in Wyoming (or somewhere out West) spending my days on the back of a horse rounding up cattle and sleeping under the starry skies at night. I even had a black t-shirt my parents bought me in Jackson Hole with white lettering on the front that read: “I want to be a cowboy.” I did want to be a cowboy – at least for a few years when I was young.

What I like about this artist and these notecards are the captions, and how Donna Howell Sickles and Peg Streep incorporate myth and spirituality from other cultures, in addition to that of the American West. The caption on the back of this card explains the meaning of the artwork.

“Bedtime Stories”

Stretched out under a starry sky with the fish above her, symbolizing the feminine, the cowgirl reads from the bear’s book of wisdom with its paw print on the cover. The bear is a guardian animal of healing and the maternal but its outstretched claws remind us that it is fierce and wild too. Lying on the checkerboard blanket – an emblem of balance – the cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart. 

- Peg Streep

At first glance I thought the cowgirl was lying in bed in her room reading a story to the grizzly bear. I thought the fish was a picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Yet Peg Streep’s caption reads: “Stretched out under a starry sky…” When I looked at the card again, I saw how the cowgirl was lying on a blanket under a starry sky with a grizzly bear and a dog, or possibly a wolf, as companions. I had no idea a fish symbolized the feminine.

What struck me the most was the way every element fit together. The cowgirl is reading from the bear’s book of wisdom, and while the grizzly is fierce and wild, it also protects her. “The cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart.” This is so true, and not just for cowgirls! It is true for girls and women everywhere. We must be strong enough to fight for justice, have compassion toward those who are suffering, and the wisdom to know good from evil.

I used to think it was important to be ‘nice’ to everyone. I could not have been more wrong. Being nice is not the same as having compassion and it doesn’t help us fight injustice. Just as the checkerboard blanket is “an emblem of balance,” I have had to find a balance between kindness and courage, between strength and softness of heart.

Without Having Cried, You Cannot Genuinely Laugh
New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/without-having-cried-you-cannot-genuinely-laugh/Without Having Cried, You Cannot Genuinely LaughI remember lying in bed awake in the middle of the night when I was still in elementary school. I couldn’t fall asleep, and I kept thinking to myself, Why me? Why me? This was so many years ago that I don’t remember why I was thinking that particular question to myself, over and over again, but I still have the memory. I’ve read in a Buddhist teaching that people are the consciousness of the universe. I wonder if this is true?
I’m sure the question, Why me? occurs to many people when they are faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in their lives. The challenge is to discover the answer. It all comes down to our own unique mission in this life. As SGI President Daisaku states:
Without having cried, you cannot genuinely laugh; without having suffered, you cannot savor real joy. I’m sure there are times when, in the midst of some difficulty, you think, “Why me?” But that in fact is your chance to fulfill the mission you have chosen. The deeper your suffering, the greater your mission.
- The New Human Revolution, vol. 17, p. 83
For us, as Nichiren Buddhists, we are all born with a mission that only we can fulfill – a mission that we chose. Sometimes our problems and sufferings help us to discover what our unique mission is, a mission that me might never have understood without our life’s challenges. When I think of my own experiences over the past several years, with the mafia and the nameless, faceless voices, I don’t always recognize that these challenges are mine to conquer, and mine alone. I’ve often waited and hoped for someone or some group of people to come along and put an end to things, and while this seems reasonable given the circumstances, it isn’t the right attitude. We must never rely on others.

For me, I’ve had to become a much stronger person in order to stand up for myself and for what I believe. The constant and continuous stalking, mocking, harassment and insults never fails to get on my nerves, to say the least. Yet over the years, I’ve developed many creative, healthy, and positive methods to keep my mind off what I hear and what I know is going on. This is one of my biggest benefits. My husband and I work out every chance we get, I’ve become a much better writer and have self-published my first memoir. I’ve taken wonderful pictures of all the wildlife I see along the bay, I joined a women’s soccer league and have met some great women – and the list goes on. I’ve even developed closer relationships with my family members, and have become more self-confident and courageous.
All these great things in my life never would have happened if I hadn’t had such a difficult time with these insane people over the years. Personally, I believe there is a much more profound reason for my circumstances, but I hesitate to speculate on it at this particular point in time. This is part of Buddhist wisdom. Nothing is coincidence, and everything happens for a reason.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/without-having-cried-you-cannot-genuinely-laugh/

Without Having Cried, You Cannot Genuinely Laugh

I remember lying in bed awake in the middle of the night when I was still in elementary school. I couldn’t fall asleep, and I kept thinking to myself, Why me? Why me? This was so many years ago that I don’t remember why I was thinking that particular question to myself, over and over again, but I still have the memory. I’ve read in a Buddhist teaching that people are the consciousness of the universe. I wonder if this is true?

I’m sure the question, Why me? occurs to many people when they are faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in their lives. The challenge is to discover the answer. It all comes down to our own unique mission in this life. As SGI President Daisaku states:

Without having cried, you cannot genuinely laugh; without having suffered, you cannot savor real joy. I’m sure there are times when, in the midst of some difficulty, you think, “Why me?” But that in fact is your chance to fulfill the mission you have chosen. The deeper your suffering, the greater your mission.

The New Human Revolution, vol. 17, p. 83

For us, as Nichiren Buddhists, we are all born with a mission that only we can fulfill – a mission that we chose. Sometimes our problems and sufferings help us to discover what our unique mission is, a mission that me might never have understood without our life’s challenges. When I think of my own experiences over the past several years, with the mafia and the nameless, faceless voices, I don’t always recognize that these challenges are mine to conquer, and mine alone. I’ve often waited and hoped for someone or some group of people to come along and put an end to things, and while this seems reasonable given the circumstances, it isn’t the right attitude. We must never rely on others.

smile, laugh, mission, buddhism

For me, I’ve had to become a much stronger person in order to stand up for myself and for what I believe. The constant and continuous stalking, mocking, harassment and insults never fails to get on my nerves, to say the least. Yet over the years, I’ve developed many creative, healthy, and positive methods to keep my mind off what I hear and what I know is going on. This is one of my biggest benefits. My husband and I work out every chance we get, I’ve become a much better writer and have self-published my first memoir. I’ve taken wonderful pictures of all the wildlife I see along the bay, I joined a women’s soccer league and have met some great women – and the list goes on. I’ve even developed closer relationships with my family members, and have become more self-confident and courageous.

All these great things in my life never would have happened if I hadn’t had such a difficult time with these insane people over the years. Personally, I believe there is a much more profound reason for my circumstances, but I hesitate to speculate on it at this particular point in time. This is part of Buddhist wisdom. Nothing is coincidence, and everything happens for a reason.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/treasures-of-the-heart/Treasures of the HeartIn a society that emphasizes status, power, wealth and material possessions above all else, Buddhism and Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism in particular, place special importance on the “treasures of the heart.” The Three Kinds of Treasure is a letter written by Nichiren Daishonin to his samurai disciple, Shijo Kingo advising him with some difficulties the samurai had been having with his lord. Nichiren Daishonin advises Shijo Kingo to remember what is most important in life:
More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all.
In this writing, ‘treasures in a storehouse’ refer to material possessions or wealth (objects we can buy, keep or sell). ‘Treasures of the body’ refers to our physical health and well-being, including our mental health. ‘Treasures of the body’ also refers to a talent or skill we have such as writing, singing, acting or playing a musical instrument.  For me, ‘treasures of the heart’ refers to my friends and family members, those I cherish and love and who are an important part of my life. ‘Treasures of the heart’ are also my beloved, happy memories I have of my own childhood and other life experiences. From a Buddhist perspective, ‘treasures of the heart’ are the opportunities and challenges we have to grow and develop our lives through faith and by helping others. “Accumulating treasures of the heart means that we come to understand we are Buddhas.”
I believe in our society (the U.S.), we have placed these three treasures backwards in order of their correct importance or priority. We place the most value on accumulating material possessions and financial wealth, yet we place the least value on developing our own lives and fostering healthy relationships with others. Doesn’t this seem as if our priorities are upside down?

In a beautiful article titled “The Poor Woman’s Lamp,” (Living Buddhism, March 2006 p. 14), SGI President Ikeda describes a Buddhist parable of the same name. He writes, “What the ‘Poor Woman’s Lamp’ teaches us is, more than anything else, the value of sincerity…A mind which attaches importance to even to the slightest matters, and which loves and treasures even seemingly insignificant things, can profoundly move people even through a small action.” As Nichiren Daishonin states: “It is the heart that is important.”
In our culture of violence, and anger, and hate, when people place more value on a cell phone or a car than a person’s life, we need to learn the value of our own lives and of each other’s.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/treasures-of-the-heart/

Treasures of the Heart

In a society that emphasizes status, power, wealth and material possessions above all else, Buddhism and Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism in particular, place special importance on the “treasures of the heart.” The Three Kinds of Treasure is a letter written by Nichiren Daishonin to his samurai disciple, Shijo Kingo advising him with some difficulties the samurai had been having with his lord. Nichiren Daishonin advises Shijo Kingo to remember what is most important in life:

More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all.

In this writing, ‘treasures in a storehouse’ refer to material possessions or wealth (objects we can buy, keep or sell). ‘Treasures of the body’ refers to our physical health and well-being, including our mental health. ‘Treasures of the body’ also refers to a talent or skill we have such as writing, singing, acting or playing a musical instrument.  For me, ‘treasures of the heart’ refers to my friends and family members, those I cherish and love and who are an important part of my life. ‘Treasures of the heart’ are also my beloved, happy memories I have of my own childhood and other life experiences. From a Buddhist perspective, ‘treasures of the heart’ are the opportunities and challenges we have to grow and develop our lives through faith and by helping others. “Accumulating treasures of the heart means that we come to understand we are Buddhas.”

I believe in our society (the U.S.), we have placed these three treasures backwards in order of their correct importance or priority. We place the most value on accumulating material possessions and financial wealth, yet we place the least value on developing our own lives and fostering healthy relationships with others. Doesn’t this seem as if our priorities are upside down?

treasures, buddhism, heart, happiness, sincerity

In a beautiful article titled “The Poor Woman’s Lamp,” (Living Buddhism, March 2006 p. 14), SGI President Ikeda describes a Buddhist parable of the same name. He writes, “What the ‘Poor Woman’s Lamp’ teaches us is, more than anything else, the value of sincerity…A mind which attaches importance to even to the slightest matters, and which loves and treasures even seemingly insignificant things, can profoundly move people even through a small action.” As Nichiren Daishonin states: “It is the heart that is important.”

In our culture of violence, and anger, and hate, when people place more value on a cell phone or a car than a person’s life, we need to learn the value of our own lives and of each other’s.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/my-one-determination/My One DeterminationI decided to mail a copy of my memoir to SGI President Ikeda. One of my goals is to have my memoir translated into different languages, particularly Japanese, so that President Ikeda can read it. Although I haven’t accomplished this goal yet, I’ve decided to go ahead and send it to the SGI Headquarters in Japan. I am determined that I will be able to personally share my experience (based on my memoir) with President Ikeda. I am not quite sure how I will do this, but I have made this my determination and I will definitely chant and do everything I can to personally share my experience with the SGI President and the SGI.
I was reading our weekly newspaper, The World Tribune, this morning and I saw a picture of President Daisaku Ikeda and his wife, Kaneko Ikeda taken in September 2013. The picture was taken at an SGI center in Japan, and President and Mrs. Ikeda were sitting side by side in what looked like small desks. This was the first picture that I have seen where President Ikeda looked as if he was tired and had lost weight. I also noticed that he was not smiling in the picture. Mrs. Ikeda looked much the same as she always has in photos, but President Ikeda did not. I realize that he is 86 years old and he does not travel outside Japan much anymore (if at all). We in the SGI must take responsibility for the future of the kosen-rufu (world peace) movement. It is up to us.

For the past couple of years, I have always been determined to share my memoir with President Ikeda. I have written him letter regularly since 2010 about what was going on in my life, often because everyone thought I had schizophrenia and there wasn’t anyone else I could share my worries and fears with. I have always envisioned my memoir published in Japanese so I could send the SGI President a copy to read. Spending so much time reading his writings based on his own experiences with the Soka Gakkai in Japan and in other countries, I (and many, many SGI members) have always looked up to him as a source of strength, courage and inspiration.
Now, I feel like it is our turn. We must step up to the plate and share the role of SGI President Ikeda – each and every one of us.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/my-one-determination/

My One Determination

I decided to mail a copy of my memoir to SGI President Ikeda. One of my goals is to have my memoir translated into different languages, particularly Japanese, so that President Ikeda can read it. Although I haven’t accomplished this goal yet, I’ve decided to go ahead and send it to the SGI Headquarters in Japan. I am determined that I will be able to personally share my experience (based on my memoir) with President Ikeda. I am not quite sure how I will do this, but I have made this my determination and I will definitely chant and do everything I can to personally share my experience with the SGI President and the SGI.

I was reading our weekly newspaper, The World Tribune, this morning and I saw a picture of President Daisaku Ikeda and his wife, Kaneko Ikeda taken in September 2013. The picture was taken at an SGI center in Japan, and President and Mrs. Ikeda were sitting side by side in what looked like small desks. This was the first picture that I have seen where President Ikeda looked as if he was tired and had lost weight. I also noticed that he was not smiling in the picture. Mrs. Ikeda looked much the same as she always has in photos, but President Ikeda did not. I realize that he is 86 years old and he does not travel outside Japan much anymore (if at all). We in the SGI must take responsibility for the future of the kosen-rufu (world peace) movement. It is up to us.

president ikeda, memoir, experience, happiness, buddhism

For the past couple of years, I have always been determined to share my memoir with President Ikeda. I have written him letter regularly since 2010 about what was going on in my life, often because everyone thought I had schizophrenia and there wasn’t anyone else I could share my worries and fears with. I have always envisioned my memoir published in Japanese so I could send the SGI President a copy to read. Spending so much time reading his writings based on his own experiences with the Soka Gakkai in Japan and in other countries, I (and many, many SGI members) have always looked up to him as a source of strength, courage and inspiration.

Now, I feel like it is our turn. We must step up to the plate and share the role of SGI President Ikeda – each and every one of us.