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Buddha Blog July 2023

Formally HORIZON NEWSLETTER

Aka Buddha-blog


Hi Everyone! Here’s the story: I have a new website, called Beads and Buddhism, that will become the home of the Horizon Newsletter, which continues without missing a deadline, as it has for the past 30 years. It’s just in a new location and format.

I had all kinds of problems in the making of the website. The designers and I had difficulty communicating, and I did not like the way it turned out. But to my great good fortune – Nam-myoho-renge-kyo – I’m starting again from scratch with the help of my sweet and adorable nephew Alex (pictured), who, I was flabbergasted to discover, is a tech genius!!!

When I was recently in Denver to meet my new grand-nephew Joey, Alex, who also lives in Denver, sat down with me and fixed every problem I have with my laptop. Mind-blowing. He is now in the process of designing a new website for me. I can’t remember when I’ve had such a fantastic benefit.


Tech is what holds life together now, and if you can’t connect, you’re screwed. This is especially true with old people, a population of which I am an active member. And I suck at tech. Publishing the Horizon is about the tech-iest thing I do, and it’s always a challenge. I am overjoyed that my millennial nephew came to my rescue. While the new site is being built, I’ve concocted a temporary way to post The Horizon online. It will come in several parts – one for each article, posted in order. You could go to my page and they’ll all be in order. If you live in the Denver area, and are having computer problems, Alex now makes house/office calls. I can hook you up with him, technically speaking. In this issue: (1) My blogitorial (2) Encouragement from Staci Greason (3) The Adventures of BuddhaMom by LeeAnne Matusek and (4) a harrowing tale of a disastrous flood in Bolivia by Lynette Yetter.


Happy trails!

BLOGITORIAL

by Linda Segall Anable

“You are a citizen of eternity. You are an infinite soul-stream. What you do not learn in this lifetime, you shall once again take up, and study that which you have not yet completed once again, and if necessary, once again, until in the fullness of time you move through the densities of Choice, Love, Light and Unity, and finally that density of Foreverness that is a mystery even to us. And in each density, each experience, each day and each hour, you are responsible for yourself, for your choices, for your intentions and for your desires.” – Q’uo


There is no greater or more challenging way to spend your time on this beautiful planet than becoming a bodhisattva of the earth. It takes enormous courage, steadfast determination and all the energy you can muster, but nothing could be more worthwhile. It’s the reason you’re here on this planet. Among other fabulous benefits, as a bodhisattva you are guaranteed to have a wonderful “afterlife” – a silly word, because life is eternal. Nothing comes after life. But life can get better, richer, happier, more cosmic, more eternal as we become more enlightened. Cause and effect.


From an earthly perspective, enlightenment is the result of overcoming the lower ego. Ego is a monstrous vice. Virtually everyone has one, except maybe puppies and Jimmy Carter. There’s little hope of enlightenment if your lower ego is controlling your life. You become a slave to its whims. Lower ego is insecure, worried, thinks it has to run your life or you’ll lose.

The way I deal with my lower ego is to give her a seat at the table, along with my other aspects and personalities. I listen to her whining and demands, but usually reject her arguments. But sometimes my ego wants something that my enlightened self wants as well. I’m currently involved in a development deal that, if all goes well, will end up a Broadway musical. This project is part of my mission; it is not ego-driven, but my ego will be allowed to take as many victory laps as she wants, because this is not a vanity project – it has an enlightened message for this world. This is a project for a Buddha, and the people I’m working with are also bodhisattvas, if not under the Buddhism banner. We’re all on the same page. I’ve been chanting about this for 40 years; it’s been a long haul.

But we have a vehicle that makes things happen – the Gohonzon. The ego can chew on the mechanics of how it all works – it seems so illogical – but the ego is your lower self. Better to just chant with faith and witness magic manifesting before your eyes. Even things you’re not chanting for – your higher self – the Gohonzon – wants to give them to you.


It takes moral courage and unshakeable determination to take the high road, the honest road. Cheating, lying, deception… will never get you to the promised land. The nasty karma you’ve accumulated will need to be resolved to attain Buddhahood, but you don’t have to be perfect, just determined. Ichinen is all that matters, especially in these apocalyptic times when bodhisattvas have landed here, determined to bring about peace. Earth will survive, though humanity may not. There are so many primitive beings in our midst who probably haven’t incarnated since the Cro-Magnon era. Being an active, fighting warrior for peace isn’t a lifestyle choice – it’s an urgent necessity.


Every day when I chant to the Gohonzon I am in contact with my higher self. The Gohonzon responds to me through thoughts and ideas that stream into my consciousness. Literally the answer to my prayers. I’m always tuned in for guidance bulletins and give myself praise when I do well in thought, word or action. I follow my energy – it always guides me. Not the easiest way to live but the benefits are enormous. If enlightenment were easy, everyone would be overdosing on joy and abundance, peace would be taken for granted and I would be driving a rainbow instead of a car.


But who knows, enlightenment might get boring after a while. Doubt it, but I’m willing to take the chance. At least there won’t be any Cro Magnons in my neighborhood.


LIVE FROM WITHIN

By Staci Greason

Here’s what I’ve discovered: Not waiting for a change in the environment, or a change in another person’s heart, I make an inner determination in the present to be alive in my life and in my heart and engrave it like a prayer – not based on the past and its tired worn stories, but an opening for the present and future that I might feel, but can’t intellectually envision as possible.


Who cares whether or not it’s possible? That should not be a litmus test for how you live your life.


Stop looking around. Other people don’t know what they’re doing either.

I used to go around lamenting and apologizing about my lost 30s and 40s to poverty and illness and heartache. So much heartache. People also had opinions about me. After all, I had been a healthy soap star in my 20s!

Then I couldn’t sell my writing. I couldn’t find the ground under my tired feet no matter how hard I tried. So much depression and shame based on what I thought my life was supposed to look like. Based on societal pressures. Based on misperceptions. It was a million dead-end roads. Or seemingly dead-end roads.

Now in my 50s, headed toward another birthday, I see that all of it was useful as medicine. Learning and deepening and expanding and never giving up. Life is not about manifesting things. It’s not. It’s about inner expansion. Becoming a person who can embrace the living! It takes courage, but a lot less energy to stop resisting fear and clutching limitations. Expansion is everything. Stop waiting for the ducks to line up! They’re just ducks! Get curious. Let others off the hook. Set yourself free! Keep opening Love it. Hate it. Live it.


This is a message that I am sending back in time to my younger self – and a prayer that I give to all the young people whom I love so very, very much. Don’t waste your precious time looking around. Life is best lived from the inside out.


THE ADVENTURES OF BUDDHAMOM

By LeeAnne Matusek

EGO VS. EVOLUTION

and My Human Revolution


My journey, as a producer who is also a Buddhist, has been very interesting. During heavy negotiations, when I am almost always the only woman in the room, I have always waited to be heard. In hindsight, I realized that was all on me! At the time I felt that other people in the room needed to be heard, not me. Due to my lack of ego, and leaning heavily on my Buddhist practice, I was able to sit in those rooms and wait for my turn.


You might be expecting to read about some meeting where I stood up to the “powers that be.” But nope, my “turn in the meeting” has been years in the making and is still unfolding even as I type this column.


I work on my human revolution daily. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not. But every day I wake up and try again. I know I must be tenacious to achieve victory.

I looked up the definition of human revolution and found this guidance from Sensei in the World Tribune:

Human revolution is a revolution in our actions and behavior. It means to purposefully engage in behavior that is grounded in compassion, in actions that break free from the cycle of the six paths and bring us to the worlds of Bodhisattva and Buddhahood” (World Tribune, January 20, 2023).


I chanted like a fiend for clarity and good communication with my business partners. I learned that my current producing partner, a very high profile producer, had exhausted all their options for my project, but they just couldn’t break it to me. Ego. So, I chanted and waited. My agreement with this person would end. I had to hold on to that fact and have faith that I could steer my project back onto the right path once I had control again.


On the date of the agreement expiration, I sent a very cordial email thanking this very high-profile producer for his efforts and wished him the best of luck in his other endeavors. I never heard from him again.


I felt such a lightness after I hit the SEND button. It was like a huge weight had been lifted, the clouds parted, and the sun came out! Like a Hollywood ending, I felt able to move forward with my project on my own terms. Finally!

I contacted a non-profit organization I’d found one day on a research hunt. I knew they should be a part of our team, but the HPP did not see where they could fit. I argued that an endorsement of our project would have a big impact on our development of the film. The HPP disagreed with me and pointed to 25+ blockbuster films behind him to back up his opinion. I just had my faith. You see, my film is about the first African American racehorse jockey, Isaac Burns Murphy. The non-profit I was speaking of is based in Kentucky and is all about preserving the turf history of African Americans, and the person that is their figurehead is Isaac Burns Murphy! They were and are a very well-respected and well-established non-profit.


But there was another wrinkle. This non-profit was also developing a film about Isaac, but it was about a moment in time in his life. Our film was an epic retelling of Isaac’s life from birth to his untimely death at 35. The HPP said they were our competitors, not partners. In my gut I felt it could be different, but HHP didn’t, and that idea for a possible funding avenue was tabled.


Fast forward to HPP’s agreement with my company finally expiring. I told my producing partner my idea of reconnecting with the non-profit. We both thought: What have we got to lose? Though he was dubious that I could sway them, I thought I could. I was chanting NMRK like my life depended on it, and when it comes to finances, it kind of does!


In our very first reconnection conversation with the non-profit, they said they had been having a difficult time finishing their script. I reminded them of our finished script that is ready to be filmed and flat out asked them to put their substantial resources behind our script so it can be done first. Low and behold they agreed. The two founders told us they were very happy we had reached out to them again. They were hoping we would. WOW!!


Later, my producing partner told me that he thought I was very brave going back to them to try and convince them to swing all their substantial support to our project and abandon their own. Ah, but I did not ask them to abandon their project. It is a great film idea, but it is about a moment in time of Isaac’s life and horse racing. So, I pitched it as a sequel to our film and it made so much sense to everyone! I chanted a lot to have clear communication in those meetings and it worked. We are getting my script done first and we promised to help them develop their script and then, of course, get their film done too!


Things are moving at breakneck speed now, from legal documents to meetings with super high-profile investors! And everyone is on the same page about getting the film done. We are all collaborating and brainstorming about who to reach out to and who needs to be involved. The 150th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby is next May, so we have our deadline!! We want to have principal photography done so we can put together a kick-butt trailer to screen at Cannes Film Festival 2024.

I have heard that once you get the right people together, your project – any project – will start plugging along. It is not an accident when things work out. Chanting without action will get you nowhere. I had to have the courage of a lion and the faith to put my plan into action. But my human revolution forced me to be patient in how things unfolded. In the past, when things stalled, I might have let it get to me and become depressed. This time I strategized and had patience. I am so grateful for my practice. It always lifts me up and reveals all of life’s possibilities!


CATCH A WAVE! A WATERY JOURNEY OF LIFE AND DEATH

by Lynette Yetter

La Paz, Bolivia

February 2009


I was chanting daimoku at my altar in a makeshift sanctuary in La Paz, Bolivia, feeling at one with the universe, when suddenly hail pounded the tin roof. Water seeped through the brick wall and pooled under my altar. Still chanting, I rose and saw an even bigger puddle coming in under the wooden front door. I grabbed a blanket, wadded it up and shoved it into the crack under the door. A moment later the blanket shot across the room with the force of water now gushing in. The wood door bent, holding more of the deluge back only by its locked deadbolt.

Still chanting, I hurriedly picked up low lying valuables (computer CPU, etc.) and placed them on top of dresser, counter, chair, to keep my creative work-in-progress safe from this flash flood.


I slogged through ankle deep rising water flecked with white hail, still chanting like the roar of a lion to defeat all obstacles and opened the sliding glass door to let the water out onto the brick-walled cement porch. I looked over its chest-high brick wall into the brick-walled front yard which now looked like a swimming pool. I thought of hopping the patio’s brick wall to the outside open field, but for security I had cemented broken bottles on top, as is the custom in Latin America. The water kept rising. No escape here.

Back in the house, chanting ferociously with the thrill of adrenalin, I noticed the closed bathroom door. Could I still open it against the weight of the water? Chanting vigorously and continuously, I tried the door with all my might. It opened! Water cascaded down wooden ladder steps into the bathroom. I carefully walked through that rushing water down the steps and opened the picture window in the bathroom which looked out over the steep river canyon in which I lived. I grabbed the plastic waste basket and started bailing water as fast as I could out the picture window. But the water was rising way faster than I could bail it out. It rose above the toilet bowl. I toggled the lever to flush the toilet, immediately realizing the futility of that action. I kept bailing, chanting with all my being, standing in the ice-cold rising water. When the water level rose above the sink top, I stopped bailing and slogged back up those wooden steps into the main room to assess the situation like a powerful sea captain surveying his craft and crew in the roughest of storms.


I thought of climbing out a window to escape the house, but, again, for security reasons, iron bars were welded over every window. I was trapped in the house of every-rising water. My only hope was that the rising water in the bathroom would reach the open picture window before the water in the main room reached the live electrical sockets. I stood knee deep in a spot where I could see both as I chanted with my whole being to joyfully embrace whatever came next. I was determined that my life condition would be as high as possible when I exited this life, if electrocution was to be my fate.


The water was an inch from the electrical outlets, and about the same distance from the open bathroom window’s ledge. I chanted as my laser-like gaze went from one life or death marker to the other. When the water was almost ready to touch the live electrical wall outlet, the water in the bathroom crested over the windowsill carrying my floating bottle of shampoo with it.


Suddenly, the whole house drained out. I went onto the patio. The flash flood front yard swimming pool had burst its banks and carried a chunk of the brick wall far away down the hill.

I was alive. I chanted with joy and went about doing all one has to do after a flash flood has gone through your house. You’re shivering. Soaking wet with ice cold water. It’s now dark. The whole neighborhood is in turmoil. And you have to find a warm dry place to get some sleep for the night, but no taxi will pick you up cuz you look so bedraggled. After walking miles in the rain you finally arrive at a friend’s home who actually answers the door after midnight. You’ll deal with everything else in the morning.

Now warm and dry lo these many years later in Portland, Oregon, I ponder my own mortality even though life is not linear. At a conference at the FNCC, I heard a speaker (was it Eric Hauber?) who said that Daisaku Ikeda says that in the Buddhist perspective life and death and “the soul” are like waves on the ocean. Each wave rising, curling, then crashing back into the sea is an individual life.

I get it, being wet. The power of water.


Tich Nhat Hanh also uses an ocean metaphor for life and death in his book No Death No Fear.


“A wave does not have to die in order to become water. She is water right here and now. … Our deepest practice is to see and touch the ultimate dimension in ourselves every day, the reality of no birth and no death.”

Yeah, the reality is no birth no death, but I’m still getting my affairs in order. It’s an act of kindness to the watery waves of living beings who will have to clean up after me once this body poops out.

One person I know, a brilliant woman who’d devoted her life for bettering the world for everyone, took a unique approach to getting her affairs in order. When she (let’s call her “Anne”) got a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, she carefully got all her affairs in order, then chose to let her wave rejoin the sea while she was still capable of doing so under her own terms. She didn’t want a long lingering decline towards the inevitable. Here in Oregon there’s a Death with Dignity act, but that only applies to folks with terminal diseases of something like 6 months or less, diseases that don’t affect the brain’s workings. Dementia is excluded because the person has to be of sound mind to legally choose Death with Dignity.


Anne was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She chose to get her affairs in order, then to stop eating and drinking while being nurtured by Hospice as she did so. Plenty of prescribed painkillers to soothe the transition. Within two weeks her wave had rejoined the sea, to get rested up to once again rise and crest and gloriously crash on the shore in her next incarnation.


Some gray-haired folks I know who spend time on the Oregon Coast tell me that should a tsunami come roaring in (it could happen), instead of attempting to flee to high ground, they plan to walk towards it. One of these folks is our beloved Linda. She says, “Thom used to always drill us about the evacuation plans should there be a tsunami (I absolutely know we will not die that way, but I humor him, because he must always be on the alert). One time, after another tedious lecture, I was done. I told him, ‘There’s no way that two slow-moving seniors could run faster than a 300 ft. wave. It’s not the worst way to die. Someone exciting could play us in the movie.’ Thom was overjoyed to hear this. ‘You mean I don’t have to worry anymore?’ he said. ‘No, you don’t!’ Our trips to Cannon Beach have been much happier since then. And there have been no tsunamis.”

Inspired by that flash flood in La Paz, Bolivia, I strive to live each moment as if it’s my last, so I can complete this cycle with no regrets. Well, just as soon as I check my email one more time.

La Paz, Bolivia



Lynette Yetter makes movies, music, books and art to touch your soul and make you think. Learn more at www.LynetteYetter.com.

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I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for 40+ years and making beaded jewelry for 25 years, specializing in Buddhist chanting beads, also known as JUZU.

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