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Summer 2022 Buddha Blog

The Summer Horizon Newsletter is out on your virtual newsstand. Read all about it! Click here: http://www.lindasegallanable.com


Hi Everyone!


You’ve probably seen those ubiquitous commercials for junk removers – just point at an item and they’ll make it go away like magic, for a fee. If only you could call someone to remove bad karma. I’d pay more than $600 a truckload for that, but, sadly, no such service exists. We alone are tasked with transforming our negative karma and becoming indestructibly happy. And if that isn’t enough of a challenge, we’ve also come to this planet to change its karma, to bring peace to a world that has gone stark raving mad, and you know I’m not exaggerating.

We’re in it up to our third eyes, and it’s as horrendous as promised when, in the unimaginable past, we volunteered for this assignment because we were the bravest of the brave, the ones who were willing to dive headfirst into the cesspool and make the icky stuff disappear. Which isn’t as simple as putting it on a truck and seeing it drive away. This is about human beings, not junk, and no comparison intended. I’m a firm believer that we are all equally worthy of life. No one is better than anyone else. We’re just in different stages of spiritual development.


Active bodhisattvas of the earth are deeply aware that our mission is to raise the consciousness level of humanity, which involves intermingling with souls that are stuck in the lower worlds, who keep cycling through them again and again due to their hopeless addiction to making bad causes. Our task is to help them get off that hamster wheel without getting sucked into their toxic worlds ourselves. That’s the risk. Like comic book superheroes, we put ourselves in real danger; many of these people are crazy and fully loaded, and if we don’t keep our life condition high, we can backslide on our journey to enlightenment.

That’s why bodhisattvas must be above hate and revenge. We can’t sink. When the atmosphere is filled with dark toxic clouds, we must be the Light that shines through. And the best thing about that is – we can do this virtually, with complete social distancing, by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the comfort of our own homes or wherever there is a Gohonzon.


No one can see or hear it, but they can feel it on the deeper consciousness planes. That’s the beauty of chanting for others. You don’t have to go to them directly. I would not have lunch with many of the people I chant for, but I send them love every day. Sincerely. We are all cells in the body of Oneness, and it is my deepest wish for Oneness to be happy. Then I can call it mission accomplished and return to my home planet. 😊


I love that I’m helping change the love-hate ratio in the world by employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra and pumping Nam-myoho-renge-kyo into the vibosphere. Since I’ve been chanting with this intent – that everyone gets a big dose of Light and Love every day – I’ve noticed that people are nicer to me. Not that I regularly encounter hostility – I don’t – but it’s like they are being especially kind to me in these insane times. Maybe it’s my age or that I look more fragile than I really am, but I think it’s because: Hey, I chanted and sent you love and a big fat rainbow this morning, so why wouldn’t you smile and be nice to me? On the subconscious level – the eighth consciousness – they’re aware of our interactions.

This is what our work is all about. We came here to bring Light, Love and Peace, not beat the world into submission; to be the solution, not judge and jury. There are plenty of critics and complainers, way, way more than we need. That’s why I send out love instead of asking the universe to act first. All our shit is spewing out, needing to be repaired and cleansed; a massive unearthing of everyone’s darkest karma. And, as the plan goes, when it’s all over, peace will be left in its wake. If anyone is still alive.

But though we seem to be fighting an uphill battle, I expect to win this competition. I did not come here to watch humanity go down in flames.


We made a vow. As Tom Petty vowed, “I won’t back down.”


From the Lotus Sutra: 21, Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One, p. 314:

“At that time the bodhisattvas mahasattva who had emerged from the earth, numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds, all in the presence of the Buddha single-mindedly pressed their palms together, gazed up in reverence at the face of the honored one, and said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, after the Buddha has entered extinction, in the lands where the emanations of the world-honored one are present, and in the place where the Buddha has passed into extinction, we will preach this sutra far and wide.”

We are those dust particles, and we’re here on purpose. What’s going to happen? we cry. Well, it’s up to us to create the future. The voice does the Buddha’s work. And when the voice chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our troubled world grows brighter, and everyone benefits.

********************

In this issue: Jann Gerstner shares her battle with serious health issues in her story, “Bring it On!” Mike Lisagor ponders the pros and cons of aging; Lynette Yetter tells how she achieves “seemingly impossible goals,” and we share Greg Martin’s interesting article about Buddhism’s attitudes towards Jesus. Read all about it!


BRING IT ON

by Jann Gerstner Crystal River, FL

Many years ago, I received guidance from Matilda Buck who told me that my karma was my mission. It took me a while to understand the true meaning of her words, but over the years I have realized that my karma was the vow I made for Kosen Rufu, and I must change all the negativity in my karmic storage house (the eighth of the nine consciousness we all possess) in order to attain Buddhahood, aka enlightenment.

I’ve kept Matilda’s guidance in my heart throughout my practice, when I overcame breast cancer, and achieved victory in my years-long battle with MS.

My favorite thing in life is to get rid of negative karma. I do not complain, and do not consider myself a victim of any kind. So, when in August of 2021 I found myself stuck in the world of Tranquility (why no major challenges?), I felt I wasn’t moving forward, was not being productive, not battling demons. As I was not getting any younger, my lifetime growing shorter by the day, I asked myself, “What is most important to me at this stage? How do I want to use this precious time?”

I remembered that I was here to fulfill my vow and to lessen the karmic retribution – not just for my family, but for everyone, because after all, we are all One. I vowed to do my part, no matter what. So, as I have done in the past, with great success, I began to chant with the prayer: “Bring it on!”

Let me tell you: “Bring it on!” is a very powerful prayer, not for the faint of heart. I asked, I received. In October, I experienced a bad cough that caused pains in my chest. I’d already had cardiomyopathy (a condition that makes it hard for the heart to pump blood) and went in to be evaluated by my doctor. After a chest X-ray and a CT scan – I found out I had a 6cm tumor in my lung. YIKES!

I practically raced to the Gohonzon and started chanting. Clearly, this was a great opportunity I’d been chanting for. During the next month I had many tests including a biopsy that showed I had adenocarcinoma, stage 1. While going through the tests I was able to control my mind and totally stay in the moment. I did not let in any devilish functions. I would not give the tumor any energy to feed on.

I actually felt grateful for my new adventure, living life in the moment. During the testing I was able to hang with my sister and her family, which was a wonderful benefit. My sister is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and our time is so precious. She took me to all my doctor appointments and both of her daughters wanted to hear all about Buddhism. Even my sister listened to me for the first time. As sharing my practice with them has been a lifelong dream, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. All my family were amazed at my high life condition and fearless attitude. I was able to show my family and friends the power of this practice.

Another benefit was that I had the best – and I mean tops in their field – doctors taking care of me. That was my fortune. Due to my heart situation, I could not go through surgery to remove the tumor, so I elected to have radiation for ten days, which I had at the prestigious Proton facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Two biopsies showed the cancer had not spread and I am certain that the tumor will not return.

While at the Proton facility I met and talked with so many wonderful people who had come there from all over the world. After being isolated for a couple of years from the pandemic, it was thrilling to regain the ability to carry on conversations.

One thing I have always liked about Buddhism is that I am the director of my own life. I have unlimited power within to change the nature of my existence. I do not listen to people who tell me something is impossible. I show them that it is possible. I have tried to live as an example of the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, facing many hardships but never failing to create value from each of them. I know I am winning in the moment over the negativity that plays havoc with my mind. By defeating the Devil King and his underlings, I have developed courageous faith, and have actually made the “bad guys” my friends, because when they show up, I know I’m on the right track.

I encourage others because it helps me see the power of the Mystic Law in action and is the fastest route through my karmic maze. As a Bodhisattva of the Earth, I vow to do my part in lessening the karmic retribution of the world. In every moment I continue to move forward with courage and strength and a clear view of my destination.

I’m wide awake and feeling confident and excited for the next thing I can overcome! It’s the most incredible experience in the world to be a Buddha.

“Nichiren Daishonin warns, ‘Do not depend on others.’ (*) If we always rely on or expect someone else to help us, it can lead to carelessness. Let’s stand alone with deep resolve! (To My Friends, Daisaku Ikeda, May 22, 2022)

(*) Letter to Yasaburo, WND 1, 829.


AGING GRACEFULLY WHEN MY BODY WON'T: A BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE

By Mike Lisagor

Bainbridge Island, WA


As I continue trying to age gracefully, my body doesn’t seem to want to gracefully age. So, I can’t help but wonder what I can do about the illnesses, aches and pains I get as I grow older. How can I improve how I react to these inevitable realities? Plus, whose fault is it anyway … my body’s or mine?

One online geriatric expert suggested making a list of all our body has done and continues to do for us. That’s a healthy perspective consistent with our Buddhist attitude of appreciation that I don’t think I’ve embraced enough in the past.

Speaking of the past, my brother and I spent summers at our aunt and uncle’s motel in Daytona Beach, Florida. I fondly remember my grandfather’s long Ichabod Crane-like hands with their arthritic protrusions that hinted at chopping wood and crafting furniture in the snowy old country. I can imagine with some satisfaction how typing several Buddhist-themed and business books and hundreds of articles contributed to my own arthritic fingers.

I’m grateful that I survived those early turbulent years. That I encountered SGI Buddhism as a teenager (although, of course, it’s never too late to begin). Also, that I ended up being able to travel, do a variety of sports (that I wisely no longer engage in), overcame many different types of physical and mental ailments, and still play music and regularly exercise. Yes, my body is well-worn with the experience of carrying me into my seventies. It should be rightfully proud!

While my therapist periodically reminds me that I’m lovable and Ikeda Sensei reminds me that I’m a buddha as I am – which I can too easily forget – I now realize this applies to my physical self as well. I can’t expect my body to age with dignity if my reaction to health issues is fear and resentment. Getting older eventually brings a decrease in strength, coordination, reaction time and sensory perception. At some level, this sucks. But it helps for me to understand that these changes are ordinary and don’t mean I’m aging poorly.

Mike and the Most Beautiful One, Trude


Advancing gracefully must, by necessity, involve acceptance and an adherence to our core values of compassion, hope, wisdom and human revolution. After all, as poet Samuel Ullman said, “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

George Bernard Shaw said, “You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” I guess this means that while growing old is unavoidable (if we’re lucky), I don’t have to grow up. For instance, reading jokes on the web helps me laugh at myself. I like this one from comedian George Carlin: “So far, this is the oldest I've been.” And here are a few of my favorite book titles: Aren’t You Glad You’re Old?, Senior Moments: Aging Disgracefully, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t, and the one I most relate to, I Keep Repeating the Same Stories…and Repeating the Same Stories.

Of course, it’s not just about adding years to my life, it’s about adding life to my years. Buddhist scholar Daisaku Ikeda asked, “Do we view old age as a period of decline ending in death, or as an ascent toward the attainment of our goals, toward bringing our life to a rewarding and satisfying conclusion? A subtle difference in our inner attitude can completely transform our experience of these years.” Clearly, my ability to repeatedly return to a higher more enlightened condition of life is critical to how gracefully I will age.

By writing this article, I definitely feel better about my relationship with the effects of aging and the inevitability of death. Moreover, I’ve concluded that a youthful spirit means to consistently chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, study, and maintain a hope-filled, open, flexible and tolerant mind. This is something I’ll keep trying to improve. Along with remembering what the French actor Maurice Chevalier (who lived to 83) intoned, “Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternative.”


SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE GOALS

by Lynette Yetter

Portland, OR


The August 2001 World Tribune featured an article by Eric Hauber, head of the SGI Culture Department. I remembered that he encouraged all of us Culture Department members (folks who work as professionals in law, health, education, and the arts) to make seemingly impossible professional goals for ourselves, to prove the validity of the Gohonzon in society. Well, at that time one of my goals was to write a book. But that goal alone didn’t seem “seemingly impossible” enough. After all, Sensei had said that we tend not to accomplish all our goals in life, and that is why it’s important to make really big ones. Like, if you want to get to the moon, shoot for the stars!

One of my seemingly impossible goals (I wrote several goals in different fields) was to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. Now my “write a book” goal had definitely turned into a “seemingly impossible” goal of being a Nobel Laureate. I was shooting for the stars in another galaxy beyond the known universe!


At that time, I was reading a book recommended by another member, Strength of Character and Grace: Develop the Courage to be Brilliant by Marta Monahan. This book taught me how to make a plan for reaching your goal. Write down the goal, then, working backwards from the goal, write every step you can think of to reach that goal, until you get to a task that you can do today. Then . . . Do That Task!!!!

So, I wrote down, “Win Nobel Prize in Literature.” The step before that was to “write a lot of books,” as I’d never heard of a Nobel Laureate in Literature who’d only written one book. Then I worked back from there to “write first book,” to the task “set up the computer and start typing sentences.”

About a month later all Hell broke loose in the world when 9/11 struck, and I got a bit distracted for a while. Other obstacles came up in life, too. But step by step, with daimoku and study and the hon-nim-myo spirit of “from this moment on,” I persevered. My first book came out in 2010. My second in 2012. My third (in Spanish!) came out in 2018 in Peru. And my fourth . . . Ta Daaaaa! . . . is scheduled to be published in July, 2022. Yay!

This fourth book is a collaborative book. I’ve translated selected poetry and prose by Bolivia’s most celebrated writer, Adela Zamudio. This will be the first-ever book of her poetry and prose in English, or in any language other than Spanish for that matter. In Bolivia, her birthday is a national holiday. I became acquainted with Adela Zamudio when I lived a few blocks from a monument of her in a park that bears her name in La Paz, Bolivia. So few women are honored with monuments, especially women who are poets, that I sought out everything I could find to read by her and about her. Then I wrote a thesis about her and her work for my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree at Reed College. And now this book!

I’m thrilled that my daimoku and hard work has gathered a wonderful team for this bilingual book. Assisting on the editorial end are poet and Spanish language scholar Tania Cano in Peru; and poet, educator and translator Michael Favala Goldman.

in the US. In Bolivia, renowned scholar of Adela Zamudio’s life and work, Virginia Ayllón, is writing an introduction to my book; and the Fundación Zamudio Torrico is providing high quality photos of Adela Zamudio. I feel surrounded and uplifted by shoten zenjin.

I’m so excited to be bringing some of Adela Zamudio’s work to the English-speaking world, because she is an example of making seemingly impossible goals and making a difference in society. In her lifetime (1854-1928) she became the mother of feminism and women’s education in Bolivia. Her writings and activism contributed to women’s rights to vote and to divorce and challenged the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and “men of science and industry.” She conducted literacy campaigns in Quechua for indigenous mining families who were almost all completely illiterate. One biographer credits these literacy campaigns for contributing to later successful indigenous uprisings. Adela Zamudio trained teachers. She was the foremost trainer of teachers in Bolivia. The teachers she trained taught the next generation to think critically, speak truth to power, and work for happiness and justice for all, especially society’s underdogs. Her societal critiques in poetry and prose, from more than 100 years ago, still resonate today.

What is this book called, you ask? Adela Zamudio: Selected Poetry & Prose; Translated by Lynette Yetter, Introduction by Virginia Ayllón, published by Fuente Fountain Books.

Thanks to this practice and my mentor in life, I wanted to write one book, but shot for the stars and have four books published and counting. Two more that are in process are a Spanish translation of Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, and a book of some of my poetry. I’m so grateful for this practice where nothing is impossible.


A BUDDHIST VIEW OF JESUS

by Greg Martin

from the e-zine This Way Up, 2008


Buddhism is well-known as a religion that rejects the idea of gods and supernatural beings. So what is its attitude to Jesus Christ and the resurrection? A personal interpretation by Greg Martin


About two years ago, I was sitting at home minding my own business on a Saturday night and I got a call from a member [of the Buddhist group SGI] in California who is a producer of a TV show by Reverend Lawson, who is a Baptist minister in Los Angeles. His guest cancelled for the next day, it’s on the Christian channel, and would I fill in?

She said, “But, before you answer, I should tell you that tomorrow is Easter. He will be asking you, ‘What do the Buddhists think about the Resurrection of Christ?’”

And I said, “Actually, we don’t think about it much at all.”

She said, “But this would be a great opportunity to make a connection because, you know, Reverend Lawson is actually one of the disciples of Dr. [Martin Luther] King and such and knows of us.”

So I said, “I don’t know what I can talk about,’ and she said, ‘Well, you’ll think of something.”

She knows me very well. So, I said okay. So I’m chanting about it and thinking, “What am I going to do if he asks me a question? What am I going to say?”

I had just finished reading this portion of the Dialogue on the Lotus Sutra and the model of religious faith is Teacher-Student and that we should look at Jesus and his life and his resurrection as a teacher, as a guide, as a role model for our own life, not as someone special that we can’t relate to. So, I said, “Let me boldly go where no Buddhist has gone before and see what happens.”

So, I went to the show and we were talking and sure enough, he turns to me and said, “So, what do the Buddhists think about the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ?”

And here’s what I told him based on the Mentor-Disciple as a model of religious faith for the twenty-first century. First of all, about 15 million households in America get this program, so I’m sure there were a lot of Christians out there going “Whoa!”

Anyway, so I said, “Well, my Mentor tells me that the correct model of religious faith should be that of Mentor-Disciple and not God and human being. Therefore, if you look at the life and death of Jesus as a human being and as a role model to teach us about our own life, there are certain implications.

“First of all, he was resurrected. That means life doesn’t end with death. There is something out there. We will be reborn. And he was resurrected into really good circumstances, right? He was sitting on the right hand of God, if my Christianity is correct.

“Now that’s a pretty good circumstance to be reborn in. What earned him the right, this incredible rebirth? How did he earn that?”

And then I said, “Then we have to look at his life. A couple of conclusions. Number One, living long does not determine how you are reborn. The length of your life is not the point because he didn’t live very long.

“Number Two, how much pain you can avoid, how pain-free, cushy your life is, is not the point either, because he lived and died difficultly and painfully. Rather we have to look at his life and see that the real message of his life was how he treated other people, especially those who others discounted: the sick, the ill, the disenfranchised, those on the lower echelons of society.


“It’s the way he treated his fellow human beings that was the measure of this man. It’s because of that that he was reborn into a good circumstance.

“Therefore, for us as Buddhists, we would look at Jesus as a great teacher and we could find wisdom there. We can find the wisdom to understand that how we live this life will determine the next life, whatever that may be. And that the key point is that as we walk through this life we should strive to emulate his behavior, to be Jesus ourselves, not to worship his power. Therefore, we would regard Jesus as a teacher.”

And he looked me, and I thought, “Uh oh, here it comes.” And he said, “That’s absolutely correct. How did you do that?”

By the way, I had basically the same conversation with Dean Carter [of Dr. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College] just last weekend, asking the same question, and he said, “Yeah, that’s absolutely correct. Too bad more Christians don’t know this.”


Editor: Linda Segall Anable; Copy editor: Lynette Yetter

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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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