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THE ADVENTURES OF BUDDHAMOM: JUST DON’T CALL ME GWENETH

by LeeAnne Pronitis Matusek

Los Angeles, CA


A holiday miracle happened in my household: there was peace and, dare I say, happiness? I had chanted for this moment for three years and it was finally here. The moment was not lost on me. I knew immediately that the unfolding situation was directly possible because of my Buddhist practice, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

You see, my husband of 27 years and I separated three years ago. No fanfares, no announcements on social media; we just hunkered down and got to work. We did a lot of therapy because we weren’t ready to say we were done, there was still much anger on both sides, and we both needed help. My spouse said it was a waste of time. What he didn’t know, because I just couldn’t start another fight on that one, was that it helped me heal, see and hear the WHY of where we had gotten to in our relationship. Therapy was very much worth it because it got me to a place of forgiveness. I also chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. A lot.

I chanted when I was angry. I chanted when I was sad. I chanted All. Of. The. Time. I had no visible means of support other than my now estranged husband, who was very pissed off at me. I was terrified. What the hell was I going to do?


I won’t get into the specifics of WHY we split. Not important. Whatever caused the split, a year and a half of therapy helped me realize we we’d been on a downhill slide for quite some time, and whatever happened to cause our bubble of denial to pop didn’t matter. My focus was figuring out how to get me and my three sons through this crisis.

Yep, once again Momma Bear took it all on. I knew this was it – the fairytale had come to an end, and I had to figure out what our next chapter would be. What got me through it all? What saved my life? My Buddhist practice.


The one constant during this entire surreal time was Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It never abandoned me. My practice is me! My Gohonzon, my higher self, was right there before me as I cried, albeit briefly, and right there when I screamed and cursed at it, too. But I always came back to my Buddhist roots and our teachings. The Gohonzon was inside of me. I had the power to change poison into medicine by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Sometimes I chanted in bed. Sometimes I chanted in front of the Gohonzon, but I chanted, baby! I reached out to my seniors in faith and received guidance. Some I took and some I left at the table. Either way, it helps to talk things over.


Well-meaning friends said they would be by me no matter what! Guess what? After those first two months everyone got back to living their lives. When I did reach out for help, no one could help me. It was a wild time in my life for sure. But it was my problem, not someone else’s. As I look back, one very important person was there for me. ME.

The fact that I was truly on my own wasn’t that hard of a pill to swallow. It made me sad at first but after chanting about it I realized the universe once again had other plans for me. Plans I have not seen yet. So, I put away my misplaced anger and got back to chanting and taking charge of MY life.


I also remembered some guidance I received after 9/11: “Chant for our enemies to soften their hearts and sharpen their minds.” While my estranged husband is not my enemy, in those early days of fear and the unknown, I was terrified of him and my situation. I went to the Gohonzon and chanted for his complete happiness. I chanted for him to realize what he wanted was not in me but in him. How he gets there was out of my hands, but I could chant for him, and I did.



There is so much hatred in the world, I could not contribute to it anymore. I was determined to help my kids build back their relationship with their dad, so they could all have a healthy and happy life. My trust in the Gohonzon was rewarded. All has been forgiven and the boys look forward to getting together with their dad on outings and family gatherings. 

This holiday season I received an acknowledgment that my hard work had paid off. My estranged husband came by for a visit and quietly said thank you. I asked for what. He said thank you for this: Everyone to whom I tell our story is amazed that we can be on friendly terms, and I thank you for that.


When news came out in 2014 that Gweneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were separating, Ms. Paltrow announced with pride on her Goop website that they were Conscientiously Uncoupling. I think I was the only one who didn’t laugh. They went on vacations together with their blended families and everyone seemed so HAPPY.


Now, we don’t know what happens when the cameras stop clicking but what I do know is that for us, it worked to be civil. It worked to get therapy. It worked when we separated. We’re not Gweneth and Chris, but we’re putting our best efforts into it.


Of course, it did not work out the way the fairytales are written but hey, I am a writer and a trailblazer, so I thought to myself: Let’s write a new fairytale where we are all happy, safe, and thriving. How about that?


This situation is what we call in our practice a conspicuous victory from a cause we were chanting about. I have a feeling 2024 is going to be very interesting. What I want it to be for my kids and my family is a year of growth, peace, and happiness.


I have learned to forgive myself and others and feel rewarded. I’ve also worked hard at forgiveness in my practice, an empowering prayer that kept me above water when I was suffering. I’m also eternally grateful for publications like Living Buddhism and The World Tribune, which I could turn to for guidance, and the experiences of others who went through difficult times and came out on the happiness end. I can firmly tell you: I am one of those people because of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

***

Once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR to ALL and may this New Year bring peace on Earth….

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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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