Tina Turner. . .

Tina Turner today
Tina Turner today

. . .and her Buddhist practice. Through many things posts I’ve put up, and conversations I’ve had with people, many people know that I am a Nichiren Buddhist.  I don’t slam any other religion because I believe that you can find good teachings in all religions and if someone takes those teachings and applies it to their life and it affects the way they live their life then it is not up to me to say that you are wrong and I am right.  I have Christian friends and I post on Christian blogs. We each have to find our path.

Sadly, there are many people who say they are Christian, in the US, and because Christianity is dominant in this country, it makes you feel that it is Christianity is the number one religion in the world.  It isn’t.  There are many people who are Christian in name only, or only call on God’s help when they are in a dire position, and can still be hateful to the people around them at the same time.  What is taught doesn’t change anything about their behavior.  They believe in God because it is what they were taught growing up.  There wasn’t any choice.

If everyone around you tell you it is true, then you are going to think it is true. I realized at a young age people were told to believe something, but I couldn’t get an answer to the question, “why?”  It was always an answer saying because God says so.  God says this or that, or wants this or that, and we were to believe something with the credibility of science fiction – in my opinion.

I recently wrote a post https://watchandwhirl.com/2015/02/23/why-do-you-believe-what-you-believe/  I ask people this question a lot, honestly asking why?  Is it all you know?  Is it what you were taught?  Did you follow a different path and then found Christianity? Have you ever seriously looked at any other path with an open mind?  If you didn’t, was it because God would punish you for blasphemy? Do you honestly practice the teachings of your faith every day or just sometimes? Is there anyone out there who will answer me?

After searching for years for something that made sense, 27 years ago, when I was 34, I found Nichiren Buddhism.  I’m writing about this today because I found 2 minute clip of the Tina Turner movie, “What’s love got to do with it?” If you remember the movie, she turned to Buddhism when her life was at a very low point.  She made it out of a very bad and abusive relationship through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

They aren’t magic words that change things – and you aren’t praying/chanting or asking something – out there – to change things for you, or saying that it must be the will of a higher being who wants me to experience this, you realize that it puts you squarely in the drivers seat.  You know the only person who can make changes, is yourself.  And what your frame of mind is, will directly affect how you respond to things in your life.

I found another clip of Tina Turner, in an interview where she talks about why she is a Buddhist.  I thought some of you might find this interesting.

Here’s another one with her as well, and when you listen to her chant, I can do this right along with her word for word because I’ve spoken it thousands of time.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOsr_ZOi-Jo

Thank you for coming into my part of the world a short while.

Facing Challenges

challenges2Facing Challenges

by Daisaku Ikeda

Two African-American sisters, Sadie and Bessie Delaney, were born in the southern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.

Growing up, the sisters experienced great pain because of deep-rooted discrimination against people of African descent. They often shook with anger at the treatment they received. But they refused to be defeated, learning to laugh off discrimination and encouraging each other not to despair. The sisters determined: If society isn’t going to accept us when we have the same ability as white people, then we’re just going to have to become even more capable. They drew strength from their father, who used to say, “Don’t ever give up. Remember, they can segregate you, but they can’t control your mind. Your mind’s still yours.” Through tireless effort, they gained places to study at Columbia University.

Sadie, the elder sister, became the first African-American to teach domestic science at High School level in New York City. Bessie, meanwhile, was only the second African-American woman licensed to practice dentistry there. They were not defeated by discrimination, poverty or criticism. They knocked back obstacles with the attitude, “What! Is that all?”

Bessie summed up her attitude, saying, “However you do it, you’ve just got to fight in this life . . . If there’s one thing you’ve got to hold on to, it’s the courage to fight!” Both sisters outlived their detractors, living to over 100 years old with a deep sense of achievement.

Many people think that it is only those born into fortunate circumstances who can succeed in life. Such people often feel that they, too, could have been successful, if only they had been blessed with this or that, or if only they weren’t hampered by the problems that trouble them now.

When I was young, I had a friend who excelled at everything and whom everyone admired. But recently I heard that he had ended up very unhappy, beset by illness and family problems. How could this happen to someone who had seemed so lucky in his youth? Maybe it was because, having been pampered from an early age, he never learned what hard work was, nor what it meant to struggle to achieve something. Thinking that everything he needed would fall into his lap, he probably avoided making strenuous efforts and was therefore unable to withstand the waves of difficulties which hit him later in life.

As long as we are alive we cannot be free of difficulties nor spared from problems. The question is how to overcome and resolve them. And there is only one answer: to confront and challenge life’s trials head on. In doing so, we can actually change them into sources of joy. Hardship builds character. I firmly believe that one can never become a person of extraordinary character just by leading an ordinary and peaceful life and avoiding difficulties.

Life involves scaling one mountain, then the next, then the one after that. The person who keeps on going, one step at a time, and finally conquers the highest mountain, will have a real sense of victory in life. But someone who avoids challenges and takes the easy route instead, will gradually descend into the valleys and feel no such sense of satisfaction.

Such a person, when faced with a problem, tends to think, “I know I should take action, but it will be very difficult.” When it is time to act, this kind of person tends to turn away. Someone who perseveres will rise to the challenge, however, determining, “It will be very difficult, but I must take action.”

A dear friend who faced every challenge in her life was Mrs. Fang Zhaoling, a painter and calligrapher based in Hong Kong who passed away in 2006 at the age of 92. She grew up during great political instability in China and her father was gunned down before her when she was eleven years old. But her mother was determined not to let this tragedy stand in the way of her daughter’s education, and Mrs. Fang studied hard, also learning to paint.

She married young and bore eight children. Then tragedy struck again when she was 36. Her husband died, leaving her to bring up the children—aged between 3 and 11—alone. Mrs. Fang then ran a small trading company and somehow managed to support and raise her children and provide each of them with a good education. She said, “Experiencing the hardship of being widowed at a young age is perhaps what gave me the strength to go on to study and develop my skill as an artist.”

Her life was evidence that overcoming challenges, triumphing over adversity is what life is all about. Her paintings often show steep cliffs and forbidding crags, but often one can make out a path or road through the rocks. Even in her eighties, Mrs. Fang was always active, always moving forwards. Her life shone like a jewel, forged and polished by hardship. A diamond, the king of jewels, is the hardest and brightest of minerals. Just as diamonds crystallize when carbon buried deep underground is subjected to extremely high pressure and temperatures, so, when we forge our lives under the intense pressure of difficulties and in the severe heat of hardship, we can develop a beautiful and strong sense of self.

Often the biggest obstacle in meeting life’s challenges is actually our own fear of failure. But it is not failure that we should fear. The only real failure comes when we allow our fear to prevent us from taking on new and unknown challenges.

Just about every important figure in history has in fact lived a life marked by one mishap after another. But these individuals rose up again after every setback, prodded on by a spirit that refuses to concede defeat and relishes challenge, to eventually crown their lives with victory.

Even if you have problems, even if you have done things you regret, or have made mistakes, your whole future still lies ahead of you. If you can just keep moving forward, telling yourself, “I’ll start from today,” “I’ll start afresh from now, from this moment,” then a whole new world of possibilities will open up before you.

Habitual Offender Law Was not Meant For Emails and Voice Messages From People with Asperger Syndrome

If you’ve been to my other blog at http://mynameisjamie.net then you are aware of my stance against mass incarceration and the inhumane treatment of many inmates caught in our injustice system.

I helped to raise a step-son with Aspergers Syndrome. I am aware of the behaviors he describes about his son. Locking him up fir 45 years because of non violent behavior indicative of people with this brain disorder is absurd. It is important to become educated about it. Had the people involved in this situation needed to be aware it is hard for people with Aspergers to have empathy. Even when they were told, why did they not have any empathy?

I remember, when my stepson was fairly young, a neurologist explained to me that he could be taught behaviors and how to act, and what to say when around people but he would not be able to understand why. He couldn’t understand what people meant with body language or gestures. Things what are easy for me to understand, and even misunderstand. When he was young, he had to be instructed over and over, the importance of standing in a line at school for lunch. He didn’t understand why he had to stand there when he wanted to go to the front. It might seem very simple for you and me, but not for him. He acted out very emotionally when he didn’t understand. He’s 28 now. He has learned how to ‘act’ in society. He learned what was expected of him, but how much of that does he understand why.

This man, who got 45 years for sending emails trying to get his girlfriend back, who probably couldn’t deal with his quirks anymore, doesn’t deserve to lose his life to prison. Why our justice system fails to understand this is beyond me. Unless it all about needing to keep our prisons full by any means possible.

Whatever reason they have does not deserve ruining his, and his family’s life. Please share this with your social media and do your part in helping to change this. Thank you.

josephmjason

Dear Department of Justice

The United States Supreme Court stated: The purpose of a recidivist statute such as that involved here is not to simplify the task of prosecutors, judges, or juries. Its primary goals are to deter repeat offenders and, at some point in the life of one who repeatedly commits criminal offenses serious enough to be punished as felonies, to segregate that person from the rest of society for an extended period of time. This segregation and its duration are based not merely on that person’s most recent offense but also on the propensities he has demonstrated over a period of time during which he has been convicted of and sentenced for other crimes.

As an advocate involved with various organizations, I state that The Habitual Offender Law was not meant for offenders who send non-threatening emails and voice messages.  It was meant for violent thugs.

It was not meant for those with Asperger Syndrome who have organic brain disorders and who are…

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My Gift to Patty. Farewell Dear Friend.

lotus flower

Today the life of a woman, who has touched many lives, has left to be part of the energy of the universe again, and begin what we call the state of ku, the inbetween.  She had been living there already for a little while, not conscious of what was going on around her, but instead living inside the magical place of her mind where there is always hope and never any pain.  I wish I could have shared that space with her for awhile, seeing what she was seeing, knowing what she now knows.

Patty knew, without doubt, this wasn’t the end of the essence who she was.  She will someday pick up the pieces of her life again and put them back together, but without the pain, and without the effect of the causes that caused her pain in this life.  She never let anyone see that pain.  On her face you only saw happiness.  Always a big smile.  If she had not gone through this life and understood the law of cause and effect, Nam myoho renge kyo, would she have changed her life so she never need repeat the effects of this cause again?
band P dancing
Now she has a better place to go, and it is not what other people think if they think of it as heaven. I imagine she is smiling.  She understood.  She had faith and she had no doubt.  She knew she was leaving, although she really did everything she could to stay.  But her life was determined to go, even if it did give her extra time.  Her life didn’t begin here.  It doesn’t end here.
dancing bl n wh
Patty was more concerned about her husband, Bill.  She was concerned about his loneliness.  She was worried about how he would take her leaving and his own reason for going on.  We promised we would take care of him.  He always has a place among us.  He is part of us.   She had time to prepare herself for leaving, probably wondering what that moment would be like, but I think she didn’t even know she left this life behind.  She just continued to be where she was and kept on going.  I can only hope, when it is my time, that I can have her strength, her courage, and have the smile on my face she always had.
Patty + Bill
She had seventeen extra years of life.  When you come so close to dying and yet still find yourself in this existence, you feel things more. You see things differently.  Many things make sense even when you never even thought of them before.  You understand there are things you need to do, and  you were given another chance to do them.  You understood you weren’t to waste the time.  Although we all know we will die at some point in time, we often think it is going to be some time in the distant future. Always later.  You think you always have time to change the things you want to change and become the person you would like to be.meaning

Patty had appreciation for her life. I think many of us miss doing that until it is too late. We get too wrapped up in the tiny details of our life to stop and think about where we are. Every time we saw her we knew it might be the last time.  Finally, it became the last time. There is no more time for us to be encouraged by her smile. We often spend too much time complaining.  We get discouraged about  the things we don’t have, and forget to remember the things we do have.  She understood, through a life of many ups and downs, it is the things we think, say and do that determine the life we have.  Today, we live through the effects of the causes of yesterday, and tomorrow we will live through the effects of causes we make today.thelaw

Some people judge others by what is on the outside, but there is no more beautiful person then the one whosebeauty is on the inside.  You couldn’t be around Patty and not feel the beauty inside.  Her caring and compassion made you feel special.  Always, to the end of her life, she took the time to encourage you when you needed it.

She was fortunate to have a man in her life who loved and took care of her until the last moment.  You know you have love in your life when someone stays by your side to make sure every possible thing has been done for your comfort.  Bill, the causes you have made in your own life will sprout, like the lotus flower seeds when it blooms. th1W395JUAThe law of cause and effect in your own life will show you this.  You have friends.  You have friends.

Recently Bill wrote, “Patty was my partner in life since Oct 9, 2011 when we committed out lives to each other in a ceremony in Maugansville, Maryland. She was the life partner I needed and she has said the same about me. When the time we spent together makes each of us feel fulfilled with love, care and respect for the other, there is no better way of being one.black hat

The only legacy anyone can really leave behind, is the effect they have on another person’s life. Patty has left a great legacy.

“There are many reasons why people bid farewell to one another. It may be difficult indeed not to look back. Yet you have to advance, even a step. As long as you advance, new hope will be born. The sun will rise. A new life will unfold for you.”Daisaku Ikeda

Patty waving bye!

(Sonni’s note: I am an improvisational piano player. The piano music file is one that I recorded for Jamie from my other website http://mynameisjamie.net. I wanted to record a new one for Patty but I am having momentary technical difficulties.  Patty knew who Jamie was and always asked how he was doing, and in his letters from prison he often asked me,” Tell Miss Patty I said hi,” and “Tell Miss Patty I’m chanting for her.”  i wrote to him and told him about the times Patty and Carol would come to my home to encourage me through my own transplant surgery.  I know this will affect him deeply.  He will never get a chance to meet her in this lifetime.  This music is on a page on his website called “My Name is Jamie”. He would, I know, be honored to have it played for her.  I will never forget Patty.  She will always have a warm spot in my heart.  If more people had the heart the had this world would be a better place to live.  Good-bye, my friend. )