10 Good Reasons to Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the Lotus Sutra (the Practice of Gongyo).
Use the Ultimate Law of the Universe for Your Real Happiness (a.k.a., Enlightenment or Buddhahood).
Get Rid of Bad Karma and Build Good Karma. Change Defeat into Victory; Loss into Gain; Poison into Medicine.
Overcome Your Fears, Painful Memories and Phobias.
Understand Your Life Condition With an Enlightened Mind.
Relate to People in Your Environment on the Highest Level.
Control the Lower Four Worlds of Hell, Hunger, Dominant/Submissive Attitudes and Anger.
Find and Keep Actual Love.
Understand and Get What You Really Need for Your Happiness. (What Do I want out of life?)
Increase the Span of Your Life; Overcome the Sufferings of Birth, Old Age, Sickness, Death and Re-birth.
10. Get Stuff You May Want, Including Freedom, Wealth, Love, Friends, Work Satisfaction and Joy By Buddhafying Yourself.

1. Use the Ultimate Law of the Universe for Your Real Happiness (a.k.a., Enlightenment or Buddhahood).

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There is an Ultimate Law of the Universe and it is Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo. It exists in everyone and everything in the Universe. It is working whether we understand or acknowledge it. You may believe in God or Good Works or Nothing. That's fine. Just thank you for taking the time to consider the stuff on my website.

Let's assume, for the moment, that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Ultimate Law of the Universe. As a natural law as opposed to a man-made-law, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo must be based on cause and effect. In fact, the meaning is Nam (devotion to) Myoho (the wonderful law, which is) Renge (cause and effect through) Kyo (sound, vibration, sutra). Thus, Buddhism said that cause and effect was the cornerstone of universal natural law thousands of years before Western science.

Let's take another natural law, THE LAW OF FAT. When people or animals eat more (especially carbohydrates) than their bodies need, fat accumulates. Some fat is necessary to sustain life. Too much fat can cause various diseases, dissatisfaction with one's appearance but also a true determination to be fit.

The World According to Bob:

I was once married to a good cook. She had a delicious meal, with rice, waiting for me when I came home from work. In a couple of years, I gained 40 pounds, going from 140 to 180. I told my wife of that era that I wasn't going to eat the meals she prepared. This and other issues ended the marriage. After some starts and stops, I managed to cut down on carbs and do resistance exercises (Bowflex and push-ups). I'm at 160 with a lot more muscle and only 5 pounds of flab. My wife now, Jann (my 1968 college sweetheart) eats in a healthy manner and exercises. Neither of us pays homage to the dinner ritual.

THE LAW OF FAT operates regardless of our belief or understanding. Understanding is one step in living in harmony with the LAW OF FAT. But understanding without action is not that useful. Many people (usually the young) can live in harmony with the fat law with little understanding. Living in harmony with the law of fat results in better fitness. Living in harmony with the Ultimate Law of the Universe results in a better or even your best life.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is at the deepest part of your life already. To make this law useful, you must take ACTION. The necessary ACTION is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, usually out loud, while contemplating your life including your needs, aspirations, problems, desires, mistakes, family, friends, tormentors and dreams.

The World According to Bob:

Since I don't like unresolved problems, I chant first about everything that is bothering me. Then, I ask the question, what do I want out of life? I seek to discover what it is about myself that prevents me from being happier, more successful, and less unwise. I "send" Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to those close to me, whether "living" or "dead." When I arrive at deep understanding that I need to change, accomplish or do something, it becomes my "constant desire." I chant about it every day. I have chanted about some things, everyday, for 20 or 30 years.

Having taken the action necessary to use and develop the Ultimate Law of the Universe, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, within my own life for 38 years, I know the ten good reasons to chant are true for myself and fellow Nichiren Buddhists. My understanding of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo comes from reading, discussion and personal experience. My personal experiences lead to my belief and understanding. Chant and have your own experiences. Share those experiences with others. Study the abundant and interesting Nichiren Buddhist literature.

You can't attain enlightenment without helping others to attain enlightenment.

2. Get Rid of Bad Karma and Build Good Karma. Change Defeat into Victory; Loss into Gain; Poison into Medicine.

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The only power you have that is stronger than your own karma is your own Buddha nature or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate law of the universe and is within you and all life in the universal environment. "Karma" may be translated as "action." Karma is created by the "action" of your words, thoughts and deeds since time without beginning. As such, your karma (and everyone's karma) is very strong. Nichiren Buddhists perform Gongyo twice a day. Gongyo consists of sitting before the Gohonzon (or just sitting if you are on a road trip and don't have an Omamori Gohonzon), reciting parts of two chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while contemplating your desires, problems, people and dreams.

GONGYO is your ENLIGHTENED, BUDDHA ACTION that creates ENLIGHTENED BUDDHA KARMA, because it requires your ENLIGHTENED WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS.

By contrast, let's create a person you don't like. You think "that guy's a real bitch" (thoughts). One day you bump into each other and you tell him "you're a real bitch" (words). A scuffle breaks out and you bitch-slap him (deeds). You have created karma in your life that WILL come out in some manner. Perhaps you are arrested. People may see you as a hothead or troublemaker. The guy you insulted beats you down because you can't actually fight very well. A year later a hit-and-run driver runs you over. Perhaps nothing happens in this lifetime. You are reborn on planet next and out of the blue someone calls you a bitch and bitch-slaps you.

Why is Changing My Karma Important to Me (and others)?

Your Karma determines what you think, what you do, what you say, what happens to you in life. If you are rich or poor, good looking or otherwise, fat or slender, respected, despised or ignored, able to use your talents or continually frustrated, lucky or unlucky, in love and loved or isolated, able to get things done or accomplish nothing much, pretty healthy or sick, self-centered or helpful to others DEPENDS ONLY on YOUR OWN KARMA. Blaming others or the environment may be justified but is essentially useless.

Nothing can happen to you unless you have the karma for it. Say you want to be wealthy right away.

The World According to Bob:

I once asked the late, great Ted Osaki "I've been chanting to be a millionaire and I'm not. Why?" He said "maybe you don't have the karma for it yet. When you continue your Buddhist practice and develop wisdom and good fortune (good karma) you will be a millionaire automatically and happy in other non-material ways." Mr. Osaki's words were true. It took me 15 years to reach my initial goal and required many changes in my habits, thinking, determination and character. Of course, all those internal changes greatly benefited every aspect of my life. NOTE: As I am working to change my karma, my life is NOT sad drudgery. Life is and has been a pretty rewarding and exciting adventure.

As living beings we will suffer loss, defeat or have poison injected into our lives. Chanting in the face of these events will propel us to a better life and better circumstances. Nichiren Buddhism calls this "Hendoku Iyaku."

The World According to Bob:

One day, five years ago, I was driving to the Burningman Arts Festival held each Labor Day at the Black Rock Desert. The day was clear and sunny. The road was straight and well maintained. I was well rested. I left the road and rolled over five times in the desert at 70 m.p.h. My Mitsubishi Montero was completely destroyed along with most of my camping equipment. I suffered cuts on the top of my head and near my left eye and lots of sore muscles. I have little or no memory of the actual event. Naturally, going to Burningman was out and a one-day hospital stay was required.

Objectively, this event is loss, defeat and poison. Continuing to chant under these circumstances was the key to bettering my life. Because of the cut near my eye, I had to go to an Ophthalmologist. He discovered a tear in my retina that had nothing to do with the accident. He said it had been developing for some time and would have lead to serious problems. He fixed it with a laser. I found out that my wrecked SUV was THE most unsafe car ever made. The insurance company paid me more that I had originally paid for the car a year before. I now have a Toyota Tundra, the safest truck ever made. I even discovered that Burningman had mini regional Burningman events 20 miles from my house in Las Vegas. These have only 1,000 half-naked hippies rather that 40,000. I get there in 40 minutes instead of 10 hours.

From a Nichiren Buddhist point of view, the accident itself was my bad karma coming out. I had it coming. That is called "Karmatic retribution." I survived the violent wreck with minor, non-permanent injury. This is called "tenju kyoju" or the lessening of Karmatic retribution. The police and rescue medics said that they were sure that I had to be either dead or crushed with serious injuries when they saw the damage to my vehicle. My car had to be cut apart in order to get me out. One of the officers said he was ready to speed dial either the coroner or flight for life. I asked the insurance guy if my vehicle could be repaired. The adjuster laughed and said that he had never seen more damage to a vehicle in twenty years of adjusting. This is called protection from the Buddhist Shoten Zenjin, forces in the environment that serve to protect people who chant. The fact that I wasn't killed is the benefit of "extension of life." Nichiren said that his mother's life was extended 4 years because of his practice. President Ikeda said that the great Spanish dancer, Pasqual Olivera, extended his life 30 years because of his practice.

3. Overcome Your Fears, Painful Memories and Phobias.

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Where do our fears, painful memories, phobias live and why are they so difficult to overcome? Buddhism has the concept of the "nine consciousnesses" or "Ku-shiki." Here is the diagram of the nine layers of your human life:

People Who Don't Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Can Only React to Their Own Karma Storage.

Level 8 is Karma Storage. All of your past causes and effects of all of your words, thoughts and deeds from time without beginning are stored as Karma in Level 8. The content of Karma Storage determines the workings of all the other levels, except Level 9 (Buddhahood). Assume you have low self-esteem karma. It is stored in Level 8 (Karma Storage.) Let's say it weights 100 tons and is molten. Low self-esteem karma constantly gushes up into Level 7 Subconscious. Now your feelings, dreams, values, urges and hopes are infused with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem gushes into your Level 6 Mind Consciousness. Now many of your conscious thoughts are of your low self-esteem. I'll never find a good person in my life. I'll never be normal because my uncle molested me as a child. Things never work out. Eventually she (he) will abandon me. I'll never lose this weight. I do all the work but I'm never picked for that good job. I'll always be broke. People naturally dislike me because I'm... black, Hispanic, Asian, white bread, female, male, young, old, uneducated, too educated, a jock, a nerd, too smart, dumb, liberal, conservative. Levels 1-5 Senses transmit data to your other levels. These data are interpreted in the light of your low self-esteem. You see people at work laughing and talking. They never include you. Or maybe they're talking bad about you.

Low Self-esteem Karma Produces More Low Self-esteem Karma. As a reaction to your low self-esteem vision of the world, your words, thoughts and deeds make new low self-esteem karma. You stop trying to get fit and become more flabby. Your dress becomes less careful. You are angry at the world, yourself, and the environment and let people know it. They shy away from you even more. You are jealous of other's good fortune and luck. Or you try to be super nice and people take advantage of you. These new low self-esteem Karmatic events are stored in Level 8 Karma Storage.

Working on this process are two other Buddhist concepts. Shiki-shin-funi is the oneness of body and mind. Whatever is really on your mind or dwells in your spiritual self is automatically and accurately shown in your body. Your facial expression, posture, movements, physical condition and complexion depict whatever is happening in your mind. Esho funi is the oneness of you and your environment. Whatever you are is reflected in your environment.

If you are depressed and glum, you look and act depressed and glum. Your environment reflects your depression and glumness. People avoid you or are uncomfortable. Your home may be dated and shabby. Your car might be out of repair.

People whom Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Revolutionize Their Karma Storage and Transform Their Subconscious, Conscious, and World Outlook.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo activates Level 9 Consciousness. The 9th Level of Consciousness is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or your Buddhahood or Enlightenment, the source of your happiness. Level 9 cannot be corrupted by your karma. It is always pristine, powerful and pure, like gold or diamonds. When you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, it surges up from the deepest part of your life into your karma storage. It begins to dilute your bad karma with happiness and wisdom (enlightenment) and expel it from your life.

Low self-esteem karma becomes less of an influence. Diluted low self-esteem karma still has to be expelled from your life. However, it comes out in a less stressful form that you can handle. (Tenju Kyoju or the lessening of Karmatic retribution.) The Karma attack is much less but still negative. By continuing to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo when the diluted bad karma is expelled, you can turn poison into medicine, loss into gain, defeat into victory. (Hendoku Iyaku.)

Before chanting, your low self-esteem karma may have caused a ten-day of funk. If chanting, it might be two days. Your continued chanting lets you see that it's not so bad and you are tougher than you think.

You will know that your karma is changing because the bad karma events are less severe, last for shorter periods of time, and appear at longer intervals.

Buddha wisdom eventually will cause you not to create new low self-esteem karma. One day, the low self-esteem karma is gone. However, many people report that bad karma has one last flare up before leaving. The bulb burns brightest before it goes out. That bad person in your life has a big screaming session before disappearing. Nothing, GOOD or BAD can happen to you unless you have the karma for it.

4. Understand Your Life Condition With an Enlightened Mind

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Nichiren encourages us to control our minds, rather than be controlled by our minds. From our look at the workings of the Nine Consciousnesses, the only thing you can have on your mind (Level 6) comes from the Subconscious (Level 7) and Karma Storage (Level 8). Since the great themes of your life are already stored there in large volume, your mind is stuck thinking what you have always thought.

Of course not all karma is bad. Everyone has good karma. "Bad" and "good" are what you like or dislike. If studying and learning are easy for you and you like that, that's good karma. If people are attracted to you physically and emotionally, that's good karma. If you are pretty upbeat about life, if you stay fit, if you accomplish goals and don't give up, if you are able to earn a good living - that's all good karma.

Even with an abundance of good karma, your mind is still stuck with your own Karmatic limitations. I'm really a good nurse and know more that the doctors in some cases. I'm happy with my job and get a lot of satisfaction from it. I guess I'll keep working until I retire in 20 years. That's not so bad. Your mind may have limitations as to what you think you can accomplish in this lifetime. Why not become a physician's assistant, a doctor or a professor in a nursing school?

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo you activate the flow and increase the volume of the 9th Level of your consciousness, your Buddha nature, your enlightenment, your river of pure diamond waters. This enlightenment purifies your karma and subconscious. When the enlightenment hits your brain, you have more Buddha wisdom. The more you chant the more wisdom is in your thoughts, determination and spirit. It is important to chant with an open mind and be sensitive to the wisdom that comes forth from your own life. You will know when the Buddha wisdom is in your mind. Your beliefs will change. Your outlook will improve. You will have more strength and courage. You will develop more effective ways of dealing with problems. You will believe that your have the Buddha life in your life.

The most unhappiness comes from believing in the wrong things, illusions. The biggest illusion is not believing and understanding that you, right now, as you are, have the Buddha Enlightenment in your life and that chanting Nam-myoho-renge–kyo activates it.

Eventually, beliefs turn into words and deeds. You believe, and then act of a hot investment tip and it goes south. Unhappiness follows. You believe that education is not for you and don't develop yourself while young. At 40 you will regret that you didn't do all you needed to do. Eventually, your beliefs will become karma. Therefore it is necessary to understand and believe that you have Buddhahood inside of you now. Please, activate it and develop it.

5. Relate to People in Your Environment on the Highest Level.

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The natural tendency humans have is to blame people and things in their environment for negative events. However justified this may seem, if it happens to you, your karma is intimately involved. Your karma generates these events. Trying to change the environment is useless and frustrating. Say your boyfriend is no good. Everyone agrees. By every standard, he is no good. He's abusive, irresponsible, and unfaithful.

You decide to change him by pointing out his faults. This probably doesn't work. In this hypothetical situation, there are some possibilities. Your karma quality is certified Grade D. All of your boyfriends will be Grade D. Suppose your nagging and forced counseling gets him to see the errors of his ways, and he actually changes. He becomes Grade B. If your Grade stays D, he will leave you for a fellow Grade B.

Or, all of your good works and efforts are short circuited by your Three Poisons: Greed, Anger and Stupidity. Relationships (and lives) can be ruined by not overcoming the Three Poisons circulating in your veins. Say you have a pretty good partner. He (or she) is well liked, has a good job, and treats you well. However, your Greed causes you to think that maybe there's someone better looking and more exciting out here for you. One day you have a little disagreement with your partner. Anger causes you to say some hurtful things. Stupidity lures you in the direction of Mr. or Ms. No Good who just exploits you in some manner. All this doesn't make you a bad person, just an angry, greedy and stupid one.

Some poisons have an antidote. The antidote for Greed, Anger, and Stupidity is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the determination to know yourself and to understand that giving in to Greed, Anger and Stupidity leads to unhappiness and the nullification of your good karma. This process is somewhat automatic. But being honest with yourself really helps the process of bringing out your enlightenment. This does not mean being relentlessly self-critical or advocate beating yourself up.

If your raise your life condition through the practice of Buddhism to grade B+ or A+, your environment will be B+ or A+, automatically. Thus you don't have to change your no good husband, boss, girlfriend, father, children, dog or cat. They will change with respect to you or will leave your environment.

6. Control the Lower Four Worlds of Hell, Hunger, Dominant/Submissive Attitudes and Anger.

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In Buddhism, life exists in Ten Worlds. The highest is (10) Buddhahood, or Enlightenment. Everything discussed so far about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo applies to this world. Next is (9) Bodhisattva or compassion. Actually helping others to attain happiness or enlightenment for themselves is Bodhisattva. Accomplishment through great concentration is (8) Realization. Realization has also been described as understanding the universe by looking within yourself. (7) Learning is the condition in which you are gathering knowledge and understanding of items you are studying, such as a book. It is understanding the universe by looking at things outside of yourself. Collectively, these are the Four Noble Worlds.

(6) Heaven or Rapture is a condition of momentary joy. (5) Humanity is just be lazy or in neutral gear.

The Lower Four Worlds

They are (4) Anger, (3) Animality, a condition of fearing the more powerful and preying on the weaker, (2) Hunger, a strong unfulfilled desire and (1) Hell, suffering with no clear way out.

Each of the ten worlds contains all the other worlds. The ten worlds are connected to all the cause and effect in your life. Of course you are inseparable from your environment.

Anyone is capable of being in one of the lower four world. Usually some outside stimulus triggers this. Someone flips you off and you get angry. A good-looking girl/boy or hamburger comes into view and you get hungry. Your boss threatens you because of some mistake someone made. You in turn threaten the people who work for you. That's Animality. Your dog of 15 years dies. That's Hell.

How chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon controls the Lower Four Worlds.

In the TV series South Park, the boys were upset because the Sparky the dog was gay. Their answer was to yell at the dog, "Sparky don't be gay." In the human world, yelling don't be angry, hungry or miserable is the same thing as telling Sparky not to be gay. Self-control is a fine attribute to have. Buddhism, however, is far more than mere self-control or positive thinking.

Just as your interaction with a stimulant in the outside world caused one of the Lower Four Worlds to emerge, the interaction of chanting to the Gohonzon causes the world of Buddhahood to emerge from your life. As Buddhahood becomes more the central world in your life, all of the lower four worlds recede. Even the world of hell is replaced with an understanding of the rebirth of life. The TEN WORLDS will always be part of your life so don't try to be goody-two-shoes. Hunger, for example, can be a strong desire to understand Buddhism.

7. Find and Keep Actual Love.

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As human beings, we need true love. Sometimes when the vicissitudes of life beat us down, we may give up. I think this is a mistake. Finding and keeping true love involves both common sense and using and understanding the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

COMMON SENSE

Buddhism and everyday life are not different or separate. So there are personal and social attributes that are generally admired or valued. To the extent possible, you must develop and enhance these attributes.

Fitness: People, especially fit people, are attracted to fit people.

Money Responsibility: Being irresponsible with money greatly reduces your attractiveness.

Style: Be cool. Being cool doesn't require spending a lot of money. Being cool requires an interest in keeping in harmony with a personal style of dress and behavior that it considered and thoughtful. Being cool is not haphazard. Being cool is not conformity but an expression of your inner self.

Seeking Improvement: The kinds of people you want to meet are trying to improve themselves in many different ways. They read, travel (to the extent they can), have interests, perhaps go to school, do outdoor activities or paint. Developing and improving your skill, knowledge and accomplishments in your area of interest makes you more attractive.

Neatness: Even sloppy people (like me) like neat people.

Things You Must NOT Do: Become hysterical. Be an addict. Become a drag by not doing your part. Make decisions for others. Make decisions that involve others without a detailed discussion. Allow people to make decisions for you. Assume people (or the Universe) owe you something for something you did. Lend or give money to boyfriends or girlfriends with the expectation that it will be paid back. Ignore saying "please" and "thank you." Be an ingrate. Be puffed up or beat down. Note: Almost all relationship problems are caused by the unrestrained expression of one or more of the lower four worlds: hell, hunger Animality and anger.

Love and the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

"Kenzoku-myo" is a deep mystic connection with the Buddha since the time without beginning. It also stands for the mystic relationship we have had with specific other people since the remotest past. According to Buddhist thought, we have been together with certain other people in many forms of relationships: friend/friend, husband/wife, husband/daughter, mother/son, lover/lover, sister/brother, employee/boss, lord/vassal, etc. We have been both male and female. At least some of your past relationships have been satisfactory to a high degree. This doesn't mean you had an intimate relationship.

Because you are one with your environment and the Universe, it is possible to connect with one or more of these pleasing relationships from past existences. No matter where a suitable partner may be physically, you can hook up.

But since you don't know where or who they are, you have to use your MYSTIC EMAIL. This consists of chanting many Daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) in order to connect with them and draw they closer. It's as simple as that. If your brain is not enlightened, you may not think these invisible threads connect you with the Universe. They do. Try it.

The world according to Bob.

When I was 20 and a junior at the University of Illinois, Urbana, I belonged to an anti-fraternity fraternal club called Praetorians. During registration week of September, 1964, I went on a double date with a Praetorian brother, Danny Dreyfus. His date was Jann, a freshman, from Birmingham, Alabama. My date was Kathy Morimitsu, a freshman from Chicago. I fell in love with Jann at first sight.

However, my general insecurities and my perception of her high social standing and our social-economic disparities made a move on my part impossible. (Poor Asian boy-rich Jewish girl.) As time went by, we had talked casually from time to time on the quad or the union. Three and a half years passed. Jann was a senior and I was in law school. We finally went out. Love blossomed on the January frozen tundra. We sent pretty much every day together for six months. We went on a bus caravan to Milwaukee to work for Gene McCarthy before the Wisconsin Primary. On our way back, Johnson dropped out of the race.

Jann graduated and went to NYU. I stayed in Champaign finishing my law degree. I visited her once in NYC during the summer.

During my last year of law school, I was depressed about a lot of things, including missing Jann. I didn't have any confidence in my ability to pass the bar exam, make a living, support a family or survive for very long in the real world. I don't know where my "beat-down" feeling came from. Maybe it was upbringing or brain chemistry imbalance. My oldest brother had become a full-blown paranoid-schizophrenic. I thought I might go mad.

On June, 19th I woke up early. I had a strong feeling I would meet someone who would change my life. I never had this kind of feeling before. I went to the student union and waited - for eight hours. Finally, a weirdly diverse group of people entered from the far end. Young, old, black, white, Asian, half Asian, Hispanic, male and female were represented. They were talking to people and getting coffee. If these were the people I was supposed to meet, I would let them come to me. Finally one of them, Frank Ross, sat down and said, "would like to go to a Buddhist meeting?" I've been chanting every day since. One of the many early benefits I received was that I no longer felt heartbroken and defeated with respect to Jann. I felt confident that my love life will work out fine. That feeling never left me, even in the dark days of divorce from my first wife.

I lived and practiced law and Buddhism in Chicago for ten years. During that time Jann and I saw each other a few times. The old feeling never left. But I was too insecure about being a success to take our relationship to the next step.

I moved to Vegas and we lost contact for 14 years. I got married and divorced and played around. Somehow I didn't connect deeply with women in my close environment. Chanting works. I sat in front of the Gohonzon and chanted lots and lots of Daimoku. After some time, I realized that I was a different person due to my Buddhist practice. I had been working for the City of Las Vegas for ten years and had been promoted twice. I had saved a lot (for me) of money. My friend gave me a nice townhouse for $1,000 and taking over his mortgage. My career was enjoyable and secure. I realized that if I kept chanting about "love" the answer would come from inside and would connect me with the world.

I began sending Daimoku to every girl I ever liked or loved starting with grade school. It dawned on me that "back to the future" or "once and future" might be the way to go. In my head I went through my past relationships. When I got to Jann, my chanting took on a musical tone. She was: completely my type looks wise; intelligent; well read; liberal; gentle; curious about life; NOT Domineering and Southern cultured. Most of all, we had been completely and deeply in love when we were young.

I got her number from directory assistance in Atlanta. We talked and it was just like yesterday. She had never married, had become a lawyer and wanted to get together. We had a Vegas-Atlanta relationship for a year. 18 years ago, Jann moved to Vegas on a trial basis. I told her that anytime she wanted to get married "just say the word." Jann didn't say anything about it for 9 years. We have been married for 9 years. Life is good. Love is real. Love counts.

8. Understand and Get What You Really Need for Your Happiness. (What Do I want out of life?)

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When you are chanting, ask, twice a day, "What do I want out of life?" The answer may change from day to day. But you will get an answer. Pursuing the path to your happiness requires Buddha wisdom. Since Buddhism is individual, your answer will be individual. It may take time for your Buddha wisdom to hit your brain. Once you think you have an answer, keep asking.

Be honest with yourself. What are you really interested in? What are you good at or can become good at? By pursuing the wrong path in life wastes a lot of time. A bad relationship or unsuitable job will take at least three years out of your hide. We don't have that many three-year chunks to piddle away. Time is life. Life is time.

HOWEVER, DON'T GET ALL DEPRESSED BECAUSE YOU HAVE MADE MISTAKES, taken the wrong path many times, led others down the wrong path, or have nothing but regrets so far. The Buddhist spirit is " from now on." From now on applies to your successes as well as failures.

The proper practice of Nichiren Buddhism naturally leads you to an understanding of the future as well as the past and present. Chanting will allow you to understand the future at the deepest part of your life. Chanting saves time in the long run.

The World According to Bob:

I have made a lot mistakes in my life. Many of these mistakes happened after I became a Buddhist. Each of these mistakes might have been avoided. Chanting helped me to learn what I really wanted for my happiness. Once on the right path, I felt good and determined and actually succeeded. My first job out of law school was as a Federal Civil Rights Investigator. I worked on housing discrimination cases. I loved the people I worked with, got to travel, and had regular hours, a good salary and benefits.

After passing the bar, I felt I had to work as a lawyer doing lawyer work. I had a series of very good lawyer jobs but wasn't very happy. Although I made a lot of money, I was expected to work a crushing amount of hours. The stuff I worked on was interesting, but after a while became boring. My Lesson: working in the private sector, as a staff lawyer is life doomed to insecurity and a low hourly wage. Your pay divided by the number of hours you have to work equals your actual hourly wage. In my case it was low, probably less than a factory worker. My Lesson About Myself: I don't mind working hard as long as I get paid an agreed upon amount for every hour I work. About six years in, I went on my own doing traffic misdemeanor defense work and real estate. I also became a real estate broker and Prudential insurance agent. Being my own boss I did traffic trials at the giant Chicago Traffic Court in the morning, real estate closing in the afternoon and insurance at night. I made a good living but decided I hated Chicago.

I don't like big inconvenient cities where you have to waste travel time, pay for parking, pay through the nose for simple restaurant food and mediocre entertainment. I don't like cold winters, humid summers and crowds. My Lesson About Myself: I won't live where I don't want to live. It doesn't get better and I may get to be too old to move. Chanting about it, I moved to Vegas when there were 300,000 people there. (Now there are 2 million). After some fits and starts, I really chanted to find out what I really wanted to do with my life. I decided I was kinda of lazy, in that I wanted a life after work. Work was not my life. I wanted financial and job security, in that if I worked hard with a good cooperative attitude, I couldn't be "let go" because someone's nephew needed my job. After chanting I decided that I was happy working for the Feds. I decided to get and got a job with City of Las Vegas. I felt comfortable and secure. I became a success, being promoted four times. I was acting assistant city manager, the 3rd highest ranking official. I saved or earned $40 million for the City through negotiating public/private contracts. I chanted every day for everyone I worked with for 20 years. I also taught aviation law at Nellis Air Force Base and became active in politics.

After an enjoyable career, I retired at 56 after 20 years with a good pension and substantial savings. Being retired, I travel, kayak, fish, play guitar and write songs, read, write, shoot competition rifle and pistol (placed 4th in the VIMBAR world championships), plunk at archery (2x City champion, 1x state champion), take art classes at the College of Southern Nevada and do politics (Obama captain for Precinct #3391, 55 to 55 tie with Hilbilly).

The move to Vegas was good for me. I never lived more than 20 minutes from work. 99% of the parking is free and easy. The weather is good except for 2.5 summer months. You can eat like a pig for not much money. The world class outdoors is close by. Of major importance, there is a vibrant Nichiren Buddhist community here. Chant to understand what you need to be happy, and then do it.

9. Increase the Span of Your Life; Overcome the Sufferings of Birth, Old Age, Sickness, Death and Re-birth.

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You are going to die. Death is part of the great natural recycling program. Before you die you might become old and sick. Even if we must die, living a full natural life is desireable.

The World According to Bob:

After law school I stayed with my parents on the Southside of Chicago while working downtown. One day, Mother decided she would move from the house she had lived in for 20 years. I hurriedly rented an apartment and spent the entire weekend with my brothers moving my mother to an apartment. Of course the move made no sense, was impulsive, and unplanned.

While staying with my parents, I rode the same Illinois Central commuter train to work downtown every workday. I always rode in the first car because it was closest to the exit at the downtown station.

The move was finished at 4:00 am on Monday. I didn't even know how to get to work. I arrived very late and staggered to my desk. Everyone was giving me a strange look. My boss finally approached me. I became defensive explaining the move and the fact that I put in lots of extra hours working on our caseload.

He said, "We thought you were dead. The train you take everyday rammed another train near the downtown station. 80 people were killed." My life extended then and two other times.

10. Get Stuff You May Want, Including Freedom, Wealth, Love, Friends, Work Satisfaction and Joy By Buddhafying Yourself.

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If you practice Buddhism from now and your last moment in this life, you will have all the "stuff" listed above and much more. You will also be a different better person and enjoy life. That is Buddhafying yourself. Earthly desire ARE enlightenment. We burn the firewood of earthly desires to produce the fire of enlightened wisdom.

Many philosophies preach sin, self-denial, fatalism, or non-materialism. Nichiren Buddhism does not. You need to enjoy life and have all the things and relationships you need to enjoy life. Nichiren Buddhism does not have commandments except to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon.

So chant and take action to get what you need to enjoy life. Keep in mind that you and the Universe are cause and effect. While Buddhism does not say, "don't become a crack head," being a crack head causes the effect of violence, poverty, and denigration.

The World According to Bob:

Generally speaking, it's better to have money than not having "enough" money. When I started chanting I was broke and in debt from going to college and law school (University of Illinois, Urbana). On day one, I remember chanting for food and not to be evicted from my hovel. Within days I was flush with an emergency loan from the law school. I didn't know this pot of interest free money even existed. A friend happened to mention the loan fund in passing.

It took me a number of years to learn that I had to save a good part of what I earned in order to be able to retire early. I drove the same 4x4 Nissan truck for 15 years. Through saving in deferred compensation, conservative investments and a great government pension. I was able to retire at 56 years and 26 days. This may seem very ordinary. But my lifelong dream was to be able to live well and not have to work. You are what you save, not what you earn. (Please see, my experience in the book The Buddha Next Door, Middleway Press.) I enjoy life everyday. Of course I also enjoyed life before I retired. To certain extent freedom involves money, but it's not only money. Health and good relationships are necessary ingredients. A strong self-image and love are important. After a few years of chanting, I found that I had freedom. You can enhance your freedom to do and be whatever you desire. In my experience, it is important to develop your Buddha wisdom to know what turns you on, excites you, and deeply interests you. What do you yearn for? Chant about it, please.