Saturday, June 22, 2013


Over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, each Friday, she challenges writers to write for five whole minutes without stopping, without editing. Join us. This week's prompt: Rhythm.

I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism since 2004 and up until this year, I used the SGI liturgy. Earlier this year, I started practicing in the style of Nichiren Shu. The liturgy is very similar, the chant remains the same, but with a few differences.

In order to make things more rhythmic, the SGI altered some of the liturgy and shortened a few of the Japanese words. In Nichiren Shu, that is not the case.

And, as one would expect, it completely changes the rhythm of the Practice of Odaimoku.

With SGI, the words seem to run together: Myohorengekyohobenpondaini-nijisesonjusanmaianjoniki....

With Nichiren Shu, there is more space: Myoho-renge-kyo-hoben-pon-dai-ni...

Also with chanting Namu-myo-ho-renge-kyo. In SGI the rhythm is faster: nam-myohorengekyo, but but adding the "u" at the end to nam - Namu - the rhythm slows: namu-myo-ho-renge-kyo.

The result is, for me, a more mindful practice. It goes a little slower, but there is time in those spaces to truly take in what I am chanting, what it means and how it flows. Instead of racing through the chanting of the chapters, I am more contemplative. Instead of simply repeating nam-myohorengekyo over and over, I am aware of the power of the chant.

Altering the rhythm of my practice has altered my practice of Nichiren Buddhism, and ultimately, this alteration will be found in the rhythm of my own life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Perils of Past Life Regression


Many people have found past life regression therapy useful. I am sure that it is. And, as my father advised, "Explore everything and keep only the good."

Everyone's experience is different, and I can only speak of mine. I am not going to dismiss past life regression completely, however, I think it should be approached with some caution, and choosing the practitioner to assist you in your past life journey should be made with the same deliberation and consideration you would use when buying a house.

In 2010, I allowed myself to be placed under deep hypnosis. I was no stranger to hypnosis. I'd had hypnotherapy in 1996 to assist me in working through an episode of depression - and it worked incredibly well. I was comfortable to try it again - this time to assist in beating my compulsive eating disorder.

The hypnotherapist was an enthusiastic young man who asked if I would be interested in looking at past lives. He suggested it may be helpful, but most of all, he had only done a 'few' past life regressions and was both keen and curious about doing more. I too was keen and curious and said, "yes".

What I had neglected to do was heed the words of my friend Simon, who had been for life regression before: "Make sure you're ready. I wasn't. And it took me weeks to recover. And go gently. One life at a time." Pfft. Who needs Simon and his warnings, right?


During the session I encountered myself in three separate lives. Or rather, I encountered different manifestations of the energy that embodies Tam right now. I was taken back, on each occasion, to the moment of death in the previous lives and that was pretty much it, (experiencing death three times in a row in a 90 minute time period is probably not a good idea) ending with my birth into this current incarnation, which was rather harrowing too.

I was in a daze for several weeks. I didn't feel anything but wonder and curiosity the first couple of days, but after that, I fell into a state of depression as I contemplated one life in particular where I got to see more than the others. The depression lasted several months and thankfully lifted much, much later.

I learned several things:

1. Simon was right.

2. Sometimes doing what Simon says is a good thing

3. Don't do past life regression if you are not truly ready

4. Choose someone who has done more than a 'few' regressions - no matter how keen and enthusiastic they are, nor you, for that matter.

5. Choose someone you're comfortable with and who you feel you can trust

Since the experience, I have not looked into my past lives - not because of the experience of regression, but rather because I've now come to believe that the only life I have influence over is the one I am living now. Are there Karmic issues from those lives. I am sure there are. Are they manifesting in my life right now? I am positive. However, I cannot go an re-live lives already past. I can only live the life I have right now.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker. Five minutes of writing on a prompt.

I have started my life from scratch four times in this particular lifetime.

(Tangent: While I believe in reincarnation, I am not one for going back into all the past lives trying to work out what karmic shit is manifesting and how I can change this or that from a previous life. I intended to write a post on the dangers of past life regression, but haven't got around to it yet. Needless to say, this life, right now, is the one I am living, that I am aware of, and the only one I can affect any change on)

Finding myself at the "from scratch" part was always preceded by some or other dramatic lifechanging event: divorce, then two years later moving from London to rural England after I got out of an abusive relationship, ending another relationship and then moving back to South Africa from England. The before-you-get-to-scratch part is hairy and frightening and earth and soul shaking. It's not pleasant when all these emotions fears surface to challenge you.

And then comes the decision to make a change. And you can stay forever in the decision place because it seems a lot more hopeful than the The before-you-get-to-scratch part or even the from-scratch part. It's comfy over there. Like being swallowed by a nice warm cloud.

The hard part is the fall, the leap, the letting go. After the decision place. After the decision place you actually have to take action and the thing is, the fear hasn't left. But you do it anyway, trusting that it will be okay in the end.

Nearly six years ago, I let go of all I knew in England, gave most of my stuff away, packed 22kilos into my suitcase and returned to South Africa with nothing. Not a thing except the 22 kgs of clothes, books and CDs I brought with me and R 4 000.00 which was enough to get me through one month.

I made the decision. I leapt. I fell. I did it. Was I scared? Yes. Was I unsure? Yes. But sometimes, as the picture says, the only mode of transport is a leap of faith.