Happines Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good by Tina Turner

Published in 2020, Tina Turner has given us one more memoir, of her more than eight decades on this earth. She is able to weave in the influence of her spiritual practice with her tales of growing up in Nutbush, Tennessee and becoming an international superstar.

She sang out loud and chanted in secret. This is what Anna Mae did when her then-husband wasn’t around, she chanted for her life. Unlike what was commonly believed, through the depiction in the stellar film “What’s Love Got to do with It?”, she was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism through a white woman who Ike brought to the home. His house. His rules. How interesting his karma to have delivered absolute happiness to someone he was abusing. Her relative happiness could be identified in her ability to get out of his house, out of the contracts and keep her stage-name. Her absolute happiness could be identified in her ability to forgive him and pray for his happiness and healing.

Tina Turner touches on common topics in any person’s life: difficult family relationships, societal pressures, and impasses that prevent someone from doing and being what they desire. Anna Mae cannot deny the racist structures that ruled around her, the seasons picking cotton, and becoming a mother in her teen years. There is common magic here, in her words, her stories that reveal how vulnerable people still have limitless potential and can make what they perceive as impossible, possible.

Tina discusses how the 10 Worlds function in her life (from her buddhist practice). The 10 worlds are the ten states of life: hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity, heaven, learning, realization, bodhisattva and Buddhahood. The Buddhist terminology would label the 10 worlds as follows: the realms of hell, hungry spirits, animals, asuras, human beings, heavenly beings, voice-hearers, cause-awakened ones, bodhisattva and Buddhas. The mutual possession of the 10 worlds means that each of the 10 worlds has all of the 10 worlds inherent within it. Subsequently within the 10 worlds are the 10 factors. The 10 factors of life are 10 aspects shared by all living beings of the 10 worlds. These include appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relational, latent affect, manifest affect, and their consistency from beginning to end.

From “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace: Selections from the works of Daisaku Ikeda” the 10 worlds are broken down into habit patterns. “just as a spring returns to its original shape after being stretched, people tend to revert to their own basic tendency. But even if one’s basic life tendency is the world of hell, it doesn’t mean that one will remain in that state 24 hours a day. That person will still move from one life state to another — for instance, sometimes manifesting the world of humanity, sometimes the world of anger, and so on… Even if they momentarily manifest the world of bodhisattva, however, they will quickly revert to their basic life tendency of the world of anger.”

This is to say that things are always going on. That roller coaster people often talk about, that’s what we’re all on, all the time. For some, the roller coaster is just creeping up to the highest height about to breach over the top. For others the roller coaster is taking the turns, which are exciting and also unnerving. This type of awareness is not for coaches and gurus and meditative practitioners. This type of awareness is for everyone to grasp, whatever their capacity. Wisdom is truly the notion of considering the same ideas with more depth, precision and relatability for all people.

Tina Turner is an example of a life of gratitude. Not one of perfection and protection from pain or public scrutiny. She faced each phase of her life as a rebirth. To be born a human is rare. To be reborn in the same lifetime into enlightenment through the wisdom of one’s suffering is the ultimate expression of Buddha-nature.

Pose Season 3: Oh! We Buddha

Season 3 of Pose began “On the Run” and started with a bang. Or rather the crashing sound of the universe as Billy Porter’s Pray Tell enters a room and says “Oh! We Buddha…Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” For me, hearing that phrase, repeated 3 times at the top of the show, was a signal. A blessing on the final chapter of this journey.

In Episode 3, “The Trunk”, Mother Elektra’s past comes back for a reckoning. We see the timeline reveal how Elektra became the woman before us. The trunk was the only thing she had left from her family home before she was kicked out. The trunk is where we first saw Elektra place a dark secret; a wealthy client who overdosed on his preferred drug. To protect herself, the girls rally to “cocoon” the man, this specter on their safety and survival. He remains there for years with the company of Elektra’s finest furs and pine scented air fresheners.

She had to leave it all behind. She only wanted her things, but her things were in her mother’s house. What is in mother’s house, belongs to mother. Elektra sobs “but what’s inside belongs to me…please, it’s all I have!”

When Blanca, Ricky and Papi come to help, they are thrust again into the face of violence and fear. Upon bringing the trunk to their apartment, Blanca suggests they hide the large black box as an altar. A dead body resting beneath a space to pray. It is a clear symbol of life and death existing simultaneously. Inextricably linked to one another and the challenges we face in between.

Blanca tells the trunk, its contents, “there, there, you’re safe now”, despite the stench of decomposition, the heaviness that made it difficult to carry. “This trunk held some of her most prized treasures, all her dreams. And she gave them all away for us.”

I can’t help but to believe that the presence of Angelica Ross on this show has helped to weave in the very practical aspects of Nichiren Buddhism. Cut to Candy in a flashback of the House of Abundance before they fell apart. Elektra again takes it upon herself to go to the piers to work. There, she meets Cubby, Lemar and Angel. She sends them to her home, calls herself mother, disappearing in the night to feed her growing family. This is the first family to retrieve her trunk from her own mother’s home.

“Oh, I thought somebody without a hammer said something.”

Lemar retorts that he didn’t know what kind of “house” he was joining, as they attempt to break in. With fierce protection, Candy guffs “huh, you say something…oh I thought somebody without a hammer said something.” This is the House of Abundance. Which begat the House of Evangelista, the House of Wintour and the House of Ferocity. Three strong houses built on the desire for freedom, autonomy and a stand alone spirit.

Pray Tell continues his journey to accept the circumstances of his life. His health conditions and his alcoholism. Elektra continues to ebb and flow between the role of matriarch and an independent woman who needs no one. Except now, these two Icons need their chosen families to show up for them so that they may alter the course of their lives.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

To Make a Vow: Growth in Partnerships

Do you want a happy, healthy, fulfilling relationship or do you want Instagramable pictures?

Do you need to be seen smiling all the time or does your partner know that despite the look on your face, your heart is in the same place?

What is growth to you? Is it achieving more, reaching a milestone of age or talent? Is it evolving and finding flexibility in the standards and structures you’ve set? It could be the simple act of creating or respecting new boundaries.

Setting vows at the start of your marriage frames them as a promise that will then be formed into short, medium and long term goals. Once you feel fulfilled in some aspect of the relationship, you’ll tell yourself a vow has been met. But really, a commitment-vow is a determination you make and work to uphold. The proof that you are meeting your vow is how your partner feels, and the residual effects of reciprocity. Often “you’re not living up to…” stems from the framework set at the start of the commitment, not the marriage itself, but it seeps into the reasons why people cross the threshold. They are attempting to prove, through force and control, that the relationship will live up to the vows.

Expectations are implicit in relationships. Much of the work we have to do as individuals is to reduce or reframe the expectations we have of others. Are these expectations based on what we believe the other person is capable of doing or are they based on what we want to receive from them?

Vows should be personal. Even if someone (else) has said them before; they should mean something and align with your values and intentions. They are not just dreams and wishes. They are actionable. They are based in truth, not just the want of truth. If you’ve ever been told “I love you”—would you not believe it real and authentic if it was said again?

(Do you know you are lovable or are you asking, nay, expecting love from a source that is not for you?)