A journey in mentor-disciple relationship

I started practicing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism in 2009 in Delhi. However, my familiarity with Gakkai dated back to 2005. It was in that year that one of my practitioner friends shared some of the monthly issues of Value Creation, which contained the guidance and writings of Daisaku Ikeda.

I was also given Ikeda sensei’s A Youthful Dairy, which he shared his journey in this practice during the most challenging times of post-World War 2 in Japan, to read. I found sensei’s writings to be grounded in everyday realities.

I felt an instant connect with him, especially his picture in a Japanese fan dance pose that now I know was to entertain his precious fellow members in faith. Somewhere deep down, I realized that all his writings were based on his own life. There was indeed a warm grandfather-granddaughter bonding that I felt as I flipped through his writings and his pictures.

Nevertheless, that was that. I never joined the practice nor could I bring myself to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo then. Looking back on time, I could make sense of all the efforts my friends made to have me attend discussion meetings as a guest and observer.

In April 2009, I started practicing Daishonin’s Buddhism. With every meeting, I came back fresh and my Saturdays and Sundays became more meaningful.  It was also during that time that one of my uncles died and I found courage and support to face it with strength with thanks to Ikeda sensei’s writings on Life and Death.

One of my many experiences of the initial year was fulfilling my dream to visit the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden in Manesar. I was shown the pictures of the Garden in 2005, and cherished a deep desire to visit it. But I learnt that it takes good fortune and a mission to visit this garden!

Also I was not practicing then. Hence, with all these doubts, I found it difficult to get this dream fulfilled.

I am happy to report that after just two years of joining this practice and chanting deeply about this past dream, I could visit this Garden thrice. This included my visit as a Byakuren (volunteer) during the historic moment of inauguration of the World Peace monument on 16 January 2011.  All these moments and many more, brought me closer to the practice and to the enormity of the number of lives that it has touched!

I tried attending every discussion meeting and Gosho lecture without fail and found joy in activities and chanting with each member in Delhi. These all came with the strong support from my seniors in faith. I was also guided by seniors to understand this life philosophy with my own life, and not theoretically alone.

One of the many concepts that attracted me was Human Revolution, which is bringing about a fundamental change in oneself. The stubborn person that I am, who found the word change itself harassing, ‘fundamental change’ was even more dreadful!

Surprisingly, though, my constant practice did bring about many changes. One of them is my ability to share my problems with others. Also, I am rather more emotional than wise!  This practice has somewhat enabled me to have profound understanding of other’s problems and not let my emotions interfere in chanting about them. I could also mystically change my relationship with a girl who I thought I would never be able to talk to for life, after a sour incident.

However, as most of us know the journey in faith is a test of its own. To quote the famous lines of Nichiren Daishonin, “As practice progresses and understanding deepens, three obstacles and four devils will invariably emerge”.

In as much as this practice brings us benefits, it also brings to the core our negative life tendencies, and until we cut them off at the root they keep resurfacing. One of the much negativity in my life had been leaving a job without finding a new one.

While I thought I had overcome this, actually I had not. Also, I kept indulging in the thought that I can never gain success in my career.

I had come to Bangalore in 2011 and it took me just two months to set foot in an industry that I longed to work for. Although I could extend my stay there from the initial goal of six months to two years and could also win over many negative functions within the organization, besides making deep friendship, I found no joy in my work.

I felt righteous about the fact that quitting would be a good decision, given the stagnancy in my role. Hence, even though my superior urged me to stay and sought another year of commitment from me during a personal interaction, I openly told her about my decision to quit in December 2013. And I did quit finally, without consulting any senior in faith and without getting another job.

However, I could not sense my arrogance as I felt comfort in the fact that I left on a positive and warm note. I also felt good about the honesty and sincerity that flowed through in our dialogue!

Nevertheless, I decided that I will remain positive about my coming victory. I could sustain this initial confidence for over two months. But as days passed, this confidence waned and I felt an inexpressible fear inside me about bringing on the same difficult situations that I was in, in my initial days of practice.

It was during that time that I was given responsibility for my block and this became an opportunity to regain my trust in the practice and myself. I determined that no matter what I will show victory in the place where I am in.

This was purely based on Nichiren Daishonin’s guidance of taking responsibility of one’ own negative karma and turning it into a mission. I tried and reached out to all active and inactive members, chanted with them, and become a part of their struggles and victories. There were times, when I would almost feel incapable of going to encourage anyone, but with earnest daimoku for their happiness, I could encourage them from my heart.

My daimoku target reached a new dimension as I vibrantly chanted towards the 3 May campaign of 2014, leaving all my worries aside. My seniors also gave me opportunities to become emcees in many meetings and I found joy in chanting for all my district members.

The months of April and May brought on the news of death of two our beloved family members. I was very fond of them and looked up to them as role models. But taking away from Ikeda sensei’s guidance  on the eternity of life, I determined to build inner strength and promised them to report my victory, at the most crucial time. A senior also supported me to overcome this feeling of loss.

It was during that period of intense struggle that I determined to write a letter to Ikeda sensei to share my struggles and determination in it. I am happy to report that I was told of his response to my letter where he sent me his best regards.

But the inner demons of negativity and hopelessness kept resurfacing, when I almost felt like giving up the battle and go home. One of my seniors guided me as to how this battle was something in which I can bring out my Buddhahood.

She also suggested me to take this period to deepen my study of New Human Revolution (a serialized book), and I started reading them with my own life. Basing any study on daimoku has its own charm, and I realized it with my own life, as with reading every NHR, I could encourage at least one person in my environment.

At times when I felt like a fool and coward, I reminded myself of the line: The wise will rejoice and the fools will retreat and I decided not to retreat until my victory. I kept chanting for the right opportunity to emerge which was primarily in the social development sector, where I could fulfil my mission as Sensei’s disciple.

Victory seemed nowhere near, but the determination to win strengthened as I determined to fight for my district.

On the other hand, my younger brother was struggling towards building a career as a music composer.

Seniors guided me to trust my prayer and that I could create causes right now, without regretting the past. And as I did so, hence even amid difficult financial situations, I found support without least expecting them.

I also made prayers of deep repentance to the Gonhonzon over my impulsive act and promised not to repeat it again. I chanted so as to produce water from parched land, and based my each day on a Gosho line.

There were times when I questioned the worth of fighting a long-drawn battle. Ikeda sensei said: “Every effort you make in faith and practice will produce concrete results.”

Each morning I tried myself picking up through such simple yet profound encouragements from my mentor.

I am happy to report that the efforts of eight months saw its fruit in the month of August 2014. The company that I had kept applying to since February, finally called me over a newly created opening, and I cleared the interviews. The organisation is working towards creating jobs for millions.

For a person who has seen the effects of joblessness, this mission is rather overwhelming. It also fulfills one of my prayers of writing with a mission and towards a higher goal.

I am also happy to report that my brother has come up with his first film composition and is receiving rave reviews in Assam’s papers and social media over his good work. He has also determined to revolutionize the music scenario in the state of Assam.

Making the impossible possible is one of the essence of this practice and had it not been for the warm support of all the members and Ikeda sensei’s trust in me, this battle could never have been won.

My determinations now are:

  • To become a role model at work, as Ikeda sensei’s capable disciple
  • To introduce at least five family to practice by next February – my birth month
  • To strengthen and deepen my bond with each member in the spirit of many in body and one in mind
  • To become a genuinely strong and healthy person – both in body and mind
  • And most importantly, to enshrine the Gohonzon, which I had received in the month of December itself
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