My name is Anukriti Verma, a proud Soka Youth. Today I stand here to share my human revolution over the past 10 years of my practice.
In 2003, my dad who is a mechanical engineer decided to shift to the Middle East for work. End of the year, my mom left her permanent teaching job in Delhi and moved with him along with my then 5 years old sister. So with my family moving there, I was left under care of my grandparents back in Delhi to study for my 10th board exams.
2 years later in 2005, my dad quit his job and the whole family shifted back to Delhi with my dad diagnosed with severe depression. He had been taking heavy antidepressants and drugs to overcome the culture shock and clear disparity of Indians in the Arab land.
So here we were, back in Delhi with no family member in the house earning a salary while both my sister and I were still continuing our study.
Amidst these situations, I was introduced to the wonderful philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin by a neighbour. I joined in sheer curiosity since I was told that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like a magic jewel that will solve all your problems!
A few months later, my mom with 15 years of experience got to join a temporary demeaning teaching job, where she was not only unhappy but also disrespected. My sister was put to a local school where she unlearnt all her good habits. My dad struggled to find a new job but his efforts were in vain.
On the brighter side, I introduced my family to the practice and completed no less than a million daimoku in less than 6 months. Those days were tough but our spirit to fight the evil was even stronger. Our faith as family was so pure and seeking that we would just sit and chant for hours to the Gohonzon for all our answers. There were nights where my mother cried like a child and prayed to the Gohonzon for the financial karma to change.
We received small benefits and protection over time. Dad was unemployed but he was very soon recovering from the depression and he had completely quit the drugs. I had made a point to participate in all the meetings possible, prepare for song copies, read for concepts, and at other times just go and chant with other struggling members.
As Ikeda Sensei said, “Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring.” When we are amidst problems, it is like being in winter, however I was assured that this winter for my family will change to spring very soon. I was always compelled by Nichiren’s resolve that, when we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we transform our family’s karma seven generations in the past, as well as seven generations into the future.
After two long years of struggle, my parents got a job and we overcame the financial karma of our family. Meanwhile, I had got through a design college and was happy about the course and a 25% scholarship. Meanwhile, the whole family was actively involved in Gakkai activities and we also offered our house for any meetings or activities.
The same year, I also got deeply attracted to a guy whom I met at a school reunion. We could not reason out what we liked about each other but enjoyed each other’s company. This relationship took a serious turn after a year of fondness. He became so over-possessive that I felt suffocated at the thought him. Although I tried explaining him that I needed space, he started blaming that the change in my attitude towards him was because of my practice. I was shocked and immediately took guidance. My senior in faith asked me to pray for his true nature to emerge.
I chanted like I never did before. This time I chanted not for myself but for others and my district to emerge as a strong land of courageous youth division. I paid my gratitude to the Gohonzon for all the protection I received. I saw a shift in my attitude from being a self-centred person to an outgoing person who truly wanted to help others. Within a few months of constant efforts to strengthen my three pillars of faith practice and study, I became a strong pillar myself – I was determined and unshaken by any problem that would come my way.
Towards the end of 2009, I had the courage and wisdom to end this turbulent and abusive romantic relationship.
As Ikeda Sensei Ikeda wrote, “When our determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction we desire. The moment we resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in our being will immediately orient itself toward our success. On the other hand, if we think, ‘This is never going to work out,’ then at that instant, every cell in our being will be deflated and give up the fight.”
With this spirit I kick-started 2010 to fulfil a long term dream of studying at a very reputed college in Bombay. I realized that I had always undervalued my potential and the power of the Gohonzon. The two years in Bombay were no less than a rollercoaster with me having multiple fractures and injured limbs, but a soul much stronger from within!
I was closely connected with most members in my district. To my surprise, some of the district meetings were even held inside the hostels. Even with hundreds and thousands of young people around, I could not introduce people to this philosophy. I would chant regularly and my faith was strong, but I lacked the courage to talk and convince people about my beliefs.
In 2012, I moved to Bangalore with a campus placement with many dreams. I wanted to do good work as I love what I do. Worklife in Bangalore was tougher than I imagined but now I was a person with lots of patience. Patience in itself is a great challenge and it often holds the key to breaking through a seeming impasse.
I shifted my focus back to faith and started making members’ struggles my own. It gave me strength to deal better at my workplace. Although I had a tough boss, I also had immense patience. If I look back at myself 5 years back, I would have shut myself in a room, howled and cried and go without food the whole day. And now, it was just walking back home from work and making a stop on the way to meet and encourage a member. A year back there were 2, now we had 10 YWDs in a single block.
After my past broken relationship, I had never wished nor hoped to fall in love. But they say that love finds you when you least expect it. In my office, I made a friend, who not only became my pillar of support but also my inspiration and my strength. We would talk long hours about our dreams and what we want to do in life.
Sensei said,” If you are neglecting things you should be doing, forgetting your purpose in life because of the relationship you’re in, then you’re on the wrong path. A healthy relationship is one in which two people encourage each other to reach their respective goals while sharing each other’s hopes and dreams.”
Today, both of us are very ambitious and share a motivated self, always moving forward towards achieving our dreams and never regressing.
Now to the present in 2014…
You would have noticed that we all have at least one inner devil which we find so difficult to overcome that it often overpowers us. And for me, that one inner devil was “lack of confidence” in myself.
I don’t know when it kicked in but it often disturbed me. When I expressed my work-related woes to my Bangalore office management, they asked if I would go to Pune at the headquarter office and work with a new team.
I prayed for a good mentor and a good working environment and just took the shift as a positive change.
After reaching Pune, within 2 months, I realized that I had been literally fooled with the kind of work and it was just the same as Bangalore with a different name. However, I did get a good working environment and a good mentor like I had prayed for.
I took this as a positive aspect and tried to learn as much as I could and did not give up! I started exerting myself at my workplace to make my presence felt and showcase my potential whenever I got the chance.
Slowly, I started realising that I was overcoming the “lack of confidence” and started sharing Nichiren Daishonin’s philosophy with most of my colleagues.
Something that I could not do in my college in Bombay with hundreds and thousands of people around – I could so naturally do now even when I was even unhappy with my work situation. I felt very grateful to this radical change I saw in myself. I paid immense gratitude for this. I made my mission to talk to one person and encourage them every day.
This year, I planned to buy a car and managed to save enough funds and buy one just 2 weeks after deciding it. Now, I can take members in my kosen-rufu car for all meetings. The situation at work continued to be the same; however I became a person who everybody adored in office. I made some dear friends and even formed a good bond with my boss.
2 months back, I quit my job for a fresh opportunity. The job is based in Shanghai with the exact focussed work that I had been praying to do since the last year. I chanted a lot for clarity before taking up the offer, so that at least am convinced about the job. I know that my decision is not going to be an easy one but as Sensei said, “Life is best lived by being bold and daring!”- and what better time to do that now in your youth.
Today, I am determined that I will WIN because my life is important. I am determined to use my life as a shining example to show the greatness of Nichiren’s life transforming Buddhist philosophy and inspire others to do the same.
I will become fearless like the lion king no matter what and face my situations with a bold face.