“Press on with even stronger faith and conviction”

Ikeda Sensei said in one of his guidance: “When we encounter obstacles and persecution, it is all the more crucial that we exert ourselves with even greater determination. The more tempestuous the wind that buffets us, the more we must press on with even stronger faith and conviction. This is the behaviour of a true disciple of Nichiren Daishonin.” In overcoming her karma, this YWD from the Philippines faced many challenges, including a chronic depression due to an unfortunate incident in the past. Despite the hardships she encountered, the YWD continues to chant and move forward in her faith.  This is an open letter she wrote to President Ikeda, which she would like to share with everyone.

Dear Sensei,

I can’t thank you enough for propagating the Mystic Law to the rest of the world. I am a Young Women’s Division member from Cebu, Philippines. I started chanting five years ago.

I remember that when I came to the SGI center in Cebu, I was depressed, alone, and unhappy and you can even say that I was dying.

I had suffered chronic depression as long as I could remember.

In 2007, a few months before I started chanting, I suffered a nervous breakdown when something happened that would remind me of my childhood. You see, when I was four years old, a mentally challenged relative molested me.

What made things worse was the fact that my parents eventually found out. Probably because of shame or because of guilt, they pretended that nothing happened. I was kept as a dirty family secret.

For years I lived in shame, guilt, sadness and unhappiness. I grew up introverted, depressed, unhappy, and alone and you can say suicidal.

Although I never attempted to kill myself, I constantly thought about dying. In fact, I prayed constantly that I would die.

My life was miserable.

My entire existence was filled with suffering and pain. It is not an exaggeration to say that I never experienced happiness until I started chanting.

Of course, it would be many years of chanting, before I would be able to really smile and be happy.

Just one month before I was introduced to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I found myself in the psychiatrist’s office. She saw that I was shivering uncontrollably and crying.

I told her that a relative of mine had tried to court me. What made it so unbearable for me was the fact that what was taking place reminded me of what happened to me when I was four years old.

I was 29 years old at that time but the pain of being molested was still fresh on my mind.

You can call it mystic or perhaps it was really my destiny to chant, but believe it or not, the psychiatrist mentioned unfamiliar Buddhist terms to me.

She said, “In Buddhism, they call this repeated pattern, ‘karma’. It is your karma to be molested as a child and it is happening again with your other cousin. Your karma is to have your relatives be sexually attracted to you. What you need to do is to have your family karma cleansed so that the next generation will not suffer the same fate.”

I was a product of almost 15 years of Catholic upbringing and education. Although I had heard of the word ‘karma’, it was the first time that someone explained to me the concept.

What was so strange was that my own psychiatrist was telling me something about Buddhism. This was not the first time that this happened. My sister introduced me to concepts of Buddhism in early 2000 but she studied Hinayana Buddhism.

In 2005, one of my patients (I used to be a Physical therapist volunteer at a hospital) told me about Buddhism. She practiced Pure Land Buddhism though but I remember I read the books that she gave me. I also remember buying a book about Shakyamuni Buddha in the year 2003.

When my psychiatrist mentioned Buddhism, I really couldn’t understand how it was relevant to my condition. She told me that I might need to take anti-psychotic or anti-depressant pills.

She warned me however that I may become suicidal and may even attempt to take my own life. She told me that I would have to take it for two years but would have to be monitored because I may kill myself within those two years.

I thought about taking the pills but I knew in my heart that taking anti-depressants was not the solution.

I had seen one of my relatives spiral into depression when she started taking anti-depressants.  I just took the sleeping pills and brain vitamins that she prescribed to me. After two or three sessions, I stopped going to her.

One month later in March 2007, I would be introduced to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo through my female cousin.

Her husband who is half-Filipino, half-Japanese was introduced to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by a Japanese member who was visiting the Philippines at that time.

When my cousin told me to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo so that my wishes would come true, I didn’t hesitate. I started chanting almost immediately. Never did I imagine that chanting would totally change the entire course of my life.

Unfortunately, change didn’t happen overnight. I was one of the ‘lucky’ members who would experience great problems the moment they started chanting.

I can laugh about it now when I look back.

The obstacles and negativity that started coming out were relentless and lasted for years. As I am now approaching my fifth year of practice, I am able to see that it was for the best.

The first years of my practice allowed me to chant like no other member has chanted before. I was exhausted from work but still found the time to chant for two hours.

There were times that I would sleep on the floor due to exhaustion.

I chanted, chanted and chanted.

I had no other recourse because symptoms of my depression became stronger and stronger.

I could only rely on your words of encouragement to get me through the day. I would read your guidance and encouragement before and after I chanted.

Your guidance and the guidance of other members have encouraged me to never give up on chanting.

One member in particular is the SGI member who I will always be indebted for the rest of my life. She is an Indian Member and is a member of the Bharat Soka Gakkai in Mumbai.

She told me to work on the technical aspects of my chanting and gongyo. Call it mystic, but she was never meant to stay in the Philippines for three years.

For some strange reason, her studies were extended. She shared to me everything that she knew in the three years that she was here.

She left in early 2011 as I was in the process of finally overcoming my battle with depression.

I am so deeply grateful for that SGI member. I am also deeply grateful for you, Sensei.

If you had not created this organization, I would never have met a wonderful person such as that Indian SGI member who never gave up on me.

One of my wishes was to be able to feel gratitude. This wish has come true as I approach the fifth year of my practice.

Growing up, the concept of gratitude was alien to me. I could never be grateful for the life I was given.

For me to feel gratitude not just for my life, but also for my mentors in this practice, is such a big deal for me. I know that I am alive today, only because I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

I have already started to chant to lead a life full of value. I have already chanted that people who need Nam-myoho-renge-kyo would seek me and I would find them as well.

I have introduced Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to all of my friends, officemates and relatives.

Some of them have already started chanting. Two relatives received their own Gohonzon. One office mate also received a Gohonzon in 2011 after three years of chanting.

I still can’t see the complete picture yet. I haven’t achieved everything I had set out to do.

Unlike before, I am more hopeful for the future. My greatest benefit is the inconspicuous kind, the kind of benefit that I had lamented when I started chanting.

In fact, I openly complained about it. I would say, “Why are most of my benefits the inconspicuous kind? Why can’t I be like the other members who have visible benefits? Why can’t I see my benefits with my own eyes?”

I realize now that having strength, courage, compassion, determination, perseverance and patience should be the benefits that ALL members should chant for.

They are the best kind. Although you can’t see these benefits, you can certainly feel them.

I can’t see my benefits but I feel them. I feel that I am a more confident person. I feel happier and more determined.

What I can see though is that I have started changing the course of my life from one filled with misery and from one filled with hope.

During the first years of my practice, I would always repeat the Gosho passage and the passage that you would always emphasize in your Buddhist encouragement.

The passage goes something like this: “Winter always turns into Spring.”

For someone like me who has experienced Winter all her life, I am hopeful for when my life will turn into Spring.

Words can’t express my gratitude.

That is why as an act of gratitude, I always do my part in spreading the Mystic Law to everyone that I meet.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Do your human revolution and winter will turn to spring

There is always a tendency to blame others for the problems we faced, rather than examining if these problems were actually caused by our actions/behaviours, directly or indirectly. Instead of having this attitude when facing the possibility of a divorce, this member did her human revolution, deepen her faith, chanted stronger daimoku and participated in kosen-rufu. Eventually, she saved her marriage. You can also read her first testimonial by clicking here.

I started chanting in June 2011, daily for at least 1 to 2 hours, sometime even more than 2 hours. I took up faith with Nichiren Buddhism because of the relationship with my husband.

I have been sincerely practicing daimoku with precise prayer. 6 months ago, I was suffering from a broken relationship with my husband.

I was very sad, as I do not wish to have such broken family/relationship and I always wish to give my children a very harmonious family.

When I was almost about to give up the relationship, a Soka Gakai member gave me a lot of support, sharing her experience on how she overcame and rescued her marriage through Nichiren Buddhism.

The problem that I faced was not a simple one. It was the results of family and relationship issues, personality and job pressure from both parties.

All these created the reasons for divorce.

I took up faith in Nichiren Buddhism and made the decision to take up the challenge to rescue marriage life.

A week after I started chanting sincerely, my husband sent me a message telling me “he need more time to do the best on family, and hope to have my understanding on him”.

It was a miracle from daimoku to the Gohonzon. The divorce did not proceed. Thus, I continued to increase daimoku daily to clear my karma.

I know this was my karma, which caused my husband to be under depression in a “world of darkness”. I vow to change my karma; to turn winter into spring; to change poison to medicine.

Through the chanting, I know everything happened with a reason.

It seemed like my life took the path to take up faith in Nichiren Buddhism because of this marriage issue. Through the chanting, my relationship with my in-law also improve and we become closer day-by-day.

Chanting to the Gohonzon is like a mirror reflecting ourselves; we become aware of our weaknesses.  I started to change my weakness and do my human revolution to build a better relationship with my husband.

Even though the divorce is out of the way at this moment, the problem between us could not be simply resolved overnight.

However, I never give up every bad thing that happened in my life. I continue with my strong prayer, attend weekly meeting and do kosen-rufu.

I believe deeply in the Gohonzon that I will turn my life to spring in one day soon.

“The process of changing poison into medicine begins when we approach difficult experiences as an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and to strengthen and develop our courage and compassion. Suffering can thus serve as a springboard for a deeper experience of happiness. From the perspective of Buddhism, inherent in all negative experiences is this profound positive potential.”

Whenever bad/worst thing happened, I would chant to the Gohonzon with a precise prayer.

“Apologize to the Gohonzon whatever I did wrong in previous time and current time, I must turn the poison into medicine.”

As a result of this unwavering faith, all bad circumstances improve for the better without any expectation.

Through chanting, I started to change my personality, thinking and attitude. Before I took up faith with Nichiren Buddism, I like to nag my family members and at my husband for not helping with the housework even he was back from work and was very tired and feeling down.

After chanting, I now have a positive thinking.

Before, I like to compare others’ husbands with mine but after chanting daimoku, I learned that nobody is perfect. I have to accommodate the weakness of my partner, cherish the life that he has given me – this is a true love towards my husband.

I know that I need more daimoku to get my husband out from a “dark” situation.

Even though I know he was very close with a married woman (she was going through a divorce with her husband), I never give up our marriage.

I continue chanting to and have deep faith in the Gohonzon. I will turn winter to spring soon. I chanted sincerely to the Gohonzon that my hubby will be able to apprehend the situation clearly and correctly.

With precise and strong daimoku for a few months, he did not contact that woman anymore.

I am really thankful to the Gohonzon and the faith in Nichiren Buddhism. Nowadays, our relationship become better day-by-day, and we are planning for our new baby soon.

I am sending a lot of daimoku to my husband everyday whenever I am chanting. I pray to the Gohonzon that I want my husband to be a capable leader and contribute to kosen-rufu.

Nichiren Daishonin stated, “If both of you unite in encouraging their [your husbands’] faith, you will follow the path of the Dragon King’s daughter and become the model for women attaining enlightenment in the evil latter Day of the Law” (MW-1, 146).

My first testimonial was published on this blog on 12 Nov 2011. I would like to share more with all the members and wish that my testimonial could help everyone to handle their relationship problem with their family/husband.

I wish everyone would have great wisdom from chanting daimoku.

Remember – Do not give up even we are facing any problem/obstacles during our daimoku to the Gohonzon.

The problems that happen in our life are our negative karma and we have to chant strong daimoku whether we are sad or happy.

For those Soka members who need my help and advice, you can probably give me your email, contact number in the post, I will try my best to contact you.

Note from the Editor – For those of you who wish to contact the member who contributed this testimonial, please send your email/contact details to actualproof[at]yahoo.com {[at] = @} and we will forward it to her, so that your contact details are kept confidential.

Unflagging faith

In one of President Ikeda’s guidance, he said, “There are no obstacles that cannot be overcome by chanting daimoku. There are no deadlocks in Buddhism. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the “wonderful means” for breaking through all obstacles and opening up our lives limitlessly with courage and composure. That is why the Daishonin urged, “Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other.” ” (MW1, p246) This is what a WD did. With unwavering faith and strong daimoku, she managed to help her husband achieved an important victory, which they were unable to for many years.

Hi everyone, today I am sharing with you yet another visible victory of how every wish is fulfilled when you practice Nichiren Buddhism and the Mystic Law.

My husband is working for a prestigious company and heading the sales for a region. His profile and his hard working nature combine to make him super busy with a hectic lifestyle.

In private banks, we have performance-based appraisals and promotions, especially the performance in the last quarter matters the most.

All these years at the company, we have seen a very strong karmic pattern that, whenever the month of appraisal and promotion come, despite being the top performer for the first 8 months for all ranks, my husband’s performance would drop in the last few months of the year.

This would push his promotion by another 6 months or a year.

This pattern really used to upset him and despite doing all his best, he could never achieve the high level of performance in the most important months.

I used to challenge the situation every time, but somehow rather than chanting for his promotion, I tend to end up chanting for him to be happy and be able to get stronger to change his karma.

In December 2010, he could not get promoted as he was not recommended for the promotion, even though his performance this time was very good in the last quarter.

This meant that the karmic pattern we thought was delaying the promotions was not the reason; there had to be something else.

I really prayed to understand how his office works. And yes, I got the answer. It was the perception of individuals involved in making things happen.

There and then in the beginning of this year I am determined, that my husband’s seniors of him need to be changed and I sincerely prayed for them to see the best in him, which was usually ignored because he is a very quiet person.

Strangely after 3 months, my husband started to report occasional incidents of his seniors appreciating him and taking care of his family obligations.

I also prayed determinedly for his promotion to happen, be whatever the karmic pattern. I was so confident that I declared to him that nothing at all could stop his promotion this year.

As June approached, which was the month of promotion, his performance was also fine but for some reason, the appraisal got delayed by two months as the company wanted to change some policies.

I kept praying for each individual’s happiness who were making these policies and encouraged myself with following lines from Toda Sensei: “So, with unflagging faith, enjoy the great benefits of the Gohonzon as your desires direct you. No prayer gets unanswered. You can attain any wish.”

This was exactly my attitude of “unflagging faith”. But the moment he submitted his appraisal form, his performance started to reach the bottom in the most important criteria.

Ups and downs there were but he had never touched the bottom position ever in all 9 years at his company. July, August and September were the tough months but nothing changed.

It looked like as if he was glued to the bottom position. Nothing was working for him…..

The company kept delaying the promotion exercise, which gave us hope that things would change by then.

As Sensei said, we must “never be defeated by the visible”.

Here I was testing my own faith. That if my heart is true for kosen-rufu and if my faith remains unflagging, then this is the proof I wanted to testify my own self.

His promotion looked impossible though.

One day in October 2011, while he was going to office, I just looked at his tortured body and a depressed face. The sight of him was enough to get me running to the Gohonzon, and out of deep concern, I chanted in earnest to see a smile on his face for daimoku was my only solution.

Suddenly, the same day in the evening, he came to me with a big smile, which I had not seen for 6 months, that something strange happened in the office.

He said that even though he was placed last in the entire criterion, the overall scores the company’s HR considered ranked him in third place.

He is still in a dazed as to how that could happen.

I believed that this was a result of the changes in the company’s policies. I continued to chant with confidence for his promotion and finally during last month, the news of his promotion arrived and to top it all, it was backdated to June 2011!

We were overjoyed and thanked all his seniors. I did not know if I could break the karmic pattern of bad performance in the important quarter but his promotion shows how important strong faith and daimoku are, to overcome our lives’ karma.

My daimoku reached and touched everybody’s life in his office; those who were directly or indirectly involved in getting him promoted.

With this experience, I am determined to change another impossible thing in his office affecting the entire organization, thus deepening my commitment for kosen-rufu.

Prayer is the Essence to Victory

President Ikeda said, “It is important that our prayers be specific and concrete. Being vague and unfocused when you chant is like shooting an arrow without looking at the target. When you chant, it should be with a strong and passionate resolve to make your prayer a reality. To have the attitude, “If I chant, everything will be all right” is just wishful thinking. Earnest prayer – prayer infused with one’s whole heart and being – cannot fail to be communicated to the Gohonzon.”  This was what Elsie Cheong, a WD member from Singapore, did when she was faced with the challenges she faced.  Everytime she encountered an obstacle, including a life-threathening one, Elsie would chant with strong prayers to overcome it to show actual proof of her practice.

I have been practising Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism for 27 years and I must say that my practice of faith has brought very significant transformation in my life.

When one person in the family becomes ill sick or encounters a mishap, all in the family would be worried sick. I vividly remember the day I started chanting out of desperation and incredible panic when my elder son, Adrian, then seven years old, had an accident at school.

He tripped and fell, hit his head and sustained a fractured skull. He was rushed to the hospital and directly to operation theatre.

After a week, the wound turned septic and a second operation was carried out. Unfortunately, he was allergic to the muscle relaxant and fell into a coma.

The Best Decision I Ever Made
At that point, I recalled that the strength of my parents was their practice of Nichiren Buddhism.  My mother encouraged me, “To change your karma, and to realize the full recovery of your son from his head injury, you must embrace this wonderful Buddhism and not despair! Believe in the immeasurable power of faith in the Mystic Law!”

After chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together with my parents and members from the district over a period of time, Adrian gradually began to recover and eventually, was give a clean bill of health by the doctor.

Through this experience, I was absolutely convinced of the greatness of the Mystic Law and in December 1984, I received the Gohonzon, the object of devotion in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.  It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made in my life.

My parents had taken up faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism in 1975 in Malaysia when my father had a stroke and was half paralysed as a result. Through diligently carrying out the practice of faith, study and practice, he eventually recovered and even accepted leadership responsibility in the SGI organization in Malaysia.

The year 1995, was an eventful year for me. That year, my father suffered another major stroke and passed away peacefully.

For the first time after my father’s passing, I began to have a deeper understanding of the Buddhist concept of the eternity of life and the true meaning of Buddhahood.

Shortly thereafter, we moved to Australia and settled in Sydney. This was a dream came true as I have always wanted to live there, and where I knew my children would have a good education.

Things seemed set for a blissful future. We made a group of wonderful friends and enjoyed ourselves together.

Despite outward appearances that I was doing fine in life, in actual fact, it was not. Complaints and ingratitude quietly emerged.

As a result, I suffered chronic insomnia and started taking sleeping pills and anti-depressants. My practice became inconsistent and gradually led to my poor emotional and physical state.

My life condition was at an all-time low.

My Experience with Cancer
In the summer of 1995, two months after the death of my father, I had a car accident. Although I was only driving at a moderate speed, I skidded and slammed head-on into a bridge.

Within minutes, the ambulance arrived and took me to the hospital. The paramedic and police said the accident could have been a fatal one as my car was a total wreck.

However, I was only treated for shock and drowsiness. My blood test showed traces of tranquilisers.

I used to think that since I was practising Buddhism, my life would be smooth-sailing and I had nothing to worry about; this was a misconception of this practice of faith which I did not realize and amounted to disrespect for my own life.

The accident was the start of more unhappiness. I refused to identify many unresolved issues, which was damaging to my well-being.

Feeling depressed and exhausted most of the time, routine tasks assumed mountainous proportions. I lost weight and noticed that my hair was falling out excessively.

My practice continued to slacken further.

Then, came the fateful day in May 1996. Till today, it remains painfully etched in my mind.

I received the shattering news that I had cancer. “But I never smoke or drink!” was my first thoughts. I could not accept it.

My tongue and neck soon became noticeably swollen. The prognosis looked bleak and I was told that perhaps the cause of my sickness could be traced back to some 16-18 months ago when I started experiencing tremendous mental stress.

Despair and helplessness pervaded my entire being. I was in a state of denial couple with shock and disbelief. What I feared most, “cancer”, was in my body!

When I was younger, I had a very unpleasant experience which led to my phobia of cancer.

My sister-in-law, whom I had little affection for, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thereafter, she isolated herself in depression. I told her about Buddhism and chanting but she chose not to believe.

As I witnessed her suffering, it dawned on me how cancer could plague and destroy a family’s happiness. And the worst thing was the fact that cancer could happen to any one, rich or poor, young of old, men, women or children alike.

Sadly for my sister-in-law, the cancer spread throughout her body and she died a miserable death, leaving behind two young children.

After this incident I thought to myself, “If cancer strikes me, I would kill myself rather than experience the suffering it brings.” That was how much I feared cancer.

I came home from the consultation, angry with the Gohonzon and myself. At that point, I started to doubt my practice, “Will I ever be able to overcome my illness through faith in the Mystic Law?”

My family was also badly affected. Thoughts of death raced through our minds and all we did was shed tears as we extended loving assurances to one another.

The doctors said they would try their best to treat the cancer but the shock I experienced could not be treated. No matter what they said, they could not give me hope or courage.

At that moment, I suddenly recalled the many experiences shared by fellow members and how they overcame many of life’s adversities based on power of daimoku and how they changed their lives.

Actual Proofs are the Best Encouragement
I immediately sought guidance from my senior in faith. She encouraged me by quoting one of Daishonin’s writings: “Believe in this mandela with all your heart. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1 p 412)

She told me to chant sincerely and not to even think of death as that would be allowing negativity to seep into my prayer and my life.

As the day to my surgery drew nearer, I increased my chanting, strongly supported by my family and fellow members.

I chanted for strength and courage to go through this ordeal with composure and confidence instead of despair.

I resolved that now is the time to change my karma. Based on earnest prayers, I refused to succumb to this illness. I wanted to win and work for world peace and give my time to support others in similar predicaments.

However, I was worried sick about the cost of the surgery and hospital bills as my health insurance had in fact expired.

But with my good fortune and protection from the Buddhist gods (protective forces in the universe), we found a Professor who specialised in Head and Neck cancer in one of Sydney’s best teaching hospitals.

He gathered a team of medical doctors, including a neck surgeon, a plastic surgeon who specialised in micro-surgery, a dental surgeon and a team of interns to carry out the operation.

Every expense, radiation and post-operation treatment, like dental treatment was fully covered by the government. What good fortune!

With this, my battle against cancer began.

During the operation, the cancer in the tongue and thirteen lymph nodes from the neck were removed; a piece of flesh was taken from my left arm to repair half of the tongue as well as four back molars were removed to give space to my new tongue.

The surgery took twelve hours. I was in the hospital for three weeks; the first week in intensive care and the rest for various treatment and speech therapy. What followed was seven weeks of daily radiation.

My mouth and throat were inflamed and was filled with painful ulcers. My lower face was burnt and swollen; tissues and muscles were destroyed, including my salivary glands.

I was very sensitive to my own mortality and quite often gripped by a fear of a relapse. Cancer and its treatment have a tendency to invoke powerful negative emotions.

While my anxiety was often suppressed, feelings of anger, self-denial and depression could not be contained.

As I chanted daimoku on the hospital bed, I told myself that if I had to die, I must have a painless and peaceful death.

If I still had a mission to fulfil in this world, then I must have the strength and courage to fight and show actual proof of the power of the Gohonzon.

But as I chanted, I felt a surge of courage and hope welling forth from the depths of my life. I decided, on my own accord, that cancer was not a death sentence.

I realised that happiness or unhappiness, it all decided by myself and that I must base my actions on my practice of faith. By so doing, I would definitely win and be victorious.

Through this experience, I began to realize that I am the main player in how I respond to illness and it is crucial that I must take ownership for all outcomes in my life.

I summoned forth the courage and strength and made a vow to dedicate my life for the realization of kosen-rufu.

Slowly but surely, I treaded the path to recovery.

There were ups and downs during the process but one thing was for sure – I was recovering for sure.

With daimoku and faith as my pillar of support, warm and constant encouragement from my family and fellow members, I was finally able to recover fully.

I have been cancer-free for 15 years now and have since received profound benefits and protection for my family.

More Actual Proofs of Faith
In 2008, we received more amazing benefits and actual proof. My daughter, Emily, was ready to have a baby after five years of marriage.

I chanted for her to conceive before the year ended. My daughter could not really believe that my Buddhist practice would actually help her in any way.

For this reason, I was determined that to show actual proofs to my daughter. On December 28, three days before the “deadline”, Emily found out she was pregnant. It was a fantastic news for the family.

My adorable granddaughter, Alexa, is now a bouncy and happy twenty-four- month-old bundle of joy.

My husband, Tet, supported me all the way through my ups and downs in life and has now joined me in organisation activities after witnessing the change in me and the family.

At the beginning of 2010, Emily confided that she would like to have a baby brother for Alexa and could not stop worrying if it would happen again.

The opportunity came for me to once again offer prayers based on faith to manifest the beneficial power of the Mystic Law.

Again, I set a goal for my prayers to be realized latest by November, in time for Alexa and the new-born baby to attend the Fortune Baby ceremony which takes place on National Day, August 9, 2011.

I knew in my heart it has to happen and did not allow any doubt to creep in. November 28 brought actual proof again and my grandson was born prematurely on June 30, 2011but in time for the Fortune Baby ceremony. He is a healthy and robust little bundle of joy.

Looking back, it is truly amazing to see how far I have come in health, family and achieving my dreams.

Most of all, I have emerged more courageous and stronger with each obstacle I surmounted. I have also realized with my life that prayer is the essence to victory.

If it were not for my illness and challenges, I would probably not have been honoured with my current life as a Buddhist.

Therefore, I now see all that has happened to me as an opportunity to turn poison into medicine.

Life is never without challenges, I know there will continue to be obstacles along the way but I remain undeterred as I know that I am able to overcome them all through my Buddhist practice.

The sweat of our efforts becomes the greatest treasures of our lives

When we practised without any doubt in the Gohonzon, regardless of what happen in our life, even at time when our prayers do not seem to be answered at those moments, something better will eventually materialise. Ronmi Bora, a YWD from India, did not have any reservations about Nichiren Buddhism and was rewarded in the end.  She shared this testimonial with her fellow members on 16 July and it was a significant day for her.

A very good morning to everyone. Today on 16 July, I, Ronmi Bora would like to share my personal deep insight in Faith in the Mystic Law.

Nichiren’s philosophy indeed have opened the doors of positivity and confidence for me and made me believe that “every dark cloud has a silver lining”. I am indeed privilege to be a part of Soka Gakkai family.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to my dear friend, Chayanika from India, who introduced me to this life changing philosophy and practice.

And I still remember my first encounter with the Mystic Law 3 years ago, when I chanted for the first time in front of the Gohonzon for 40 minutes in Mumbai without even knowing the actual interpretation of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

But gradually, I have evolved from an ignorant girl to a headstrong and optimistic YWD and there has been no looking back.

And my journey so far has been really enthralling and truly my each day struggle for human revolution has been so worth the rocky ride.

One of my favourite quotes from the VC (our Soka publication) is a quote from Nichiren Daishonin: “Today there are people who have faith in the Lotus Sutra. The belief of some is like fire while that of others is like water. When the former listen to the teachings, their passion flares up like fire, but as time goes on, they tend to discard their faith. To have faith like water means to believe continuously without ever regressing.” (WND-1,899)

In similar context, I relate my growth in faith because it took me a while to take the initiative to be an active YWD who wanted to encourage others and set an example through faith, study and practice.

There are numerous victories during my journey so far but the most significant that I want to emphasis today was finding a kosen rufu career.

In 2009, I was going through a real tough phase but an article in one of the VC and Sensei’s guidance on depression made me realize the importance of the maxim, “ Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

There was a time, when I had made few significant causes and strived earnestly with dedication towards Gakkai activities as well, and really wanted to pursue my kosen rufu career, which is to do MBA from a well-reputed university abroad that meet my budget.

Mystically, things were falling into place and I have secured admissions in few overseas colleges with scholarships but narrowed down to a certain university in Singapore for which I did my R&D. Moreover, while doing daimoku and home visits, my thoughts were constantly on that college.

Within a span of time, I was assured admission so I had quit to my job and relocate to my hometown in India last year in October and was all set to go to Singapore.

I had made all arrangements and even education loan was about to get processed.

But faith and destiny had other plans as at the last minute, I was told that the university is refusing me admission on grounds of shortage of work experience by a few months, which was really unethical since I was not being informed earlier of this criterion.

To add more misery, my father was hospitalized due to high sugar but I never doubted my faith and the power of Gohonzon though my days were gloomy.

While in the hospital, I held my father’s hand and chanted daimoku.

I had called up few Gakkai leaders in India and shared about my bad phase but everyone said it happened for a good reason and for overall betterment in future because it is said no prayers goes unanswered in faith.

My faith in this Buddhist practice kept me going during this terrible phase of having stressful days and sleepless nights and incessant flow of tears.

I had pulled up my socks and became very strict with myself regarding regular morning and evening gongyo, daimoku and home visits as I was determined to change poison into medicine and not to succumb to devilish attacks.

I also read the Gosho online and a couple of excellent books by President Ikeda, Discussions on Youth and New Human Revolution.

Mystically, in end of October 2010, I came across reputed overseas counselors in my hometown who suggested that I study in a prestigious institute abroad but the deadline was very near.

I struggled but managed to send a few excellent essays. Most importantly, a very essential document transcript was compulsory and required for the application.

There was not enough time as this document was in a college in Mumbai where I graduated from but I am now living in region in India far away from there.

But I chanted wholeheartedly for things to fall into place because I did not want to lose this chance to be admitted and have a gap in my education.

The institute indicated in an email that they would not evaluate my application without that transcript.

I had complete faith that daimoku is the only key to overcome this challenge.

Hence, in the nick of time, I managed to get the transcipt without even going to Mumbai as I had the help of Shoten Zenjin (Buddhist Gods) in form of my great friends who sent it to me.

Today, I am happy to report that within a week of submitting the transcript, I am admitted into a very reputed overseas institute, AIT, which is located in Pathumthani province, Thailand.

Pathumthani means the City of Lotus – how amazing and mystic is that and I shall be able to accomplish my long cherished dream of doing a quality global MBA.

In fact, I felt that this institute is better than the university in Singapore, which was my first choice.

Also, my father’s health has improved.

Hence, the power of Gohonzon is unlimited and I am forever grateful to the Gohozon for protecting me throughout.

And, also to add icings to the cake, I received an email from that Singapore university that because of my special case, they are refunding my application fees, which was actually non-refundable and also have offered me admission for next intake that I had happily declined.

SGI has been always been my biggest strength because life is tough living away from my family.

Recently, I had an unexpected but tremendous victory by securing a summer internship in my dream company.

I want to emphasize that from my journey in SGI and my varied experiences is a few vital points – I have learnt and evolved as an individual with tremendous growth in faith; with 100% commitment and ichinen to remain undefeated amidst negative forces; and by having very strong doubt-free faith, one is bound to achieve pinnacles of success because those whose lives are dedicated to the Mystic Law are champions of change who shoulder the future and that faith is the engine, the power source for our Human Revolution.

Each one of us has a mission in this lifetime that only one can fulfill.

I had a mission in my hometown and the rejection from the Singapore university was a blessing in disguise.

My faith deepen and get the career I always wanted for a long time in Bangkok.

Hence everything happens for a good reason and when one chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, one is bound to get tremendous protection from Buddhist gods and break any kind of deadlocks.

Buddhism teaches that the Lotus Flower blooms beautifully in muddy water. In this way, no matter how dire our circumstances are, without doubting the Mystic Law we can enjoy lives of wonderful value.

Hence, I am determined to flourish wherever I go as an ardent disciple of my Mentor, President Ikeda, and will always uphold the mission of kosen-rufu as a true Boddhisatva.

Last but not the least, I am really delighted to share my experience today on 16 July as co-incidentally it happens to be my birthday and it is also Buddhist Lent Day in Thailand.

Hence the circumstances I encountered the Mystic Law indicates that I have a strong mission in faith and also I have yet miles to go before I sleep.

Thank you.

Believe in your dreams – “Unseen virtues bore visible rewards”

Many times our leaders tell us that one of the best way to gain benefits is by contributing to the success of our Gakkai’s activities, be it meetings, festivals, regardless how small or big the scale is.  Surabhi Chandra, a WD from India, helped her district planned for the 3 May meeting and eventually achieved her dream, and more.

It all began with a dream. It always does.

I am Surabhi Chandra. I work as a marketing manager in an export company based in Noida.

I started practicing this wonderful life philosophy of Daishonin Buddhism way back in year 2001. As my understanding grew and faith deepened, like many other sincere devotees, I started nurturing the dream to be able to see and meet my mentor, Ikeda Sensei.

However, it was easier said than done.

As years went by, I started soaking in Sensei’s spirit through his writings and journals. Time and again it was said, what I eventually came to believe, that Sensei is very much by our side, in spirit though and not in person.

As I persevered in my pursuits of faith, moving from one area to another, vowing to do my best at the place of my mission, the dream somewhat got pushed to the subconscious mind.

It was in October 2009, while hosting an International Fair in Delhi, I had a chanced meeting with some buyers.

On first look, I took them as some Chinese suppliers. Eventually they turned out to be from Japan looking to get started with some accessories business from India.

To begin with, we were not very hopeful on getting started with them mainly on two accounts.

First, they were already in business with China and it was very difficult to compete on price. Second, we as a company, who till his point in time, have mainly catered to European and American brands, were not very sure of our abilities to meet the high Japanese standards.

However, these mental blocks were taken care of by the fact that the buyers got impressed with the product quality already in running, for a very high end Italian customer.

It must have given them a sense of confidence that we might be able to deliver what they are looking for. Secondly, we could work a way out to meet their price targets.

It was in Feb 2010,we received the first set of orders from them.

As things started to fall in place, my dream started to pave its way out to the forefront.

I very strongly felt a mystic connection with the work at hand and that it would lead me to my cherished pilgrimage.

There were all the right signs – the main buyer’s name had a surname “Ikeda”. Besides, one of the buyer actually turned out to be a Soka Gakkai member .

In just over a year, I did almost half a dozen shipments with the customer. For a new entrant, and seemingly an alien market to us, the business grew at an amazing speed reaching to a top 3 spot by the close of this financial year.

Not to say, the shipments were without any hiccups. There were lots of ups and down, and the major bone of contention being the quality issues that we till now, took for granted but were not acceptable by the Japanese customer.

As for me, every deadlock at work was challenged and overcome through the power of daimoku. In order to come closer to my dream, I had to build a solid business base for the company.

Meanwhile, my counterpart at Japan, made frequent trips to India during the course of final inspections. I ended up making a very deep heart to heart bond with her that went beyond the business horizons.

We were exposed to each other’s culture during the time we spent with one another, and made the most of it.

She became my window to Japan and I vice versa.

It was during one of her trips she expressed her desire to our MD to have me visit Japan as their guest.

Happy by the progress of the business, my director readily complied. It was at the beginning of this year that she sent me an official invitation.

I applied and subsequently got the visa for 3 months – mid-Feb to mid-May. I was all set to visit Japan in mid-March – right in midst of the spring to greet the cherry blossoms.

I was so near yet so far from my cherished dream.

As I was in the process of finalizing my itinerary and flight tickets, calamity stuck Japan in form of major earthquake and tsunami,the worst crisis faced by the nation post World War Two.

As fears of radiation spread following the blasts of nuclear reactors, everything came to a grinding halt. So did my plans to visit Japan.

There were travel advisory issued against Japan.

With economic recession looming large, sales also went down. The buyer was looking forward to capitalize the holiday season with new sales promotions but that also went to the backburner.

As an aftermath of post earthquake crisis, the buyer expressed their apologies for not being in a position to proceed with any official order bookings till the time they cleared their stocks.

It obviously meant an indefinite postponement on my visit for nobody knew as to when the situation would improve.

However, all these turn of events hardly proved a deterrent for me. Honestly, more than the actual visit or the subsequent business loss, at his point, I was more concerned about the safety and well being of the Japanese friends and families there.

I did whatever I could to the best of my capacity – through calls, mails and most significantly through prayers to reach out to them and express my genuine solidarity and support.

All this while, every other person whom I met though I was crazy to be even thinking of visiting Japan.

This only made me smile…I had friends there, who were alive and kicking.

It took a while and lot of prayers, before things started falling in place again.

I turned to the Gohonzon and chanted with full conviction to erase the devils of doubts from my mind.

With 3 May around the corner, I focussed my prayers to defeat the impending obstacles and work with united spirit towards the ‘eternal starting point’.

I drew inspiration from Sensei’s 3 May message, “Please be assured that all of you who have joined in this endeavour will definitely triumph over any obstacle and shine brilliantly leading a life of unsurpassed victory.”

With only 15 days to go before my visa expires, suddenly talks of my visit were renewed.

The buyer said that though they were not in a position to book any orders but if I were fine to visit them and discuss other agendas, they look forward to welcome me.

My joy knew no bounds. Immediately, I proceeded with final bookings.

However, the date of my departure coincided with the district 3 May commemorative meeting.

This was the opportunity I was looking for… to make maximum positive causes before I take the final plunge.

With the back-to-back hectic office schedule and last moment preparations at work, I immersed myself in the 3 May preparations.

I did my best to extend my wholehearted support, reaching out to members to ensure their joyful participation. After all I was going to the land of Sensei and I had to report victory on my district’s behalf.

I flew out in the morning of 8 May while the 3 May celebrations were on. It turned out to be a great meeting. We had registered a victory.

I carried the vision of my mentor in my heart and silently prayed all throughout the journey and as I touched the land of the rising sun.

The first instinct on arriving was to board the next train to the SGI HQ and run and greet Sensei.

But of course, I was there on an official trip. My work has actually helped me realize my dream.

I was very clear that I had to create maximum value out of the trip as far as work is concerned.

I went on to do exactly the same, even though if it meant non-stop train rides, skipping lunch to accommodate back-to-back appointments.

After taking care of couple of official engagements, I finally arrived at Shinanomachi railway station on 11 May.

My heart leapt with joy as I saw the glow sign indicating way to SGI HQ.

The area from the station to the SGI building is marked with various signature buildings like the SG headquarters annex, the prayer centre, and the Min-on culture centre.

In my deligently practiced Japanese, I went on greeting the security at each of these spots and telling them, “Watashiwa sensei mitasu” (I will meet Sensei).

They would look and smile at me …beyond words we understood the common language of faith.

At the SGI HQ, a very warm and embracing staff welcomed me. They were delighted to know that I was from India.

However, I barely registered what they said…for the first few seconds, I went completely numb and kept parroting –“I come here to meet Sensei,I will meet Sensei”.

The support staff, alumnus of Soka University said that Sensei was not there – something I always knew but never believed.

However, the mere mention of it was overwhelming –I almost broke down. It took me some time to get back to my normal self – Of course, Sensei was not there in person but I could feel his aura everywhere…

It seemed as if he was watching over me. I had carried some souvenirs for Sensei on behalf of the district, which I handed over to the staff.

In return, I was given many gifts that I took back home for the members.

As a prized possession, I got myself photographed with two very beautiful portraits of Sensei and Mrs Ikeda by the support staff.

It did seem as if my mentor stood next to me in person. I traversed a journey in faith that cannot be put in words.

From the HQ, I went to the SGI prayer centre where I chanted a lot of appreciation daimoku.

On the journey back to my hotel, I saw him everywhere – on the train, at the station, on the roads. Even though, I did not see my mentor, I felt as if he was with me.

I came back to home after a week’s stay and cherished these memories of a lifetime.

However, my sojourn in Japan has not been without other achievements.

For a purely vegetarian person, who cannot have any egg content in food on account of allergy complications, to survive a week in Japan savouring the Japanese and French cuisine is just next to a miracle.

Besides, though my work limited me to central Tokyo, I was fortunate enough not just to travel the length and breadth of the city but also visit the lovely countryside and the famous Narita shrine.

With the people who are either not English conversant or shy to speak the language in public, communication came easy to me and I made very strong bonds of friendship.

All this was made possible because of a shoten zenjin, an elderly gentleman who is the agent to my Japanese buyers.

Born an Indian, he had almost spent his lifetime in Japan. In fact, he was instrumental in introducing me to his neighbours, a Gakkai family who has been practicing since Toda sensei’s time.

It was a beautiful encounter.

A devout Muslim himself and even though a non-practicing Gakkai member, his assistance at every crucial hour made my journey enriching and wholesome. I continue to pray in lot of appreciation and his good health in times to come.

Besides him, I believe its my family’s unflinching support, especially my husband, helped me achieve this milestone.

In times of distress, when everyone around advised me not to undertake this voyage, he stood by me.

In fact, he helped me nurture a strong seeking desire to go and meet Sensei – “If not now, then when?”

My faith grew on his conviction because of which I could proudly proclaim ourselves to Sensei, as a kosen-rufu family, we firmly determined to do our best.

The icing on the cake has been that the main customer I visited has actually come back with an order.

My interaction with their team helped erase certain doubts and gave them confidence to place new set of orders with us.

This seemed a distant possibility just prior to my visit. Subsequently, I was also awarded the best merchandiser in the Annual Seminar held around end of May.

Unseen virtues bore visible rewards.

However, more than a sense of achievement, the whole journey has been a humbling experience.

It made me realize what a miniscule of effort I am making as compared to what our mentor has done (and continues to do) to take the kosen-rufu movement forward.

I had made a silent determination to Sensei that I would endeavour to fulfill to the best of my capacity.

This milestone is certainly not a culmination but an eternal starting point in my journey of faith.

“People who chant are different”

When face with difficulties, the best way to overcome them is to apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra. Lay Geok, WD from Singapore, did just that.  Through her pure faith, strong and abundant daimoku, as well as her participation in kosen-rufu, Lay Geok overcame numerous obstacles, including cysts in her womb, adjusting to life in another country, her son’s health problem and the death of her father.

I started chanting in 1983. My second brother brought back a copy of the Buddhism magazine.

He told me that he met a man in a hospital and had asked him to try to chant. I started reading the magazine and found the article, “Ten Worlds”, very practical and decided to chant for a job.

I just graduated and shortly after I found a job in a bank. That was my first benefit.

I took up faith very quickly and soon participated in all Gakkai activities. Besides meetings, I also participated in the youth festival at the then new indoor stadium and the National Day Parade.

Life was smooth sailing and when I looked back it was pure faith and kosen-rufu activities that enable me to accumulate lots of good fortune.

We must have correct practice
5 years later, in 1988, I got married. My husband does not chant but he supports my practice.

As I did not have a Gohonzon in my own place and for fear of discord, I confined my chanting to my bedroom facing the east.

Soon after my two sons came along.  My practice was limited to only gongyo and daimoku and my Gakkai activities stopped completely.

It was a wake up call when I discovered, through my routine medical checkup, that I had cysts in my womb.

The pre-surgery checkup showed my blood test was not within the normal range and the gynecologist was afraid that it could be cancerous.

My initial thoughts when I heard about my medical condition was to apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra – daimoku first! Fortunately, it was a false alarm and my surgery was also successful.

I soon reflected on my practice and realized that I had faith but was barely practising for oneself and not for others.

My practice was not based on faith, practice and study.  That was my first turning point of my practice. I started attending meetings again.

Do not seek the Gohonzon outside of you
My second turning point for my practice was in year 2004 when my husband got his job posting in Jakarta.

The posting was for 3 years, so the decision was the whole family to move to Jakarta with him.

I resigned from my job and our 2 sons then was 14 and 16 years. They joined the international school there.

From a full-time career woman to a full time housewife, I was lost.

It was worsened by not being able to speak Bahasa Indonesia. I chanted very hard to get a job and to adapt to my new environment.

Daily daimoku was at least 3 hours. However, I felt so down with each passing day. I felt so depressed and even begged to Gohonzon for help.

It went on for 3 months till one day while I was chanting, it came to my realization that I could carry on feeling depressed for the rest of the 3 years, or I make the best of my 3 years.

I also reflected on my practice and realized that I had put Gohonzon outside me and just hoped that things would just happened.

Despite lots of daimoku, I failed to take actions for the prayers that I had set.

Buddhism is reason. Our prayers cannot be answered if we fail to make efforts appropriate to our situation.

Soon after, I changed my prayer focus to doing kosen-rufu in Indonesia.

I decided to contact the Soka Indonesia member to check up on meetings.

I was so happy to have taken my first step to making appropriate changes in accordance to my prayer.

As the meetings were conducted in Bahasa Indonesia, I chanted to meet somebody who could translate for me and to participate meaningfully in the meeting.

To my surprise, I found out there were many members who spoke Mandarin and were very eager to help.

There were also Japanese members who could understand Bahasa Indonesia.

Soon after, I took up Bahasa Indonesia class to understand the meetings better. I also took up the courage to join the WD musical group to play Angklung even though classes were also conducted in Bahasa Indonesia.

Every Wednesday, I would join the WD for daimokukai followed by the Angklung practice. It was my good fortune to be able to participate in their performances.

I also joined the Soka International group in Jakarta, which is for members from different countries staying in the city.

It was through the international meetings that I also shakubuku my elder son in Jakarta.

I brought him to the international meeting and fortunately, he related very well with 2 Italian members and started chanting.

He is leaving for the US and had just received his Omamori Gohonzon this morning.

Continuous chanting of daimoku gave me the wisdom to reflect on my practice and have good influence in my environment and overcame the fundamental darkness in me. Since then, the following Sensei guidance remains in my yearly dairy:

“If you are stuck, pray to release the chains of doubt and fear clouding your mind of faith. Pray for the unbounded confidence and courage to win over your past and step joyfully into your bright future,” President Ikeda (12 April 2002, World Tribune).

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is within my life. I have the absolute power to change things, even the most difficult situations.

A great obstacle is a wonderful opportunity to grow.

When I looked back, the stay in Jakarta gave me the opportunity to chant lots of daimoku. I achieved the 5 millionth daimoku just before I came back to Singapore.

I was able to do my kosen-rufu and accumulated lots of good fortune and many of the personal prayers were also answered.

We returned to Singapore in 2007 and soon after, I was asked o return to the job that I resigned because the colleague who took over from me left.

Strong faith makes anything possible
My younger son is dyslexic.  I got him tested when he was primary 2 when I  observed that he had great difficulties with numbers and spelling.

I was very concerned about his progress in school. I was even more despaired especially when he was trying very hard to cope.

Then I decided to base on daimoku once again to seek for direction to help my child. It was definitely not a straightforward or easy task.

However through many ups and down, he found his path to pursue an education in Art. He completed his Diploma and Fine Art in LaSalle College of Art last year.

He was also awarded a scholarship and has put up a website on all his artwork and is having a group exhibition now at a gallery in Tanjong Pagar.

The most important thing is that he is happy and enjoys what he is doing. I am chanting for his artwork to be a strong platform for kosen-rufu. I am sure he will!

Everything starts with prayers
There is no limit to how many things we pray about. It just means that the more desires we have, the more sincere and abundant our prayers will be.

Who answer our prayers?

We do through faith and effort. No one does it for us.

My brother’s sudden death 2 years ago (he was 51) due to heart attack was a terrible setback for all in the family.

We chanted lots of daimoku to have the high life condition and high life force to get through the difficult phase.

It was so sudden and tough for us to accept.  It was worse for my parents.

The only means was daimoku, abundant daimoku. My brother’s death made me realized it is NOT death that one fears; rather it is how one lives that is more important. His death also taught me to treasure every moment I have.

A year later, my father contacted advanced lung cancer. He passed away last Nov.

Our immediate reaction was no difference from most people, “Why him? Can’t be true and we hope that it was a wrong diagnosis.”

When the test was positive, our thought became, “No!  No! He deserved a better death.”

Though we continued to chant for his recovery, we broke down so often and found it so difficult to accept his situation.

However, through lots of chanting and sobbing, my brother and me composed ourselves and decided to set very focused prayers for our father and the family.

My father told us that his fear was not death but pain as he had seen many of his friends and his brothers who had cancer and died in pain.

We also gathered from the lung specialist my father’s cancer was only 1 mm away from his rib and if the cancer spread to the bones, even morphine would not help, he would be in great pain because the cancer had already spread to his stomach.

We were determined to show actual proof and set the following prayers for him:
1.To have the highest life force to lessen his karmic retribution
2.To show actual proof through ultimate victory and attain Buddhahood

No pain, highest comfort
Dad told me he could not chant, as he was breathless. However, 3 days before he passed away, I showed him Sensei’s article written in Chinese titled, “People who chant are different”.

He read it and I could still remember when he finished the article, he placed it aside and gave a soft nod.

Mystically, my 3rd brother saw him chanting the next morning on the sofa. 2 days later, he passed away peacefully without any pain.

His wish was answered. My brother created a blog in fond memory of our father to celebrate his 80 years of life.

Thank you!