Four years ago, Lillian I couldn’t get out of bed. Now, she uses her life to create value.

by Lillian I
BOSTON

I grew up in Taiwan, in what seemed to be a very fortunate family. My dad owned many companies, and we had a beautiful house, drivers and all the nicest things. However, underneath it all, we were deeply unhappy.

My dad and grandfather fought constantly—to the point that, when my grandfather passed away, he didn’t leave my father a single dime. My dad fell into a depression and drowned his sorrows in alcohol.

Through most of my teenage years, I coped with my family problems by partying and using drugs. I felt no hope.

In 2004, I moved to the U.S. for school. My low point came in 2013. I was severely depressed and wasting my life away, drinking and spending my parents’ hard-earned money. Although I graduated with a journalism degree, I felt my dreams of becoming a writer were dead.

On the other side of the world, my dad’s businesses went bankrupt and his health was deteriorating. Every night, I would think to myself, I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow morning. Many times, I even searched “ways to die painlessly” online.

My boyfriend at the time had received the Gohonzon in 2006. Through his younger brother’s encouragement, he started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and attending SGI activities again. This time, he continued.

In a matter of months, I saw a man that I thought would never change completely transform in front of my eyes. One day, he came home and said to me, “Lillian, you should really give this practice a try.”

I vow to become the happiest
young woman in the world.

In November 2013, I attended an intro-to-Buddhism meeting and was surrounded by young people fighting all kinds of obstacles yet were still so happy. I decided to receive the Gohonzon on Jan. 1, 2014.

My district members immediately embraced me with care and sincerity that I had never experienced before. Every week, they chanted and studied with me, and urged me to go to meetings. To my surprise, I started feeling stronger and stronger.

The more I chanted, the more confidence I felt. I studied SGI President Ikeda’s guidance every day, and although I never met him, I felt for the first time that someone truly believed in me and saw my greatest potential. I wanted to fight like my mentor for the happiness of others. I wanted to be strong like Sensei.

I determined to become the kind of person who would value her own life and take care of her family. I decided to give my all to my Buddhist practice, which included enabling six friends to begin this wonderful practice.

  • NorthZoneIkedaKayokai
    Photo: Deepanjan Das.
My first major benefit was landing my dream job doing public relations at a prestigious nonprofit arts organization, even though I didn’t have the requisite experience. Why was I hired? I was told it was purely because of my life force and passion. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, because the year before, I couldn’t even get out of bed. I knew it was solely due to my Buddhist practice.

On the day I started my new job, my mom called me and said, “Lillian, I want to give chanting a try.” The next day I chanted with her and my dad by phone, and my mom received the Gohonzon on April 6, 2016!

Since then, my family has become closer and happier than we’ve ever been. Although we are all in different places, my family shares photos and videos with one another every day. We say, “I love you” and “I miss you.” I never dreamed I could have a harmonious family. This has been my greatest benefit.

Last December, my dad had a stroke and underwent emergency surgery. At first, all I could do was stare at the Gohonzon. When I looked at Sensei’s photo, I thought: If Sensei were here, he would be cheering me on and saying, “Don’t worry, Lillian, just chant.” I started chanting slowly. And then the following passage from Nichiren Daishonin came to mind:

Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 283)

In that moment, I felt a tremendous surge of courage and hope, and I decided not to give in to my doubt. As I kept chanting, I received three text messages, one after another, from young women who I had been supporting during this time. All three of them reported breakthroughs that day. I felt a joy that I had never experienced before and realized this was a test of my faith. In that moment, I knew that my dad was going to be OK.

My dad has fully recovered now, swimming, taking walks, even drinking a bit of beer! My parents had fought my whole life. Now, they go on dates and stay up all night talking to each other. I know without a doubt, this is due to my Buddhist practice. I’ve gone from someone who saw no value in my life to someone who is determined to create value with my life.

I vow to become the happiest young woman in the world, who lives each day and moment with my mentor in my heart. I vow to courageously face my weaknesses and become the most capable disciple. I vow to fight with every ounce of my life for the growth, advancement and happiness of the young women in North Zone.

Toward the gathering of “50,000 Lions of Justice” next year, we will become warriors of peace who will actualize our mentor’s dream of worldwide kosen-rufu, embodied in these lines:

What is today’s task? To fulfill my mission for today. What is my mission for today? To struggle in my own circumstances. What is that struggle? To advance, to the limits of my strength. When we do our best today, the future sparkles, and flames of joy leap high. Reality consists of our actual feeling at this moment. There is no choice but to pursue human revolution. (A Youthful Diary, p. 10)