Gustavo Shimabuco breaks through all barriers in his family, education and career based on a mind of faith.
by Gustavo Shimabuco
I was 22 years old, when my wife, Yukie, and I fled Peru in the midst of a troubled government in 1981, with little more than a determination to build a better life for our son, Yoji.
In New Jersey and then New York, I dove into SGI activities, as I had done in Peru as a third-generation Soka Gakkai member.
All these causes for kosen-rufu enabled my family to build tremendous fortune, and in 1989, we acquired our visas. We moved to Florida, where our family grew with the births of our daughters, Melissa and Tracy.
Things seemed to be going well, but when Yoji was 13, I realized he was part of a gang. I begged him to walk away, but he refused. All I could do was chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for his protection. Things got out of hand when he was involved in a drive-by shooting. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but Yoji, who was only 15, was tried in court as an adult.
At this crucial time, I turned to SGI President Ikeda for a way forward.
He writes: “For us to freely manifest the workings of the Law in our own lives, we need to chant with the same mind and attitude as the Daishonin. In other words, our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—the daimoku—must be based on faith, the spirit to battle fundamental darkness. The daimoku that the Daishonin spread could be described as ‘fighting daimoku’ ” (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 147).
I began my personal campaign of chanting “fighting daimoku” every morning and evening. My son was looking at a long prison sentence, but instead was granted five years’ probation. Still, after 30 days, he broke probation and spent three months in jail.
Those months felt like years. It pained me to think that my son could spend the rest of his youth in prison. But Yoji finally had a wake-up call. After being released and waiting for his next hearing, he started chanting and going to activities at the SGI-USA Miami Center. When the day came for him to face the judge a second time, our entire family chanted for his victory. Yoji was given probation again, which meant a second chance at life.
I convinced him to use this as an opportunity to do something with his life. Within three months, he got his GED and started flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant. At 18, he became one of the youngest managers there and when he turned 21, all his criminal records were expunged. Fortunately, the gang never retaliated following his change of heart.
Today, Yoji is still working hard in the food industry and is married with three beautiful children.
Through this experience, I deepened my conviction in the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I would use this method of overcoming obstacles again and again as I continued to deepen my mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and tackle my own dreams, which included going back to school at age 52.
Thanks to my Buddhist practice, I had the courage to apply to college in the U.S. to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. I was already a grandfather while many of my classmates were only 19! Since I’ve had no formal English education, school was extremely difficult, but I was determined to let my youthful spirit shine! In 2012, I was among the seven students out of the original 30 who passed the licensure exam.
Then in October 2015, I was faced with another challenge. When a senior in faith offered me the position of Miami Region vice men’s leader, I was overwhelmed with appreciation, but also a little worried. I was working as a nurse in a private recovery clinic six days a week. This was a new job for me, and I wanted to do my very best. As a chapter leader, I barely had time to visit the five districts; it would be an even bigger challenge to visit 30 districts.
I began my personal campaign of chanting “fighting daimoku” every morning and evening.
With great conviction, my leader told me, “Gustavo, you have the Gohonzon.” I realized he was right, and I accepted the responsibility to dedicate my life to kosen-rufu in Miami. I began yet another personal campaign of chanting “fighting daimoku.” As for my efforts to share Buddhism with others, I chanted to take this encouragement from my mentor to heart: “It is important to pray wholeheartedly to the Gohonzon to be able to share the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin with others. When you do so, people who are looking for Buddhism will appear in your environment” (January 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 15).
It’s amazing what happened next. As I gained conviction through my prayer to respond to my mentor, people started asking me, “Why are you so happy?” And one by one, I told them about this wonderful philosophy. Within one month, my supervisor and two friends received the Gohonzon.
My boss then informed me that I was only going to work a normal schedule— and this allowed me to dedicate more time to kosen-rufu!
I transformed my work schedule and also advanced in my own human revolution by believing in the Buddhahood of other people as well as my own. In 2016, I helped nine people receive the Gohonzon, and another six have joined the SGI so far this year. Of those 15 bodhisattvas, eight are youth.
I want to continue to introduce the practice to many more youth toward next year’s gathering of “50,000 Lions of Justice” to repay my debt of gratitude to the SGI for the life that my family and I have created.
When I look at my son, I know that SGI Nichiren Buddhism is a way out of the darkness that many young people face today. It is my determination to respond to Sensei’s call toward 2018 to “please promise with me to work hard over the next two years” (Oct. 7, 2016, World Tribune, p. 3) to create eternal victories for kosen-rufu in Miami!