by Nile Ross
Daly City, Calif.

Without a sense of gratitude, we can neither break through our own shells nor hope to accomplish our human revolution.

At any rate, life presents us with an unending series of challenges. In the saha[1] world we need to have endurance and persistence sustained by a rich and profound spirit of appreciation and a deep wish to repay our gratitude. (May 2020 Living Buddhism, p. 7)

Two years ago, I faced a crossroads. I was living in Arizona with family and had strong career connections in the music industry, but I wasn’t fulfilled. My girlfriend, Mao, was living in San Francisco, and though I wanted to be closer to her, I lacked the confidence to move to the most expensive city in the country.

In September 2018, I decided to make kosen-rufu the center of my life and fully test this practice. One of the ways I committed to my Buddhist practice was by becoming a sustaining financial contributor to the SGI-USA.

Nothing immediately changed on the surface, but I felt a profound confidence in myself for the first time. Two months later, I moved to San Francisco with the conviction that as long as I keep my practice at the center of my life, I will be victorious.

Within two weeks I secured a job with a successful startup company. My life was expanding beyond my imagination. I became a region young men’s leader, helped two friends receive the Gohonzon and attended the SGI Youth Training Course in Japan! The best part was that I married Mao.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our company struggled, and most employees were laid off, including me. I was blindsided and discouraged, thinking that all the causes I had made in the last two years were crashing down.

I considered halting my participation in Sustaining Contribution but knew this would be the easy way out. Each time my wife and I finished gongyo, we recited this passage from Nichiren Daishonin:

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. Do not have doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith.

Foolish men are likely to forget the promises they have made when the crucial moment comes. (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 283)

This was my crucial moment, so I fully engaged in the SGI-USA’s ABC Campaign[2] to transform my struggles while encouraging others. Through chanting, Buddhist study and caring for others, I maintained a high life condition during one of the toughest battles of my life.

After seven months of unemployment and many hours of applying for work, I was hired at a nonprofit organization focused on creating financial security for low-income communities. And just a few weeks later, I landed another job at a company that provides financial options for everyday people to become homeowners. Not only did I gain two jobs, but I’m working to help develop a more equitable economy in our country.

Out of appreciation for Ikeda Sensei and my resolution of an even brighter future for our SGI organization toward 2030, I increased my Sustaining Contribution again this month!

While this year has presented some of the most difficult challenges, by putting my faith first, I genuinely feel happiness within and have deepened my character. I’m actually looking forward to the next obstacle, because I now have the blueprint to fight through it and change poison into medicine.

Notes

  1. The saha world indicates a world in which people must endure suffering.
  2. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SGI-USA initiated the ABC Campaign: A: Abundant chanting; B: Buddhist study; C: Connect life-to-life with members, guests and family (by phone or videoconferencing).

Ways to Participate in Sustaining Contribution 

You can upgrade your SGI-USA Sustaining Contribution plan, or sign up here:

Via the membership portal at www.sgi-usa.org/contributions 

Call 855-SGI-2030 (855-744-2030) Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. PT

All Sustaining Contributors will receive a commemorative gift. Thank you for your support of the SGI-USA!