As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the United States and around the world, SGI-USA members are “planting seeds of Buddhahood” by helping those around them form a connection to Nichiren Buddhism, a philosophy and practice of hope and self-empowerment.
Ikeda Sensei says:
Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Even one seed, when planted, multiplies” (“Cloth for a Robe and an Unlined Robe,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 602). Seeds cannot sprout if they aren’t sown. We need to sow one seed of the Mystic Law after another, sparing no effort. It is through such continuous, tireless actions that kosen-rufu will advance.” (April 23, 2010, World Tribune, p. 11)
Here are some moving stories from members that capture the heart of this message.
‘I Will Not Run Away From My Problems Anymore’
by Elsa Lun
I’m the co-owner of a Chinese restaurant, and when the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown happened in March 2020, we lost 80% of our business. I didn’t have money to pay rent or my workers. Feeling completely deadlocked, I received guidance from a senior in faith, who encouraged me to transform my karma by sharing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with 100 people.
I started with the prayer “Let me meet someone who is ready to hear Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” I then got the idea to buy 100 copies of The Winning Life as a cause to be prepared.
My natural tendency is to hesitate, strategize and miss my chance, but I reminded myself that Ikeda Sensei wouldn’t hesitate to talk to people about Buddhism. So, when the restaurant reopened, I gave every youth customer a “gift,” the book and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards, and all 100 of them chanted three times with me. Two of them started coming out to meetings.
Every time I challenged myself, I felt fearless. I introduced Buddhism to the 100th person on Nov. 18, and a couple days later, I received a grant covering six months of rent. And even though we were only allowed to operate at 70% capacity, business was doing better than before the pandemic! The pace has now picked up a lot. I chant that when customers walk into the restaurant, they can feel the joy of Sensei’s heart. Recently, a customer said to me, “This really is a happy place.”
I’m usually impatient and hardheaded, but I’ve learned to be humble and confident. I will not run away from my problems anymore because I know how to use my faith to overcome everything. Every day, I chant to deepen my bodhisattva vow. This is what encourages me to keep going.
Building Confidence By Sharing Buddhism With My Family
by Anthony Cloyd
One of my biggest inconspicuous benefits since I started practicing Buddhism in 2019 has been my ability to listen to people and connect with them in a way I wasn’t able to before. People in my family struggled to say how they really felt, and it quickly led to anger. This stemmed from the example of my grandmother, who came from a time period when vulnerability was seen as weakness.
I used to react to her pushing me away by staying away, but chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helped me challenge that. In January of this year, she needed help walking after injuring her hip in a fall, and I was there for her. After every interaction we had together, even bad ones, I would tell my grandmother that I loved her. Before passing away on Feb. 6, 2021, she expressed her appreciation for my help and commented on the phone with a cousin that she was receiving a lot of love. Buddhism enabled me to see the value of her life.
Kosen-rufu is awakening the Buddha nature in all people and connecting with each person’s heart. Determined to change our family karma, I introduced my sister and brother to Buddhism, which has helped me communicate with them better. They have been chanting for three months, and my sister is much happier now. She also attended the women’s meeting in February. My brother is pursuing his interest in animation, and I’m encouraging him to follow his dreams. I am focused on my career as a film actor and even booked a national commercial last year.
Reaching out to others is what has built my confidence. The key is not to be discouraged or give up.
Making Causes to Become Happy
by Mehul Anand Nigam
I moved to the United States from Dubai in November 2019, right before the coronavirus pandemic hit. With no work, friends or immediate family here, I began questioning my self-worth. On top of that, I saw so much division in American society and felt that there was nothing I could do.
Introducing others to this Buddhist practice was a challenge for me, and I justified not doing it because of the pandemic. Then, I read Ikeda Sensei’s guidance about challenging the areas of our lives we dislike.
My first opportunity to share Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was with a server at a restaurant, but I froze. I was so ashamed of my own lack of courage and chanted to see what was in my heart. I realized that I had been too concerned about the outcome (the effect), but the effort I put in (the cause) was what mattered most. So, I began chanting for the courage to talk with others.
Now, whether I’m at a coffee shop or while taking a walk in my neighborhood, I share Buddhism with someone, confident that the seeds will bloom when the conditions are right. At our women’s meeting in February, I had four guests attend, including my husband’s aunt.
Shakubuku broke every wall in my life. The paperwork for my visa is progressing, and I’m now able to start looking for jobs. I’ve also started a small business on the side and picked up a few hobbies like drawing. But my biggest benefit is that I’ve developed an indestructible spirit—just being alive makes me so happy.
When I share Buddhism, I’m breaking down the barriers in my heart and in the hearts of the people I reach out to. This is how I am making the most fundamental difference in society. I no longer feel hopeless because I am part of this process of change.
- Shakubuku is a Japanese term used to describe the practice of introducing Buddhism to others.