A year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to shelter in place, a slow and steady undercurrent began to take shape in our SGI community. Guests who were introduced to the practice began meeting regularly, sometimes even weekly, with local members to learn more about Buddhism and how to apply it to their lives. In the process, they were able to show brilliant actual proof of their human revolution, with their fresh stories inspiring others still to lean into their own Buddhist practice.
Ikeda Sensei says of this chain reaction of encouragement:
Kosen-rufu begins with the human revolution of a single individual. One individual who has resolved to take action inspires another to do the same. That second individual then inspires another. Courage calls forth courage. This infinite chain of fresh resolve spreading from one person to another is the unchanging formula for developing our movement. (April 13, 2012, World Tribune, p. 4)
In the following vignettes, we share the inspiring examples of three such people who exhibit the spirit of Soka to never be defeated and transform all.
With Gratitude Came My Dream Job
by Shweta Galande • St. Louis
The COVID-19 pandemic hit a few months after I graduated from my master’s program in Minnesota. Every job that I thought was easy to get was unavailable. I was applying all over the country for any opportunity as a golf coach. I would get selected for the final interview and then be rejected. My hopes of securing a job were diminishing with every passing month.
It was around that time I was introduced to the SGI by a friend. When I first started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, it was more of an experiment. I wanted to grab on to something that made me feel like I had some control over my circumstances.
I was chanting and attending all the virtual SGI meetings, and after some time, I realized that a job alone wouldn’t give me lasting happiness. I came to the conclusion that having appreciation was the answer to a happy life. That’s the change I was looking for. And then, with nothing but gratitude in my heart, I began chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo twice a day.
A month later, in January 2021, I got an offer coaching golf in St. Louis. This was a job that I had dreamed of for three years! My Buddhist practice not only gave me a path to my dream job but also made me more appreciative of all the things I have in life. I am extremely grateful for this practice and the members who helped me see my Buddha nature. I will continue to chant with gratitude in my heart and try to inspire others in the way these people have for me.
Protecting My Colleagues in a Crisis
by Andy Volin • Fargo, N.D.
I had read many books on Buddhism and incorporated the basic ideals in my life for many years. Last year, I reached out to a Facebook friend who is a practicing Buddhist.
He introduced me to the SGI community and helped me connect to a local district. I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in April 2020 every day with a list of my chanting targets in mind.
Around that time, the hospital where I’m employed as a nurse practitioner furloughed 900 employees. I had begun chanting only two weeks before, but interestingly, I was able to keep my job.
I started attending virtual SGI meetings. I was encouraged to subscribe to the SGI-USA publications and was reading them regularly. I also began chanting 30 minutes to an hour a day.
One of the first things I read was the following: “Though we may feel that our life is as small and insignificant as a speck of dust or a drop of dew, when we stand up with firm resolve and shine, we are no longer a hidden speck of dust or a fleeting drop of dew, but rather the ‘single speck of dust that marks the beginning of Mount Sumeru’ and ‘the single drop of dew that spells the start of the great ocean’” (Ikeda Sensei, April 2020 Living Buddhism, p. 62).
Even though I was just one person without much influence in the hospital administration, I nevertheless started chanting not only for my job security but also for the other 900 employees who were furloughed.
The number of patients coming back to the clinics started to increase, the clinics were back on track financially, and all 900 employees were brought back. And I got a raise.
I feel very strongly for the cause of kosen-rufu. I started sharing Buddhism with my friends, including one who is going through a divorce. She has become very active in the practice and is already doing much better.
You don’t have to be a member to do this. You just have to want to do it, and you can do it. I’m very grateful to everyone who got me to this point, and I’m determined to help others raise their life state.
Transforming Intergenerational Trauma Through Dialogue
by Danielle Sutton • Arlington, Va.
Before learning about the SGI, I considered myself a Christian. I grew up going to church, which I enjoyed, but saw it more as a social experience than a religious one. Part of my challenge connecting to religion was born out of an emotional numbness I developed as a kid.
Amid the 2008 financial crisis, my father’s successful business collapsed. After a heavy night of drinking, he fell down the stairs and became paralyzed. I pretended that none of my family issues existed and was praised by others for my “resilience,” which further affirmed for me the benefit of burying my emotions.
It wasn’t until last year that I started to realize how my coping mechanism was failing me and those I loved. After my romantic relationship ended in late 2019, I decided to confront my challenges in 2020 but didn’t know where to start. Fortunately, my roommate had just become an SGI member and brought me to a meeting on New Year’s Day.
I was mesmerized by the diversity of the community and how each person was drawn to this special space with the shared purpose of becoming a better person and improving the lives of others. I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo occasionally and attended a couple of SGI meetings, but when the pandemic hit, I began chanting more.
I made the difficult decision to return home to New York to transform my relationship with my father. It was initially difficult to start a dialogue with him. I was still operating out of a place of childhood fear, so I deepened my engagement in the SGI in hope of a breakthrough.
Through our dialogues, I started learning about his childhood and the hurt he experienced growing up with a “successful” yet absent father. I also began to change, learning the value of “leaning into” my challenges. Moreover, I learned to never give up on another person’s potential.
When it came time for me to return to Washington, D.C., my father wept, saying that I was his “lifeline” to the family. I’m so happy to say that I’m now finally developing the relationship with my father I always wanted. My brother even recently decided to live together with our father, reaffirming that we are truly transforming our family’s karma. As Ikeda Sensei says, “When we change, the world changes” (On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 38). I learned that we all have the power to change.