By Kevin D’Arcy
I am writing this to create a place on this website where those of us just starting out on our journey through Nichiren Buddhism and SGI can share stories of how the principles of The Lotus Sutra, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, and the numerous lectures of Daisaku Ikeda are taking shape in our daily lives.
I will be writing from my own experience as a new Nichiren Buddhist trying to make sense of material that is foreign to my brain’s normal pattern of thinking but material that holds the potential of transforming my life for the better. I will probably have plenty to say, however, I think the more stories we share with one another, the richer we will be for it. So if you can’t make it to the San Fernando Buddhist Center to share an experience, perhaps you’ll be inspired to share it here. Who knows? Your story may be the motivation a fellow SGI member needs to hear!
I have found great inspiration from my current reading of An Introduction to Buddhism, For New Members (Second Edition). Specifically, pgs. 36-39., the section entitled “Faith Equals Daily Life.”
“Regarding the principle that faith equals daily life, ‘daily life’ points to the outward expressions of our inner life. And ‘faith,’ our Buddhist practice, strengthens the power within us to transform our inner lives at the deepest level. When we apply our practice to the issues and problems we encounter in daily life, those challenges become stimuli-causes or conditions that enable us to bring forth and manifest Buddhahood. Our daily lives become the stage upon which we carry out a drama of deep internal life reformation.”
I loved this passage because it provided me with a “light bulb” moment. I started to recognize the difference between MAGICAL and MYSTICAL. Chanting NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO did not give me the winning number’s to last week’s 151 million dollar Mega Millions Jackpot, although I confess I gave it a try.:) However, I have found that “chanting” even at one month into my practice has somehow, and this is the mystical part, transformed my mental relationship to many of the difficulties in my life. In effect, I am often recognizing that I don’t have to react to stress, negativity, and hostility when negativity and hostility are directed at me. If you knew me before now, you would realize how profound a shift this is. I thought I was a pretty happy-go- lucky person. However, recently, as I have been chanting, I recognize that I am now truly happier internally. I am communicating from a place of inner strength I never felt before. My happiness is not dependent upon what others say or do. The situations have not changed but my reactions have and in a sense, the situations are no longer as earth-shattering.
To share a bit of my personal journey, I found myself wandering into the SFV Buddhist Center on February 18, 2017 with my head spinning from a month of depression as I struggled to deal with rising fears about A January 20th Doctor’s visit revealed I am pre-diabetic and 1 point away from officially being diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic, I have dangerously high cholesterol, and high creatinine levels which if not addressed could lead me to develop stage 3 kidney disease. I was told to quit smoking, exercise more and adopt a plant based diet if I wanted to avoid heart disease, stroke, and daily insulin medication.
Needless to say, I was FREAKING OUT most of February. I quit smoking and gave up meat the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, which in retrospect was something I could have started the following Monday.
On February 18th, I sat in on an “Intro to Buddhism” class and somehow knew I had found the spiritual tools I needed to deal with my current health issues.
I received my Gohonzon on February 25th. It has been just a month. I started praying to the Gohonzon like I was praying to God for help, but with continuous study, I am making the shift to seeing the Gohonzon as MY MIRROR reflecting to me the power within myself to concretely face my health issues with greater confidence and a sense of happiness, knowing my life is TRULY transforming for the better.
I am no longer afraid. I am excited for what lies ahead for me on my new Buddhist path. Remember… NEVER GIVE UP!!!