28 Nov 2020 Emerging Victorious with Undaunted Determination
I have been practising this wonderful philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism for the past 13 years. A close relative in India went through a difficult divorce that lasted several years. During that period, I saw her emerge, from a timid mouse to a fearless lioness. She is now a very strong member of Bharat Soka Gakkai (SGI-India) and has a flourishing career. When I asked her the reason for her positive attitude during that toughest time in her life, she shared this hope-filled philosophy with me.
My relative was deeply convinced that “No prayer of the votary of the Lotus Sutra will go unanswered”. She is a role model for changing karma into mission, and that has transformed her life. Her absolute conviction in faith and hope-filled approach motivated me to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Over the years I received several conspicuous and inconspicuous benefits in my studies, career and marriage. Whenever I faced a difficult situation, my seniors in faith told me to rejoice as I have been given an opportunity to show the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by overcoming the problem.
When I moved to Singapore in 2013, I was very fortunate to get a job as a recruiter with a well-established recruitment company. However, a few weeks into that job I became miserable. My manager was a hard taskmaster.
In a couple of months, the situation worsened, and I became extremely depressed. I could not exercise the option of leaving the company as I was a foreigner here on a dependant pass. My husband became very worried for me as I was an extremely positive, cheerful and confident person back in India. He noticed that I had grown very introverted and fearful, with low self-confidence.
Nevertheless, through chanting abundant daimoku and attending SSA activities I continued to perform well at work, despite differences with my boss. Her hurtful remarks often sent me running to the washroom to cry before I could continue with my work. This situation lasted for more than a year.
During that time, I went for several interviews and chanted for hours over the weekends to quickly find another job so that I could leave this miserable place. In January 2015 I received a very good job offer with double the salary I was receiving at that time. I was thrilled with the offer and looked forward to resigning and running away from my boss and her unreasonable way of working. However, my application for employment pass was rejected by the Ministry of Manpower thrice and I could not join the new company.
Transformation with Daimoku
At that point, I was extremely dejected and went back to the Gohonzon to chant and reflect. As I chanted and read SGI President Ikeda’s (whom I address as Ikeda Sensei) guidance, I realised that I had an escapist view in wanting to run away from the gruelling situation. I had not done anything to change the situation and my boss’s attitude. As I continued to chant, I slowly changed the way I prayed. I chanted with the prayer to show actual proof in my life. I began to thank the Gohonzon for the company that employed me and the experience I was getting in Singapore. I chanted for my colleagues’ happiness, including that of my boss (something I previously could not bring myself to do); to strike a common understanding and create a better work relationship with her. I stopped applying for jobs and just chanted and worked without begrudging anything. Nichiren Buddhism states that there is no separation between us and the environment. Everything around us is a reflection of our inner lives. Thus, if we change ourselves, our circumstances will inevitably change, too. True enough, the moment I changed my attitude and prayer, I began to see improvement in my environment.
Within two months I was approached by another well-established recruitment firm to join them. In due course I cleared all interviews and my work visa also came through without any issue. I worked with this company for four wonderful years.
However, my victory was not getting this new job, it’s what I ultimately achieved. When I resigned my boss made all efforts to retain me. I even got an appreciation letter from the Managing Director stating that I had done exceptional work and they were extremely sad that I had decided to leave. My boss acknowledged the fact that she was very difficult to work with and that I was an irreplaceable team member. Thus, my victory was, I was able to transform my relationship with my boss through daimoku.
Overcoming My Fearful Nature
In this new company I had lovely colleagues and an understanding boss who provided great learning opportunities. I was extremely grateful to the Gohonzon for all these benefits, although I was remunerated 50% below market standards. My work experience in India and MBA qualifications were not taken into account.
During those years, Ikeda Sensei’s guidance quoted from his mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, kept me motivated and I have never ever begrudged my job: “Just put all your energy into your present job and become an indispensable person there. By chanting earnestly to the Gohonzon and continuing to strive your hardest, not letting disagreeable tasks or assignments deter you, you will eventually find a job that you enjoy, offers financial security, and produces good for society. This is the benefit of faith.”
Deep in my heart I continued to pray for the company to appreciate the value of my work and compensate me accordingly. Over the four-year period, I was rated best performer in my team with high placement record, which has not been achieved in many years.
My husband, who has always encouraged me to focus on my work, started telling me not to work so hard as I was not valued. He also started to question my Buddhist practice. I have many friends in Singapore with job challenges, and I have been trying to share Nichiren Buddhism with them, explaining that through faith we can change our karma. However, whenever I shared this with them, I used to feel extremely sad that I was not able to show any proof in my situation then.
Reading Ikeda Sensei’s guidance I realised that though my company viewed me as a hard worker who was able to perform, I lacked courage to stand up and ask for what I deserved. Through my practice and reading Sensei’s guidance, I came to realise that I needed to replace my fearful nature with courage. I plucked the courage to have conversations with the President and Managing Director. Unexpectedly, they acknowledged that I was very poorly compensated but were unable to do anything for me.
Breakthrough with Strong Determination
My leaders in SSA encouraged me to stop thinking about my salary woes and to immerse myself in SSA activities as I have always been an active member of SSA. They further encouraged me to challenge myself to show actual proof. I seized the opportunity to volunteer for the Lotus Sutra Exhibition (LSE) in 2017 and determined that by the end of LSE, I would transform my job issue. Consequently, during the next few months, I received numerous calls for interviews. However, somewhere deep down, I felt I just wanted to change my low-salary karma. Many colleagues had resigned and not even the highest performer was retained. Knowing this my parents and husband encouraged me to accept one of the jobs offered.
My determination to break through my job karma with the success of the LSE was very strong. During that month, I successfully introduced two persons to Nichiren Buddhism and kept my determined prayer to show actual proof. I knew that a job victory was not about salary but about me being able to show the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to my husband and my friends whom I wanted to introduce Nichiren Buddhism. I also participated in the annual member contribution fund and pledged to be a strong supporter.
During this period, my boss engaged me in conversations on my great career with the company and the salary disparity that was out of their hands. I was able to speak with courage, wisdom and calmness. This was human revolution for me as I was not a bold person. SSA activities and dialogues with my leaders had infused me with immense positivity and hope. I no longer doubted my victory.
At the beginning of September 2017, my manager handed me a letter informing of a promotion and a 75% salary increment which was unheard of in my company. My husband was shocked to know this. The first thing he told me was, “Please go and chant!” The fact that he told me to chant to thank the Gohonzon was also a victory!
My faith continues to grow. I know that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is not magic. Everything boils down to absolute faith and conviction in prayers. Just as Ikeda Sensei teaches: “For example, one of those giant bronze temple bells that are so common in Japan, the sound it emits will depend on what you strike it with. If you use a great log and strike the bell with powerful force, it will reverberate loudly. But if you strike it with a matchstick or a wooden chopstick, it will emit only a feeble and ineffective sound. Similarly, we have the Gohonzon, which is endowed with the immeasurable power of the Buddha and the Law. If, however, our faith and practice are weak, it will be like striking a giant bell with a matchstick; it will be impossible to bring forth any great benefit.”
Henceforth, I determine to continue doing my human revolution, become a financial pillar of SSA by participating strongly in the annual member contribution fund and continue to work for the realisation of worldwide kosen-rufu alongside my mentor Ikeda Sensei.
(Adapted from December 2019 issue of Creative Life)