11 Jul 2020 Striving in Faith Like a Roaring Lion
Young Men Division
I’ve been practising this life-transforming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism for the last 12 years.
The turning point in my journey of faith came about three years after I had begun practising Nichiren Buddhism on SGI Day, January 26, in 2010. Until that point, I was focused on practising for myself, and could not truly relate to SGI President Ikeda as my mentor.
I met with a severe motorcycle accident that morning on a highway, the kind that results in a casualty every four-minute for the lack of timely medical attention in India. Protection from the heavenly deities or the protective function was evident as I was rushed to one of the best hospitals in Delhi despite bad weather. Coincidentally, the best doctor in the field was available although he was supposed to be performing a surgery in another city, as his flight had been grounded due to the bad weather.
A Second Life
I still had only half a chance of survival though, and the doctors were certain of the need to amputate my leg to save me. Most of the details of what had transpired, I only learned much later— the fact that my mother had fainted while having to sign the medical indemnities, my fellow Young Men Division (YMD) members had lined-up to donate blood, members and leaders across the city who did not know me, based on a text message about a YMD member struggling for his life, had chanted relay daimoku throughout my eight-hour long surgery that night, and the doctors had come out of the operating theatre congratulating my family and fellow members, telling them that I was safe and they managed to save my leg.
Over the next year and a half, even though I had not recovered completely, I felt very strongly that I had been given a second life, and there must be a purpose to it. I read The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin (Gosho) for the first time and President Ikeda’s writings with my entire being while I was still bedridden. I read all the available volumes of The New Human Revolution and it dawned on me how it was only thanks to President Ikeda’s unthinkable struggles that I was able to encounter the Gohonzon. I determined never to miss any SGI activities. Even being on a wheelchair or crutches did not deter me from home visiting my fellow YMD members. I inspired many youth who were fighting on the frontlines of kosen-rufu in India and other parts of the world.
Leaders in the SGI exist to serve the members, and I took up the responsibility to serve the members and the organisation to repay my debts of gratitude to the Gohonzon and President Ikeda, my mentor in life, who continues to fight on the frontlines of kosen-rufu for the sake of peace at the age of 91, just as he has been doing tirelessly since he was 19.
Upon moving to Singapore in 2013, I continued to strive as a YMD member, as a Gajokai (the YMD behind-the-scenes support group) and later as a leader. My wife and I bring my daughter for SGI activities and even home visits since she was a month old.
Serving Fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth
President Ikeda writes in The New Human Revolution Volume 30, “People differ in many ways—in nationality, ethnicity, culture, and customs; in social status, position, age, and background; and also in their viewpoints and sensitivities. We must transcend those differences and constantly return to the basic point that we are all comrades in faith and Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” I chant to espouse just this spirit as I serve my fellow members as a global citizen.
People differ in many ways—in nationality, ethnicity, culture, and customs; in social status, position, age, and background; and also in their viewpoints and sensitivities. We must transcend those differences and constantly return to the basic point that we are all comrades in faith and Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
The New Human Revolution, Volume 30
Every day balancing my responsibilities at my workplace, as a husband, a father of a five-year-old, and a leader in SSA is challenging. Until last year, I was also pursuing a part-time Masters programme, and was struggling to manage my time.
It all begins with chanting abundant daimoku first thing in the morning for me to be able to do justice on all fronts without any compromise. I draw forth endless inspiration from the writings of President Ikeda, who has been working tirelessly and pouring his entire being into developing the SGI into what it is today. I primarily read excerpts from A Youthful Diary and The New Human Revolution every day, even if it is only half-a-page, and that’s just what keeps me going.
What also truly helps is that my wife and I share a common goal of dedicating ourselves to kosen-rufu, and my daughter always enjoys accompanying us to SGI activities. We are never at a comfortable state of life but that’s the reason why we are able to grow. We continue to challenge ourselves every day, reminding ourselves of our vow.
President Ikeda’s message to the 19th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting in September 2016 still reverberates in my heart to this day. He wrote:
My dear young friends, may you:
Be the pillar of peace for all the world’s people!
Be the eyes of respect for the dignity of life!
Be the great ship of hope for the triumph of humanity!
I re-determined that instance to deserve being called my mentor’s disciple and do my best to fulfil my mission in this beautiful land of multicultural harmony. Recently, I overcame my job karma with a struggle that lasted over two years, basing myself entirely on the “strategy of the Lotus Sutra”, of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I overcame potential job loss, no job offers, and rejection of Employment Pass. During this period, I exerted myself even more in SSA activities for I was convinced that was the best way to transform my karma from the depth of my life. I prayed to do my best as a YMD leader, a Gajokai, a Vanguard In-Charge (a YMD study group), a National Day Parade participant in 2017, and a performer at the historic Youth Summit in 2018.
A Leader that Embodies My Mentor’s Spirit
Finally, in December 2018 I was offered my “kosen-rufu job”—just the kind I had been praying for—and I am truly grateful yet again and amazed with the profundity of the Law.
There are so many Gosho passages that I always go back to when I am feeling low, but here are two of my favourite passages:
“But still I am not discouraged.” (WND-1, p. 748)
“Employ the Strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other… A coward can never have his prayers answered.” (WND-1, p. 1001)
Reading these lines every day after chanting “fighting daimoku” was the way I fought the sense of hopelessness and foreboding during those times when all the doors seemed closed, and with faith like flowing water, I was able to create a breakthrough eventually.
I had the good fortune of encountering many wonderful seniors in faith, who with their encouragement and guidance have fostered me and I am truly grateful. During the entire struggle with my job karma, my YMD chapter chief stood by me as a pillar of support, constantly encouraging me and fighting alongside me as if this was his own struggle. And I know he was doing so the entire time despite grappling with many challenges in his own life.
I still remember the day in September 2018 when the Employment Pass for my new job was rejected. He was the only leader I had informed. He rushed to my place to encourage me and shared the lines from the “Letter to Niike”, “For example, the journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you travel for eleven but stop with one day remaining, how can you admire the moon over the capital?” (WND-1, p. 1027) and urged me not to give up. Thanks to his encouragement, I fought the dejection I was experiencing and determined to fight on again. Leaders like him make me feel closer to President Ikeda as they embody his spirit. A month later, I managed to breakthrough, and I know he was constantly sending me resolute daimoku. I pray to be just the kind of leader like him, to support my fellow members with the same undaunting spirit.
Towards 2030, I am determined to foster the next generation of President Ikeda’s disciples, who will far surpass me in their resolve to work for kosen-rufu and spread peace, hope and happiness in this beautiful multicultural community.
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 603)