Banishing Doubt and Standing Up with My Mentor
By Gaya Déry, Gatineau, QC
My father started to practise Buddhism when I was one or two years old therefore this practice has been in my life almost forever. However, this experience is about a recent period in my life in 2016 following the birth of my second son, Manuel, that generated very significant personal changes for me.
We all possess our own karma, or set of tendencies in life, both positive and negative. Ever since I was very young, I have suffered so deeply from insecurity and lack of confidence that I developed anorexia and obsessive-compulsive difficulties.
The period following the birth of my first son Daniel in 2011 was very difficult. After Manuel’s birth I anticipated another postpartum storm. In fact, the extreme lack of sleep together with hormonal fluctuations made me very fragile, both physically and mentally. It was at this time that my deep karmic tendencies took over! I had all sorts of irrational fears and felt myself incapable of dealing with any responsibilities. I felt that I could not control my moods at all. From the outside, I may have seemed normal, but inside, I was really struggling. I knew that the best thing to do was to turn to the Gohonzon and chant to raise my life condition.
I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with more energy, concentration and determination than I ever had before. In my head and in my heart there was no longer any compromise possible. I had to banish all of my doubts. I knew that the Gohonzon, the Mystic Law and my own life have infinite power and so my faith had to be equally great. “What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1, 412), as Nichiren writes in a letter to one of his followers.
Whenever I felt weak, I reminded myself of the power of my practice. I told myself that, by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I would definitely find my strength and that everything would be possible. My faith in this practice would replace my lack of confidence in myself. I also felt again the need to become closer to my mentor in life, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, so I started to read The New Human Revolution, the novelized history of the Soka Gakkai written by Mr. Ikeda. While reading, I felt like I was with my mentor, that I was following him. I felt connected to his heart, and after so many years of practice, I had the feeling of finally grasping the significance of the mentor-disciple relationship. I felt renewed as I read. Mr. Ikeda encouraged me constantly with his example and I immersed myself in his immense state of life.
Mr. Ikeda has worked tirelessly, in spite of sickness and extreme fatigue in his youth, to realize a noble mission, which is to help each person transform their suffering and to reveal their greatest potential. Finally, with great happiness, I understood in the depths of my own life that this mission is mine as well, to carry out in my own way. My most cherished desire now was to act like my mentor, taking care of members and speaking to others about this practice–something that for years I had never done for fear of being judged. This feeling of mission and connection with President Ikeda gave me great strength.
Before, even if I was encouraged by Mr. Ikeda, the immensity of his efforts intimidated me and, faced with his example, I denigrated myself. But this feeling has changed. I am aware that I do not have the same abilities and the same state of life that he does, but that is no longer important. His example and that of other members encourages me to surpass myself.
While reading The New Human Revolution, I was transported into a dimension greater than my little ego. My suffering became useless to me, and the desire to complain or to give up disappeared. My life, connected to that of my mentor, took on a new size and depth. He had worked so hard and had overcome the limits of his own life. I could do the same. I had found the path to the transformation of my fears. I woke up to my potential and stood up again.
There is a passage in our recent study material that explains that all suffering ultimately has its source in slander of the Law—in other words, in doubts and lack of confidence in life, both one’s own life and that of others. The point of our practice is not that we never have problems, but that we build an indestructible life condition. Faced with difficulties, “the wise will rejoice and the foolish will retreat.” Obstacles will definitely arise. The wise recognize them as opportunities to expand their life state and happiness.
With this came a greater awareness of the needs of others. Before, I could easily avoid the needs of others as I was almost completely taken up with what I needed to do to manage my own life. Now, I do what I have to do for my own life, but this does not satisfy my sense of fulfillment. To be with others, to develop and exchange friendship is what makes me really happy. It is now a need! This is a big change in my life.
Clearly, it is not because one is born into a family that practises Buddhism that one fully understands this practice. Quite the contrary. One can be on “automatic pilot” for a long time. We all have to develop our own faith and feel things deeply for ourselves. And sometimes that can take a while!
I would like to share two passages from Mr. Ikeda that really encouraged me:
I'm sure some of you regard expressions such as “not begrudging one’s life” and “dedicating one’s life to Buddhism” as encouraging a sort of self-sacrifice, some kind of tragic self-immolation. But the state of mind underlying the devotion I am talking about is entirely different. It is a state of complete, self-assured calm and peace, a state utterly without fear. It is a feeling as expansive and serene as the clear blue sky, a fullness of hope, joy and total satisfaction—a state of being ultimately free and true to oneself.
Devotion to the Mystic Law means breaking through your lesser self, the small you that has been driven and hounded by all kinds of petty, selfish wants and desires. It means returning to your greater self, the self that is one with the universe, that is as vast as the cosmos.
When you accomplish that, you will shine with your highest human potential. The process by which this comes about is called human revolution. (The New Human Revolution, Vol. 6, pp. 283-84)
to fear nothing
to stand unswayed
the power to surmount any obstacle.
Faith is the source from which
all solutions flow.
Faith is the engine that propels us
in the thrilling voyage of life,
a life victorious and transcendent.
Songs for America, p. 69 (World Tribune Press, 2000)
As of today, my most cherished wishes are to continue to deepen my faith and imbue myself with the same state of life as Mr. Ikeda. I determine to spare no effort in sharing my Buddhist practice with people around me and to do my best to realize his vision where I am, contributing positively to my community and to society.