Directing My Own Incredible Victory
By Sonya Moorjani, Toronto
Vice District Young Women’s Leader
I remember back in June 2016, I was short tempered, anxious, and felt stuck in life. I was living in India, and nurtured a dream to attend a film school in Toronto. However, I had limited funds and no film programs in my budget started in the winter. Even my career counsellor said that no programs fit my description.
Mystically, when my dream felt hopeless, I met an old friend at a wedding who told me about Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. This got me intrigued. He invited me for a discussion meeting in which a room of 50 people chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in unison. I began to practice, chanting 2-5 minutes a day, participating in discussion and study meetings. Within two months, I came across a film program, in Toronto, that perfectly fit my description. I hadn’t seen this program before because it didn’t exist; it was created that very month. That was the first benefit I received from the practice that solidified my faith.
At the end of May 2018, a year and a half after moving to Toronto, I had just graduated from the film program at George Brown College and had just attended my first Young Women’s Caledon Conference. My life state was at an all-time high—although my bank account was nearly empty, and I was getting ready to apply for my work permit.
While filling up the application form for my work permit, I came to a shocking realization that my study permit had expired a day before. Without a valid study permit, I couldn’t apply for a work permit in Canada. I looked around for a possible solution, but found out that there was a good chance that I’d be asked to leave the country. My life started unravelling.
However, within a week I found proper consultation, and submitted my paperwork to restore my status in the country. Until my status changed, I wasn’t allowed to work, study, volunteer or leave the country. I immersed myself in as much SGI activities as possible. I determined to chant one hour every day until I heard back about my status. The free time on hand had gave me a chance to read The New Human Revolution for the first time. I also home visited young women members, facilitated SGI seminars at the University of Toronto, helped clean the culture centre and organized youth meetings. I also got the opportunity to join the SGI Canada media team, for which I started making videos and little animations. Participating in SGI activities helped me strengthen my practice. Even though I had no job and no income, I felt immense happiness and gratitude.
After three months of steady daimoku and lots of study, I understood that it didn’t matter where I was, because I knew I would create value and carry out kosen-rufu wherever I am.
Eventually, after three and a half long months, I was granted my work visa and life resumed. However, by then I was desperate to find work since I had no savings and had developed a bit of credit card debt. I focused all my chanting toward attracting a job that would help me pay my bills and clear my debt.
Within a month, I found a two-month contract job at a film distribution company which was walking distance from my home. I also decided to take up a big freelance editing project alongside my contract job. I didn’t anticipate how stressful the workload was going to be as I soon found myself working 6-7 hours on the freelance project before having to go to work each day. I was struggling to find more hours in the day to work, so I traded in my sleep, health, and chanting in order to stay on track. To top it all off, it was winter, so I wasn’t getting any sunlight either. I was slowly getting unhappy, unhealthy and before I knew it my clothes started feeling a lot tighter.
The plus side to working two jobs was that I was able to pay off my accumulating credit card debt. I also had the ability to buy myself a spontaneous flight ticket to visit my family in India, after my work contract ended.
Sonya with her grandmother, Kamla in India
To my surprise, when I reached India, I discovered that my grandmother was facing a massive health karma after going through surgery to completely remove her small intestine. She also had colon cancer which was slowly reaching her mind making her forgetful and weak. This put my family in a bit of a financial crunch because her monthly medical expenses were getting overwhelming. I started feeling ashamed of the fact that I couldn’t support them. That, on top of my sudden weight gain was a massive blow to my self-confidence. This trip was supposed to be rejuvenating, but instead I felt overwhelmed, fearful and my life state started slipping. I realized I needed to transform my health and my finances. I didn’t have any health insurance at the time and without any income I couldn’t afford to go see a doctor, so I turned to the gohonzon and chanted for wisdom.
To my surprise, the day I landed back in Toronto, I received an email from my contract company offering me another short-term contract with them. This was exactly what I needed to survive until I found my full-time job. Three days later, I was back at work. However, I was still unhappy. My mind felt foggy and unfocused and I was very concerned about my health especially after seeing my grandmother’s struggle. I went back to the gohonzon and chanted for clarity on what to do.
Later that week at work, my colleague told me about a Tibetan doctor that helped her transform her health by changing her diet. I instantly felt the need to meet him and set an appointment up a few days later. He gave me insights into my body that I had no idea about and wrote me a long list of things to cut out off of my diet among which were sugar and white flour—ingredients that are present in most foods we eat. I was not ready to give up on my midnight ice cream sandwiches but it was a change I had to make. Along with that, I had to cut out a lot of basic ingredients such as garlic, ginger, avocado and nuts to name a few. This was stressful but it forced me to cook all my meals to accommodate my new diet. Slowly, my brain fog disappeared and I started feeling healthier and presentable again.
As April of 2019 came around, I had to start looking for a new job since my contract was expiring soon. To achieve total victory, a fellow young women’s leader and I started chanting an hour every morning at the same time in order to complete our determinations. She encouraged me to set my goal for May 3 Soka Gakkai Day, which, at the time, was only three weeks away. I was certain that three weeks wasn't enough time to get a job, especially since I didn't have any prospects at the time. But, since this date was a milestone in SGI history, I decided to try and make the impossible possible. We continued chanting in the morning and soon had three more young women join us in our efforts, and our combined daimoku grew stronger.
May 3 was fast approaching and I still hadn’t found any concrete work opportunities. However, I didn’t feel defeated in the slightest. On the contrary, it motivated me to strengthen my determination by giving more time to my district activities and to the SGI Canada social media team, for whom I make videos. Two months had passed since I started my new diet and I felt happier, focused, and filled with new energy. My self-confidence grew strong and life state rose once again.
Sonya with her family members
In the words of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda: “Buddhism concerns itself with winning. When we battle a powerful enemy, either we will triumph or we will be defeated—there is no middle ground. Battling against life’s negative functions is an integral part of Buddhism. It is through victory in this struggle that we become Buddhas.”
On May 3, the target date, I logged on to my work email and found an offer letter from my contract company, offering me a full-time position with them. This was completely out of the blue since they had never expressed an interest in making me a full-time employee. To my surprise, I was the only contractor in my department that was given this opportunity. This victory came with health benefits and a steady paycheck that not only gave me the ability to take care of my own health but to also send money to my family to cover my grandmother’s medical expenses.
I am determined to continue making video content for SGI Canada and visit two young women members every month to strengthen our friendship.
 May 3 is known as “Soka Gakkai Day.” It was on May 3, 1951, that Josei Toda was inaugurated as the second president of the Soka Gakkai, and on May 3, 1960, that Daisaku Ikeda became the third president. May 3 is also “Soka Gakkai Mother’s Day,” symbolizing the vital role that women play within the organization.