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Peace and Security through Steady Practice

December 4, 2020

By Analeata Turney

Jacksons Point, Ontario

My life has not been an easy one, following my mother’s death when I was five years old. When she died, my dad was left to care for the five of us children, the oldest being seven years of age. Needless to say, it was a challenging time for all of us. In order to support us, my dad entered into other relationships and had more children—twenty-two in all. 

When I was in my mid-teens, my dad moved to Barbados with my younger siblings and his partner. I loved my dad and we had a good relationship, but as a 15-year-old, I wasn’t willing to uproot myself from my friends and my school, so I decided to stay in Toronto. I lived with different relatives, but life was tumultuous. I then lived in different group homes. Contrary to what people often think, I felt secure and had good relationships with the people caring for me. My dad returned to Toronto when I was in my mid-20s. He died in 2003 at the age of 86. Prior to requiring long-term care, he lived with me in my home and I helped care for him.

I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism in 1988, when friends that I was visiting invited me to join them for evening gongyo.[1] For some unknown reason, the very first time I heard the recitation of the Lotus Sutra, I felt like I recollected the words. It seemed like I knew the Lotus Sutra already, and reciting gongyo came easily to me—even the long middle portion that we used to recite in those days.

I felt an immediate attraction to the prayers. I began chanting and have practised steadily since that time. I appreciate the camaraderie with the other SGI members, and the sense of community that I feel as a member of the organization. I appreciate that I can be my true self with this Buddhist practice. 

In 2001, I suffered a stroke with resulting weakness on my left side. Fortunately, I didn’t experience a permanent brain injury and I fully recovered with physiotherapy and ongoing medication. My elderly father was living with me at the time, and I had the responsibility of making sure that he was cared for during my hospitalization. While in the hospital, I was encouraged by my seniors in faith including SGI Canada Executive Advisor Mrs. Elizabeth Izumi, who came to visit me while I was in the Toronto Rehabilitation Hospital.

My dad passed away in 2003, and shortly afterward, I moved to Montreal, where I lived for 10 years. While I completed the professional cooking program at the Lester B. Pearson Vocational College, I maintained a steady daily practice of morning and evening gongyo.

Following a robbery in my apartment in Montreal in 2013, I returned to Toronto. I was unable to obtain any compensation from the landlord, despite his liability. Back in Ontario, I think you could say I was homeless. I lived with my sister in Toronto, then my brother, then my niece, but each time, the living arrangement broke down. Between the stress and my health issues, I was having a hard time. I had applied for Ontario disability support funding but had been denied.

Fortunately, I was able to chant and attend discussion meetings with one of the leaders who lived near me. She also assisted me in applying for social assistance.

Around the same time I decided to make a monthly contribution to SGI Canada. I also subscribed to the New Century magazine at this time. Although my income was minimal, I felt a deep appreciation for the protection I had received from my Buddhist practice throughout my life. By contributing to the SGI Canada Fund, I was making a positive cause for my own happiness.

My trust was not misplaced. Within a few short months, I was approved for Ontario disability support. I also got a part-time job within walking distance from my apartment.

I continued to encourage myself with the following passage from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin:

No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies… Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever. (WND-1, 681)

I sincerely chanted for family unity with a deep desire to transform my relationships with my siblings. I chanted for my brother’s happiness and understanding. After a short time chanting this way, he phoned me up spontaneously, and came to visit with lunch for both of us. This had never happened before. My relationship with my sister and other relatives improved as well. All of this was an answer to my specific prayers regarding family relationships.

Two years have gone by since that time. I no longer require disability support. I have a better job, a better apartment that is within walking distance from work, and I even have a savings account. Last winter, I was able to afford a vacation visiting some of my half-siblings and other relatives in Barbados.

When I think about my Buddhist practice, I never stop smiling. Even when I have problems, they don’t interfere with my happiness because I don’t let them. Instead, I apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra by chanting sincerely. I have been able to think more clearly about the decisions I need to make in my life. I have made some good friends—within the SGI and within my local community.

Nichiren Daishonin wrote to his friend Nichinyo, assuring her:

A woman who makes offerings to such a Gohonzon[2] invites happiness in this life, and in the next, the Gohonzon will be with her and protect her always. Like a lantern in the dark, like a strong guide and porter on a treacherous mountain path, the Gohonzon will guard and protect you, Nichinyo, wherever you go.”  (WND-1, 832)

Nichiren’s promise of protection is true for me as well. In April of this year, I officially retired from my job. I now enjoy the peace and security of safe and affordable housing, Old Age Security, and a healthy, happy life.

Published in October 2019 New Century 


[1] Gongyo: Literally, to “exert [oneself in] practice.” This refers to the twice daily Nichiren Buddhist practice of reciting portions of the 2nd and 16th chapters of the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon. 

[2] Gohonzon: The object of devotion in Nichiren Buddhism. It is the embodiment of the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, expressing the life-state of Buddhahood, which all people inherently possess. Go means “worthy of honour” and honzon means “object of fundamental respect.”