Experience – Health and Relationships

Earlier this year, I shared my experience about my struggle with relationships and health. It was published in the SGI Australia magazine in Sep 2019, titled “Chanting for Absolute Victory”. Here it is!

I started practising Nichiren Buddhism in 2013 in the depth of my despair. I was very sick and suffered from digestion problems. I had seen several doctors with no success. I kept trying to figure out what might help me. I was reminded of my university roommate from 2008. She had mentioned chanting, meetings and Soka Gakkai. Although I did not like her as a person, I recollected how things seemed to work in her life. Soon, I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo using Youtube. In the first week of chanting two minutes twice a day, I found a helpful health practitioner and became hopeful. 

I moved to Australia in 2014 and consulted doctors locally. In December 2014, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Having a five-minute phone conversation made me bedridden for days, draining me completely. I was all alone and continued to work full-time to support myself. I couldn’t even chant and felt trapped and hopeless. I felt like a lifeless corpse that was somehow still breathing. I tried any and every treatment that showed in front of me. In this time, my group leader’s unceasing support kept me connected to the practice.

In 2016, I was also diagnosed with widespread but changing food allergies. I followed a strict rotation diet and medicine schedule. This regimen consumed all my energy. Determined to not be defeated, I started carrying my food to team outings. I really struggled with my reality. I looked at others felt envious that they could eat what they liked or go for a walk anytime. I felt lonely, disconnected and hopeless. I chanted to find a life partner to relieve my loneliness.

In 2018, my prayer was answered. I met my lifelong soulmate. I dreamed about a future where I had someone to love and share my life with. However, three months later in July 2018, he broke up with me on the phone, saying that things weren’t working well. I felt shattered, heartbroken and lost. I felt I wasn’t good enough for anyone to love me, reliving my emotions from having had a traumatic childhood.

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Experience – Dream Job

I shared my experience about landing my dream job at my dream company earlier this year. Here it is!

Good morning everyone. Thanks for coming today. I’ve been practising Nichiren Buddhism for the last 6 years.

Today I’d like to give you a bit of a glimpse into my life and how I’ve changed since I started practising, sort of like before and after photos, without the photos.

My life started in a small town in India with a highly educated, picture-perfect, close knit family. However, my early years were rife with deep suffering. I was a victim of emotional abuse and neglect. I was sexually abused for over a decade and never told anyone. I grew up with guilt, shame, fear, panic, helplessness and isolation as my close friends. I had extreme anger and a tough facade, the only ways I’d found to protect myself. I grew up hoping that one day I would wake up to find my life was just a bad dream.

As a little child, I also have bright vivid happy memories of deep love and joy with my father. This relationship changed as I grew older. My father’s love came with high expectations. He pushed me to be the best at everything. I felt I deserved to occupy space only if I was achieving academic excellence. This caused me extreme anxiety. I did everything possible to avoid failing and later I avoided doing my best so I could justify my failure.

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Around the World Trip in November

This year I went on an around-the-world trip to fulfill my determination towards Nov 18. In July, I had the opportunity to attend a Trauma healing experiential workshop in a small town in the US near Boston. I had my doubts whether financially and physically I could make it happen. I chanted with determination and decided to register and base my trip entirely on my daimoku and my determination.

As the Daishonin says,

Buddhism teaches that, when the Buddha nature manifests itself from within, it will receive protection from without. This is one of its fundamental principles.”

The Three Kinds of Treasure

As it turned out, I joined a new job at my dream company in September. My flights to the USA were paid for by work and they even reimbursed the cancellation fee for my economy flight tickets while I booked tickets to travel on business class.

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Learning About Trust

I started my new job over a month ago. I’ve also been paired up with a professional mentor Andy. So far he’s been the go to person for me when I start to feel overwhelmed. In my last catch-up with him, I wanted his views on how to get the best from my manager. He gave me some tips and asked me a very pointed question, “Do you trust him?”

At the moment I said, yes of course I did. I wouldn’t have joined his team if I didn’t find him trustworthy. I also said that my default is trusting people so it’s a bit of a different way of being.

Then my mentor asked me whether I would trust my manager with deeply personal things. And this made me quite uncomfortable. He said of course trust is a deeply layered thing and you don’t have to be comfortable. But he just left me with those questions and thoughts.

The next day as I was chanting in the morning, I had a deep realisation. Contrary to what I’d said to Andy, I actually trust nobody at all.

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Beyond All Imagination

In my initial months of doing this practice, I came across a guidance titled – “How to Become a Person of Unlimited Self Esteem”. In this guidance, one of the prayers was, chant to believe that all my dreams would be fulfilled beyond all imagination.

Since then, when I am in a situation where I can’t even picture what success would look like or when I struggle to have a grand vision, I pray for my goal to be fulfilled in a way that is beyond all imagination.

A couple of months ago I started my new job, my dream job. The amazing thing is that two months into this journey, the dream continues and is indeed beyond all I could have ever imagined to have in my life. 

During the interview stage, I was praying to be successful in my interview in a way that was beyond all imagination.

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What If We Set Incorrect Goals to Pray For?

Since I started practising in 2013, I have often struggled with anxiety plus analysis-paralysis of what if I’ve set the incorrect goal or incorrect prayer. Last year I developed some insight into how to have lofty prayer. As promised in this post, here’s my take on it!

First, have a goal that inspires us to chant

“Whatever takes you in front of the Gohonzon is a benefit.”

– Daisaku Ikeda

If we don’t have goals then it becomes a drag to chant everyday. It becomes mechanical. Or at times we might not chant consistently because we don’t have a spirit of challenge. We are simply going through the motions of life. So the important thing is to pick a goal, any goal, that motivates us to chant.

Second, make the goal tangible, perceivable

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Hope to Overcome Sickness

I wrote yesterday about my determination to create causes in faith while I felt really sick and overwhelmed with the persisting sickness.

Today things started to move already. I went to Yoga at 5.45 am this morning, felt pretty awesome, wish there could be a class with humans every day. I came back and chanted for an hour. At 8.30 am I called my primary care doctor who I found in March this year. They didn’t have any appointments on this week and I asked to be put on the cancellation waiting list.

At 1.30 pm I went to see my local GP. My neighbour had recommended another GP at that practice but I hadn’t had the time to change my appointment. As luck would have it, the receptionist asked me if I wanted to see the other doctor as she was available sooner. I was more than happy! This GP turned out to be really good. She mentioned how the other GP had given me incorrect instructions about my ear drops. She gave me the right instructions and even gave me a referral to an ENT specialist.

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Focusing on Causes in Faith

I have been sick for the last couple of weeks. It started with some kind of a virus and an upset stomach. A couple of days later, I had severe pain in my neck and shoulders then soon pain in my ear. Earlier this week, the discomfort in my ear took me to the doctor. They gave me some ear drops but it got worse.

Now, my left ear has been blocked since Thursday. I have tried all of my usual ways and unusual ways to get better. Yesterday I went for acupuncture and my TCM doctor told me that it has gotten worse as my period is delayed. When my period will come, my ear will get cleared. However, it has not happened yet.

Today in my deep suffering and discomfort I chanted for a solution, for my ear to open somehow. After chanting for about two hours and flipping through pages of A Youthful Diary, the penny dropped.

I realised I was again chasing after my ear getting better and it was causing me suffering. I needed to up my life state and the solution is not going to come from chasing after it. I needed to again renew my determination and put kosen-rufu at the front and centre of my life.

As President Ikeda writes:

“Did gongyo with this prayer in mind: to develop faith that releases abundant life force to advance kosen-rufu.”

A Youthful Diary page 439

I made a determination to visit or meet 5 members next week. I have no idea when I will get my period or when my ear will open. I know I have to go to yoga at 6 am everyday. And I have determined to create causes in faith no matter what.

This is the formula and yet every time I get sucked into trouble, I forget that I must focus on my causes and what I can contribute. I must still be determined to overcome my health challenges, I need to make efforts in faith instead of obsessing about the perfect solution.

Tomorrow morning I will call my doctor at 8 am and try to get an appointment. I am going to do everything in my power to contribute to others! I will let no devils defeat me.

Can’t wait to share my experience of how this turns around. 😀

How to Set Goals to Pray for?

Following on from my previous post about prayer without goals, I have been reflecting on how to set goals to pray for. I have been also reflecting my own journey and the various kinds of guidance I received over the years through study and personal guidance.

Some of my key learnings are below.

Pray for What You Want…

I used to often start from what I want to change or manifest in my life. E.g. I pray to have absolute victory over my health problems so that I can freely contribute to the happiness of others. In this frame of mind, I found that I started practising diligently only when I was deeply suffering and wanting to change something. However, when this didn’t happen, it used to cause me deeper suffering and discourage me from practising.

But Don’t Chase After it

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Praying Without Goals

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my father who has recently started practising Nichiren Buddhism with the Bharat Soka Gakkai in India. I asked him what he was chanting towards, what his goals were. He said that he prayed for everything to go well and everything to be ok, and what is wrong with chanting without goals? Here’s what I’ve learned about not having goals.

Praying without goals signals not taking responsibility for one’s life

Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is a firm pledge of determination. If I chant without a goal, it means I am chanting and waiting for some kind of magic without taking responsibility for my life. Similar to going on a drive but not having a destination.

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