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.
When I turned 18, I started to take more control over my life. I met a very kind person from Australia online who later became my online adoptive father, my Aussie Dad. Over the next decade, through his unceasing support and unconditional love, I overcame my suicidal tendencies. However, my love for myself was still mediated through him.
When I started practising, my life was in shambles – broken relationships, poor health, stagnation at work, you name it all. I moved to Australia so everything could be better – because you know that’s how everything works, not! I felt really lost and lonely and found support in the SGI family.
Soon after my health condition deteriorated immensely. I went from job to job being bullied and psychologically abused. I did my best to chant but I became inconsistent with my practice, partly because of my deep fear. In my mind, the prospect of failure despite chanting was too big. I wanted to be able to say that I didn’t chant enough so I knew it wouldn’t work anyway.
Now, I know that there’s no such state of perfection or achievement in my practice. Instead I need to persevere, no matter what happens. Every cause I make contributes to my life and analysis and inaction are symptoms of my negativity. Taking action based on my intellect, not my prayer, lead me to repeat my deep-rooted negative behaviours – like driving a car down the same beaten track and crashing into the same old tree like in old Bollywood movies.
I realised that there will never be a far away golden utopia where my life will suddenly be perfect. Instead to create indestructible happiness, I must courageously, and sometimes painstakingly, confront and challenge to overcome my struggles everyday. This has given me an immense sense of empowerment over my life.
As President Ikeda says :
Happiness doesn’t exist on the far side of distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. Not you, however, sitting in idle passivity. It is to be found in the vibrant dynamism of your own life as you struggle to challenge and overcome one obstacle after another, as you clamber up a perilous ridge in pursuit of that which lies beyond.”
I’ve had many other realisations about my tendencies. E.g. In my tenuous relationships I wanted others to put me at the top of their priority list as I wasn’t willing to do this for myself. I punished myself for my failures rather than appreciate my courage. I expected my life to be overwhelmingly difficult rather than trusting in my potential and prayer. I wanted for great things to happen to me but I neither believed this was possible nor took complete responsibility for making it happen. I lived my life waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Earlier this year, I started to pray to find the right work opportunity that enabled me to contribute using my beliefs, skills and values and enabled me to expand my contribution and my ability to contribute to others. I was invited to interview for my dream job at my dream company, where I’d been rejected many times in the past.
Strangely, I found it hard to care for this opportunity to even take it up, let alone do my best. I wanted to dodge it to avoid hard work and failure.
As President Ikeda says,
“Those who give up dreams, do injury to their own hearts and cannot possibly enjoy a profound sense of fulfillment in the end.”
I decided to use this challenge to show to myself what I could accomplish with my determined practice. I felt extremely afraid and clueless and chanted abundantly each day to do my best to prepare. Contrary to my usual behaviour of isolating myself, this time I wholeheartedly engaged with others in SGI meetings and activities. I prepared for my interview by collaborating with dozens of strangers in my line of work across the world.
Before my first interview, I fell ill with a high fever due to extreme fear and anxiety. However, my sister encouraged me to confront my fears and do the interview. I resolved to do my best to win, to set myself up for future victories. I struggled to maintain this determination after my interview. Usually candidates either pass or fail this interview, but amazingly I was told I would get a second chance. They even gave me comprehensive feedback and I discovered my strengths and growth areas for the first time in my career.
With guidance from the SGIA General Director, I prayed earnestly and prepared for my second interview. On interview day, a work colleague derided me publicly. Fighting my negativity, I again chanted to win, no matter what. I passed this interview with flying colours.
Then the final stage was five interviews at the Sydney office. However, I felt too fearful to set a date. I felt burnt out due to harassment at work. I decided to take time off to look after my mental health, not caring what others would think of me. I chanted to change this poison into medicine, I set my interview date and determined to use my sick leave to prepare.
As I struggled to even get out of bed and eat regular meals each day, I determined to chant two hours every day. I determined to be fearless and took action based on my inner wisdom in the moment rather than hide behind planning. Close to my interview day, I stopped studying and relaxed completely.
After my interviews, I felt I had done very well, even by my own impossible standards for myself. Turns out, they thought so too!! They congratulated me by saying that my experience and interview performance were very impressive and I was approved unanimously by the hiring committee. For me, the real victory was giving it my all, winning over my lifelong limitations and apathy.
Turns out, I’d like to thank my father for pushing me. He trained me to strive for achievement even in the darkest times and that has kept me going. He took up the practice recently and was chanting for my success. This time he reminded me that I had done my best and he loved me no matter what the result.
I have my Aussie dad to thank for helping me to become a better human being. From him, I’ve learned the ability to empathise with and support others unconditionally.
Most importantly, I’d like to thank my mentor Daisaku Ikeda, for his unstinting effort and struggle to propagate this Buddhism for the sake of my happiness. I am determined to use my life to show proof of this practice to help others awaken to their own greatest potential.
I would like to end with a quote from President Ikeda,
Ultimately, we are responsible for our own destiny. It may seem to us that our fate is predetermined, whether by our genes or by our environment. What really matters, however, is how we can improve ourselves from this moment forward, how we can change the circumstances that we find ourselves in. This enormous transformative force is what Buddhism is all about.”