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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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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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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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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Recognising and Overcoming Fear

Yesterday, I shared some of my sensitive life experience in public, including my history of long term childhood abuse. Afterwards, I shared the video or text of my experience with a few friends in faith in other cities. They read or watched the experience and were very inspired.

They asked me if it was ok for them to share the experience with others. I said no. When I was chanting this morning, I realised that I had put limitations on myself again. For my mind, sharing the experience in a big meeting was meaningful and enough. Outside that perceived safe space, my mind told me I didn’t need to open myself up. I realised I was again acting upon my fear and deep-rooted shame.

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Learning to Communicate

For as long as I remember, I have been this person judged and admonished for being rude and arrogant. I have been direct in my communication to the point of aggressiveness. I suppose I lived all of my childhood with such deceit and farce of a “happy family and childhood” while hiding behind it being such a complete two-faced lie that my life was, I became extremely direct and truthful in my communication. There was no filter between how I felt and what I said, I didn’t care how my words affected the person in front of me. In my view if they couldn’t swallow the bitter pill of truth I shoved at them, it was their problem. After all, my life was about swallowing the bitter pill of life everyday.

Further, the lack of emotionally healthy people who had time or capacity to teach me emotional self-regulation and communication made it worse. I was little and picked on by many, the only defence were my sharp words and there was no way I was going to let go of them. I had a habit of launching physical assault in a fashion befitting my little-ness – I would just quickly hit the bigger family member of my generation with both my hands before they could grab both my wrists with one hand and immobilise me and render me completely helpless. This stopped one day when my aunt complained vehemently about this behaviour to my mother. From what I recall, she shamed my mother and scolded her for being incapable of “controlling” my bad behaviour.

My mother in her fiery temper tied my hands with a rope while scolding me and slapping me, asking me if I would ever do it again. After that day I was rendered completely defenceless and helpless. I developed an even more fiery anger and deep resentment and powerlessness over my ability to look out for myself.

Anyhow, I digress. This was why words came in handy until I ended up in a job I really liked and found out that everyone disliked my guts and arrogance. That people could not deal with my aggressive attitude and arrogance.

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Making peace, building friendship

Last week I was traveling for work, quite wiped out and had diminished functioning. I met one of my SGI friends for dinner. It was a wonderful catch-up, always wonderful to see her. First met her in a training course in 2014 and the friendship keeps going.

Afterwards back at my hotel room, after finishing my chanting, I had an overwhelming urge to call my ex Mike from a relatively short but very emotional relationship, at least for me. Earlier this year I’d told him to never contact me again and he understood I needed the space.

As I was about to call him I prayed that only if this is right for me should he answer the phone, putting all my trust in the Gohonzon. I called him and it rang as though he was overseas, I was about to hang up and then reminded myself to persevere. Soon he answered and it was breaking up and his American accent seemed heavier than usual, I had trouble understanding what he said. I just got that he’s away and in a conference and will talk later. Surprisingly he followed up with a text that he couldn’t hear me but he will try calling me over the weekend when he has a break.

Knowing him, I figured I probably won’t hear back. It crossed my mind a couple of times as I went about my weekend, reminding myself that I’m not sitting around waiting or obsessing about it. He texted me late on Sunday night and I was already in bed and replied to him the next morning saying as much.

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Aligning to my mission

After yesterday’s friendship and joy, I found myself better able to connect to my purpose today. It was much easier to chant for an hour this morning. I invited one of my Buddhist group members to chant at the same time from her home. I thought of it as a chore for her because she must have been living a good enjoyable life with her husband.

However, things aren’t as always they seem to be. Even when I think I’m struggling and nobody else is in a soup like me, someone is still struggling in their own way.

When we finished chanting she said that she hadn’t chanted like this for a while and thanked me for inviting her. She said that she needed to redetermine and strengthen her resolve to align with her vow for kosen-rufu.

I was amazed how my new prayers based on President Ikeda’s guidance and persevering in creating causes led to this moment.

This fuelled me to talk to my state leader and reach out to many other young women. I want to strive to create so many causes and accumulate so much good fortune that when PMS and it’s accompanying deep depression and fatigue come around, my good fortune is enough to carry me over, that somehow my life force is so strong that I don’t suffer and am able to keep continuing the cycle of contributing to society and kosen-rufu.

I’m grateful for this challenge that leads me to strive. Thanks to my friend in Melbourne for giving me so much encouragement to focus on my determination.

My most favorite thing from that conversation was – everything I do is ok. If today I can only text one person and chant for five minutes, that’s ok. If I can do more, that’s ok too. As long as I’m somehow doing my best, whatever that turns out to be is enough and ok and will lead me to accumulate limitless good fortune.

This took so much anxiety away. Further that I can only focus on my causes. And if I text someone and they don’t respond, I don’t need to fixate on that, I can go ahead and connect to others who while continuing to chant for those who are not able to step forward yet.

So much to do and strive for. Exciting times!

Choice

My friend wrote this post today – What is my choice. It got me thinking about choices. What I thought about my choices, why I made them, how they shaped my life and so on.

When I thought back to a time in my life where I didn’t have choices, I wondered why that was. E.g. when I started working in my first job back in 2004 and stayed with my uncle that I didn’t want to.

Or the time when I made the choice to rebel against the status quo because I refused to define my life by cultural expectations or norms and allowed myself the freedom to be, I realised that eventually my rebellion had taken away my choice to learn and explore myself and what I wanted. Instead I had started living my life by what I didn’t want. It was a choice too, albeit a narrow one.

I also thought about how I have the choice to practice the religion of my choice, without my family disowning me or the legal system penalising me.

In that sense, the more I reflected on it, the more I was sure that being able to choose is a privilege. That I am already on the side of privilege when I have choices. However, it isn’t quite as straightforward. Why did I refuse to exercise the choices I had in a moment, for example, when I chose to stay in an unfulfilling relationship for even a minute, let alone months or years? Why did I choose to stay with my flatmate when it was clearly not working out for me?

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