Changing My Family Karma  
An Experience by Peggy Goldman  

My name is Peggy Goldman. I have been practicing this Buddhism for 22 years this year. My experience is about changing my family karma.  

Family History  
I was born in the Midwest into a large, upper middle-class Irish family. My Grandfather came to America at the turn of the century (1900) all by himself. His name was Patrick Connors and he was only 19 years old. I remember that he spoke with a thick brogue. He was well-educated, extremely courageous, and he had a strong vision all his own. At the age of 17, he had been forced to enter the seminary in Ireland to become a Catholic priest. When he turned 19, he left the seminary and hopped the next boat to America all by himself. He left behind his family (dairy farmers), his money, and his connections. In spite of all that, he became a successful businessperson. My ability to fight when trouble occurs must come from his “fighting Irish spirit.” 

I grew up in a family that was very spiritual. My parents were active in their church, which my father attended daily. Growing up with that kind of spirituality and conviction (even though their religion was not my choice), helped pave the way for me to comfortably pursue my own spirituality. However, even though my parents were religious practitioners and were always trying to do the right thing for our family and others, they suffered a lot. I remember as a child thinking, “I wonder if there is some kind of religion out there that everyone can practice and become happy?” A profound thought for a child!  

There were many prejudices practiced in those days and my family was no exception. The Irish were discriminated against and vice-versa. I grew up in a sheltered environment, attending private schools during my grade school years, so I had little opportunity to meet people other than my own race and religion. When I entered high school and college, the student population was much more diverse. I met and become friends with many people of different walks of life. It was at that time I realized that my parents, for everything 
good they taught me, their prejudices were just that — their prejudices, not mine.  

I Began Practicing Nichiren Buddhism  
I joined the SGI in 1985. I was married at the time and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the reasons I moved to California was to get away from my family. (I will get back to that in a minute.) A friend of mine (she was also Irish) introduced me to this Buddhism. The thing I remember most about my first SGI meeting was the cultural diversity. It was fantastic! At that time there were daily, fast-paced activities and I eventually jumped right in. It felt very natural. And over the next 22 years my family dynamics would change dramatically.  

From the Gosho, “On Attaining Buddhahood”  
”Your mastery of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of mortal sufferings in the least unless you perceive the ‘true nature’ of your own life.” Our “true nature” is our Buddha nature (as I would come to find out).  

I had a baby, moved to Virginia, had another baby, and then became a single parent. I worried about how my divorce would affect my children. I was inspired by a friend of mine who was also an SGI member and single parent. She would say “just chant for your children to be unaffected by your divorce” and “chant ABUNDANT daimoku everyday.” She taught by example and she seemed to always be chanting and breaking through insurmountable obstacles. I did not know it at the time, but her example would become my inspiration and foundation for my practice: “ABUNDANT daimoku, everyday.” Over the next 10 years of my life, as I struggled raising my kids, I chanted about two hours a day, sometimes more depending on the severity of my circumstances.  

From the Gosho, “Reply to Kyo”  
“But your faith alone will determine all things. A sword will be useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith. Then he/she will be as strong as a demon armed with an iron staff.” 

I took my kids to SGI Boys and Girls Group meetings and practiced as a WD District leader. Both of my children learned Gongyo (thanks to Linda Jimenez and Juanita Mayberry) and always enjoyed the meetings. Simultaneously, my children’s father and I moved into the same neighborhood so the kids could go back and forth easily. He and I have remained amicable, which makes it easy for our kids. And even though he is remarried, he is still there for the kids, constantly involved in their daily lives. Without his daily support, this would be a very different story. This is definitely a result of ABUNDANT daimoku.  

My daughter is currently a first semester Junior in college and is pursuing a double major in mathematics and computer science. She is happy, well-adjusted, and has nice friends. In addition, my son is in his third year of high school. He is a well adjusted 16-year-old. He plays the drums in the high school marching band and also plays high school lacrosse. I am so proud of my kids. My children’s successes have become my joys. Again, a result of ABUNDANT daimoku.  

My family (the family I moved to California to get away from) has become a major part of my life over the past 15 years. One of my sisters (there are five of us) and her family have been such a huge support to my children and me. They also support my Buddhist practice. The kids and I vacation with them and visit on holidays. Again, a result of ABUNDANT daimoku.  

About a year ago some members of my family moved to Washington DC for their jobs. This past Thanksgiving we all gathered at their home — my children’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family from as far as California gathered in our Nation’s Capital for Thanksgiving. I think my kids (and I) were a little overwhelmed. It was surreal, and I mean that in a good way. As I looked around the room at my children, my sisters and brother, aunts and uncles, I thought to myself, “if this is not a result of ABUNDANT daimoku, I will eat my hat.”  

A recent email from our SGI region leaders talked about the problems they were having getting a building permit for our new Culture Center site in Washington DC. They said there were some people in the neighborhood who opposed the building. The email said it would helpful if people from that neighborhood (or even just DC residents) could write letters in support to the DC building permit officials. The site of the proposed Culture Center is on Embassy Row — I could not believe what I was reading, because my family’s home is about one mile from there. I was visiting my family that weekend so I decided to bring the architectural plans and proposal with me so they could view it themselves. They thought it was an amazing building and proposal and said they would be happy to write a letter in support! They also asked if they could come to the opening when the building was finished. Wow! — ABUNDANT daimoku.  

President Ikeda’s Guidance:  
“Practicing Buddhism means being victorious. In advancing one step at a time amid the realities of our daily lives, in showing concrete actual proof, in becoming victors and successes, we are demonstrating with our very beings the validity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. And serving as a source of hope and inspiration for those who will follow us on the path of faith.” 

My family has come a long way from the shores of Ireland and from those first steps my Grandfather took on Ellis Island.  

In the Gosho, “Letter to the Mother of Oto Gozen”  
The Daishonin says that the benefit of faith extends to the preceding seven generations and the seven generations that followed. (Major Writings, Vol. 7, p. 172)  

From my struggles as a single parent over the years, this Buddhism has enabled me to gain inner strength and happiness in my life. This Buddhism teaches us that when we change on the inside it is reflected on the outside. I can see those changes reflected in my relationship with children, as well as my relationship with family. I feel grateful to Daisaku Ikeda (my Buddhist Father), my mentor, for showing me (us) how to correctly interpret the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.  

President Ikeda’s Guidance:  
“True character is forged only through hardship and suffering. Moreover, it is the Mentor-Disciple relationship, not organizational structure, that builds character. Many great scholars, pioneers, and leaders of the world have come to note how crucial the mentor-disciple relationship is.”