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.
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
I Began Practicing
Gosho, “On Attaining Buddhahood”
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.
Gosho, “Reply to Kyo”
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.
My family has come a long way from the shores of Ireland and from those first steps my Grandfather took on Ellis Island.
Gosho, “Letter to the Mother of Oto Gozen”
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.