The Fish Hunters  

by Rosana Liera 

I was born in Argentina from Italian parents, during the dictatorship. I grow up in Italy. At the age of twenty I split with my family, which was violent and did not respect me at all. To give you an example: they did not allow me to paint, to follow my artistic passion and to be a woman. They said I will never make a living out of my art. And women are not so intelligent, even not enough to drive a car. 

I decide to search for better life traveling in different cities in Europe. I was suffering a lot. I suffocate the dream to be myself and use my artistic skills. I had to deal now with real life and earning money. In between a lot of jobs … I try to solve my unhappiness working as volunteer in Africa planting trees. But nothing could fulfill my emptiness. I first pronounced "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" with a friend in Italy. But I didn't chant — I just pronounced it few times. 

Then in October 1999 I decide to listen to my heart and I polish my dream. I took it as my last opportunity. I was determinate to find any school around the world that would give me that chance. And finally … I won a grant to study as a filmmaker in animation film in France.  

In France I began chanting day and night as I found myself in tons of difficulties and alone. At that time I didn't know anything about the practice, about Buddhism philosophy, and the SGI. I spent ten month solving my problems through simple daimoku and completely alone.  

In August 2000 I went back to Italy to search for the friend who teach me Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and ask her: I want to become a Buddhist. I want to chant for the rest of my life. What do I need? How do I get the Gohonzon? Where I can buy it? 

She smiled and introduced me to the organization. I start practicing in Italy the 22nd of August 2000. In two days I learned gongyo as I pronounce it today. 

In October 2000 I was back in France again. There I found a group and two month later the 10th of December 2000 I received the Gohonzon from Soka Gakkai France and become a member. At that time in France one was not allowed to receive the Gohonzon without nine month of correct practice. But my determination and faith was much stronger and they broke the rule and offer to me the Gohonzon within two month of correct practice in SGF. 

I knew that the Gohonzon belonged to me as much as the air I need to breathe. That is for sure the reason why Nichiren inscribed the Gohonzon for us. 

I had for the first time the possibility to realize my dream, but always the same suffering in the depth would not allowed me to take that chance. I was encouraged from my best friend and leader from Kansai, who said: “We choose where we born, we choose our parents, and we choose the sufferings in order to improve our life in this existence. You got already everything you need to become happy.” 

I really didn’t understand … but I trust her and chant till I will get the very meaning of my suffering.… “A mind now clouded by the illusion of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and true aspect of reality” from the Gosho "On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime" (Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p. 4). I was enlightened about all I’ve been through since the moment I was born. Everything was clear, I had to use my life-experience and this suffering and make a film out of it! 

What was my suffering about? 

As a child, I was profoundly troubled by historic images of violence especially the reports of Hiroshima and the Holocaust, the dictatorship in Argentina, and all forms of violence on human being. I was also trouble by my situation of an eternal foreigner, from a country to another. I wasn’t able to see that I was in reality able to speak five languages, know other cultures and be a world citizen. 

How to heal my suffering? 

I was inspired by President Ikeda's guidance to use one's artistic power as a method to improve us and change the world. So in October 2000 I began painting and filming the animated cells, every day at the rhythm of very strong DAIMOKU and from France to Italy I did shakubuku phone calls to my parents. They were supporting me this time! (I remember my father being upset of not having any more reasons to fight with me. He had to get use to peaceful dialogue now!) 

At the same time my unpleasant karma with men show up. The musician who suppose to create the music of my film (a quite famous guy…) after three months of assiduous work, refuse to meet me and work on it. Terrible news if you have only three days to finish the movie and the producer expecting you to do it. 

I had to take a decision … I chant, I found the recording studio and a talented young woman who was excited by the idea of working on my project. Next day I wrote the music, we took the percussions and we sang. The result was extraordinary, the music was gorgeous … I succeed finishing the production of the film in July 2001, just in time for the screening.  
The film is The Fish Hunters — it’s a metaphor to express how pointless war can be. What is more foolish than to search for fish in the desert? Or to ask people who are poor to give even more? 

I use the film to get close to people and talk. I use it as a bridge. Since then I’ve been invited to many festivals and conference to present the film and to talk over the process of peace. The film has been shown in Brazil, Teheran, Moscow, USA, Asia, all around the world and has won awards in Canada, England, and Italy. 

But the most surprising achievement was the award I won for "new talent in animation," in Hiroshima on the 22nd of August 2002, on the anniversary of my two years of practice with the SGI. 

President Ikeda is right: we can aim to reach the Heart of many people through sincere dialogue. Honestly I wasn’t expecting to win any prize or receive any money. I wanted to speak out against violence. 

The film is now part of the film library of Hiroshima in the collection of the highest quality animation art in Japan and it is considered an artistic document of non-violence action. 

This small six minutes film is to thank from the bottom of my heart my mentor Daisaku Ikeda for all the intense and restless work and dialogue he has done during his whole life for the sake of peace and happiness. 

Thanks to the Soka Gakkai International, without your continuous support, I would never be able to realize that I can make a living out of my Heart! 

To finish my experience, I want to share with you President Ikeda’s encouragement:  

“Success is not a matter of accumulating more of this or that; it is not measured in quantity. It means changing the quality of your life. Wealth, power, fame and knowledge alone cannot make you happy, no matter how much of these you acquire. Nor can you take them with you when you die. But by improving the quality of your life you will at last approach true happiness.”

The Fish Hunters can be viewed online here


To read this experience in Spanish, go here.