my Buddha Nature
My Introduction to
By Rob Davis
The year 2006 was the worst and the
most challenging year of the 31 years I've lived, yet it ended on the most
positive note ever. In January 2006, everything for me seemed quite normal:
good relationship, good job with promotions, financially secure, etc. Yet
something was missing.
I had been raised with strong religious
conviction and I was active in my church, but I still couldn't pinpoint
just what my life was missing. Finally, in mid-January, the whole world
began to collapse with no known explanation. Horrible depression and anxiety
set in. It became an effort to do anything, much less get out of bed and
function enough to even carry out the simplest task.
And then... the day I never saw coming.
On February 12, 2006, I don't remember much of what happened, but I do
remember "coming to" in the emergency room after a nearly successful suicide
attempt. The doctors admitted me to a psychiatric facility from which I
was discharged in one week. Being placed in a day hospitalization program
with a diagnosis of major clinical depression, anxiety disorder, and a
personality disorder, I returned home. In less than 24 hours, the emergency
room was again graced with my presence with yet a second suicide attempt.
Again, back to the hospital for a week and back into the day program, this
time with some changes to my diagnosis to now include Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD). One week in the day program passed and here I was again
in the emergency room with now a third suicide attempt.
It was now mid-March.
Again I was placed in a day hospital
program. The thing that most bothered the doctors was that I was completely
unable to recall these events or anything that happened before them. I
was literally losing hours of my life; sometimes even days were completely
missing. So they began testing for a disorder called DID, or Dissociative
During this period of testing, I
was hospitalized for the long term on a PTSD/Trauma Disorders Unit, because
these losses of time with suicidality were continuing over and over.
In May of 2006, I was allowed to
return home, loaded up with five different psychiatric medications, but
I was still partially confined to the hospital with a day program. My full
diagnosis now included major depression, anxiety disorder, psychosis, and
borderline personality disorder; and if you know anything about Global
Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scoring, I was at a 30, with normal functioning
being 75 or greater. If you are not familiar with GAF scoring, that pretty
much means I was 100% disabled and unable to work. It was recommended that
I remain confined to a psychiatric institution for a longer period of time.
At last, in July of 2006, I emerged
back into society and was able to return home with my five psychiatric
medications. At this point, I was highly medicated and was emotionless,
flat, and a complete zombie, hardly aware of my own existence.
Everyday life continued to be a struggle,
even simple things like taking a shower or eating. All I did was watch
TV and hope for something to change.
In mid-July, while I was lying on
the sofa watching television, something came on TV that would spark the
most phenomenal change in my life. I believe most everyone is familiar
with Tina Turner and her fantastic true story "What's Love Got to Do with
It." This was the million and a half time I had seen this movie, but there
was something different about it this time. The words “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo”
echoed over and over in my head, in almost a haunting manner. So the next
day, on the way to my therapist, I stopped off at the library to find out
more about this thing called Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and Buddhism.
I was reading this nearly 500-page
book titled "Buddhism for Dummies," yet wasn't finding anything about this
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo thing, but I knew since I had started "saying" it a
few minutes each day, I was regaining my personality and starting to emerge
from some type of emotional/psychiatric hell.
Finally, midway through the book,
there was a very short paragraph about Tina Turner and the Soka Gakkai.
I laid the book down and Googled “Soka Gakkai.” I was happy to discover
that this wasn't some elite organization for the rich and famous (as other
forms of Buddhism were beginning to seem). I emailed my local SGI community
center. In less than one hour, I received a very impressive reply from
Steve, one of the DC/Baltimore leaders. He invited me to my first meeting
on that Sunday and without hesitating, I agreed to go. And so the journey
We talked a lot on the way and although
we didn't know each other, the dialogue was great. He assured me that through
this practice I would overcome life's obstacles and my life condition would
greatly improve. I didn't take him lightly but smugly thought, OK, let's
see the proof.
In attendance at the first meeting
were two wonderful women, Linda and Ellen, and Steve and little insignificant
me. We chanted for about 15 minutes, did this thing called gongyo that
was in Sino-Japanese, chanted for about 15 more minutes. During this process,
a bright shining light I had never felt in my life was already beginning
to emerge. I returned home from the meeting with a new sense of hope, as
if my life had just been won back.
Immediately, I started getting things
together. I went online and studied, reading all I could stand to read,
then ordered everything I could afford, including a butsudan. And I went
out to the new age store and bought a statue of Shakyamuni and put it on
some Ikea tables and chanted my heart out. I found myself immersed in Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
and was off and running—all the while, life was regaining some normalcy.
I was now attending any meeting or
SGI event I could get to, and within a month I was so dramatically improved,
I was allowed to return to work full-time and was taken off two of the
medications. Life had hope at last! The proverbial "light at the end of
the tunnel" had now completely filled my life and I was overcome with such
a great joy that everyone I knew was hearing about Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
and I was learning the correct practice through local members and leaders
who had taken me under their wing.
In late October, it was recommended
that I receive Gohonzon, the object of devotion and mirror of our lives,
which is the major step to becoming a Nichiren Buddhist. I wasn't a bit
reluctant as I was seeing this practice completely shifting my life. Work
was great, home was great, my life was even greater than it had ever been
before. Now, the date was set for me to receive Gohonzon. Leaders visited
my home and were quite shocked to see my altar was already set up and ready
to go. Of course, the statue had to go, which was fine by me, because all
I needed was Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
November 2006 had arrived at last.
By now, my therapist and psychiatrist were shocked at the change in my
life and they both agreed that it was due to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism
and chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The diagnoses were being re-examined
as well as the medications. Although it was ultimately decided that I remain
on three of the original five medications, there had been significant progress
and my therapy sessions were cut from two a week to every two weeks.
November 19 arrived, the most joyous
day of my life. By now, no one would believe the changes, except those
who had been there to see where I started and how far I had come and those
few were pleasantly surprised. The Gohonzon was now in my home and there
was no stopping me now. Life progressed and progressed. I was promoted
at work, was being recognized as a leader and trendsetter among my peers.
People actually started asking me about Buddhism.
I met my friend Nettie right after
receiving Gohonzon and we talked about Buddhism and Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
nearly every day. We grew uncommonly close, as if we had known each other
forever. She attended her first meeting on January 1, 2007, for our New
Year's Gongyo, where we had an impressive gathering. We grew together in
practice and attended activities together. Life was still heading straight
uphill and Nettie decided to get her Gohonzon. My life condition shot through
the roof!! Not only was I happy again, but someone else had found the same
All that being said, my medications
were again revisited. The major one that I was on was discontinued and
the anxiety one was reduced, and will continue to reduce, because the dose
must be tapered off very slowly to prevent serious problems and side effects.
By summer of this year, it is hoped that all my medications will be discontinued.
(And as of May 18, 2007, all medications were discontinued.)
Although many obstacles have come
up, through chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and reciting portions of the Lotus
Sutra daily, and reaching out to others about this practice, life has so
dramatically improved, there are no words to describe it. My best friend
and I now practice together and we attend Soka Gakkai activities together.
We have also worked to coordinate
an introductory meeting at my home on Friday evenings. Additionally, I
have made many friends in my district and throughout the U.S. I was blessed
with a family of people who have kept me strong, encouraged me, and have
chanted enough daimoku for me to move mountain ranges, and who stand firmly
beside me. Life has gone from a hopeless state, bound in life's hell to
absolute bliss!! This practice has changed my life and now I'm watching
it transform the lives of others.
Many things have come up to deter
me, but all have been resolved with a firm practice and strong faith in
my Buddhist practice. Daily another and another obstacle are overcome.
I hope that through this note, others might be encouraged and know without
a shadow of a doubt, this Tina Turner, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo thing that was
such a mystery a year ago, really, truly works!!