Hello everyone, my name is Eugene Maurice Plenty Chief; I am a Native American Indian. I have been practicing our wonderful Buddhism for three years now.
I was born and raised as a Christian and Mormon, on an Indian Reservation in North Dakota. I am the oldest of seven brothers and three sisters. We grew up in an environment of alcoholism, poverty, and physical and verbal abuse. Every day was a struggle. I often received uncalled for beatings from my mother; on occasion, from my uncles.
People often talked very bad about our family because we were poor. Even our own relatives said terrible things to us. It was a most uncomfortable way to grow up. I told my brothers and sister that some day I would leave and never return.
In my last year of high school, I lived with my grandmother. Just before graduation day I went to see my mother, to give the great news; I was finally going to graduate. I figured my mother would be overwhelmed with joy upon hearing of my achievement. Instead, she looked at me without a smile and said, “You are just going to become a bum like all the other high school graduates in this town!”
I was really shocked! I couldn’t believe what she was saying to me. I turned to her and said “After I graduate, I will leave this place and I won’t ever return! I will make it, I will become very rich!” She just laughed and said, sure! Shortly after graduation, I went to a cooking school; then a year later, I went to another trade school to learn clerical work. I have always been fascinated with Japan so I joined the military, figuring that it was the only way to come to Japan.
My dream came true — the military sent me to Okinawa in 1986. I spent six years in the military and another eight years in Okinawa as a civilian after I finished. When I was 21, I married an Okinawa woman and we were married for 13 years. We had ups and downs with our relationship. As time went on, we slowly grew apart, mainly because I was an alcoholic and abusive. We even had a daughter, hoping that things would change. To our misfortune, nothing got better. We divorced in 1999. I am sure they are doing their best. I often pray for their happiness and good health.
At this same time I met my beautiful Junko. She was always very sweet and kind to me. After just a few months of seeing each other we decided to get married. We started to live together — then she got pregnant.
A few months later we got married. She often told me about Buddhism.
Around this time, my alcoholism got worse. I was in denial. I became abusive to her. I was losing control of my own life. I just didn’t realize it until it was too late. I will never forget that last day together. It was the most terrible time of my life. She a made a comment that I didn’t agree with and, without thinking, I struck her. She told me that was the last thing she would take from me, and she was going to leave. My life hit rock bottom at this moment. My alcoholism was at its peak — I was barely making enough to pay rent and utilities. On top of all this, I had a severely herniated back.
At first, I couldn’t understand why she left. What I didn’t realize was how hard she was trying to help me change my life. I just knew that I wanted my family back. I just didn’t know what to do about it.
I chanted a total of 792 hours of daimoku in the next three months. I was determined to overcome my bad karma and change my entire life for my family.
I literally lost everything, everything except our precious Gohonzon.
Everywhere I turned for help, people turned their backs on me. I had nothing, and most of all, I was very, very alone. I chanted earnestly. I would chant and cry for hours and hours, both day and night.
I really missed my daughters and wife. I forced myself to smile. There were times that I couldn’t even go shopping, because everywhere I looked I thought I saw my wife and children. So without buying anything I would just go home and sit in front of the Gohonzon and chant while tears rolled down my cheeks.
After the first month, I ran out of food, all I had left was a container of Miso paste that my wife had left. Before going to work I would have a teaspoon of miso, and after I returned from work I would drink lots and lots of water. I chanted for hours to keep my mind off of food. For two and half months I walked to and from work, because I didn’t have money for the train. (It was an hour and 45 minutes in both directions.)
At times I questioned myself about our Buddhism. I often asked myself why and what our SGI organization was about. Where was the support? Where was all the compassion for each other and others? I honestly couldn’t understand. I honestly didn’t know anything about our Buddhism. Except for “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.”
The more I chanted the farther away my lovely family seemed to go. I figured I wasn’t chanting enough, so I would chant even more and more. But I still continued to fall deeper and deeper into despair. At times, the pain was so unbearable I started to think that suicide was the only answer.
On a couple of occasions when I was about to take my own life, the doorbell would ring. I would put the knife down and wipe the tears from my eyes, and answer the door — it was the newspaper lady. She always showed her concern for me. She would ask how I was doing, and she always encouraged me. She would say “You separated from your wife for a reason, a good reason. Everything will turn out for the best. Don’t give up. Trust your heart, and everything will go in the right direction. If you are meant for each other you will meet again. Just trust your daimoku and trust the Gohonzon.”
The pain of total loneliness was so intense, it was like a balloon being inflated in my chest, ready to burst at any moment. My earnest daimoku and my deep love for my family were the only things that were keeping me from giving up.
I started to chant harder and harder, saying to myself, saying to the Gohonzon, that somehow I was going to overcome my bad karma, no matter what it took. If I had to do it alone, I would! I would do it with daimoku alone.
On the 27th of December 2001, I was literally at my end. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I wasn’t sure if I would make it through that night. I felt as though it was the last day of my life.
That morning, on 28th after doing gongyo (at 1:30 a.m.), I suddenly remembered that it was the 100th day after my family had left, the 100th day of chanting earnest daimoku. I had heard that 100 days after great bad happens, great good will happen. So with this thought, I sat up and faced the Gohonzon, and said “Well, Gohonzon (and to my wife as though she was present), if this is true then so be it! Up until today, I haven’t given up. Somehow, somehow I’ve made it this far. My daimoku to my most trusted Gohonzon and my profound love for you and our daughters has been the only power enabling me to maintain strength and faith, the strength to continue moving forward. From this day forward, I will stand firm with great trust in our Gohonzon, with great courage and strong indestructible faith, I will rid myself of all bad karma traits. I will not lose in this lifetime and I won’t let you lose either.”
Then I made the following vow in faith: “I vow to uphold all the percepts of the Mystic Law to save each and every person from suffering. I will dedicate the rest of my natural life to our Buddhism, for the sake of worldwide kosen-rufu. This is my true reason for living my life.”
While I was making this vow, something very, very amazing started to happen — my entire body started to quiver beyond belief. After I stopped trembling, I felt different. All my sorrows, worries, my terribly herniated back pain, and all the deep lonesomeness were gone. Instead I was overwhelmed with great happiness and full of energy. Warm tears of happiness were ceaselessly rolling down my face. I can’t explain that wonderful feeling.
To this day I still feel that same way, that great feeling still overwhelms me. If I were to put it into words, to somehow enable another person to imagine or understand that feeling, I would use this quote of Mr. Toda: “It’s like lying on your back in a wide open space looking up at the sky with arms and legs outstretched and all that you wish for immediately appears. No matter how much you give away, there is always more. It is never exhausted.” This was the exact feeling of that experience. What I thought had lasted only for a couple of minutes, turned out to be an amazing three hours.
There is much, much more to that experience, things that I cannot explain, yet understand from the depths of my heart. I will never forget this grand experience. After the experience, I told myself that my wife and children would come home within a month’s time and that I would make everything possible in my life: the impossible to possible.
I am more than determined to fulfill my mission in this lifetime, and without fail! Here is a quick overview of what I have been doing ever since that wonderful day.
I'll make everything happen. I will continue to build their trust and love for me, for my wife and I, and for our most important children. The power of the Gohonzon is wonderful. My wife and I want her parents to be happy for us. With our hearts as one, I am more than positive that they will wholeheartedly support and accept our relationship, not only for us, but even more so for our two lovely children.
The Daishonin says “There is no greater joy than chanting the daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” Our daimoku will change the hearts of the world.
“Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law?” Nothing is impossible!!! No matter what the situation maybe, please continue to chant earnest daimoku to the Gohonzon. You are all beautiful treasure towers of the universe.
“A good leader will always care for each and every individual’s needs, no matter what his or her position maybe. This is a true leader of life.”
“Our organization is for the people, not the people for the organization.”
And “No one should ever be left alone, No one!”
You and I must uphold all the percepts
of Nichiren Daishonin’s true Buddhism, as well as President Ikeda’s guidance
to the last letter.