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the Buddha Land at Work
"Because you embrace the Gohonzon, you attain Buddhahood. Wherever you go becomes the Buddha land. How many of you find the Buddha land when you go to work?...If you chant daimoku to the Gohonzon in the morning with the determination that: 'I am going to bring the life of the Buddha with me, and I will transform mySix months after receiving the Gohonzon, I was downsized from a company where I had worked for eight years. I saw it as a benefit because, although I was highly paid, the job was emotionally draining and personally unfulfilling, and I never would have had the courage to leave on my own.
I longed to work in a creative and supportive environment instead of the technical and competitive fields I had worked in. I started my own business in the arts field. After two years, I dissolved the business. I was financially and emotionally devastated, and it took one agonizing year to find steady employment.
Although I viewed my self-employment as a failure, the airlines representative who hired me viewed it as an asset he felt self-employment meant I was self-motivated and selected me over hundreds of applicants.
I had always dreamed of traveling internationally, and it was ironic that after several years of barely having enough money for gas, I now had a job that would enable me and my parents to fly inexpensively all over the world. We could now regularly visit our extended family members across the country, creating the family unity I had chanted for.
My position required me to drive over 100 miles a day making sales calls. Although I hated the extensive driving, I tolerated it because I adored my manager and the travel benefits. My hectic schedule and frequent trips out of town made it a struggle to fulfill my responsibilities as a young women's division leader. However, when I exerted extra effort in SGI activities, I received unexpected benefits at work, such as all-expense-paid trips to Costa Rica, France, Thailand, and the Napa Valley wine country.
When my manager was transferred, I found myself working for a manager I felt was chauvinist, racist, and incompetent. Our cultural differences caused us to distrust each other and battle constantly. He assigned me to a new list of accounts that required driving even further from home. The job that was once tolerable was now sheer misery.
Changing jobs wasn't the answer to this problem. I needed to change my karma. I began an intensive daimoku campaign. After I began this campaign, a new secretary was assigned to my boss. She and I got along fantastically. She, in turn, got along well with our manager, and she served as a diplomatic liaison providing advice to each of us on how to work together.
One day my manager told me he was recommending me for a newly created six-month assignment in another district. The assignment would require significant sales results in a short time, and the success or failure would be closely watched by senior management. The assignment would require selling a technical product I wasn't familiar with, nor interested in.
I didn't see this as an opportunity, but as a chance to fail in public. I told my boss I was not interested. "Too late," he said. "I've already recommended you. Your interview is next week." "How could you recommend me for a position without knowing if I was interested in it?" I demanded. His response was that I would be better suited for this position, and there was no need to discuss it further.
I was livid! I was convinced that he was trying to get rid of me and that he put me in a highly visible position so I could be humiliated if I failed.
That evening, I was so angry I could barely chant, and when I did chant, my eyes filled with tears. I requested to be withdrawn from the interview process. The next day, the secretary advised me that if I refused the interview it would embarrass my boss, and would increase the tensions between us. "Besides," she said, "going on the interview doesn't guarantee you will be chosen." She suggested I use this as an opportunity to practice interviewing skills. This helped me to see the opportunity and enabled me to chant with a sense of appreciation rather than anger.
Since I wasn't interested in the assignment, I wasn't intimidated by the panel of three who interviewed me. My life-condition was so high, the interview was enjoyable. It went so well, I got the job! Rather than feel elated, however, I was filled with despair.
When I heard Greg Martin's guidance. I chanted to have the strength and wisdom to transform my work environment.
After I started chanting with this attitude, I was told that this assignment would allow me to set my own work schedule and work from home 80% of the time, with a home office supplied by the company. The time I used to spend commuting could now be spent having a leisurely breakfast, going to the gym, chanting more daimoku and visiting members. I could work in jeans, a sweatsuit, or even my pajamas!
Focusing on Greg's guidance during morning gongyo helped me realize what wonderful results can be created when I "bring the Buddha to work." I listened to my customers with more patience and understanding, as opposed to being concerned only with accomplishing my sales agenda. I focused on supporting my new manager, even if I didn't always agree with her, and she in turn respected me.
When I did come to the office, I was happy and enthusiastic and acknowledged the efforts of everyone. My co-workers would consistently said they wished I came in more often. Instead of a competitive environment, I now had an environment of camaraderie.
Never before had I felt so much support in my work environment. My fears were unfounded. What my customers valued more than my knowledge was compassion, trust and confidence.
My efforts to polish my Buddha nature brought out the qualities that they valued in me. I was so successful in this assignment that I exceeded the anticipated results, was honored at an awards ceremony, received a cash bonus, and got my first outstanding job evaluation. The assignment became a permanent position, and I was offered the job. I thanked my previous manager for recommending me in the first place. He hugged me and told me how proud he was of me. Now we communicate like old friends.
This experience helped me trust the strategy of the Lotus Sutra, versus the strategy of my own arrogance.
With a newfound confidence and a flexible work schedule, I had the time, energy, and fortune to develop a community project that uses the creative talent I had longed to express. I am collaborating with Buddhist and non-Buddhist friends to produce a local weekly cable television program called "Yes, You Can!!" This program profiles individuals who have a product, business or nonprofit organization that inspires people to take new risks, create new possibilities and make positive changes in their lives. Our goal is to empower viewers to believe that "yes, they can" overcome whatever obstacle is in the way of their happiness.
The chance to work on a creative project I love, with interesting people and contributes to the community, is a benefit. When I told a co-worker about this project, she nominated me for a company-wide contest to win an all-expense-paid trip for two to the Olympics last summer.
In the letter, the co-worker wrote about the television show, my inspirational attitude, and my sales results. To my surprise, I received a call from the company president congratulating me for winning, selected from a pool of 1,500 nominees!
My personal growth over the last 10 years enabled me to develop compassion, confidence, and faith that would not have happened without the struggle to be happy. I thank my fellow SGI members who encouraged me to never stop practicing even when it seemed that the lotus blossom was never going to bloom from the muddy swamp I was in.