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The Secret of Building the Castle of Happiness:
The Horbach Family Daimoku

I was introduced to this religion in 1980, by a woman who told me I could achieve whatever I wanted. I was curious so I asked her to explain. She told me about chanting, and at first I had my doubts, as I had doubts about her. You see, she had this strange practice of chanting Nam myoho renge kyo. This is a Japanese practice and I am Korean there is a lot of hostility in my country about all things Japanese.

Needless to say, I tried the practice and found I was quite good at doing Gongyo. I learned how to do it in less than a week. I attended meetings and activities, but my heart wasn't really into it. About a year later, problems erupted in my reality, due to my bad karma. My faith wasn't strong enough to overcome the obstacles and thus began a two-and-a-half year dark period in my life, where, veering from the correct path, I began to wander aimlessly. 

Meanwhile, there were several occasions of lucky days, which I didn't recognize as such, and were inconspicuous benefits. One morning while I was on my way to work, I got on a bus and came across a Buddhist member who was reading some study material. I was so impressed with her focus and intensity, I vowed to make a new resolution and started up my practice again. 

I received the Gohonzon five months later and studied the Daishonin's teachings sincerely. Just as dirty water will pour out of a garden hose that had not been used all winter, my life took a turn for the worse. I became so poor I couldn't even feed myself. I remembered the Gosho "whatever happens in your life, regard it as an illusion and speculate only on the matter of the Lotus Sutra".

I was certain I could change my karma by overcoming these problems, so I chanted to the Gohonzon to erase my bad karma. I calmed myself and thought of President Toda's words that it takes seven years to change the karma of poverty. I started taking on more responsibility. I was appointed unit chief in 1986, took an entrance exam, and passed it. I held daimoku campaign meetings every week and did home visitations to encourage others. As a result, six months later, the members in my unit had increased enough to split and become two units.

In 1988, a friend of mine introduced me to an Air Force officer who is my husband now. I explained to him about this True Buddhism and invited him to attend a meeting which he followed smoothly. Since my native tongue is Korean, I challenged myself to improve my English and studied and took another elementary exam, which I passed. A year later, he returned to the United States but vowed he'd come back. For two years I waited for him and prayed to the Gohonzon to raise his understanding of this religion. I patiently encouraged him in my letters and when I talked to him on the phone.

Once again he was given orders to Korea, and I moved from Kunsan to Osan to start a new life. Nevertheless, I soon found out that wanting is better than having, and a short period of happiness lifted like a morning fog burnt off by the glare of the sun.

I pressed on with my duties and became Women's Division District Chief within four months. My duties as District Chief and the problems arising at home were almost too much to bear. I found that trying to harmonize two people with totally different cultural backgrounds and no common core of experience was not an easy process. Morever, I was dismayed by some members who were slackening in their faith because of witnessing my hardships. 

Looking for an escape route I chanted for him to leave me. However, we don't always get what we want but what we need. I got pregnant with my daughter. It was then I realized I had to have my own karma and not look for any easy fixes. I started to chant seven to eight hours a day with a strong resolve not to pass on my karma to my daughter and to have a healthy baby.

After two million daimoku, I went into the delivery room. During the delivery things started to go horribly wrong, and the doctors had to induce labor and perform a c-section to save my baby's life and my life. At age thirty-seven, I delivered my baby Melody and felt the greatest joy and triumph of my life.

A year later another benefit that changed my destiny happened. My husband was appointed the Men's Division District Chief and shortly after started to complain about severe and frequent headaches. He kept going to the emergency room, getting painkillers, and being sent home. The pills did nothing to help him, and he went again and fortunately found a very competent Korean doctor in the emergency room. He took one look at my husband and immediately ordered a spinal tap. The results came back positive, my husband had severe viral meningitis. It was so fortunate that this disease was detected!

Because of our marital problems, my husband had become depressed and had often expressed a death wish. Now with death looking him in the face, he found himself fighting desperately to live. He asked for his Gongyo book and wanted to hold his beads. The Doctor took me aside and told me my husband might experience some paralysis and mental retardation. Nevertheless, my husband made a miraculous recovery and left the hospital in just over a week. Whatever pledges he made to the Gohonzon I don't know, but I do know he was a changed man after that, and our marriage started to turn for the better. He showed actual proof of hendoku iyaku (changing poison into medicine) through his recovery.

He retired from the military in 1995 and got the civilian job he chanted for. In fact, today he is the site leader for his company.

In June 1997, we took a vacation to Minnesota to visit my mother-in-law who had become very ill. My husband tried to dissuade me from making this trip by telling me his mother didn't like Orientals. I wouldn't budge on my plan because I had a feeling this might be the first and last time I would get to meet her. I've been chanting for years that my husband would get along better with his mother and I felt this was the only chance I could realize this wish. He was her only child which made the mission even more important to me. 

While staying there I did my best to let her dispel any prejudices and misunderstandings she may have had, and she became quite fond of me. Under her kind consideration, I could chant whenever I wanted. I even got to attend the Minnesota branch of the SGI in St. Paul. As we headed home in a 747, I felt at peace and things were going well. 

However, when we got back home jet-lagged and tired, I found out my older brother had committed suicide when we were somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I passed out from the shock and woke up in a hospital. It hurt me so much that I wasn't even on land, and I felt guilty for not being there for him when he was in such a desperate stage of needing someone's help. That incident offered me a perspective on what dark karma I must have been born with and made me resolve once more to change it.

My husband started to work on a Master's degree in Computer Science, but two weeks after he began classes, we received word that my mother-in-law had lung cancer. Since she had no one to help her, my husband went to her side, and I prayed for her. I also prayed for him to be able to complete his studies, which he did by taking the course via the Internet, and he scored the top score in his class.

My mother-in-law passed away peacefully on March 20, after talking to me on the phone. My husband called me minutes before she was gone, and I promised her we would live a good life in honor of her. He said she looked up at him, smiled, and then was gone. 

At this time I was just finishing my six million Daimoku campaign. It dawned on me gradually that my troublesome relationship with my husband was due to my bad karma and me. Nichiren Daishonin stated we should not seek this Gohonzon outside ourselves. We should also not seek why we have obstacles outside of ourselves. The problems we face in life are due to us and our karma. The means to change things for the better also lies inside of us through chanting daimoku.

Recently we bought a thirty-six pyung [Koreans measure house sizes through pyungs. Thirty-six pyung would translate to about a large four-bedroom apartment.] house that lies next to a beautiful mountain and a national park. A hike to the mountain's summit is indeed breathtaking, and I find myself loving to take the hike in early morning for the beautiful sunrises atop the mountain. 

Recently, my mother has come to live with me and she also has started to chant. "Practicing this Buddhism means to win or to lose. It's pathetic if you lose." Bearing Sensei's guidance in mind, I'll keep fighting for Kosen Rufu till I meet Sensei someday, till Nikken is purged, till I raise my family into great leaders of 21st century.