Contribution and “Fighting Daimoku” 

The months of March through June were rather difficult. My physical health became quite an obstacle, with repeated episodes of pneumonia, asthma symptoms, kidney stones, infections from the antibiotics, and the list goes on. Being out of work for three months, my finances were getting really tight as well. For someone otherwise in perfect health, I couldn’t understand why all this was going on — I told myself it was bad karma that had to be dealt with. My practice was fair, and I used fatigue as an excuse to skip practice, usually in the evening. Relationships were becoming stressed; work was growing impatient with my absence, causing me to fear for my job. My life declined, as it should when one chooses to put his or her practice on the back burner. I was even beginning to doubt my practice altogether. 
In the first week of June, in an effort to gain some pity, I sent an email to our district leader whining about my circumstances and venting on and on about how miserable I was. She quickly replied with guidance, not pity. She said something that said “Today, you will choose to live in defeat or rise up in victory. This choice will determine how you live the rest of your life.” These were harsh words, but so very true. 

That evening, I attended a meeting at a member’s house, still clinging to self pity with very little determination. At the time, the most recent edition of an SGI-USA publication called “Living Buddhism” was on the coffee table, and I knew about the May Commemorative Contribution, but had been putting it off, telling myself, “I’ll give throughout the year to make up for it, since finances are tight now.”  

Everyday at about 7:00 AM, I would awaken to another day of fatigue, fevers, aches, etc; carry out my morning prayer, and head right back to bed at about 8:30 or so, sleeping well into the afternoon or evening. One evening, in a conversation with my friend, I told him it felt like I was going to die... and honestly it did.  

I had an opportunity to read the “Living Buddhism” magazine for the months of May and June. Ironically enough, the article was about challenges and obstacles. It was about a letter written to the Ikegami brothers, who at the time were having their share of problems, obstacles, and challenges. Nichiren wrote to encourage the brothers in their hard times. He wrote in this letter, “As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere” (WND 1, p. 501). 

By this time, I had been chanting Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo for almost a year and I had made great progress in my practice and was gaining a better understanding. This explained to me the first part of what was going wrong. Nichiren went on to say in the same passage, “One should be neither influenced nor frightened by them. If one falls under their influence, one will be led into the paths of evil. If one is frightened by them, one will be prevented from practicing the correct teaching” (WND 1, p. 501). What a breakthrough!! All this applied to the current state of my life. But what was I going to do to change it?  
June 10 was my last chance to participate in May Commemorative Contribution at World Peace Prayer. I had only $7.00 in my wallet at the time, but there was a bit of money in the bank that I called my “emergency fund” — money that usually gets spent on some non-emergency like a weekend at the beach. What to do... last day to contribute... only cash accepted at the community center... well, there is always next year.  

About mid-way through the meeting on Sunday, my good friend Ellen reminded me it was the last day for contributions and said it would be a great cause to give 50 cents if that’s all I could give. I thought to myself, I have $7.00 to get me through the next five days, even 50 cents is going to be a stretch. The excuses prevailed and I came home having made a total contribution of $0.00, not a dime. 

Later that afternoon, an experience arrived in my inbox from a Yahoo Group about contribution. It left me no room for excuses and taking a leap of faith, I went to the SGI-USA website and made a contribution using the “emergency fund.” It wasn’t what I really planned on contributing, but it was a lot more than I’d given so far. 

Almost immediately, my three-month-long fever began to break!! Within moments, the fever that had ranged from 100° to almost 104° dropped to 97.8 degrees and has remained there. The fatigue started to lift, the cough ceased, the body aches and pain lessened. The next morning, just one day after my contribution, I woke up at 6:30 A.M. and was able to stay awake the entire day until almost 9:00 P.M. and felt good all day. That night, I slept like a baby for the first time in a long time and woke up the next morning on 6 hours or less of sleep and felt even better than the day before. That was the first Tuesday in a long time that defeat hasn’t been breaking down my door.  

President Ikeda, the current president of Soka Gakkai International, wrote about how to chant “fighting daimoku.” It was time for me to take the action necessary to bring about some major life changes and to face these obstacles and challenges head on. The following day, I spent a few hours chanting Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo victoriously, being sure not to disturb my neighbors. I also have become more involved in SGI activities and have studied more, keeping up-to-date on events within SGI, and working to help others find and develop this great Buddhist practice, never letting any obstacle stand in my way. 

For such a small cause in contributing and practicing again with determination and a fighting spirit, obstacles started falling flat. Challenges became greater experiences. I never thought a cause that seemed so small on the surface would bring so much benefit. I’ve heard people give experiences about a new home, a new car, a promotion, a better boss... I got my health back, and there is NO greater benefit in my opinion.  

Since then, my work and home lives have both improved, my relationships with others are dramatically improved, and my joy of life has been restored. We got the new car I’ve been chanting for… totally new!! Through this, I’ve learned that no matter how small the contribution made for the sake of Buddhism, there is a huge benefit in store and when facing problems, face them head on with my head held high and defeat each one with Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Never again will I underestimate the power of making a cause, small or great — or the power of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. 

To read this same experience in Italian, go here.