Visualization — Prayer as a Vow
By Charles Atkins
Nothing can refute actual proof. In 1987, I overcame advanced cancer through the power of faith, prayer, and excellent medical treatment. Prayer is a vow. When facing the ravages of cancer, treatment, and my own death, I vowed to the Gohonzon, that if I survived, I would tell my story far and wide for the sake of kosen-rufu. I determined that I would share the greatness of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the sick and suffering to give them hope. In May of 2002, after 14 years of intense effort, my book will be published. Its title is “Modern Buddhist Healing.”
The path from recovery to published author was arduous, with many agonizing obstacles blocking the way. It seemed that from the moment of my remission, people sought me out for advice on how they could overcome their illness. There were people with incurable cancers, diabetes, heart disease, AIDS, and mental illnesses. I knew next to nothing about allopathic medicine or alternative healing — all I knew was the absolute power of daimoku and the technique of mantra-powered visualization I had used in my own recovery, as revealed by SGI Vice President Takehisa Tsuji. That method of chanting and imagery placed the seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo over the body, perfectly corresponding to the ancient chakra schematics of Hindu and Tantric Buddhism. I began to teach others how to chant in this manner to combat their illness. At the same time, my true education into mind and body medicine began. I had great teachers. They were prayer, faith, the Gohonzon, the Lotus Sutra, the Gosho, SGI-USA publications, the invincible mentor-disciple relationship with President Ikeda, and especially suffering people in need.
The idea for the book was formed in 1995 when SGI pioneer members, Bill and Carolyn Thompson of Connecticut, approached me to help a relative with lymphoma. That association challenged me to put a first draft together. I spent several months researching, writing, and chanting as much daimoku as I could. Writing the book was the easy part, marketing it proved difficult. I secured a literary agent and revised the manuscript. In one year, I was rejected by nearly 200 publishers. My agent and I parted company, and I revised the book again. I secured a second literary agent who specialized in the Asian market who presented it to hundreds of Asian publishers, all to no avail. We parted company and I revised the manuscript once more.
During the writing and marketing process, many painful and daunting obstacles emerged one after another vying to interfere with the realization of my goal. My faith was challenged constantly. Being human, I was discouraged at the endless stream of failures. I began to have self-doubts. Who would want a book on healing published by someone with limited education? The idea was absurd. I wasn’t a medical doctor or a scholar. The entirety of my secondary education was in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and my intensive youth division training in the SGI-USA. But that basic training in faith led me back to the Gohonzon with abundant daimoku.
In 1995, I learned that the SGI-USA would be participating in an inter-faith conference at DePaul University in Chicago. I submitted a formal proposal to my leaders in Chicago to write and present an academic paper on Buddhist healing. I prayed to the Gohonzon to absorb everything I read. I prayed to tap into the limitless repository of knowledge within us all. When it was time to write, the academic paper flowed from me like a raging river. The day before I was to present it, my father died of a heart attack. Sansho-shima had risen up to thwart my efforts. Thanks to the wisdom and strength from many daimoku, I instantly realized the significance of my cause.
Feeling a new sense of determination, I revised the manuscript again, combining the academic paper with my personal experience. After much prayer, I decided to choose only one publisher and send it to them. I purposely defied every rule of proper submission expected in the publishing industry. In the past, I had sent out double spaced sample chapters on high quality paper, and meticulously crafted cover letters, with return postage. This time, I made up an actual book with single-spaced text and double-sided copy on inexpensive paper. I sent it with a short cover letter. My attitude was that if they didn’t want it, I would save my money and self-publish the book.
Shortly after I sent the manuscript, I learned that my brother was dying. A year later my mother died. My prayer had been for them to see me succeed as a writer. I was devastated. My marriage fell apart. I thought I was going insane. But I kept going back to the Gohonzon. Almost two years after my mother’s death the publisher called with an offer. Then the real work began. Over a 15-month period I researched and revised the manuscript. After the second major rewrite to my editor’s specifications, I received word that she too had died.
My publisher’s protégé stepped forward to finish the book. Her name is Valerie Cooper. We immediately formed a wonderful bond. Her understanding of Buddhism and the message I was trying to convey impressed me very much. Her guidance reshaped my manuscript into a book of great value and quality that will help those in need. My editor suggested a subtitle that I believe is indicative of the Mystic Law itself: “A Spiritual Strategy for Transforming Pain, Dis-Ease & Death.”
Now, as if in
response to my daimoku of long ago, people I had prayed for and helped
in the past, from all over the world, have begun to emerge to champion
the cause of Modern Buddhist Healing. My prayer now is to use this book
to plant the precious seed of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the lives of 100 million
people, for the sake of kosen-rufu and to banish suffering.
this experience in Spanish, go here.
Copyright 2002 Gakkai Experiences Online