“Look What We Helped Create”
David and Adie Rubin share how offerings of every kind to support the SGI have been like pebbles thrown into a pond, sending ripples throughout their lives.
by David and Adie Rubin
World Tribune: David and Adie, thank you very much for sharing your experience. How did you encounter Nichiren Buddhism?
David Rubin: Adie was pregnant with our son, Jordan, when she became extremely sick with pre-eclampsia. She had an emergency cesarean section at seven months, and she and the baby were both fighting for their lives. I remember putting a photo of Adie and me inside the incubator and praying out of desperation. Jordan lived 10 days.
Returning to our house was surreal. Everything was just so dark. Apart from our loss, we didn’t have friends. Business was not good. Our health was not good. It was the Midas touch in reverse— everything we touched seemed to result in failure.
WT: We’re deeply sorry for your loss. How did you pull through?
David: I called my friend Lynne and asked her about Buddhism. Although she had many challenges then, what encouraged me is that she never gave up. That’s what I wanted—the courage to keep going. I received the Gohonzon in November 1983.
Although our apartment was filled with gloom and darkness, every time I looked at the altar, it was as if the Gohonzon were saying to me: Dave, don’t be fooled by the darkness. Your life is going to change.
At first, I had a cardboard altar, a glass for water, and a glass and spoon for a bell, but I polished it all every day. Although our apartment was filled with gloom and darkness, every time I looked at the altar, it was as if the Gohonzon were saying to me: Dave, don’t be fooled by the darkness. Your life is going to change.
Of course, we were so fortunate to have SGI President Ikeda every single week sending his express encouragement through the publications, telling us— You have everything you need, just keep going! How fortunate we are to have that kind of encouragement weekly.
WT: Adie, how about you?
Adie: I didn’t join David at first, but I brought a lot of guests to meetings! I was still suffering from losing a son, and I couldn’t seem to make any movements in my life. One day, I brought a friend who was severely depressed. Afterward, I asked him what he thought about the meeting, and he listed all the same reasons why I didn’t want to join—I’m not a conformist, etc. Two weeks later, he was killed in an accident, and his death affected me so deeply because we were the same age. I thought, What are you waiting for? I joined the next day— not for me, but for him. Soon enough, though, I began practicing for myself and others—truly for others.
WT: What is your prime point in faith?
David: When we first started practicing, we were trying to figure out whether we should try conceiving again, given the potentially serious risk to Adie. I was still new to the practice and other members were telling us to go for it. We spoke to a senior in faith about this, and I’ll never forget her answer. She said: “Members mean well, but you mustn’t let anyone tell you what’s best for your life. That’s why you have the Gohonzon.”
We chanted and chanted and chanted. Late one night, we decided that we would no longer try to have another child. It’s been more than three decades since then, and because our decision was based on prayer, we’ve never had one day of regret.
WT: That’s incredible. Adie, what has been your biggest benefit of faith?
Adie: I have suffered my whole adult life with debilitating depression. The most recent descent was a year-and-a-half ago. I was bedridden from fear and anxiety to the point where I could no longer eat, and I no longer wanted to live.
We chanted fiercely to find the right treatment and found a doctor who carefully took me off my strongest drugs, and provided another regimen with far fewer drugs in very small doses, and many behavioral tools.
I realized that in my heart, I didn’t believe that I was good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or lovable enough. I had to learn to believe— in my heart—that I am enough!
In the process, I realized that in my heart, I didn’t believe that I was good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or lovable enough. I had to learn to believe— in my heart—that I am enough! Because of this illness, I now understand why I practice and how to practice for victory. Because of this illness, I now know the value of my life.
WT: What a powerful experience! Where did you learn the spirit of making financial offerings as part of your Buddhist practice?
David: I think early on, I saw it as a cause to make toward our fortune. In time, all of that shifted to profound appreciation for our lives, for Sensei’s guidance and for the members.
Today, our contributions have taken on another dimension, as an expression of our mission for kosen-rufu. Every time we hear that another center is opening, we think to ourselves: Look what we helped create. It’s another castle for kosen-rufu, an oasis where people who feel hopeless and lost can walk through those doors and gain hope. We have a deep appreciation for our own lives and the excitement of supporting our kosen-rufu movement.
Adie: Each May, we do our best to contribute from our hearts. We are now able to give at a level that we never thought possible. From our financial stability to our happiness and courage, everything has returned to us tenfold.
David: Our offerings of every kind to support the SGI have been like pebbles thrown into a pond, sending ripples throughout our lives. After leading training seminars for Fortune 500 firms around the world, I pursued a lifelong dream that had eluded me my entire life—to start my own business with my brother.
Today, we have a vibrant and successful company. A few years ago, we designed and built our own beautiful, 23,000-square-foot modern office facility, which we have used to host many memorable SGI activities. As representatives of Sensei, we do our best to treat all our employees like family, helping each to develop their lives. In return, they have responded by bringing an incredibly dedicated work ethic and true appreciation to their work each day.
WT: What is your dream for 2030, when the Soka Gakkai turns 100?
David: Adie and I will be in our early 80s by then. I am so excited to embark on this journey together with her—and with Sensei. I am determined to continue repaying my debt of gratitude by devoting my life to helping each and every person I meet enjoy even greater victories than I have had the great fortune to experience.
Adie: I recently took on responsibility as a district women’s leader. I feel so fortunate to take care of the members! Everybody is our brother, our sister, our mother, our father—without distinction. This is how we’ll live out our lives.