My First Days of Practice: Hana & Ronell

Hana Bechara and Ronell Burston share their first experiences practicing Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism.

Hana Bechara
Tacoma, Wash.
Joined: March 2015

When I was 17, I was in an unhealthy relationship. Seeing that I was struggling, a classmate shared Nichiren Buddhism with me. It aligned with everything I already believed, and soon I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

I decided to receive the Gohonzon, but needed the consent of my Lebanese parents, who have strong Greek Orthodox views. When members came to visit my parents about me receiving the Gohonzon, 17 family members were there. It still took four months for my mother to see how valuable practicing Buddhism was for me. Finally on March 1, 2015, I received the Gohonzon.

Now my mother supports my practice. She even asked me to take her friend’s daughter to a Buddhist meeting in hopes that it could help her like it’s helped me!

As a student at Tacoma Community College, I started the World Peace Buddhist campus club.

So far, four of my friends have received the Gohonzon, and I’m determined to introduce one friend to Buddhism each month. Sharing Buddhism is so powerful. Through this, I’m learning how not to get swayed by my environment.

Ronell Burston
Boston, Mass.
Joined: April 2015

One day last February, while living in Chicago, a woman spoke to me about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and invited me to an SGI meeting that week.

This was around the same time that my mother and I had a serious falling out. And because I was facing many other issues, I had begun seeking a spiritual practice.

At the meeting, I was moved by the idea that we can manifest the power to change and accomplish anything. I started chanting every day, detemined to realize my dream of becoming a great musician. Last May, I moved to Boston to pursue my dream with almost nothing. Now I’ve settled into an apartment, received a promotion at work and am fighting for financial aid to attend Berklee College of Music.

Today, my mother and I talk daily, and she has tried chanting as well.

Because Buddhism has taught me to take full accountability for my life and because of my gratitude for the three presidents and the SGI members who have supported me, I happily tell others about Buddhism.