My First Days of Practice: Kolia & Joshua

Kolia Thao and Joshua Anthony share their first experiences practicing Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism.

KoliaThao_FKolia Thao

Joined: March 2015

In January 2015, I reached out to a friend who had introduced me to Buddhism. I was depressed and having a hard time at work. I had a lot of negativity and would post negative comments on social media all the time.

At my first meeting, I learned about the SGI and heard the members’ experiences in faith. The energy was very positive, and I felt there was more to life than the drama and negativity I was enduring. On March 16, 2015, I received the Gohonzon!

Since then, I started a new career and have become much more positive, which has improved my relationships. I always think twice before posting things on social media now.

I’ve realized that I don’t have to change who I am as a person, but rather my bad habits. Practicing Buddhism has helped me become healthier and happier. With these changes, three family members have received the Gohonzon. Now, it’s clear to me what my purpose is: I live to help others.


Joshua-Anthony_FJoshua Anthony

Joined: August 2015

After a strong start to my Buddhist practice, I stopped chanting and attending SGI activities. When I lost my job bussing tables, I had no idea where my next meal would come from. I spoke to my young men’s leaders about my situation, and they encouraged me to be disciplined about my practice.

I began chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly to the Gohonzon every day, and got a job at one of the best restaurants in Manhattan. My real dream, though, was to work in real estate, but I lacked the self-esteem to pursue it. I continued to practice and introduce others to Buddhism, including my roommate and a neighbor, who had heard me chanting through the wall.

In less than eight months, I went from washing dishes to working in real estate full time. I’m so appreciative of the SGI community for supporting me 100 percent and giving me the confidence to pursue my passion in life.