A Victorious Life of Absolute Freedom

Hideki Vail shares what she learned from 57 years of Buddhist practice.

by Hideko Vail

I am 80 years old and became a member of the Soka Gakkai in 1959. Through 57 years of faith, I have so much happiness and confidence today, because as I went through many hardships, I always carried on with strong determination to overcome my problems and change my karma.

For example, my husband had a drinking and gambling issue, which led to severe financial problems. Through my practice, I always stayed calm and confident, and never blamed him for our sufferings. After 20 years, my husband was so amazed by my attitude that he decided to join the SGI. Later on, we overcame all of our financial struggles.

One of my biggest challenges was when I lost my husband 13 years ago. He used to do everything at home while I did kosen-rufu activities. I did not even know how to change a light bulb or how to put gas in my car. I came to appreciate how much he had taken care of me. It was really hard for me, but through my faith, I have learned to be independent and strong inside.

Whatever I do, I always put the Gohonzon in the center of my life. I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly every day and love to do home visits and take care of members. I do not have children of my own, so I consider the youth division members to be my children. To have good communication with the younger district and chapter leaders, I bought an iPhone and learned how to text and email.

I continue to do my human revolution so I can prove to others the power of the practice through my life.

Last year, a senior in faith shared guidance that changed my life. He said that SGI President Ikeda wants us all to expand our own state of life, to remember our vow for kosen-rufu and to bring out our Buddha nature. In other words, to reveal our true identity as Bodhisattvas of the Earth with the compassion and wisdom to help others attain enlightenment.

I knew that I had become happy because somebody had introduced me to the Gohonzon, Sensei and the SGI. Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The Law does not spread by itself: because people propagate it, both people and the Law are respectworthy” (Gosho zenshu, p. 856). I started chanting with the prayer “Let me share Buddhism with one person who will receive the Gohonzon.” Three months later, my prayer was answered. Fifteen years ago, I had introduced a woman to Buddhism at a beauty shop. When I met her again at the same shop last year, she was a widow with problems she wanted to overcome and was ready to come to an SGI meeting. A few months later, she received the Gohonzon.

President Ikeda says: “Once we have attained Buddhahood, we will be Buddhas in lifetime after lifetime. We will enjoy a state of absolute freedom throughout eternity. The Daishonin’s golden words say so. This is the reason we practice faith” (For Today and Tomorrow: Daily Encouragement, p. 313).

I continue to do my human revolution so I can prove to others the power of the practice through my life. I believe with all my heart that if I do this, my life will end in victory. This is why we must do our best in this lifetime.


(p. 10)