My First Days of Practice: Tapesh & Stephanie

Tapesh Kotwani and Stephanie Montes share their first experiences practicing Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism.

myfirstday_tapesh-kotwanifTapesh Kotwani

Joined: May 3, 2016

In 2015, I was living in India, when my friend invited me to an intro- to-Buddhism meeting after I had been laid off. I was impressed with the philosophy and began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, although not consistently.

After finding a new job, I again began having many challenges at work. I reached out to local SGI members, and every other day, a young man would come to my home and chant with me. His warm support and friendship helped me continue practicing. Not long after, I overcame my work challenges and also met my wife, who lived in Philadelphia.

This past February, I moved to Philadelphia, and on May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, I received the Gohonzon!

I determined to get a management position in the financial services industry. As I chanted abundantly about my ideal job, I supported my district activities and participated in Soka Group, a young men’s behind-the-scenes training and support group. Within months, I received the perfect job offer. As the new district young men’s leader, I am determined to support and expand the number of young men practicing in Blue Bell District!


myfirstday_stephanie-montes2fStephanie Montes

Sun Valley, Calif.
Joined: Oct. 31, 2015

Before I received the Gohonzon, my panic attacks had returned after 10 years, and my social anxiety was overtaking me.

Through a consistent practice, I gained confidence and courage, and felt so positive! I was especially inspired by SGI President Ikeda’s guidance and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings.

I don’t experience panic attacks anymore and can encourage myself when I feel anxious. I even took on the challenge to read a eulogy at my uncle’s funeral and say a few words. I have a big fear of public speaking but this time I was able to speak from my heart.

I also let go of my resentment toward my father and reached out to him. He suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and I wanted to encourage him. At first, our time together was challenging, but now I tell my dad I love him each time we speak.

My mother and friend Katie saw all the great changes in me from my Buddhist practice, and they both received the Gohonzon in August. It makes me tremendously happy to know that this practice will impact their lives, too.

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