To Have Faith Like Water
How Erbold Uran changed his life dramatically through developing a consistent practice.
by Erbold Uran
I was 9 when my family emigrated from Mongolia to Dallas. Needless to say, it was a major cultural shift. Early on, my stepfather got a job working out of town and was gone for weeks at a time. My mother spoke little English and drank heavily, did dangerous drugs and suffered tremendously. I watched her gradually destroy her life, year after year.
With my own limited English, it was hard to connect with the people around me, and I felt lonely, even throughout my high school years.
While still in Mongolia, I was exposed to Buddhism, and in the U.S., I started identifying as a Buddhist, but my life didn’t improve. I needed a practice to change my life. When I was 19, I found one when a high school friend introduced me to SGI Nichiren Buddhism.
I remember walking into a meeting and hearing the members chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in unison. I was both blown away by it and didn’t know what to make of it. I just chanted for my family back in Mongolia to be happy.
When I got home that evening, I felt like I was looking at my life clearly for the first time, and I didn’t like what I saw. I was going nowhere in life, but I still didn’t realize that I could take action to change it. Without knowing it, I made the most profound cause possible for my happiness by receiving the Gohonzon on Feb. 25, 2010.
I had a ton of challenges in the beginning. I was estranged from my mother. I had broken my thumb and couldn’t work, so I was running out of money. Then I found out that my roommate had been pocketing the rent I had been paying to him instead of giving it to the landlord, so I was soon homeless. Luckily a friend from work had a room—more like a garage—where I could stay, with a hot plate to cook my meals.
Seeking some way to get rid of my suffering, I decided to start chanting every morning. By taking that first step, I was able to make it through that dark period and survive. Nichiren Daishonin writes, “To have faith like water means to believe continuously without ever regressing” (“The Two Kinds of Faith,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 113). After studying this writing, I decided to chant and do gongyo every morning and evening. From that time, my life changed dramatically for the better.
I applied and got into The University of Texas at Dallas, and in 2013, I became the first member of my family to graduate from college. While I was there, I took up rugby, and in my senior year, I was voted the team’s most inspirational player. Before then, I had never played a sport. I also started working in the financial industry.
More importantly, I became active in the young men’s division and participated fully in SGI activities, encouraging as many people as possible and eventually taking on responsibility as a young men’s leader.
The heaviness I had always felt in my heart was gone.
All these causes enabled me to transform my life, especially my relationship with my mother. We became closer, and she even accompanied me to Kosen-rufu Gongyo meetings a few times.
Last November, my mother got very sick just before I was scheduled to go to the young men’s conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center. She passed away the morning that the conference was scheduled to begin.
As I sat next to her and said my final goodbye, I realized deep in my heart that I had to go to the FNCC to fight against the darkness that had been the cause of my mom’s suffering and eventual death. I dedicated my weekend to her, vowing to fight for kosen-rufu and to make this world a better place. It turned out to be the right place for me to be, as the other young men’s division members there encircled me with the support I needed.
Even more meaningfully, I received a personal letter from SGI President Ikeda that weekend, in which he offered his condolences, saying that my happiness was also my mother’s happiness. He also encouraged me to “become a great man.” I vowed then to become a champion for kosen-rufu on behalf of my mother.
In December, I visited my family in Mongolia after 20 years. I experienced such great joy as I felt the deep sense of connection that I had been lacking. When I saw my grandma, she was so happy. She told me that she knew what a hard life I had but was proud that I had become “a good man.”
My early life and my Buddhist practice intersected in that moment, and I felt that I had finally changed poison into medicine. The heaviness I had always felt in my heart was gone.
As a young men’s region leader, I always seek to convey to the young men’s division members how amazing they are. As Shakyamuni said to Bodhisattva Universal Worthy, “You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 365). I tell them to believe in themselves, and to work to accomplish their dreams and never give up! It is with this spirit that I have also helped six people begin practicing Buddhism.
In 2017, toward the gathering of 50,000 youth in 2018, I will personally help 10 young people receive the Gohonzon, so that they can overcome their suffering and live out their potential. I also want our region to realize the vision that our mentor gave to us when he visited here in 1984 “to spread a new wave of hope and new dream outward from Dallas.” It starts with me, and my own journey of human revolution, to become a great man.