Experience

Chanting With Conviction

Yoko Ambulo, of Chicago, on living the teachings of Nichren Buddhism.

Photo: Susan Forner.


by Yoko Ambulo
CHICAGO

On Aug. 24, 2015, I started a new job in a new industry. At the time, I was questioning whether I was capable of proving the validity of this practice in my life, but I immediately vowed to live out the philosophy of my mentor, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, and show actual proof of SGI Nichiren Buddhism in my workplace.

Within less than two months, I received the worst feedback I’d ever received at any job with an ultimatum to “shape up or ship out.” In addition, I found out that another employee resented that I got the position and wanted to get me fired. I felt as if I were living in the world of hell every day despite how hard I was working.

Fear and doubt overtook my confidence to transform this situation. Full of tears and facing the Gohonzon, I would read “Letter to the Brothers,” where Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Never doubt that you slandered the correct teaching in the past. If you have doubt about this, you will be unable to withstand the minor sufferings of this life . . . The essential thing is a great resolve to attain the way” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 497).

Reading this passage was the beginning of regaining my courage and facing my reality with profound appreciation. I recited gongyo, chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and read Nichiren’s writings with a renewed sense of resolve before work each day.

In “The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” Nichiren writes: “Without exception, all these Buddhas, bodhisattvas, great sages, and, in general, all the various beings of the two worlds and the eight groups who appear in the ‘Introduction’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra dwell in this Gohonzon. Illuminated by the light of the five characters of the Mystic Law, they display the dignified attributes that they inherently possess. This is the object of devotion” (WND-1, 832).

Chanting to the Gohonzon with this conviction, everything in my environment immediately shifted. First, my boss began praising my contributions. Then, my employees told me that I had created the most unity anyone had experienced in 15 years with the company. Also, I turned the employee who resented me into an ally and began raising her as my successor.

March 16, 2016, was my last day at that job, and unlike my first two months, no one wanted me to go. I was even told that the door is always open should I ever decide to return. Best of all, I recalled the vow I made at the start of the job, and I realized that I had proven the validity of my practice, becoming an indispensable person at work, and that all of my struggles were in fact the answer to my prayers.

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In the spirit of the second eternal guideline for the young women’s division, “Study the World’s Foremost Life Philosophy,” SGI President Ikeda in 2011 selected 30 letters from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin to be studied by young women.

In The Vow of the Ikeda Kayo-kai, he cites a guiding principle articulated by his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda: “The members of the young women’s division must make study their foundation!” (p. 22).

Toward Nov. 18, 2018, young women across the nation are challenging themselves to study all 30 letters.

1. On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land
2. The Opening of the Eyes
3. The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind
4. The Selection of the Time
5. On Repaying Debts of Gratitude
6. On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime
7. On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings
8. On the Buddha’s Prophecy
9. The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra
10. Letter from Sado
11. On Prolonging One’s Life Span
12. Lessening One’s Karmic Retribution
13. The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood
14. Letter to the Brothers
15. Reply to Kyo’o
16. The Three Kinds of Treasure
17. On Persecutions Befalling the Sage
18. The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
19. The Supremacy of the Law
20. The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
21. Winter Always Turns to Spring
22. On the Treasure Tower
23. The Drum at the Gate of Thunder
24. The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
25. The True Aspect of All Phenomena
26. Many in Body, One in Mind
27. The Kalpa of Decrease
28. Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light
29. The Dragon Gate
30. The Proof of the Lotus Sutra

 

(p. 9)