50,000 Lions of Justice Festival

My First Days of Practice: Cody & Samantha

Cody Gill and Samantha Requena share their first experiences practicing Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism.

Cody Gill
Phoenix, Ariz.
Joined: April 15, 2017

A year after my sister was murdered, her body was exhumed as part of an investigation. I was already a very negative person, but this shook me to the core. Perhaps you could say I thought the world despised me, and so I despised it back.

It was at this time that a neighbor invited me to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with him. As I continued to chant and attend meetings, I became more positive and energetic. Receiving the Gohonzon was one of the happier moments of my life.

My sister’s exhumation ended up helping solve the murders of two other victims. My Buddhist practice allowed me to move beyond my anger and see that others needed help.

Moving forward, my main determination is to be a pillar for my wife and unborn son. Recently, my wife has said I seem happier now and that I have a happy glow! She chants with me as well. I’ve realized that it’s not the world that I should be upset with; it’s about me taking full responsibility for my own happiness.

Samantha Requena
Inglewood, Calif.
Joined: April 29, 2017

When I got into an Uber ride on April 4, I was at one of my lowest moments. I was in a toxic relationship, unemployed and facing difficulties at home due to my father’s alcohol abuse. In the back of the car was an SGI pamphlet with the words “What Is Happiness?” What I read was everything I believed in and more. The driver invited me to an intro-to-Buddhism meeting the following week.

I was a little scared when I walked in to my first meeting, but the members’ positivity felt like a huge hug. I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo from that day and received the Gohonzon on April 29.

Before practicing Buddhism, I had become someone I didn’t like—always depressed, not wanting to speak to anyone. Through chanting and helping a longtime friend receive the Gohonzon, I got the job I was looking for, transformed my relationship with my father, let the boyfriend go and received money from a settlement for a new car!

My dream is to become a history teacher and a role model for young girls. I don’t want any girl to feel the way I did because there’s hope, and I’ve found it in this philosophy.


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