Blazing a Path With Resolute Prayer

Cherie Dai pulls through Hurricane Harvey to attend the 2017 SGI Youth Training Course.

Josef Gaudiesus and Cherie Dai from Texas-Oklahoma Zone show their Texas pride at the Soka University in Hachioji, Japan. Photo: David Witkowski.

Cherie receives her cerfiticate of completion during the closing ceremony of the SGI Youth Training Course, September 2017. Photo: David Witkowski.

by Cherie Dai

When I was asked to attend the SGI Youth Training Course this year, I understood what a truly precious opportunity it was, but doubted whether I could represent the members of Houston. Through encouragement from my seniors in faith, I determined and prayed deeply to do my human revolution in order to surmount my self-doubt, and to deepen my understanding of the oneness of mentor and disciple. With this spirit, I challenged myself every step of the way.

The true test of my faith came in the form of Hurricane Harvey, which was scheduled to make landfall in Texas the week of my departure to Japan. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the hurricane and thought I would have no problems leaving Houston. However, on August 26, the day before my departure, the torrential rainstorm flooded the city, including my street.

I reflected on my complacent attitude and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with a lion’s roar that I would make it out of Houston. The following day, I was notified that my flight had been cancelled, and, for a moment, I succumbed to my doubts, thinking that I was not meant to go.

In the most crucial moments, I received encouragement from seniors in faith that helped me to remain unswayed by my seemingly impossible circumstances. One person shared with me that faith was about deciding in front of the Gohonzon that I would absolutely win, instead of letting my environment decide my fate for me.

Flights at both Houston airports remained grounded, and the rain wasn’t letting up. Meanwhile, the other youth training course participants had already departed for Japan. Even so, in my heart, I decided that I would not be defeated. Because I was seeking my mentor on behalf of the members of Houston, I could not give up. On Tuesday morning, I woke up with a fierce determination that I was going to Japan, no matter what.

I learned that members from Austin were driving 340 miles round-trip to Houston to drop off relief supplies for the members. I asked if I could go back to Austin with them, where I could take the plane from Austin to Los Angeles and, finally, to Japan.

Most of the streets were still flooded, however, and, though I tried, I could not find an open road to the SGI-USA Houston Buddhist Center, where I was supposed to be picked up. While the main road to the center was not flooded, police had blocked it off. I went home and chanted ferociously to open a way forward.

Later that afternoon, the road was no longer blocked, and I arrived safely at the Houston center and then went on to Austin. To me, this was great actual proof of the power of prayer. Based on my determination in front of the Gohonzon, I blazed a path open where one did not previously exist. The Austin members became my greatest protection. I want to thank the members in Houston and Austin, from the bottom of my heart, for their prayers and support!

When I arrived in Japan on Thursday evening, I received a message from SGI President Ikeda, and he also sent one to all the members in Houston. In both, he expressed his deep concern for the members and asked us to please transform poison into medicine.

I had never felt that kind of care from anyone before. I realized that President Ikeda was worried about the members of Houston, and was chanting for me even though he had never met me before. He prays for and treats every member with this depth of care. I reflected on myself and determined to become a genuine human being and leader who can care for others in the same way as President Ikeda. If President Ikeda believes in me, I have to believe in myself, too. I decided to live with the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple every day of my life.

I want to embody and share this same spirit with everyone in Houston, to create the warmest and most united organization in the entire world. I vow to not be a self-centered Buddha, but rather to use my life to share SGI Nichiren Buddhism and enable everyone to become absolutely happy. I vow to never stop believing in my own Buddha nature, to rid my life of indecisiveness and fear, and to continue moving forward with President Ikeda. I am strongly determined to unite 200 young women from Houston to join the force of 50,000 Lions of Justice gathering next fall to open an era of hope and respect, always together with Sensei!



(pp. 30-31)