“Prayer Is the Courage to Persevere”
Through a life of unexpected suffering, Nadia Nunez learns to see the Buddha within.
by Nadia Nunez
My mom was introduced to SGI Nichiren Buddhism in Mexico City in 1970, two years before I was born. My first challenge was being born with defective feet that caused my toes to touch my calves. Doctors said that even after extensive surgeries, procedures and rehabilitation, I might not walk normally until age 16.
My mother chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with a fierce determination to transform my health. The doctors were shocked to see my feet return to their normal position two weeks after I was born.
My health challenges continued, and although we lived in difficult circumstances, I had great confidence in the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I also made many causes participating
in SGI youth activities, which provided me with the training to become a contributive member of society. I attribute my ability to create genuine connections with others to my training in the Byakuren, a young women’s behind-the-scenes training group, which always taught me to pay attention to others’ needs and treasure the person in front of me.
The first time I tested the power of this practice myself was in 1997. I was in my mid 20s, determined to see the world. I sincerely chanted to open my future path and, for six months, I took a four-hour round trip twice a week to apply for work as a cabin stewardess on a cruise ship. When I was finally offered the position, I didn’t know that the opportunity would throw open the doors to my future.
On my last cruise, I developed an incredible friendship with an American couple who lived in Arizona. They invited me to visit them in the U.S. if I ever decided to go. Thrilled at this opportunity, I left for Arizona in 1998 and ended up moving here and establishing a wonderful life for American kosen-rufu.
My turning point came in 2005 when I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed my car on the freeway. I was fortunate to be alive, but the retina of my left eye detached, and my eye had to be removed. Searching for guidance, I read SGI President Ikeda’s encouragement: “Life is full of unexpected suffering. Even so, as Eleanor Roosevelt said: ‘If you can live through that [a difficult situation] you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’ . . . Difficulty can be a source of dynamic growth and positive progress” (For Today and Tomorrow, p. 51).
Crying in front of the Gohonzon and in unbearable pain, I wondered how on earth I would make the loss of my eye the source of my growth and progress.
My depth perception was also damaged when I lost my eye, and I originally saw it as a hindrance to my life. During this time, I began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly, and my Soka family would come and chant with me every day. I have so much appreciation for their support during this most difficult time.
I’m so grateful to be able to create many causes to transform
my karma through my practice.
As I chanted, I began to realize that my perception was not ruined; it had changed for the better, because it allowed me to see, for the first time, who I truly was—a Buddha! The “dynamic growth and positive progress” I achieved was being able to value my own life, which was the greatest benefit of all.
This lesson of transforming poison into medicine would be most crucial in the years to come. My partner, Don, and I were almost in disbelief when 40 days after my mother’s passing, I was pregnant with my first daughter, Helen. Shortly after, I was pregnant again with my second daughter, Megumi.
Since one of the five eternal guidelines of the SGI is “faith for a harmonious family,” I continued to chant to transform more family karma. I wanted to have a relationship with my father, who lives in Mexico City. Based on the awareness that we share a deep karmic connection, I reached out to him, and was surprised to learn that I had a half brother and half sister from his second marriage!
I flew back to Mexico City and met my half sister, Laura. Praying earnestly to transform my father’s life, I realized that if both my half sister and I practiced Nichiren Buddhism, my father would be constantly surrounded by the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
On June 6, 2016, Laura received the Gohonzon, and until this day, we unite every morning through prayer! My new relationship with my father started out being very difficult, but today, he sends me a message every morning wishing for me to have a good day. I’m so grateful to be able to create many causes to transform my karma through my practice, which I can only do because I am alive. Sensei says: “Prayer is the courage to persevere, it is the struggle to overcome our own weakness and lack of confidence in ourselves. It is the act of impressing in the very depths of our being the conviction that we can change the situation without fail” (Dec. 3, 2004, World Tribune, p. 8).
I want to wholeheartedly thank Sensei for going to Mexico and spreading this Buddhism to the Mexican people. Because of this, I’m able to live the life I have today. To repay my debt of gratitude, as the Southwest Zone future division women’s leader, I am determined to raise the youth of the future into warriors of peace and justice. I will continue to challenge my health and do my human revolution so that I can nurture the future of America.
Toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, I’m also determined to help one youth join the SGI and ensure they attend the festival next year. Because of this movement toward 50K, I can share with many youth in America the philosophy of the SGI and the power they have to transform their karma. This will be the way that I give back!