Seeing the Beauty Within
How Crissy Quibell transformed from contemplating suicide to helping others see their inherent worth.
by Crissy Quibell
I am living proof that “The darker the night, the nearer the dawn”—that the greater our problems, the happier we stand to become. I have lived through many painful experiences, including poverty and abuse. I even contemplated taking my own life until I found happiness through the Soka Gakkai earlier this year.
When I was 3, my parents went through a nasty divorce. At such a vulnerable age, I blamed myself for their separation and developed a deep-seated belief that I was worthless and deserved all the pain that I was dealt.
By the time my grandmother took me in at 17, I had difficulty processing my trauma. I had developed several eating disorders by then, which triggered seizures.
A couple years ago, when I started college, I hoped that things would finally improve. But instead I found myself spending most of my days stuck in my dorm room, hiding from the world and contemplating suicide. I could barely move or eat, let alone go to class and get good grades.
Then, this past spring, an unexpected class project changed the course of my life. For my religions class, students took a trip to various faith centers. My group went to an SGI Buddhist center in Orlando, Florida.
In one of my darkest moments, I found the one place that embraced me. At my second SGI meeting, I broke down. The members sat with me, listened to my struggles and encouraged me that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo would change my life.
Whenever things were hard, I would remember those words and chant. It gave me strength to get out of bed and go to class. I even mustered the courage to go to therapy to address my eating disorder. This practice was changing my life! On July 15, I took the next big step and received the Gohonzon. With the support of my fellow SGI members, I got my life back on track, leading to more positive changes, including my decision to go to a behavioral center in August to deal with my depression and suicidal tendencies. Apprehensive about where to receive treatment, I chanted to find the best doctor and facility. And those were exactly what I found. At the center, I was given a proper diagnosis and medication.
Although at first I was scared of the other patients in the facility, I continued to chant every day for their unshakable happiness. I came to understand that each person deserves unlimited respect. Less fearful, I started to engage in the activities the facility offered for recreational therapy. In fact, I enjoyed these activities so much that my goal now is to become a recreational therapist to help many others who’ve had similar struggles.
This has been my greatest revelation through the practice—
knowing that nothing can defile my Buddhahood,
the palace of peace inside of me.
Only I can lock and unlock that gate.
Another great joy has been the coming together of my family. At my 18th birthday party, a few months before I encountered Buddhism, my father came to spend time with me and rebuild our relationship. I had always held animosity toward him, but through opening up my life and being able to hear about his, I’m able to see who my father really is—a loving and caring man. Through my Buddhist practice, we’ve become closer than ever and truly understand each other now. Chanting has also enabled me to transform my relationship with my siblings. I used to feel very distant from them, but now they call me for advice or help with homework.
Also, I was able to accept myself and finally let my parents know that I’m gay. Practicing has helped me fundamentally love myself for who I truly am rather than wishing I was someone or something else.
Experiencing great actual proof of Nichiren Buddhism has motivated me to share the practice with many others and support young women in faith as a new unit leader.
The other day, I went to see a young woman in my unit. Although she wasn’t home at the time, I left a goodie bag with the Introduction to Buddhism booklet along with a gift. She later messaged me, happy that I reached out to support her. Less than a year ago, I would’ve never thought that I would live a life where I could encourage others. This makes me so happy.
SGI President Ikeda writes: “Though you may perhaps lose trust in others, or feel defiled and broken, please remember that no one can destroy who you are. No matter how badly you have been hurt, you remain as pure as fresh snow” (Discussions on Youth, p. 410).
This has been my greatest revelation through practicing Buddhism—knowing that nothing can defile my Buddhahood, the palace of peace inside of me. Only I can lock and unlock that gate.
For so long I never knew the beauty of my own life, but now I not only want to continue to make the Buddha nature within me shine, I also want to show other people that they have it too. This is what our 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival stands for. I am confident that our movement can change the world, because it has already changed mine.