Never Giving Up on My Son’s Mission
How I uncovered the power of faith by taking full responsibility for my family’s happiness in front of the Gohonzon
by Ingrid Jones
My greatest fear was being a bad mother, so I began to worry when my teenage son, Deangelo, started to rebel, lash out at his sisters and grow distant from me.
I was chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo a lot and encouraging him to awaken to his mission for kosen-rufu, but my words fell on deaf ears.
I often stayed awake all night, fearful that the police would knock on my door to tell me he was either dead or in jail.
Feeling helpless, I sought guidance from my seniors in faith. I realized that I would never be a bad mother unless I gave up on my kids. This gave me hope. I also understood that my struggle to connect with Deangelo and help him embrace his mission was the family karma that I needed to change, not him. After all, I was the one suffering. This was ultimately my karma to transform. I chanted in front of the Gohonzon, taking full responsibility in my heart.
As a profound cause to support my son’s happiness, I also made the determination to fight for the victory of every youth in Arlington Chapter. As a chapter women’s leader, I began visiting many youth together with my young women’s co-leader. Everywhere I went, I lived the fifth of the “Five Eternal Guidelines for the Women’s Division” created by SGI President Ikeda—to “joyfully sharing [my] experiences in faith.”
I wanted to give young people hope for the future by becoming a sun of peace, hope and happiness!
With my newfound determination and efforts, ironically on Aug. 1, 2017, the police knocked on my door. The first thing they said was, “Your son is OK, but he tried to commit suicide.”
When I went to see Deangelo in the hospital, they had him handcuffed to the bed, a standard procedure when someone attempts suicide. It dawned on me that he was lessening his karmic retribution, because instead of going to jail, he was handcuffed in a hospital.
After chanting for the wisdom to make the best decision, I decided to have Deangelo receive a psychiatric evaluation. He was extremely angry with me and didn’t want to see or talk to me, which really hurt. All I could do was chant for his absolute protection.
President Ikeda’s encouragement became the focal point of my prayer, and I engraved this passage in my life: “Parents need to have faith in their children’s potential. Their children are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth who have promised to carry out worldwide kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law. The time is certain to come when they will arise, awakened to that mission. Praying for their children’s growth, never giving up on them, is the test of the parents’ faith” (October 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 48).
I developed faith in the vow that my son made in the remote past—to take on the sufferings he was undergoing now. Although it was hard for me to see him suffering, I chanted with the conviction that without these challenges, Deangelo couldn’t lead others to happiness or show our family the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Following his evaluation, he was released a few days later. Things finally began to look up. Deangelo befriended a young man around his age who was also suffering. Soon after, his new friend received the Gohonzon. Although still with doubts, Deangelo continued to share Buddhism and helped another close friend join the SGI!
I thought I had won and that Deangelo was doing fine when I was appointed the Washington, D.C., Region women’s leader in September 2017. However, last November, one month after Deangelo turned 21, his young men’s leaders encouraged him to attend a young men’s conference at the SGI-USA Florida Nature and Culture Center. He decided to go but under the stipulation that if his doubts weren’t resolved, I would never talk to him about the practice again. I chanted that while he was at the conference, he would receive whatever guidance and encouragement he needed to realize his mission for kosen-rufu.
At the FNCC, my son made many friends, received faith guidance and watched the film Traveler for Peace, which depicts President Ikeda’s first trip to the U.S., Canada and Brazil in 1960 to spread Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world. The movie, he said, allowed him, for the first time, to feel a deep connection with President Ikeda. He said he thought about how Sensei fought to bring the SGI to America and the world, and had he not done so, his grandmother and I would never have become Buddhists. At the FNCC, he began chanting with deep appreciation.
Today, Deangelo is a district young men’s leader and supports activities as a member of the Gajokai, a young men’s behind-the-scenes training group. He is also introducing Buddhism to more friends!
Deangelo recently shared his experience at a youth meeting and said: “I will take on Sensei’s vow to fight for kosen-rufu and strengthen my mentor-disciple bond for my happiness and the happiness of others. To be honest, I continue to battle my demons every day, but I will win! I vow to fight in my district and help many youth attend the Lions of Justice Festival in September!”
I’ll see to it that my three children—ages 18, 20 and 21—take part in this historic festival!
I realize now that my son’s struggles were never about him; they were always a challenge of my faith. Once I stopped worrying and began taking action based on my prayer and human revolution, we both started winning!