My Year of “Brilliant Achievement”

How I developed the courage to make every decision the best step toward fulfilling my vow.

Determined not to let her circumstances limit her ability to contribute financially to the SGI, Nova Choe made a determination to become indispensable at her place of work. With that determined prayer, she manifested capabilities that resulted in a huge promotion. Photo by KINGMOND YOUNG.

May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, is New Year’s Day for 12 million SGI members in 192 countries and territories—a day on which we take a fresh step forward, setting a dynamic rhythm for continual advancement and victory together with our eternal mentors, the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents, undaunted by any obstacles.

In this most significant year, we celebrate another victorious May 3, with our gaze set on the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival in September, when American youth, the successors of kosen-rufu, will take a stand for the dignity of life and usher in an era of hope and respect for all people.

SGI President Ikeda writes of his efforts as a youth to expand the Soka Gakkai at the front lines: “The real challenge in our Buddhist practice comes when we are all alone. We need the resolve to strive in faith and win, even if no one else sees our efforts. The success of our movement lies in fostering countless courageous individuals who possess this stand-alone spirit” (April 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 14).

Following are experiences from two members, overflowing with the spirit of May 3, in which they express their heart of appreciation for their Buddhist practice, and explain why, at the start of the May Commemorative Contribution activity, they are proud to be benefactors of kosen-rufu.

by Nova Choe

I was 14 when, one year after my family moved to the U.S. from South Korea, my father emptied out our bank account and left us. My mother struggled to raise two teenage children, and we were homeless three times. Fortunately, my mother and I had our SGI Nichiren Buddhist practice to turn to.

In 2013, the last time we struggled to secure housing, I waged a battle with my financial karma. I determined that money would no longer control or define me.

My conviction in the power of Buddhist practice strengthened after I helped a friend receive the Gohonzon for the first time in 2013. However, my struggles at work worsened.

For years, I had been working 14–16 hours a day in investments for a large corporation, doing the work of five people and feeling underappreciated. When the boss who hired me left the team, I had no one left to affirm my value at work.
Some nights, I’d return home at 1 a.m. completely exhausted, open my altar, stare at the Gohonzon and just cry. I began to resent my life.

I waged a battle with my financial karma. I determined that money would no longer control or define me.

When I started thinking about finding a new job, I recalled first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s encouragement about the three criteria for selecting a job—“beauty” (a job that I would enjoy doing); “gain, or benefit” (a job that is financially secure); and “good” (a job where I could contribute to the betterment of society). SGI President Ikeda shared the words of his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, regarding when we find it difficult to acquire all three criteria:

In times such as these, young people should not be discouraged. Just put all your energy into your present job and become an indispensable person there. By chanting earnestly to the Gohonzon and continuing to strive your hardest, not letting disagreeable tasks or assignments deter you, you will eventually find a job that you
enjoy, offers financial security and produces good for society. This is the benefit of faith. (July 2016 Living Buddhism, pp. 61–62)

Reading a passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings every day, I chanted fiercely and made efforts at work to become indispensable.

I also determined that I wouldn’t let my circumstances dictate how much I could contribute financially to the SGI. Without hesitation, I reset my goal for both the May Commemorative Contribution activity and Sustaining Contribution.

Based on Sensei’s guidance, I decided that I would do my absolute best where I was, receive a promotion and expand my career and skill set. I didn’t want to just change jobs; I wanted to change my karma.

I was taking responsibility as a region vice young women’s leader, when I was asked to take on additional leadership. As my doubt arose, so did Sensei’s words, reminding me that 2018 is the Year of Brilliant Achievement in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu. I wished to report a brilliant achievement to my mentor.

Through challenging my new responsibility and with determined prayer, I manifested wisdom and capabilities that I didn’t know I had. Finally, in February, I had a breakthrough when a company executive from Korea visited our offices. I showcased a data entry platform and system that I had built from scratch. Because I had such a large workload for years, I had to create my own efficient system. The company executive said that my system was better than the multi-million dollar system they had developed in the corporate headquarters!

As a result, I skipped two promotional levels and became a manager, an unprecedented climb in the corporate ladder for my company. As a manager, I can now hire an assistant to work on my projects.

On top of that, in March, the American branch of my company announced that they would match employee contributions to the SGI-USA!

I now work at a place where there is beauty (switching roles to managing projects of my choice), gain (a promotion and bonus) and good (matching contributions to the SGI-USA, which is advancing kosen-rufu).

Toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival in September, I will give every single ounce of sweat I can muster to bring 100 young lionesses from Monterey Bay Region.

How many people can I introduce to Sensei and the Gohonzon so that they too can realize their unlimited potential? This is what being a Lion of Justice means to me.

(p. 6)

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