Experience

Happiness Is Always in My Hands

Keiko Konuma shares, "When I took full responsibility for my happiness, everything shifted."

by Keiko Konuma
Glendale, Calif.

Three years ago, I started a new job and struggled to have a good relationship with my boss, who would often ask me to perform tasks that didn’t fall under my responsibilities. I was also hit by different illnesses, one after another, and was under more stress than I had ever experienced before.

Although I desperately wanted medical attention, my work didn’t offer health insurance. When I suffered from corneal ulcers on my eyes, I was forced to see a doctor, leaving me with expensive medical bills. Shortly after, I developed swollen, painful lymph nodes, so my husband, Eric, took me to the emergency room, where we waited for 10 hours. When I finally saw a doctor, I was treated disrespectfully and without a clear diagnosis, all the while accumulating even more expenses.

At this point, I was exhausted from fighting so many challenges, and became fearful for my health and finances. I deeply sought out how my mentor, SGI President Ikeda, fought for kosen-rufu amid his own severe health challenges. In The New Human Revolution, he recalls the critical guidance that second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda shared with him: “Faith is a never-ending battle against impasse. It is a struggle between the Buddha and devilish functions—between negative and positive forces. This is the meaning of the phrase Buddhism is concerned with winning” (vol. 2, p. 86).

“Everyone encounters an impasse at some point in life,” President Ikeda went on to write. “However, the power of the Gohonzon is immeasurable, as vast as the universe itself. Our lives, too, have infinite potential. Everything hinges, therefore, on whether we allow our inner determination to become deadlocked. When we truly grasp this point, the path to victory is already open” (pp. 86–87).

I took Sensei’s guidance to heart and decided to start a chanting campaign.

I wanted to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to truly comprehend that my life had infinite potential. I also resolved as a member of Byakuren (an SGI young women’s behind-the-scenes training group) that each shift would be a cause to change my health and financial karma.

In 2016, just when I felt like I was breaking through in my life and improving my health, my husband told me that he wanted to quit his full-time job of six years to work freelance in the film and TV industry. Once again, I was consumed with fear.

This made me chant more than ever to reflect on myself and find the root cause of my suffering. I started to clearly see my fundamental fear and delusion that my happiness was always in someone else’s hands—whether it was my boss, a doctor or my husband.

From my Byakuren training, I learned the spirit of taking full responsibility for any situation, and what it means to feel absolutely happy when I unite with my mentor and devote my life to kosen-rufu. I realized that I was not a “Byakuren” in my personal life. I chanted to have the courage to take 100 percent control of my life.

When I took full responsibility for my happiness, everything shifted. I became more confident communicating with my boss, and I decided to do my best no matter what was asked of me. Then, in February 2016, out of the blue, I received a call from a recruiter about an open position at an international education company. I was not actively looking for a new job and had no idea what she was talking about. She had found a resume I had posted online from over a year ago.

The next day, I had an interview with the CEO and human resources manager and, within minutes, I fell in love with the company and its mission. I could see myself contributing there. The following day, I accepted their job offer for an assistant manager position. I was offered a salary more than I had ever made with amazing health insurance and other work-related benefits! They even asked me to start on Feb. 29, 2016, the same day my husband was leaving his job.

Just as things were looking up, in the summer of 2016, I started feeling sick again and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition for which there is currently no cure. However, this time, I had great health insurance to combat this sickness. I was also diagnosed quickly and correctly by a professional. I have many hours of sick leave, which allow me to go to the doctor without affecting my income!

Out of my appreciation for the training and fortune I received from participating in Byakuren, I determined to never allow myself to miss a shift because of my sickness. Every cause I made in Byakuren was a cause for me to completely transform my health. Through this training, I learned how to quickly go back to the Gohonzon to chant to never let anyone or anything determine my happiness.

This year, I got off my medication for ulcerative colitis. At work, I am receiving more opportunities as I gain the trust of my company, and my husband is going all-out for his dream as a filmmaker. Toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, I’m determined to return to school for my MBA, and advance along my dream of improving the Japanese school system to teach important skills like critical thinking and communication.

I currently have registered a Squad of 11,[1]Toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, every SGI-USA member is striving to accomplish their “Squad of 6,” a group of six (or more) young friends they have personally invited and helped register for the festival. which includes three family members and my friend Ksenia, who received the Gohonzon last year and will support the 50K Festival with me as a Byakuren member. I’m wholeheartedly chanting that Sept. 23 will become my family’s prime point with Sensei, and that my squad members will become people who can lead kosen-rufu in America!

I am beyond grateful to fight for kosen-rufu in this capacity with my mentor. It is my pride, and I will continue to open many more paths to victory!

(p. 5)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, every SGI-USA member is striving to accomplish their “Squad of 6,” a group of six (or more) young friends they have personally invited and helped register for the festival.

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