Experience

Never Being Defeated Is My Greatest Benefit

Koda Jordet transforms his struggles with addiction into a mission to help others.

BRITTA TRYGSTAD


by Koda Jordet
FARGO, N.D.

I was 2 weeks old when I was adopted by the Jordet family. My life, likely similar to that of my biological parents, would become havocked with addiction and financial and relationship difficulties.

At 16, I began struggling with alcoholism, which progressed to drugs. I didn’t know of healthy ways to cope with my challenges, and this went on for four years. I lost jobs and important relationships along the way, and constantly fought with my family. It was around this time, when I was 20, that a childhood friend introduced me to Buddhism.

He was a great friend, and I saw him change so much after he started practicing that I agreed to learn more. At first, I was uncertain whether the practice could help me, but I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and studying Buddhism.

My first benefit was an internal shift— I wasn’t so quick to react negatively to my environment. Instead, when I didn’t like the way things were going, I started chanting. Soon after, a large specialty milling company hired me for a fulltime position with benefits, and within several months, I was promoted, becoming one of the youngest supervisors in my company. I was informed that I received the promotion due to my work ethic and level of production.

Seeing these changes, I decided to receive the Gohonzon in September 2014 and began making efforts toward sobriety. Through chanting consistently, challenging myself as a district young men’s leader and participating in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy, the SGI-USA’s advanced study program for youth leaders, I have learned from SGI President Ikeda that the supreme benefit is attaining Buddhahood. In other words, by doing our human revolution and carrying out our Buddhist practice for others, we create the same cause for happiness in our own lives.

With this knowledge, I strove to share Buddhism with my friends who were also struggling. In 2017, I helped three of them receive the Gohonzon! One friend overcame his anxiety, became a district leader and helped his friend also receive the Gohonzon! We’re all good friends today, and I continue to support them in their practice.

Because my fortune began to accrue, in addition to my dedication at work, I was able to buy a reliable car, which allows me to drive long distances for kosen-rufu activities. Today, I’m the North Dakota Chapter young men’s leader. Our chapter spans the entire state of North Dakota, and our neighboring districts are at least four hours apart, while the nearest SGI-USA Buddhist center is in Minneapolis, another four-hour drive.

Buddhism has allowed me to stay grounded and find deeper meaning in and appreciation for my life.

When I learned about the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, I made many efforts to expand my chapter and my home district in Fargo. In the end, I took three young men in my new car to the 50K Festival in Chicago, on Sept. 23, 2018! It was a three-day trip, including a more than 20-hour roundtrip drive.

The festival was so life changing that one of the friends I had introduced to Buddhism decided to restart his practice and attended our November discussion meeting in high spirits! He said that he had actually been planning to stop practicing after 50K but that the festival inspired him to change his mind. I’m determined to stick by his side and continue to help him develop his faith.

Through the joy and confidence emerging from my life, I transformed my relationships with my family and close friends. My mother and I had a very patchy relationship in my adolescence,
but now we rarely argue, and if we do, we work it out quickly. She has been chanting with me and even attended our New Year’s Gongyo Meeting in Minneapolis on Jan. 1! My relationships with my brothers and sisters are stronger than ever, and I have also gained a ton of new friends.

Over the past few years, since I’ve embarked on my journey in faith, there have been many sleepless nights, anxiety and a relapse, but Buddhism has allowed me to stay grounded and find deeper meaning in and appreciation for my life. As of today, I’ve been sober for more than 16 months, and I host and chair local support group meetings for those battling addiction. My dream is to become an addiction or adolescent counselor, transforming my suffering into my mission to help others.

Although I’ve never met my biological parents, I know they were Native American. I recently learned that my biological mother passed away, which has spurred me to learn more about my biological family and share the life-transforming philosophy of the SGI with them, a goal of mine for 2019, the Year of Soka Victory!

I’m also determined to join the SGIUSA Young Men’s Division Academy this year and seek more training to become a capable person for kosenrufu. Although this would require frequent travel to Minneapolis, I will give it my all, with the spirit I’ve carried since I’ve started practicing Buddhism—to never be defeated! As President Ikeda has taught me, I will continue to push back the boundaries of my inner life, because I know that all the power and strength I will ever need to realize my dreams already exist within. WT