Living With No Regrets
How I created a new beginning for my life based on the practice of the
oneness of mentor and disciple.
by Mark McOmber
Salt Lake City
In 1996, SGI President Ikeda came to Denver. I had the fortune of supporting his security movement and, later, attending the general meeting as a participant.
At the conclusion of the meeting, President Ikeda walked down the central aisle, greeting the members. I felt his compassion for every person in that room. As he approached my row, I placed my hand over my heart and bowed. As our eyes locked, he put his hand over his heart, too, and nodded. I was struggling a lot at the time and felt he was telling me that everything would be OK.
Four years later, I went through a divorce and moved out of my home. At work, I was ostracized for being Buddhist, so I quit my teaching job. I also stepped away from the SGI-USA organization, as I tried to address my problems in conventional ways.
I continued to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on my own and gradually rebuilt my life. I found a new job and remarried. My second marriage was pretty good at first, but eventually ended. It suffered from the same problems as the first one. Clearly, I had not changed my karma and was very unhappy as a result.
Through the bodhisattva practice for self and others, I feel whole again. My vow is that all the members and I will become absolutely happy together.
A few years ago, a great friend from my young men’s division days reached out. He had kept in touch with me over the years. We met up during his visit to Utah. He reminded me of the time we had welcomed our mentor to Denver together and said: “We’re eternal brothers. I’ve never forgotten you. I remember how hard you fought for kosen-rufu. Mark, it’s time to wake up to your true mission. It’s time to respond to Sensei.”
He touched my heart and was absolutely right. What was I waiting for?
I developed a fresh determination, based on three goals: 1) for my three children to start practicing; 2) to renew my vow to do kosen-rufu with Sensei and my fellow members like never before; and 3) to launch a new career after my recent retirement.
I had been away from the SGI for nearly 20 years and wondered whether the members would accept me back. But they embraced me and expressed nothing but joy to see me. I went to every district activity I could and chanted to fill the emptiness I felt.
What truly forced me to stretch and grow as a disciple was challenging the three goals I had made. I started acting on these prayers and over time, my goals started to come true. After I began talking to my kids about Nichiren Buddhism, my two daughters received the Gohonzon last year on March 16, Kosen-rufu Day! Now we are joyfully practicing together.
Soon after, in June 2018, I attended a men’s conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center. There, a leader said something that really struck me: “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” At the time, we were focused on the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, which was just three months away. I decided to go all in to support the youth.
I registered my children for 50K and supported the transportation committee (we were responsible for transporting youth from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, a distance of 659 miles, which takes 10 hours by car). I also supported the men’s division security team to ensure the safety of all the participants.
Through our united prayers and efforts, the 50K Festival went smoothly and safely. It has become a golden memory that I will always treasure. This is a new beginning for my life based on the practice of the oneness of mentor and disciple and my renewed determination to contribute to kosen-rufu.
I have found a new career as a part-time teacher supporting children who have autism, while continuing to work as a wrestling coach. I am doing the things that I love. For the past six months, I have also been supporting the members as a district men’s leader. Through the bodhisattva practice for self and others, I feel whole again. My vow is that all the members and I will become absolutely happy together.
My determination in this Year of Soka Victory is based on Sensei’s guidance to the men’s division. He urges us: “If you don’t stand up now, when will you? If you don’t exert yourselves now, when will you? How many decades do you intend to wait before you take your stand? There is no telling what condition you will be in then. You are in the prime of your life. It is
a precious time in this present finite existence.
I say this because I want you to have no regrets!” (Men Shining With Youthful Brilliance, p. 7).
Through standing up for kosen-rufu, my entire life has changed—from one of suffering and disappointment to joy, fulfillment and hope for the future.
I have big dreams for myself, my family, the district and Utah. And I am not waiting anymore! WT