Many Treasures Member Profile: Jo Reed

Jenn Geisler

An Eternally Youthful Spirit Through Propagation

Many Treasures Member Profiles

“I Owe Everything to the Gohonzon and Sensei!”
Jo Reed
Virginia • Age: 71
Length of practice: 43 years

At my first SGI meeting, I thought it was so weird that I would never come back. The man who invited me told me confidently that I would encounter this Buddhism again and that within seven years I would be practicing. I thought, What a bizarre and arrogant thing to say!

Over the next seven years, I repeatedly encountered Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but was resistant to join any religion. However, due to a series of events, I started chanting and received the Gohonzon on April 4, 1976. Because of my own experience, I know that when I introduce others to this practice, regardless of their reaction, they will practice one day.

My seniors in faith taught me that sharing this Buddhism was the quickest way to transform my karma. When I was a youth, I had just gone through a painful break up with a co-worker. During my lunch, I would go to a nearby street where there was a concession area and share this Buddhism with whomever was the concession attendant that day. I had zero concern for the person’s happiness, but my life was lifted every time I went out to share Buddhism. It was the only thing that relieved the pain of the breakup. Years later, a young man came up to me at a meeting and said that I had introduced him at the concession and thanked me for doing so because it had changed his life. What I learned through that experience is that even if you have no compassion for the other person, you will immediately experience the benefit of introducing others to Buddhism and eventually their lives will blossom as well.

Now I talk to others about Buddhism because I genuinely care for their lives. Just as the line from the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: “At all times I think to myself: How can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 273).

I pay attention to the people in my environment. I listen to folks I meet and ask questions about their jobs, their families, what their dreams are and what they’re struggling with. Often there is a way to link those struggles and dreams with the Buddhist perspective and practice. This is how I was able to support three people to receive the Gohonzon last year.

There is so much suffering in the world. Large numbers of people chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and doing their human revolution is the only enduring solution. Recently, it dawned on me that consistently paying attention to others, engaging them in conversation, learning to care about their lives, sharing with them the profound philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism—is kosen-rufu itself.

My life has completely changed since 1976. Growing up, my father had a drinking problem and was violent. My older sister had epilepsy, and my younger sister and I struggled with depression. I was able to shakubuku all of them and, together, we completely transformed our unhappy family into one of harmony. My sisters continue to practice together with their spouses, and my father, before he passed away at 92, became happy. I owe everything to the Gohonzon and to Sensei. To repay my debt of gratitude, I am determined to introduce six people this year!