Experience

“You Must Simply Make Up Your Mind”

Jenay Tally, the newly appointed West Territory young women’s leader, says, “As I chanted seriously and shared Buddhism with my friends, I began to stop seeking validation from others and fully embrace myself just as I was.” Photo by LETICIA REY.


How advancing based on the oneness of mentor and disciple laid the foundation for my victory and happiness.

by Jenay Tally
WEST TERRITORY YOUNG WOMEN’S LEADER
LOS ANGELES

Growing up, I witnessed infidelity between my parents, financial issues and violence. I held on to a lot of anger, and in my last semester of high school, I got into a fight and broke a girl’s jaw. I was arrested and expelled from school, and charged with a misdemeanor.

But because I was a strong student with a 3.8 GPA, my principal vouched for me so that I could graduate from another high school.

When I started studying at DePaul University in Chicago, I was lonely and seeking happiness in men and marijuana. Feeling so low, I attempted suicide during my sophomore year.

Around this time, four of my closest friends were introduced to Nichiren Buddhism and received the Gohonzon. I wanted to gain clarity about a relationship, so I asked my friend if I could chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with her. That’s when I learned that chanting worked, and I received the Gohonzon in March 2013.

My SGI leaders came to my home weekly to chant and support me in accomplishing my goals. I moved to Los Angeles with a new job and car, and proceeded to complete my degree online. I was in a new environment, but repeating the same patterns.

In 2015 after graduating, I found out that my live-in boyfriend was cheating on me. When we tried to talk it over, it led to a violent argument and a torn tendon in my finger. I was broken, homeless and feeling suicidal again.

But instead of making another attempt on my life, I called a senior in faith. She encouraged me to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to appreciate and value my life. This moment shifted everything for me.

I decided then to stop running from my reality and transform my suffering from the root by facing my life in front of the Gohonzon. As I chanted seriously and shared Buddhism with my friends, I began to stop seeking validation from others and fully embrace myself just as I was. Even aspects of my life that scared me started to become beautiful to me.

I realized that nothing outside of me would decide my victory or defeat. I had to decide and make up my mind in front of the Gohonzon.

I was reassured as I learned about the determination of the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents to surmount great challenges and change all poison into medicine. As I chanted to deepen the oneness of mentor and disciple in my life, I gained the strength to continue, even when I didn’t know how to take the next step.

After I took responsibility as a chapter young women’s leader, I began consistently visiting and chanting with other young women in order for them to break through in their lives. I also did my best to engrave The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin in my life, as Sensei encourages young women to do. Just a month later, I was offered a new job.

One area where I wanted to show actual proof was in my finances. I had no idea where to start, but chanting helped me see that I was negligent. One morning, I woke up to find my car repossessed, and I was devastated. But I decided that this was my opportunity to break through my limitations.

Whenever I struggled to take full responsibility, I went back to this passage from Nichiren Daishonin: “You must be firmly resolved . . . do not depend on others. You must simply make up your mind” (“Reply to Yasaburo,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 829).

I realized that nothing outside of me would decide my victory or defeat. I had to decide and make up my mind in front of the Gohonzon.

Because I used my car to support SGI members, I resolved to get it back for the sake of kosen-rufu. In the meantime, I joyfully took the bus to meetings and talked about the practice with those around me.

Sharing Buddhism enabled me to bring forth the courage to advance despite my circumstances. And after challenging myself in this way, I got my car back. I now work as an e-commerce merchandiser in the music industry. Most importantly, though, I finally understand that my happiness is not dictated by my circumstances.

To date, I have helped 18 friends receive the Gohonzon. I am the happiest when I can help another person embark on their journey of becoming absolutely happy!

Before I started practicing Buddhism, though determined, I was often left with short-lived victories that easily crumbled. Now, I am building an indestructible foundation by fighting for kosen-rufu.

On July 19, 1951, the day the young women’s division was founded, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda declared: “Everyone in the Soka Gakkai young women’s division should become happy down to the last member” (The Human Revolution, p. 595).

As the newly appointed West Territory young women’s leader, my determination is that every young woman—by basing her life on Nichiren’s writings, the Gohonzon and the oneness of mentor and disciple—will become unshakably happy. WT

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