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Building Fortune With Appreciation

Kingmond Young

Deepti Kedare Jain
Emeryville, California

Living Buddhism: Thank you, Deepti, for sharing your experience with us. How did you encounter Nichiren Buddhism?

Deepti Kedare Jain: I moved to Southern California from India in 2008 to pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Living apart from my family in a new country proved to be difficult. Things became even more challenging after I graduated in 2009 but failed my occupational therapy licensure exam. I was at a complete loss about what to do next.

Around this time, my colleague asked me if I would be interested in going to a Buddhist meeting. I walked into a room full of people vibrantly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, which was a vastly different experience from the one I had practicing Theravada Buddhism with my family in India. I was attracted to the life force and conviction of the members. When a pioneer women’s division member said to me, “Continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and you will become absolutely happy!” I somehow trusted her words. I received the Gohonzon two weeks later on January 1, 2010.

How did your life change after that?

Deepti: As I began chanting, I started to feel more confident. I also realized that, if I wanted to become someone who was not swayed by my immediate failures or achievements, I had to build a solid inner core.

Early on in my practice, a senior in faith also shared with me the heart of participating in the May Commemorative Contribution activity. She told me that any cause I made for kosen-rufu, whether it was offering my time to support other members in faith or contributing financially to the SGI-USA, was like an investment in my life and happiness.

I was making minimum wage working as a therapist aide, but I sincerely wanted to show my appreciation for encountering the practice, so I contributed what I could. I’ll never forget the sense of pride I felt participating in May Contribution for the first time.

After nearly a decade of Buddhist practice, what do the words accumulating fortune mean to you?

Deepti: The fortune that I have accumulated through my Buddhist practice is hard to express in words, but my greatest benefit has been to share the practice with my parents and sister in India. Many of my other family members are now SGI members too.

Through embracing faith, my sister overcame spinal tuberculosis and, with my financial support, my father went back to school to pursue a law degree. He is now practicing law in India. My family completely transformed their financial situation in the last nine years, and we are now closer than ever.

As for me, I passed the occupational therapy licensure exam after multiple failed attempts, and have been with the same company for the past eight years, where I currently enjoy my work as a director, managing other occupational therapists in Northern California. More than anything, I have conviction in the power of my own life—conviction that there is no goal that I cannot achieve as long as I am united in heart with my mentor, SGI President Ikeda, and have appreciation. I have come to see the great benefit that results from dedicating your life to kosen-rufu.

Deepti Kedare Jain (third from left) at the SGI-USA Redwood Coast Buddhist Center, Santa Rosa, California, October 2017. Photo by Olivia Saito.

How do you view the May Contribution activity now?

Deepti: Last year, I got into an accident that thrust my car across five lanes of traffic on the freeway and into a wall. I was four months pregnant at the time. All I could do was chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and, somehow, I had the wisdom to steer the car in a way that protected my baby. My car was totaled, but we walked away unscathed.

As I chanted to the Gohonzon after the accident, I thought about how appreciative I am to have encountered this practice and the SGI. The accident happened during last year’s May Contribution activity, and, before the campaign was over, I was able to increase my contribution together with my husband in appreciation for my family’s protection. I also determined to increase my sustaining contribution every year with the heartfelt wish to expand our organization, which enables people to become strong and happy.

A few months later, in the final weeks of my pregnancy, I found out that my company had canceled their contract with the nursing facility where I worked. While it didn’t seem ideal, I resolved that I would be protected through my efforts for kosen-rufu.

I have conviction in the power of my own life—conviction that there is no goal that I cannot achieve as long as I am united in heart with my mentor, SGI President Ikeda, and have appreciation.

During this time, I chanted abundantly behind the scenes for the success of the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival. My son, Aarin, was born on November 5, 2018, completely healthy. Because of my shifting work circumstances, I enjoyed five months of paid maternity leave with my son. In January, just before my maternity leave ended, I was notified that my company had acquired facilities in Oakland, just 10 minutes away from my home and the SGI-USA Oakland Buddhist Center. They offered me a promotion and pay increase without an annual review.

My desire to spend time with my newborn and work closer to home manifested in the most beautiful way. SGI President Ikeda states: “All activities for kosen-rufu are for your own happiness and victory in life. The more efforts you make, the more benefit and good fortune you will accumulate” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 26, p. 344). I feel immensely fortunate and have no doubt that it is a result of the causes I have made to advance kosen-rufu in America. Today, May Contribution is a time for me to reflect and act on my gratitude for my Buddhist practice.

What is your dream for the future?

Deepti: As a health professional, my lifetime goal is to shift health care to be more client-driven and give hope to individuals struggling physically and emotionally. This year, I am going to challenge myself even more in May Contribution to make a cause for my family and offer my deepest appreciation to the Gohonzon, my mentor and SGI. In just nine years of practice, I have experienced, without a doubt, the truth of the pioneer women’s division member’s words at my first meeting—“Continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and you will become absolutely happy!”

With Gratitude Comes Victory

Living With No Regrets