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Winning Based on a Vow for Kosen-rufu

Bianca Jofre, with her husband, Mauricio and sons (l-r) Mason, Miles and Maximillian (center). Photo: Victor Golden.

by Bianca Jofre

Two years ago, I decided to pursue a career as a clinical social worker. This meant going back to school for a master’s. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, particularly because it was important for me to win as a mother, wife, full-time employee and newly appointed district women’s leader. The SGI-USA was also embarking on its journey toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival on Sept. 23, 2018.

Rather than shying away from any of my responsibilities, I decided to bravely challenge them head-on and create a victory that would inspire the members of Kendall District.

Each morning, my co-leaders and I would send out daily encouragement from SGI President Ikeda so that each member could start their day with meaningful direction. We also mailed handwritten notes to inspire them to join activities. I opened my home for SGI meetings and determined that we would expand our membership and deepen our understanding and faith in the Gohonzon!

As a mother, I took my children to every meeting. I didn’t want to separate my activities in faith with the time I spent with them. My hope was that even at their young age (now 2, 3 and 6), they would begin to establish their own foundations in faith and one day become great leaders for kosen-rufu.

And my husband, who has always been my biggest support, frequently chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together with me, although not an SGI member. Amid all of our responsibilities, every Friday, without fail, we dedicated our evenings to each other.

No matter how tired I was, I prayed deeply to be able to move forward. I joined the women of Tamiami Chapter to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in what we called the “power hour” for the success of the 50K Festival. I would wake up at 4:15 a.m., chant one hour and then head to the gym to start my day.

I shared Buddhism everywhere I went and helped a childhood friend receive the Gohonzon. It fills me with joy to see that she is happier and has even supported a friend to join the SGI. In the end, I gave my all and helped 23 friends register for the festival!

Nothing was getting easier in my daily life, however, and I fell into a deep depression. Why was I feeling so low when I was fighting so hard? That’s when I sought guidance from a senior in faith, who encouraged me to see the turmoil in my life as a benefit, not a setback. Feeling relieved and empowered, I increased my chanting and made more efforts in my graduate studies.

In November 2018, in the middle of my struggle to do it all, I was informed for the second time that I didn’t pass my thesis presentation and therefore wouldn’t receive my degree until May 2019. I refused to be defeated and, with resolute prayer to the Gohonzon, remembered the vow I had made during the 50K Festival—to stand up for the dignity of life, to have conviction in the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo like Sensei and by my example, encourage the members in my district to never give up. I didn’t doubt myself when I fought hard for the festival amid many rejections, so why would I doubt myself now?

In The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda says, “No matter how strong or able each individual is, if they don’t make full use of their abilities, the results will be as if they didn’t have them in the first place” (vol. 23, p. 291).

Fighting against my deep-seated tendencies of anxiety and self-doubt, I decided to meet with the dean of the school of social work. I shared with confidence that I had given the program my 100 percent, proof of which was in my GPA, making it to the dean’s list and the jobs I had been offered upon graduation. I even declared my vow as an SGI member to use my career to create a more humanistic society, and I asked her to point out where I had gone wrong in my thesis presentations. Although she explained that unfortunately the decision had already been made, I knew that I had made an impression on her by speaking sincerely and confidently from the heart, evident by what happened next.

While in the car crying and chanting on my way home, the dean called and asked me to come back to her office. I turned around right away! When I arrived, she informed me that after I had left, she called in three of my professors who all vouched for my performance.

She looked into my eyes and said, “This world needs more people like you, people who give their 100 percent to make it a better place.” The decision was overturned, and I graduated on time. At that very moment, I felt Sensei in my heart. I did it for kosenrufu, and I had won!

Shortly after, in December 2018, Kendall District was recognized as a Lion District. We welcomed 10 new members last year and helped many youth attend the 50K Festival.

Today, I’m a clinical social worker at a hospice care center, helping patients live in dignity and peace in the final moments of their lives. I’m also preparing to pursue a doctorate in dementia research.

I want to continue discovering my limitless potential alongside each member in the district, as we continue to persevere on the path of mentor and disciple and do our human revolution in this Year of Soka Victory!

Forging Invincible Spiritual Strength

Living My Life to the Fullest