“Sowing Seeds” in All That I Do
How taking action for the happiness of others helped me find meaning in my mother’s passing.
by Kyler Nicholas
The year after I graduated from high school, my maternal grandfather died tragically, leaving my grandmother alone on a large ranch in Arkansas. Out of sympathy for my grandmother, and as an excuse to isolate myself, I moved in with her. Around that time, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Due to my shallow nature, it didn’t cross my mind that she was fighting for her life until it became apparent that she was losing the battle. I moved back to Michigan to support her for nine months and, on the morning of Sept. 5, 2015, my mother passed away. The shock numbed me to the core.
From there, our family unraveled. Growing up, I had never wanted for anything. Instead of religion, my family had put our faith in entertainment and indulgence. But after my mother’s death, my sister attempted suicide, and my father started a new relationship, which generated intense resentment between us. Through all of this, creating art helped me process and cope, yet it did little to raise my life condition. I bottled up the suffering I felt from my mother’s death and buried it deep.
In early 2016, I encountered the SGI and after attending a handful of meetings, I received the Gohonzon on June 27, 2016. The focus on dialogue kept me coming back, and my weekly district meetings became the anchor my life had desperately been seeking.
Because of my Buddhist practice, my mother’s passing became the driving force for my human revolution.
My Buddhist practice gave me enthusiasm for living and self-esteem. Soon, I helped my first friend receive the Gohonzon, and over the next two years,
I helped four more friends receive the Gohonzon, too. The people I introduced were primarily musicians from bands I jammed with. I wanted us to prove together that this practice can have a profound effect on the art we create. They enjoyed the spirit and philosophy, but lacked a connection to the SGI community.
This came to a head when one of my friends announced she would stop practicing with the SGI. I responded emotionally without seeking her understanding. My friends distanced themselves from me and the SGI. I felt totally defeated and lost the courage to talk with my friends and share the practice with others.
My practice floundered, and I lost momentum in my life. I dropped out of community college and fell short of every target I set for myself. However, my young men’s leaders in the SGI-USA continued to believe in and encourage me.
Through their support, I realized that I wasn’t chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for others. I was using logic, not my practice, to address my own suffering. So I started to chant honestly about my difficulties, including my mother’s passing. It helped to think about her twice a day during the silent prayers of gongyo.
I also realized I wasn’t seeking when I read SGI President Ikeda’s guidance. I enjoyed reading The New Human Revolution but didn’t see it for what it was: Sensei’s blueprint for how to become happy and achieve world peace. His words from volume 24 moved me deeply:
Our actions, as practitioners of this Buddhism dedicated to our mission for kosen-rufu, must all be connected to this act of sowing. In other words, we need to cultivate an awareness that everything, from our daily Soka Gakkai activities to our attitudes and behaviors in daily life, is part of this important task of sowing seeds of the Mystic Law. (p. 326)
I chanted deeply and mustered the courage to speak with my friend who had quit her practice. She shared that she had heard false information about the SGI that confused her. I answered every question she had and shared my conviction in the practice. I’m chanting every day and striving to rebuild our friendship, while helping her to deepen her understanding of our kosen-rufu movement.
My heart started burning more than ever to share this Buddhism. Now, when I engage with people, I want to understand what they’re going through by deeply listening to them instead of making assumptions about their lives. By caring for the person in front of me, I helped another friend receive the Gohonzon in August 2019. He is learning gongyo, chanting consistently and loves reading Sensei’s encouragement. I can’t fathom how sharing this practice is impacting me because my life has already changed in such a holistic way.
Because of my Buddhist practice, my mother’s passing became the driving force for my human revolution. I derived value from it by pushing myself forward and encouraging others, through understanding their sufferings. Recently, I’ve started to repair my relationship with my father, and we even chanted together last month!
By sowing seeds of the Mystic Law, I am becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be—someone who can fight for the happiness of myself and those around me, and advance with hope for the future.