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“I Vowed to Overcome These Problems Through Faith”

Satomi Juergens (center) with her daughter, Alexis, and husband, Dan. With deep appreciation for the transformative power of faith, Ms. Juergens will contribute to the SGI-USA this May so that more young people in Utah and beyond can learn about Buddhism and change their lives, too. Photo by Dan Juergens

by Satomi Juergens
South Jordan, Utah

“People who have not experienced painful struggles or suffering cannot understand the hearts of others. Only if one has tasted life’s bitterness can one lead people to happiness. To simply view your sufferings as ‘karma’ is backward-looking. We should have the attitude: ‘These are sufferings I took on for the sake of my mission. I vowed to overcome these problems through faith.’ ” (Ikeda Sensei, The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, pp. 208–09).

When I turned 29, I was screened for cancer. I was the same age as my mother when she passed away from the disease, which set in motion a series of unimaginable struggles for my family.

I was told that I had cancer, and it was progressing fast. The doctor suggested I remove my uterus if I wanted to continue living. My future husband, Dan, encouraged me to get a second opinion. When I shared with the doctor my desire to become a mother, the advice was the same: Remove my uterus or risk dying.

I did my best for kosen-rufu, determined to beat this karma and have my own child. I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly and challenged myself like never before, making my largest financial contribution to the SGI with genuine appreciation for the organization and Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement. I was shocked when my father, who was previously opposed to my Buddhist practice, even agreed to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day for my recovery. My impossible dream came into focus when, after making every possible cause for victory, I was admitted to a specialized cancer hospital, and both my life and my uterus were saved.

Within a few years, our daughter, Alexis, was born, and we moved to the United States. Things were not easy; I contemplated returning to Japan, even though it was my dream to live in America. Despite not speaking English well, I challenged myself to share Buddhism with the help of other members, knowing that this was the fastest way to change my destiny.

Several years ago, I saw the link between May Contribution and my own human revolution. As I participated with appreciation, something fascinating happened: I also deepened my appreciation for my husband.

For a long time, I had made decisions on my own, thinking this was the best way for me to support him. I came to realize that perhaps I was not leaving room for us to truly become partners. I chanted to transform my own negative tendencies first and foremost, and started to listen to my husband’s opinions before making decisions. Witnessing my transformation, Dan could not deny the power of the Gohonzon and decided to begin practicing himself.

Last year, the government agency Dan works for made a series of promotions, but he wasn’t among the recipients because of his level of education.

Dan was devastated, but chanted sincerely and asked top-level leadership. to reconsider based on his track record. I continued to devote myself wholeheartedly to SGI activities,  supporting the members and increasing my contribution amount. I also encouraged the members, including my daughter, to sign up for Sustaining Contribution so they could develop a. foundation of fortune, too.

Meanwhile, Dan’s agency reconsidered his request, and out of the 14 candidates up for promotion, he was the top pick. Last December, he got two more promotions, which, for his grade level, should have been impossible!

The benefits we’ve received as a family have extended beyond Dan’s career. My 26-year-old daughter, Alexis, became an attorney just two years ago, and was already chosen to represent a top manufacturer. I’m working as a special education assistant teacher at a preschool, striving to be a representative of Soka education in all that I do. In these challenging times with COVID-19, we are making videos for our students and conducting Zoom classes, and I am chanting every day for their happiness and protection.

Before I joined the Soka Gakkai, living a long and happy life with a wonderful family in America was just an impossible dream. But because I have stuck with my practice and Sensei, the impossible became possible. This May, I am determined to contribute unreservedly to the growth of the SGI-USA, so many more young people can learn that when they “vow to overcome problems through faith,” they can accomplish their dreams and become happy without fail.

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