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Nothing Will Stand Between Me and My Dreams!

Jonathan Teran (right), inspired by the medical staff who cared for his father, Raul (front), is determined to practice medicine. Also pictured are his mom, Ritsuko, and siblings (l–r) Nicholas and Vincent. Photo by NICOLE ALILAEN.

by Jonathan Teran
Tyler, Texas

We need to earnestly and steadfastly challenge ourselves to achieve our goals. Resolving to overcome all obstacles, we must open a path forward. When we look back later, we will see that these moments, while perhaps trying, were in fact the most fulfilling and rewarding times of our lives. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, p. 147)

Ten years ago, when I was in college, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was deeply moved by how all the medical staff, including the physicians, extended care to not only my father but to our family as well. I determined then to become a doctor who could help others during their most difficult times.

But as a child who had moved from Venezuela to the U.S. due to my father’s job, I was not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, which made it nearly impossible for me to get into medical school.

After college, I was teaching science and biology, and on track to be sponsored for my green card. But this process could take up to 10 years. I refused to put my dreams on hold for a decade and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo seriously, determined to find a path to medical school as soon as possible. I was reminded of the power of prayer in Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, where he says:

Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rise in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered. (“On Prayer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 345)

I focused on fighting for my dreams based on prayer to the Gohonzon and striving for kosen-rufu. Within one year, through a series of unexpected events, I became a permanent U.S. resident and got accepted into medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston!

I started medical school in fall 2016, just as the 50,000 Lions of Justice movement had begun. Around this time, I became the Houston Region young men’s leader. Every weekend, I drove an hour to the SGI-USA Houston Buddhist Center and worked hard alongside other young men to share Buddhism and encourage others to attend the festival.

In the weeks leading up to the festival, I made the four-hour drive to Dallas to attend rehearsals. I was moved to tears on countless occasions by how selflessly everyone contributed, whether in their performances, behind the scenes or to promote attendance.

These examples fueled my study efforts, and I received a competitive score on my first of four board exams. I also decided to pursue family medicine in rural communities after completing medical school.

In order to complete my medical training, I had to continue on to residency, but in September 2019, I learned that I had failed my second board exam. When program directors reviewed my scores, they replied that they wouldn’t be able to accept me.

I refused to be defeated and was determined to get into a medical residency no matter what. I had to retake the second exam, but there weren’t any openings in the time frame I needed. I recalled the spirit I learned through SGI activities to make the impossible possible through strong prayer and action. Ikeda Sensei writes: “Hardships make us strong. / Problems give birth to wisdom. / Sorrows cultivate compassion for others. Those who have suffered the most can become the happiest” (Aug. 15, 2016, World Tribune, p. 3).

The SGI-USA’s A-B-C Campaign[1] initiated at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic empowered me to chant abundantly every day. I also connected with many of the young men in my organization. During this time, my dad started having serious health challenges. I studied Buddhism with him and with other young men. Sensei has taught me that if I want to break through, I must help others break through as well!

On March 23, I received news that I matched to a residency program in Tyler, Texas, located in a rural part of the state, one of my top choices. I immediately chanted to the Gohonzon with deep appreciation, and shared the news with the young men’s division members I consider my brothers! My most recent exam score had been waived, and I will still be able to start my residency during the pandemic.

I’m determined to use my life to inspire young men who hesitate to go after their dreams and to ensure that 6,000 youth in SGI-USA awaken to their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth in 2020, so that they can can also inspire hope in others.

I recently moved to Tyler and resolved more than ever to repay my debt of gratitude to Sensei for empowering me and my family with this practice, and to become the greatest source of hope as a doctor of the Mystic Law.


  1. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SGI-USA initiated the A-B-C Campaign: A: Abundant chanting; B: Buddhist study; C: Connect life-to-life with members, guests and family (by phone or videoconferencing). ↩︎

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