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Pulling Forth Hope


by Niel Chuang
34 years old
Fullerton, Calif.

The year I moved from Taiwan to the U.S. for school was the darkest of my life. It was 2006 and, for the first time, I faced so much uncertainty and self-doubt. I began missing school assignments and failing courses. Quarter after quarter, things piled up until my confidence was below zero.

I didn’t have the courage to talk to my family because I felt too ashamed. One day, my brother called me 17 times. I let all the calls go to voicemail. When I finally listened to one, my brother told me, “Please stop hurting our parents.” I hit an all-time low.

I called my friend Jeff, an SGI member. He’d been reaching out to me since I moved to California. When we finally talked, I cried and released a year’s worth of suffering. He didn’t say much, but asked if we could meet in person.

I received encouragement and realized that my tendency was to compare myself to others and then always come to the same conclusion: I’m worthless. Even though I grew up practicing Buddhism, I didn’t believe I had the Buddha nature inside me.

Through these interactions, I felt a spark of hope and started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, determined to believe in my limitless potential. As I got involved in the SGI community, I started caring for others in the same way Jeff cared for me. I went from being nearly expelled to graduating with a 3.7 GPA.

Today, my family and I communicate regularly and chant together, even though we’re 12,000 miles apart. Before, I never really thought about others, but now it’s what I do. To me, the “One Youth. Infinite Hope.” movement means to pull forth hope from deep within my life. It’s not a slogan to me. It’s about conquering my own negativity so that I can be a source of hope.

It’s Time to Deepen My Faith Even More

Q: How do I encourage others while trying to remain hopeful during this pandemic?