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Uncovering My Great Joy as a Bodhisattva

How practicing based on a vow enabled me to surmount illness with a great sense of purpose.

by Amy Watson
South Weber, Utah

In July 2019, I found out I had cancer for the third time. I had first been diagnosed 12 years earlier with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer that only occurs in one to two people out of a million each year. This time, however, doctors told me that they’d need to remove my right leg, due to a cancerous mass growing in my knee.

To my amazement, I wasn’t afraid. I knew it was because of all the causes I had made practicing Buddhism for 36 years. When I sought guidance from a senior in faith, she said: “Amy, you have a very important mission. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to fulfill your mission for kosen-rufu.”

Praying this way, I felt more powerful, like I could do anything. I knew I was going to win and become happier and healthier than ever because of my vow for kosen-rufu. It is just as SGI President Ikeda says: “By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, striving in our Buddhist practice for ourselves and others, and dedicating our lives to kosen-rufu, our vibrant life force as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and the expansive life state of Buddhahood well forth within us” (March 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 16).

Amy (center) and members of Hill District welcome a new member to the SGI family at their discussion meeting, August 2019. PHOTOS BY KIYOSHI NAGAHAMA

During this time, district members traveled long distances to come chant with and support me. I felt so much appreciation for our beautiful SGI community, which President Ikeda had built.

Over the coming weeks, every time I felt my mind going to worry land—what if this, what if that?—I just kept redetermining to fulfill my mission for kosen-rufu. I also did my best as a district women’s leader, praying sincerely for the members, having learned that I can’t reach their hearts unless I chant for their happiness. I also shared with them what I was going through and determined to report my victory to them!

Doing my human revolution meant winning over myself, and a part of this process was deepening my appreciation for my husband, Ken. He had taken me to every doctor’s appointment and listened to my screams when the pain got bad. But up until this point, I hadn’t stopped to acknowledge his efforts. When I realized this, I determined to express my gratitude to him and began making subtle changes in my behavior. As a result, our relationship completely transformed.

I knew I was going to win and become happier and healthier than ever because of my vow for kosen-rufu.

On Aug. 7, 2019, my right leg was surgically removed. Everything went remarkably well. I was proud to learn that the tissue from my leg was donated for research to the sarcoma department of Huntsman Cancer Institute, meaning it may help someone overcome their sarcoma cancer in the future. As of last November, the cancer has been in remission. Doctors are keeping a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t reappear.

Now, I have something even more important, still deeper, more meaningful to accomplish with my life. I’ve learned how to base myself on my vow as a Bodhisattva of the Earth. I am determined to encourage as many cancer patients as possible: “Your life is so important! The diagnosis is not the end! Let’s fight! Let’s win!” WT

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