Experience

I Am in Charge of My Own Life

Hope Champion Profile

Photo by Curtis Scott Brown


by Jay Brancato
New York

Since I was a child, I have grappled with my mental health, which resulted from physical and emotional abuse. I also struggled to follow my dream of singing on the Broadway stage and felt forced to abandon it. I coped by abusing alcohol and placing myself in harmful environments, and I finally reached a breaking point. I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting last year when someone told me about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Initially, I thought I was chanting for cash, prizes, fame and fortune. But when I learned that my life was a reflection of what I put out into the world, I started chanting to remove the tarnish from the mirror of my life and gain clarity.

Soon after, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by impulsiveness, intense anger and unstable moods and behavior. Yet, because of my Buddhist practice, I quickly realized that this diagnosis did not reflect my worth; my life was showing me what I needed to do for my own well-being. I felt exuberant about the possibilities, because I now knew how to overcome the obstacles that had been stopping me.

Recently, I had my first singing audition in over a decade. I chanted fierce daimoku to overcome my anxiety and got onstage and let myself shine.

Now, I firmly believe that if I keep at it, my dreams will happen. That is what this practice has taught me. I am in charge of my own life.