Profiles

I’m Grateful to Have Found the SGI

Photo by Will Kiniston.


by Mike Daniels
Denver

About 30 years ago, when I was a college student, someone gave me a Nam-myoho-renge-kyo card and told me briefly about the SGI. I didn’t think much of it, but it always stuck with me; the words were memorable. Years later, I learned more after reading that Wayne Shorter, a musician who I long admired, was an SGI member. I had also seen the beautiful SGI Buddhist center downtown.

Four months ago, feeling profoundly unhappy and unable to figure out why, I was earnestly trying a number of practices for a solution, but not successfully. Then, one day, the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo came to mind when I was at a point of real frustration and despondency. But, I didn’t know anything about Buddhism, so I just got in the car and drove to the SGI Buddhist center.

Initially, I went there to learn more about chanting because I found meditation really difficult to do. But on a pamphlet they gave me, it said “What is happiness?” I didn’t go there looking for happiness, but that’s what they were offering. Or rather, I see now, that’s what this Buddhism allows us to offer ourselves.

I was connected with an SGI member who has since been so gracious in reaching out to me. I learned a lot from him about the basics, like the idea of absolute happiness versus relative happiness. At 50 years old, I was unaware of this idea. No one had ever taught me that. Chanting improved my relationships with my family, friends and colleagues almost immediately in very meaningful ways. It also has helped me focus on my goals and my commitments.

When I received the HOPE Champion certificate I was surprised at my own reaction. I was both humbled and proud at the same time. It seems to represent the beginning of a new chapter in my life, but at the same time reflects something that may have been there all along

I’m so eager to learn more about Nichiren Buddhism, the SGI and myself. I’m also determined about kosen-rufu. This idea of world peace through individual happiness is truly powerful to me. I believe in it. I am determined to make it happen.