Skip to main content


From an “Impoverished Mindset” to Innate Worth

Photo by Cole Rivers

Faith Jones
Peekskill, N.Y.

In college, I had dreams of getting a prestigious, well-paying job, so I worked hard to build a resume strong enough to make that a reality. That’s how I thought I was going to make my life matter. I’m going to be somebody one day, I thought.

The year I graduated, the economy crashed, and I slowly started to realize that I would be competing in the job market with people who had decades more experience than me. My first job out of college was far from what I had planned, and I began developing a “screw everything” mindset. Working hard and doing everything right didn’t work out, so what was the point? The toxic romantic relationships and heavy drinking that followed reflected a deep lack of respect for my life.

For the next three years, I was in and out of jobs and miserable. I enrolled in cosmetology school as a way to reclaim my self-worth, but while I started working and had a stable income, my underlying financial situation didn’t change. I would “get money,” but my bank account would still be consistently overdrawn. I had an impoverished mindset and lacked fortune.

In 2012, my partner shared Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with me. When I attended my first SGI meeting, I felt as if my frozen heart was finally thawing. I joined the SGI in February 2013. Three months later, the women and pioneer members in my district encouraged me to participate in the May Commemorative Contribution activity, saying that financially protecting kosen-rufu was the deepest cause I could make to develop fortune and transform my financial karma. From the end of April until the beginning of June that year, I saved my tips each week to contribute and joined the morning chanting sessions that were held daily at our Buddhist center. I was willing to do whatever it took to transform my circumstances.

My first benefit was that clients started to request I do their hair even though I was still an apprentice. I also introduced my best friend and boss to the practice and planted many seeds of Buddhism at work. I began to feel a deeper concern for others, and I could sense that my life was transforming from the inside out.

Since then, through participating in both Sustaining and May Contribution, I have completely shifted my financial karma and increased my income exponentially. The true benefit is that I no longer look to external things to validate my self-worth.

In 2015, I began working for a curly-specific haircare brand, where I create educational content for fellow hairstylists to learn how to cut, color and care for curly and coily hair.

During the pandemic, I experienced firsthand the great fortune that I had created over the years. I used my ingenuity to create digital learning spaces and thought about ways to support stylists whose livelihoods were now in jeopardy. Furthermore, I actively started thinking about how my company could respond to the murder of George Floyd, since our clients were directly affected.

In the height of the pandemic, I again increased my financial contribution based on the gratitude I had for Ikeda Sensei and this organization. When my company let go 20% of its employees, my boss congratulated me and said that I had received a role expansion and raise. They believed I was going to be a part of creating a new chapter for the company.

The greatest actual proof was that, while I was appreciative, I didn’t see this promotion as a measure of my worth. I was clear that the causes I had made based on my vow with Sensei was what manifested this fortune in my life.

I now view money not as a source of validation but rather as something I can use to fulfill my mission for kosen-rufu. Making financial offerings to this organization that advances kosen-rufu in America is one of the most profound causes I know I can make for my happiness and victory.

My determination toward the centennial of our organization is to freely and joyfully live out my mission and show actual proof that anyone can transform absolutely anything—even systems of oppression—based on human revolution. I will use my voice for the sake of justice every day and create a workplace based on Sensei’s humanistic philosophy that protects the dignity of life.

Excerpts From Nichiren’s Writings in Volume 26

Becoming an Artist With a Mission