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Changing My Karma One Step at a Time

Photo by Mark Tomaszewski.

by Lulani Tomaszewski

I share Buddhism with others for three reasons: first, out of gratitude for the benefits I’ve received; second, to provide hope to others; and third, so that the wave of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will touch the hearts of my family members who don’t practice, especially my children.

In 2002, I was homeless and going through a divorce. I came from a religious background, but I wasn’t really happy. That’s when I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism. I was told that through Buddhist practice, I could change my family karma seven generations in the past and seven generations in the future (meaning endlessly), so I started practicing.

As soon as I embraced Buddhism, my parents disowned me. Every time I went home, my brothers, who were pastors, tried to debate me about religion. Since I was so new to Buddhism at the time, I just avoided them. Because I couldn’t really talk to them, the only way I could show my family the power of this practice was through my actions.

In 2007, I went to visit my dad in the hospital. He was so excited to see me and said, “I saw you being happy, so I wanted to become Buddhist, too!” Since he didn’t know what my practice was, he accidentally joined the temple! The priests said they would pray for him if he paid them, so I taught him to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and do gongyo for himself as a member of the SGI. And he did until he passed away a month later. His last day in the hospital, he told my mom, who was against our practice, that he and I were going to chant. We did gongyo in front of her and the rest of our family, and an hour later he passed. My mom accepted my practice in 2017 when she passed away, too. That broke a wall for my siblings, and we were able to rebuild our relationship. Some of them learned how to chant. That’s when I found I was changing my family karma, one step at a time.

During the pandemic, I wasn’t consistent in sharing Buddhism with others. I was suffering from losing many family members, dearest friends and my precious mini doxie, Kuuipo. But, Ikeda Sensei says that Buddhism is win or lose, so I had to win. A senior in faith told me, “It’s OK to feel deadlocked, just keep chanting. When you chant, pray to the Gohonzon to bring people into your life who are seeking this practice.”

I started praying that way, and people started coming to my door! I felt so inspired and protected by them. I felt that these people deserve to be happy, so why not share Buddhism with them? I don’t want to see others suffer. I want to let each individual know that they can be eternally happy and not have any regrets in this lifetime. 

I’m a grandmother now, and I was able to visit my grandchildren in Hawaii recently. At a family gathering with about 16 people, my auntie said to me: “Lulani, come here. Tell us what it’s like to be a Buddhist.” So, I did a little intro-to-Buddhism for my family. They asked so many questions! The next day, I introduced 10 more people to the practice. Since then, I’m seeing a lot of actual proof of changing my family karma. My auntie and sister are getting connected to a district, and my grandson has started chanting. Furthermore, my oldest daughter, Jasmine, accepted the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo card I gave her, and I have been sending daily encouragement to my future daughter-in-law Nikkie.

It’s step by step. Before, I wouldn’t share any of my suffering, I would be too ashamed. But now, I can be Lulani. The more questions they ask, the more I can share my own experience with how this Buddhism has impacted my life. That’s when they open their hearts, too.

I’m determined to bring about even greater family harmony by connecting with as many people as possible. Even if they don’t come to a meeting or start practicing, I know that just hearing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo once will open up their lives. 

Keep Chanting, No Matter What Happens

On Sharing Buddhism With Others