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On the Cover—Southwest

Highlighting SGI-USA members from the Southwest applying Buddhism to daily life.

Photos by Crystle Esquibel, Michael Munoz, Rish Saini
Photo by Rish Saini.

Mohan Nadarajah
Phoenix, Arizona
Auto Mechanic

For 30 years, I’ve run my own automotive repair shop, in which time I’ve come to appreciate the importance of a proper diagnosis. At the shop, we have the latest and greatest scanner, but this gives me only a rough picture of what’s going on with a car. It’s up to me to check over things carefully and identify which parts are at fault. My goal is to efficiently troubleshoot and solve the problem, communicate clearly with my customers and leave each with a big smile.

Sometimes, people open up about more than their cars; they share family and personal problems. At such times, I refer to my Buddhist practice and my mentor, Ikeda Sensei. Often, people say I’ve put my finger on the dot.

Photo by Michael Munoz.

Patrisia Gonzales
Tucson, Arizona
Associate Director of Wisdom Teachings

I teach indigenous medicine at the University of Arizona. We have a learning lab in a garden where I make medicine with the students. The course is about the historical relationships these plants share with one another and with the indigenous people here.

My grandmother, a traditional healer, said that a fire can’t be made with one palito—a little wooden stick. A big fire calls for a bundle of little sticks. The mere presence of these plants in this harsh desert climate indicates their strong will to live. Observing carefully, we see that they have not done so alone. Alone we are fragile, together, resilient. My Buddhist practice gives me the wisdom to convey these teachings to the youth.

Photo by Crystle Esquibel.

Nate Flores
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Physical Therapist

My workday begins in the office, reviewing patient profiles. Based on these, I plan a tailored treatment for each one.

My clinic works with outpatients experiencing a variety of impairments and pain resulting from falls, strokes or sports injuries.

Recently, I worked with a very active gentleman who’d injured himself while biking just a few weeks into his retirement.

“I’m still using this walker, having all this pain,” he brooded.

“That’s OK!” I said. “We’re early on in treatment. Let’s give it six to eight weeks—we’ll definitely see some results!” He stuck with it and recovered fully. Not everyone has such a speedy recovery, but I’ve found that the best and fastest healing begins by adopting an attitude of hope. That starts with me chanting abundant daimoku before the workday begins.

Having Unshakable Belief

‘Never Seek This Gohonzon Outside Yourself’