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Transforming My Heart Through Planting Seeds

Susan Jacoby standing in front of her bookshelf
Photo by Stephen Randles.

by Susan Jacoby
Auburn, Washington

I was walking down the street, crying, when someone asked me if I was OK and if I had ever heard of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I was 19 at the time and extremely unhappy. I went to an SGI meeting that night and have been practicing Buddhism since.

Recently, I had been repeatedly encouraged to sow the seed of Buddhahood in other people’s lives. I found myself still hesitant to share Buddhism with strangers after over 40 years of tremendous breakthroughs through Buddhist practice. I had to chant a lot of daimoku to come to terms with my hesitation so that I could share Buddhism in a way that was true to myself.

It was then that I read this passage from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, “If there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood” (“Winter Always Turns to Spring,” vol. 1, p. 536). When I read that, it changed me. I realized that not one person that I share Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with will fail to attain Buddhahood. That’s why I need to share. I thought. People need to hear it.

Around the same time, I had been chanting about how I wanted to live my vow with Ikeda Sensei toward 2030. Part of this involved moving into a larger home where I could provide a space to host SGI activities and create deep bonds of friendship with people in the music community. But when my husband and I put our home on the market, our neighbors tried to block the sale. Without going into detail, we were on the verge of losing everything.

It brought out deep negativity toward the people who were attacking us. I carried that negativity everywhere I went and behaved in a way that I didn’t like. I wanted to change, and as I chanted, I knew that the only way I could transform this was by increasing the forces of the Buddha. I needed to see the Buddhahood in all people, including those who were doing us harm.

I began to pray to embody the heart of propagation everywhere I went. It changed the way that I interacted with people, and I found myself naturally sharing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with everyone I met. By seeing the beauty in them, I could relate to them. I had transformed my heart.

In the process, an incredible thing happened: A city building office chairperson called to say she planned to dismiss the entire case. I could sell my house, which, until then, had seemed impossible. I could now buy my new home, which is everything I chanted for: a place where I can grow and expand my life for kosen-rufu.

But the most meaningful benefit was my own internal transformation. When I was consumed by my negativity, I was suffering. Now, whenever negativity comes up, I immediately recognize it as my own and chant and plant seeds. Planting seeds of Buddhahood allowed me to transform my own heart and mind.

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