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Enjoying All the Small Things

Dialogue—Saori Hisayama (left) with her district women’s division members in Birmingham, Alabama, May 2023. Together, they shared Buddhism with over 190 people, over 1% of their town’s population in Cullman, Alabama.

by Saori Hisayama
Cullman, Ala. 

I was a young women’s division member in Tokyo when my sister, who lives in Colorado, introduced me to a man she met there. We got married, and I moved to the U.S. in 2010. Originally, we stayed in Colorado, but soon after my husband got a new job and we moved to Cullman, Alabama. 

When I came here, I didn’t have a job or friends, so it was hard. But I thought, This is my place of mission! I’m so excited! This town is very rural and has lots of nature. 

From my mid 20’s, I suffered from severe hives on my face and body. I sought guidance from a senior in faith, and I was encouraged by them to become a person who can enjoy the small things. I needed to become a person with a strong heart. 

We have seven SGI members here in our Cullman Group. Even though its only seven people, each of us are so different—from Japan, Hawaii, Thailand and Taiwan. We all have challenges with health or family, or being super busy with work. But as Buddhist practitioners, we decided to face these problems by planting seeds—by sharing Buddhism!

As a group we created a goal to plant seeds with 1% of all Cullman residents. Our town has a population of about 19,000, so 1% would mean talking to 190 people about Buddhism. We actually hit our goal! But, no one has received the Gohonzon yet, so we decided to keep going. Even so, I like to think that our efforts to share Buddhism are positively affecting our town.  

One of our group members is someone I introduced. She used to practice a different kind of Buddhism, but I told her about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I was so surprised when she told me she had heard of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo before! She remembered that back when she was in Taiwan, a stranger came up to her, had her say Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together, and told her that if she chanted it she would get “infinite blessings and joy.” So someone had planted a seed with her years before. Hearing that, I thought, Wow, no effort is wasted! Even giving a Nam-myoho-renge-kyo card at a supermarket can change someone’s life!

I recently gave a card to a cashier who said she already received one from “another person.” That meant someone in our group, and when I told them we all laughed and wondered which one of us had given it to her. 

There are a lot of practicing Christians here, lots of different Christian churches. Sometimes, someone will approach me concerned that I don’t believe in God, but we never have arguments. We just talk about what happiness is and have a conversation. It’s good for both of us. I have many  Christian friends, and we talk about religion together and respect one another. 

I’m still learning English, so my Christian friends are my English teachers. Since I sometimes struggle with reading difficult sentences, I ask them to read Ikeda Sensei’s books or articles from the publications with me. Afterward, we discuss the material, and I ask them what they think. 

My appreciation has grown so much from all of these efforts. I still have many challenges, but now even one cup of tea can make me so happy. And the hives have completely disappeared! I used to only feel comfortable with people who were the same as me, but now I feel OK with any kind of person. I’m so grateful to live here in Alabama, where I have a nice Gohonzon room where I can chant loudly at any time of day without worrying that I might disturb the neighbors. 

I want to hold an intro meeting, study meetings and more here in Cullman next year.

Any time I feel stuck, I remember the passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings “If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way” (“On the Three Virtues of Food,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1060). Then I do something—share Buddhism, go to activities, talk with fellow SGI members—because when I do, I brighten my own way. Then, I am filled with energy and can enjoy everything in my life, even all the small things.

Efforts to Share Buddhism Return as Good Fortune

First, it’s important to pray wholeheartedly to the Gohonzon to be able to share Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings with others. When you do so, people who are seeking Buddhism will appear in your environment. It’s also crucial that you speak with as many people as possible about the practice. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of them will take faith right away. But what matters is that you are tenacious as you deepen your bonds of friendship with them, praying every day for their happiness while engaging them in dialogue. If you plant seeds and nurture them with care, they will definitely bloom one day and bear fruit. There’s no need to be impatient.

In addition, even if your friends haven’t joined the Soka Gakkai, you can still bring them to meetings and study and chant together with them. It’s important to let things happen naturally.

At any rate, all your efforts to share Nichiren Buddhism will come back to you as good fortune. Whether or not the other person starts to practice, you are still creating causes for your own attainment of Buddhahood. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 13, revised edition, pp. 156–57)

December 1, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9

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