I received an e-mail the other day from one of my gal-friends. The e-mail was about how this gal from India manage to overcome her problems and achieve her deepest desires through Nichiren Daishonin's practise. Soka Gakkai International is an buddhist organization that aims to promote peace, culture and education. It's membership has grown to over 190 countries all over the
world. Members pray to the Gohonzon, which is the object of worship. By praying to the gohonzon, we will be able to see our own weaknesses and be able to overcome watever problems we have. Sensei is our SGI president, Daisaku Ikeda.
Just wanted to share her very inspiring experience. =)
Pavitra Kavya Rao,
Student Division Kick-off Meeting,
Santa Ana Community Centre,
September 24, 2006.
Good Morning Everyone!
Today I am sharing my recent experience with deepest gratitude to the Gohonzon & Sensei. My name is Pavitra and I am a sophomore student at Soka University of America.
18th of June, 2006 was my nineteenth birthday and the day I received my dismissal letter from Soka University of America. Soka University of America has been my dream since elementary school and on that day I felt the pain of seeing my dream break down in front of my eyes.
When my mother became a member of Bharat Soka Gakkai, I was young. I observed her doing morning and evening prayers very diligently and chanting long hours of Daimoku. As I noticed positive changes in our family, I started attending Gakkai meetings with my mother. The atmosphere at the meetings gave me joy and I felt a strong bond developing with Sensei in my heart. My leaders shared about Sensei’s life with me.
At the age of 7, I started praying to study in the Soka School .
In 1997, when I was 10 years old, Sensei visited India and I was fortunate to encounter Sensei when I, along with other Future Division members danced in front of Sensei. I had an eye contact with Sensei and my bond strengthened and I felt a great inner transformation. Seeing Sensei became the turning point of my life. Seeing my mentor gave me the confidence to achieve the impossible dream of studying at Soka University of America.
I had many experiences in faith. My personality changed from an intensely introverted to an outgoing, confident person. Improved financial karma, developing the ability to becoming a theatre actress, good relations with people to name a few.
I also always felt responsible about Zadenkai. I felt the need to become the one strong lion that would stand by Ikeda Sensei.
I made Soka University of America my academic dream college. From a failing student to an average student to excelling in academics it was a challenge. But so was the dream of Soka University of America. In my high school, especially I was faced with many challenges but managed to overcome them through following correct faith, practice and study. Keeping Soka University of America as my only option of college too helped strengthen my determination.
When I got admission to the fifth class of Soka University of America on March 16th, 2005 I felt that I had won. I was very happy. Little did I know that the challenges had only begun?
Nichiren Daishonin writes in the Gosho, Dragon Gate “In China there is a waterfall called the Dragon Gate. Its waters plunge a hundred feet, more swiftly than an arrow shot by a strong archer. It is said that thousands of carp gather in the basin below, hoping to climb the falls, and that any which succeed will turn into a dragon. However, not a single carp out of a hundred, a thousand or even ten thousand can climb the falls, not even after ten or twenty years. Some are swept away by the strong currents, some fall prey to eagles, hawks, kites and owls, and others are netted, scooped up, or even shot with arrows by fishermen who line either bank of the wide falls. Such is the difficulty of a carp becoming a dragon.”
I too had determined such a big Dream. Obviously the difficulties were going to be many.
My knee injury in August 2006 made me miss classes for long. This was the starting of my trials and challenges. I dipped in studies. And due to a dismal performance in the first semester, I was put on academic probation in the spring 2006 semester. I did not tell my parents or friends as I thought they would worry and I was confident to pull through. I was bogged down when I did not become an RA, SOL etc. I found that everything I aspired for did not happen. I seemed to have used up my good fortune in getting the admission to Soka University of America. I was also harboring doubts and complaints and was constantly questioning as to why is this happening to me when I have been practicing for so long?
During this period of dilemma, I was experiencing a feeling of false confidence which made me arrogant and feel that I would pull through easily. I underestimated this problem and instead of looking inwards, I seek the law outside. Instead of relying on the strategy of the Lotus Sutra, I applied my own strategies.
Therefore I was very shocked to receive my grades, on the day I was leaving for home for the summer, which showed that I had 0.18 points, less than what the school required. I realized that dismissal was imminent. I left for India with a heavy heart.
When I reached home I still couldn’t inform my parents about this shocking news of my academic dismissal. I still hoped to petition and return to Soka University of America.
The letter from Soka University of America reached my home on June, 18th. Although my parents were shattered, they promised to stand by me. I saw my mother fight in faith with a renewed vigor. This made me realize the importance of the three pillars of our practice - Faith, Practice and Study. Last year, although I would chant and attend meetings, I was not able to study Gosho or New Human Revolution. I was becoming lazy in faith. My complaining attitude and neglect to the inner details of my life was a result of my disregard to the Gohonzon.
However, this time around, I had no complaints in my heart. I realized that losing by a minute margin was a message from the Gohonzon and I needed to understand with my life. This was an opportunity to grow in faith and as a person. I always remained in high life condition. I took guidance. I was told to attack this problem with Daimoku and pray to understand the purpose of studying in Soka University of America. Towards this I started chanting longer hours of Daimoku and read Sensei’s guidance to the Students Division in Newsletters, New Human Revolution like Young Eagles chapter. I worked hard for the July Youth Meeting in India . I felt lot of negativity coming out from within but I continued to work and praying for my petition to be accepted by Soka University of America. I was helping in writing the script of the play on Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate who founded the Vishwa Bharati University then called Shantiniketan. Sensei had received a prestigious award from this university in May, 2006.
The more I prayed, the more negativity surfaced. It was an intense internal struggle but many members and seniors supported me and stood by me. Also, following the three guidelines of faith, practice and study really helped me. I was also able to act in the play. The play was a roaring success and was highly appreciated by all. It was all due to an excellent teamwork. I made many friends in the process.
I now received the long awaited reply from the petition committee. They said that I can join Soka University of America in spring 2007 after completing 12 units of college course from any accredited college in the United States . I was shattered thinking that I will never see Soka University of America again... never see the wonderful friends I had made over the last year. I stepped up my Daimoku and spoke to the Dean. He agreed to allow me to take these units in India . But admissions to colleges in India were over by May and there is no semester system in Indian colleges. I realized this would mean a setback of more than two years before reapplying to Soka University of America for admission. The situation was IMPOSSIBLE. Following lines of Sensei gave me hope.
“Result is a reflection of your faith in the Gohonzon. Whatever you are thinking in front of the Gohonzon will be true for you. Are you thinking failure or victory? Are you trying to tell the Gohonzon how to solve your problems or are you turning over your heart’s desire with unlimited trust to the Gohonzon? The Gohonzon’s power is beyond the comprehension of our minds. This is why we call it mystic. Our challenge is to dream of results as big as the power of the Gohonzon, which has no limit. With this attitude of faith, you can tap the infinite power of joy, gratitude and victory. If you find you are stuck, pray to release the chains of doubt & fear clouding your mind of faith. Pray for unbounded confidence & courage to win over your past & joyfully step into your bright future.”
The more the situation became impossible more was the support I received from my leaders. I got the encouragement to chant 10 hours everyday and I was able to do 6-7hrs. Day after day I challenged to do longer hours of Daimoku and studied Sensei’s guidance to understand my true purpose of studying in Soka University of America.
I kept Aug 18th as a deadline and fought in faith. I helped with the elementary school division meetings to become joyful and also participated in Zadenkai and study meetings. The communication from Soka University of America on 18th August was negative. I kept 24th and then 30th August as next deadlines. But the situation remained negative. My original ticket which was booked to the 4th of September too got cancelled. Every time I felt shattered my faith & practice and the support of leaders pulled me up. I tried to rise like the phoenix as per Sensei’s guidance. School was starting on the 7th September.
I decided to do the 12 units from a vocational college and apply to Soka University of America in spring 2007. When I wrote to the IERF, I received a message that they do not recognize this college. I had no other option now and was shocked as this would mean that I could not join even in the Spring Semester. This probably also meant that I would never be able to go back to Soka University of America.
It was the night of Sep 5th and with two days to go. I made fresh resolves in faith and determined to live as a Soka student. That night I realized as to why this had happened to me?
1. Ikeda Sensei joined faith when he was 19 years old. Sensei says that the nineteenth year in youth is the toughest challenge. Sensei had done a few million Daimoku to understand his mission and purpose in this practice. I was not doing enough Daimoku and this problem was going to help me expand my life in order for me to become a youth of Sensei’s expectations.
2. The Student Division 50th anniversary is in June, 2007. This was an opportunity given by the Gohonzon to me to challenge my weaknesses and negativity and emerge 100% victorious.
3. I am now practicing for more than a decade and this problem was a test by the Gohonzon to refresh my practice and emerge as a Soka youth with a renewed sense of purpose and focus.
I determined that it is important to live by the Soka values and as a true disciple of Sensei wherever I am. I decided to live by Soka values even if I could not return to Soka University of America. I was truly happy for all my friends in Soka University of America and cherished their friendship and support. I thanked the Gohonzon for this problem in my life that gave me as gift, people who strongly supported and cherished me. I went to sleep with this clarity in my heart. Throughout the night my mother chanted for me with pride in my decision.
On the 6th morning there was a call from Soka University of America. The academics committee had reviewed my case at a professor’s call. She had confidence in me and they decided to give me a chance to prove myself. She was truly a shoten zenjin and I was amazed at this complete turn around of events. I was overjoyed and calm.
This was truly a reflection of my inner transformation.
I take this opportunity to thank my parents, family members and friends who stood by and trusted in me. I am grateful to the leaders who helped strengthen my faith and connected me to Sensei. Thanks to my faith mother who chanted 5 hours for me everyday and my faith brother who helped me to expand my inner life with abundant Daimoku.
I am happy to report that I joined Soka University of America on the 8th of September. Some of the amazing benefits which I received were getting an incredibly cheap ticket, even cheaper than what I had initially bought for. Also, after getting back on Campus, I was able to get back all my classes I wanted which had been dropped from my schedule due to the dismissal decision.
I have no words to thank Sensei and the Gohonzon.
Today I determine to practice till the last moment of my life walking the path of mentor and disciple with Ikeda Sensei. I also determine to live by the Soka values throughout my life.
Thank You very much…