But the fear of death brought in me a deep anxiety. I constantly thought of who would be the next to die. I developed eating disorders and lost a lot of weight. I went to work as if I were sleepwalking. I also began to wonder if my life had any meaning.
I would always chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon to get through this struggle. Though I was determined to win, I ran into another wall when I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Though I was going through a bad time, this diagnosis nevertheless shocked me, as I imagined myself to be a happy, carefree person.
After overcoming my initial shock, I strengthened my resolve even further, and this kept me going and helped me overcome doubts. Buddhism teaches that nothing happens in life happens by chance. Everything has a profound meaning.
While chanting, I would always ponder if I could free myself from the winter of depression and see spring. I studied President Ikeda’s works voraciously and resolved to put his teachings into practice with courage and compassion. Other than The New Human Revolution, I also earnestly studied his lectures on the writings of Nichiren.
Studying Buddhism gave me immense hope, as well as the selfless support and encouragement I received from SGM members. They would accompany me to activities and home visits. I would share my journey in faith and challenges with members just as I am, and many have responded to my efforts by saying, “If you can fight this, so can I!” Encouraging members and friends gave me immense joy and made me confident I can overcome my “winter.”
What seemed like unbearable misery and pain became a turning point in life. I am indebted to my brother and cousin, whose deaths, though unfortunate, helped me learn about my inner darkness. Nichiren said, “First of all learn about death, and then about other things.” (WND-2, pg 759) They helped me perceive my life with great compassion, and helped me win over my fear and depression, which gripped me for eight long years.
I consistently share Nichiren Buddhism with others and, together with my sister, have successfully enabled 10 friends to begin practising. Two of them have even received the Gohonzon.
In the midst of striving for the happiness of others with all my might in the last few years, I experienced a health issue. I had to undergo angioplasty as 75% of my heart’s arteries were blocked. Though serious, I am grateful it was discovered early enough and underwent treatment successfully. I believe I have been given the gift of life and vowed to dedicate my life to the happiness of others.
My brother’s and cousin’s deaths have taught me a profound lesson about life. I am determined to fulfil my vow and repay my debt of gratitude to my mentor President Ikeda, and strive for the happiness of others and live a life without regret.
Adapted from the September 2020 issue of COSMIC.