This story highlights how I was a believer in the philosophy of this Buddhism even before I officially became a practitioner.
The first part of the story is highlighted in “My first Spiritual Transformation“. I will talk about the relevant parts from that story here since it is quite long. To know the more detailed and step-by-step version, read the link provided above.
I was just 11 years old when my aunt, a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism since 10 years, shared a few words of wisdom with me. She told me that “true happiness comes without a reason and that materialistic bliss is not true bliss. In order to be truly happy, we must not depend on anything or put conditions on our happiness. We must work on a greater goal of making everyone around us happy. This way, we can be happy anywhere and in all circumstances.” At that time, I was in a low life condition. I used to feel bad about myself because I thought I was very fat. Eating made me feel better and hence I would binge. However, on hearing the quote shared by my aunt, my life completely changed.
I simply applied this Buddhist principle of true happiness and decided to be happy with whatever I had and offer gratitude. I started listening to music, walking in evenings and studying harder simply because life wasn’t to be wasted being unhappy, quoting from the teachings of the Buddha. My grades went up, I was extremely positive and hence made new friends. I lost about 2 kilos because of walking and I controlled my diet. I stopped overeating and felt proud of myself.
This transformation in my attitude truly inspired me and I developed a new zeal for life. My issues with my old friends solved, I made even more friends, discovered my passion for music and was simply on a roll. Even though I wasn’t practicing ND Buddhism, I was subconsciously living by its principles and I was certain that my victories were a result of application of this Buddhist principle, hence experiencing the benefits as a practitioner would.
I started having new realizations like “we attract whatever happens in life” and that “nothing happens by chance”. I became a huge optimist and felt that one should exploit the power of positive thinking in life, that there’s no reason ever to be sad, and happiness is everything. I made new determinations so that I could preserve my spirit of optimism. I swore to never ever cry again, always be happy and to never discriminate against anyone, hence unconditionally accepting everyone. I sought the solution to sadness as distracting myself into activities that I enjoy and am passionate about, such as watching sitcoms and listening to rock music. I wanted to “teach others how to be happy”, and that was the first time I got the epiphany of wanting to be a counselor. (Note how all these beliefs are a part of the Nichiren Buddhist philosophy- being happy, karma, unconditional acceptance etc.)
I had many victories thereafter, like having immense confidence, exploring my creative potential formally by joining professional dance and guitar classes, traveling to many countries and enhanced social skills. I don’t think I could have achieved any of these amazing things without the knowledge that I had realized, starting from that Buddhist quote.
Soon enough, as devil attack are a natural part of one’s practice, I started encountering a lot of hardships- such as having my disagreements with conservative social norms and a serious cross cultural crisis. (Read about them here) I fought hard against these issues, often emerging victorious, but with other kinds of issues developing instead like taking a lot of stress and overdoing things.
Subsequently, my identity crisis turned into a major anxiety issue and things went downhill. I wasn’t able to enjoy my passions and was scared of my own potential. As a result, I was sabotaging my growth and progress. Balance was something that was really missing from my life at that point, but I wasn’t able achieve it. (Read about it here)
I could not save myself by using the true happiness technique, for when I had tried, I failed too many times. I was frustrated, and needed answers. I even resorted to seeing a therapist for a few months. I felt defeated, because I knew I was begrudging the most beautiful philosophy by being unhappy. This guilt stuck with me for a long time.
Thankfully, the same aunt who had introduced me to the concept of true happiness initially started inviting me for meetings and mystically, my best friend from tuition who was also a very close colony friend, finally encouraged me to attend a meeting. The first meeting that I attended, I enjoyed the sound of Nam Myoho Renge kyo. However, what really hit me was the concept that was being discussed. They were talking about all the principles that I had earlier realized – true happiness, abundance, creativity, intuition,karma, equality and acceptance etc.
I knew I had reached the right place and could be saved now. It took time for me to connect the dots and realize that the practice was what was truly missing from my life. I felt like I already knew most parts of the philosophy, and just had to start challenging myself to apply the concepts that I wasn’t applying earlier which were leading me to have those issues.
It was destiny for me to become a practitioner. It came to my life at the right time- just when I was afraid of my own potential, which meant that I was afraid of my Buddhahood (one’s Buddhahood is one’s highest potential), which is what people primarily chant for and try to achieve during the course of their practice. It was crazy that just what I feared in me was what people are making efforts tirelessly for to achieve. I was in an identity crisis, but the philosophy had an answer for that too. The philosophy beloved that we are all Bodhisatvas of the earth, who awaken to their unique mission when they join the practise!
If applying just a part of the philosophy could change my life 360 degrees especially at such a tender age, I knew that practicing wholeheartedly by chanting and attending meetings could do even more wonders for me throughout my life. I was not going to begrudge this opportunity to change my karma. Today, I know that I was meant to be here and a have a huge purpose to serve, owing to the mystical nature of my connection to the practice.