Listen to our latest 'phlog' below
I first came across the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin in 1977 in Brighton. I was living in a 'Friends of the Western Buddhist Order' community at the time when a man I met in the street told me I was practicing the wrong type of Buddhism. I was not very impressed. Eight years later in 1985 I was at Art College in Falmouth, Cornwall feeling lost and depressed. I was meditating but all I seemed to achieve was a deeper sensitivity to the pain in my life. Thatcher and Reagan were talking openly about waging nuclear war and there were warheads being deployed around the country and I was very frightened.
From out of my unhappiness I connected with a deep resolve to find an answer to my problems. Despite my own cleverness I did not have any answers. I knew someone at the College called Rasmus Sexton who had tried to introduce me to Nichiren Buddhism but I had repeatedly rebuffed him. Indeed, he had given me an introductory magazine but although it had lain by my bed for over a year I had not even opened it. I went to his house and asked him to teach me how to chant. We sat together in front of his Buddhist altar as he explained what to do. We began to chant together for twenty minutes as I gazed fixedly at the strange lettering on the Gohonzon, the scroll that depicts our Buddha nature. In those twenty minutes all of my suffering disappeared as if it had evaporated. I felt happiness well up from within me. I felt a profound personal connection with all of life as if I were remembering who I was, as if It had been there all the time and I came quickly to realise that no matter how much malice there was in my environment it could not harm me. I was life. I had found my answer. I had finally awakened to the Buddha nature.
I was not comfortable getting involved in an organised religion but slowly over time I came to understand the reality of the SGI and that this community of Buddhists holds the eternal goal of achieving world peace and that it is essential that we are never passive members but enlightened activists who share heart to heart our contributions towards this goal with intelligence, freedom and faith with each other and with our great teacher President Ikeda. When Sensei talks about achieving world peace he is taking about something we actually achieve in our lives every day that will eventually become the emancipation of all people on Earth. In all the years since I first chanted I have stayed true to this. My emancipation and every one else's emancipation, this is why I practice.