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Finding My Unique Mission

by Akruti Choksi
India

Fredrik Hultman

I love children and I love animals. That is why I had always thought I would become either a veterinarian or a child psychologist. But instead, 10 years ago, I took up dentistry, a field which my parents chose for me and which at that time did not interest me at all. I failed my first year of dentistry. My friend consoled me, telling me that this setback was temporary and crucial to finding my unique purpose or mission in life, and introduced me to the philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda says, "Wherever you are is exactly where you need to be, so you must strive there to the best of your ability." That is how it was for me from that time on. As I continued to practice, I started enjoying dentistry and completed the course. I was also able to make time for all the things I loved doing. I rescued orphaned and sick kittens, puppies and rabbits, and even an injured pony. I volunteered my time with physically and mentally challenged children.

The next logical thing for me to do after my Bachelor of Dental Surgery was to combine my twin interests, children and dentistry, and do my postgraduate in pediatric dentistry. I tried for three years but did not get admission into the course.

I established my dental practice but I felt incomplete. I wondered what my unique mission was. I began to chant to figure it out.

I had heard about dental care for horses, or equine dentistry. I thought only vets could study equine dentistry, but I found out about a three-month course I could do at the New Zealand Equine Dentistry School (NZEDS).

In bitter winter, I went to study in the sleepy little town of Tuakau. My three months there were the most memorable of my life. The important thing I learned there was to think of every horse as a unique individual. This course offered a lot of hands-on work. I worked with more than 800 horses of various breeds, which gave me the confidence to start my own business in India.

I completed the course and came back home, where the real struggle began. I was the first dentist having trained in human dentistry to practice equine dentistry in India; as a human dental surgeon, I work at two clinics in Mumbai.

People are amazed to see a female dentist working with horses in a maledominated industry. Some vets were arrogant and disrespectful in the beginning but now take me as an equal. And those who discouraged me from working in India, saying there was no future in this profession, ended up helping me by suggesting my name to the senior vet at a racecourse. Dental care is very important for performance horses.

In January last year, I started my career with one of the best trainers in India and I am the first Indian to have become a member of the International Association of Equine Dentistry. I now work with a number of privately owned horses as well as most of the trainers at the Mumbai and Pune racecourses.

I am also happy to be able to spend time, along with my fellow SGI members, helping encourage and foster youth as capable leaders for the future.

Whatever I am, whatever I have achieved so far, has been because of my Buddhist practice. As Nichiren says, "A blue fly, if it clings to the tail of a thoroughbred horse, can travel ten thousand miles . . . " I am the "blue fly" determined to travel tens of thousands of miles clinging to the tail of the "thoroughbred horse," the practice of the Lotus Sutra. 

[Courtesy October 2013 SGI Quarterly]

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