Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
I was born with a degenerative retinal disease that has reduced my eyesight to about 13 percent of normal vision. Although there is no cure for the condition, the degenerative effects can be slowed down with vitamins. Practicing Buddhism, however, has helped me develop a positive mindset to face this inevitability. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has allowed me to confront my illness with composure and empowered me to lead a vigorous life, undaunted by the effects of this disease.
I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism in 1988 by my wife, who has practiced this Buddhism since she was young. At the time, I was setting up a joint business venture in the installation of petroleum gas energy equipment. Starting up a new business is never easy. On top of that, I came from a liberal arts background and had no real knowledge of technology or investment. However, with the courage and wisdom developed through my Buddhist practice, as well as a lot of hard work, I surmounted one obstacle after another.
By 1998, my eyesight had deteriorated to such an extent that objects only a few meters away appeared blurry. The condition also made me dizzy and mentally fatigued. In the following years, my eyesight became so bad that I could not recognize the faces of people standing just 10 steps away from me. Despite these obstacles, I continued to succeed.
In 2003, I suddenly found myself in the depths of a bleak winter in my career. China, which was our company’s largest market, unexpectedly transitioned from petroleum gas to natural gas for power generation. This was a huge blow to our business. We were in dire straits.
During the most trying period in his life, Nichiren, the founder of the Buddhism practiced by members of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), wrote, “Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood . . . Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life.”
related article An Open Life by Michele Di Mascio, USA Through practicing Nichiren Buddhism, Michele Di Mascio was able to to come to terms with his homosexuality. Through efforts to support his HIV-infected partner, Michele entered upon a journey with leading world scientists to find a way to eradicate the HIV virus. Nichiren Buddhism offers the profound perspective that problems and suffering are themselves enlightenment. With this conviction, trusting that winter would certainly turn to spring, I resolved not to waver or complain and mustered the determination that we would turn things around.
It took us three years to open the path forward, but eventually we were able to expand our business. Whereas in the past, we could only manage petroleum gas installation projects as one of several subcontractors, we subsequently expanded into the natural gas field and developed the capability to handle projects on our own as the main contractor. Today, our company is well acknowledged in the industry.
For the past decade, I have maintained a limited degree of vision—approximately 10 percent of normal vision—and can function normally in my life and at work. I understand it is impossible to maintain my present vision and it will continue to deteriorate. Still, I have no fear of this.
I am deeply grateful for this practice, which has helped me open the eyes of wisdom in my life. Buddhism has enabled me to treasure the harmonious and inspiring interpersonal relationships I have. I have learned to treat others with greater consideration. I believe everyone who comes into my life can teach me something and help me polish myself. In the same way, I believe that my medical condition has unique meaning. It has honed my determination to lead a victorious and fulfilling life.
[Adapted from an article in the July 29, 2013 issue of Li Ming Sheng Bao (LMSB), SGI-Hong Kong]
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