Around three years ago, I started to practice meditating on my own. I was under a lot of stress in my daily life, especially at work. I often got angry, though it felt normal as I was surrounded by others in the same state. All this was very tiring, and I was aware that the situation was unlikely to improve. Feeling that this could not go on indefinitely and needing a way to reduce my stress, calm my mind, and bring a sense of peace, I started to meditate.
For two years, meditation helped me to bring my emotions under better control, but after a while it was no longer enough. Though I’d started with a therapeutic interest in meditation, I began to be curious about its religious aspects, and after some study I felt ready to deepen my practice and begin my journey out of suffering by joining a community, or sangha. On my request, a good friend of mine introduced me to the Shinnyo teachings. As soon as I arrived at the temple I felt at home. I felt I had come to the end of a long search, and was happy and grateful to be there. Since that day, I have learned a great deal.
Now I know that most of my suffering derived from taking the wrong approach to problems. I suffered at work because I felt jealous toward my colleagues and couldn’t accept them for who they were. I suffered in my private life because I was selfish and thought only of my own happiness. I suffered in general because I was blinded by selfish desires, greed, envy, and anger, and judged people on my own standards of right and wrong. I clung to what I believed was important for directing my life and behaving well in society.
Slowly I came to realize that generating negative emotions and states of mind was increasing my suffering and affecting my surroundings like a contagion. I came to understand that my suffering was my own doing, and it was up to me to end it. Acknowledging this was the big step I took in the first six months of my practice at Shinnyo‑en.
I stopped judging people and started to acknowledge their suffering. I tried my best to help and comfort them, and the more I did it, the happier I felt. This is the gift of Shinnyo‑en.
I learned, furthermore, that true joy would bloom in my heart once I began to offer lovingkindness to others, give some of my time to reach out to others, and overcome the egoistic barriers I had built up. Step by step, I lost my reluctance to support charitable organizations and began to give happily to worthy causes. I stopped judging people and started to acknowledge their suffering. I tried my best to help and comfort them, and the more I did it, the happier I felt. This is the gift of Shinnyo‑en. But what I experienced two months ago had a decisive impact.
For the last seven or eight years, one side of my family has been torn apart by a legal battle over an inheritance. My aunt on my father’s side was known to be greedy, selfish, and proud, someone who would never concede defeat. Over a period of eight years my family went to court three times, and although my father proposed to settle the quarrel by giving my aunt what she wanted, my aunt had refused, claiming that justice would be on her side. Last year a new round of legal proceedings began, and then in October we learned that my cousin, the only daughter of this aunt, had given birth after years of trying. The pregnancy had been hidden from the whole family on my aunt’s wishes, so we were a bit late with the congratulations.
Most people wrote to my cousin directly while ignoring my aunt due to the ongoing lawsuit, but at that time I acknowledged that I felt nothing but happiness both for my cousin and my aunt. Everyone knew that my cousin had gone through so much suffering, including severe depression, to have this baby, and I knew that my aunt longed for grandchildren of her own to fill the emptiness in her heart. I wrote a simple email that said that I was overjoyed for them and the new life of love and affection that would begin with the little baby.
Then I started to offer prayers for the baby, who had been born prematurely at 28 weeks.
Then I started to offer prayers for the baby, who had been born prematurely at 28 weeks. I asked for the blessing of the dharma protectors, and kept his name in my morning and evening chanting for a week. I began to add the name of the baby’s mother and then that of my aunt as well. Day by day, as the list of names grew, I remembered that my aunt’s husband was suffering from a chronic disease that had paralyzed his hand, so I prayed for him too, along with my aunt, my cousin, and her baby. I realized the whole family was suffering and I wanted it to end with a new start around this little baby. For this I dedicated my daily chants and prayers.
A week later, my aunt replied to me with a warm email, thanking me and asking for news and pictures of my children. Shortly after, my father called me and said, “You will never guess what happened today!” It turned out that my cousin had called my father and got my aunt to invite us for lunch that Sunday. In eight years, this had not happened once. Then we had lunch, and it was perfect: everyone was in good spirits, the little baby was adorable, and we spent the whole day at my cousin’s place. A few days later, my father told me with some emotion in his voice that my aunt had called just to get news and ask if we were well.
I can’t explain it logically, but nevertheless it’s real. I can’t express how grateful I am today to have found the Shinnyo teachings, which help us take control of our lives and change them for the better through our spiritual growth.
This was the first time I had felt it, but I have no doubt in my mind that my prayers and actions were supported by the Shinnyo Parents (the founders of Shinnyo‑en). The Shinnyo Path, which reflects the way the Shinnyo Parents lived their lives, inspired me to care about my cousin’s family despite our conflicts and encouraged me to act with sincerity for their well-being. I feel that the timeless support that the Shinnyo Parents represent—the inspiration and encouragement we gain from their example—had a direct effect on my life and family. I can’t explain it logically, but nevertheless it’s real. I can’t express how grateful I am today to have found the Shinnyo teachings, which help us take control of our lives and change them for the better through our spiritual growth.
If you had asked me six months ago if Shinnyo‑en had changed my life, I would have told you, “Maybe, but I really don’t know for sure.” Today I can say without hesitation: “Yes, it has.”
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