January 2016 By Mamlu Chatterjee Through dedication, faith in her mentor, and sincere practise of Buddhist chanting, Mamlu Chatterjee created a joyous, successful and balanced life for herself “While it is important to win, it’s even more important to remain undefeated, no matter what happens” ~ Daisaku Ikeda These words of my mentor, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International, always flummoxed me in my early days of practice. It took many years of study, several hard knocks and a gradual erosion of arrogance and anger to understand it in all its profundity. The story I am sharing, is neither of great victory over a huge crisis or illness, nor is it about a windfall or winning a lottery; but about my continued practise of Soka Gakkai for almost 30 years, and the wealth it brought into my life. I am merely an English Honours graduate with no special qualifications. As I was growing up, I was not particularly ambitious and was not sure of what I wanted to do, whether I wanted a career or not. I started working so I would not need to ask my father for money and, around the same time, got deeply involved in theatre. I got married within a year of joining theatre and had to go to live in the tea gardens with my husband where there was no opportunity for me to work. To cut a long story short, I had no qualifications, no experience, no godfathers and certainly no special abilities that could cause employers to line up at my door. However, what I did have was a deep conviction and an abiding belief that through faith and a diligent polishing of the self, I could change any situation for the better. I could change my life! For 13 years I practised all alone in the tea gardens, with only the newsletters religiously sent by my mother to guide me, chanting facing a blank wall, because I did not have the necessary object of worship. I have spent years trying to scrub away layers of arrogance, melt down a vicious temper, swallow every single grumble. Till today, I practice assiduously and try to create good causes every single day. Daisaku Ikeda: A source of guidance and inspiration to millions of practitioners the world over Thanks to this (it could not be anything else), an amazing job almost literally fell into my lap as soon as I moved back to Calcutta. I worked hard and followed Sensei’s guidelines about ‘shining in your workplace’. This was just the beginning. This job led to another and another and another. I was not only acquiring special skills but also being trained to accomplish work that I had never imagined I would be able to do. I used all my Buddhist training at my workplace and created so much trust that I am still considered precious by my first employers! The discipline instilled by my practice has stood me in great stead everywhere and continues to do so. Today, I am very busy, working voluntarily, with a residential blind school, and as an editor for a South-Asia Region Newsletter for YPO (Young President’s Organisation). Besides this I look after my old and ailing in-laws, run an active book club, and have quite a hectic social life. I trained for a year to become an image consultant and practised it for some years as well. Amidst all these occupations I try to remain calm and balanced, and to keep my husband and children happy at all times. There is absolutely no way I would have been able to accomplish all this had I not ensured my participation in all my Buddhist practises and done my best to remain accessible to all my precious family members who depend on me. Since I centre my life around my practice, I am able to do everything, without going mad! So when I recently started taking a writing workshop at my ripe old age people smiled indulgently, but not without a trace of admiration. With a mentor like Sensei Ikeda, I continue to be inspired to learn as much as possible, from anyone, regardless of my age. Meanwhile good things continue to happen. Not so good things happen too but they do not have the power to upset my equilibrium because I know that I have something that will help me get past every hurdle, every hiccup. With my strong faith, I brought back my father-in-law from the jaws of death, not just once, but twice. When he was delirious and sinking in the ICU, I mustered every ounce of faith, picturing him, strong, radiant, walking upright into the house. Today, he is 92 and going strong! Every day that opens, gives me so many opportunities to touch someone’s heart; to make a difference to someone’s life, to infuse joy into a little passage that I am writing, to encourage someone who is struggling, to be aware of the importance of being healthy because there is so much work to do! I am so grateful to know that there is so much that is beautiful in life and so much to do. With this practice as my backbone I am never bored or frustrated. I have a host of friends, a beloved family, and a determination to shine as an example of Sensei’s disciple wherever I go. About the author: Mamlu is a communicator, aspiring writer, storyteller, avid book clubber, editor, theatre person, inveterate traveller, and trained image consultant, in addition to being a seeker.
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