Shannen Ho Yun Fang
Young Women Division
“Everyone’s ideal is to get a job they like (beauty), that is financially secure (benefit), and where they can contribute to society (good).” These words of Toda Sensei, from The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace series remains my conviction as the resignation wave hits many people around the world. Many of us are rethinking our careers and seeking out jobs that can fulfil the three criteria of beauty, benefit and good. This was a quarter-life crisis that became my prime point in faith with Ikeda Sensei.
In 2020, I was a digital marketer in an arts organisation with a strong desire to promote arts in the community. With the pandemic taking a toll on the arts scene, I started asking myself, “What’s next?” That was when I made the determination to complete 1 million daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) by my birthday month in May. Eventually, I decided to make a career switch to the public sector and transit to a policy related role. Thereafter, I took an introductory certification course in public policy and administration, thinking that would make up for my lack of experience in policymaking. I was wrong.
At the start of 2021, I was hopeful and started sending out job applications, only to receive zero interview requests. In order not to feel disappointed, I initially told myself that I was only casually searching, but as the rejection emails kept coming in, I started to feel a sense of despair. Did my years of work experience count for nothing? Why couldn’t they give me a chance to meet them? I started to feel that I was creating trouble for myself by embarking on the job search.
Never Retreating a Single Step in My Practice
Despite these challenges, I continued to give my all to Soka Gakkai activities. I also encouraged my best friend to start practising Nichiren Buddhism after sharing it with her for over a decade, since secondary school. She saw actual proof and shared her experience at a discussion meeting. Till today, we encouraage each other to chant daily without fail. She is also looking to enshrine the Gohonzon. This mutual support gave me great motivation to not give up on my job search and made me even more determined to show my own actual proof.
I also introduced Nichiren Buddhism to my colleague, sharing with her excerpts from The New Human Revolution and the Daishonin’s Gosho to encourage her when she was struggling with challenges at work and study. She is chanting daimoku and attending meetings now. On top of that, I conducted numerous dialogues and discovered that many others were also rethinking about their careers, which made me feel less alone and isolated during the pandemic.
A few months went by without interview opportunities, and I was unsure how I should move forward. Then one day while chanting I realised that 2030, the Soka Gakkai’s 100th anniversary, was less than a decade away. I would no longer be in the Young Women Division (YWD). Was I really going to give in to stagnation and complacency instead of striving hard in my youth as Sensei’s disciple? This realisation gave me a powerful driving force to fulfil my personal vow to stay at my workplace until the three-year mark, thereafter restarting my job search to achieve a career breakthrough.
I began chanting at least one hour of 30 daimoku a day to find a role where my mission lies as a global citizen, with a 30 per cent salary increment to donate one month of my new salary at the upcoming financial contribution event. These determined prayers manifested in wisdom and courage to relook at my resume and spot the flaws.
I also took the initiative to have dialogues with seniors in faith to seek personal guidance. I was told to be open-minded about carrying on with digital marketing as a non-traditional way to push for policy changes and create impact, and I only needed that one right job to come to me. Besides encouragement in faith, they also gave me practical advice and helped me with interviews, workshops, and review of my resume. My loved ones cheered me on, fully supportive of my decision and continued with prayers for my success. I also wrote a letter to Sensei, striving to win not just for myself, but to support others who may be facing similar struggles.
Finally, four organisations contacted me, and after an intensive two months of challenging interviews, I was offered a marketing manager role in a tech division within the public sector. Beyond my immediate role were opportunities to work on policies to better promote technology for public good in local and international communities. In addition, the salary doubles my previous salary! With the flexible working hours, I am able to participate in Soka Gakkai activities and do even more for kosen-rufu. All these align with my prayers to be a global citizen to contribute even more to society as Sensei’s disciple.
Hours before I received the offer, YWD Chief called to share with me Ikeda Sensei’s message to my letter. There was a specific sentence where he said, “I am praying for your good health and further growth.” I teared up knowing that Sensei had read my letter and was praying for me.
Recently, I made further progress after half a year at this new workplace. I managed to achieve “outperforming level”, with additional bonus for my very first performance appraisal.
Throughout my years of practice, I have always held on to this guidance by Ikeda Sensei: “Prayer is the courage to persevere, it is the struggle to overcome our own weakness and lack of confidence in ourselves. It is the act of impressing in the very depths of our being the conviction that we can change the situation without fail.” Based on the strategy of the Lotus Sutra, I strive to be a person who can bring hope and encouragement to others at work and in life. I am also determined to foster capable successors who will shoulder the future of kosen-rufu, and to introduce one more person to Nichiren Buddhism. Sensei, I will do my best!
(Adapted from May 2022 issue of Creative Life)