Having a Mentor in Life Makes One Strong

Tan Mei Yi 
Women Division

When I was born, only my mother was practising Nichiren Buddhism. The rest of my family took up faith later and currently everyone is exerting themselves in the advancement of kosen-rufu.

Whilst growing up my mum taught me how to chant to overcome problems at school. Being a very slow learner, I was often bullied by my primary school classmates. Through chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and actively participating in Soka Gakkai activities, I developed strength to persevere through my academic years, eventually achieving victory in my studies at university.

An Unexpected Career Change
As an English literature graduate, I faced scepticism on perceived “limited” or “irrelevant” career prospects in the corporate world and struggled to find jobs upon graduation.

After seeking Ikeda Sensei’s guidance and chanting for direction, I realised that was the moment for me to expand and grow my life to trailblaze my future. I prayed to be able to create value in whatever I do, wherever I am. I eventually established my career in the banking and financial industry and though the learning curve was very steep, my prayers to break through my limits and create value in my work were answered.

Standing Up to Heartbreak
The rest of my life was on course, but I was deeply confused when it came to matters of the heart. My then boyfriend turned out to be highly manipulative. I felt very lost, and all the toxic negativities made me depressed.

In seeking my mentor, Ikeda Sensei, for wisdom, I came across the following guidance: “Where is happiness to be found? How can we become happy? … Happiness does not lie in outward appearances or in vanity. It is a matter of what we feel inside; it is a deep resonance in our lives.” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 1: Happiness, New Edition published by SGS, p. 40).

I told myself, “I want to be happy; I don’t want to continue like this.” I took responsibility for my personal life and started to pray for a “kosen-rufu partner” – someone who will work for the happiness of oneself and others with me.

The wheels of change started to take effect the moment I poured my life into prayers and that’s when I discovered my then partner’s double life. It was one of the darkest periods of my life and I was emotionally traumatised picking up the pieces. I went about work and life looking normal, but was struggling with depressive mood swings, anger and lots of resentment.

Every day I chanted and read Sensei’s guidance and the Daishonin’s writings to fight against the fundamental darkness within. Despite all the struggles, I was deeply grateful to the Gohonzon as I knew my prayers to clarify the true nature of the relationship had been answered and I was protected from further pain. I started dating my first boyfriend again after seven years apart. Though we decided to try again, it wasn’t easy as time had worn us down and we carried our individual emotional scars. 

Remaining Undefeated in the Face of Cyber Bullying
Our relationship went through the biggest test in 2020 at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. His ex-colleague had an unhealthy obsession for him and started harassing and stalking me on social media. She was very upset that my boyfriend did not return her affection. She was also a blogger and took to social media bullying. We didn’t know each other at all, and it was so unthinkable that a stranger could post all sorts of lies about me on social media. She also targeted my family, friends, and my work. I received accusations and threats from her on all my social media accounts.

Her harassment and work burnout took a toll on my mental health. It also triggered my past trauma and drove me into depression. I was deeply frustrated by her actions and became consumed by much anger and negativity. It also affected my relationship with my boyfriend.

I fought the strong urge to retaliate on social media and instead, redressed my grievances based on faith. I couldn’t bring myself to seek justice through an online war which could cause more hurt to more people. This was also during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic when everyone was struggling with lockdown isolation. I refused to contribute even more negativity to an already depressing online space.

Then, I read The New Human Revolution, on the Osaka incident when Ikeda Sensei was unjustly attacked by the media. I decided to emulate the same undefeated spirit as Sensei. I also reminded myself of my mission to create positive values as Sensei’s disciple and a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism. I did not want to become a vengeful person so I had to seek justice with wisdom, courage and compassion based on faith. I channelled all my grievances into chanting one to three hours Daimoku every day, elevating my life condition to remain strong despite the numerous viral posts, and for the wisdom to seek justice with the best outcome.

Transforming Anger and Resentment into Compassion
As I chanted, I renewed my vow for kosen-rufu to achieve happiness for oneself and others. After some self reflection, I knew I must see beyond all the toxic negativity, and look deep into my life instead. I manifested the wisdom to see that there were three lives hurting — me, my boyfriend, and the blogger. It wasn’t just all about me anymore. I started chanting to overcome my anger and resentment towards the blogger and to transform all this negativity within me by praying for her happiness instead. I started to see her as another human being who was struggling deeply in her personal life and this issue, too lost in her emotions to discern right from wrong.

Concurrently, I prayed to restore the dignity in my life and clear my name. I resolutely shut out the public eyes of social media and focused on chanting for all three of us to move on quickly instead of being stuck in this negativity. The harassed postings eventually stopped after six months, and the blogger publicly apologized for her actions.

Through all these, I also learned to have heartfelt dialogues with my boyfriend. At the height of the crisis, when our spirits were at breaking point, I manifested the courage to tell him that no matter what, let’s turn this negative situation into a positive one so that next time, whether we are together or not, we will look at it as a point of transformative growth in our lives.

My boyfriend was encouraged and touched by my words and that moment became a turning point in our relationship. We learned to open our hearts and appreciate our relationship even more as a shared life mission. This was a breakthrough in our own lives and relationship, and we emerged stronger as individuals and a couple. We married two years later in November 2022.

Giving Others the Light to Shine Even Amid Life’s Harshest Realities
Throughout this journey, faith was my driving force to recovery. As I dedicated myself to kosen-rufu activities and engaged in heart-to- heart dialogue with my Young Women Division members, I appreciated how important it is to encourage the person in front of me to persevere in their own life battles and overcome their own heartbreaks. All it takes is to give another a spark of hope.

Mei Yi (second from left) and her YWD members
after a meeting. Striving with her comrades for
kosen-rufu during this period also encouraged
her to bravely face the challenges.

Recalling how Ikeda Sensei took beautiful pictures and wrote poems to encourage others, I started photography to inspire others through creative expression. With every step forward, I truly felt a deep appreciation of my personal growth and realized what it means to transform poison into medicine while creating value in the process, and to feel a deep sense of joy!

Inspired by Ikeda Sensei, Mei Yi took up photography to
inspire people around her with her works. The photo on
the right is a photo taken by Mei Yi.

Looking back, my prayers to be happy were fully answered. Happiness is indeed not something that can be sought from outside. It is the ability to manifest wisdom, courage and compassion from within oneself to create hope and happiness wherever we are in our daily lives. My experience also made me more aware of cyber bullying and mental health struggles – issues that have become more acute in this day and age.

Ikeda Sensei shares, “Just as the pure white lotus flower blooms unsoiled in muddy water, our lives, which are supremely noble, can continue to shine even amid life’s harshest realities.” I am eternally grateful to have a mentor whom I can learn the way of life from. As a part of The New Human Revolution Generation, I am determined to strive towards 2030 with Sensei, fulfilling my mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth to create a difference in the lives of others and bring them the light of hope!

(Adapted from April 2023 issue of Creative Life)