Developing the Spirit to Follow Through
The World Tribune
The World Tribune interviewed women’s division member Susan Moromisato, of Gar ield, New Jersey, about her experiences as a youth supporting behind the scenes. Susan graduated from the Byakuren Group, a young women’s division training group that supports various activities with the spirit to protect and serve the members on behalf of Ikeda Sensei. World Tribune: Thank you, Susan, for sharing your experiences with us. Can you tell us about why you decided to join the Byakuren Group? Susan Moromisato: Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on my experiences. I joined Byakuren because I really trusted my leaders who encouraged me to do it. They told me that I would get valuable training that I could apply to my daily life and deepen my relationship with Ikeda Sensei. I didn’t know what that meant, but I decided to do it anyway. World Tribune: What was going on in your life? Moromisato: I was very shy and struggling to be myself. I didn’t value my life and felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I was also unclear on what I wanted to do in my life career-wise. When I look back at that time, which was more than 13 years ago, I had a tendency to quit when things became too difficult. By that time, I had dropped out of several colleges, and I had quit a number of jobs. In high school I had attempted to end my life on two occasions. This was my deep tendency. Byakuren was a place where I could challenge all of those things. WT: What benefits did you experience? Moromisato: My first benefit was developing wonderful friendships with my fellow Byakuren sisters. Around them, I felt that I could be myself. We spent a lot of time together and we were each struggling but challenging ourselves to break through together, and that was joyful. One Byakuren member said at the end of a shift that her boyfriend had broken up with her the night before. She shared how devastated she was, but I was blown away by her strength. During her shift, she never lost sight of supporting the members. WT: Wow. That’s wonderful. How did you break through your own life tendencies? Moromisato: Well, my breakthrough came in the form of facing the most challenging Byakuren shift. I supported the SGI-USA Rock the Era festival in 2010 as a Byakuren member. There were many moving parts, and for much of the event, some of us stood in the hot sun with no assignment until the last moment. Up until then, Byakuren shifts had been so joyful, but this was the first time it felt like hell on earth. My deepest karma came to the surface. I felt that I wasn’t valued and was so discouraged that I even questioned why I was still practicing Buddhism. I sought advice from a senior in faith who warmly embraced me and encouraged me to share my honest feedback with my leaders who were in charge. Speaking up for myself was not something I was used to doing, but I challenged myself. If I didn’t speak up, how would people hear me? When I shared, my leaders also warmly listened to and embraced me. What’s interesting is that none of the Byakuren members who were supporting with me that day were discouraged like I was. I realized that it wasn’t about anyone else. I was looking for external validation—someone to make me feel valued. All of my leaders were just doing their best. As a youth in the SGI, I was constantly being praised, which is wonderful. But I hadn’t yet developed the ability to see my own worth. I determined to stop seeking outside of myself and for the first time, I asked myself what I needed to reflect on in my life. Up until then, I had never looked at my own weaknesses with a determination to become stronger. I made a vow to Sensei that no matter what, I would never stop practicing Buddhism with the SGI. WT: What was the source of that vow? Moromisato: Sensei’s encouragement. Sensei’s words were the source of real confidence that came from the inside. Through his guidance, I started asking myself how I could contribute to others rather than asking why others weren’t doing something for me. As I mentioned earlier, my tendency was to quit when things got difficult. But the fact that I didn’t stop practicing at that time was because I made a vow. There was a passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings that I often returned to at that time. It became my “go-to” Gosho. Nichiren Daishonin states in “The Opening of the Eyes”: 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 have doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 283) Making a vow opened the way for me to make determinations and follow through in every aspect of my life. WT: Do you have any advice for youth today? Moromisato: Please don’t worry if you are struggling right now. You are developing a foundation for your life by making causes for others. If you participate in Byakuren sincerely, then you will win. I have transformed and broken through everything since my youth. I’ve developed unshakable confidence, have a wonderful husband and stepchildren, and my career is developing in the most amazing way. Now what drives me to never give up in the face of difficulties is my vow with Sensei. I tell Sensei, “This is what I’m determined to do!” and I always follow through.