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My friend, Nichiren Daishonin

By Larry Loyie, Vancouver

My name is Larry Loyie, and I am a Cree, originally from northern Alberta. Iíve been reading or hearing the writings of Nichiren Daishonin since 1992, when I was introduced to SGI by my partner Constance Brissenden. In 1998, I became a member of SGI.

Many years of my childhood were spent in a residential school. First Nations children were taken from their parents and forced into these schools. We lived in dormitories and rarely saw our families, we ate very poor food, and were used as free labour to pick potatoes, pile wood or do sewing for the school. We were not allowed to speak our native language. If we did, we were severely punished. Overall, it was a life devoid of kindness. I was never encouraged nor appreciated in any way.

After I left the school at 14, the god I was forced to believe in did not exist anymore for me. The people at the school were not good to the children. Thatís why I always felt I never wanted anything to do with religion anymore.

When I got to know SGI and its concepts, I realized that my life goal was to be good. I didnít want to belong to any religious organization but the teachings and the philosophy of SGI are so profound that they helped me see the way I wanted to live my life. When I read the writings (Gosho) of Nichiren Daishonin, I can identify with his feelings.

One of his Gosho that really got to me was Gift of an Unlined Robe (Gosho zenshu, p. 1514)*. It was written to a woman believer who made him a simple summer robe. First off, the Daishonin gives thanks to the woman and her husband for her gracious gift. Then he reassures them that they are certain to attain Buddhahood. In his commentary, President Ikeda wrote, "Their offering was a robe and yet not a robe; in the gift, the Daishonin perceived the heart and very life of his followers."

For me, although the robe was materialistic, it was the thought behind the gift that inspired Nichiren Daishoninís response. He deeply appreciated his followers. In fact, I feel that he didnít see them as his followers but as his true friends. He went through so many hardships, and he truly appreciated them. If you think about it, the robe was thin, and Nichiren was living at Minobu in the mountains which was a harsh environment. I believe he took comfort in the kindness that inspired the gift of the robe. The couple believed in him and this was a comfort. For this the Daishonin was truly grateful. I see this over and over again in his writing.

When I shared my thoughts on this Gosho with SGI members at a district meeting, I got the same feeling. When I told them what I thought about Nichiren Daishonin, they were so appreciative. It made me feel good.

Nichiren Daishoninís writings are what truly inspire me. Itís the deep meanings that I get out of them. In order for me to feel good, to get the benefits out of what he is trying to tell me, I have to really think of what he meant. I spend a lot of time thinking about a Gosho after I hear it. I think about it deeply and how I can put it into practice.

Going into SGI at chanting time is so enlightening for me. I feel very comfortable. Everyone is nice, and that is a far cry from my childhood where I was told every day how to be good and yet the teachers were never good to me.

For me, the benefits are immense. I feel very enlightened after district meetings. I feel Iím progressing, slowly, and getting to know more about what SGI is all about. Nobody is there telling me I what I have to learn and how fast to learn it. I can go at my own speed. I sleep well at night because I have peace of mind.

*See SGI President Daisaku Ikedaís lecture on this Gosho in New Century, December, 1996, page 35.