It all took place at Caledon, it's like a Buddhist retreat, but it's also available for the public when it's not being used by SGI members. The 4 days are filled with chanting, lectures about Buddhist writings, planetary citizenship, experiences, entertainment, great food and of course endless chatting with women from all over Canada. I organized a forum theatre presentation based on the SGI-USA youth Victory over Violence program.
All the women had to carve time from their busy lives and families to attend this year's conference. Even though I, like the other Western region members, suffered from jet lag, I still stayed up late talking with my roommate, sharing my troubles and exchanging encouragement.
I heard an experience from a petite, musically gifted woman who overcame uterine fibroid cancer. I can't tell her whole experience but she told us how full of gratitude she was for her fellow members who chanted nonstop for her recovery. Another woman related how fellow members who through deep compassion for her, she decided that she owed it to them to fight for her own life. One woman shared shared how her chronic illness lead to to contribute to a new protocol for a metropolitan hospital patient program. Late night conversations continued into the night over cookies and coffee or in the dorm rooms in our pajamas.
I told my roommate, whom I had known while I was in the Young Women's Group a few years ago, my tale of infertility woe. She, like many of other young women I had shared so many good times, had gone on to marriage and children. The last time I had spent any time with her I had brought her first son a stuffed toy. She was so kind to me, so caring.
Senior leaders gave guidance to those who wanted it in private rooms. Now these leaders are women who have practiced for many, many years and they never tell you what to do. It's primarily guidance, inspiration and encouragement based on the writings of our mentor, Pres. Ikeda or the gosho (writings/letters from Nichiren Daishonin). What was my guidance?
I was encouraged to realize that my mission just may be to comfort those who have suffered through what I have. To find value in this mission. I can still be a mother, it just may not be in the way I expected. I may have had lots of children in another lifetime (who cares, what about this lifetime). I was encouraged to change my attitude to one of appreciation about what I do have. There was more, but basically, that was the message.
Definition of a Bodhisattva
After the rise of Mahayana, bodhisattva came to mean anyone who aspires to enlightenment and carries out altruistic practice. Mahayana practitioners used it to refer to themselves, thus expressing the conviction that they would one day attain Buddhahood. In contrast with the Hinayana ideal embodied by the voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones who direct their efforts solely toward personal salvation, Mahayana sets forth the ideal of the bodhisattva who seeks enlightenment both for self and others, even postponing one's entry into nirvana in order to lead others to that goal. The predominant characteristic of a bodhisattva is therefore compassion.
So that makes me a Bodhisattva of Infertility? Well, if that's the case,there are many bodhisattvas of infertility out there. (I'm thinking of Pamela Jeanne in particular.) In attempting to discover our own enlightenment and share it with others, we are bodhisattvas of the earth.
I also received guidance through another friend. She told me that I seem to be always
talking about walls, how every way I seem to be blocked in my life, how much I analyzed and agonized about what to do and how I should do it. My roommate chimed in she remembered something that Pres. Ikeda once wrote. If the path before me is blocked, then fly. Tears flooded my eyes. I've been so scared of not being able to control things that cannot be controlled. What if we can't get the money? What if we invite more heartache and disaster into our lives by adopting? And now I could understand that all that worrying, fretting, trying to intellectualize my way out of my hell just resulted in depression and helplessness.
If the path before me is blocked, then fly. I know what this means for me. What does it mean to you?