A Mouse Story . . . By Brittany (age 13)
It is a well-known fact that when you have a pet, you have to feed it food. Some animals eat pellets while others eat other animals because that's all a part of life. One of the most common "feeder animals" (a feeder is an animal that's used for food) is mice, which is what this story is about.
When Barbara, a women's division member, got a job at a local pet store, she loved all of her job except giving away the mice for food. Being smart, she quickly found a solution.
Whenever anyone wanted to buy the mice, she would ask if they were for pets or feeders. If the person answered feeder, she would chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times to the mice so they could have a better life next time.
A few months after Barbara got her job, my sister, Alicia, got a job there as a cashier. One day, someone brought some mice to the checkout counter to buy, and my sister commented on how cute the mice were. Then she asked if they were for pets or feeders. The person said, "Feeders, and don't be praying over them, because the last three I got that were prayed over got away!"
So that ends the story of the true mouse benefit.
[from Aug. 28, 2000, World Tribune, p. 11, col. 4]
By Idonarose . . . Experience 12 years old
My friend Ashlee and I are best buddies. It was a really sad day for us when her Mom decided they would leave Santa Barbara and go to live in Utah.
We met in Elementary School and were both in Junior High when she left.
We kept in contact by email and phone. Her Dad lives in L. A., so she came back for Summer. Mom said Ashlee was welcome to spend a week with us.
We were so excited to see each other and giggled a lot over the phone, planning all the things we were going to do when she got here.
Ashlee arrived on Tuesday afternoon and we all went to the cabin up in the mountains. The weather was great and in the evening we went for a swim in the pond. We stayed the night. When we were sleeping, Ashlee seemed restless.
As it was Wednesday, Mom woke us up at 5:00 am to come down the mountains for Future Division morning gongyo. After gongyo, Ashlee and I went back to sleep and didn’t wake up until later. Ashlee complained of an earache and when she spoke to her Dad, they decided that he would come to Santa Barbara that night, to pick her up and take her home!
You see, apparently Ashlee had an earache since arriving to her Dad's a week earlier. Her Father took Ashlee to the Doctor and the Doctor said he couldn’t see anything wrong. The Doctor said to give her some aspirin and bring her back if it gets worse.
I was devastated when Ashlee put down the phone because I realized our time together was going to be cut short. Mom gave Ashlee some ear drops and pain killers. I was upset and Mom said to me “all you can do now is go and use the Gohonzon — her Daddy is concerned and that’s understandable.”
I went and started chanting. Then I realized, I needed to get Ashlee to chant and do A & C with me. I was nervous that if I asked her that she would say “no” because of her own family beliefs.
I asked her anyway. I said “Ashlee, would you do something for me?”
Ashlee said “Sure, what?” I explained to her and she agreed!
We sat and chanted and did A & C. Afterwards we both felt better. Then we realized that her Dad was coming to pick her up. Ashlee told Mom and me that she didn’t want to go now and that she felt much better. Mom said, “if you really want to stay, then call your Father back and quickly, as he may have already left.” Los Angeles is 100 miles from Santa Barbara!
Well, he was just leaving and he stopped to get the phone. Ashlee spoke to him. Then Mom spoke to Ashlee’s Dad and he said “OK, you can stay tonight. Call me tomorrow.”
The next day, we had a great reunion with school friends and a bunch of us went along State Street for lunch and shopping. When we got home, Ashlee was much better. Her Dad still wasn’t sure.
I decided to do the “Future Division Meeting” on Saturday so that I could introduce Ashlee to our Community Center and show her about our World Peace movement. I thought we would gain more fortune and beat this sickness. Ashlee agreed to read a poem at the meeting from the “Seize the Day” pull-out from the World Tribune June 16, 2000.
Her earache was getting better. By Friday evening, her Dad said she could stay as planned.
We were so happy — and had a great vacation together. I think Ashlee’s earache happened so that she could learn more about my Buddhist practice and how chanting changes things so we are able to accomplish our goals. Now, Ashlee chants too!
Thank you very much for allowing me to share my benefit with you today.
"For Show & Tell today, I brought my juzu beads," I said as I raised them up to show the class. Everyone looked totally stunned. None of them understood what the things were.
"Hmmm. That's interesting, Niki. Is it a necklace?" she asked, as she put them over her head.
"NO! Please don't do that! Never mind, let someone else go first!"
Being a Buddhist, and living in a "Western" civilization, I go through a lot of discrimination, misunderstanding, etc.
When I was young, I brought my prayer beads to school. No one knew what they were, not even my teacher! I was very upset. That was probably my first experience. But, it certainly was not my last.
As I grew older, kids in my classes used to always make fun of me. Or they would ask me stupid questions hoping to demean my religious views.
"Do you float? Do you know anyone who floats?" — this was a very common question that kids would ask.
What was I supposed to say? "Yes, I float. I also fly around on my broomstick on most Saturday nights!"
Now, misconceptions were only one of my problems. When I started to get a little older, the kids just decided to just be mean straight to my face.
"You're gonna go to HELL! What do you mean you don't believe in God? Do you worship the devil? My mom says that you're gonna go to HELL!"
What a thing for a child of 9 or 10 to hear! Not only are my peers making fun of me, but now parents are telling their kids that I am damned!
Now that I look back on those years and those kids, I thank them for what they did. I am a MUCH stronger person now. Although it's easy to say that because I don't hang around with them. Even though they made me stronger, I still remember the years of tormenting, and I wonder, "Why do those kids think that? Why didn't their parents teach them love and understanding? In Christian churches, do they just tell the kids to hate everyone that's not of their religion?"
I learned the answers to those questions while I was in middle school. Seventh grade was "my year of understanding." Now, instead of kids hearing that I wasn't Christian and then immediately assuming a whole bunch of things that weren't true, kids asked me real questions! I was so excited.
I asked them about their religion. They asked me about mine. It was great!
One girl (I don't remember her name) did a Hyper Studio stack about Japan, and ended up getting a lot of information about Buddhism. So, when I told her that I was Buddhist, she was intrigued.
She asked me real questions like, "Is there a 'temple' or church in Omaha? How do you pray? Is Buddha your God, or just the founder or what?"
It was so nice to have questions that I could actually answer instead of false accusations and stupid, demeaning questions.
Now that I'm in high school, I know that all of the torture I was put through helped me. I learned that society isn't always right. Those kids didn't know or care about me, my religion, or my feelings. They just went along with the stereotypes, and the views of the majority. I also learned to "put [myself] in others' shoes." If those kids would've done that for even a second, they could have learned so much!
And, lastly, I learned that life and people are rarely ever fair. If life were fair all the time, I would never have been hurt so much. Or those kids would've been made fun of, too. But, they never were.
I wonder now about those kids. I wonder if they even remember the torture and torment they put me through. I wonder if they know how it feels to always be the one that people point their fingers at. I wonder if they know how it feels to be constantly laughed at. But, I mostly wonder if they know what it feels like to be "damned to hell!!"
The Healing Power of a Child's Daimoku
Robin's mom came up to Massachusetts from New York to visit. She mostly wanted to see Ana, her 2 and 1/2 year old granddaughter.
Robin's mom is a Holocaust survivor. In the kitchen, with Ana on her father's lap, Robin's mom spoke of her experiences in Nazi Germany.
She said that one day they replaced her teacher with a Nazi. The Nazi made her and the other Jewish children sit in the back of the class. The work they did was ignored. She begged her mom to keep her home from school.
Her father's business was taken and given to a Nazi. He had to take a train to get to a menial job. The train passed his old business every day.
On Nov. 9, 1938, Nazis burned the synagogues and went from home to home beating Jews throughout the night. At 4:00 a.m., the bell rang — it was the Nazis. They beat her father and left him for dead in a pool of blood in the middle of the street. He managed to get back to the apartment. Blood was everywhere. No ambulance would come for a Jew. They had to take him to a Nazi doctor, who stitched his head with no anesthesia and sent him home.
The next morning the Nazis came again. They took her father to the Dachau concentration camp.
Robin fought back her tears. Ana, who was still sitting on her father's lap, put her little hands together and loudly chanted "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" without stopping. Robin and her mom broke into tears.
Robin's mother is not a member but she understood. She said, "Now, look at that — I am telling about this horrible horror that happened to our family, and it's as if she is trying to say: 'This is the way to heal. This is the way to peace.'"
Robin said, "Ana's great-grandfather was pulled from his home and beaten because he was a Jew. Now, almost 60 years later, his great-granddaughter is chanting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra naturally, the sound bursting from her life like the rising sun. Thank you, Nichiren Daishonin, and presidents Ikeda, Toda, and Makiguchi, for making it possible for Ana to chant the Mystic Law, ensuring the happiness of her ancestors and the happiness of all mankind to come."
[A longer version of this experience is in the Nov. 21, 1997, World Tribune.]
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