Jun 28, 2010

An Experience by Charles Johnson

By Charles Johnson

In the year of 1963, I was nine years old. My mother got me a membership to Uncle Ray’s Scrapbook club. Each week in the Worcester Massachusetts Telegram, the local Newspaper, Uncle Ray would write articles about History, Science and the World around us. The very first article I that I pasted into my scrapbook was an article and a picture of Shakyamuni Buddha. My Mother told me about the Buddha’s compassion for everything of this world. I told my mother at that time, this is how I would live my life.

It was many years later that a friend helped me to re-awaken what had been buried in my heart for so many years and led me to receive Gohonzon in Boston, Massachusetts in September of 2006...

In 2007, I worked as a Television Production Instructor for the United States Army’s, 3rd Psychological Operations Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The work involved spending 2 weeks on Base and then 3 weeks off. The pay was phenomenal.

Then 2008 arrived and all the work dried up as all of my students were being deployed around the world. I had enough money for food and to pay my mortgage for 5 months and that was it. When you work as a contractor to the Military there is no unemployment. So, I started sending out resumes and looking for work online.

On top of being out of work with no income, in March of 2008, my best friend, my 17 year old cat, became gravely ill. I was faced with the hardest obstacle of my life as it was necessary for me and a veterinarian to ease his suffering and help him go home.
The road I was traveling had gotten very dark, but I managed to keep the light of hope and strength burning brightly by doing Gongyo twice a day and chanting continuously.

As the end of May rolled around, I had enough money for my June mortgage payment, leaving me with $35. dollars in my savings account.
I chanted with ever growing Faith and Determination, to find a job where my skill set would be highly sought after by a company whose product I could truly say I believed in. I wanted to be part of a team that made a positive difference in this world by bringing truth and not fantasy to people.


By mid-June, I cut back to one meal a day. As I made a bowl of rice one evening, I placed a teaspoonful of uncooked rice in a small cup and set it in front of my Gohonzon as I started my evening prayers. I still have the same cup of rice on my altar today.

The very next day, I received a phone call from Discovery Communications. They said they had read my resume on line and asked if I could come to Silver Spring at their expense for an interview. During the third week of June I flew from Massachusetts to Silver Spring and met with 4 executives that showed me the Engineering facility and grilled me for several hours with technical questions.

I flew home the same day and felt that the interview went very well. The next day I received a call from Discovery with a job offer that exceeded my wildest dreams. The offer of course I accepted.

They immediately put me in touch with their relocation company which helped me put my house up for sale and they provided me with a $5000. check toward my initial moving expenses. A portion of this money enabled me to pay my July mortgage. Then to top it all, they said that they would pay for all of my moving costs. So, I drove on June 29 to my sister’s house in Centreville, Virginia. Bringing with me, my clothes, laptop, Gohonzon and Butsudan, and my books.

I started work on July 1, 2008 and stayed at my sister’s house for a little over a year. Each day I would take the Metro from Vienna to Silver Spring and back again in the evening. My commute of three hours a day could have been tedious, but during this time I was able to read both volumes of the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, The Lotus Sutra and the entire series of The Wisdom of The Lotus Sutra.

One day last June, I had gotten out of work around 4 PM, which I was thrilled at after working several 50 hour work weeks. I boarded the Metro at Silver Spring Station and headed for home.

I settled into a seat reading the last volume of Wisdom of The Lotus Sutra, and was deep in thought. Suddenly time seemed to slow down as I heard the horrible sound of metal smashing into metal. Our train had crashed head on into the rear of another train. There was a dead silence as we came to a stop. During the crash I felt a cushion around me and when we had stopped moving, I stood up, completely unharmed. I checked with the other passengers in the car and no one was injured. Myself and several other men made our way from the fourth and third cars and proceeded to the second and first car.

When we arrived at the front of the second car several men tried pulling down the ceiling that was blocking the door, Only to reveal a cross beam across the top of the door making it impossible to open . It seemed that we were purposely prevented access to the front car and prevented from witnessing the horror of 9 dead passengers. Again I felt the protective forces were guarding me and the others.

As the side doors opened, I helped men and women exit from the train and we all stood on the side of the tracks until the fire department cut throught the chain link fencing and we were able to move to a parking lot.

The injured were separated to one side and 11 of us that were not injured were told we could leave. So, we started walking toward the Fort Totten station, no one spoke. I called my brother-in-law to come and pick me up and finally arrived at the house around 9:00PM.
The next day I went back to work and received an email from the President of Discovery saying that he was happy that I was ok and if I needed anything at all, not to hesitate in contacting him.

The fact that I came through the crash totally unscathed can only be attributed to the protective forces of shoten zenjin.

In the The True Aspect of All Phenomena Nichiren Daishonin wrote:
“Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions.”
[No.40, Page 386, col 2, paragraph 17,

During my lifes difficult times, a quote from President Ikeda encouraged and strengthened me:

“You must be strong. There is no hope of winning in this chaotic world if you are weak. No matter what others do or say, it is important to develop your ability and then put that ability to use. Strong Faith, of course, is the best means for drawing out ones inner strength. You each have a very important mission, and I hope you will awaken to and be proud of that mission.”

President Toda once said: “If you have a problem, just pray for the solution. Buddhism is an earnest struggle to win. I’ll stake my life on the fact that if you practice wholeheartedly, all of your prayers will be realized.”

This is what I have learned thus far in my life?
I have learned that there are always obstacles and difficulties in this life, but, how we deal with obstacles and difficulties can open the door to a world of opportunity. I have learned that when an obstacle presents itself to me, I will ask myself,
What cause did I make to create this obstacle?
What must I learn from this obstacle?
What is the best way to overcome this obstacle?
Once I have answered these questions, the possible emotional severity created by the obstacle diminishes and I can overcome the obstacle with Courage, Confidence, Compassion, Wisdom and Determination . All these qualities taught to us in our Practice of Nichiren’s Buddhism.
Thank you for letting me share my experience with you.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

1 comment:

kandgals said...

Thanks a million for the article... I started reading your blog yesterday. I promise you, I will read every article of yours. It inspires me, had tears because most of it answered my questions and doubts. Great job NMRK