Saturday, 26 October 2013

Actual Proof campaign

I can't believe how it didn't occur to me to write anything about our Actual Proof campaign.


This campaign started last year, and will finish on the 18th of November.

Quoting from the SGI website:

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (front row, center) with Soka Kyoiku Gakkai members in Fukuoka, Kyushu, 1941
November 18 is the anniversary of the establishment of the Soka Gakkai.
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, first president of the Soka Gakkai, and his disciple Josei Toda (second president) published the first in a series of writings outlining the system of soka, or value-creating pedagogy, on November 18, 1930, and this date marks the founding of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai--the Society for Value-Creating Education. The word "soka," which was coined by Toda and Makiguchi, is a combination of Chinese characters meaning "create" and "value."
The group's aim was to reform the Japanese education system in order to foster the unique creative potential of every child, and this endeavor was further strengthened by the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism which also stresses the vast untapped potential of every individual.

The 18th of November has been chose as the inauguration date for the new Soka Gakkai General Headquarters in Japan. President Ikeda explains the significance of the construction of this building as follows:
You could say, without doubt, that the structure and edifice symbolises both an invincible citadel  of mentor and disciple, as well an impregnable stronghold of kosen-rufu. I want to establish an absolutely solid foundation so that members of the Soka Gakkai are able to strive in faith with pride and with peace of mind. The Soka Gakkai Headquarters is a 'fighting bastion' that furthers the noble cause of kosen-rufu whilst battling the three powerful enemies and all manners of devilish forces. With this in mind, the Soka Gakkai Headquarters should advance eternally with conviction that it is foremost in the world! It must remain strong and resilient! For this was the strict order of my mentor. My wife and I are praying earnestly each day so that all of our dear, fellow members are able to construct a valiant citadel of victory, be it in their homes, work places or communities. (Tentative translation, Seikyo Newspaper article, May 3rd 2012. I was lazy and copied it from another buddhist blog)
In line with this, we have been encouraged to set big determinations for the 18th of November. A wonderful card has been produced to write our determinations and how we will struggle in faith.

It took me ages to actually write them down. Then one day, at the Dedicated Lilac graduation day (not mine, thankfully), I realised what I needed to write. As I mentioned before, my biggest determination is to transform my small ego into a free, courageous and compassionate heart.

In other words, Hos-shaku-kempon.
Yet another cool Japanese phrase we use, Hos-shaku-kempon means "Casting off the transient and revealing the true." Let's have a look at the SGI Library definition:
The revealing of a Buddha's true status as a Buddha, and the setting aside of that Buddha's provisional or transient identity. In the "Life Span" (sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni declares: "In all the worlds the heavenly and human beings and asuras all believe that the present Shakyamuni Buddha, after leaving the palace of the Shakyas, seated himself in the place of meditation not far from the city of Gayaand there attained supreme perfect enlightenment. But good men, it has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas since I in fact attained Buddhahood." Through this statement, he discards his provisional identity as the Buddha who first attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree in India and reveals his original enlightenment, or the enlightenment he attained numberless major world system dust particle kalpas in the past. [...]
For me, that means casting off the delusions of my ego, and embracing the complete understanding of my unlimited potential.

Just as Sensei mentions in the passage I quoted above, as soon as I set this determination I was forced to battle "the three powerful enemies and all manners of devilish forces". TTTH was an example of this. Maybe the biggest, but by a long shot not the only one!

Yesterday I went to an action meeting for the Study exams. I sat the exams last year and this year I will be the lilac chief. I am chanting a lot thinking about the exams. The vice action chief at the start of the meeting said that at the moment every member he talks to seems to be in the middle of a massive karmic change. Wonder why? (notice heavy sarcasm)

It is a comforting thing to know that when we strive for Kosen Rufu and truly challenge ourselves to transform karma into mission, every obstacle is only a manifestation of the three obstacles and four devils, as such it is inevitable, but also a clear sign that we are moving forward.

I had a victory just yesterday regarding my true self.
I am in my third year of teaching and working at the same school. While I thoroughly enjoy my work and my school is on the whole a nice, supportive place to work in, I have been feeling monumentally taken for granted and quite isolated in the past year or so. Not easy to be the only Italian in the workplace. As such, I have resented some members of my department and have been very critical, in my heart, of my line manager for not noticing or remarking on how hard I worked. I could not stop being upset at the fact that after planning and leading a residential trip abroad IN MY FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING entirely on my own, a trip that was outstandingly successful, I did not receive any public praise and my line manager didn't even bother to say well done to me. As much as I was, indubitably, right, holding on to negative feelings is never a good idea. It doesn't matter if we are right or wrong. If there's something practical we can do about it, we should do it, if there isn't, we should just put it in the past.

As a mildly ASD person, putting things in the past is especially difficult for me, and the resentment was literally eating me alive.

A few weeks ago, my best friend, deputy head of my department and one of only two people who kept me going in the school, had to ask to be released from her contract due to family reasons.
This shattered me. I envisioned myself being even more isolated, among people who didn't care about me as a person, didn't want to be my friends (said in so many words, mind you), and were perfectly happy to cling to each other and ignore my very existence. 

Granted, I was probably exaggerating in my head, but you get the idea.
One of my colleagues (the one who said she didn't want to be my friend) and I took over the role of second in charge without even being asked and certainly without any financial gratification. We are doing a very good job of it and I am chanting ferociously in the morning to make sure that this experience will enable me to really open my heart to this person and build respect, if not friendship.

It's been an interesting learning curve.
Then, they advertised the job of second in charge without even telling us until the day before the deadline. I went to speak frankly with my bosses boss and laid my heart out. 

He apologised for the misstep, saying that I was welcome to apply and would have been interviewed even without writing a perfect personal statement. He considered it part of my professional development to have the experience of the application process for a managerial position, so even though he told me honestly I didn't have a lot of chances (I was up against people with 10 years experience or so), I should do it.

During this meeting, I said how isolated and taken for granted I felt, and I said in no uncertain terms that something should be done to recognise the work my colleague and I had been doing without anyone even asking. I said it was a disgrace that no mention of it had been made in the bulletin. My boss agreed with me and said he would have done something about it.

This, in itself, is a great victory. I felt a bit like when I was lilac chief at a certain European Course. My team had bent over backwards to accommodate our lovely, but basically disorganised, guests. At the end of the day, I went to the action chief and very calmly said that the team had to leave in half an hour, so could he please arrange for the MC to publicly thank them, as I was sure the guests would have liked to, and the girls most definitely deserved it. 

I didn't stay there, knowing I deserved something, waiting, hoping, and ultimately being left disappointed and with a searing bitterness gnawing at me from the inside. I firmly but gently asked for what I thought was right.

So, I knew I was not going to get the job, but I decided to write a really great letter, detailing all the outstanding things I did for the school in only a little over two years, and went for the interview.

I really enjoyed the interview. There was a question I knew I didn't know how to answer to, but I did my best. I am sure my boss left with a different idea of me and hopefully a better understanding of how much he was taking me for granted and underestimating me.

My other boss gave me very good feedback afterwards, which tells me exactly what I need to do to get the next job that comes up. I didn't get the job because someone else was better, but I was a very close second, with one of my answers being the best answer given by anyone at interview. Not bad eh?

Oh, and the person who got the job? A lovely Italian lady. 

Now, I can get ready for my holidays!

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