The Greater South Asia Conference
My name is Devi Ghosh I started practicing Nichiren Buddhism in India in Dec 2005. When I joined I was obsessed with my glamorous but stressful job as Brand Manager of Bulgari and Ferragamo perfumes India . For this reason my husband and I had to live separately in different countries for 2 years pursuing our careers.
One day my business associate gave me some Buddhist books to read. I dumped those into the garbage. One Saturday morning, 8 months later, I woke up in a depression. I called, drove an hour to her home to learn how to chant, and in a few days my home had a constant stream of people I had never seen or met coming to chant with me. I was never alone again.
In August 2006 August, I decided that my family is equally if not more important than my career and I moved to the US with my husband. I received the Gohonzon in September and set about getting a job and kick start my career in US. With my global company experience I knew it would be a cake walk. My confidence was to the extent of being faulty. I expected an equivalent position to the one I left in India . I thought they will come knocking and roll out the red carpet. I was in for a rude awakening…….
I made a list of goals, started chanting an hour everyday and sent out about 5-10 resumes a day. The recruiting companies showed excitement in my resume. In 9 months, I interviewed with 6 companies. With each, I went through 3-4 rounds. With one, I had 7 rounds, including one with a psychoanalyst to see if was a "right fit!" Each time I felt, this is it. But no offer. Not one. I received e-mails noting my global experience, my energy, my vibrant personality, and then thanking me for my time. The reasons – I was overqualified and I had no American experience. How could both be listed as problems!!!
At one point it was humiliating to take an English writing test to prove that I could read, write and speak or to hear that I did not fit the profile of the low energy candidate they were seeking!!!!!!! My pride, my self-esteem took a beating. Our marriage began feeling the strain. Despite his unending support, my husband felt guilty that because of him I ruined my career.
Why was my chanting not working? I listened to all encouragement with a closed mind. Ya, ya, ya. I know all, I would think to myself. Last year when I got a call to attend GSA, I offered many reasons why I could not come. Many conversations and calls later, I was pulled into the excitement. I came with the expectation that this would be my biggest cause to generate the fortune I needed to crack my job karma and I loved every moment of it. On my return, I came down from my high horse and started sending out 10-15 resumes a day. I modified scaled back- on-experience resumes and started applying for entry-level positions. Outcome- not even a single interview only rejects.
Two months later, I took a job as a Sales Associate at clothing store at $10.00 per hour. I sold clothes, cleaned windows, mopped floors, and emptied the garbage cart. In the spirit of taking action to match my prayer, I also took a web developer course hoping that some kind of certification in US would open doors for me. I was the oldest in the class, with no background in graphic design and MAC computer scared me to death! I was going to school after 20 yrs. So I chanted 2 hours a day to overcome my fear and just to understand and grasp what my professor is saying and poured all my passion into learning-working 12 hours a day and asking lots of questions. I was 3rd in my class of 25.
Still no job, and then I just stopped applying. I finally succumbed to the seduction of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven. I gave up. "Destiny cannot be changed, deal with it" I told myself. I need to accept my situation and move on. Still hungry for a challenge, in December last year I walked into the showroom of a small cosmetic company and came out with a very small job. I thought, finally some American experience, however small it is….it's still a job!
Going on for 4 months, on the day my first shakubuku received her Gohonzon, next day my company declared bankruptcy and I lost my job. Doubt came gushing back. On the day I made the highest possible cause in faith! The wonderful part of this SGI is that while you can throw a tantrum you are not allowed to give up. Rather, you are encouraged to do more, like I was asked by my seniors in faith to accept group leadership. Are these people crazy? I thought. I did strategies to avoid but I couldn't and finally accepted kicking and screaming. I feel grateful that because of this I was able to look beyond myself as I started doing home visits for members. One day a family friend told me of a job for an entry-level web developer. I interviewed, was offered the position, and then the offer was revoked due to lack of funds. Instead they asked me to design their new website from home as a consultant. Desperate for any experience, I accepted. With 90% of the work done after, they called and said they had dropped the project. I was shocked, stunned. I was not paid a dime.
It was as the Gosho says: "Constantly dwelling in hell, strolling in it as though it were a garden." (Letter to Brothers, WND pg. 494). Rejected, dejected, battered, I thought of returning my Gohonzon. I thought my husband who is not yet a member is right; this practice was for spiritual upliftment, not for tangible results. Al Bailey came to our district discussion meeting as leader's guest in July. Raising this point with Al Bailey, I was expecting him to share some quotes from President Ikeda and the Gosho, instead he said: "I have a secret recipe that bakes a fabulous cake. If you miss even one step, don't blame the recipe. Chant 2-3 hours a day, study, apply for jobs in a way you have never done before, and share this Buddhism with one person everyday. Do this for 100 days. If you do not have a job by then, I will return my Gohonzon." And then he left.
Struck by what Al Bailey said, I decided to bake my cake. The first 3 steps – chant, study and apply I could do. And I strategized that I am not going to do the last step. How was I supposed to talk with someone everyday when I did not even leave house for more than 2 days a week. My cake would be chocolate instead of vanilla, I justified to myself.
I would follow the first 3 steps. Then I got the call for attending GSA 2008. "What GSA?" I said. "I am not even sure if I want to practice." I was quoted the Gosho by my seniors in faith: "It is like the case of a person who falls to the ground, but who then pushes himself up from the ground and rises to his feet again." (Proof of the Lotus Sutra WND Pg 1108) and encouraged to use my setbacks as the support to stand up yet again. Give it one last serious 500% effort.
The next day, August 8th, my 2 hours of chanting were about finding a person who was really seeking this Gohonzon. I also decided for an insane job profile for myself after 100 days. I wanted it all….web design, advertising, PR everything.
On Day 1, I sent two e-mails to 2 friends telling them about the practice. No response. Day 2, i sent two more email to two different friends in India . One wrote back, she would check us out on the web! Day 3, I chanted to meet someone. I did not get a chance to go out that day but in the evening got invited to a last-minute dinner at a friend's house. There she asked me to explain the practice to her and 3 of her guests. Four in 1 day!!!!!! I became a little more confident and bought the Nam -myoho-renge- kyo card's and kept them in my purse. For the next few days, each day I made an effort to go out and surprisingly each day I met people who would engage me in conversation for no reason and ended up giving each of them a card.
I introduced my Indian grocer, the owner of my favorite Chinese restaurant. Suddenly I was surrounded by people wanting to talk with me. Of course, I would end up talking with them about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and giving them my new "business" card. I was experiencing a never before magic. My daimoku started sounding different.
I was a little overwhelmed thinking something is different, something is not usual. I increased to 3 hours and started waking up at 5.00 am something I have never done my entire life. I realized that I was no longer chanting for a job but simply to meet people who needed this practice. My situation was the same, but something changed inside. I felt light, I felt hope, I felt my heart expanding. I felt my shoulders were light.
It was a feeling that's beyond explanation. Then I started doing something I had never done in my job search before. Following-up and taking serious action. Nobody told me to do this, it just came from within. I began to track down names and specific email ID's of HR managers rather than post my resume online or send them to a generic email address. Then I would make phone calls to confirm my resume was received. Each day I spent 3 hours doing this. Strange things began to happen. People started calling me back and asking questions. Online postings, which were earlier a black hole, even from there I was getting calls. This movement was scary and made me nervous. Is this is what they talk about ? I thought. After less than a week, I was called for an interview, then a second round and third led to an offer. During the last interview, the conversation somehow turned to the Dalai Lama, then Richard Gere and Buddhism. I shakubukued the Vice President and her Assistant. Rather than the usual thank you note after an interview, I e-mailed them the audio of chanting. They are now attending regular meetings, are connected to the districts.
Just as I was about to accept the offer, my husband did some online search and found that the company was in a lot of legal trouble. I did not flip. No fear. No complaint. No why me? Just what should I do next? Also, I got involved in GSA FNCC promotion, continued wholeheartedly visiting new members home in my group and of course, continued to do shakubuku everyday. At the Loft, where I worked part, I introduced 7 people. One has become the member already and 3 others are attending meetings.
A campaign I started with such skepticism was taking on a magnitude of gigantic proportions!!! In search of my insanely hopeful dream job - a combination of web development, interactive marketing, brand management, advertising, and public relations – I came across a junior level position. I called up and left a message for the hiring manager.
I called back next day again. When I called the 3rd time she told me she had not received my resume. So I faxed it and called back yet again to check if she had received it. She told me then that she was only interviewing people who were following-up and with my 4 calls, she definitely wanted to meet me. The conversation turned into a telephone interview right then. Towards the end, she explained that since theirs was a search firm, managers worked on very high commission. Without hesitation I said, then maybe this job is not for me. I told her that I could not work at a place where my time is not valued and effort not respected. Commission must come with a base salary, I told her. She invited me for an inperson interview the next day.
The interview was 3 hours long. I have never had someone go through my resume line by line and ask details in 12 years of working. She read between the lines, dug out the information that cannot be mentioned in a 3 page resume. I honestly and fearlessly told her of my two jobs. I did not hold back anything. Finally said, "I won't hire you for this job that you have applied for because this is too junior a position for your kind of experience. Instead, I will hire you to run another division of the Company and build it up from scratch. We will give you a separate office, your hire your own team, and you run the business independently." I was dumbstruck. "We launched a career portal in December last year and have interviewed many people in these last 8 months. We didn't find the right person with right experience, right attitude, right energy level. You experience shows that you have the ability to learn something new and make it work. You are kind of person who will figure out a solution to a problem. We would be fortunate to have you on board." By that time my ears turned red, I felt nauseous. Could this be happening to me? Did I really hear her say all this? Someone could finally see that my work was worthy of respect!
After two more interviews they told me my job profile – it had everything I had wanted on my dream job list. And of all things on this planet – I will be managing a career portal! Does it get more mystic than this? How many despairing people can I give hope to? How will I use each negative experience in my job search to make this the best job portal ever? I started my job on September 2nd. I am feeling overwhelmed with the trust being placed in me. My husband is now saying that daimoku has the capacity to vibrate atoms and molecules in the universe. It is day 20 and I have done 26 shakubuku. 12 people have attended various meetings. Because of this GSA campaign I was able to crack and shatter the wall of my karma. My cake is baking.
From just looking at the batter, I know it will be more moist, more luscious, more sinful, more delectable. I called Al and shared my break-through with him. My 100 day campaign will not end with 100! I have discovered a freedom, a confidence, and a purpose in life that indescribable. Every suffering of the last two years has taken on a golden hue. As Sensei says "Soka Gakkai is an organization of lions". It is my promise to sensei that, I will "castoff my transient and reveal my true identity" as a votary of the Lotus Sutra and disciple of Daisaku Ikeda.
Thank you, Sensei!!