My mission is to inspire children with hope and transform education. It is nothing other than my belief in the Buddha nature in all people that give me hope. This month’s Living Buddhism topic is Changing Our Destiny. How can we change our destiny without changing the destiny of our most precious commodity? young children who live in poverty.
It was 1987; I had just graduated from the University of Louisville wondering what I was going to do with my life. My graduate thesis was, “Will Teaching Children about their Cultural Heritage help to improve their Academic Success”? I have spent the last 20 years trying to shape my life and purpose into a career that would afford me the opportunity to discover the answers to these questions.
I thought volunteering at the Crisis Center was something I needed to do. The Crisis Center was a metaphor for what was going on in my life. I did not know then but the experience at the Crisis Center would change my life.
I met Karen Labroi; a member of what back then was NSA. We started chatting. I told her I was searching for something, not sure what it was. I am a seeker and felt all my life there was a big secret that I had to uncover.
She invited me to a meeting at her place. She did not say much else about it. I was up for the challenge. All my life I have stepped up to the plate to meet the challenge. My Buddhist practice has been the biggest challenge of my life. I continue to marvel at what I discover about myself and about the world through my daily practice of chanting and study.
I went out to lunch with Karen and her aunt. It was a truly pleasant experience. I wanted to have these people in my life. As I look back over the last twenty years or so. Things have come into my life, just as I needed them to. It has been chanting that has thrust me into rhythm with the universe.
I went to a meeting at Karen’s home. I walked into the room. There was a sound emanating through the walls like a magnetic in drew me in. I sat on the floor, looked into the faces of people chanting to a scroll in a box. Their faces illuminated. It drew me in closer.
I said yes and began my quest to find inner peace and discover my destiny. Like an onion, my life had many layers. I would pull back one layer to only be pulled deeper into the practice. I did Toban and watched a life with no direction soon find its’ course. I held meetings in my home and saw my life flourish with material and physicals comforts. I felt something was still missing. The longer I chanted the more my life purpose and mission came came into focus. I began to see my life take shape.
I was determined that this was the practice for me. I found something I could believe in. The guidance from the World Tribune was indispensable.
I uncovered rage and anger buried deep inside of me that I had suppressed. My parents were my first teachers. They lived in time when it was unsafe to be angry at the injustice they faced. I saw first-hand how injustice played out within the educational system. What I termed a system of oppression.
This became my quest to right the wrongs, not only that were happening to me, but also were happened to generations of children before.
Through my practice, I have gone deeper into the ocean and found the source of me, that no amount of injustice can touch. It is nothing other than Myo Ho Renge Kyo. This reality encompasses the entire world that I am so much a part. I have taken my practice and embraced every part of me. I have turned my life inside out and examined every aspect of me. I discovered that to live my life and express my full humanity I have to live as I believe.
I am entitled to all the rights and privileges and respect afforded any man or woman in the United States. That all people are equal at the source of life and no outward appearance can change the true source of all humanity. I found the courage to roar like a lion in the face of Tyranny and to fight for the children of the world, to be a voice for the voiceless, to ring out loud so my voice will not be lost in the crowd
Children are currently being used for the state’s purpose. As President Makiguchi declared to the authorities of his time. Education should be about securing the happiness of children. This will lead directly to world peace.
It is my vow to live as I believe and to utilize my practice and find the expedient means to transform the educational agenda, away from an oppressive instrument into a system of liberation with a focus on meeting the needs of children.
I will expend every breath I have to right the wrongs done to me and to the children of the world. Education’s purpose should be to expand the life condition and develop children’s humanity, which is in alignment with the goals of my Buddhist practice.
I have discovered that I cannot remain silent in the face of tyranny, like the guidance of President Ikeda take two steps back and like the mighty lion take a giant leap of faith forward.
I moved to Florida to be near my daughter and granddaughters. As I reaffirmed that they are the most important persons in my life; I want to be a positive presence in my family’s life; and provide light in a dark world. I see in my daughter who I am. I was looking for the reflection of me and it is she.
She is home schooling her children. She has five. She is the one who will shape their minds and hearts, not an oppressive system of white superiority.
She and I are able to share a vision of the world which before I moved to Florida I could not see. One has to see a reflection of self in society to really believe. Florida is a reflection of me.
What is going on in the educational arena is a wake-up call to the majority of white middle class teachers teaching to predominantly black children and trying to impose their value system on them while discounting the culture they come from. This is one of the reasons for children’s academic failure.
A system of oppression can no longer continue. Teachers are instruments of that oppression. Education is either an instrument of liberation or a system of oppression. It has taken the course of the later. That system of education has to change.
I am in a long-term substitute position as a Guidance Counselor at an elementary School. I feel as if I belong. It a great benefit to have the autonomy to develop a curriculum that I can believe in and call my own. It has been through my Buddhist practice that has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin.
Over the last twenty years my vision has taken shape. I have found the expedient means to use my Buddhist practice in the public sphere of education. It is through storytelling and poetry that children can see their cultural differences as strengths and be proud of whom they are.
As I shared with children the story of Ruby Bridges. I educated children on the history and fight for a quality education. She was the first little black girl to open the doors to an all-white school. Each day she faced hatred and prejudice as she walked to school.
It was with courage and dignity that she endured. Ruby was entitled to all the rights, privileges, and education as any other citizen of the United States no matter the color of her skin.
Silence in the face of injustice is a silent acceptance of the injustices of the world. As Dr. King stated in his speech, one is either an agent of change of an instrument of oppression. I choose to be an instrument of change and to face head on the tyranny that takes the shape of religion or education, the two inseparable as a fish in water.