by Alisa Torres
Good evening, my name is Alisa Torres, from the Dickey Lineage, 2nd North California District.
Tonight, I would like to share with you about how I was able to change my Karma through this teaching.
What is "Karma?" Karma refers to the principle of cause and effect.
But before I begin, I would like to give my utmost gratitude to the Guardians of the Law, who protect the Buddha's teachings, my Spiritual parents-Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama, Shoju-shin'in-sama, their sons Kyodoin and Shindoin-sama who carry my burden through the power of what we followers call "Bakku-Daiju," Shinnyo Keishu-sama, who heads the order today, and to the Ever-Present Shyakamuni-Tathagata, to give me this wonderful opportunity to share with you my testimony tonight.
Let me begin with, when I was connected to this teaching over 20 years ago, YES, some of you may be surprised of how long I have been connected.
I was connected to Shinnyo-en through family connection. This means someone introduced my father to the Shinnyo teaching.
The word "Shinnyo" can mean "unchanging truth" or "the real state of things".
Funny how time flies, because I didn't really start to practice or should I say see the "REAL STATE OF THINGS," until 10 years ago.
With no disrespect to my parents today, when my father was connected, the "REAL STATE OF THINGS," was that my parents were separated for reasons I did not know at the time.
Even though my father, along with my siblings were connected, we did not practice.
It wasn't until 3 years later after my parents separation, we got the phone call from my father's lineage parent that prompted us to begin practicing.
My parents began the next process of getting a divorce when we began to practice here in Seattle with a hand full of followers, or course me being the youngest.
I'm going to fast forward a little, after practicing here in Seattle for 2 years, my father was stationed or you could say assigned to a military base in Japan.
When we got to Japan, my father practiced very hard at Oyasono, the main temple, under the Founder Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama.
Each time I think of this, I am saddened that the opportunity to practice with Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama passed right by me, because after we moved to Japan, I chose a very different path, you could say, I chose a very selfish path.
I was 18 years old when I moved to Japan, graduating from High school, starting college, and working full time.
Just to give you a bigger picture of where I was heading, I graduated at the bottom of my class, college lasted for one semester, and working 3 to 5 jobs.
During this time I also began drinking alcohol more, which led to a car accident and other very bad decisions which then led to my suffering.
During this time, my father tried so hard to practice, I, on the other hand did not.
Tonight, I would like to thank my father for practicing because, if he hadn't I think I would have been very unhappy today, or maybe even dead! Thank you DAD!
Finally, after many mistakes that lead to many reasons for my unhappiness, I moved to Denver, Colorado in 1993, where I was blessed to meet the love of my life.
We were married 3 years later, and went to Japan. Our life in Japan began, like any other marriage, full of bliss and hope.
But things didn't stay that way for very long, my husband and I were unfortunate to lose our first child, during my pregnancy, and then I began to change.
Honestly, I did not know this at the time.
Let me just say this right now before I go on, that this testimony has been very difficult for me and my husband to share, but our hope is that through telling this story that you can see how, through practicing this precious teaching you can overcome anything.
I also have to say thank you to my husband for giving me the permission to speak to you all today, about such a personal thing in our lives.
THANK YOU, MICHAEL.
Continuing my story, as I was saying I began to change, the anger I felt of losing a child led me to blame my husband, which led to my ignorance of not seeing the pain my husband was also going through and also the greed of wanting something to replace the pain led me to drift apart from my husband.
ANGER, GREED, AND IGNORANCE (or DELUSIONS), are what we followers call the 3 poisons or the "3 unwholesome roots."
When one's greed is not satisfied, one becomes angry.
Blinded by the anger, one acts foolishly out of ignorance.
The three unwholesome roots binds one to the cycle of transmigration, which is the cycle of rebirths in body and mind, or cycle of existence.
This all prevents a person to be unhappy.
As you can see that is where I was headed. UNHAPPY!
After a couple of years of putting up with me, my husband finally was fed up and came back to the United States, hoping that I would follow him soon after.
But that was not the case, I stayed in Japan for two more years, acting like I was single again, when one phone call from my husband came, telling me, "he was tired of waiting, and that I had to make a decision of whether I wanted to stay in Japan, which meant a divorce, or come back now and try to work things out."
Before we hung up the phone I asked him to give me one more month, to make a decision that would affect the rest of my life.
During this time of making my decision I did not know, that the remains of Founder Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama, Shojushin'in-sama, Shindoin-sama, and Kyodoin-sama were at the Main temple of Oyasono, TOGETHER for the first time.
When the family members of Founder Kyoshu-sama, passed away they were not all buried together.
After, 65 years in 2001 were they finally brought back together to be placed in the Stupas on the grounds of Oyasono.
How I found out about this wonderful occasion was, one day a student of mine came waltzing into my class and sat down in front of me wearing a "Rimbo," a wheel shaped symbol of Buddhism around her neck.
A Rimbo with a lotus flower in its center is the symbol of Shinnyo-en.
I asked this follower if she was a follower of Shinnyo-en, and she was surprised responding, "how do you know, about Shinnyo-en?" I told her I was once a practicing follower, 5 or 6 years ago.
After our conversation, that afternoon we had lunch a few times and we had truthful conversations of why I hesitated to go back to the temple or Oyasono.
Oyasono was so close by yet so far.
I drove passed the temple everyday practically, I rode the same trains as the followers did every day.
I even worked in the same city just on the other side of the train station from Oyasono, but still took that all for granted.
Finally, after those few conversations with my student I gathered enough courage to go to Oyasono with her one afternoon, with my head hanging down, with feelings of shame and guilt.
As we walked through the courtyard, and into the temple, my heart raced and before I knew it I was standing in front of the remains of my Spiritual Parents and their sons with tears running down my face, apologizing for not coming sooner, I vowed that day to go back to the United States and to practice again with determination.
Life was not easy at first, when I came back to the U.S., but I promised my Spiritual Parents and their sons who gave up there life so early for us followers to carry our burden so we could practice the teachings of the Buddha's and live in a life of Permanence, Bliss and Self-Purity.
So, here I am today practicing with my husband, two boys, dad and guiding children or what I like to say "FRIENDS."
I am grateful for the Shinnyo Teaching, as it points the way for everyone, to listen and see the "REAL STATE OF THINGS" and make actual effort to change ourselves.
I would like to share a quote with you from Founder Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama:
People around us serve as mirrors that reflect what we project or perhaps the negative tendencies we, too, have inside of us.
When we have thoughts like, "They don't understand," or, "They're are giving me a hard time," it is we who are causing ourselves grief, not others.
Such moments are opportunities to reflect on our attitude or state of mind."
I wish I knew what this meant over 20 years ago, when I first got connected, because it would have saved my husband a lot pain.
I would like to this time to truly say to my husband "I'm sorry."
Thank you very much.