Monday, 19 September 2016


I have been involved in the study movement for a few years now, and I love it.
I have always loved studying, it comes easily to me because I have an incredible memory, I also have the advantage, within Buddhist study, to have been raised by Buddhist parents who are extremely knowledgeable of Buddhist philosophy and I love supporting other people in their journey (ever the teacher!).

I took Grade 1 in 2012, when I created a pretty popular series of posts about exam prep. 

In 2013 I was lilac chief for my local exams. 

In 2014 I took Grade 2. I had intended to create a similar series of posts for Grade 2, but I was going through a really rough time. I had just graduated from National Dedicated Lilac, and I was not invited to be part of the National Team. That had been my biggest desire since the day I joined and I had chanted and worked so hard for it, that when it didn't happen it broke my heart. I cried myself to sleep almost every night and was angry and bitter. Very few people realise how monumentally important it was for me, and some people made light of my suffering, which made me even angrier and more bitter. I had lost my faith, distrusted the organisation and felt unappreciated and lost. I would read the exam materials and think it was bull**t. Even on the very day of the exam, I went through the questions in a pretty perfunctory way. I wasn't feeling any of it. I did do the exam, of course, and I passed it, out of sheer anger. I could not accept the possibility of ever failing an exam, so I doggedly kept reading the material over and over again, and literally two days before the exam I sat down and prepared answers for all the questions. I also helped that my mum had come to visit me. She came to the exams with me and spent the whole time chanting for me. I still didn't feel it, but determined that if I passed the exams, I would have supported Grade 2 the year after.

I guess, in this instance, being a Fukushi is what kept me from stopping the practice altogether. After TTTH and then graduating, I basically felt rejected by the SGI. I lived engulfed in fundamental darkness and pretty much felt daimoku didn't work. But Buddhism has been such a key element of my very being for so long that I did't even entertain the possibility of quitting the practice. Around this point in time, I went to a course and heard an experience about feeling the heart of Sensei. This YM mentioned reading the New Human Revolution, just five pages a day, as a means to connect with Sensei's heart. He said that it took him nine years to finish the twenty-four books, but it was worth it.
I remember thinking: "Bollocks, it doesn't take nine years if you read five pages a day." and instantly decided to prove it. (it's maths, folks) At this point, I had already read the first five volumes (four for Dedicated Lilac, one for fun), and they had published up the 25th volume, so I decided I was going to read one volume a month. I started in September 2014. In March 2016, as I was nearing the end of volume 25, I felt a bit sad at the idea of ending the adventure, and also felt something was missing. Where was that big realisation? I went to the shop to get some other book and noticed that volume 26th had been published!
So, I spent almost two years (21 months exactly) reading one volume a month. Did I have a huge realisation at the end? Mmm-no. Not as such. Now that a few months have passed, what I noticed is that I am feeling a lot more settled in myself, in my faith. I am a lot less scared. I still get tearful when I think about Dedicated Lilac (I don't know if that will ever end), but all that pain has definitely pushed me to go to different lengths and stand up for myself. And it inspired me to study and chant more, which is never bad.

In 2015 I supported the people in my Chapter preparing Grade 2 exam as Study Champion, then I was asked to be Action chief for the exams. Around that time, I was appointed YW Chapter leader. Few months later I went through one of the darkest times of my life, which culminated in my being out of work for a few months and really just focussing on myself.

And back to the present, 2016. I can't do Grade 3 because there is no Grade 3 this year, so I have to wait for next year to try it. I am wondering what can I do this year that I haven't already done? Lilac Chief, Action chief, Study Champion? This time around I have been asked to be Study Champion Coordinator, so I am overseeing everybody who is taking exams in my Chapter. In particular I am supporting Grade 1, which I have not done before. 
In my experience, Grade 2 requires a great deal of personal interpretation, so creating a blog series with sample answers is a bit of an empty exercise, whereas Grade 1 is more about factual answers. I am actually excited about creating a Grade 1 series to help the people taking the exam this year. I hope I can make it good.

Please note that whatever I will write in this series has to be taken as my personal ideas, not as gospel. I do not mark the exams and I can get things wrong. Anyone using these posts for help, just use them as a way to create your own revision materials.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...