experience from Puerto Rico

another experience to share.. cheers!!

Though most people know me as Tito, my given name is Modesto Col・. I started my Buddhist practice in Puerto Rico, my country of origin, in 1987. I understand that to start is very easy, but to continue is very difficult. I have never missed my daily practice since then.The benefits have been many and have been coming regularly. I understand that it was no coincidence that I was born into the Col・ family, my great wish was for other members of my family to benefit from practicing this Buddhism. This was very difficult, since I come from a family with deep Catholic roots and one of my sisters is a nun.

Today I want to share with you something that happened in 1993. My oldest brother was, back then, vice president of the Customs Corporation in the south of Puerto Rico. In one of his travels to the capital, he was mugged at a gas station by 3 guys with a gun. These individuals got into his car and forced him to drive to a deserted area, where they proceeded to rob him of his clothes, jewelry, and money. Before they left,they raped him. Since he had a wife and young daughter, it was very painful for him to face them. He felt great thirst for revenge and tried to buy a weapon to go after the thugs. I constantly gave him emotional support and chanted much daimoku for him, as I understood that what happened to him was also part of my karma.

In 1994 I moved to this country (the US) and continued to support my brother. In the beginning of 1998 my brother started feeling ill and saw many doctors who could not find the cause of his illness. He called me on the phone and asked me to go back to Puerto Rico to accompany him on an appointment he had with a specialist. I went right away. They conducted several tests on my brother and when we went back for the results, they told us that my brother was infected with the AIDS virus, as a result of the rape. At that very moment I felt that the sky fell on us and was crushing us, but I was also determined to win, because I had the Gohonzon and the sword of the Lotus Sutra. One of the goshos that inspired me was the Answer to Kyo: "Believe in this mandala with all your hear. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like a roar of a lion, what sickness can be an obstacle?" I realized that this was the precise moment for my brother to start practicing when I read a passage from the gosho: "A ship can travel the seas of suffering:If there is a man or a woman that secretly teaches oneperson even only one phrase of the Lotus Sutra, be it known that he is the emissary of the Buddha." As the emissary of the Buddha, I shakabuku my brother. He started to practice as his only alternative. I taught him to recite gongyo and we chanted one hour of daimoku together everyday.

My brother continued his Buddhist practice, but in1999 he completely lost all his mental abilities dueto brain cancer. He didn't recognize anybody and he was physically very weak. I continued my practice in New Jersey, and went to SGI activities. President Ikeda says, "The basic requirement of this practice is to have the capacity to touch the heart of others,those who are close to us, and those who are far.". I felt that my prayers were reaching my brother in theisland.

My brother got worse, the doctors told the family that he was end stage. My family asked me to travel to Puerto Rico right away. Before I went on my trip, I rememembered something about the life of Nichiren Daishonin: His mother had been gravely ill, so he traveled to Kominato to see her and chanted for her health. She not only got better, she prolonged herlife an additional 4 years. I remembered this passage during my flight and during my trip to the hospital.

On the third day, my brother opened his eyes,recognized me and started to recover very rapidly. Onthe tenth day, my brother left the hospital and went home. He had completely recovered his mental abilities and this helped his recovery tremendously. He continued with his treatment of chemotherapy and his AIDS treatment. Most importantly, he continued his assiduous practice. A year later, in 2000, the doctors told him that he was the first brain cancer patient to ever recover in Puerto Rico. In 2001, my brother received his gohonzon. Today the doctors cannot detect AIDS in his body and they have asked him if they can write a story about his case in a medical journal.

My brother is an active member of the SGI and he workshard for kosen rufu in the south of our country. His wife supports him in all his activities and she also practices this Buddhism. The fact that we found the gohonzon and we chant daimoku for our happiness and the happiness of others is not a mere coincidence. Without a doubt we accumulated great fortune in the past. Sometimes we feel frustrated because a specific prayer is not answered immediately, which can be the result of the protection we receive from our innate Buddhahood.

The most important thing to do is to make the Gohonzon the center of our lives, and have confidence that we are on the direct path to our desired goals. My determination is to continue my practice until my last days on earth, reading gosho passages and President Ikeda's guidance, supporting our organization's kosenrufu activities, specially on behalf of the Hispanic group in New Jersey. I want to finish by citing a gosho passage: "Believe in the Gohonzon, the supreme object of worship. You should not only persevere but you have to also teach others to the best of your capacity, even if it's only one phrase or prayer, so that What could possibly notbe accomplished?