Power story by Bindiya Bedi Charan Noronha, a linguist working in a diplomatic mission in New Delhi, founder of Mil Baant Ke (Sharing with Dignity), writer and author of the book Dream Keeper: A Poetography Ensemble (www.binko.in)
I have been practising Nichirin Daishonin’s Buddhism for many years, resulting in a fundamental transformation in my life. I commenced chanting Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo to overcome my struggles, anxieties to dissipate and be victorious in my daily battles. Slowly, I learnt to chant for others. I understood that we could not be happy in isolation. And I began working for the happiness of all people in my environment. As my practice developed, my mindset became compassionate. It permeated my actions, and I began supporting the community by helping, encouraging those who were struggling. Courage and wisdom started replacing anger and fear. I focused on creating value every day.
I encountered this great practice when my son was four years old. It appealed to me because it was scientific and rational. There was no blame game or pleading anyone for blessings. I learnt to take responsibility for my life without passing the buck of my misfortunes to anybody else.
I had problems galore – financial, emotional, health all rolled into my life. I worked on myself to polish my inner energy. I attended meetings and motivated myself. I studied the books written by Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and applied his guidance. He became my mentor, and I called him Sensei. I felt deep gratitude and joy for encountering Buddhism in my lifetime.
I was encouraged by senior members to join the White Lilly group. Despite my chaotic life, I volunteered. In this group, we worked behind the scenes for different events and meetings. I missed my duty slot many times due to personal challenges, but the compassion of the members who filled in for me was tremendous. They never made me feel guilty. I challenged myself to do my best. Buddhist study was an essential part, and it expanded my heart and mind. I realized the value of working behind the scenes. I embraced Sensei’s guidance on looking inwards to focus on continual self-development. Buddhist group activities helped me to train my mind to focus on the goodness within each human being. Volunteering in the White Lilly group built the foundation for working selflessly without waiting for an acknowledgement.
My family situation was awfully tough. My husband was battling alcoholism with substantial financial losses. It was up to me to take care of my son and protect him from an unhealthy environment. I decided to send my son to the best boarding school when he was 12 years old. It was a financial challenge, and I missed him terribly. Instead of giving in to depression, I chose to work for the community.
I volunteered to help with an informal school of underprivileged children operated by the Senior Citizens Welfare Association. Gradually, my friends and family watched my life-changing from being an unhappy defeatist person to a confident, contributive individual. They began to join me. My inner spirits healed, and it reflected in my environment. My ex-husband and I divorced amicably; my son completed his engineering and is doing well for himself. An old family friend proposed to me, we fell in love, and I got remarried. Today, we are a happy, united family.
I formed a community-based organisation (CBO) with like-minded friends called Mil Baant Ke – Sharing with Dignity. I enrolled in social work and counselling courses to learn more about the development sector. My personal life reflected the inner change. I started writing and sketching. Manyy poems, short stories, articles were published in different anthologies and magazines. I authored a book, “Dream Keeper A Poetography Ensemble”, a collection of poetry with photographs by my award-winning sister. We dedicated the book to our parents. All this was possible with one constant prayer, “My voice must do the Buddha’s work”.
The fundamental internal change that brought numerous gifts in my life was the profound learning that when we work selflessly for the happiness of others, good fortune fills our life with beauty, benefit, and goodness, creating win-win solutions. I received a lot of support from my environment. I am happy to share that my voluntary organisation sponsors children’s education, conducts free nutrition, menstrual awareness workshops. It creates skill-building units for women, organises complimentary dental and general health checkups, also specific medical consultations, distributes essential supplements, builds community libraries, organises spoken English classes for the underprivileged community. I have been working towards participative community building initiatives along with my regular job at a diplomatic mission.
My life expanded beyond my imagination. I have travelled widely, developed as a compassionate human being, and have built beautiful relationships far and wide while working for the larger good in society. I am thankful to Tanja for giving me this opportunity to share my journey. I feel liberated and strong. I treasure each person I encounter. I want to do my best towards a more humane world and walk the path of Buddha with dignity and joy.
Bindiya Bedi Charan Noronha is a linguist working in a diplomatic mission in New Delhi. She is associated with social causes for children, women and the environment through her community-based organisation – Mil Baant Ke (Sharing with Dignity). She is a writer and has authored the book Dream Keeper: A Poetography Ensemble (www.binko.in). Her short stories, articles and poems have appeared in several anthologies, magazines in India and abroad.