Fiddle Player, Event organiser and now one of the Keibi team at Taplow for the next two years! For my musical history please visit my personal website - but I suppose what's needed on here is my journey to becoming a member of SGI.
About 12 years ago I was invited to join a band by a chap called Roy Jones. After a few months, Roy mentioned that he was a Buddhist and said that he chanted before rehearsing and performing. No big deal to me...
One rehearsal, I arrived early -- about 30 minutes too early. Roy invited me in and asked me if I'd like to 'chant' with him and the other band singer. I was open minded and was given a card with NMRK on it and chanted for 20 minutes. I felt lifted and thought it was a great vocal warm up. I put the 'lifted feeling' down to hyperventilation - if only I was more open minded - I'd stirred up dark depths and deep waters.
Roy then gave me Pat Alwright's book - Introduction to Buddhism. I didnt read it... well not straight away. I left the band to go back to college to study music - life took over (see my website).
In 2008, I had to have major surgery on my knees. I knew that I'd be out of action for a few weeks. There were books on my shelf that I hadnt read so decided that this would be a good time to apply myself to them. As the pile expanded I came upon Roy's book to me and thought - 'Shoot! I should have got this back to Roy years ago!'. I went on the internet and looked for a way to contact Roy. Surely he would be there somewhere, after all he has a musician. But there was nothing! I decided I'd read the book and see where it took me.
IT ALL MADE SENSE - the content of the book that is. In retrospect, I'd been living in my lower states for years using incorrect honzons to make me feel good, only to be let down by them.
By the end of the book - I started chanting but not knowing if I was doing anything 'right'. So I managed five minutes chanting everyday. How would I find Roy's contact number or address?
Two weeks later, I had to give some music workshops close to where my mother lives (about 200 miles or 320km) away, so this meant an overnight stay. The clever old bird cornered me - sat me down, took away my crutches and told me in no uncertain terms that five boxes of my 'stuff' had been lodging in her garage and she wanted the space back! She brought them out and I had to sort them then and there!
Cornered and not in the right mood to tackle the chore, I resigned myself to facing memories that in some case were painful. A split with my fiance, which was all my fault and doing... Lost contacts... and many more. My afternoon was an emotional ghost train.
Then in a corner of a box full of dedundant papers, a small black book, an old address book... with Roy's contact details in it... coincidence or mystic law at work?
The following day I drove back to Oxfordshire and plucked up the courage to give him a call.Would he remember me? Would he hold a grudge against me for leaving the band to pursue my own musical life? Was he still at this number? Was he still alive? There was a pattern of negativity forming - I nearly didnt make that call!
The joy in Roy's voice was almost overwhelming. Especially when I told him that I'd started chanting! My main concern was with how to get the book back to him - his main concern was for my spiritual welfare.
'To where do I send this book back Roy?'
'Keep it - I want to send you some more stuff. What's your address?'
He sent me a liturgy book, gyongyo CD and Edward Canfor-Dumas' The Buddha, Geoff and Me.
I faced my operations with a serenity and positive outlook. Reading the books and now, in touch with other Buddhists in my area. They looked after me spiritually, loaning me yet more books and giving small gems of guidance. That was April 2008.
I received gohonzon in October 2008 - not before shakubuku'ing my friends, Ruth and Polly... Ruth received her gohonzon in November 2008 and Polly chants, but is still thinking about it.
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