Sunday, October 13, 2013

Experience of a Fortune Baby: Aaron's Medical School Victory

Experience of a Fortune Baby 
On getting into the best possible
medical school 
for my life:

A Fortune Baby is defined as a person who was born into this practice. I am one of those people. And, there is something we refer to as Fortune Baby Syndrome. In general, it is a neglect of the practice itself, the lack of appreciation or understanding of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Let’s just say…I had it bad. 

To me, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was simply a means to an end. When I was a child, I chanted with my mother to get the newest toy, win a baseball tournament, or conquer a class. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. For me, it was merely circumstantial evidence, just like, I thought, of all other religions. 

College was different. Amid the freedom and the chaos of it all, I tried my best to chant, squished into my little fraternity room. Four times per week would have been a major victory, but I only chanted when I needed to prepare for some track race or test. In that time, I was growing, but I was anxious, anxious in uncomfortable social situations that are so prolific in college. I set my sights on medical school, studying late nights and liberally making sacrifices. Often, I studied through a weekend, even if the test wasn’t until Wednesday. At the time, I called it diligence. But really, it was fear, fear of throwing myself fully into the college experience. 

Along came the MCAT, the mother of all college tests, that which could entirely decide my fate in medicine. I set the goal of chanting 15 minutes every day, a drastic increase from the previously meager effort, to achieve the score that would be best for my future. At the time, I did not understand what that meant. Every day, every day, every day, I chanted. But, just like some of my childhood experiences, I did not do as well as I had hoped. Disappointed again, I put away the practice. I told myself that there would never be anything more important. If it failed me then, it would fail me forever. (That was major Fortune Baby Syndrome). 

What I didn’t notice at the time, however, was that my life grew in leaps and bounds that semester after I chanted so consistently. I made true friends and found a feeling of belonging that had evaded me for the two years prior. My running reached a new level, and I felt powerful. At the end of that semester, I even met a great girl! Essentially, everything was going well. As the rest of that year progressed, I felt like I was leaking, like I had a sip of some powerful juice that was finally wearing off. I could feel myself slipping. 

It all came to a point during winter break of my senior year of college. Everything was still going well, but something inside was troubling me. We had just won the National Championship for club cross country, I had gotten into medical school, I was going into my last semester of college, and I went skiing with great friends.  I should have been on top of the world! Instead, I was angry, I was irritated, and I was uncomfortable with myself. I was unhappy. At that moment, I evaluated my life, looking back to the last time I really felt happy. 
The answer? 
The semester after I had chanted my heart out all summer long for that MCAT. 
Well, that was a realization. So, in that new year of 2012, I decided to start chanting again. After a few weeks of chanting every single day, things started to click again. I felt that power, the power that we call Buddhahood. Slowly, my life started to grow again. My relationship with myself and with my girlfriend began to improve. 

I started going to weekly SGI meetings, a goal that I had long since left behind for the sake of my studies. But, with all the work behind me, I could throw my energy into something new. That last semester put quite the exclamation mark on college. Every day, I felt the progress…just a little more strength, a little less doubt, and a lot more positivity. 
Halfway into the semester, something happened that nicely illustrated the overall change in my life condition. One day, all of my important things were stolen out of gym locker: laptop, phone, video camera (I was pretty dumb about what I carried with me), research hard drive, and all of my notes! But, something strange happened. When I opened my locker and found nothing, that deep, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach never came. I didn’t ask all the what ifs and I didn’t swear at the world for doing this to me. Instead, I walked calmly downstairs and reported my things missing. What a benefit! I really started to understand how much my practice could affect those little elements within my personality that I never thought it could reach. What a benefit! And, it gets better. All of my stuff magically was returned a few days later.
With that extra boost, I powered forward, now determined to chant 2 x per day! I still made goals, but I was not a slave to them the way I had been in the past. I just started to have this feeling that things will work out and that I will be prepared for what life throws at me. 

All of sudden, I was graduating and moving on to medical school. And, as it turns out, my score got me into a medical school where balance, happiness, and spirituality are taught as much as medical knowledge. I found a real community of happy individuals in one of the last places you would expect it. So, perhaps I got exactly what I chanted for: the medical education that was best for me. There will be many challenges along the way, but I will continue to progress as a student, a friend, an athlete, and a Buddha. 

1 comment:

  1. Such an encouraging post for mothers of fortune babies like me. Thank you.