SGI members’ experiences in faith

Winning the War within My Own Heart

By Rabih Lahoud, Germany
[© Alexander Deck]

I was born in Lebanon in 1982 in the midst of civil war. Love, violence and disappointment were the same thing to me. Outside, people killed each other, and at home, my parents were desperate and filled with fear. They often showed that they loved me, but they could also be violent. The relationship between my parents suffered due to the stresses of war and poverty. My mother hardly ever stopped crying.

I was a very sensitive child, identified as being musically gifted at an early age. I wanted to be a pianist, composer or singer. But the violence disappointed and disillusioned me until I couldn't dream anymore and only wanted to run away from Lebanon, my parents and even from my life. After I completed my schooling, I decided to travel to Germany to study piano.

When I arrived in Germany in 2002, I wanted to leave the violence that I had experienced behind. But I quickly realized how that would be impossible because all my previous life experiences will always remain with me. My lack of hope grew with the passing of each day. The civil war in Lebanon had officially ended in 1990, but nobody can imagine how long war lives in the hearts of children and inflicts on them an invisible pain.

At the end of 2005, I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism. I felt inexplicable joy when I first heard the chanting of "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo," and decided to start practicing immediately. Buddhist practice affected my life on a deep level. Having spent my childhood surrounded by war, I had lost hope and the ability to trust people, but now I felt the return of hope and the strength to trust others again. I began to see myself more clearly and to understand my life better. For the first time, I felt that I was experiencing true friendship, beginning with friendship toward myself. I was able to encourage myself to start afresh, and suddenly the war that had been raging in my heart stopped. This was unbelievable for me.

With this development came a change in my relationship with my parents, allowing us to speak openly about the past and positively about the future. With a new sense of optimism in my life, I also experienced a surge in my life force, giving me the energy to tackle my circumstances. This new strength of heart began to reflect in my surroundings. I started to meet people who helped me with my career and who remain supportive of me to this day. During my dark past, I never imagined having so many good friends. I then met my wife, and we have a marvelous daughter now.

In 2013, I determined that I would complete my studies, obtain a position as a university lecturer and become successful with my band. I applied for and was appointed to a lecturer position at Music Academy Düsseldorf. I was also able to successfully complete my dissertation and was soon after awarded my double diploma.

Whereas war made me feel that human beings are fundamentally ugly inside and that I am ugly, too, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda taught me that I am beautiful and that I can admire this inner beauty. He also taught me that all people are beautiful and that this beauty unites us.

I am very proud and happy that through my Buddhist practice I have been able to create such a constructive life. I am determined to change the destructive force of war through the strength of my heart. I know what war does and how it destroys not only houses but also the ability of people to rebuild their hearts. I also know the strength of Buddhism, that it can help every wounded heart overcome the past and remember that life is eternal and full of hope. For that, I am very thankful.