When I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002 I had already been practicing Buddhism with the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) for 14 years. Still, I didn't have a very strong practice at the time. I attended local discussion meetings regularly, but I didn't spend much time chanting on a daily basis. It wasn't until the symptoms of schizophrenia - the voices whispering in my head, the screaming and yelling I heard outside my apartment, the feeling that I was constantly being watched and followed, the incessant fear and paranoia – grew unbearable and took over my life that I really began to strengthen my Buddhism practice by chanting consistently every day.
I was at a point in my life where I felt like I couldn't explain how I felt or what I was really thinking to anyone who would understand. I kept everything to myself because nothing that I believed made sense. I decided to focus on chanting my Buddhist chant and hoped that therein I would find the resolution to my problem. This was over three years ago. While I still deal with symptoms of schizophrenia every day, I have learned how to manage the symptoms so that they no longer have power over me. Buddhism gave me the courage to challenge the negativity in my life, to believe in myself and to fight against my own negativity as well as the evil in my environment manifested as symptoms of schizophrenia.
When I chant, I repeat the phrase Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (literally: devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect through sound and vibration) over and over, rhythmically and sonorously. This is a fundamental part of my Buddhist practice. I make sure to chant at least one hour every day, and I recite the morning prayers as well as the evening prayers. I also attend local discussion meetings once a week and I have recently started supporting the elementary school youth group, much to my great fortune. I read daily encouragement over breakfast every morning to start my day off on a positive note. All of these activities that comprise my Buddhist practice, along with the encouragement from fellow Buddhists have provided me with the hope, courage, and perseverance to never give up in the battle against my own negativity and the devilish functions that are present in my life. Without my Buddhist practice, I would have given up the fight years ago and probably would not be alive to see the light of day.