Believe in your dreams – “Unseen virtues bore visible rewards”

Many times our leaders tell us that one of the best way to gain benefits is by contributing to the success of our Gakkai’s activities, be it meetings, festivals, regardless how small or big the scale is.  Surabhi Chandra, a WD from India, helped her district planned for the 3 May meeting and eventually achieved her dream, and more.

It all began with a dream. It always does.

I am Surabhi Chandra. I work as a marketing manager in an export company based in Noida.

I started practicing this wonderful life philosophy of Daishonin Buddhism way back in year 2001. As my understanding grew and faith deepened, like many other sincere devotees, I started nurturing the dream to be able to see and meet my mentor, Ikeda Sensei.

However, it was easier said than done.

As years went by, I started soaking in Sensei’s spirit through his writings and journals. Time and again it was said, what I eventually came to believe, that Sensei is very much by our side, in spirit though and not in person.

As I persevered in my pursuits of faith, moving from one area to another, vowing to do my best at the place of my mission, the dream somewhat got pushed to the subconscious mind.

It was in October 2009, while hosting an International Fair in Delhi, I had a chanced meeting with some buyers.

On first look, I took them as some Chinese suppliers. Eventually they turned out to be from Japan looking to get started with some accessories business from India.

To begin with, we were not very hopeful on getting started with them mainly on two accounts.

First, they were already in business with China and it was very difficult to compete on price. Second, we as a company, who till his point in time, have mainly catered to European and American brands, were not very sure of our abilities to meet the high Japanese standards.

However, these mental blocks were taken care of by the fact that the buyers got impressed with the product quality already in running, for a very high end Italian customer.

It must have given them a sense of confidence that we might be able to deliver what they are looking for. Secondly, we could work a way out to meet their price targets.

It was in Feb 2010,we received the first set of orders from them.

As things started to fall in place, my dream started to pave its way out to the forefront.

I very strongly felt a mystic connection with the work at hand and that it would lead me to my cherished pilgrimage.

There were all the right signs – the main buyer’s name had a surname “Ikeda”. Besides, one of the buyer actually turned out to be a Soka Gakkai member .

In just over a year, I did almost half a dozen shipments with the customer. For a new entrant, and seemingly an alien market to us, the business grew at an amazing speed reaching to a top 3 spot by the close of this financial year.

Not to say, the shipments were without any hiccups. There were lots of ups and down, and the major bone of contention being the quality issues that we till now, took for granted but were not acceptable by the Japanese customer.

As for me, every deadlock at work was challenged and overcome through the power of daimoku. In order to come closer to my dream, I had to build a solid business base for the company.

Meanwhile, my counterpart at Japan, made frequent trips to India during the course of final inspections. I ended up making a very deep heart to heart bond with her that went beyond the business horizons.

We were exposed to each other’s culture during the time we spent with one another, and made the most of it.

She became my window to Japan and I vice versa.

It was during one of her trips she expressed her desire to our MD to have me visit Japan as their guest.

Happy by the progress of the business, my director readily complied. It was at the beginning of this year that she sent me an official invitation.

I applied and subsequently got the visa for 3 months – mid-Feb to mid-May. I was all set to visit Japan in mid-March – right in midst of the spring to greet the cherry blossoms.

I was so near yet so far from my cherished dream.

As I was in the process of finalizing my itinerary and flight tickets, calamity stuck Japan in form of major earthquake and tsunami,the worst crisis faced by the nation post World War Two.

As fears of radiation spread following the blasts of nuclear reactors, everything came to a grinding halt. So did my plans to visit Japan.

There were travel advisory issued against Japan.

With economic recession looming large, sales also went down. The buyer was looking forward to capitalize the holiday season with new sales promotions but that also went to the backburner.

As an aftermath of post earthquake crisis, the buyer expressed their apologies for not being in a position to proceed with any official order bookings till the time they cleared their stocks.

It obviously meant an indefinite postponement on my visit for nobody knew as to when the situation would improve.

However, all these turn of events hardly proved a deterrent for me. Honestly, more than the actual visit or the subsequent business loss, at his point, I was more concerned about the safety and well being of the Japanese friends and families there.

I did whatever I could to the best of my capacity – through calls, mails and most significantly through prayers to reach out to them and express my genuine solidarity and support.

All this while, every other person whom I met though I was crazy to be even thinking of visiting Japan.

This only made me smile…I had friends there, who were alive and kicking.

It took a while and lot of prayers, before things started falling in place again.

I turned to the Gohonzon and chanted with full conviction to erase the devils of doubts from my mind.

With 3 May around the corner, I focussed my prayers to defeat the impending obstacles and work with united spirit towards the ‘eternal starting point’.

I drew inspiration from Sensei’s 3 May message, “Please be assured that all of you who have joined in this endeavour will definitely triumph over any obstacle and shine brilliantly leading a life of unsurpassed victory.”

With only 15 days to go before my visa expires, suddenly talks of my visit were renewed.

The buyer said that though they were not in a position to book any orders but if I were fine to visit them and discuss other agendas, they look forward to welcome me.

My joy knew no bounds. Immediately, I proceeded with final bookings.

However, the date of my departure coincided with the district 3 May commemorative meeting.

This was the opportunity I was looking for… to make maximum positive causes before I take the final plunge.

With the back-to-back hectic office schedule and last moment preparations at work, I immersed myself in the 3 May preparations.

I did my best to extend my wholehearted support, reaching out to members to ensure their joyful participation. After all I was going to the land of Sensei and I had to report victory on my district’s behalf.

I flew out in the morning of 8 May while the 3 May celebrations were on. It turned out to be a great meeting. We had registered a victory.

I carried the vision of my mentor in my heart and silently prayed all throughout the journey and as I touched the land of the rising sun.

The first instinct on arriving was to board the next train to the SGI HQ and run and greet Sensei.

But of course, I was there on an official trip. My work has actually helped me realize my dream.

I was very clear that I had to create maximum value out of the trip as far as work is concerned.

I went on to do exactly the same, even though if it meant non-stop train rides, skipping lunch to accommodate back-to-back appointments.

After taking care of couple of official engagements, I finally arrived at Shinanomachi railway station on 11 May.

My heart leapt with joy as I saw the glow sign indicating way to SGI HQ.

The area from the station to the SGI building is marked with various signature buildings like the SG headquarters annex, the prayer centre, and the Min-on culture centre.

In my deligently practiced Japanese, I went on greeting the security at each of these spots and telling them, “Watashiwa sensei mitasu” (I will meet Sensei).

They would look and smile at me …beyond words we understood the common language of faith.

At the SGI HQ, a very warm and embracing staff welcomed me. They were delighted to know that I was from India.

However, I barely registered what they said…for the first few seconds, I went completely numb and kept parroting –“I come here to meet Sensei,I will meet Sensei”.

The support staff, alumnus of Soka University said that Sensei was not there – something I always knew but never believed.

However, the mere mention of it was overwhelming –I almost broke down. It took me some time to get back to my normal self – Of course, Sensei was not there in person but I could feel his aura everywhere…

It seemed as if he was watching over me. I had carried some souvenirs for Sensei on behalf of the district, which I handed over to the staff.

In return, I was given many gifts that I took back home for the members.

As a prized possession, I got myself photographed with two very beautiful portraits of Sensei and Mrs Ikeda by the support staff.

It did seem as if my mentor stood next to me in person. I traversed a journey in faith that cannot be put in words.

From the HQ, I went to the SGI prayer centre where I chanted a lot of appreciation daimoku.

On the journey back to my hotel, I saw him everywhere – on the train, at the station, on the roads. Even though, I did not see my mentor, I felt as if he was with me.

I came back to home after a week’s stay and cherished these memories of a lifetime.

However, my sojourn in Japan has not been without other achievements.

For a purely vegetarian person, who cannot have any egg content in food on account of allergy complications, to survive a week in Japan savouring the Japanese and French cuisine is just next to a miracle.

Besides, though my work limited me to central Tokyo, I was fortunate enough not just to travel the length and breadth of the city but also visit the lovely countryside and the famous Narita shrine.

With the people who are either not English conversant or shy to speak the language in public, communication came easy to me and I made very strong bonds of friendship.

All this was made possible because of a shoten zenjin, an elderly gentleman who is the agent to my Japanese buyers.

Born an Indian, he had almost spent his lifetime in Japan. In fact, he was instrumental in introducing me to his neighbours, a Gakkai family who has been practicing since Toda sensei’s time.

It was a beautiful encounter.

A devout Muslim himself and even though a non-practicing Gakkai member, his assistance at every crucial hour made my journey enriching and wholesome. I continue to pray in lot of appreciation and his good health in times to come.

Besides him, I believe its my family’s unflinching support, especially my husband, helped me achieve this milestone.

In times of distress, when everyone around advised me not to undertake this voyage, he stood by me.

In fact, he helped me nurture a strong seeking desire to go and meet Sensei – “If not now, then when?”

My faith grew on his conviction because of which I could proudly proclaim ourselves to Sensei, as a kosen-rufu family, we firmly determined to do our best.

The icing on the cake has been that the main customer I visited has actually come back with an order.

My interaction with their team helped erase certain doubts and gave them confidence to place new set of orders with us.

This seemed a distant possibility just prior to my visit. Subsequently, I was also awarded the best merchandiser in the Annual Seminar held around end of May.

Unseen virtues bore visible rewards.

However, more than a sense of achievement, the whole journey has been a humbling experience.

It made me realize what a miniscule of effort I am making as compared to what our mentor has done (and continues to do) to take the kosen-rufu movement forward.

I had made a silent determination to Sensei that I would endeavour to fulfill to the best of my capacity.

This milestone is certainly not a culmination but an eternal starting point in my journey of faith.

“People who chant are different”

When face with difficulties, the best way to overcome them is to apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra. Lay Geok, WD from Singapore, did just that.  Through her pure faith, strong and abundant daimoku, as well as her participation in kosen-rufu, Lay Geok overcame numerous obstacles, including cysts in her womb, adjusting to life in another country, her son’s health problem and the death of her father.

I started chanting in 1983. My second brother brought back a copy of the Buddhism magazine.

He told me that he met a man in a hospital and had asked him to try to chant. I started reading the magazine and found the article, “Ten Worlds”, very practical and decided to chant for a job.

I just graduated and shortly after I found a job in a bank. That was my first benefit.

I took up faith very quickly and soon participated in all Gakkai activities. Besides meetings, I also participated in the youth festival at the then new indoor stadium and the National Day Parade.

Life was smooth sailing and when I looked back it was pure faith and kosen-rufu activities that enable me to accumulate lots of good fortune.

We must have correct practice
5 years later, in 1988, I got married. My husband does not chant but he supports my practice.

As I did not have a Gohonzon in my own place and for fear of discord, I confined my chanting to my bedroom facing the east.

Soon after my two sons came along.  My practice was limited to only gongyo and daimoku and my Gakkai activities stopped completely.

It was a wake up call when I discovered, through my routine medical checkup, that I had cysts in my womb.

The pre-surgery checkup showed my blood test was not within the normal range and the gynecologist was afraid that it could be cancerous.

My initial thoughts when I heard about my medical condition was to apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra – daimoku first! Fortunately, it was a false alarm and my surgery was also successful.

I soon reflected on my practice and realized that I had faith but was barely practising for oneself and not for others.

My practice was not based on faith, practice and study.  That was my first turning point of my practice. I started attending meetings again.

Do not seek the Gohonzon outside of you
My second turning point for my practice was in year 2004 when my husband got his job posting in Jakarta.

The posting was for 3 years, so the decision was the whole family to move to Jakarta with him.

I resigned from my job and our 2 sons then was 14 and 16 years. They joined the international school there.

From a full-time career woman to a full time housewife, I was lost.

It was worsened by not being able to speak Bahasa Indonesia. I chanted very hard to get a job and to adapt to my new environment.

Daily daimoku was at least 3 hours. However, I felt so down with each passing day. I felt so depressed and even begged to Gohonzon for help.

It went on for 3 months till one day while I was chanting, it came to my realization that I could carry on feeling depressed for the rest of the 3 years, or I make the best of my 3 years.

I also reflected on my practice and realized that I had put Gohonzon outside me and just hoped that things would just happened.

Despite lots of daimoku, I failed to take actions for the prayers that I had set.

Buddhism is reason. Our prayers cannot be answered if we fail to make efforts appropriate to our situation.

Soon after, I changed my prayer focus to doing kosen-rufu in Indonesia.

I decided to contact the Soka Indonesia member to check up on meetings.

I was so happy to have taken my first step to making appropriate changes in accordance to my prayer.

As the meetings were conducted in Bahasa Indonesia, I chanted to meet somebody who could translate for me and to participate meaningfully in the meeting.

To my surprise, I found out there were many members who spoke Mandarin and were very eager to help.

There were also Japanese members who could understand Bahasa Indonesia.

Soon after, I took up Bahasa Indonesia class to understand the meetings better. I also took up the courage to join the WD musical group to play Angklung even though classes were also conducted in Bahasa Indonesia.

Every Wednesday, I would join the WD for daimokukai followed by the Angklung practice. It was my good fortune to be able to participate in their performances.

I also joined the Soka International group in Jakarta, which is for members from different countries staying in the city.

It was through the international meetings that I also shakubuku my elder son in Jakarta.

I brought him to the international meeting and fortunately, he related very well with 2 Italian members and started chanting.

He is leaving for the US and had just received his Omamori Gohonzon this morning.

Continuous chanting of daimoku gave me the wisdom to reflect on my practice and have good influence in my environment and overcame the fundamental darkness in me. Since then, the following Sensei guidance remains in my yearly dairy:

“If you are stuck, pray to release the chains of doubt and fear clouding your mind of faith. Pray for the unbounded confidence and courage to win over your past and step joyfully into your bright future,” President Ikeda (12 April 2002, World Tribune).

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is within my life. I have the absolute power to change things, even the most difficult situations.

A great obstacle is a wonderful opportunity to grow.

When I looked back, the stay in Jakarta gave me the opportunity to chant lots of daimoku. I achieved the 5 millionth daimoku just before I came back to Singapore.

I was able to do my kosen-rufu and accumulated lots of good fortune and many of the personal prayers were also answered.

We returned to Singapore in 2007 and soon after, I was asked o return to the job that I resigned because the colleague who took over from me left.

Strong faith makes anything possible
My younger son is dyslexic.  I got him tested when he was primary 2 when I  observed that he had great difficulties with numbers and spelling.

I was very concerned about his progress in school. I was even more despaired especially when he was trying very hard to cope.

Then I decided to base on daimoku once again to seek for direction to help my child. It was definitely not a straightforward or easy task.

However through many ups and down, he found his path to pursue an education in Art. He completed his Diploma and Fine Art in LaSalle College of Art last year.

He was also awarded a scholarship and has put up a website on all his artwork and is having a group exhibition now at a gallery in Tanjong Pagar.

The most important thing is that he is happy and enjoys what he is doing. I am chanting for his artwork to be a strong platform for kosen-rufu. I am sure he will!

Everything starts with prayers
There is no limit to how many things we pray about. It just means that the more desires we have, the more sincere and abundant our prayers will be.

Who answer our prayers?

We do through faith and effort. No one does it for us.

My brother’s sudden death 2 years ago (he was 51) due to heart attack was a terrible setback for all in the family.

We chanted lots of daimoku to have the high life condition and high life force to get through the difficult phase.

It was so sudden and tough for us to accept.  It was worse for my parents.

The only means was daimoku, abundant daimoku. My brother’s death made me realized it is NOT death that one fears; rather it is how one lives that is more important. His death also taught me to treasure every moment I have.

A year later, my father contacted advanced lung cancer. He passed away last Nov.

Our immediate reaction was no difference from most people, “Why him? Can’t be true and we hope that it was a wrong diagnosis.”

When the test was positive, our thought became, “No!  No! He deserved a better death.”

Though we continued to chant for his recovery, we broke down so often and found it so difficult to accept his situation.

However, through lots of chanting and sobbing, my brother and me composed ourselves and decided to set very focused prayers for our father and the family.

My father told us that his fear was not death but pain as he had seen many of his friends and his brothers who had cancer and died in pain.

We also gathered from the lung specialist my father’s cancer was only 1 mm away from his rib and if the cancer spread to the bones, even morphine would not help, he would be in great pain because the cancer had already spread to his stomach.

We were determined to show actual proof and set the following prayers for him:
1.To have the highest life force to lessen his karmic retribution
2.To show actual proof through ultimate victory and attain Buddhahood

No pain, highest comfort
Dad told me he could not chant, as he was breathless. However, 3 days before he passed away, I showed him Sensei’s article written in Chinese titled, “People who chant are different”.

He read it and I could still remember when he finished the article, he placed it aside and gave a soft nod.

Mystically, my 3rd brother saw him chanting the next morning on the sofa. 2 days later, he passed away peacefully without any pain.

His wish was answered. My brother created a blog in fond memory of our father to celebrate his 80 years of life.

Thank you!

The power of chanting

Chanting daimoku is a core practice of Nichiren Buddhism. President Ikeda said, “One who continues to chant abundant daimoku to the Gohonzon will accumulate eternal good fortune and establish an everlasting condition of joy within his life. In other words, through Buddhist practice, you can create the fundamental cause which leads to indestructible happiness. Therefore, you must absolutely never abandon your faith.” Mamta Mehta’s (WD) testimonial is a good example and proof of Ikeda sensei’s guidance on how it is essential to chant a lot of daimoku. After being introduced to Nichiren Buddhism, she continues to chant despite encountering difficulties at times.  In the end, she was rewarded for her perseverance.

I was introduced to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism in February 2009. On my first Gakkai meeting, I was so much fascinated by the words “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” that I decided in the meeting itself that no matter what, I would keep chanting these words.

At that time, I did not understand the power of chanting but I only knew that it relaxes me and helps me to forget the sorrows of my life.

It was not easy to sit and chant in the beginning. I could not even concentrate for 3 minutes but slowly and steadily; I pushed myself and was able to chant for a longer time. When I chant, clarity started coming and I started to understand my weaknesses and strengths.

I began to attend meetings regularly and struggled to chant with members. In March the same year, I lost my job, which was a great blow to me but this did not stop me from chanting. In fact, after losing my job, I felt that I had more time to chant and read books, like Value Creation and the Gosho.

I made up my mind to struggle more and to learn from my past. I chanted for protection. After struggling for one year now, I do believe in Gosho:

“Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rise in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.”

This year, 2011, brought happiness in my life as I got a part-time job in an international school.

Now, I feel satisfied that I am able to give enough time to my children and also work. My son got admission in the school of his choice and our accommodation problem is also solved.

Before I was the only one in my family who believed in the Mystic Law but now my daughter and my son also chant with me for few minutes.

I thank the Gohonzon for this and pay my gratitude to all the leaders and members who guided me and helped me to strengthen my faith.

I am determined from today that I will keep chanting till the end of my life and would work for kosen-rufu. In the end, I would like to quote from the Daishonin’s writings:

“When, in the family, honor is paid diligently to the teachings, the seven disasters will most certainly be banished.”

Never be defeated

Why do we participate in Gakkai activities, read the Gosho (Nichiren Daishonin’s Major Writings) and listen to President Ikeda’s guidance? It is through the training we receive when preparing for Gakkai performances, meetings and events; the deeper understanding of the Mystic Law from the Gosho we read and encouragement from Sensei’s guidance that enable us to develop the strength, courage, wisdom and attitude to face and triumph our lives’ challenges (or karma).  Jann Gerstner, a WD from SGI-USA, learned and developed a strong attitude of never surrendering to any adversity she faces which allows her to defeat many negative karma in her life. 

I live in Florida where I had practiced Nichiren Buddhism for 37 years. In 1975, I joined the SGI Young Women’s Division. We were asked if we would like to start a fife and drum corps and be part of 200 girls from the SE up to Washington DC who would march in Hawaii on July 4th of that year.

Over the next three months I learned to play the piccolo and the attitude of never-give-up! As part of our training, we memorized a segment from The Opening of the Eyes, one of Nichiren Daishonin’s most important Gosho (Major Writings).

“Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. Do not have doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith.” (WND, p. 283)

We recited it in Japanese with each morning and evening gongyo, which ingrained the passage into my life. Our daimoku created unity and the courage to face all obstacles in our path. Without that training that penetrated deep within my life, I could never have faced the next 37 years with a never-be-defeated attitude.

In 1980, while in the Catskills learning to hang-glide, I fell 600 feet and put my head through the rod I’d been holding. I suffered brain damage to the left lobe, which caused grand mal seizures.

I was encouraged that “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle? (WND, p. 412) I went home and began a three-hour-a day-campaign of chanting to change this karma. When I went back to the doctor, to his surprise the new test showed no damage. This experience would provide profound encouragement for me later on.

I learned to live a 100% in the moment and to move forward with strength and courage. During a turbulent period in 1992, I kept losing jobs every few months, and also my place to live.

One time I lost my job and place to live in the same day. I continued chanting several hours a day and practicing hard within the organization to introduce as many people as possible to the practice.

To my amazement, I always had a beautiful environment around a new job and me. In 1994, I had my first attack of MS, although it was not diagnosed at that time. I knew something terrible was happening to my body and that stress escalated the symptoms.

I dropped out of my career and found a contract job that would allow me to work when I felt good. I began to paint furniture that I was able to sell. I worked hard with the other leaders in our district to raise capable leaders.

As I began to build fortune in my life, in 2002, I was hit with another major attack. This time I lost the use of my right leg, could not hold my body up, and the tremors were unbearable. This time I was given the diagnosis of MS and placed in a nursing facility. The doctors did not hold out too much hope and said I would probably spend the rest of my life there. I had a great SGI support system and they encouraged me day and night. Matilda Buck called me from the FNCC and I promised her I would see her in October 2002 at the WD conference.

Now here I was, making a determination to be at a conference, no money, lost my place to live again, on top of I could not sit up, walk etc. I called upon that never-be-defeated attitude that I learned in YWD. That, along with my brain-damage experience which proved I could change physical karma.

Also that I lived a 100% in the moment, made me feel I could achieve victory once again. I knew deep inside that this was my greatest opportunity ever to show how we can change the impossible to the possible.

I began to chant and study. By August 2002, I walked out of the nursing home. And in October 2002, I met Matilda at FNCC as she got off the bus. I felt total victory.

When I came home, I found I had a two-and-a-half-inch tumor in my left breast — which turned out to be a benefit because the oncologist that treated me had studied under a neurologist who was experimenting with Cytoxin, a chemotherapy that could help MS patients.

At that time, it had not been FDA approved. I never owned the cancer; I felt it was a benefit that after eight treatments over a 16-week period I had my balance back, and in the fall of 2004, they could not find the MS in my brain.

For the next six years, I was MS and cancer free. I continued to build districts in Florida and helped members stand up. Last July, the MS came back. At the October Kosen-rufu gongyo, on oxygen and a walker, I vowed to the members that I would not discourage one person, that I would make it through and change this karma once and for all. I decided to do the chemo again.

Due to the severity of the effects of chemo and the MS on my body, hospice was called in to manage the pain and care for me. Over the next several months, I was on morphine. Hospice tried to get me to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) form.

I refused, telling them you do not die from disease — you die when you’ve completed your mission on earth. And I knew I hadn’t done that.

Once again, I lost everything around me. I moved from hospice to a friend’s house. There were days when I was so weak and full of pain, it would have been easy to let go. But the training I received in YWD — that never-give-up spirit — was at the core of my life.

At the end of November, I received an overdose of morphine and was rushed to the ER with acute respiratory depression. My lungs were filling up with liquid. I remember being in a dream and this man was trying to drown me. I ask him not to because it would discourage so many people.

After that I opened my eyes. A friend was there who was a paramedic and SGI member. She told me that I’d come within five minutes of being brain dead. Something deep within me had changed in that moment.

Once again, the chemo worked and my symptoms went away, but the side effects caused my digestive system to fail for the next several months. In one week I lost 14 lbs. It also caused some focal seizures in my brain, which put me back into the hospital.

An MRI was done and the neurologist told me that for someone who’d had MS for 16 years, my brain hardly showed any signs of the disease. I told her I was a Buddhist and had been working at changing the karma of MS. I was told that most of my myelin sheaths were damaged and they did not know how I was moving around. My pain would never go away.

When I came out of the hospital, I was once again homeless. Not only that, but I seemed to be re-experiencing bits of karma I had seen throughout my life. It was difficult to see the ugliest aspects of my life that I had thought were gone for good, but I was determined to clean out my karmic storage bin once and for all.

President Ikeda said in Buddhism in a New Light, “An important aspect of what we call enlightenment, or human revolution, is to change the way we see ourselves and thus to see the unconditional value of life within us, which neither requires comparison with others nor depends upon our transient appearance.”

I continued to work with my co-district leaders to help members stand up and chant daimoku to show actual proof. I felt a transformation in the depths of my life.

My brother asked me to come live with his family in Cumming, GA. We had always been close, so I decided to take him up on it. He came to Florida and brought me home. And I do mean home. He told me I would always have a home with him and his family. Now I have a home but a wonderful family around me for the first time in my life.

In the beginning of Febuary 2011, my doctor put me back into the hospital due to some weakness on my right side. I spent one week and during that week some test were ran. I felt that the hospital was the Buddha’s land. I was released with a follow up doctor’s appointment.

On Febuary 14, 2011, I saw my neurologist, now this is a new one that I had in the hospital. He had taken a MRI of my brain and then a spinal tap. After getting all my records from Florida. He showed me the dvd’s and the MS can hardly be seen in on the MRI.

My spinal tap came back almost completely clean. He sat back for a moment and looked at me. Then he spoke, “I am complete amazed”! Then he asked what type of Buddhism do I practice. I told him I was a member of the SGI.

Then he smiled and told me his mother has been practicing since he was a kid. And of course she had tried to get him to practice. He said, that I have blown him away, that he has never experience seeing karma change. I believe I will get him to a meeting now.

I could not figure out why the doctor was putting me in the hospital. Usually they wait till the MS has escalated more before they put me in. I believe it was the mother of the neurologist that was chanting so much for her son that I got tossed into the hospital so to meet him. It is truly mystical how the Law works.

I owe my victory to the never-give-up spirit that I learned in the YWD, and ingraining the segment of the Opening of the Eyes into my life. By never being sorry I was not leading a peaceful life and never doubting the forces in the universes, I have been able to change major karma and gain wisdom, courage, and, most important of all, great compassion for everyone that I meet.

No prayer of the votary of the Lotus Sutra goes unanswered

Anuradha B, a 32-year old WD from India has been practising Nichiren Daishonin for 5 1/2 years. Among the many victories she gained during this period, she shares with us a touching testimonial on her pregnancies and the significance of each that led to progress in the relationships between her and her families. 

Good morning Friends. My name is Anuradha and I stand here today as a proud disciple of Ikeda Sensei sharing actual proof with you all that “No prayer of the votary of the Lotus Sutra goes unanswered.

When I started practicing as an YWD, I had little support from my parents for the practice. They strongly disapproved of my life partner choice and did not attend my marriage.

When I got married and came to my in-laws house, I was pleasantly surprised at their openness in allowing me to practice freely. I enshrined my Gohonzon within three months and had a series of victories to report. Through this phase, I continued to chant for the happiness of my parents and for them to see that I had indeed found a kosen-rufu family.

After about over a year of consistent prayer, we got to know the happy news of my pregnancy in March 2009. I was overjoyed and poured my heart out with gratitude to the Gohonzon. However, this happiness was short-lived.

The doctors detected a rare defect in the fetus during the first trimester screening – a neural tube defect – one that leads to death of the fetus within the womb or the birth of a severely retarded child. I was recommended to terminate the pregnancy immediately.

I came back home that night and cried my heart out to the Gohonzon. My mind was blank and I didn’t know what to pray for. I wondered why this was happening to me – where I had gone wrong, Why me! I had prayed with a pure heart and always kept the Gohonzon as the centre of my being.

I reached out to Sensei’s guidance and chanced upon the essay – Stormy 24 April 1979. I looked up and it so happened that the day was 24 April 2009 – 30 years ago on this day Sensei had to step down as SGI president – a position he had held for 19 years.

I read the passage over and over again and realized the true worth of hardships. I realized how Sensei had worked on each obstacle and transformed it into strength and courage to brave the next. I understood my true bond with my mentor and made a fresh vow never to be defeated and to strive undauntedly until I report absolute victory to my mentor.

With that resolve and courage, I chanted earnest daimoku without a shadow of doubt in my mind. I took guidance from a senior leader who appreciated my composure and encouraged me to keep lifelong faith in the Gohonzon.

Though the entire process of termination was physically and mentally traumatizing, I sensed a huge strength well forth from within and my spirit soared as I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on the hospital bed. And there I realized the true reason for this incident in my life.

I realized that this baby had come with her karma of a serious birth defect. However my baby chose me – a votary of the Lotus Sutra – so that she could expiate this karma within her life time of three months. Thus, she had become a votary of the Lotus Sutra herself and had been freed to be reborn with a healthy body and mind.

I realized that the baby was truly a kosen-rufu baby – she brought together my parents and in-laws to live in harmony under the same roof – something that I could never imagine in this life time! It made my parents see the goodness in my in-laws and their over whelming love and care for me.

I realized that my baby had a profound mission – to connect her mother deeper to the Gohonzon and awaken her once again to her mission of kosen-rufu.

My heart was filled with gratitude for having the Gohonzon, Sensei, this wonderful organization and a loving family to live through this hardship.

Post my recovery, I plunged my heart out to encourage members and chant earnestly for the happiness of all. During this phase, my prayer changed – to have a healthy kosen-rufu family and there was no anxiety in my prayer.

I introduced my sister-in-law in Bangalore to this practice and I am extremely glad to report that she has bloomed into a promising BSG member who is actively participating in Gakkai activities. She has further introduced her parents and colleagues to this wonderful philosophy!

Friends, I would like to quote from the GoshoThe Real Aspect of the Gohonzon – “A woman who makes offerings to such a Gohonzon invites happiness in this life; and in the next, The Gohonzon will be with her and protect her always. Like a lantern in the dark, like a strong guide and porter on a treacherous mountain path, the Gohonzon will guard and protect you, Nichinyo where you go. Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”

In August 2009, my test reports showed that I was expecting again! And from here on – I saw the Mystic Law unfold.  I saw the incomprehensible power of the Gohonzon – I changed my gynecologist and later found that it was her mother who delivered me and also gave me my name.

I entered the nursing home on a warm and hearty note – Welcome Home Anu, written on my Record file! Towards the end of the third trimester, the doctor told me that I would need to undergo a C-Sec and fixed 16 May as the D-Day.

In the last week of my pregnancy, an unexpected turn of events occurred. My uncle (father’s youngest brother) who had a severe neurological disorder and was living in a rehab home for many years took ill. My prayer for my uncle had strengthened over the years that he is able to expiate his health karma and be re-born with a healthy, happy body and mind in a Soka family.

On a Sunday, 9 May, my uncle was admitted in the hospital and my father, and his other siblings arrived to help. The doctors diagnosed him to have very low HB count and suggested blood transfusion.

I took it upon myself to arrange for the blood transfusion and I saw the protection of Buddhist Gods emerge – 10 completely unknown volunteers lined up on Tuesday morning. The doctors were ready to start the process on Wednesday since they wanted my uncle’s condition to stabilize a bit more.

I used this time in between to increase my daimoku and chanted loudly and vibrantly, praying whole heartedly that my uncle should not suffer anymore. It suddenly struck me that the Gohonzon’s powers were indeed beyond our comprehension. And it manifested in the following manner…

On Wednesday early morning (12 May), my dad’s second brother reported that my uncle had passed away, peacefully in his sleep. Though my father was shaken up emotionally, I could sense his gratitude that his brother’s lifelong suffering had ended. His last rites were performed on Wednesday and all our relatives left for their homes on Thursday- 13 May.

On the morning of 14 May, I developed contractions and was rushed to the hospital. After examination the doctor decided to go ahead with the C-Sec immediately. In a matter of minutes, I was wheeled in to the theatre. And within the next 15 minutes my son was born. Through all this, I chanted daimoku and saw the “easy delivery of my fortune child”.

My parents and in-laws were delighted at my son’s arrival and more so at the perfect timing of things. My uncle’s expiation of his health karma in this lifetime, the birth of my son on a date that was ahead of his pre-determined arrival date…. And what’s more my son and my uncle share the same Tamil Nakshatra.

I know for a fact now that my son has a profound mission and he is indeed a Soka baby. He has brought the kind of joy and happiness in our family like I have never seen before.

I would like to quote the following lines from Sensei’s collection of guidance which I have deeply engraved in my heart – “May 3 is our initial starting point, and simultaneously, the day we make our final declaration of complete victory. It is the grand anniversary which celebrates our efforts to realize a golden age of supreme spiritual triumph and glory.”

I determine today that I will strengthen my faith each day and work alongside my mentor till the very end of my lifetime and raise a wonderful Soka family.

Thank you.

A Clear View of a Valuable Life

Through sincere faith, reading the Gosho and President Ikeda’s guidance, Raymond Tan, a MD from Singapore overcame his illness and numerous challenges in his career to emerge victorious.  Despite the hurdles he encountered at work, he emerged victorious and received several awards by his company and even won a top award and represented his company in an internal convention.

In March 1977, I graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a degree in mechanical engineering. Shortly after, I discovered I had tuberculosis and had to go through daily injections for three months. A severe allergic reaction to the medication, however, left my optic nerves badly damaged, and my vision was permanently blurred in both eyes.

As I wallowed in anguish and hopelessness, my aunt introduced my mother to Nichiren Buddhism. Two Singapore Soka Association leaders visited me often during my month-long stay in the hospital. I started attending SGI meetings as soon as I was discharged from the hospital.

Meanwhile, doctors prescribed a new medication. The treatment was supposed to take one-and-a-half years, but as I applied myself to my Buddhist practice, my treatment was completed within a year. That was my first benefit of faith.

In June 1979, the eye specialist referred me to the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, where I trained to be a telephone operator. In February 1980, I started working as an operator in one of the world’s largest banks.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have good, understanding bosses. At the same time, I’ve also made efforts to show actual proof of the power of my Buddhist practice in my work. I was determined to show that, through my practice, I could win over any limitations and lead a life of value and happiness.

In September 1999, just when I thought my life was becoming “happy ever after,” I discovered a lump in my neck. I had surgery to remove it, but a week later I learned that it was cancerous and had already spread. I was diagnosed with lymphoma.

I began chemotherapy and underwent a month of daily radiotherapy. The only side effect I experienced was losing all my hair. I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for several hours daily. During the remaining hours of each day, to keep myself encouraged and motivated, I read SGI President Ikeda’s guidance, Nichiren’s writings and members’ experiences of victory in faith. A passage from Nichiren was a great source of encouragement: “A sword is useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith. Then one will be as strong as a demon armed with an iron staff ” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 412).

I thought, To have faith means to have courage, hope and a strong fighting spirit. If my determination is weak, my body will lose the battle. I must have courage to win!

While I was undergoing further treatment, a senior in faith visited me and explained that “with strong faith, you will eventually understand the significance of your illness.” Later, as I reflected on his words, I realized that my illness had enabled me to deepen my faith in the Gohonzon and become stronger.

I recovered so quickly that I was soon back at work. I even took a trip with my family to Hong Kong to enjoy the beauty of spring, made more glorious by my victory over cancer.

Then another challenge presented itself. In mid-2001, I learned that the bank where I worked was cutting down the number of telephone operators.

With the wisdom I gained through my practice, I found the courage to take initiative in improving my computer skills, which led to support for further computer training. I started with almost no computer skills and soon became proficient, enabling me to stay on at the bank.

In May 2003, however, my colleagues and I learned that our jobs were being eliminated, and we would be transferred to the call center for other job functions. After three months at the center, I was encouraged to consider early retirement. Instead, I pressed for a transfer to the sales section. I was told that sales is not suitable for everyone as there is a lot of pressure to meet monthly targets.

Despite this, I felt a strong determination to prove my capability, and I chanted to overcome everyone’s objections. My prayer was realized when I was transferred.

For the past three years, I have met every monthly target. I received several awards as the best telesales agent, including the Super Achiever Award for 2004. I attribute all these to my faith in the Gohonzon and deep conviction in my Buddha nature. I faced every challenge with courage and won.

Then, in October 2005, I was hospitalized with stomach pains. The doctor could not determine the cause even after exploratory surgery. Nevertheless, I was relieved that it was not a relapse of cancer. I was on medical leave for a month, but my sales result was still above the monthly target.

In November 2006, I was nominated by my manager to receive the Brand Hero Award, which is given to the employee who exemplifies qualities such as good team dynamics, friendliness, open-mindedness, fairness and responsiveness. Out of 24 Brand Heroes, I was one of five short-listed for the Best Brand Hero award. During an interview to select the winner, I shared President Ikeda’s guidance with our top management. I was chosen as the Best of the Best Brand Hero and represented our bank in the regional convention in Dubai this past March.

President Ikeda writes: “It is important to continue your faith for first 10, then 20, and then 30 years. If you sincerely and straightforwardly strive in your faith, continuing to do so for 30 years, the roots of good fortune will sink deeply into your life and a great flower of happiness will definitely blossom.”

These words bear the profoundest meaning for me as I look back at how my life unfolded over these 30 years of practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

Strength from chanting – A human revolution

Faced with her father’s illness, SM, a YWD from India, achieved her human revolution through daimoku and become a stronger woman. Her faith and support from her members give her the courage to move on after her father’s death. In addition, because of her prayer and chanting, SM’s father was able to pass away peacefully.

What I would like to share is an experience I had gone through since I began my practice, which led to very significant changes in my life.

My name is SM and I live in Mumbai.   I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism since December 2007.  I am now an YWD.

In August 2007, my father was   admitted to a nursing home when he became ill.   At the hospital, the doctors conducted the required test and diagnosed him as having a minor cough and cold.  He recovered after taking the medication.

A few days later, his worsened was re-admitted to the hospital. He was discovered to be suffering from pneumonia.  My father was quite weak by then and had to receive nearly four pints of blood. His hemoglobin level was also quite low.

The doctor told us that my father would be all right. At that time, I did not expect my life was about to undergo a major change.

Days passed by and instead becoming better, my father’s condition became worse and two days before Diwali, he was re-admitted again. At the hospital, the specialist and the doctors were consulted and sent my father for an   endoscopy.

As he was not able to swallow, various test were conducted to find out what was the cause.  I could see that something was not right. After the endoscopy, he had to breathe through an oxygen mask.

The endoscopy revealed that my father had C A Osephagus (a tumor in the food pipe). I was shattered and shocked to see the reports.  The doctors had to conduct a further biopsy test. We had to wait eight days for the report.

The biopsy report revealed that my father was suffering from cancer. It was hard for me to accept the fact that my father was not going to live for long and this disease could take him away from me.

The doctors suggested some alternative options, such as putting a stent into the food pipe or insert a peg in his stomach.  I had no knowledge of what was going on.

I consulted various cancer specialists for a second opinion. The only aim in my mind was to  save my father’s  life. I was in grief.

I would be alone with my father in the hospital for nearly 12 to 14 hours and was very tensed of what would happen.   However, I had all the support from my   family members, as well as my friends too.

Soon, the decision to put the stent was taken so that he could start eating again. I was also facing financial difficulty but   had   support from all sides.

At this time, I happened to talk to my friend and my ex-colleague.    I knew that she had been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for many years.

I broke down when talking to her over the phone and told her the situation I was in.  She suggested to me to starting chanting daimoku.  The conversation with her gave me the opportunity to think and provided me with a ray of hope. Another friend I spoke to also encouraged me to chant and that things would improve after that.

I started to chant that evening. Because my father would ask me when he will recover and return home, I chanted for half an hour, believing that things would improve.

Early next morning, I got a call from my brother telling me that my father did not want to stay in the hospital and tried to get out of bed himself. Having water retention in the legs and hands does not allow a person to even move from the bed or even lift his leg.  I asked him again if my father stood up on his own feet and he said yes.  I could see the drastic changes in just one night. It was then I started believing in the power of daimoku.

I also experienced changes in my life. By then, I had the courage to tell my brother that our father was suffering from cancer.  Only my mother was not aware of his condition.

Chanting daily gave me the strength and courage to face the mental and physical stress I was going through.

One fine day back from the hospital, I plucked up my courage and informed   my mother that my father could leave us anytime. Being a strong woman herself, my mother accepted the situation.

I brought my father back home. Things were not the same as before.

On my job front, my bosses needed me back as I had been away from work for many days. I felt that I was loosing on all sides.  But chanting daimoku kept giving me all the strength to soldier on.

My days would be spent working in the office and looking after my father at night.  The body aches caused him to have sleepless nights and I would chant for him to be able to sleep well.

My faith grew stronger and even sent daimoku in every morsel that I would feed him.

My family and I were facing physical and mentally stress.  For the first time in my life, I had to spend the Diwali festival and Christmas in the hospital with my father.

On New Year’s Eve, I knew that this might be his last year with me. I might not see him the next year.  I was prepared to see him go.

My father’s condition started deteriorating. I could see that he was losing his consciousness.   Chanting had made me strong and I had by now gained the strength and ability to accept that he had to leave us.

I now chanted and prayed he could go peacefully.  On 7 Jan 2008, my father asked me not to take him to the hospital nor call any doctor to see him.

At that moment, I could feel that he was tired and did not want any more medical attention.   By then, through daimoku, I was able to face the situation very gracefully.

The night of 11 Jan 2008 was despairing for me as I prayed that my father should regain consciousness and speak to me before he left this world.  He did so and left us on 12 Jan 2008.

I was the only one he spoke to before leaving us. I wanted him to go peacefully and not die in a hospital.

Early that morning at 4am, I lost my father. I used to fear death, but it was not on my mind when my father passed away. I could see his body lying in  front of me.

I was one who is very afraid of seeing a dead person.  However, the chanting of daimoku has removed this fear and given me the strength and the ability to move on in life.

I boldly fulfilled all the last rites of my father.   I had always chanted for him to pass away peacefully and he did so in his sleep.

I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism and chanting daimoku to the Gohonzon for three and a half years.

This practice has given me the strength to cope daily activities and to mould myself into a better and stronger person.

President Ikeda said, “Faith is to fear nothing — to stand unswayed — the power to win over (surmount) — whatever the obstacle… Belief is nothing extraordinary. It is actually the basis for living. If we believe in something VALUABLE, then even without understanding, our belief enables us to gain something!”

Today, my practice has made me a better human and my perception in life has changed.

I have the strength and ability to prove that I can change my life and help others to change theirs too. I started to see the sequence of my life changing as it has led me out of depression and cope with things in a better way  after loosing my father.

The core of practicing for oneself is the recitation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra) along with key passages from the sutra. The purpose of this practice has revolutionized my inner life, to develop the qualities of the Buddha: courage, wisdom, compassion and abundant vitality and life-force.

As with gold hidden in a dirty bag, or lotus flowers emerging from a muddy pond, daimoku and the constant support of my members and guidance in faith that helped me makes me determine to always chant more and not give up!

The support of my members shows me the way – this golden path of chanting.

President Ikeda said, “Life isn’t always smooth. If it were, we would never grow and develop as human beings. If we succeed, we are envied; if we fail, we are ridiculed and attacked. Sadly, this is how people are. Unexpected grief and suffering may lie ahead of us. But it is precisely when we encounter such trying times that we must not be defeated. Never give up. Never retreat.”

Faith, practice and study of Buddhism are at the center of my life now and provide a shield to protect me wherever I am. Chanting consistently day and night gives me the wisdom and strength to replace despair with hope.

When you came into this world you cried, whereas everyone else rejoiced. During your lifetime, when it is time for you to leave this world, you will smile at parting while the world cries for you. Hold this thought and you will always remember to consider others above yourself.

I thank all the members who have  shown me this beautiful path.

“With the Gohonzon, there is no deadlock”

Henry Leong, a MD from Singapore, came from a poor family and at one stage, had to squeeze in a small rented apartment with nine of his family members. Life was hard and his faith enabled him to struggle on and overcome numerous challenges, especially in his career where he faced a major financial difficulty, and achieve happiness for him and his family. Henry applied the knowledge he has to his new jobs and was rewarded for his efforts. He even has a couple of amazing skills and because of them, he was featured in the media.

My mother brought me to a discussion meeting when I was a few years old in the 1960s. After that, because my mother was very busy with her business as a street seller and because she didn’t understand much about the practice, we had lost contact with the law.

Our family went through very difficult times — my father died when I was very young. All 10 of us lived in a one-room rental flat: my mother, younger brother and sister, two older sisters and four nieces and nephews. The room was always burning hot because my mother used to cook all the food for her business. We were in constant conflict and my mother and sisters were suffering from serious karmic illnesses. We lived in poverty.

As a boy, I kept playing soccer to escape from my family problems. In 1986, I met Eric Yeo and he brought me to his leader Richard Sim. I learned to practice Buddhism.

In Singapore our campaigns were home visitations and shakubuku, National Day Parade, numerous cultural shows, and offerings. I kept reading testimonials and various study material to begin to understand the practice and I kept trying to put everything I learned into practice.

Things begin to improve: my mother used to give me $4 per day for helping her to run the stall. Her income then mystically increased to $13 a day on her own; previously she could not increase her income by even a dollar.

As my faith strengthened, I prayed for better opportunities. One person asked me to join Singapore Press Holdings, which sponsored my National Trade Certificate II course in printing. I begin to pray for a bigger place to enshrine the Gohonzon. After two years of practice, I was able to buy a three room flat. This had previously seemed impossible. My mother kept objecting to me buying a house, but after I made some offerings, when I went back home, she mystically agreed. Next, after six years of practice, I was able to buy this private property.

At Singapore Press, I was selected from among my coursemates to set the printing rollers — this job needed very high skills. I was also chosen to maintain the machine for the last six months of my course. All these years I had been chanting one hour per day. In my younger days, bicycles and football had been my constant companions, and morning till night I was outside of the house. Some of the skill that helped me solve the machinery problems even amazed myself. I was given the Best Suggestion Award and a token of appreciation and was featured in the company newsletter. I was also given the Printer of the Year Award. The company profits had multiplied five-fold during the time I was there.

I left the company and started my own business. It was doing well until 1997 when I lost most of my money in investments and in getting married to a foreign wife. But, with the Gohonzon, there’s no deadlock. My wife and some friends helped me out with the finance. During this difficult period, I went to Geylang Kaikan and chanted up to seven hours of daimoku everyday.

I went to work as a security man at Toyota. I transfered my knowledge of maintaining and overcoming machinery problems to the mechanic. While I worked there, the company profit multiplied a few times. In fact one of the Toyota claim advisors was asked by the management to buy and cook breakfast for me for free nearly every morning for a few years.

Prior to my practice, I was featured in the newspaper due to my bike skill and ball juggling skill. One year after starting to practice, a TV broadcast also showed me doing some of these stunts. I was able to juggle a football three thousand times with all parts of my body (except my hands) for more than one hour non-stop, without letting the football drop.

Through consistent practice, I am able to have a harmonious family and all my siblings are able to own their own properties. Most of them are practicing. My wife and her family members are also practicing, and we have two cute sons, which makes me overjoyed. I have had the good fortune to holiday in 18 countries.

My mother and my three sisters have greatly reduced their karmic illnesses.

Through struggling in our activities for kosen-rufu, we are able to live a life of happiness and complete fulfillment.

My favorite Gosho was “Unseen Virtue and Visible Rewards.” I am always encouraged by Sensei’s words, that if you struggle very hard for kosen-rufu in your youth, in the future you will enjoy life more than anyone.

When setting our goals we need to keep practicing hard and to make causes toward it. We should never give up trying to have our prayers answered.

A “Miraculous” Recovery

Mr Tan Daw Yock, a MD from Singapore who has been practising Nichiren Buddhism for 29 years, met with an accident and suffered serious injuries when he was hit by a bus on his way home.  Despite the high possibility that he would not regain consciousness or some of his abilities even if he were to recover, Mr Tan’s family refused to give up and chanted a lot of daimoku day and night for his recovery. During the ordeal, they received help and encouragement from many shoten zenjins (Buddhist gods) and eventually, Mr Tan was discharged from hospital 42 days after the accident. He was even able to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family and share his testimonial recently on 7 Feb 2011.  Mr Tan’s experience on this blog is contributed by his elder daughter, Maybelline.  She is a fortune baby (a term given to children born when both parents are practising Nichiren Buddhism). Maybelline shared that her parents were having difficulty conceiving and immediately after they started chanting, her mom was pregnant.

On 15 Dec 2010, my father, Mr Tan Daw Yock, was knocked down by a SBS bus when he was on his way home. It occurred at the bus entrance of the Eunos MRT interchange, which is opposite our house.

It turned out that my mom, whose shop was in that area, saw the accident site with the ambulance and the bus, not knowing that my father was knocked down.

My family only found out about what happened to me when the hospital called at 7.40pm after my mom gave a miss call to my dad as she was expecting to meet him for dinner before going for meetings. My dad was admitted to hospital at 6.40pm.

My dad became unconscious due to the sedation. They did a CT scan which revealed my dad’s skull was fractured to numerous pieces.

Imagine the top of the skull. For a normal person, it would be somewhat round like the moon. The CT scan showed that that part was broken into half. There was bleeding in the brain (internal and external parts of the brain) and blood clots. The ICU/A&E doctor who first spoke to us gave us the worse case scenario(s).

My sisters and I cried. My mom became the pillar of support and all of us chanted for my dad to be able to survive. We knew that he has yet to complete his mission in kosen-rufu. We chanted through the night at the hospital and were very fortunate for the support for the last minute prayer meeting that was held for my dad and everyone who chanted for my dad as well.

My dad’s accident occurred 10 days before the 80th anniversary General Meeting. Knowing our involvements, my mom shared that if we have meetings, we must attend them, especially the 80th anniversary GM because these are also forms of devilish functions that will prevent us from attending meetings.

For the first night when the accident happened, we just chanted in the hospital. My mom, my second sister and myself took turns to chant through the night. When my mom and my sister were asleep and while I was chanting, I broke down and wept in front of the Omamori Gohonzon.

I never doubted the Gohonzon but seeing my father in the ICU with all the drips, syringes, machines all around him, it was heart wrenching. Because we were at the lobby outside the ICU itself, whenever the lift beeps/rings when it reaches the 3rd floor, I kept having thoughts of him walking towards us, waiting to go home together, for him to tell us that everything was ok.

It was that kind of thoughts when I had to break down and it happened nearly every single time when I start chanting.

My mom reminded us, everything happened for a reason, like what Ikeda Sensei has said, and through prayers, we will definitely overcome my dad’s karma, my family’s karma and change it into our mission. Had it not been for all our past experiences, meetings and Gosho studies, we would not have been able to accept it so quickly and respond as we did.

True enough, the next morning when we saw the doctor after his rounds, the neurosurgeon explained everything to us after the second CT scan, about the extent of the fractures in the skull and the damage to the brain. At the same time, he has also shared that they scanned his spinal cord and they were waiting for confirmation of the results.

It was because of this shoten zenjin that we were able to set specific prayers for my dad. The doctor said that if his brain pressure was above 25 units and his brain swells, they might need to carry out the operation on the brain which could be risky.

We set the prayer for his brain pressure to be less than 15 which is the normal range, his bleeding in the brain to stop, his brain not to swell and his blood pressure to be within 140-160. He also shared that because my dad’s skull was so badly fractured, it would be better not to operate on him and could only put him under medication, sedation and observation.

If anyone were to see the extent of the fracture, it could be likened to broken pieces of a jig saw puzzle of the skull. It became a piece of good news to us later on when we talked about it.

Because my dad’s skull was so badly fractured, the doctors could not operate on his brain. In the hospital that my father had been admitted to, they do not have all the facilities for an operation on the brain and thus, it became a blessing in disguise.

As for his spinal cord, the test showed that it wasn’t injured at all. None of his other vital organs were hurt during the accident. And the very shoten zenjin was none other than my father’s backpack.

When his head was hit, the bag protected my dad’s spinal cord from any injury. My mom, before the scan was looking through my dad’s bag, saying it was heavy. It contained all the Buddhist study materials, SSA Times (Singapore Soka Association newsletter), Creative Life (Singapore Soka Association monthly publication), etc.

In my mom’s words, it seemed like my dad had been carrying the Buddha’s work all the time and these made his bag became his shoten zenjin.

Knowing that his spinal cord was not injured helped us to focus all the prayers to my dad’s brain. We were joking about it because after that, my dad’s face became really swollen. The nurses said it was because of the effect of the medicine but we likened it to all the prayers sent by everyone running through his head that it was swollen with daimoku!

There were other shoten zenjins throughout my father’s stay in the hospital.

Nurses, admin ladies, doctors and even friends became shoten zenjins to support us and see to our needs. Through the first week or so, we chanted daimoku at the hospital, camped at hospital, literally, with sleeping bags and fleece blankets.

Our emotions was like my dad’s blood pressure, brain pressure and temperature – a roller coaster ride, many highs and lows. My dad had a consistently high temperature of 39 degrees.  Sometimes all these readings were in the normal range one minute and the next, we chanted desperately for it to fall back within the normal range when it went too high.

My dad sometimes opened his eyes and moved his limbs for a while before closing his eyes again. Initially, we thought that he was somewhat between consciousness and unconsciousness till the nurse said that until he is able to respond to commands like moving his hand, then would he be deemed conscious. Other than that, it could be the reflex actions.

We were unable to focus our chanting in the day due to the streaming in of visitors and at night, there were times when we get so exhausted from not being able to rest properly.

It was on 20 Dec 2010 when my mother said that we could focus our daimoku better and rest better. It was also then that things started to have a turn of events.

That night, my mom had some thoughts of transferring my dad to Tan Tock Seng National Neuro Institute where most of the neurosurgeons were because there didn’t seem to be any improvements. However, there was the debate on whether it would be safe for my dad.

We didn’t know any neurosurgeons nor who to seek help from. Thus, we went back to prayers, to be able to have the best doctor and nurses to attend to my father and for them to have the wisdom to be able to treat him. We took turns to chant again through the night, this time at home.

The next day, it turned out that the first neurosurgeon had been temporarily taking over the duty of a second neurosurgeon who came back from leave. He was more senior and experienced than the first and he gave the second opinion on my dad’s condition.

Because of the extent of the skull fracture and the stability of the brain pressure, he said that it would help my dad more by letting him stay put in ICU under observation rather than put him on the operating table which would put my his life in greater danger.

We then focused our prayer for my dad to show actual proof. The doctors also said they would try to remove the ventilator and that my dad must regained consciousness to see if he could breath on his own.  Otherwise, breathing tube must be put through his throat into the lungs instead of the mouth and that the operation would be carried out on 22 Dec 2010. My dad’s blood pressure often went up to about 200 because he was struggling with the ventilator tubes in his mouth.

We chanted desperately for my dad to to regain consciousness, so that an operation would not be needed and that he must breathe on his own. The removal of the ventilator was not successful and the doctors gave my mom the consent form for the open trachiostomy (the name of the operation) to be carried out.

We continued to chant throughout the day and that night, I attended a daimokukai and the WAVE (a SSA campaign) meeting.

A WD, who took care of me when I was in Boys and Girls Division, shared with me her own experiences when I was here at the daimokukai for the 80th Anniversary GM, “Do you want to do kosen-rufu? If you do, your father will definitely recover.”

That night when we went back to the hospital, my mom met a member who was working in the operating theater. She just completed her shift and when we asked about the open trachiostomy, she said that it would affect my dad’s ability to speak. That was when our daimoku became more urgent.

It was desperate daimoku, fighting daimoku to show actual proof. We chanted that my dad must regain consciousness and the operation must not take place. He needed the voice to continue sharing Buddhism and Gosho to encourage so many more members.

It was during this moment of battle that I saw this guidance:

During Nichiren Daishonin’s lifetime, cowardly disciples discarded their faith and turned against him. There is nothing more pitiful and despicable. We will only lose out if we do so. Since we are here on Earth, let us live out lives striving to achieve kosen-rufu and accumulate immense good fortune and benefit.

On 23 Dec 2010, when I was in the ICU with my dad, his eyes opened. He moved his eyeballs as if he was looking at me. I called my sister; my mom was informed and all of us cried.

He opened his eyes for 5 minutes. When SSA Vice-General Director Mr Oh Keng Yam came in, my dad’s eyes looked at him when he spoke. We knew my dad had somewhat regained consciousness. The doctor later said that he was now less dependent on the ventilator.

However, the operation still went on in the afternoon. We realised that there was deep significance behind this operation as one of the tubes would help to remove phlegm.

If the tubes had remained in my dad’s mouth going through the windpipe, his lungs would be inflamed and this could caused infection on the other vital organs, like what happened to another patient in the ICU.

At the same time, when they did an X-ray on the chest to check the positioning of the tube after the operation, the doctors found out that there was fluid accumulated in his lungs and he had five fractured ribs. This would have led to lung inflammation as well if not for this operation.

It was precisely because of daimoku, specific prayers and perseverance that we were able to see this actual proof.

At that point in time, even though my father opened his eyes, we did not say if he regained consciousness or not because he would wake up only for a short period and was not able to respond to simple questions.

On 25 Dec 2010, the morning of the 80th anniversary, the nurses and doctors confirmed that he had regained consciousness and was able to do a “good sign” with his thumb. We saw it as him achieving victory  just in time for the 80th anniversary celebrations.

From the ICU, my dad was transferred to the High Dependency ward on two days later. In the morning, one of the doctors from ICU shared with us how amazed they were at my father’s speed of recovery and that some of the nurses even felt that it was because of our chanting that my father was able to recover so quickly.

In the words of the chief nurse, she said that it was really a miracle.

On 30 Dec 2010, he was transferred to the normal ward, which also meant that my father was completely out of danger.

On 7 Jan 2011, the tube from the throat was removed and that very night when I saw him, he did his gongyo. On 8 Jan 2010, my father chanted for half an hour of daimoku. He told my mom that he saw two Fuji mountains when he chanted and they disappeared after chanting.

And on 26 Jan 2011, 42 days after the accident, my father was finally discharged from the hospital, in time to celebrate Chinese New Year together with the family.

For someone whom the doctors said could become a vegetable or lose some of his abilities like movement, hearing or sight, my dad was able to personally go on stage to share his testimonial on 7 Feb 2011 normally like everyone, and his vocal cord not affected at all.

Though he may need some time to gain back his strength and his previous agility, with prayers and daimoku, we are very sure that my dad will be able to go out on his own to encourage members.

He is, after all, the living and walking actual proof.

The Great Treasure that Can Change an Unchangeable Destiny

Stephen Lim from Malaysia has been practising Nichiren Buddhism for 36 years. During this time, he has shown actual proof of his practice by overcoming his family karma. He faced financial hardship, including bankruptcy, a few times (there was a time when he and his wife did not have enough money to buy diapers and milk for their baby daughter), and also suffered from collapsed lungs at a young age. Stephen fought his battles and triumphed through strong faith in the Gohonzon, abundant daimoku and actively contributing kosen-rufu. He shakubuku many people, including his mother and siblings. For his never-give-up attitude in faith and fighting the situations he and his family were in, Stephen received many benefits and in the end, “change an unchangeable destiny”.

“Basing on happiness outside ourselves, even our most precious treasure achieved can easily becomes a dream of yesterday. The Daishonin taught that “earthly desires are enlightenment “. Sufferings… the greater the better, it is only with such obstacles that we can truly apply an earnest resolve in our prayer to over come and fulfilled our desire and transformed our lives to a higher state of condition Buddhahood. This happiness is the Treasure of our Heart, and it is indestructible.”

This is my experience in cherishing the Gohonzon deep in my heart.

I first heart of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in 1969 (age 11) when my father enshrined the Gohonzon. We were told that all our prayers would be answered if we just chant, and found this hard to believe. But now, I can say it’s all really true.

My parents worshipped all kinds of deities and our house was like a temple. To my dad, who did not truly understand the practice then, the Gohonzon was an addition to the many deities by means of the more the merrier.

My family situation got from bad to worse.

In 1973, my eldest brother, who was 27 got married. When his son was three months old, he met an accident and bled to death with no one helping to send him to hospital. My mother knocked her forehead against the floor in front of all her Gods and Deities and asked what have she done wrong.  Since then, she became very ill. About three months later, my father passed away.

During this time, some members came with the Gohonzon and we were asked to chant together for 30 minutes. After this, we were asked to have a look on my dad’s face, to my surprised he looked so calm and relax.

This was the first time I felt there is some kind of power in chanting.

After this, my second brother was at the verge of bankruptcy. With debts all around our waists, we decided to move away to as far as possible to avoid the creditors. While clearing out the things, we found the black box with the Gohonzon inside, full of dust and cobwebs. We decided to return the Gohonzon to my dad’s friend and ask him to send it back to Japan.

The Greatest Treasure of All

We were told that this Gohonzon left by my dad for us is the greatest of all treasures in the entire universe. He told us with great conviction, “Take it home and chant for two weeks, and if nothing happen I will cut off my head for you.”

With nothing to lose, my brother and I enshrined the Gohonzon in my room. Our initial experience with chanting was comical. When we started to chant for about two minutes, we broke into laughter and both of us were rolling on the floor.

We told each other to be serious and started to chant again, and then the same thing happen again.  In fact, this was the first time in a long while that we had felt this kind of happiness. Like Ikeda Sensei said, when one begins to chant with an earnest resolve, the sun of Hope will rise in our heart and the darkness of our life will be dispelled.

From here on with this feeling of hope and courage, we never look back and begin chanting daimoku everyday without fail.

We started to participate in our SGM (Soka Gakkai Malaysia) activities. The journey to each meeting and back would take us six hours. After reaching home each time, I would relate whatever I have learned to my mum who was then very very ill, both mentally and physically.

Whether she listened or not, I would just go on talking to her. I told her that all our sufferings were due to the causes we made in our past lives, and all this can be changed through our strong faith in the Gohonzon. All poison will become medicine, sufferings will become happiness and misfortune will be followed by great good fortune.

After three months of shakubuku, my mother finally agreed to chant. I was so happy and lead her to my room to chant together. After about a week her health begin to improve and six months later she was like normal again.

With her belief and understanding, she chanted six to seven hours of daimoku each day. In fact, she prolonged her life for another 30 happy years. During this time, my three sisters also took faith.

Understanding and accepting this to be our karma, we made a vow and determined to change it no matter what. With the confident, courage and unity, we sent away all the statues and deities and decided to move back to our hometown and start all over again. It was tough though as we were still in debts and were buffeted like a small boat on a rough sea.

To Change an Unchangeable Destiny

A fortune teller once told us that our family had an extremely bad fate or karma and we would “vanish” one after another and nothing, not even god can save us.

As for me, he said that I would not live pass the age of 21 – I would either die in an accident, a fight or sickness.

Fortunately, I had the Gohonzon.  With my belief and understanding, I determined not be defeated. Defeat for a Buddhist lies not in encountering difficulties, but rather in not challenging them.

Difficulties only truly become our karma or destiny if we run away from them without a struggle. We must fight for as long as we live. We must live and struggle with great determination to the end said Ikeda Sensei.

When I was 17, while racing on my motorbike, I suddenly blacked out and rammed into a wall below a flyover. I saw my body lying there and how I was sent to hospital. As the light in the operating room light shone on me, I went into total darkness, feeling extremely cold and the only sound I heard was Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

My mother was chanting for me non-stop. After three days and three nights, I regained conscious with all my memory intact. The doctors had predicted otherwise.

At 19, I started my first interior design and furnishing company only for about six months. One night when I was alone at my office, a family debtor and a heavily tattooed guy came and demanded for repayment.

When I said I could not pay them at that moment, they started to smash everything in my office and threw anything they could lay their hands on at me. Strangely, I was calm and could control my temper, fervently chanting daimoku in my heart.

And when he took a piece of sharp wood and wanted to poke my eyes, I lost my patience. Just as I was about to react, strangely the debtor’s friend pulled him out and after a while, they left.

Later, when I went to make my report at the police station, he was there too but with bandages on head and face as he was involved in another fight. I told the police what happened when he was at my company and he was arrested.

A year later, I was admitted to hospital with a collapsed lung that was filled with fluid and blood.  The doctors immediately drilled a hole into my chest, inserted a tube and pumped out the fluid.

I was x-rayed almost everyday and after a few days, my skin become yellowish. The exterior of my lungs began to be filled with fluid again. The doctors ordered an extraction to begin immediately from my back. I have to be seated with my hands rested on a table while they inserted a long needle into my back.

After it was removed, and I asked, “Doc. Is it done?”  He replied it was not as the insertion was not at the right spot. The process was repeated and fortunately, this time was right but after half way through, I nearly fainted and the process had to stop.

The amount of fluid removed was more then half a jug and the doctors said there was still about the same amount inside my lung that needed to be removed the next day. I was very weak by then and when my mum visited me that evening, I told her, “Mum, I don’t think I can make through again tomorrow”.

With tears in eyes she said,”Son, you were the one who said everything can be transformed with Faith, how can you give up?”

With those words, I felt a strong hope and courage within me.  I said to myself, “I must win in this no matter what “. With all my breath, I chanted daimoku.

The next morning arrived and I was brought to the same room. This time was very “strange”. As I sat down and the process began, it was just like I had just chanted one Nam-myoho-renge-kyo when the doctor removed the needle and I ask him if it was inserted at the wrong spot again. He replied that that was not the case as the process was completed in about half an hour, showing me the jug that was filled to the same amount extracted yesterday. After two days, the X-ray showed that my lungs had returned to the normal size.

I would need to go for an operation if this did not happen. I recovered in three months, in half the predicted time by the doctor.

Mission in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is two and a half hour flight by air from my hometown Klang, Selangor. After my recovery, I was offered a job in Sabah.

With the guidance from my SGM leaders that this is the place to fulfill my mission and propagate Buddhism, I accepted it. I went with only RM170 in my pocket and celebrated my 21st birthday there. It was just like being reborn in a new place.

I worked there for 11 months. In 1981, I started an interior design and furnishing business again but with two partners. At the same time, I also initiated our first discussion meeting in Kota Kinabalu with only four people. The number of members grew very fast, and so did our business. In 1983, we had 135 new members who received their Gohonzon from the priest who came to Sabah.

In 1984, I got married and ventured out into my own business with a RM1 million project in hand.  Unfortunately, recession hit in our country at the same time. Shortly after, my wife became pregnant. However, my business started to shrank.

Finally when my daughter was born after a 20-hour labour and by C-section, I was on the verge of bankruptcy. The court sealed my office and factory and the bank gave us notice to move out of our first house.

I recalled a quote from Ikeda Sensei: “The practice of Daishonin Buddhism means living with the unshakeable conviction that the most painful and suffering times, are opportunity for changing our karma, for doing our human revolution and that no matter how difficult the situation… We will ultimately be able to transform them into something positive and benefits for our lives without fail.”

With the belief and understanding and with six hours of daimoku, I began to feel joy and courage in my heart. Despite all that, cradling my baby girl in my arms left me speechless with even greater joy.

I was so poor then that I could only pay the doctor with a post dated cheque. Left with only RM5, I could not even buy my wife post-natal food. When the clearance date of the cheque approached, my financial state did not improve, so we had to sell off all our wedding jewellery.

For about four months, we could only have instant noodles for our meals. Things got so bad that I even sold off my wife’s last most precious thing – her wedding ring. Despite these tough times, joy and laughter never left us.

We were confident that with our strong faith, everything is possible and all misfortune will be followed by great good fortune. I vowed to prove the power of this Mystic Law by standing up from where I fell without borrowing a single cent from anyone. And as the Gosho reads, “The colder the winter, the nearer to spring and the darker the night the nearer to dawn.”

One afternoon, I met a debtor and told him of my impoverished state – we not only had run out of food but the milk for our daughter too. Along our discussion, I even talked to him about Nichiren Buddhism.

He chided me, saying, “Look what this practice has done to you. Yet, you are still telling people to chant!”

I told him that is the reason why I am practicing so hard to change my karma. When I reach home, the first thing my wife reminded me was the milk for our baby was the last. Then I said, laughing, “Feed her with yours.” Then she replied, “Where I got anymore”, and broke into laughter.

I told her not to worry and to let me finish my two hours of daimoku first. That very evening, this debtor I met earlier unexpectedly came to my house just after my chanting, gave me RM100 and left. It was as if I was dreaming.

The Daishonin taught us that we can definitely defeat the devilish functions and Buddhist gods will definitely appeared right at the moment when we needed most even if he is from 10,000 miles away. That is why we must be firmly resolved in our faith with the spirit of our mentor.

It was also at this time that our first SGM’s contribution for building our main gaikan in Kuala Lumpur approached. I had pledged to contribute RM10,000 a year earlier. But now, I did not even have RM10.

Understanding the significance of this, I told my wife that no matter what I must repay my debts of gratitude. We decided to sell the last “valuable” thing at home – our refrigerator for RM1,000 and contributed that amount.

I was the YMD chief in-charge at that time, and the whole ceremony went very successfully. On my way home, I was pursued and stopped by a staff of the finance company that was suing me.

However, I was in for a huge surprise. Instead of being chased for payment, I was given a job to furnish a house within 14 days with a budget of RM40,000. I was given RM20,000 cash in advance and later, another 16 units of semi-detached houses to furnish.

Within a year, I was back in good business. Strangely, I had also renovated four goldsmith shops which landed me with more then RM100,000 of bad debts, which the owners repaid with jewellery instead. So, as a great benefit, my wife’s wedding jewellery were replaced 10 times and with a bigger diamond ring.

To Be Fearless No Matter What with a Spirit of Never Giving Up with even Greater Hope and Courage

In 1987 when my son was born, my business was again on the verge of bankruptcy. I had lost almost everything and had to move to a rural area.

With even greater determination to start all over again, this time with my most earnest resolve to strive and change once and for all this karma and carry out the mission in my life to propagate this Nichiren Buddhism for the happiness of all humanity.

As taught by our mentor to apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other, I made this great vow to achieve kosen-rufu. When we unite our hearts with our mentor and chant with firm resolve, we can summon forth unimaginable power and strength from within our own life.

I strengthened my faith even deeper with more daimoku and do more shakubuku. From small single jobs of a few thousand ringgits, my business began to increase each month and grew till I was able to secure projects worth over RM2 million.

From within five to eight years, I was able to clear all my debts, buy lands, build my own factory and even my million-ringgit dream house on a hill.

Now after 36 years of earnest practice in this faith, I truly believe and understand that there is no path to attaining Buddhahood apart from struggling for kosen-rufu together with our mentor Ikeda Sensei, and practice with his spirit.

With our faith in this attitude, our lives will fuse with our mentor and his state of Buddhahood will act to manifest ours. This joy is the greatest joy of the world of Buddhahood that can defeat even the fundamental darkness and overcome any adversity.

It has proven to me the truth of our Nichiren Buddhism practice, that all our prayers will definitely be answered.

More importantly, nothing is more valuable then the happiness of my heart. Thanks to daimoku and sufferings, it is truly the mother of realization, the “raw materials” with which to construct our happiness.

“Fundamentally, with faith in the Gohonzon, everything that happens is a benefit.”

I have all I wanted. Most of all, I have a very happy family with my daughter a practicing lawyer now and my son soon to be an architect. Both are also very active in SGM.

My only desire now is to share Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism with as many people as possible, contributing the rest of my life for Kosen-rufu.

With my best regards to all of you. Thank you.