This is a testimonial of Mr Teh Eng Chye from Malaysia, written by his daughter, Kelly on his behalf, for a Soka Gakkai Malaysia publication. It is sent to Chant for a Better Life by his son, Lionel to post on this blog to share Mr Teh’s experience with everyone. Lionel hopes that his father’s struggles with his health and the family’s great fortune to practice Nichiren Buddhism, can inspire all of us as it did to them. Mr Teh has been practicing for almost 18 years.
In the past 19 years I have had to deal with many health problems and to fight for my life several times. Thanks to my Buddhist practice I have managed to gallop through these health battles. The story below may sound miraculous just like how the doctors have described it, but in fact, it is purely based on the Mystic Law as taught in Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism. Therefore, I would like to share my experience with everyone in order to reveal the light of hope.
My name is Teh Eng Chye and I was born and raised in Klang, Selangor. I am married with a lovely wife and three wonderful children. I was introduced to Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism by a neighbor in 1985 and decided to start practicing.
In 1993, I was diagnosed with rectum cancer, which had already advanced to a critical stage. The cancer had grown into the stage where it could spread, which could have shortened my life span. That piece of news left me in a state of shock, as I was only a young father who was still watching my children grow up.
I had to undergo a major surgery immediately. In addition to that, I was told that I must also go through a colostomy surgery. Colostomy is the surgical creation of an opening in the abdomen for waste expulsion, which sounded frightening to me. However, I knew that I had to be strong to cope with the situation for the sake of family.
I chanted with strong determination for my life to be prolonged for at least 10 more years so that I can continue to raise my children. In fact, I even managed to shakubuku a patient in the hospital as I deepened my faith through the sufferings.
Due to the severe condition, I also had to go through intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments for a few months. Chemotherapeutic treatments usually result in many unpleasant side effects but I did not have to cope with any of them and even managed to skip the last two treatments as I was doing better than expected. Unfortunately, the radiotherapy did some damage to my bladder and the leg nerves.
I was advised to go through another surgery for a new bladder implant, which was a life risking procedure. Once again, I was determined for my bladder to recover without going through that procedure. Therefore, I had to go through two other surgeries in order for my bladder to be revived. There was certainly a lot of pain and bleeding that I had to suffer from for a certain period of time but I never stopped chanting.
My prayer was answered once again as I managed to recover. Of course, the constant support that I received from my family and fellow Buddhist members encouraged me to fight on. I had faith and believed in my mission. However, my legs gradually got weaker but I did not allow myself to be immobile.
I gradually returned to my daily life and carried on my responsibilities as a father, a husband, a businessman and a Boddhisattva of the earth. The power of gratitude enabled my wife and I to contribute more than ever to kosen-rufu. I took every opportunity to share my testimonial and to give support to people who were also suffering from illness.
All my children started practicing this Buddhism at very young age by participating in all sorts of activities. These years were filled with absolute joy.
As soon as I thought things were getting from good to better, health issues arose again in 1997. The bladder issue returned and I had to go through another major surgery. Once again, I suffered from physical pain and the family was emotionally exhausted. We recovered through our powerful daimoku and support from our fellow Buddhist friends.
Of course, I made another tremendous recovery that I was still able to work and to look after my family. Therefore, my children who were older by then, left home one by one to pursue their higher educations. They have certainly left with good seeds of Buddhism planted in their hearts.
I did not return to the hospitals for any medical check up since then until year 2008. Fishing is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, one of my fishing trips left me with a wound that did not heal. I had no choice but to go the hospital. In fact, the doctors discovered much more complications behind the wound.
I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney and bladder malfunctions, and issues with my urinary tract. However, the big worry was on the small lumps found all over my body. According to the doctors, they could be caused by a cancer relapse or tuberculosis.
Chances of survival from cancer relapse are usually very low. My children were determined for our family to continue to transform our karma to a better one. We definitely did not want another cancerous visitor!
My final chapter in life hasn’t been completed yet and I must accomplish my mission. Anyway, relieved from receiving a diagnosis of tuberculosis may sound ridiculous but I certainly was because I was free from cancer. In fact, my tuberculosis infection could be treated with medication.
Despite chanting and receiving abundant of daimoku, the battle was extended. The wound, which had been badly infected due to my diabetes, left me with no choice but to go through another risky surgery. Although the infection wasn’t as bad as it looked, I suffered from an unknown side effect from the surgery. The doctors were not convinced that the drugs caused the side effect anymore when they found me being in a hallucinatory state for more than a week.
It was a challenge for them to solve this issue as they could trace the root cause of it. Nevertheless, they were worried that the bacteria from the wound may have spread to the brain. After 2 weeks of being awake and tied to the bed, I finally fell asleep.
As soon as I woke up, I regained consciousness and went straight onto the fast recovery route. There were still some lingering health issues but my fighting spirit could triumph over them moment by moment. Every time my daughter asked how I was doing, I always replied with ‘When I feel good, my body feels good’. So, I enhanced the goodness by making another trip to Europe to see my children.
Due to the lingering health issues, I had to be hospitalized again in the beginning of 2010. A blockage in my urinary tract caused severe infection to both my kidneys, which were already 90% damaged. The doctors had to punch two holes on my back to clear the blockage and managed to revive my kidneys.
According to my doctor, the condition of my organs has deteriorated badly over the years. In fact, he was rather impressed with the way I have lived all these while despite the unacknowledged condition.
However, my health problem has gone beyond what medical solutions are capable of. I was told that I can only be given a temporary solution but everything else boils down to my will and fighting spirit. Chinese New Year was only a week ahead and all my children were looking forward to celebrating it back home with my wife and I. I was discharged two days before Chinese New Year 2010, the year of absolute victory.
“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion, what sickness can therefore be an obstacle.”
The extract from a gosho passage is the greatest truth that I have been able to perceive. The string of my assorted health problems is my karma but I have managed to transform every one of them in many ways. In fact, it has also become a family karma as my wife and my children were always fighting side by side with me.
My children have developed strong faith based on these challenges. They have finally grown up to be the way I hoped to see, as fine adults striving for kosen-rufu in three different countries.
My will to live and my mission to raise the family have prolonged my life. However, the will and the sense of mission could only be sustained with my chanting and guidance I received from Sensei and Buddhist members. The immense gratitude that I feel extends my mission to inspiring others by relating my experience. I am the living actual proof of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism and I long for everyone to be one too.
As I was about to complete this essay, I was rushed to the hospital due to a severe pain in my abdomen. My bladder, which has been the cause of all these lingering issues, is no longer functioning and cannot be revived. My body can’t afford any more infections from the bladder.
Therefore, I must undergo complicated operation for the bladder to be removed and to rebuild the urinary system. This will be the last bet on my life. However, my family and I are ready to take up this challenge, as my will to live remains as strong as ever.
While we were at the Emergency Room, my daughter who seemed more panicky than I was, asked if I was scared. I told her that I wasn’t because I am chanting and I trust the Gohonzon. Many questions tend to arise but all answers must be based on our Buddhist practice.
We will certainly make this victory as the most powerful kosen-rufu tool in our lives.