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 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.
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.