25 Nov 2019 Becoming the Brilliant Sun of My Family and Society
Choo Chui Hoon
Women Division Leader
My mother formed a connection with Nichiren Buddhism in 1981 as she was the first person in the family to start practising faith. My father was a compulsive gambler who owed huge debts. Creditors came knocking at our door each day as we lived in fear. My mother’s relatives introduced her to Nichiren Buddhism and she started practising. As the daughter, I naturally joined her in practising Buddhism. My father started to practise too upon the encouragement of the SSA leaders. Through our practice of faith, we experienced our first benefit: the creditors empathised with us and allowed us to pay our debts in instalments, resulting in an improvement in our lives.
On 8th December 1982, my mother enshrined the Gohonzon. At that time, our prayers were to transform our family karma and for my father to quit gambling completely. He was still gambling on and off, and that affected our family’s financial situation.
My mother and I strongly believed that we could definitely transform our lives through the Buddhist practice. SGI President Ikeda says, “Our members everywhere have experienced and demonstrated the great power of employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra. Whether it be in dealing with serious illness, accidents, or natural disasters, or financial, career, or relationship problems, they have been able to emerge victorious. They have done so by taking on these difficult challenges with the determination, ‘Now is the time to chant and open a way forward!’ while continuing to make steady, positive efforts. Their victories are shining testaments to the power of faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism.”
One day, my father was hospitalised and that became a turning point for him. The doctor told us that if there had been any delay in sending my father to the hospital, he could have suffered a stroke. Due to this incident, my father realised how precious life was, and he started to treasure the family. He began to practise Nichiren Buddhism seriously, did his human revolution and quit gambling completely. He also worked very hard and managed to pay off all his debts within five years.
Developing Myself During My Youth
I am very grateful to my mother for bringing me into this warm Soka family, allowing me to develop myself in faith and as an individual. My mother fully supported me in the various activities in the Young Women Division (YWD) and encouraged me to give priority to SSA activities and to practise faith with a sense of gratitude. Hence, for 10 years, I was very active in the YWD activities. I participated in many SSA activities, including joining the Byakuren Group (a group that supports SSA events from behind-the-scenes), and took up the responsibility of a district leader. As a Byakuren member, we cleaned up the centre after each meeting and were the last to head for home. Though that was a period of tough training, it changed my life and and moulded my perspective of life.
My mentor, President Ikeda once says, “Vanity and foolishness lead to unhappiness; genuine happiness is found in wholeheartedly serving our fellow human beings.” I came to realise the importance of nurturing the “treasures of the heart” and joyously worked behind the scenes, serving others. I cherished my mentor’s guidance to the YWD members to be princesses of happiness who possess beautiful hearts. Now I am able to realise the meaning of true happiness and what it means to lead a value creative existence, without losing my direction in life.
In 1988, I had the good fortune to participate in a training course in Japan, where I met my mentor. I could feel at that moment, how selfless President Ikeda was in serving the members, and how hard he worked for kosen-rufu. I vowed in my heart to my mentor that I would fulfil my mission as a disciple, never regress in faith, and work for the happiness of others alongside him.
Our members everywhere have experienced and demonstrated the great power of employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra. Whether it be in dealing with serious illness, accidents, or natural disasters, or financial, career, or relationship problems, they have been able to emerge victorious. They have done so by taking on these difficult challenges with the determination, ‘Now is the time to chant and open a way forward!’ while continuing to make steady, positive efforts. Their victories are shining testaments to the power of faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
Working Hard to Build a Harmonious Family
I met my husband, a fellow SSA member. We got married and worked hand-in-hand for kosen-rufu. We wanted to have children who would work for the same cause as well, but initially our wish was not fulfilled. I experienced two miscarriages when we lost the heartbeat of the foetus.
With faith and the encouragement from the Women Division leaders, I was determined not to give up despite the setbacks and to transform this karma through daimoku. I also earnestly prayed that I would be able to have a healthy child with a mission. When I was going through my third pregnancy, my womb was very weak and I had to rest in bed for six months. During this period, I chanted abundant daimoku. Indeed, I was able to transform my karma and gave birth to a healthy and beautiful girl, my eldest daughter Huiqi.
Vanity and foolishness lead to unhappiness; genuine happiness is found in wholeheartedly serving our fellow human beings.
Two years later, I gave birth to my second daughter Huixin. This time, I only needed a bed-rest over three months. Six years later, my son Weijie was born. When I was pregnant with him, I only found out I was pregnant five months into the pregnancy, and amazingly, I did not require any bed-rest at all. My husband and I are deeply grateful to have these three children. We are determined to foster them to become “successors of kosen-rufu”. We encouraged them to participate in SSA activities and prayed for them to be able to grow in faith in the hope of fostering them. I also frequently reminded them to base everything on faith.
Huiqi is now a youth division member and her leaders encouraged her to take up the role of a YWD district leader. Subsequently, Huiqi decided to further her studies in South Korea and was well taken care of by the SGI Korea leaders. We were able to find her an accommodation near the SGI Korea centre within a week. Everything went on very smoothly. Huiqi was able to receive so much care and concern from the SGI Korea family, allowing her faith to take another leap forward.
I stay with my mother-in-law after marriage and she is the “sun” of my family. She always gives us her fullest support, be it in managing the household chores or looking after the children, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in SSA activities after work. I am so grateful to have a senior who dotes on us so much. Even though my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years ago which caused her hands to tremble, she is not deterred by her illness and remains determined to overcome the challenges. She continues to base herself on strong faith, attends SSA activities and even prepares dinner for the entire family! She is overjoyed whenever she sees us enjoying the meals. This is so because every meal prepared by her was one filled with physical challenges that she had to overcome. This is the result of the power of daimoku she chanted.
Manifesting the Wisdom to Carve Out a Career
I was working in an interior design firm for 18 years before I decided to start my own business after much consideration. I am glad I found a very good business partner and we have worked together for 10 years. Even though ours is not a large firm, we are still able to secure some clients. We did most of the work ourselves, from contracting, designing till the completion of a project, ensuring that the clients were satisfied. The satisfaction derived from our work is beyond the description of words.
Buddhism is like the body, and society like the shadow. When the body bends, so does the shadow.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches, “Buddhism is like the body, and society like the shadow. When the body bends, so does the shadow.” (WND, 1039) Therefore, I am determined to base myself on faith till the very end, substituting faith for wisdom and apply what I have learnt in SSA to my work. President Ikeda often says, “We must be sincere and honest.” I follow this guidance when doing business and am able to gain the trust of clients who help me promote my business by word of mouth. Our business has now finally taken off.
All these achievements could be attributed to the abundant daimoku chanted which enable me to manifest the wisdom to deal with life challenges. No matter how busy I am at work, I will always manage my time efficiently, never “sacrificing” SSA activities and fulfil my responsibilities as a leader. I am able to lead a fulfilling life and accomplish many victories in all aspects of my life because I have been practising Nichiren Buddhism. I resolve to be a woman of the 21st century, upholding a correct perspective of life, and shine ever brightly like the sun, giving hope and strength to people around me.
(Adapted from the Soka Women’s testimony book A Friend in the Orchid Room published in 2016)