29 Apr 2019 Breaking Through My Cowardice to Raise a Harmonious Family
Lim Hong Eng
Women Division Leader
Joined SSA in 2007
In September 2000, when I was attending English classes, one of my classmates introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism. Two friends too had mentioned to me about this life-transforming practice, and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo shortly before. However, this classmate explained to me that I could accumulate good fortune for myself and my family members through it. Having read so many negative reports such as car accidents, and robberies in newspapers, I was always worried about my husband and children’s well-being. I thought what she said made sense and I should “save for rainy days”. I started to practise faith and attend SSA activities. However, I had yet to possess strong faith.
An Incident that Strengthened My Faith
One eventful day in 2001, when I had just returned home from a chanting session at the Soka centre, I heard a loud bang. My son had fainted and fallen to the floor. My husband, who was home early that day, rushed to his side and held him up. He shouted my son’s name frantically.
Fortunately, my son regained consciousness and started crying loudly. Blood was oozing from the side of his mouth, his teeth and his nose, and the right side of his face became very swollen. My husband was so shocked that he exclaimed: “Oh dear, our child is finished!”
I remained composed while chanting in my heart fervently. “Don’t panic, let him lie down and I will wipe away the blood on his face,” I told my husband.
After consulting the doctor, we were relieved that he did not suffer any injury other than a broken tooth. We found out later that our son had learnt a breathing technique from his teacher in the school band. He was trying to practise it, but probably in the wrong way and that resulted in the fainting episode. His face hit some objects while he was falling down and hence was hurt. We were very grateful for the Gohonzon’s protection because my husband and I were at home when the incident happened.
After that, I began actively participating in SSA activities and received the Gohonzon (the object of devotion) on October 21, 2007.
“The Heart of a Lion King” is “Courage”
Not long after receiving my Gohonzon, I kept receiving phone calls from my sister-in-law informing me about the family squabbles at home. My brother was hot tempered and did not get along well with the rest of the family members. After encountering Nichiren Buddhism, I keenly felt that my brother needed this Buddhist practice. Though those around me were not too optimistic that he would accept the practice, I remembered SGI President Ikeda’s guidance that by not sharing Buddhism with someone whom we see is suffering, we are obstructing him or her from obtaining happiness. I also learnt from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings which states: “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs.” (WND-1, 997) “The heart of a lion king” is “courage”.
Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs.
So I started chanting for my brother’s happiness and determined to break through my own cowardice. When I summoned forth courage to invite him to chant at the Soka centre, I was so surprised that he immediately agreed. My sister-in-law also came along.
Whenever conflicts arose, I would encourage my sister-in-law with these words, “Our faith in the Gohonzon is being put to test, though it is bitter cold winter now, spring will definitely arrive. Therefore, we must persevere and continue to chant until we see actual proof.”
I remembered an encouragement from President Ikeda which encourages us to open a path where there is none; to create hope when there is none. No matter what, dawn will arrive!
With that, I accompanied my brother and sister-in-law to the Soka centre to chant every week. My brother strove in his human revolution and gradually, I stopped receiving calls of complaint from my sister-in-law. We were so delighted, when his three sons bought him an air ticket to visit our relatives in China. That was his first overseas trip with his sons. It was heartening to see my brother enjoying a harmonious family after practising Nichiren Buddhism. The Mystic Law is truly unfathomable.
Never Give Up!
In March 2008, my husband’s younger brother had an excruciating headache. There was no improvement despite having consulted two family doctors, and he was eventually admitted to the hospital. He was unconscious and suffering from a high fever when I visited him. The doctors could not find the cause and could only try curing him with different antibiotics. The sight of my brother-in-law’s children, who were still so young, made me summon forth the courage to encourage my sister-in-law to chant. At the same time, I urged my husband’s elder sisters to join us in praying for the doctors to manifest wisdom, so that they can find the cause and administer the right treatment for my brother-in-law.
The next day, the doctor found out the cause! He said that there was water-retention in the brain which caused the headache and proposed that an operation be carried out to remove it. Failing to do so might cause him to lose his sight.
Nevertheless, there is high risk involved when it comes to head surgery and we were all pretty worried. On the third day of his hospitalisation, I brought a set of prayer beads to the hospital, wanting to give it to my sister-in- law. However, I saw someone of a different faith praying by the bedside of my brother-in-law when I arrived. I didn’t have a chance to speak to my sister-in-law, but I never wavered in my intention to introduce this Buddhist practice to her.
I chanted in my heart with the determination that I must present the prayer beads to my sister-in-law that day. As I chanted, I thought of how President Ikeda always encourages us never to give up when sharing Buddhism with others. Hence, I waited and chanted. When I was finally about to take my leave, my sister-in-law called out to me. She told me that she chanted 10 minutes for my brother-in-law’s good health that morning. I was so touched and joyfully presented her with the prayer beads. I encouraged her to continue praying for my brother-in-law to have the good fortune to receive suitable medication, and for the water-retention to subside so that he can avoid going through the operation.
On the fourth day, when I visited my brother-in-law, he looked fresh, and was even sitting on a chair reading the newspaper. The doctor had prescribed him with a new antibiotics which caused the fever to subside and the headache to be relieved. What’s more, no operation was required. We had indeed made the impossible possible!
In the guidance that President Ikeda gave during his visit to Singapore in 1995, he said, “There is no impasse in Buddhism. Nothing can compare to the power of daimoku. By chanting daimoku we can move everything in the best possible direction, change everything into joy.”
My brother-in-law’s ordeal gave me the opportunity to introduce my husband’s eldest sister to chant, and she received the Gohonzon in 2009. My sister-in-law also started practising in 2015 and received her Gohonzon in the same year, seven years after her first encounter with Nichiren Buddhism.
After 13 years of my Buddhist practice, my husband finally took up faith and joined me in the monthly discussion meetings. We both performed in the SSA mass display item at the National Day Parade 2017. Though my two children are not practising yet, it is in my daily prayers that they will have the good fortune to embrace Nichiren Buddhism and contribute to kosen-rufu.
In a nutshell, I cherish the opportunity to practise Nichiren Buddhism in this lifetime and am so grateful! I pray each day that I would be able to meet people who need this Buddhist practice, and have the opportunity to share with them the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism. I am determined to work with the youth in my district to enable more young people to embrace Nichiren Buddhism and lead lives of absolute happiness.
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 577)