17 Jun 2020 Devoting Myself to Kosen-rufu to My Heart’s Content
Tang Lai Meng
Men Division Leader
My desire to be able to participate freely in SSA activities has finally been realised due to my all-out efforts to work whole-heartedly for kosen-rufu in the Men Division.
I began practising Nichiren Buddhism in Malaysia in 1983, and received my Gohonzon in 1990 while studying in a university in Singapore as a foreign student. After 30 years of earnest Buddhist practice, I have come to savour many wonderful benefits, and the greatest good fortune has been the freedom to participate in SSA activities and advance the cause of kosen-rufu with my mentor and comrades in faith.
I was very active during my undergraduate days as a SSA Student Division (SD) member. After joining the workforce and subsequently setting up my own family, I had a hard time juggling work, family and SSA commitments for many years. I could not participate freely in Gakkai activities due to my hectic work schedule as an engineer in the semiconductor industry. I had to work late into the night every day and sometimes even on weekends. Dissatisfied with the situation, I began to chant hard and ponder what I should do to put into practice my mentor President Ikeda’s guidance for youth struggling to balance their work, study and Gakkai commitments.
In the “Fresh Leaves” chapter of The New Human Revolution, he wrote: “I’m well aware what a challenge it is to hold down a job, to study and do Gakkai activities all at the same time. But true Buddhist practice and training lie in working hard and succeeding in each of these areas… If you feel that your life is painful or agonising, then find a spare moment and pray about your situation. If you pray, then the energy to challenge your circumstances will emerge, and you will definitely find a way to break through. Eventually you will attain a state of life where you can do activities and devote yourself to kosen-rufu to your heart’s content, free of all hindrances.”
After chanting and struggling hard physically and spiritually, I decided to leave the semiconductor industry, and took up a part-time teaching job.
As the sole breadwinner of my family, I did not cut back on my yearly financial contribution to SSA even as my family adjusted our lifestyle and reduced our expenses after my career switch. In fact, every year just a few months before the annual Members Contribution Fund Event, I would get a new teaching job that offered me a substantial financial boost. I attribute this good fortune to my fervent prayer and resolve to make financial contributions to the advancement of kosen-rufu.
I was determined to work even harder in the chapter that I was assigned to.
Striving as hard as I could for kosen-rufu in my chapter, which had no Gohonzon conferment at that time, I rallied all my leaders to work towards our shared goal. Eventually, we had eight new members who received the Gohonzon in the first year. Many of the Gohonzon recipients were new friends who had been practising for less than a year. One by one, Bodhisattvas of the Earth continued to appear through everyone’s tireless efforts. Everyone continued to introduce new friends and their relatives to the practice. In the following year, the Gohonzon recipients in our chapter doubled.
In the third year, we were determined to exert even greater effort in propagation. Everyone in the chapter strove vibrantly and joyfully day and night, particularly the youth. To our immense joy, we achieved a threefold increase in new members from the first year. All these were made possible due to our unity and earnest daimoku for the happiness of all emerging Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Through these tireless propagation efforts for kosen-rufu during those three years, I eventually had the good fortune to secure a full-time job in a tertiary institution where I am currently teaching.
Today, after teaching for eight years, I am earning even more than I used to as an engineer. More importantly, I am able to participate in Gakkai activities freely. I am truly glad that I am able to live these words of President Ikeda now— “attain a state of life where you can do activities and devote yourself to kosen-rufu to your heart’s content, free of all hindrances”.
I’m well aware what a challenge it is to hold down a job, to study and do Gakkai activities all at the same time. But true Buddhist practice and training lie in working hard and succeeding in each of these areas... If you feel that your life is painful or agonising, then find a spare moment and pray about your situation. If you pray, then the energy to challenge your circumstances will emerge, and you will definitely find a way to break through. Eventually you will attain a state of life where you can do activities and devote yourself to kosen-rufu to your heart’s content, free of all hindrances.
- NHR Volume 4, 'Fresh Leaves' Chapter
My biggest challenge now is to complete my part-time postgraduate doctoral degree (PhD) programme which I took up four years ago. The course is offered by a university from the United Kingdom (UK) with the tuition fee of $150,000 completely waived. While this was a bout of rare good fortune, I took three months to mull things over. As a Men Division leader who was already 48 years old, holding a full-time job, and with a family to take care of, I felt it would be extremely challenging for me. However, after chanting abundant daimoku and seeking advice from a senior in faith, I plucked up the courage to accept the challenge. I realised that I have a unique mission— to show everyone that I can still fulfil my mission for kosen-rufu despite my extremely tight schedule.
During the course of my studies, the real obstacle came from within—the negative influences in my own life. I persevered, and after one year of backbreaking struggles in my studies, I went to the UK for my first mini viva voce examination in 2016. Initially, I thought it would be difficult for me to pass the test as I had very little time for my studies compared to other students, so it might be my last trip to the UK. Surprisingly, not only did I pass the examination and advance to the second year, I even got an excellent grade for my test.
The actual proof in my studies also culminated in unprecedented breakthroughs in the district that I was attached to. From a district with disproportionately more elderly members, no new friend and no youth for many years, I started to bring two new friends to the discussion meeting and through everyone’s efforts and prayers to share Buddhism with their friends, it had grown into a district that welcomed 19 new friends in a single year in 2016.
I am determined to continue sharing this wonderful philosophy of happiness and hope with even more people. Every day, I am praying assiduously to strengthen my Buddhahood so as to be able to face all the challenges in my life. In the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple, I resolve to achieve many more “Soka Victories” for myself and others!
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 605)