13 Sep 2019 Everything that Happens in Life is a Benefit!
Cheng Mun Yee Shirley
Women Division Leader
I first performed in the National Day Parade (NDP) as a member of the Young Women Division Fife and Drum Corps representing SSA in 1983.
I had a few experiences in NDP as a performer and trainer but this [the year 2018] was the first time I joined as an assistant chief trainer. It was both a challenging and memorable learning journey for me. Though we encountered many challenges and difficulties, based on abundant daimoku and the spirit of “many in body, one in mind”, we managed to overcome them one after another. Between May 15 and August 9, all the trainers and the committee members chanted more than 10 million daimoku for the great success of the parade. In the course of this journey, I became more understanding and courageous. I also learnt the importance of providing timely support and being swift in reporting in order to resolve issues.
In the more than 40 years since I took faith in Nichiren Buddhism, I engraved in my heart this guidance of SGI President Ikeda: “To open the way to a victorious life and achieve absolute happiness through one’s own power, tenacious efforts and actions!” Whenever I encounter difficulties, I regard it as a challenge. I firmly believe that I can overcome any obstacle through diligent Buddhist practice.
My Grandmother’s Positive Influence
On the 9th day after I was born, my parents gave me away as they thought that a daughter born in the Year of the Tiger was destined to bring bad luck to the family. It might seem unfortunate, but it turned out otherwise, as my adoptive family, especially my maternal grandmother, doted on me. My grandmother was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism by my uncle in 1969. Hence, I had the good fortune to form a connection with Nichiren Buddhism in this family.
When we were young, my grandmother would bring my sister and I out for SSA activities. She would also painstakingly bring us to attend the weekly Fife and Drum Corps training sessions, even though the bus ride back and forth took more than two hours. Without the family of Soka, I might not have persevered in my Buddhist practice till today.
However, as the early years of my marriage were filled with bliss, I gradually became lazy, often giving excuses to not participate in kosen-rufu activities. Eventually, I even stopped practising for ten years.
Encountering Challenges in My Marriages
Later, I discovered that my husband was having an affair. He became so irresponsible, leaving me to bear the burden of all household expenses and housing loans. I cried every day. With my sister’s encouragement, I started to chant again. Eventually, my husband and I decided to file for divorce.
I subsequently remarried and gave birth to my son. Unfortunately, my second husband met with cashflow problems and had to wind up his business. He chose not to repay the debts and filed for bankruptcy. As I was the guarantor of the company’s director, I became responsible for all the debts after he declared bankruptcy.
My heartbeat accelerated whenever I opened the letterbox. I was so afraid that I would see a lawyer’s letter. My husband told me to ignore the statutory demand. He said that me becoming a bankrupt too was the worst that could happen. I could not tolerate such an irresponsible attitude. We often quarrelled over money matters. In the end, it came to a point where we couldn’t get along anymore and decided to part ways. I did not ask for alimony and single-handedly raised our child who was still very young then.
President Ikeda said: “…just as the morning sun dispels the darkness, the lives of those who consistently chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will never be deadlocked.” I prayed to summon forth courage and wisdom, and to have good fortune to settle the debts.
Firstly, I managed to sell my three-room flat at a good price. Secondly, I was surprisingly bold enough to negotiate with the lawyer despite being someone who lacked courage and confidence. After understanding my situation, the creditor agreed to reduce the debts. I was surprised and overjoyed having once again experienced the great power of daimoku. Within a short period of time thereafter, I was able to clear all my debts.
Realising that only I can transform my karma through actualising my own human revolution, I began to chant earnestly for my ex-husband’s happiness as well. In the end, without my knowing, all lingering feelings of resentment and grievances towards him vanished gradually.
Later, recognising that I have voluntarily assumed the appropriate karma (the principle of transforming karma to mission) through my experiences, I actively encouraged other Women Division (WD) members who were facing the same challenges, to bring hope and confidence to them. Seeing these WD members transform their karma through strong faith, squarely facing all problems with confidence, further encouraged me. I resolved to devote greater efforts to kosen-rufu, fostering capable successors.
Giving My Son the Invaluable Treasure of the Universe
Following the example of my grandmother, I did my best to foster my son into a capable person for kosen-rufu since he was young. I brought him to the Young Men Division (YMD) Courageous Musicians (brass band) practices every week. I am very pleased that he is now an active member of the YMD Courageous Musicians and the Student Division, and supports the four division discussion meeting.
Actually, my son was diagnosed with severe bronchitis when he was young and had to see a doctor every other day. He was often suffering from high fever in the middle of the night and had to be brought to the hospital. During such times, I would stay in the hospital to keep him company till daybreak before going to work directly. I was physically and mentally drained.
One day when I went home, having reached my limits, I kneeled before the Gohonzon. Chanting and crying at the same time, I prayed with desperate resolve that my son must fully recover; he must stop suffering from the illness and stop frequenting the hospital; and grow up healthily to become a capable successor of kosen-rufu!
When our determination changes, everything changes. Since then, my son didn’t need to be hospitalised anymore. I keenly felt the difference made when one’s determination changes.
Thanks to the protective functions of the universe, my son has grown up healthily over the last ten over years. I hardly need to worry about him as he is very independent and sensible. As President Ikeda teaches: “Faith is the greatest of all treasures. Passing on correct faith to your children is the surest way for both parent and child, and for the entire family as well, to walk the path of eternal happiness.” I often tell my son this: “I might not be able to provide you with many material possessions, but what Mum can give you is the invaluable treasure of the universe.”
President Ikeda also said: “Faith in the Mystic Law is the wellspring of value creation. It enables us to turn everything in our lives—both our joys and sufferings—into causes for accumulating the values of beauty, benefit and good in still greater measure. When we base ourselves on this kind of faith, everything that happens to us is a benefit.”
In retrospect, I am very grateful to the good and bad things that happened in life, which enabled me to deepen my faith and practice, and actualise my human revolution.
Faith in the Mystic Law is the wellspring of value creation. It enables us to turn everything in our lives—both our joys and sufferings—into causes for accumulating the values of beauty, benefit and good in still greater measure. When we base ourselves on this kind of faith, everything that happens to us is a benefit.
- SGI President Ikeda
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 587 published in 2018)