31 May 2019 My Mentor is in My Heart
Chua Saw Guat
Women Division Leader
SGI President Ikeda says: “ …when we align our hearts with the spirit of our mentor for kosen-rufu, the wisdom and courage innate to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth well forth within us.” I can attest to the truth in these words after many years of Buddhist practice, especially with the training I have received in the Women Division.
I followed my parents and we took up faith 32 years ago. During my secondary school days, I took part in the Future Division activities and cultural performances of Soka Gakkai Malaysia. After graduating from secondary school, I came to Singapore to pursue further studies in music. I remained active in kosen-rufu activities. Besides joining the Soka Chorus (SSA 4-Division Choir), I took up the mission of a Young Women Division (YWD) district leader. Eventually, I married a fellow member of the Soka Chorus and we started our own family.
My Challenges after Entering Women Division
From 2009 to 2012, my family found ourselves in severe financial straits. Due to a dispute over equity, my husband’s business ran into trouble, and we were embroiled in a court case for over three years. We were very troubled by our financial woes. Every night, after our children had gone to bed, my husband and I would chant fervently in front of the Gohonzon with the determination to demonstrate actual proof and let justice prevail.
There was once when we had to search the entire house for loose change because we did not even have sufficient money to buy medicine for our child who was running a fever. Remarkably, we could still laugh while searching high and low for the loose change. Although we were down and out, we were convinced that we would be able to turn things around by employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra, that is, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Today, that incident has become one of the precious memories we share.
Amid our struggles, many relatives and friends came forth to lend their support and ease our burden, serving as protective functions of the universe. In 2012, we managed to settle the case out of court. Nevertheless, we were saddled with heavy debts. My husband wound up the business and made a career switch. Through abundant prayers and ceaseless efforts, we cleared all our debts within two years.
In the Women Division (WD), I learned what correct faith means and the importance of ceaselessly challenging oneself to clinch victories in life. The problems I faced as a Women Division member were more complicated and multi-faceted. I realised that without President Ikeda’s encouragement and guidance, I would have been left helpless. As I surmounted one problem after another, I forged and deepened my bonds with my mentor. I believe that I would not be who I am today without him.
President Ikeda shares his own experience: “Each day saw incredibly difficult challenges. Nothing was ever easy. It was a struggle to achieve the seemingly impossible, to realise a feat that would astonish everyone. What was the main cause for my success in that struggle? In short, it was that my heart was always one with my mentor.”
My Husband’s Battle with Illness
For many years, savouring the joy of my Buddhist practice, I actively share Nichiren Buddhism with others, and fulfil my leadership responsibilities with the mindset that I am taking care of and fostering members on behalf of my mentor. I would often share about SSA’s activities and President Ikeda’s philosophy of education and humanism with people around me. With the awareness that my words and actions reflect the behaviour of a Soka Gakkai International member and a Buddhist practitioner, I took great pains to do my human revolution.
In 2017, the Youth Friendship Concert and Lotus Sutra Exhibition served as wonderful platforms for my family to contribute to kosen-rufu. I invited over 20 individuals to the concert. The invitees were greatly invigorated and impressed with our youth division members’ spirit. I continued to invite them to our Nationwide Friendship Meeting in August. After much encouragement and earnest dialogue, two of them have begun to chant and attend discussion meetings. They enthusiastically participate in SSA’s activities and study Nichiren Buddhism, and will be performing at the National Day Parade this year (2018) as part of the SSA contingent. One of them has even set a resolution to receive the Gohonzon this year and to lead her entire family to faith in Nichiren Buddhism!
President Ikeda says: “When we engage in a struggle for kosen-rufu, the three obstacles and four devils will invariably arise to assail us. Every day is an earnest challenge. That’s why it’s essential that we chant powerful daimoku.” How true. In August last year, when we were gearing up for the Lotus Sutra Exhibition, my husband fell sick. His haemoglobin level suddenly plunged to 7.5gm/dl, which was half the normal level. After he was warded in hospital, at one point his haemoglobin level fell from 7.5gm/dl to a dangerously low level of 2.4gm/ dl. He was given medication and had three blood transfusions. My husband knew this was the workings of the three obstacles and four devils and was not cowed even though his life was hanging in the balance. Instead, he resolved to emerge victorious and be back in action on the front lines of kosen-rufu.
We waged a new struggle, armed with determination and prayers. Our three daughters also joined in marathon chanting sessions to pray for their father’s recovery. Even though he was still in the hospital, I took my daughters with me to my zone’s all leaders meeting to share a victory report of my efforts to share Buddhism with others. I was absolutely convinced that the harder I worked for kosen-rufu, the faster we would be able to transform our family karma. It was a trying period for me because I had to take care of my job, household chores and my children, but my determination to win did not waver in the least.
In the end, my husband’s symptoms of anaemia disappeared. The doctor was astonished and discharged him. My husband quickly threw himself back into kosen-rufu activities. During the Lotus Sutra Exhibition, he even successfully completed his duties as a guide and security personnel, and performed with the Soka Chorus.
When we engage in a struggle for kosen-rufu, the three obstacles and four devils will invariably arise to assail us. Every day is an earnest challenge. That’s why it’s essential that we chant powerful daimoku.
Becoming the Sun in My Family, Gakkai and Workplace
As a WD member, I believe that prayers, introducing Buddhism to others, and fostering youthful successors are of utmost importance. Buoyed by the spirit of “cherishing the person in front of me”, I often share President Ikeda’s guidance through text messages with friends in the hope of encouraging them. Some thanked me for the messages, which gave them much encouragement when they were going through a rough patch in life.
Earlier this year (2018), I invited youth such as my relatives to the March 16 Soka Youth Gathering. I also encouraged my children to invite their friends. During the Lunar New Year period, my eldest daughter’s classmates visited us. I took the opportunity to invite them and introduce them to the organisation. Three of them confirmed their attendance just a few hours before the gathering.
In my district, one WD member wanted her son to attend the gathering, but he turned her down repeatedly. We refused to give up and continued with our prayers. The Mystic Law is truly remarkable. The son’s girlfriend was invited by a friend as well and both of them attended the March 16 Soka Youth Gathering on the very last day. Needless to say, the WD member was overjoyed. Unrelenting prayers infused with hope will definitely come true.
The current YWD district leader in my district used to be a member under my care in my YWD days, while the Young Men Division district leader was introduced to faith by me. Seeing these youth division members whom I have nurtured, win in life and fulfil greater mission in the organisation, brings me immense joy. This is my victory report to my mentor.
I am also making efforts to foster my three daughters. All of them graduated from Soka Kindergarten. Since they were born, I have been bringing them to SSA’s activities and Soka Chorus’ practice sessions so as to keep them in close contact with the organisation. My wish is for them to become capable people who would contribute to kosen-rufu.
Faith manifests itself in daily life. Hence, at home, I resolve to take good care of my family, actualise my human revolution and be the sun of the family. At work, as a music teacher, I do my best and take on the challenge of teaching different levels of courses. My teaching methods have been well-received by the school and my students. I know from my first-hand experience that as long as I have my mentor in my heart, I will be able to manifest the courage to overcome my weaknesses and advance unceasingly.
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 583)