15 Apr 2020 Remaining Undefeated in life!
Suresh s/o Govindasamy
Men Division Leader
My father used to drink a lot. When I was still a kid, there was one night that I was startled awake by loud shouting and terrified screaming. I could still recall the scene that came to view as I stepped out unsure from my bedroom – my parents were fighting and my mother was left with bruises all over her body. My 14-year-old elder brother’s eyes were filled with fear as he tried to restrain my father. If there was really a place called hell, then this would have been it. Helpless, I just went back into my room and cried in bed.
This was the kind of family situation that I grew up in and it raised a lot of questions within me as I became an unhappy teenager. I felt life was very unfair – why did the people around me, like my cousins and others have happy harmonious families except me? It was at this time that I encountered and started practising Nam-myoho-renge-kyo after being introduced to Nichiren Buddhism by my cousin. I was 14-years-old then.
Despite my father’s hot temper and violent nature, I was still closest to him and I loved him very much. His love was one that was unconditional. I remembered when I came out of National Service and had trouble looking for a job, he reassured me by saying that even if I were to be jobless all my life, he would support me till his last breath. He was my hero!
My father never took care of his health. He was diabetic and his sugar level was always extremely high. In August 2012, my father collapsed in his bed while alone at home because of diabetes. When my brother found my father, his brain was already damaged.
Despite this, we all felt that it was the tremendous good fortune accumulated from our Buddhist practice that my father collapsed in bed and not on the floor because if that had happened, my father would likely have sustained more serious injuries or even fatal ones, especially to the head. Also, my brother happened to visit him at the right time and could immediately rush him to the hospital. Imagine if no help had come to my collapsed father… I couldn’t bear the thought of it!
My dad was hospitalised for three months. During that time he was bedridden, he couldn’t talk or walk, he was on diapers and was fed through the nose. It was also during this period that doctors diagnosed that he had colon and bladder cancer. Those three months were physically and emotionally draining for my family and me.
Seeing my father lying on the hospital bed made me feel utterly helpless. I felt lousy as a son. I wanted to take away his sufferings and help him but I was powerless. Negative thoughts crept in: Why am I still having problems? Why must my father suffer so much? Why should my mother, brother and I still suffer? Haven’t we suffered enough all these years? Were all these years of chanting and Buddhist practice all in vain?
While agonising, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda’s guidance on the Buddhist concept of “voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma” gave me the courage. He wrote: “We all have our own karma or destiny, but when we look it square in the face and grasp its true significance, then any hardship can serve to help us lead richer and more profound lives. Our actions in challenging our destiny become examples and inspirations for countless others. In other words, when we change our karma into missions, we transform our destiny from playing a negative role to a positive one. Those who change their karma into mission have ‘voluntarily assumed the appropriate karma.’ Therefore, those who keep advancing, while regarding everything as part of their mission, proceed towards the goal of transforming their destiny.”
This helped me realised that my challenge was to overcome all odds and emerge victorious in life based on the Gohonzon (the object of devotion in Nichiren Buddhism). This would prove the unlimited power of the Mystic Law to my father and the people around me so that they too could transform their lives based on faith.
A typical day for me then was going to work, visiting my father, chanting with him, and going to sleep at 2am. It was physically exhausting, but chanting daimoku (repeated chanting of the phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) gave me strong life force and the wisdom to live each day effectively. My father was in this condition for slightly more than a year and this situation enabled me to strengthen my faith. I strove to chant one hour every night for my father and there were many nights when I struggled to stay awake to chant in front of the Gohonzon. I would knock my head, stand and chant just to stay awake as I challenged myself to go all out with the single-minded determination that I would fight till I win. Recognising that one day my father would pass away, I was determined to fulfil my role as his son to the best of my ability and to have no regrets when the time comes.
During this journey, I was deeply humbled by my Men Division (MD) leaders who came to encourage me and also chanted daily with my father. During the period that he was hospitalised, we came across many patients who were suffering and it gave us the opportunity to encourage them. My brother and my MD leaders spoke with many of them, trying to arouse their strength and gave them hope to win over their illnesses. One of them began chanting, recovered from being wheelchair-bound and even home-visited my father to chant with him. If it was not my father, we would not have had these memorable chances to strive and win with these comrades of faith.
President Ikeda says: “By guiding another individual towards happiness, we guide ourselves towards happiness. This is our practice of introducing others to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, Through such efforts to share Buddhism with others, we ourselves can grow immensely, we can carry out our human revolution and we can transform our karma. This is the greatness of Buddhism. The act of introducing others to Buddhism, which enables us to profoundly benefit both ourselves and others, is the formula for hope for humanity.”
A year later, my father passed away peacefully. From the serene look on his face, I knew that he had victoriously overcame his sufferings. I am very thankful and appreciative of my leaders and members for struggling alongside my family members and me during that most difficult period.
It has been three years since my father passed away. Today, I have the good fortune to have 3 children and who will become fine member of the Youth Division. I have also changed “poison into medicine” at my workplace by improving on my relationships with my colleagues through reflecting upong myself and undergoing my own human revolution. I was fortunate enough to be sent on a work-related training course to Japan, which gave me the opportunity to visit Toda Peace Memorial Hall at Yokohama as well as other centres in Shinanomachi. Benefits seemed to just pour forth in my life. And the sense of gratitude spurs me to continue to strive and win in my life!
After these many years of practice, I came to the realisation that transactional type of prayers or attitude in faith is not what true Buddhism teaches. The essence of true Buddhism is to live and practice for oneself and others. I have embarked on the next phase of my Buddhist journey, whereby I vow to strive alongside my mentor in life, for kosen-rufu (peace and happiness of all people); to be indomitable and expand my life state that even in the midst of raging challenges, my life at its core would not be shaken and I will still be able to advance in life with a joyful heart. I am convinced that as long as I am able to manifest that kind of life state, I will be ever victorious and never defeated!
(Edited from Hero of the World)