13 Mar 2021 Victory Through Chanting Daimoku Like that of the Lion’s Roar
Soh Chuan Soon, Chia Hwee Kiow and Soh Cheng Wen (Family of 3)
Men Division, Women Division and Young Women Division
Creative Life: We understand that you and your wife have been practising Nichiren Buddhism for more than 30 years. Please share with us how Nichiren Buddhism transformed you and your family.
Husband, Soh Chuan Soon (CS): Life is transient and we do not know what will happen tomorrow. At the end of 2016, I suffered from depression and anxiety due to the stress of work. It was indeed my greatest ordeal—the hardest and most tormented time of my life.
Wife, Chia Hwee Kiow (HK): During that time, he always thought of suicide, and I had to pay attention to his every move, so I slept only two to three hours each night for half a year. The moment he moved, I got up, worried about his safety. I was under great mental pressure. However, despite the difficulties, I found every second that I could to chant the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
President Ikeda said: “Buddhism teaches that health and illness are one and inseparable. When illness strikes, there’s no need to be daunted. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with unwavering determination, we can beat back illness in our own lives and those of others. Daimoku has the power to strengthen life force, positively transform negative karma, and foster a life-state that can encourage and inspire others who are suffering.”
On the evening of August 4, 2017, I returned home and found that he had fainted in the toilet. I could not wake him up, so I quickly called for an ambulance. About 10 minutes later his lips turned dark and just as his hands began to darken, the paramedics arrived. They immediately hooked him to the oxygen tank as his breathing was extremely weak. Their timely arrival was truly the protection from chanting daimoku.
On arrival at the hospital Accident and Emergency, the doctor immediately performed a CT scan and found that his cerebral blood vessels were bleeding.
The back of the brain was swollen and he required immediate surgery to insert a measuring instrument into the brain to measure the pressure of the brain.
Daughter, Soh Cheng Wen (CW): When I was informed of my father’s accident, I immediately rushed to the hospital. At the resuscitation unit, the doctor told us to prepare for the worst, as my father was not responding well. It was the most terrifying moment in my 20 years of life.
CS: I was in a coma for two days. On the 3rd day, I heard my wife and daughter’s voices and opened my eyes slightly. As I was very anxious, the pressure in my brain kept increasing. The critical period was not over, and further observation was needed. If the pressure on the brain went above 20, there would be a need for surgery. However, through the chanting of daimoku, my brain maintained a normal pressure of 7 to 11, and no brain surgery was required. This was yet another actual proof of the power of practising Nichiren Buddhism.
After four days in the Intensive Care Unit, I was transferred to the High Dependency ward (HD) and then to a normal ward. In HD I kept having a fever and my heartbeat suddenly weakened to around 30 to 40, which was very serious. The CT scan report found the cause to be an expanding blood clot.
Everyone continued chanting abundant daimoku for me. I am very grateful to my wife, daughter and family members, and my comrades in SSA for their strong prayers. I especially thank the leaders of SSA for encouraging my wife to chant daimoku like the roar of a lion for me to definitely make a breakthrough and achieve victory. Everyone chanted with the same prayer and resolve. Sure enough, my fever subsided, and my heartbeat returned to normal. Everyone also prayed that my brain must stop bleeding and for me to transform my karma into mission. In the Gosho, “Reply to Kyo’o”, Nichiren Daishonin wrote, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1, p. 412)
A few days later the scan showed that the blood vessels in my brain had stopped bleeding. However, when I fainted and fell in the toilet, I had hit my head. The trauma to the brain affected my oesophagus. I couldn’t eat or speak. The muscles on my arms and legs were too weak for movement, and my memory became impaired.
CW: It was heartbreaking to see my father in such a state and to watch him relearn the basics again—to walk, to urinate, to eat, to talk and to breathe, an act that comes so naturally to most of us. I was uncertain if he would ever recover, but my mother’s determination encouraged me to turn to the Gohonzon to chant for his recovery. She believed that it is his mission to help others with the same condition.
The Medicinal Effect of Daimoku!
HK: The doctor met with us to explain his condition and to discuss arrangements for treatment and therapy after his discharge. The doctor told me not to expect too much as brain trauma usually takes six months to a year or more to recover.
At that moment, my thought was “My husband must make a breakthrough! With the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we will turn the impossible to possible and show the greatness of the Mystic Law.”
CS: My wife chanted daimoku resolutely and encouraged me to chant together. Although I couldn’t speak or make a sound, I chanted together with her in my heart.
Nichiren Daishonin has taught us that “the voice does the Buddha’s work”, so she prayed that I must break through this ordeal to continue propagating Nichiren Buddhism, using my voice to share my experience.
The medicinal effect of chanting abundant daimoku is unimaginable. Very quickly, the feeding tube was removed on August 22. I could swallow and eat without the tube. On the same day, I started to learn to walk and that evening, I could even chant aloud. That day was truly my turning point.
Two days later, I recovered the use of my hands and started to eat on my own.
September 1 was also a day of great breakthrough and victory. While playing the childhood game of “scissors, paper, stone” with my niece, my memory was suddenly restored.
With only 19 days of therapy my progress was particularly fast. I fully recovered my ability to swallow and in other aspects my recovery was 85 percent. How unimaginable is the power of the Mystic Law! Where previously I could not even solve a 4-piece puzzle, I was then able to solve 3-dimensional puzzles.
HK: Before his discharge, the doctor said that my husband would need two to four weeks of therapy or may even need to stay at a nursing home or day care centre. However, my leaders encouraged me to set a prayer that he would be placed at the venue that suited him best. True enough, he finally can go straight home. Home was the best place for him.
CS: After discharge on September 11, I was able to help at the Lotus Sutra Exhibition, and on October 12, I returned to the hospital for a follow-up CT scan. The report showed no signs of the blood clots. The doctor said that the blood clots were quite large and to completely dissolve in such a short time was marvellous. Truly this is the power of our Buddhist practice in transforming my karma. I gradually came out of the shadows of depression and anxiety.
CW: My father’s testimony truly showed the power of the Mystic Law. I am very thankful to all the comrades in faith, for their daimoku support and constant encouragement during this period. I truly felt the warmth of the Soka family. And I would ask everybody to not take your parents for granted, to treasure the person in front of you, and to always cherish every single thing in life. Even the simplest act of breathing can be laborious for some people.
HK: I recall that when my husband started having depression, he became unacceptably lazy. Seeing him lying in bed every day doing nothing made me very angry. I told him, “Time is so precious, and yet you waste time every day like this. If you continue to lie in bed, I will dismantle the bed.” I even wrote a big note, “No sleeping on the bed during the day” and put it on the bed. I was absolutely furious!
Later, when I attended a caregiver training course, I learnt that excessive sleep and fatigue are symptoms of depression. I also learnt that I needed to have empathy and take the perspective of the patient.
In reality, it was very challenging to be a family caregiver for the mentally challenged. Learning about it was easy but taking action was difficult.
He really tested my patience, but I thanked him for helping me to transform myself. The abundant daimoku I chanted to challenge the situation elevated my life condition to do human revolution, to be compassionate and embrace him wholeheartedly as I accompanied him through this trying period. I manifested wisdom to know exactly what I should do.
In fact, the family’s unconditional embrace, care and understanding are really important for the sick, so that they can feel safe and more importantly can kindle their passion to live.
President Ikeda said: “I can affirm that none of you who uphold the Mystic Law is destined to be unhappy.
“We should warmly support and watch over those struggling with mental health issues, keeping their long-term welfare always in mind, and also sincerely encourage their family members. Those caring for others with emotional or psychological disorders face a great challenge, too, and they should try to find creative ways to take a break and refresh themselves.
“Showing care and support for those suffering from emotional illnesses will lead to the cultivation of a truly deep spirit of compassion and also to the creation of a richly humanistic society.”
CS: With a renewed me, I am determined to do my very best for kosen-rufu, striving alongside my mentor President Ikeda, and foster many young successors.
(Adapted from February 2020 issue of Creative Life)