Grateful to my Parents
I started chanting when I was seven years old, together with my mother, aunt, grandma, and cousins. I did not truly understand the greatness of this Buddhism at that time. As the years progressed, my father began to object vehemently to the practice. Whenever we would go out for activities, he would threaten to throw the Gohonzon away or burn it. Many times my mother would hide the Butsudan before we went out, for fear that my father would harm the Gohonzon.
Despite all the turmoil in the family, my mother grit her teeth and continued with Gakkai activities without fail and took care of the family. I felt very resentful towards my father for all the misery he caused us.
When I was about 14 years old, my father met with an accident and he could not work for several months. He was lucky to escape death and he himself could not explain how it happened — it was raining heavily that evening and his motorcycle skidded into a taxi that was already involved in an accident. My father could not understand how it was that he landed on a grassy patch and only broke his leg, instead of landing on the highway where he would have been run over by oncoming vehicles. (We all knew that, despite his strong objections to our Buddhist practice, it was through the faith of my mother that he was so protected.)
My father couldn’t work because of his injury and our family financial circumstances were badly affected. Also, because of the bad economic climate, my mother’s business as a hawker began to take a turn for the worst. My family went through a very difficult period. However, through my mother's perseverance, we got by, day by day. My younger brother, who was very sensible, took up a part-time job at a fast food restaurant for his own expenses and, through a cousin, I learned that I can use tuition money to supplement my family income. I became a part-time tutor. I was still angry and hated my father for the misery that he caused us and I refused to help him financially in any way.
Through the power of the Gohonzon, my brother completed his education in the local university. My mother was able to send me for my education overseas, using some of my own savings and the money she had saved over the years.
I still hated my father though and always asked myself why didn't he die in the accident — I thought he was causing us so much trouble. I remember that, at one point in time, I even chanted for his death. One night, I had a dream in which I saw my father's funeral procession. I was so sad and started crying in my dream. I could see in my dream that I was chanting fervently to the Gohonzon to apologize for my wicked prayers and to give my father a new lease of life. I prayed that his death would not be true and I hoped that, if my father was alive, I could learn to accept him and love him. I kept on apologizing to the Gohonzon for my hatred against my father. I woke up suddenly to find it was only a dream and I ran out of my room to make sure that my father was still there.
From then on, I began to realize that I actually love my father very much. I realized that he has been a shoten zenjin (Buddhist God). By acting as a devil for our family, he has propelled us forward through the practice of this Buddhism to a better tomorrow. That is why my brother took a part-time job and why I started contributing to the household income: it has helped us to contribute and to understand the value of money. Also I never realized that my father has been contributing to the family through his meager earnings, paying for things that I never thought about: the housing loan and utilities. I never understood that he was struggling as well — I only saw that it was his duty as the head of the family to maintain the family. My father was not earning enough and he felt very frustrated — that is why he took out his anger on the family.
Not long after that dream, I left for further studies. While I was away at school, my mother informed me that my father had transformed himself into a very wonderful and caring father, who cooks for the family in the evening, while my mother was holding a part-time job.
I was an average or even below average student. When I entered the university, I just managed to scrape by. However, my good friends all managed to do well in their first year and I was quite disheartened. Subsequently, I realized that I have a negativity telling me I am a weak student compared with my friends. All these years, I had not performed well in my studies, just average and that was through a lot of hard work. I used to look at my friends’ work to get ideas and do my coursework. Due to my lack of confidence, I cut and pasted from my friends’ work — that was why I never did well and never had confidence.
Then I completely changed my attitude about school. From the second year of undergraduate studies, with my very first assignment, I determined not to look at my friends’ work and to do it all on my own. I was amazed at the fantastic results that I got! And this was not once, but for all my subsequent work — I did on my own and managed to excel. One of my friends remarked that it would be impossible for me to do well, that I must have taken the ideas from someone else. I just smiled. I knew that it was through chanting and the greatness of the Gohonzon that I can bring forth my Buddha wisdom and excel in my studies. I did very well for my degree.
I am still practicing and I still have my ups and down. But I always tell myself to return to the prime point of faith. I am a mommy now, so I’m not as active as I used to be when I was in the Young Women’s Division (YWD). I will continue to attend activities and share the greatness of this Buddhism. Last but not least, I am always grateful to President Ikeda for his guidance that kept me going and the guidance of my the leaders in my YWD day.
I hope you will continue to strive for Kosen-rufu for a peaceful and better tomorrow.