by Kort Jackson [MD District leader, Redwood City, CA]
My Mom spent years suffering from one thing or another. She had breast cancer, ear trouble, arthritis, heart trouble, lung congestion, and osteoporosis. She had both her knees replaced due to arthritis and spent many episodes in intensive care because of lung and heart complications.
She had a whole box of medicines that she had to take every day.
Before I joined SGI, she kept going into the hospital. Each time it was something worse. She seemed to keep getting weaker and weaker with each episode. I was so worried. What I hated most was that she was suffering so much. She used to say that walking was like stepping on bloody stumps because her ankles hurt so much from the arthritis. I wished I could just take it all away. I wanted her to be healthy and happy.
Then I found Buddhism. I started to chant and tell my family about it. Over time I noticed that mom's problems seemed to get lighter. She wasn't as weak from the hospital stays — which became less frequent and seemed to be for less severe problems. This made me feel great.
She struggled with a conflict of faith. She would battle between chanting and reverting to her lifelong practice of Christianity. She wanted to chant because she believed in me, but she still believed in Jesus. Every time she went to the hospital, Dad would say, "She has been doing her Christian prayer for a while and not chanting." Over time it became abundantly clear that when she was praying to Jesus, she would get sick and go into the hospital, and when I would be by her side and chant with her, she would recover quickly. This cycle happened over and over and over.
She struggled and struggled and was doing OK after her knee replacement surgery, until finally a real problem arose and dad had to take her to the hospital again. The doctor diagnosed her with 5 bad arteries and 2 bad valves in her heart. Her chest cavity was filling with liquids and pressuring her heart and she wasn't responding to the medication that was supposed to drain the liquid. The doctor gave her a few hours to a couple of days to live. He said point blank "she will never leave the hospital again."
I left to be with her. She was in the hospital in Sacramento (about 2.5 hours drive from where I live). When I got there, Dad and Lance (my brother) were there, and I got us all to chant beside her bed. She looked awful. She would sleep with her eyes half open and rolled back so you could see the whites. Her lungs would gurgle as she breathed ... her face was pale from lack of blood. She had fluid in her lungs and it wasn't going away. This was what the doctor thought would end her life.
We were all very upset. We alternated between chanting and crying. It was hard to accept that she was dying. She had always been so wonderful. She didn't deserve to die at 61. We continued to chant by her side as best we could. Over the next few days she seemed to stabilize. The liquid was starting to slowly reduce in her lungs but not very fast. She seemed as though she would be OK, so I went back to work for a day or so.
I came back to see her on that Saturday and we again chanted all day with her. Still, I wasn't satisfied with her progress. She seemed in limbo. She wasn't dying, but she wasn't getting better. I had to do something.
That Sunday I had a Soka Group activity. After the activity I stayed to chant for Mom's health for the entire day.
In the morning before I got started chanting, I asked for guidance on what I should concentrate on while I chanted. He said not to be selfish. He said that she may be happiest moving on to her next life. I understood. I didn't want to chant for her to recover if she was going to just suffer afterward.
When I started to chant, the first thing that I chanted for was to know deep inside what to chant for. I went through the guidance in my head and thought of everything. Finally I realized that what I had to chant for was her Buddhahood. That way, no matter what happened, she would be happy. For the rest of the day, I chanted to the Gohonzon with all my might. I chanted picturing her afloat upon a golden lotus flower radiating white light and smiling with thanks in her eyes. I pictured her smiling face, her happy eyes, and her perfect body being filled with joy and brilliant sunshine. All day these images came to mind. The daimoku would roll off my tongue without me even thinking about it. My mind would be totally immersed in her happiness. I was completely one with the universe and with her Buddhahood.
Toward the afternoon, something exceptional happened. While I was chanting, all of a sudden the room seemed as if it had turned to gold. The characters of the Gohonzon seemed to jump out at me like fire and this intense thought filled my mind "There Is NOTHING but MYO-HO". The room stayed gold for a while. Brilliant gold — like looking into the sun. I even pinched my cheek to see if this was all real or if I was in some sort of trance. No, I concluded that I was awake. I had heard of others having this experience. I guess this was my moment. No one else was in the room. I felt elated and full of peace. I was complete at that moment. I kept chanting and thinking of Mom's Buddhahood. Later, as I continued to chant, I just got more and more joyful. My life was so full of power it was amazing. I knew mom would be OK. I could really feel it.
The next day I talked to Dad who told me that at about that time (when I was experiencing the golden room), Mom began to lose the liquid in her lungs. She had already lost 50% of it by the time I talked to him. By the next day she had lost all of it and by that Thursday she went home with dad.
The benefits didn't stop there, however. It turned out that because of this incident, Mom was considered officially disabled and was now eligible for receiving supplemental social security which gave them enough extra cash flow to afford the new medications and the oxygen machine that she now had to have. In addition, Dad was now able to spend more time with her since they had enough money to exist on without him having to work much. They spent lots of time being close from that time on.
Later we also noticed that Mom's arthritis pain had all but disappeared. She was able to walk around the house with relative ease. This was something she hadn't been able to do in more than 10 years. She was happy, comfortable, and able to spend lots of quality time with the man she loved.
I was so happy about this. I wanted so much for them to be able to enjoy their 40th anniversary together. That year we all did that. I paid for them to be able to spend the weekend at their favorite anniversary hotel.
The whole family stayed there and celebrated their 40th. That was very important to me.
More than a year from the date of my chanting experience, she died on the way to the hospital. She had fallen down and we were going to the hospital to check out her arm. She began to have breathing trouble, so Dad and I began to chant for her health in the car. About 5 minutes from the hospital, she died, with us holding her hand and shoulder chanting daimoku for her. I believe that right there she attained Buddhahood. She has been with me ever since.
Since that experience, I have known that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE with the Gohonzon. There is nothing but Myo-Ho. That means that we have absolute control, if we choose to take it. This reality is so deep within my consciousness that my confidence is thoroughly infused in my being.
Strong adversity makes the character stronger and more powerful. I learned never to be afraid. I can only gain, because I have the Gohonzon.
What my Mom gave me, her greatest
contribution to me, was that she showed me how to give love. I will always
To read this experience in Spanish, go here.