Treasuring Borrowed Time

By Chyleglat Thomas Chan

On 25th February 2001, after attending a buffet dinner in conjunction with the launching of the CNet portal in Malaysia, I came down with high fever after eating some food that caused an allergic reaction. The fever persisted even after consulting my doctor and after taking strong antibiotics. In this crucial moment, I chanted hours of Daimoku for my fever to subside.

On the fourth day, the fever persisted and, after abundant Daimoku, I asked my doctor to refer me to a specialist. He referred Dr. Chan FC, a physician consultant at Subang Jaya Medical Center.

Dr. Chan FC attended me with depth and detail. He referred me to another specialist, Dr. Peter Ng (a urologist) due to my serious infection. Dr. Peter Ng admitted me into the hospital on the same day. The fever remained high. I went through series of test such as ultrasound scanning, EKG, X-ray etc. The tests showed no sign of damage to the major organs except that the liver had a patch of infection. The testing showed that my liver enzyme was at 1800 level (normal 65). The specialists could not determine the type of virus/bacteria causing my fever. Because of this they could not administer the correct antibiotics to fight against the virus/bacteria.

Dr. Chan referred me to Dr. Ng SC, a blood specialist. Dr. Ng put me on a series of antibiotics. A liver specialist, Dr. Wong, was called in, to determine the extent of liver infection that was caused by the high fever.

I went through more testing for HIV, Dengue, Malaria, JE, etc. All these tests proved negative. My fever was categorized as "Fever of Unknown Origin." Dr. Ng SC managed to bring my fever back to normal. Dr. Ng SC, reluctantly (due to my persisting calls to be discharged), finally discharged me when the enzyme in my liver came down to 309. I was put on oral antibiotics for the next 2 weeks. The last follow up check-up showed my liver enzyme came down to 87 and my body temperature is back to normal. My sugar level came back to normal. During the peak of my fever, the sugar level in my body is 18 and I become a diabetic patient. I was on insulin during my stay in the hospital.

The doctors told me that my case was discussed amongst them daily. Dr. Ng SC revealed that I am lucky to have been admitted in time, as the virus in my blood system almost broke down my body systems, which can result in death.

I realize that years of continuous faith and practice, have given me wisdom at the crucial moment, and the benefit to have these dedicated, sincere and caring doctors and nurses which saved me from death. 

I have taken faith in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and involved myself in Gakkai activities for the past 20 years. While I was in the hospital, I chanted abundant Daimoku with my wife. Each time when I put 100% effort into the chanting, my fever got worst. Fortunately, all those years of faith, practice, and study, enabled me to understand the working of devilish functions within me. These devilish functions were trying to prevent me from attaining absolute happiness. I knew that I must not give up and continued to chant lots of Daimoku no matter what.

Although death was staring at me, I continue to chant and do daily gongyo. I also did a lot of reflecting during my chanting. I realized that for the past few years, I was not dedicatedly and sincerely contributing to Gakkai activities and the members' happiness. If death is unavoidable, I have to accept without fear and I continue to chant until my last breath so that I can reborn in a Gakkai family and continue to practice and devote myself to the happiness of Gakkai members. I prayed sincerely to the Gohonzon that if my mission is not over, I need to extend my life so that I can pay back the debts of gratitude to the Law, Soka Gakkai, and its members. I treasure my life moment-to-moment, living on "borrowed time" and devoting my faith to Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and being sincerely dedicated to Gakkai activities and its members' happiness. Life is precious and has to be treasured.

Ironically during my hospitalization, my sister visited me and massaged my bloated stomach. The following day she came with a bottle of water. She said she had been chanting to the Buddha (a Hinayana Buddhist sect) and asked me to drink the water for my recovery. She even said that all Buddha are the same. Not to offend her (she had not visited me in 20 years), I gave her a weary smile. When she left, the bottle of water was on the table. When my wife arrived seeing the bottle of water, she asked me whether I am going to drink it. I looked at her in amusement and I assured her that I am not going to drink it. I told her if I do, I would not be practicing true Buddhism because I will be believing that the Gohonzon is outside myself.

From all of this I understood that at a crucial moment, many devils will appear in many forms to stop me or sway me from continuing practicing Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. With perseverance in faith in this Buddhism and chanting lots of Daimoku we can emerge victorious against the devilish functions inherent in our lives. 

I would like to dedicate my appreciation and thank to my lovely wife, Josephine Leong, who was with me throughout the ordeal by caring and motivating me to chant abundant Daimoku. This appreciation also goes to my three sons who had chanted abundant Daimoku also for my recovery.

A special thanks and appreciation to SGM Selangor Honbu Chief Johnny Ng, my S3 Honbu chief Mr. Steven Chee, Chapter 6-USJ 2 District Chief Vincent Leong, and S1 Honbu Chief Mr. Loke Chee Kong. They are the ones who frequently visited me at the hospital and constantly kept in touch with me, expressing concern over my health and at the same time giving me timely encouragement in faith. 

Also my thanks and appreciation is dedicated to my Chapter 7, Chapter, District, Han leaders of the four divisions and all the members who have visited me and held Daimoku sessions for my quick recovery. Also the same appreciation and thanks to Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 leaders, who visited and held chanting sessions for my full recovery.

A personal thanks and appreciation to Dr. Ng of USJ (personal friend, fellow Gakkai member and a General Practitioner) who was in constant contact with Dr. Ng CS of SJMC, on my status of sickness and briefing and assuring my wife. 

Without all your sincerity, I would not able to pull through the crisis. I am sincerely indebted by all your compassion and encouragement. I will treasure it.

In January 2001, my wisdom urged me to buy a health and medical insurance for my whole family. I never realized a healthy person like me, would end up in a hospital. It was fortunate that the day of my admission, the insurance policy had come into effect. My medical bills came up to RM15,000.00 (about $4,000) which I could not afford without an insurance policy. I waited for 3 hours for my claims to be approved by the insurance company. While waiting for its approval and fearing the insurance claims will be declined due to technicalities of the sickness, I chanted lots of Daimoku praying for the claims to be approved. Without payment, I could not be discharge from hospital. After three hours, the claim was approved and I was discharged on March 13. 

I was on medical leave for two weeks after I was released. My body was weak and I could not go anywhere, so I stayed at home. The hours were long and to kill the boredom, I switched between chanting Daimoku, reading the Gosho, and reading President Ikeda's guidance. I read the Gosho slowly, trying to understand the Gosho and its links to my daily life and my sickness. It is the first time I put myself into reading the Gosho and find it interesting and meaningful. There is so much to learn from it. "The Four Debts of Gratitude" was my favorite Gosho during the two weeks of medical leave. President Ikeda's guidance encouraged and motivated me further to understand the practice and the mission I have to undertake as a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin. I discovered that study is very important to our practice and that goes hand-in-hand with the other two practices. Now I put at least 20 minutes a day into study. Attending Gakkai activities, study lectures, home visits, shakubuku and participating in discussion meetings further enhances our understanding of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and the role of Soka Gakkai.

My sickness brought me to another phase of life and understanding of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai. Without such an occurrence, I would never have had the opportunity and good fortune to realize and appreciate the importance of this Buddhism and the compassion of President Ikeda and Soka Gakkai.

Now, I treasure the importance of my life and, with the "borrowed time," I am resolved to dedicate myself to the happiness of Gakkai members and will emphasize dialogue as the way to do shakubuku. I am resolved to never leave the Soka Gakkai or abandon faith in Nichiren Daishonin no matter what happens.

Chyleglat Thomas Chan
Assistant Chapter Chief 
Chapter 7, Honbu 3
Soka Gakkai Malaysia
Selangor Branch
April 20, 2001