I was born into a family practising Nichiren Buddhism. It was my mother’s conviction that Buddhism can help us overcome all problems that encouraged me. So even though I did not understand the meaning accurately I would chant for good academic results. But I was devastated when I failed several subjects in my first foundation course exams. I was encouraged by a senior in faith to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo earnestly for the next round of exams. My mother who has been a pillar of strength in my life gave me constant guidance on how our Buddhist faith manifests itself in daily life. Since then, apart from focusing on my studies, I would chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly. I transformed my misery into confidence and passed all subjects. This strengthened my faith and I chanted with immense gratitude, with my mother supporting me all the way. However, due to serious financial problems, I had to temporarily halt my studies and start working.
A Sudden Twist in Life
2016 was a tumultuous year for my family. My mother was diagnosed with severe health issues such as kidney failure and heart problems. She also slipped in and out of comas. It was extremely painful for us; she was a pillar of strength and guiding light for our family, and we couldn’t imagine she could leave us. We did not give up hope and chanted for her to fully recover and fulfil her mission. My brother and I earnestly participated in SGM activities and studied Buddhism by reading SGM publications. While reading a guidance by our mentor Daisaku Ikeda, I came across a passage from Nichiren’s writings, “First of all learn about death, and then about other things.” (WND-2, pg 759) I realised that fearing death is futile because everyone will die one day – what matters is to cherish each moment.
A senior member encouraged me to chant with gratitude for my mother. At that moment it was difficult to grasp the meaning of this guidance but I chanted and realised that It was my mother who brought us all together and helped us connect with our mission. It helped us unite as a family and experience the power of Buddhism. With a change in approach, my anxiety reduced and I started to view all obstacles as a springboard for growth and advancement. That night, it felt as if my mother understood this transformation in me, and after listening to our sharing, she passed away peacefully.
Pulling Myself Together
Yet, losing my mother broke my heart and I found it hard to accept she was gone forever. At one point, I even avoided meeting people and practising Buddhism. Still, I pushed myself to attend SGM activities and deeply appreciate the support and encouragement I received from fellow members who stood by us at this incredibly difficult time. President Ikeda’s encouragement also helped rouse me once again in faith. I chanted earnestly for my mother’s repose and to be a sun-like presence in my family, just like my mother was.
Her strong, doubt-free faith and the diligence with which she exerted herself in faith and practice right till the very end were unforgettable and inspiring. I wanted to fulfil my responsibility as a young women’s division (YWD) member. I also made a vow to strive to create victories my mother can be proud of and dedicate them to my mentor.
This change in attitude helped in transforming my environment and it started to transform my working life. In the beginning, I felt I was never appreciated, did poorly at work and was constantly reprimanded by my boss. After making a resolve to become an indispensable employee whose capabilities are recognised, I mastered my job scope and formed good relationships with my colleagues within a month.
This newfound determination and strength encouraged me to list down things I wished to accomplish and completing my education was on top of it. But self-doubt arose and the process became really difficult. However, I consistently pursued participating in SGM activities and studied President Ikeda’s The New Human Revolution. Though I was uncertain about my prospects, I continued to visit fellow YWD members and strive in SGM activities. I also recalled President Ikeda saying that we must become a role model for others through our own victories.
I looked for a course that would begin in May 2019 and won’t disrupt my participation in SGM activities or my work. I found a suitable business course and was successful in my application. I also managed to obtain a National Higher Education Fund loan for my studies just in time. All this strengthened my conviction in Nichiren Buddhism even further.
Moving Forward Resolutely
Reflecting on what has happened in the past few years, I no longer feel bitter. I am deeply grateful for what I have gone through and what I have learnt from these experiences. I look forward to sharing my experiences with fellow youths to encourage them. In fact, I have been able to encourage others through my struggles. I am certain my mother would be proud of what I have achieved, as I have won over my weaknesses and strengthened my practice of Nichiren Buddhism.
My mother’s never-be-defeated spirit continues to inspire me. I am determined to be like the sun who imparts hope to the people around me, and continue to foster young people who will work for the happiness of others through the teachings of President Ikeda.
Adapted from the May 2020 issue of COSMIC.