Lim Mui Kim
“Faith for a Harmonious Family”, one of the five eternal guidelines given by SGI President Ikeda, (Sensei, to me) is a treasured guidance and a daily prayer since my days in the Young Women Division.
A neighbour introduced Nichiren Buddhism to my mother in 1970 when I was just seven. My mother took all her five children for Soka activities and that was how we connected to SSA and SGI President Ikeda (whom I regard as my mentor in life and address as Ikeda Sensei). Following my mother’s footsteps, I too, took my children to activities when they were young.
I met my husband at age 18 and three years later we registered our marriage. However, as my mother-in-law objected to my enshrining the Gohonzon in the hall I refused to go through the customary marriage. She was upset about my family worshipping a “Japanese god”, a term (referring to Nichiren Buddhism) used in the past that brought memories of the pain and horror during the war.
I was just as adamant in wanting my Gohonzon in my future home, as nothing was more important to me than living my life as a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin and my mentor Ikeda Sensei. At every opportunity, I would share testimonies of faith with my mother-in-law. Although she enjoyed the testimonies she did not like to hear me talk about bringing the Gohonzon into the home. However, she relented three years later. The first time she encountered the Gohonzon was at our wedding ceremony in June 1987 and she was surprised that it was a scroll and not a figurine.
Transforming Conflicts Through My Human Revolution
While waiting to enshrine the Gohonzon I observed my daily prayers in my room. My mother-in-law was not comfortable with my practice but she kept quiet. As time passed, conflicts inevitably edged into our relationship. We had different perspectives on almost everything. A doting mother, she single-handedly brought up her seven children after her husband’s passing and expected the same of me! That was not my idea of a dutiful wife or daughter-in-law.
Fortunately, having practised Nichiren Buddhism for a number of years I knew that my situation could be transformed. Thus, whenever I encountered challenges and problems, I would always return to the Gohonzon to chant the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for wisdom and courage, read the Daishonin’s Gosho and Sensei’s guidance, seek my seniors for guidance and do my human revolution. All these helped to save the situation, on every occasion.
Unfortunately, both of us were very strong headed and as time passed the situation got so bad that it felt close to impossible to continue staying together under the same roof. My husband was caught in the middle and I frequently harboured the negative thought to just give up and walk out of the marriage.
Then, I read this Gosho passage: “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage.” Furthermore, Sensei explained, “Those who are always complaining and grumbling make themselves and everyone around them unhappy. Those who are cheerful lift the spirits and brighten the hearts of all and we are a source of hope and inspiration for others.”
I told myself I wanted to be that cheerful person. I decided to strive in connecting my mother-in-law to Nichiren Buddhism, no matter what. I tried my best to be a good daughter-in-law. I took leave to help her prepare food on festive days. I also read in The Human Revolution that a person without gratitude will not be happy and I had a lot to be thankful for. I have four children and I am grateful that my mother-in-law took great care of me during the confinement period of each childbirth.
When we moved to a bigger flat she moved away her objects of worship. She saw me teaching my children about chanting and going for activities at a very young age. When I sought her permission to hold meetings at home she consented but would lock herself in the room during the meetings.
The first time she chanted was in 2001. My husband was in Bangkok and fell ill with high fever and diarrhoea. I gathered the children to chant together and I encouraged my mother-in-law to join in the chanting instead of worrying. The next day my husband called to say that he was recovering. She was relieved and stopped chanting.
Then in 2014, she fractured her thigh bone in a fall from her bed and needed surgery. Due to her advanced age of 94, we were very worried that she might not be able to pull through the six-hour operation. I quickly gave her a set of chanting beads and we chanted together at the hospital bed for strong life force to undergo the operation and for the surgical team to assume a protective function.
After the operation she was comfortable and with little pain, eager to return home to chant daimoku of gratitude in front of the Gohonzon. Since her return she chants regularly and attends the English language discussion meeting at home. She shared her testimony with my daughter as her interpreter. Even though she does not understand English, the warm smiles of the leaders and members make her feel very comfortable.
It took 27 years to convince her to embrace Nichiren Buddhism. Looking back, I am very thankful to my mother-in-law for teaching me to be tolerant, embracing and to show gratitude. My relationship with my mother-in-law has improved tremendously and my prayer for a harmonious family has been fulfilled. Three of my daughters are SSA leaders and all of them are in special function groups.
I am happy that I was able to experience Sensei’s guidance, “When your determination changes, everything else will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fibre in your being will immediately orient itself towards your success.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic my mother-in-law was hospitalised for 35 days for urinary tract and blood infection which affected her lung, liver and gall bladder. One of my student’s parents were diagnosed with Covid-19 and I received a 14-day stay home notice to monitor my health condition. I lost part of my income and my husband’s $50,000 project had to stop operation due to the implementation of the Circuit Breaker measures.
The “Courageous 1-2-3 Actions” campaign spurred me to chant more daimoku, have dialogues with people around me to spread hope by sharing and studying the Gosho and Sensei’s guidance. Sensei said, “With focused prayer and unwavering determination to win, to definitely accomplish our goals, we can make the impossible possible. ‘I won’t give up! I will definitely succeed!’ – this commitment will activate the protective functions of the universe and turn everything into a friend and ally.”
Through daily chanting sessions (at our own homes) with leaders and members and frequent dialogues through Zoom, all the above challenges were positively transformed.
I believe that having faith is about bringing forth the sun of hope from within our hearts, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. I resolve to continue actively in my Buddhist practice and contribute my utmost best for kosen-rufu.
(Adapted from June 2020 issue of Creative Life)