Pursuing My Life Mission As a Bodhisattva of the Earth

Ng Chin Hin
Men Division

I was born a fortune baby. I started chanting when I was very young, and was active in the Primary Division, High School Division, Student Division and Young Men Division (YMD) Gymnastic Squad in Malaysia.

In order to make financial contributions to Soka Gakkai Malaysia twice a year, I would save up every cent of my pocket money and find ways to make more money by collecting aluminium cans or even selling my birthday presents. Hence, my savings account usually had only the minimum sum required to maintain the account.

In addition, I spent most evenings visiting and encouraging fellow YMD members. During my high school years, I managed to introduce Nichiren Buddhism to 12 of my classmates. Since then, I have been upholding pure and sincere faith.

A Good Friend’s Untimely Death

A life-changing event in my youth shaped my life. One of my best friends died suddenly from leukaemia. He was one of the first few friends I had introduced to Nichiren Buddhism and we participated together in High School Division activities and cultural events. When he was hospitalised, I visited him with some close friends. It pained us to see him in a comatose state and on life support.

The three-day nationwide Student Division Training Course was around the corner and my friend had signed up for it. I whispered into his ears that he must quickly recover so that we could attend the training course together. Despite feeling helpless, I resolved there and then to become a doctor who can cure patients of leukaemia.

On the second day of the training course, my beloved friend passed away. I attended his funeral, overcome with grief. On the last day of the training course, I summoned up my courage to stand in front of more than one thousand students, and shared the news of his passing and my resolution to become a doctor who can treat leukaemia.

In truth, my friend’s death had deeply shakened my faith. I kept asking myself how could a person who had embraced Nichiren Buddhism would have to pass away at such a young age. A short encouragement from SGI President Ikeda that I chanced upon shortly after my friend’s demise put my doubt to rest. President Ikeda says: “There may be some who die young as a result of illness or accidents. But when viewed through the eyes of faith, it all has some extremely profound meaning.” True enough, a few months later I found out that his entire family had taken up faith after his passing.

Exhausting All Means to Fulfil My Dream

My family was not well off. My only chance of achieving my dream was to study in one of the three local universities that offered the Medicine course. I had to get close to a perfect score in order to secure a place. I gave my best in my studies while exerting myself in Buddhist activities. Unfortunately, I excelled in most examinations in my secondary school except for the most crucial one—the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) (the GCE A-Level equivalent in Malaysia).

My results were not good enough to secure a place in the Medicine course of all three local universities. My heart broke into million pieces because there was no way I could fulfil my dream. I immediately sought guidance from the then Student Division Chief. He encouraged me not to give up no matter what and encouraged me to chant abundant daimoku from that very moment on.

Surprisingly, a newly-established university in Sarawak offered the Medicine course for the first time that year. Without hesitation, I seized my last chance and submitted my application to University of Malaysia, Sarawak. Every day, I chanted at least six hours of daimoku. Two months later, I was called up for an interview with the dean of the school. Steeled by my strong prayers and deep conviction, I expressed my strong resolve and earnest desire to become a doctor and even shared with the dean my dream of becoming a haematologist (a blood cancer specialist).

I continued to chant at least six hours of daimoku daily. A month later, I was accepted by the school! Later, I found out that I was one of just thirty students accepted out of more than a thousand candidates. I was grateful for the immense good fortune and protection I had received due to my sincere faith. Tears of gratitude flowed ceaselessly when I chanted for the first time at my dormitory on the first day of school.

Power of Prayer Manifests Through Sincere Faith

I enjoyed every moment of my undergraduate studies. I often encouraged myself by resolving that every page I studied would make me a better doctor. That kept me going and aspiring for more. As a result, I was always placed among the top three in class. My attitude towards everything I do can be attributed to the years of training I have received in the Soka Gakkai International. I graduated in 2000, the end of the 20th century. The epic song that we often sang in the last century—“Marching Towards the 21st Century”—resounded in my mind on my graduation day. The next phase towards fulfilling my goal had just begun.

During the first few years of my working life, I was fortunate to be surrounded by supportive colleagues and bosses who helped mitigate much of the stress a houseman often had to face. I was also fortunate to work under a specialist who had a special interest in haematology. Under him, I gained experience in treating leukaemia cases and became proficient in the procedures related to leukaemia treatment, such as bone marrow aspiration and intrathecal chemotherapy. These experiences later proved to be invaluable in securing a traineeship in haematology.

After working in Sarawak General Hospital for three years, I was transferred back to my hometown, Klang. There, I met a consultant haematologist who encouraged me to move to Singapore for haematology training as Singapore provides many opportunities for research in my area of focus— finding a cure for leukaemia.

A year later, I went to National University Hospital (NUH) in Singapore for an interview for a trainee position and successfully secured the position. Later, I found out that there was another candidate vying for the position and they had preferred this local candidate. However, her response during the interview upset one of the consultants, whereas I did well during my interview. As a result, they gave me the position instead. I was grateful everything had gone so smoothly, and knew that I was protected by the Mystic Law.

After completing my basic haematology training, I went on to pursue a master’s degree in Clinical Investigation in National University of Singapore, which later helped me secure my first National Medical Research Counsel grant in pursuing research in acute leukaemia. I was also accepted by a fellowship programme to further my training in early phase clinical trial at University College London. All these opportunities brought me closer to my dream of contributing towards finding a cure for leukaemia. Currently, I lead the Leukaemia Clinical Group at NUH and am actively involved in clinical research related to acute leukaemia.

It was my departed friend who had inspired me to seek out the difficult challenge of waging war on leukaemia. I guess this is another mission of his. To honour his death and repay my debt of gratitude to him, I resolve to never stop finding a cure for leukaemia and to fulfil my unique mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.

Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda said: “As Bodhisattvas of the Earth, you need to voluntarily seek out difficult challenges. Why? So you can impart infinite hope and courage to those who come after you through your example of striving boldly and winning.”

In addition, it is my wish, as a father, that all my children will imbibe the Soka Gakkai spirit so that they can lead a life of value creation. I am proud that all my five children have graduated from Soka Preschool. To instil in them Soka values and the importance of faith, I started teaching them to recite gongyo when they turned five to six years old. They are active in Primary Division, and my two eldest children have since graduated from Primary Division and are now participating in Future Division activities.

Engraving SGI President Ikeda’s teachings in my heart, I resolve to strive boldly and win spectacularly. I will also guide my children well so that they become capable leaders of kosen-rufu and achieve great victories in their lives.

(Adapted from February 2019 issue of Soka Times)