Yip Yan Kheng Priscilla
A colleague introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism in 1978. However, it was not until 1983, when I was plagued by insomnia and nightmares, that I started to chant at my colleague’s encouragement. When I first chanted the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I remember a sense of calm coming over me. After practising for a while, I found my outlook on life changing, and I became more positive and cheerful.
My mother, brother and sister took faith after witnessing my positive change. My elder brother received the Gohonzon in 1986, while I enshrined the object of devotion 11 years later when I got my own HDB flat.
My younger sister received her Gohonzon in 1987. She had trouble conceiving for three years after marriage, but a year after she took faith, she gave birth to two lovely daughters, in 1988 and 1990. Both nieces were active in the organisation during their primary and secondary school days and have now established themselves in society. My younger niece got married and received her Gohonzon in December 2020.
The Driving Force to Overcome All Hardships
Ikeda Sensei said, “Faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism enables us to build a strong, unshakable state of life that is never swayed by anything. As do Gakkai activities, especially those in our youth.”; “…accumulate eternal good fortune and forge unshakable faith while you are in the Young Women Division (YWD).” (SGI Newsletter 7837)
I am grateful that my days in the YWD were very enriching. I met Ikeda Sensei when I went to Tokyo to attend a training course in 1988. I also actively participated in cultural activities such as the Youth Peace Culture Festival in 1985; National Day performances from 1986 to 1989. From 1990 to 1993, I assumed a district leader’s responsibilities and participated in the Byakuren Group (YWD reception group). In 1994, I joined the Morning Glory Group (handicraft group) and many cultural festivals behind the scenes. After graduating to the Women Division (WD), I supported the White Phoenix Group until 2014, when I had an eye ailment.
Speaking of my eye condition, as early as 1994, I was diagnosed with “retinitis pigmentosa”. I quitted my job at that time as I was afraid of what others might think of me, and I feared meeting people. Later, a leader home visited me, and she encouraged me, saying, “Although you can’t see clearly, as the entity of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you can actually see.” I was immensely inspired by her words and prayed earnestly for a suitable job. In the end, I found a job that I liked and remained working there for five years.
I remember my daily prayers at that time were: a smooth completion of my working day, a safe trip home, and participation in SGS activities. Although I fell several times, I was unscathed. Once, I slipped down a 12-step stairs and suffered only a slight injury; it was amazing indeed!
In 2009, I had a cataract, but the doctor said that operation may cause blindness and I postponed the operation as I was worried. In the same year, I had problems with my tongue. First, my mouth was full of sores, and my tongue became longer. Later, I lost my sense of taste and appetite. I also lost a lot of weight. What’s worse was the difficulty in speaking; my tongue would often roll up out of the mouth uncontrollably, which was disgusting.
An MRI (magnetic common tomography) in 2010 could not identify the cause of my problems. The doctor recommended medicine to soften my tongue, but I finally decided to challenge it with the “strategy of the Lotus Sutra” (that is, daimoku).
In 2011, there was one day I could not open my mouth while doing Gongyo. Although it was painful, I tried my best to open my mouth. I could make some sound, but my daimoku was “out of tune”, very torturing indeed. It was so painful that I cried for an hour while chanting the daimoku. After that, I went to Senja Soka Centre to attend a meeting. I met a leader who was asking about my current situation. I had forgotten about my tongue issue and shared with her naturally. She understood what I was talking about. At that moment, I suddenly realised “My tongue issue has been resolved”! It was terrific, and I once again proved the power of the Mystic Law.
In 2014, my eye condition deteriorated. In May 2015, the doctor performed a cataract operation on my left eye. I could see clearly after the procedure. However, after the cataract surgery on my right eye in September, I had crossed vision. By 2018, I was completely blind. Someone asked me if I had any doubts about my Buddhist practice? My answer was and is: No, why?
Create Victories Based on Study
“The members of the YWD must make study their foundation!” — this is a guiding principle articulated by second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda. One of the eternal guidelines that was given by Ikeda Sensei for the YWD is “Study the world’s foremost life philosophy.” Nichiren Daishonin clearly states: “If the Law that one embraces is supreme, then the person who embraces it must accordingly be foremost among all others.” (WND-1, p. 61) Ikeda Sensei said, “True greatness is determined by the teachings we embrace and the philosophy we study, and the extent to which we put these into practice in our daily lives.”
Since I started practising, the organisation’s publications have been the “nutrients” in my life. I read many books on the principles of Nichiren Buddhism and life, Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, and The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution written by Ikeda Sensei. Therefore, I am keenly aware of buddhist concepts such as the “Eternal Vow” and “Voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma”; “I have a mission only I can fulfil!” I firmly adhere and put it into practice. I am confident that I will achieve victory.
Even though I could not see, I was able to deal with daily routines with absolute confidence. Every morning, I will clean the Buddhist altar, then chant one-hour daimoku, and then do the cooking and (wash and hang) laundry. Sometimes I need to dry the bedsheets or even change the light bulb. It can only be done by climbing, so without faith, I would not have the courage to do it.
My sister often asks me: “Sister, how do you manage to cook when you can’t see?” I would reply, “I also don’t know as I can’t see.” When a leader home visited me, she was surprised and said: “Yan Kheng, you are awesome! I think you have made the impossible possible.”
She is right. My “miracle” is derived from this Gosho passage that has greatly encouraged me: “Believe in this mandala with all your heart. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?… I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart. ” (WND 1, p. 412) Yes, not only Nichiren Buddhism enabled me to turn the impossible possible; the following guidance also gave me tremendous encouragement. Sensei said,
“No matter how much we’re suffering, we should rouse faith in the Gohonzon and chant with the spirit ‘I won’t be defeated!’ If we can do that, the courage to face our troubles will well up from within. We’ll be invigorated and filled with joy. The way to solving all our problems will open before our eyes. Steadfast daimoku is the key. Chant intensely every day, whether others are noticing or not — that’s the driving force for everything.”
2020 was very challenging for me, who is blind, but I overcame it with faith. I memorised the phone numbers of the zoom meeting link, so I did not miss any online zoom meetings. It was indeed a fulfilling year for me.
2021, the “Year of Hope and Victory”, is full of infinite possibilities. I am determined to fulfil my unique mission and contribute ever more to kosen-rufu. I must manifest the power of faith and practice to create many more victories.
(Adapted from February 2021 issue of Creative Life)