The Vow for Kosen-rufu and the Mission of Bodhisattva of the Earth are Inseparable

Connie and her husband Lim Ngai Chuar. In battling her sickness, Connie awakened to her mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and is purposefully transforming her karma into mission.

Goh Bee Hong Connie
Women Division

Living aimlessly, tired of the mundane humdrum of everyday life and looking for a sense of purpose, I sought a friend of my husband, a Soka member. I first heard of “Soka” from an ex-colleague and having no interest in other faiths I decided to find out more. Thus, I attended my first district discussion meeting in 2011.

I remember that first meeting vividly. I thought I had unwittingly attended an unusual Buddhist meeting when the speaker mentioned Nichiren Daishonin as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. I studied Buddhism in school and Shakyamuni was the only Buddha I knew. However, as I continued to listen, I found the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism to be logical, positive and action oriented. I thought to myself that this is a religion I could practise. Henceforth, after every discussion or study meeting, I returned home and shared everything I learnt with my husband.

In less than a year, I enshrined the Gohonzon. Then in 2014 after listening to my sharing for two years my husband asked whether he could attend the meetings, too. We enjoyed the practice of Nichiren Buddhism and I especially appreciated the concept of human revolution. Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda said,

“Our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge- kyo is directed towards our human revolution. We don’t just sit and wait for people and circumstances to change. Through our own powerful inner resolve, we change ourselves and seek to exert a positive effect on our environment and all those around us.”

Challenging Cancer

In 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 1 cervical cancer and had to undergo hysterectomy. I chanted the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo fervently, confident that I could defeat this cancer. In 2016 the aggressive cancer cells metastasised to my lower abdominal area and I had to start chemotherapy treatment and undergo another surgery to remove the huge tumour. With renewed determination I prayed to defeat this enemy for good and with elevated life force I was able to undergo all the treatments calmly and courageously.

Also, two years before my diagnosis I had purchased a comprehensive medical insurance policy which covered all my medical bills. Any side effects from chemotherapy and menopause were manageable. I also had the luxury to quit my job and take care of my health.

After completion of chemotherapy the PET scan result showed cancerous cells along 3 of the lymph nodes. As these were likely to spread my doctor was not optimistic and prescribed another 6 cycles of chemotherapy to prolong my life.

I was disappointed and disheartened to see the illness popping up again and wondered “Why do the cancer cells keep coming back and is there nothing else I can do to fight against them?” My Women Division (WD) leader and her sister arranged chanting sessions with me and guided me to pray with determination to show actual proof, chanting the daimoku of a Bodhisattva of the Earth.

During these chanting sessions, I realised that my practice of Nichiren Buddhism was only partial. I had missed the essence of our practice and was only practising for myself.

The joy and benefits of our practice should be shared with others so that they, too, can receive the immense joy and benefits of practising Nichiren Buddhism.

Connie (third from left, in purple top) with her district members after a joyous discussion meeting. (December 2019)

Practice for Oneself and Practice for Others

I learnt that the vow for kosen-rufu and the vow of the Bodhisattva of the Earth are inseparable. I wanted to fulfil my mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth in this lifetime and I vowed to propagate this wonderful Mystic Law. Even in the midst of my chemotherapy treatment I volunteered to help in the Lotus Sutra Exhibition held by SGS (in October 2017). Although my body was really exhausted, I was amazed and happy that I could do it. This gave me confidence and propelled me to do more.

In the The New Human Revolution (NHR), “Vigilant Safeguarding” chapter, Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents Ikeda Sensei) explained,

“The Bodhisattvas of the Earth do not act because someone tells them to. Because their lives are dedicated to the Mystic Law inherent in the Universe, they spontaneously chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and contribute to world peace and the welfare of society as naturally as plants and trees grow from the earth.”

He further explained,

“The essential characteristic of a bodhisattva is their vow. The vow of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is to propagate the Lotus Sutra. That’s why wholeheartedly chanting to realise our vow of bringing happiness to all around us is important. Strictly speaking, chanting Nam-myoho- renge-kyo without that vow is not the prayer of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”

In 2018, just after completing chemotherapy treatment I became a Sunshine Auntie (a group that takes care of Primary Division members). I wanted to help foster the future generation and ensure that Nichiren Buddhism continues generation after generation. I participated in an art exhibition and tried my best to share Nichiren Buddhism with other cancer patients I had befriended. I also volunteered with a group of elderly ladies at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital to raise funds for needy patients.

I accepted leadership responsibility in 2019 and just like my WD leader and her sister who guided me during my darkest moments, I wanted to be that person who lights up the path for others. In fact, after actively participating in SGS activities and sharing Nichiren Buddhism with others, the cancerous cells in my body have remained dormant and inactive. They seemed to be supporting my meaningful activities by behaving and not creating any problem. PET scan results for the past three years show that the cancer cells are inactive.

Though I need to be on long term medication, I no longer see the cancerous cells as something harmful. I see them as precious gifts that remind me of life’s unpredictable nature and to be courageous in challenging situations. I am happy and fearless because of them. In the Afterword of NHR, Sensei wrote,

“Karma and mission are two sides of the same coin, and our karma directly becomes our unique and noble mission. That is why, when we dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, there is no destiny that we cannot change.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, I sewed masks for my neighbours and the WD members in my district, and also donated some to the community under the “Mask Sewn With Love” project. I was also aired in one of the online programmes for the Singapore Patient Conference. As the volunteer group I joined with at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital comprises many elderly ladies in their 70s and 80s and the fact that we cannot meet for our weekly volunteering activities, I was rather worried for them. So after the circuit breaker period was over, I went to visit and check on them to make sure they were fine. Through one such visit, I got to know that there is an orphanage in Mongolia which was in need of winter clothes. Together with a few of the volunteers, I began to learn how to knit children’s vests. Recently, I was delighted when one of my neighbours whom I exercise with everyday started chanting again. When the Soka bookstore reopened, I went to buy the first 10 volumes of The New Human Revolution and started reading. I want to “walk” Sensei’s journey and feel his indomitable spirit.

I am determined to continue to stay in good health and win in all aspects of my life. With my life as actual proof, I am eager to share this hope-filled teaching of Nichiren Buddhism with the person in front of me. Towards 2030, I am working hard to be a trustworthy disciple of Ikeda Sensei to spread his indomitable spirit for world peace and to strive my utmost for kosen-rufu.

(Adapted from January 2021 issue of Creative Life)