New York Dharma Center
by Ms. Akiko Takahashi
This Dharma journey speech was presented at the Ceremony for
the Founder’s Entrance into Nirvana, at the New York Dharma Center on October 4, 2016.
Ms. Takahashi delivers her personal spiritual experience at the ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Founder Nikkyo Niwano’s entrance into Nirvana.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to share my spiritual experience on this important day commemorating the anniversary of Founder Niwano’s entrance into nirvana.
Due to my husband’s job transfer to Lexington, Massachusetts, in 2015, my family has lived in that city since the end of April of 2015.
It occurred in Japan during the New Year’s holidays of 2015 before I moved to Lexington to join my husband. At the time my husband had returned home temporarily from Lexington. While he was driving a car, he suddenly said to me that he could not see well. As he looked strange, I took over the wheel when the car was stopped at a red light. Soon after I started the car, he fell into a fit of convulsions and lost his consciousness; he made a bowling sound as it happened. I was filled with fear that my husband was going to die, and I stopped the car and asked for help. A woman rushed to me, saying that she had a knowledge of nursing. She soon checked my husband’s pulse and called an ambulance, while I could not do anything. My husband was hurriedly carried to a hospital by an ambulance, which happened to pass by, and received a treatment.
After that, my husband and I were introduced to a special hospital for further medical examination, where we were informed that his brain capillaries have congenital anomaly. The doctor diagnosed that excessive stress may have triggered a convulsion. Until he became fifty-one years old my husband had spent his life without the knowledge that he had the disease. Thanks to the treatments, he recovered consciousness shortly thereafter, and was diagnosed to suffer no aftereffects. His condition was not serious, to my relief. I told the doctor that my husband had to return to his job in America. Based on the examination, the doctor allowed him to get on an airplane. He also gave us a medical referral letter in English and a CD of his MRI scan. My husband took his flight to America as scheduled, five days after he had the convulsion.
While I was waiting for my departure for Lexington, I was tormented by all kinds of anxieties about my husband. “What should I do if he has a fit of convulsions again in America?” “He must go through a thorough medical treatment.” “If he faints while he is driving, others could be hurt.” Various thoughts came up one after another and I was overwhelmed by anxieties. Rev. Tanji, the minister of the Ageo Dharma Center in Saitama Prefecture, to which I belonged at the time, gave me a guidance, saying “Now is the time you should make an effort to approach the Buddha.” Keeping her words in my mind, I came to Lexington in April, 2015. Since then, I have been practicing the teaching in the New York Dharma Center. My husband didn’t want me to talk about his illness. He even got angry at me, saying that I exaggerated his sickness, which he himself thought was nothing serious. There was a distance between us—I, who wanted my husband receive a medical treatment, and my husband, who refused it—which could not easily be closed.
The second convulsion occurred in the middle of the night, eight months after he came back to Lexington. Since I didn’t know what to do at all, I called Ms. Yoshie Norton, our area leader. She came to our home at once in spite of midnight. I was reassured by her presence and I was thankful to her. By the time she arrived at our home, however, my husband had recovered from the convulsion and he was sitting on his bed as if nothing had happened. I was in a panic with worry, but my husband looked he had no intention to go see a doctor. Ms. Norton was worried about us, and she looked for an emergency hospital and told us how to contact it. Later on, I also was able to meet the mother of a classmate of my child who was a patient-hospital coordinator, and talked to her about my husband’s illness. Her husband is a pediatrician specializing in cerebral arteriovenous aneurysms. She told me to call her if anything happened and promised me her support. I was really grateful to her. I felt I was under the Buddha’s protection. However, that did not mean that I was free from the problem. Even after that, I was constantly concerned about my husband’s illness. I lived a happy life in many ways, but I was always afraid of the worst and my mind was filled with anxieties.
One day, I lost my key chain. It had all the keys I used in daily life, including those for the car, the doors of the house, and a storage unit. I didn’t know what to do, and I was completely helpless. As I had no idea where I had lost my keys, I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. It seemed as if someone had hidden the key chain from me.
I decided to ask a guidance from Rev. Fujita, minister of the New York Dharma Center. At first, I told her what my husband had told me when I lost the key chain. My husband was usually kind to me, but when he knew that I had lost the key chain, he said “This is absurd,” probably because he was so astounded, and he became angry at me. I then told Rev. Fujita, “Though I was a little sad to hear my husband say so, I thought that I should accept whatever he would say to me, because it was I who lost the key chain.” Rev. Fujita acknowledged my feeling by saying, “Oh, I see. It’s admirable that you say that. Seeing your attitude, I have always thought you are really a kind wife.” Then she asked me, “What do you want your husband to do for you?” I answered, “What concerns me most is his illness. I hope he will agree to receiving medical treatment. Also, as he was usually telling me that he wanted to leave his job and relax, I want to be a help for him so that he can quit the job as soon as possible and ease himself of the burden.” She said, “You are always trying to be close to his mind and heart. That’s wonderful,” and again asked me “Has your husband asked you what kind of wife he wanted you to be?” At that moment, I realized that I had never talked about it with him. Rev. Fujita then suggested, “Why don’t you ask him? The keys you lost might be the keys to your heart, and your husband’s.” Thanks to her advice, I was able to reflect on myself and found that I might have behaved according to my desire alone. That day I felt warmth in my heart as I thought that Rev. Fujita had understood my feelings, and I was also assigned with homework from her.
Later on, I asked my husband, “What kind of wife do you want me to become?” He replied to me with a smile, but his expression also seems to ask why I had brought up such an absurd question, and he said “Well, well, just leave me alone.” I had always tried to be a wife who supported her husband mentally and physically by staying next to him, and I believed that I was actually able to do so. However, regarding his illness, the symptoms of which had appeared for the first time when he was past fifty, what I actually did was to demand that he receive medical treatment immediately and get a cure for the disease. Hearing him say, “Leave me alone,” I realized that my strong demands may have caused stress to him. If he had accepted my demand and went to hospital, I would have asked him to cut down on his favorite alcohol for his health, and if he had been able to do so, I would have asked him to stop drinking completely. I must have continued to control him, asking him to do as I wanted in one way after another. I became aware, as in the words of Rev. Fujita, that my mind was not in accord with the key of my husband’s mind. However, my husband had generously kept on hearing my selfish demands. Until then, my only wish had been that the sufferings before my eyes would be removed. Although I had been taught that all things occurring around us in our daily life are necessary for us, and they are manifested by the Buddha to benefit us, I saw my husband’s illness as evil and only wished that my anxiety caused by it would removed quickly. However, the Buddha always wished us happiness. I could accept both my husband’s illness and losing the keys were the events that took place because they were necessary for me. When I had this precious realization, I found myself relieved of worries and felt relaxed as never before.
In May 2016, while driving on his way back home, my husband’s car collided with a car from behind. A police officer, who happened to pass by, soon came to the scene and talked to him. However, my husband was in a panic and could not even say his name. The officer noticed that there was something strange with my husband, and called an ambulance. He was sent to a hospital. Fortunately enough, no one was injured. Receiving a call reporting the accident, I rushed to the hospital bringing with me the CD of his MRI scan and the medical referral letter I had brought from Japan. My husband was required to go through some medical examinations. However, he told me, “You don’t need to show them to the doctor. Don’t take them out.” Before others in the hospital, he wore a smile of a sort I had never seen before, and said, “I am fine and I don’t have any medical history, so let me go home at once.” When he was asked about the amount of alcohol he drank, he answered only one third of the actual amount. Finally, I couldn’t hand the MRI and the referral to the doctor. On that day we came home after the medical checkup was over.
The result of the examination we received in a week was completely the same as the one we had in Japan. As a consequence, we were told by the doctor that my husband should go to the hospital regularly. The hospital was the one Ms. Norton suggested we go to previously. Also, it was the hospital that the mother of one of my child’s classmates had once told me was one of the best, but they could not admit my husband anytime soon. My husband eventually began to be able to receive treatment at a reliable medical institution. I am now filled with gratitude for this wondrous arrangement of the Buddha. Through the accident, I was able to realize that I am sustained to live within the generous arrangements of the Buddha. The reality of the situation has not changed yet, but I feel refreshed and cheerful.
Thanks to the Founder’s teachings, I am leading a happy life in the United States. I am not a match for the Founder, but I will apply myself diligently to the practice of the teachings, making it my aim to become a person like the Founder, who was so cheerful and broadminded. Thank you very much.
Ms. Takahashi participates in a hoza Dharma circle (second from right).