This Dharma Sharing (Spiritual Journey) speech by Mrs. Sung Suunkhee was presented at
the ceremony for the First Day of the Month and the Uposatha Day held at the Great Sacred Hall on November 1, 2017.
Mrs. Sung delivers her Dharma Sharing speech in the Great Sacred Hall.
I was born in 1955 on a small southwestern island of South Korea. A year later, my father died, so my mother went out to a large city to work. I was left in my maternal grandparents’ house, and grew up receiving their abundant affection. When I was ten years old, my mother got married again. Since her new husband had six children from his previous marriage, my mother worried if I might have hard times with them. So that I would be able to receive satisfactory school education, as well, she decided to entrust me to my aunt in Busan. Six years later, my stepfather lost his property because of a sudden change in the governmental policy, and committed suicide in despair. My mother became a single parent again at the age of thirty-nine.
My mother devoted herself to work to raise my younger brother and me. But I took her effort for granted, and have never expressed my appreciation to her. Moreover, I was rude to her and did not talk to her at home. I decided everything by myself. After I graduated university, I started to work at a British company, and when I was twenty-seven years old, I married a man who I met in the workplace.
The reality did not go as I expected, however. I was good at school studies, but I was not a type of person who could always tidy things up and keep the house clean. I had little sense of economy, either, and I used whatever money I had, and did not care if we were out of money. So, I often quarreled with my husband, who wanted to keep everything tidy and in order. His words and attitude pointed out every error I made, which hurt my self-esteem, but I could not communicate to him how I felt honestly and I held my feelings within. I converted my pent-up frustration into negative energy, which I poured into my children’s education. When my elder son didn’t do as I wished, I threw him out of the house, and I even tore apart my elder daughter’s mathematics textbook. My children were always reading my expression, worrying if I might suddenly get angry at them, so they kept quiet in front of me. But gradually the problem brought to the fore. My elder son lost his smile and became taciturn, although he was doing well in school. Thesuppressed anger of my elder daughter, who was self-willed, brought out a tic disorder. My second daughter took money from home and gave it to her friends. She also began telling lies. In addition, my husband began to live with a woman who was tidy and obedient; they even had a child together. Shortly thereafter, my husband’s company, which had been doing well, bounced a check. I borrowed money from Mrs. Kim Seon–ja who lived near my home, who later guided me to Rissho Kosei-kai’s teaching.
I first visited Korean Rissho Kosei-kai on July 15, 1995, and it became my second birthday. The guidance I heard on that day was, “If you change, others will change accordingly.” For me, a person who had always tried to change everyone and everything other than myself, the phrase was truly novel and attractive. I felt my eyes were opened when I learned the principle of causality that “the outcomes change unlimitedly depending on what kind of connections we build with others, here and now.” Soon after that, I had the comprehensive posthumous names for ancestors of my family enshrined in the home Buddhist altar, and started to hold devotionals every morning and evening. I also began the three practices (exchanging morning greetings, responding clearly and positively when called by others, and arranging our shoes together neatly). Such was all that I did, but my children said I had become gentle and our home had become cheerful after I started to visit Rissho Kosei-kai. I was surprised by the result of these simple practices. However, my understanding of the teachings was still very shallow. I thought, “I want to make my mother-in-law hear the passage in the Lotus Sutra ‘Make a miserly one give rise to the mind of generosity,’ or my husband, rather than I, must listen to the passage ‘Make an angry one give rise to the mind of forbearance.’” I judged them in my mind. My mother-in-law might have detected what I had thought and told me, “Something bad will happen if you go that Japanese Buddhism temple.” As she was strongly opposed to my going to Rissho Kosei-kai, I was not able to visit the Dharma center for two years. But, thanks to the head of the Dharma dissemination group of Korean Rissho Kosei-kai at that time who kindly arranged for me to take part in the memorial services or hozameetings at a member’s home near my house, I remained connected to the Dharma.
In 1998, Kina, the second daughter of my neighbor Mrs. Pak Yeong–hui, who was a tenth grader, began unable to go to school because of an unidentified physical and psychological pain. Mrs. Pak cried every day. I took Kina to the Dharma center by coaxing her, while she was resisting all the way. The late Rev. Kyoko Lee, the minister of the Dharma center at the time, made a toast for her and asked her, “Kina, how many things can you find here and now, for which you can be thankful?” She has hands to hold the toast, a mouth to eat it, water to wash her hands before and after eating, and so on; that day, with a help of people around her, Kina found lots of things she is thankful for, actually more numerous than she could count, and went home joyfully. Then from the next day on she became capable of going to school every day. On that day, I was strongly moved by the kind-heartedness of Rev. Lee, who made most of this first meeting with Kina to get connected with her firmly.
Rev. Lee spoke to me also that “You also must practice diligently.” I was always reading the faces of my mother-in-law and my husband and I could not go to the Dharma center. But my desire to learn this wondrous teaching was very strong and I gathered courage to start visiting the center again. I couldn’t wait to participle in hoza sessions. When I asked for guidance from Rev. Lee about various problems of mine, I always was taught that my ignorance was the original cause of the problems. I was at first frustrated when I was told that the cause of my husband’s affair was within me, not my husband or the woman, but the guidance made me feel refreshed. Although I wanted to apologize to my husband for my cold-heartedness to have ignored him in my heart, I couldn’t convey my feelings directly to him. So I expressed my apology by writing a letter to him. I apologized for making him feel deserted, which had eventually caused him to create a family with another woman and have a child, for which he must have felt sorry. I was pleased to be able to tell my honest feelings and I was proud of my being able to do it, more than I was concerned about my husband’s reactions.
When you introduce Rissho Kosei-kai to people in South Korea, if you say it is a religious group coming from Japan, some people try to keep distance because they remember bitter experience during the Japanese occupation of Korea, or because some others confuse Rissho Kosei-kai with another religious group in Japan whose members also chant o-daimoku. Moreover, they reject the enshrinement of the Buddha image or their ancestors in the house at first because of cultural differences. But their minds will change when they get in touch with the teachings of Founder Nikkyo Niwano and President NichikoNiwano. They will become liberated and grow spiritually by practicing the teachings diligently. In addition, seeing other members become happy together with their family and people around them, their own faith in the teaching will deepen gradually. I enjoyed visiting members’ houses for michibiki (guiding people to Rissho Kosei-kai’s teachings) and tedori (supporting the members in the Way) together with senior leaders. I guided my relatives and acquaintances to Rissho Kosei-kai’s teachings and received the headquarters-bestowed Gohonzon in 1999. I became the publication distribution director, and in 2009 I was appointed as the head of the Dharma dissemination group and a chapter leader. I was also glad to make humble contribution to translation and publication projects, including the publication of MonthlyKyo-seong. Working on books and magazines was a happy moment for me. My understanding of theteaching was superficial, or only a piece of knowledge, however, but I was arrogant enough to misunderstand that I had made the teachings my own.
Mrs. G, an area leader, visited the Dharma center every day and often went for tedori. But she was suffering from troubled relationships betweenher daughters. I advised her to understand and accept her daughters’ feelings and praise them as a means of improving their relations. However, she told me harshly, “I can’t follow your advice because I don’t find pleasure in practicing the teachings. It was because you don’t accept me.” That moment, I realized my mistake. I realized that I was a very cold-hearted person, who did not sympathize with Mrs. G and instead only to make her understand the teachings logically. Rev. Lee, on the other hand, recognized and praised all people impartially and was always standing by them, which made everyone feel as if he or she was loved by her more than anyone else. To repay my thanks to her, I made up my mind to be a person who could connect with people impartially, and also cheerfully, kindly, and warmheartedly. I am thankful to Mrs. G from the heart for giving me this important lesson.
There are many senior leaders who have practiced the Dharma single-mindedly since the beginning of Korean Rissho Kosei-kai. My daily interaction with them, all of whom are unique and remarkable, was valuable practice for me to correct my behavior and mind-set that were hard to change. Thanks to this practice, the relationship with my mother-in-law also improved. Four years ago, my mother-in-law was paralyzed below her neck after she had a surgery to remove tumor in cervical vertebrae. Thanks to the teachings and practice, I was able to take care of her with all my heart. She passed away two years ago, but until then I had recited the Threefold Lotus Sutra at her bedside every morning and evening, communicated with her closely, and cared for her body and soul. All of them are fond memories for me now.
Four months after my mother-in-law’s passing, my own mother got food caught in her throat and died. It was so sudden, and I regretted deeply and blamed myself, as it happened exactly as I had thought that the time had finally come for me to repay the kindness received from my mother. It was then that I found relief in the words of President Niwano, “The true performance of filial piety starts after the parents are gone. It involves practicing the bodhisattva way through the teaching of the Lotus Sutra and becoming a person who can make others happy.”
I have devoted myself to the practice of the teachings for twenty years by keeping in mind Rev. Lee’s guidance, “Before everything else, enlarge your spiritual capacity,” which she gave me when my husband’s company bounced a check with huge debts. My four children have all grown up now. They are serving the society in their respective places and are taking good care of me. My elder daughter graduated from Rissho Kosei-kai’s Gakurin Seminary and is working in Rissho Kosei-kai’s headquarters in Tokyo. And the strong and kind father, whom I have longed for the most, is with us, close by.
I might have led a worthless life while I was bestowed with a precious life as a human being. Having encountered Rissho Kosei-kai, however, I was enabled to live a magnificent life, in which I can always practice “putting others first,” walking the Way toward the objective of perfecting the character. When I realized that all things I have gone through were the Buddha’s arrangements to guide me to the Way and that I had been born with a vow to guide people to attain buddhahood, all of my past experiences have turned into a valuable treasure.
This year, Korean Rissho Kosei-kai marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of its founding. The present minister, Rev. Sachiko Lee, is the daughter of Rev. Lee. She speaks fluent Japanese and she translates the teachings of the Founder and the President into Korean for us correctly, instantly, and warmly, for which I am truly grateful. I pledge to make best effort to share with many people in South Korea the true teaching of the Buddha and the teachings of Rissho Kosei-kai, which the Founder had expounded for us in easy-to-understand, everyday terms, and continue to walk the Way that will lead us all to happiness.
Mrs. Sung gives a lecture at the Korean Dharma Center.