This testimony was delivered at the Ulaanbaatar Dharma Center in Mongol during the Congratulatory Ceremony for the Completion of a New Building and the Enshrinement of a Buddha Image on June 15, 2014.
Mrs. Dashnyam Tserendarizav delivered her testimony at the Ulaan- baatar Dharma Center in Mongol during the Congratulatory Ceremony for the Completion of a New Building and the Enshrinement of a Buddha Image.
Please guide me, everyone.
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to share my spiritual testimony on this Congratulatory Ceremony for the Completion of a New Building and the Installation of a Buddha Image.
On February 1st 1945, I began life as a daughter of the Dashnyam family in the village of Alag-Erdene in Khuvsgul Prefecture, which is situated about 800 km away from Mongol’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, in the northern end ofthe country. My parents were nomads, so in my childhood, I took care of farm animals, including young goats and lambs, and used to play with my elder brother in making a miniature house with stones, creating our own version of a yurt (a portable circular tent in which nomads live). I wastenderly raised by my parents in this environment.
My father used to be a Buddhist monk in his youth. But at that time, Mongol was in unstable times, and traditional Buddhism was excluded by Russia’s Communist International policy. At the time, a large number of monks were killed because they represented the intellectual class,and temples were destroyed. Because of the horrifying religious oppression, he was put in jail and for a long time faced a lot of hardship.
After my father was released from jail he became a lay Buddhist, and maintained his strong faith. Whenever he met suffering people, he secretly told them about the teachings of the Buddha, wishing for their peace and happiness.
I often saw him chanting the sutras of Tibetan Buddhism,and I now think he was been praying for the happiness of both my brother and me, and for the Buddha to protect us.But I chose to become of an actress, and my brother became a dancer. My father might have thought we had little interest in do with Buddhism and didn’t encourage us to have faith. But he continued in his faith and practice.
On the other hand, my mother took care of the farm animals and was a hardworking woman, doing all the housework. She was an ordinary, nomadic housewife. She was good at taking care of the farm animals, especially giving milk tothe young goats and lambs that had lost their mothers. In the evening, she would hold a young goat or a lamb in her arms and bring it to another mother sheep to give milk. She skillfully helped them to drink the milk. Farm animals are same as human beings; they wouldn’t give their breast easily to other’s babies, except their own. My mother, however, would sing a song to make the mother sheepcomfortable. She was very skilled in understanding their hearts. When my elder brother and I listened to her singing, we also felt comfortable and were gradually beginning to be sleepy. Then she told us to get back to the house and go to sleep there. Even after we returned home and went to bed, we could faintly hear her sing and we would fall into a deep sleep. I got up in the morning, and found that the mother sheep that gave its breast, and the baby that drank the milk, had become friendly like a real mother and a child. My mother was such a kind and wonderful person.
Until I graduated from high school, I lived with my parents. Once I entered a university, I left my home and moved to Ulaanbaatar. I entered the film department at the Mongolian State University of Education. At first, I didn’t have interestin movies, but when I saw the “the Department of Film and Drama” in the university’s application guidebook, I becameinterested, even though I didn’t know what it meant. Idecided to take the course.
When I was in my sophomore year, I fell in love, and married a classmate. In the following year, I was blessed with my eldest son. After graduation, I started to work as an actress at a theater.
From the time I became an actress, people recognized my talents and often praised me, so I grew conceited and gradually adopted the erroneous view that I was better than others. I believed that I lived by my own efforts, notsustained by others and my ancestors. I thought that I had been dedicated to my family, allowing them live in comfort, and did it all myself; this attitude clouded my generousheart. Because of that, I became self-centered and used harsh words, hurting my family to whom I have provided asense of security and support. Moreover, I sometimes felt dissatisfied with my family, who wouldn’t meet my expectations and irritated me. As a result, people around us,including my family members, gradually left me. However, I was fully satisfied with my stage work, so I didn’t realize the reality of my situation, and became more and more arrogant.
One day, my husband’s younger sister came to my houseand said, “Could you please borrow money from apawnshop and lend it to me? I promise you to repay within one month.” I didn’t doubt her intentions, so I borrowed money from a pawnshop I was familiar with and lent it to her. A few days later, my husband was suddenly struck by a cerebral infarction, and I took care of him for a long time. Fortunately, he recovered enough to walk. One day, when I was in a rural area for a job and could not be his side, he passed away. Soon afterward, my lending of the money to the sister-in-law became a problem. I asked her when she would repay me, and she answered that she had already repaid it to my husband while I was absent. However hard I tried to find the money, I couldn’t find it anywhere in my house. A few months later, my son suddenly died of heart trouble. I strongly felt that I had to get over these tragedies, which were happening one after another. Sometimes, I would go to a place where there were no people and cried out, “Why does no one help me? Why did I have to run into debt? Even though I haven’t done anything wrong to anyone and I have been dedicated to my family and my friends in whatever way I could, why do I have to face such cruel situations? Please help me, Dad and Mom.”Eventually, I was ordered to appear in court because I couldn’t make good on my debts. I was suffering in these severe conditions, but thank to the help of my elder brother and some friends, I was able to solve the debt problem.
At that time, I recalled both the good merit that my fatherhad accumulated behind the scenes as well as the kindness of my mother, and I went to the temple, where I lit incense and prayed for them.
However, the newspaper reporters brought up the problemof my debt, and people gossiped about me. This hurt me emotionally. In order to escape from that suffering, I quit acting and moved to a suburb. At the time, I noticed that I had given my top priority to work and neglected child rearing. I regretted this.
I reflected on my attitude, and I began to take care of mygrandchildren after I reached retirement age. However, as I was away from my work as an actress and was taking care of my grandchildren, I started to feel that I was not necessary for society, my family, and people around me, and that people had become indifferent to me. I felt lonely and suffered by myself.
At least at the time I was able to relax and reset my feelingswhen I returned to my hometown once a year. Every summer, I went back to the hometown, a sacred place to me that my parents had treasured. I purified my heart and mind, and received nature’s energy, and then I returned to my home in the city. My home village, Khuvsgul, has beautiful natural views, and water and air are fresher and cleaner than any other place.
When I would return there, I became energetic; but I would become depressed when I returned to the realities of city life. I had such a hard time.
One day when I was in a hospital for medical care, Mrs.Damdinsuren Oyunbayar (with whom I shared a room) told me about Rissho Kosei-kai and said “I know a good place,so won’t you go there with me?” I wasn’t able to visit there immediately, but she invited me to the Ceremony of the Ulaanbaatar Chapter’s Founding. And then I participated in it for the first time. During the ceremony, the sutra recitation conducted in our mother tongue was so impressive. At temples in Mongol, only the monks recite the sutra, and people are not allowed to do so. Mrs. Shuger Zorigmaa, a chapter leader, and the sangha members warmly welcomed me and got me into the group. And they taught me the essence of Buddhism and guided me to ashining uphill path very different from the tough downhill path of suffering that I could not accept. Thanks to the meritof my ancestors, my life had been blessed with health, and I was able to experience the joy of being praised by others. I had an encounter with the Buddha’s teachings and awakened to the true joy of life, which is to be a person who can support others, and offer them joy.
My everyday practice is to smile. In the past, I thought the principle of donation was just to give material things to people. President Nichiko Niwano told us that keeping a smile was one of the donations, called “the donation of acheerful face”. Furthermore, I read the President’s guidance of February 2014, and I learned from his guidance that bedridden people are not laying a burden on others, but offering a donation to them so that they may accumulate merits by caring for the sick persons. I was moved by such a perspective and was filled with appreciation.
When I was an actress, I made people happy through my performance. Now my attitude is that I would like to make them happy by sharing the teaching with a smile and by associating with them in a kind way.
Recently, I have learned rituals thanks to the warm support of the sangha and have a role of wooden bell at sutra recitations. I actively participate in hoza sessons. Under the altar at the new Dharma center, there are the message cards of gratitude for the Buddha and our vows. I was assigned the role of telling people how to write one of these cardsand teaching them about its meaning and merit. During these time, I taught them about the importance of the six paramitas, especially donation. I was also assigned the role of handing the acknowledgment of the donation to itsdonor, so I often went to rural areas for Dharma mission.
I changed myself little by little, and tried to be cheerful and warm towards my family. I tried to speak gently to children who were against me and to be kind to them, wishing thatthey would also form a relationship with the Buddha and accumulate merits.
Thanks to the sangha of the Ulaanbaatar Chapter, I was able to meet with the Dharma and I received many merits after I started to recite the sutra. There were many monks amongmy paternal relatives, and some of them were killed by religious oppression. I had been wishing to hold the memorial service for them for a long time. With the income I had gained as an actress, I once built a stupa in my hometown for the repose of their souls. However, I was grateful that I was able to offer my sutra recitation to them through entering Rissho Kosei-kai. For the first time in thirty-seven years, I could meet again with the son that I had put up for adoption. I believed that this was made possible by the Buddha’s blessings and protection, because I learned the Buddha’s teaching and performed bodhisattva practice.
Moreover, I became a member of Rissho Kosei-kai, and I was given an opportunity to visit the Great Sacred Hall in Tokyo. I bowed in reverence to the Buddha and joined the sutra recitation. I cannot express my feeling of gratitude in words, and I strongly felt the Buddha’s compassion.
Today is a wonderful day for us Buddhists. We opened the new Dharma center, and the new statue of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni was inaugurated. I think many members will find liberation through this. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to President Niwano, President-designate Kosho Niwano, and all of the members of Rissho Kosei-kai.
Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni, Founder Niwano, thank you very much. President Niwano, thank you very much.
Mrs. Dashnyam in the center and with the sangha members of the Ulaanbaatar Chapter.