Supported by Many Okagesama

Rissho Kosei-kai of Hawaii

by Ms. Donna Hunt

This religious testimony was delivered during the ceremony for a Bon Festival at the Hawaii Dharma Center on July 5, 2015.

Ms. Hunt delivers her religious testimony during a ceremony for the Bon Festival at the Hawaii Dharma Center.

I was born fifty-five years ago—the moment I opened my eyes, I was already a Rissho Kosei-kai member, and three generations of my family were already actively participating in spreading the Dharma in Hawaii. Looking back, I had a great childhood going to the Dharma center, and to the airport to greet guests from Japan and the neighboring Hawaiian islands. But at the time, I didn’t have any appreciation for my family’s dedication to the Buddha.

My parents weren’t rich, and we always had just enough.” On the weekends, my father would take us riding around the island or to the beach, my mother would pack a lunch, and we’d stay all day. Or my parents would take us window shopping. I have very nice memories. When I was eight, my parents started their own business and our lives changed.

My mother went to work with my father and came home after dark. During some evenings and weekends she had the Dharma center’s  activities, and she would bring us along with her. I remember attending home prayer services and visiting people in the hospital.

My mother strongly encouraged us to follow her to the center. She’d make us feel guilty if we didn’t want to go. As we got older, we had to cook dinner and clean up, but we didn’t know how and I remember we would always get scolded for forgetting to do something. Looking back, I never thought that knowing how to prepare meals would be such a great asset to me. Because we had to rely on each other at a young age, I feel that this is the beginning of the bond that holds my sisters and me together. Later my aunt would say, Don’t force your boys to go to the center,” and I would say, Aunty, I have to. It’s the only way I know how!”

My parents were forced to close their business.They were in deep debt and had to sell all their property. My mother asked me to help her, I couldn’t refuse, and luckily my husband agreed. We purchased our family home from my parents. I wasn’t happy, and I only dreamed of livingseparately.

I can only now see that I was making myself unhappy, and that my boys were very happy to enjoy the love of my parents daily.

My older sister returned from living in California and came to live with us. My younger sister divorced her second husband and came with her two children to live with us. Years passed and my mother suddenly fell ill and passed away within a week. We were all devastated, because she was the glue that held everyone together. She was the one who did everything for everyone. My grandfather was aging and he also came to live with us.

My husband began feeling used, and said he wanted a divorce. I knew I couldn’t pay the mortgage and feed my family on my salary alone. I had to be more humble and accept all that he had to say. I had to appreciate everything he had done for my family. I had to change myself.

At a hundred years old, my grandfather passed away, surrounded by his family. My father was a good son and cared for his father for ten years. After my grandfather passed away, we noticedlittle things about my father. We took him to the Doctor and, unknown to us, he had over 10 mini strokes in his brain. He wasn’t thinking rationally and his body became very frail. He was always a very active sportsman, so it was very sad to see him so weak. It got to the point where my older sister had to work only half days, my sons would watch my father during the breaks, I would watch him in the evenings, and we took turns on the weekends. My younger sister was in charge of his finances and visited him during her lunch breaks from work. About seven months later, in 2013, he passed away peacefully.

Last year my husband placed his ninety-eight-yearold mother into a nursing home. She was so upset. She didn’t want to be there. He visited her everyday, but she wasn’t happy. He decided to sell her apartment and get a larger one. She did not want to live with us in my family home. She wanted us to get another place together.

This June, we moved her from the nursing home to a home we own together. It’s only been three weeks, and my husband is trying his best to care for his mother, but I can see he is stressed. I try to help as much as I can. I cook for her and keep her clean. Both my sons assist in her care. She is physically strong, but she has dementia and sometimes does not recognize her son.

My wish was for my sons to care for us one day, but maybe now I have changed my mind. Mynew wish is to accept whatever the future holds for me.

We have just begun our monthly home ancestors appreciation service, especially tothank our parents and grandparents for providing us with a firm spiritual foundation. Without the teachings from the Buddha or the interpretation of the Lotus Sutra from Founder Nikkyo Niwano, I think I would not be able to appreciate that I am living a wonderful life, I have a good husband and children, and I have supportive sisters, nieces and nephews.

I am thankful that I was able to help my parents, grandparents and mother-in-law in this lifetime. I think I would be a bitter old and lonely person if I did not know or put into practice the Six Perfections. I am lucky to be surrounded by my family, and I can truly say I am happy with my life, come what may.

All thanks to my parents and grandparents,

The Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni, Founder Nikkyo Niwano, and President Nichiko Niwano.

Ms. Hunt (first row, far right) recites the posthumous names for deceased members in a service performed during the equinoctial week at the Hawaii Dharma Center.